Alt 2013 // Collaborations, Earning Revenue, Personal Branding & Work Life Balance

Alt 2013 // Collaborations with Sponsors //

Today I’m sharing my recap from Thursday’s panels at Alt! It’s a lot of information, so I’m splitting it up into pages so you can read the ones that interest you the most:

  1. Collaborations with Sponsors
  2. Four Ways to Earn Revenue from Your Blog
  3. Personal Branding (spoiler alert: this one’s my favorite)
  4. Work Life Balance

And don’t miss the other recaps:

  1. A Summary
  2. Organizing Your Online Life
  3. Social Media 101
  4. Advanced Blogging Skills

Collaborations with Sponsors

Panelists were Camille Styles, Merrilee Liddiard of Mer Mag, Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook, and Mitra Morgan of Joss & Main. I really enjoyed this panel, particularly Jenny’s candidness, but I do feel like I need to add a disclaimer here — this was a part of the Track B designed for established bloggers, so I think the general expectation here is that you do have some established traffic and are not just beginning. I wish I had more concrete numbers to offer you, but the panel didn’t really discuss numbers. I would just keep in mind if you’re reading this as a newer blogger that it’s absolutely important to establish your voice first and know your readership before approaching sponsors.

BRANDS & BLOGGERS // The advantage for brands working with bloggers is that they can create customized experiences specific to a readership, which is far more effective. Collaborations should enhance your site and be something your readers respond to. Sponsored opportunities are a great way to create original content.

  1. Seek a great brand fit. Which brands do you find yourself constantly drawn to? What brands would your readers be interested in? Think about how you can work with that brand to create content that adds to the conversation, and don’t wait for brands to come to you.
  2. Create compelling original content. Even if you don’t have a huge readership, you can create creative content that people want to see.
  3. Make it easy for everyone. Do as much work as you can for a brand you’re working with. Give them all of the information up front, including specifics of anything you may need from them (i.e. provide ad sizing if a banner ad is part of the campaign), and track objectives to help them measure the success of the campaign. If you notice that something isn’t performing as well, make suggestions for improvement.
  4. Make it a win-win for everyone. Create collaborations that are not only beneficial to you, but to the brand and your readers as well.

COLLABORATING IN UNIQUE AND MEANINGFUL WAYS // Think about how you can create magic with a brand and make the experience truly unique and special.

  1. If you build it, they will come. Content is king — focus on creating great content, and the brands you should be working with will naturally reveal themselves. When you are true to yourself, you will attract like-minded brands. Know what you can offer a brand, and don’t be afraid to approach them — your idea may fit in with what they are currently planning, or even give them new ideas. Be flexible, and don’t be afraid to let things go in a different direction than you originally planned.
  2. How can you enhance the partnership? Think of ways to combine your two brands to create a totally unique experience. For example, you could create supplemental graphics for the campaign that brings together visual elements of both brands. Think bold, beautiful, and big! Don’t be afraid to get creative.

WORKING WITH SPONSORED CONTENT // Remember that you are a content producer first — your readers should come first, sponsorships second. Focus on building an engaged audience, and the traffic will come. Encourage your audience by getting in the comment section — how can you keep the conversation going?

  1. How do you measure engagement? Look at the whole picture — the number of comments per posts, click-throughs (when readers click on your links), your social media audience and how often your content is shared across social media platforms. Also, survey your readers and find out what products they want to see, then you can show a brand that the interest is already there in your community.
  2. Things to know about ad networks. The benefits of working with an ad network include pitching on your behalf, working with larger companies with bigger budgets, and having a steadier source of income. However, keep in mind that banner ads are dying, you’ll have less creative control, the ad network will get a cut of your earnings, some may require you to hit a certain level of income before you receive a payout, and most require exclusivity. You may still be able to negotiate your own sponsored opportunities, but keep in mind they usually must be under a certain amount set by your ad network, or else you will need to negotiate through them.
  3. Timelines, payments, and negotiations. Keep an editorial calendar — you have to know what’s happening in the future to work with a brand. It usually takes 6-8 weeks to pull things together, or 3 months with an ad network. A good rule of thumb is to charge $2-3 CPM for your sponsored post fee — CPM is cost per thousand impressions, so a blog with 10,000 monthly pageviews would charge $20-$30 per post. Negotiate, but be flexible, and remember that sometimes taking a hit now will result in more value later. For example, if you really want to work with a brand, and they aren’t ready to pay, it may be worth moving forward with the post so you can show them the value in working with you. You have to hustle — show a brand that you are valuable.
  4. Pulling off sponsored content. When incorporating sponsored posts, use blogger capital as a guideline — original posts are credits, sponsored posts are debits, and you want to stay in the black. If you’re posting 5 times a week, 1-2 sponsored posts a week is a good rule of thumb. There are several different types of sponsored posts:
    • Unrelated posts have a simple “sponsored by” statement in the beginning and otherwise have nothing to do with the sponsor — these are usually done through ad networks and should be extra special to drive traffic.
    • Integrated creative content incorporates sponsor information in the post — you should charge more for this, be upfront with your readers that it is a sponsored post, and don’t pretend to love a company you don’t.
    • Contributor written commercials are similar to TV commercials — they are totally written by the sponsor. Some people don’t like them, but they pay well, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to make money!
    • Giveaways should be considered sponsored content — you are still talking about the brand. Charge for the post, and require a minimum dollar value for the giveaway. Limit entry requirements or charge more to ask readers to like on Facebook, Twitter, etc — that has additional value.
    • Roundup posts are where you agree to share a certain number of products, usually 10-15. Don’t overshare — your readers don’t need to know how the partnership came about, just make sure it’s clear the post is sponsored.
    • Social media mentions are great for brands that you want to work with, but aren’t the right fit for a full post on your blog.

FROM A BRAND’S PERSPECTIVE // The main reasons brands work with bloggers is to expand their community, connect with potential new customers, broaden reach and awareness of their brand, and drive sales. Some rules of thumb:

  1. Be open, stay open. Be candid about what you are looking for.
  2. Work with people who work like you. Look for like-minded people.
  3. Stay true to your brand and audience. Brands like to see that you have a compelling outlook and a strong point of view.
  4. Know your bandwidth. Collaborations don’t happen overnight, so know how much work you can handle, and be aware that it will take a lot of work over time to make things happen.
  5. Think beyond the one-time deal. How can you create an ongoing relationship with a brand?

See Four Ways to Earn Revenue from Your Blog on page 2


  1. Allyssa wrote:

    Thanks for the recap Lisa! This info is going to come in handy.

    Posted 1.29.13
  2. Kate wrote:

    This recap is AMAZING! Thanks for sharing all this stuff Lisa- I feel like this is the next best thing to actually having been there!

    Posted 1.29.13
  3. Lauren wrote:

    Lisa, your recaps are absolutely amazing. I was in each of the same sessions – how did we not meet? – and you captured everything!

    Posted 1.29.13
  4. rita wrote:

    love this! thank you!

    Posted 1.29.13
  5. elizabeth wrote:

    Lisa – you have an unbelievable talent for listening to and retaining large quantities of valuable content. AND you tweeted great snippets thru out Alt. thank you for sharing!

    Posted 1.29.13
  6. Lisa, I bow down. This recap is insane. I can’t believe you have more of this to come.

    Posted 1.29.13
  7. This post was so helpful, Lisa! Thank you for sharing all of the wisdom you learned at the conference with the rest of us.

    Posted 1.29.13
  8. Chloe wrote:

    Lisa, this is awesome! I can imagine that it was a lot of work to put together – I loved this post! Thanks so much, I’m looking forward to part 2!

    Posted 1.29.13
  9. This is so great, Lisa! Thank you for sharing all of these amazing tips with those of us who couldn’t be there in person!

    Posted 1.29.13
  10. Emily wrote:

    Thank you so much for sharing all this, Lisa! It’s almost as good as being there 🙂

    Posted 1.29.13
  11. Amy wrote:

    Thanks for this wonderful recap and of course I love following you live via Twitter 🙂

    Posted 1.29.13
  12. Clover wrote:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I think it’s great! And so generous of you! It’s much appreciated, really!


    Posted 1.30.13
  13. Lisa,
    What great notes you took! Thank you for sharing. I was at ALT but missed so much of this with being in other sessions.

    Thank you-


    Posted 1.30.13
  14. Thank you so much for this recap, I hope one day i’ll be able to attend one of ALT’s conferences or that there will be one in Canada soon. Fingers crossed!

    Posted 2.1.13

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