Blogging, Social Media

How I Started Charging Brands For Sponsored Posts

One of the scariest parts of blogging is asking for money. It gets easier, I promise! I’m going to share with you exactly how I started charging brands for sponsored posts and stopped working for free product.

I found it hard to get an idea of what other bloggers were charging with context to how many page views they had plus social reach. I literally didn’t know if I should charge $50 or $1000, and didn’t want to sound dumb or rude. A lot of the rate calculators didn’t work for me, since I didn’t know what a reasonable “hourly rate” was or how many hours it would take me.

My hope is that by openly sharing my numbers for my blog and my Instagram, you’ll be closer to getting paid your worth for sponsored posts.

pinterest infographic for how to start charging brands for sponsored posts

Is your blog good enough to get paid?

Ask yourself a few honest questions first.

  • Do you own your website?
  • How are your photos? (ie: Would a brand be proud of similar ones if they sponsored you?)
  • Do you have social media channels set up that you regularly post on?
  • What do you have to offer a brand? (Hopefully a targeted audience)
  • How are your page views?

I think that if you own a blog on the internet (not a free domain) with 1,000 monthly page views and have social media channels for your blog with at least 1,000 real followers, then you could try charging brands for sponsored blog posts that include social shares…even if just $50 at first.

Why no two bloggers charge the same for the same work

Something that’s weird to consider is that 10 bloggers working on the same campaign doing the same work will likely be paid differently. Their stats may be different, or they may just be better or worse at negotiating. Here’s what goes into creating a price.

  • monthly page views
  • social reach and engagement percent (I give you a tool below)
  • number of social posts required
  • if you get organic blog comments
  • quality of photos
  • time it takes to take your own photos (I’ll often spend an hour taking photos + an hour to pick through them and edit).
  • Will the product be sent to you or do you have to spend time going to a store to find it?
  • Do you have well written previous sponsored posts to show off?

Often times I’ll use the brand campaign hashtag to go see who else is working on the same sponsored post as me. It’s a great way to network and to also see what other sponsored posts those bloggers have done.

Should you ever work for free?

If you are brand new to this, I recommend getting a couple under your belt in exchange for product. Many disagree, but I would have been a hot mess had I started charging right off the bat.

Here’s how I started working with brands for free product with a brand new blog and 1,000 followers on Instagram. This just teaches you the ins and outs of how to do a sponsored post without the pressure of dealing with money.

I also created a guide to pitching brands for free product. I share 7 real pitches I sent resulting in collaborations for free product only. This was a great way for me personally to get a few things that I needed to buy anyway, (like baby items, rugs and a bed). I also got practice creating sponsored content and was able to put those brands in my media kit.

How I realized I could start charging brands for sponsored posts

Working for just free product started feeling like a lot of work. All of the sudden I didn’t want the free stuff anymore…because it cost me time. I just wanted to make some money! I was even doing this side job at home to pay for a few blogging expenses.

Brands never asked me for my rates when they would contact me, (of course, why pay if you’ll do it for free)! They asked to send me products in exchange for a blog post plus Instagram post, but I didn’t know how to turn it into something paid. Now I see it’s simply saying “Yes, I think this is a great fit for my readers! My sponsored post fee is…”

An opportunity popped up in a Facebook group for a car company that was paying $50 for a short blog post. I signed a contract, wrote the post in an hour, and was paid via PayPal.

Brands pay SMALL blogs! For the first time I saw my blog was worth money to brands. Even with just 20 posts and 1K monthly page views.

How to find brands that pay bloggers

Once I started charging, I couldn’t work with any brand that would send stuff my way. Although I did happily work without payment to receive a queen bed once because I needed it and they sent around $1200 worth of product! It’s whatever is worth your time. To find brands with a budget, look in 3 places:

  1. Blogging networks (pay is lower as they take a cut to connect you to brands)
  2. Find brands your audience would like and pitch them via email. (This takes learning how to pitch and how to ask for payment)
  3. Negotiate with brands that contact you to turn it into a paid job.

1. Blog networks

This is how I found all my paid work in the beginning. I like that it’s easy to find campaigns, the contracts are taken care of, what’s required is laid out, and the price is usually set for you. Many of these will send opportunities via email, while others you have to sign in and periodically check for new opportunities.

You are likely competing with hundreds of applicants though so if your numbers are not great, your pitch better be or your audience must be a perfect fit.

How do networks pay?

I’ve noticed a lot of the rates on Social Fabric and Influence Central are in the $200-$250 range, where as Sway and Clever have only ever shown rates closer to $350-$600 range. What I don’t know is if the rate offered is the same to all bloggers or if networks customize the rate you see. My guess is the former.

Some networks have opportunities just for social posts too. I have been paid $40 for sending out 2 Tweets through Sway with just 7K Twitter followers!

Activate lets you post a rate for most, and I have never gotten a campaign through them. I’ve heard they like large followings but I truly don’t know.

The downside of blogging networks

Beware of the downside to networks though…the contracts are written to protect brands and not bloggers. Most of them have written that they are able to use your photos however and whenever they like in perpetuity (forever) without having to pay you anything extra.

So just know that before you snap a pic of your kid or freak out that your recipe hit their magazine and you didn’t get a cut.

2. Direct pitching

This is the hardest but has the best pay off! If you are ready to seriously increase your income from sponsored posts, I highly recommend buying Jenny Melrose’s course Pitch Perfect Pro. She teaches you how to sell yourself, navigate contracts, and price your different assets fairly. At the very least, download her free pitch checklist.

Most bloggers find that they can charge double to triple what they used to after taking her course. I’m enrolled, and can’t recommend it enough! It pays for itself in one sponsored post.

3. Responding to a brand that wants to work with you but doesn’t mention paying you

This is my FAVORITE. If a brand contacts you (be sure to have contact info in your About Me page on your site!), then you know they like your blog. This is the perfect time to send your media kit and ask what their budget is (if it’s a good fit for your audience) saying something like:

“Thanks for reaching out! I think this would be an excellent fit for my readers because (tell them why)! Because (your blog name) only works on compensated content, please let me know what your budget will allow. I’ve attached my media kit for your review and look forward to hearing from you!”

Negotiating if a brand has a budget that is too low

I do not put prices on my media kit or anywhere on my site because I do not charge the same amount to each brand!

If a brand sets a price that’s too low, you can either take it, or offer to meet them at that price while taking out some of the deliverables, like less social shares or fewer photos. They can say yes or no, but they will never be rude or tell you your not worth what you are asking.

If the brand says they have no budget you can kindly say, “Thank you for reaching out and please let me know if your budget changes in the future”.

Networks that paid me with around 1,800 monthly page views

I signed up for a bunch (This takes SO much time as a new blogger, because you have to first register and connect social channels, and then continuously check them for new opportunities. Yuck!)

You see campaigns looking for bloggers, and the price is often set so you don’t have to “set your price” so to speak. You are competing with hundreds of applicants so if your numbers are not great, your pitch better be or your audience must be a perfect fit.

With almost no blog readers and no social following, Tapfluence sent me an opportunity to write a post for $75. I took it, and it was sinking in that my blog could actually make some money. Never again would I take $50, since I knew then my blog was worth $75.

Next with around 1,800 monthly page views I was offered to work with Graco through Linqia. They sent me a $250 car seat plus $75 plus a little extra with a pay per click model. This was the fall of 2017.

Around Christmas 2017 I worked with Coke through Influence Central for $250. At this point my blog still only got about 1,800 monthly page views, and perhaps a few thousand total social reach. After that, I really didn’t feel like doing posts for less! $250 became my baseline rate, and it was acceptable to most brands even though I was small.

What I charged once my page views climbed

Guys, page views matter. In January 2018 I went from 0-11,000 monthly page views and while you don’t need huge numbers to get paid, you start to get a lot more offers.

I had a couple posts go viral bringing my traffic up to around 40K in April 2018. A brand contacted me via Social Spark, and I didn’t know what to charge. I said $350 because to me that was a lot then! It was too little probably, because they just said yes.

My next gig came through Sway offering to send me $400 plus a $350 car seat for a blog post plus social shares. Traffic came down to around 30K monthly page views, 2K Instagram followers, 7K Twitter followers, and 500 Facebook followers for reference.

Take note that if I’m making $400, the brand is actually paying closer to $600-$800 because networks take their cut.

So how much should you charge for a sponsored blog post?

I based my price off of the highest amount I had been paid to date, and increased that number by $50-$100 for each sponsored post until I started getting a lot of no’s. Each brand is different.

If you have yet to work on your first paid campaign, many blogging leaders including Tracie Fobes and Alexis Schroeder from Fitnancials suggest charging no less than $250 as your base rate no matter what your size. This is in a US market.

The Fox & She blog suggests starting with a rate around $100 per 10,000 page views ( not including social reach on Instagram and Facebook). I find this to be close to what I charge, but I do a bit more than that. It’s a dance between finding a base rate for page views and adding on what your social reach is worth.

Jessica from Fantabulosity shares her exact numbers (rare on the internet guys!) of how she started charging $50 a blog post in the beginning, and what she charged at different points as her traffic grew.

Morgan Timm says never to charge less than $100 base rate for a blog post. She openly shares why she charges $400-$500 for a post with around 200,000 page views a month. Other bloggers with similar page views charge over $1,000, while I charge what she does with around 30,000 monthly page views.

Hobo With A Laptop has an awesome post and infographic to estimate a rate using your site’s domain authority + monthly page views. (Yes, you can actually charge more as your DA grows!)

How to find your site’s domain authority

Find your domain authority here and learn what it means. You’ll get a score from 0-100. New bloggers may start out with a score under 20, while a site like Pinterest has a score of 94. Your score shares your site’s ranking potential on google, in a nutshell.

How to get paid for an Instagram post

If you need help figuring out what your Instagram posts may be worth, use this Instagram rate calculator. It was about spot on for what I charge.

For reference, I charge $50-$100 for an Instagram post with a little over 5K followers and 3.5% – 4% engagement rate. Below is a screenshot of what the Instagram calculator suggested for me to charge. Not sure why it said zero comments on the post however, since there are several.

I’ve also heard of the 1% percent rule. If your total Instagram following is 10K, 1% would be $100 per photo. For me, 1% of 5K followers is $50.

Let brands know your fee

FYI when the brand offered me (via Aspire IQ) to send a free box for an Instagram post, instead of saying “Sure,” I said “I’d love to try this and think it would be a great fit for my audience! I do charge a fee for Instagram posts so let me know if you are able to change the terms and I’d be happy to move forward.”

I got instant approval after setting my fee at $50, which makes me wonder if I should ask for more next time. But the lesson here is, if I had not responded the way I did, then the brand would have continued the collaboration but just for free product.

If it helps at all, I charged $25 an Instagram post when my page was around 2K followers. Some things I did for free still though.

Start with Social Blue Book

Social Blue Book should probably be your first stop when coming up with a rate. I found that even when my numbers were small, it suggested I charge a very low amount (around $100) for a blog post plus social shares when I was getting paid $250 through networks at the time.

Every blogger tells you this estimate is on the very low end, so do some digging to see what others may be charging with similar numbers and always set your rates higher than Social Blue Book says.

Their free version no longer allows you to connect your blog plus all social accounts, so I recommend connecting one at a time. Take a screen shot of each, and add up the suggested price for a blog post plus each social account.

Also, be sure to adjust the number of photos that would likely be included in a sponsored post. The default number is 1 for the calculator, but you will likely include more than that for a sponsored post. I usually set the number to 3 or 4, which doubles or triples what I “should” charge.

What my rates for sponsored posts are…drumroll

Currently, I charge around $400 a blog post which always includes social shares. I’ve gone as low as $200 for a quick and easy post when my calendar was empty, and as high as $575 for a quick turnaround post at Christmas time (when budgets are bigger). That’s with around 30K monthly page views in the parenting niche, 5K Instagram followers, 7K Twitter followers (with almost no engagement there btw), and 700 Facebook followers.

I plan to increase that this year by adding more value to each post and growing a more authentic and engaged audience.

For fun, I put in my blog numbers to Social Blue Book to see what it suggests. I found I actually need to try increasing my rate, as this is about what I charge and doesn’t include social shares! And, like I mentioned, Social Bluebook is on the low end.

Ways to charge brands more and deliver more

One thing that’s hard to comprehend as a new blogger is that time is money. And your internet space is worth money. Brands are using your blog for advertising not just once, but as long as the post lives on your blog. It’s 100% reasonable and acceptable to charge something for that.

A mom blogger I know went from charging $400 per sponsored post to $800, simply by adding in a 5-8 minute Facebook Live option to make a kid snack with the brand’s product. O ya, and she only had 800 FB fans! This requires direct pitching though where you have some wiggle room. What could you offer?

  • Facebook Live?
  • Extra Instagram stories?
  • Keep the brand in your Instagram highlights for an extra month?
  • A shoutout to your email list for an extra $50?
  • Offer to run a giveaway for an extra $25?
  • 3 extra Tweets? (Here’s how I quickly grew my Twitter to 7K)

Leave your questions in the comments!

I’d love to hear where you are in your blogging journey and answer any questions I can. Have you started charging brands for sponsored posts yet? If you found this helpful, leave me a comment or feel free to buy me a coffee 🙂

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