The Life of Bon: Sponsorships: The Customer is Always Right?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sponsorships: The Customer is Always Right?



About a year ago I wrote this post on sponsoring blogs.  I had been sponsoring for about six months and I had figured out a thing or two.  Now, with another year of sponsoring under my belt I have learned even more.  Unfortunately, a lot that I have learned about how to be a good blog to sponsor I have learned through negative experiences sponsoring other blogs.  I figure now would be a good time to share it with y'all so that A. it doesn't happen to you and B. you yourself don't do these things.  Ready?

A GOOD BLOG TO SPONSOR DOES THE FOLLOWING:

1.  A good blog to sponsor treats their blog like a business.  This means if they say they are going to post five times a week, they have to post five times a week.  If they tell you a post is going up on a certain day, it needs to go up on that day.  If there are changes, they need to let sponsors know.  I map out the beginning of my month all my sponsored post.  I know what days are the guest posts, what days are the giveaways and what days are the group posts.  Then I email all my sponsors and let them know.  If I have to make changes to the calendar, I email all sponsors before the change happens.  It's a business and the people sponsoring my blogs are my customers.

2. A good blog to sponsor offers refunds.  Some may disagree with me on this one and I'm interested to hear what you think.  If you are extremely disappointed with a blog sponsorship would you ask for a refund?  What if you weren't given everything in the package that you were promised?  If your button wasn't put up on time, if the post wasn't put up the day it was promised, if you felt you had been lied to about numbers?  What constitutes for asking for a refund?

To me, asking for a refund is nothing.  I take lots of things back to the store.  The watermelon wasn't ripe, the toy broke after two days, the hemline on the skirt was shoddy.  Take it back!  Exchange it.  If the whole store is pot, just get my money back and be done with it! I think this should be the same with sponsorships.  If you are going to offer ad space and accept money for it on your blog, than you need to accept responsibility if people are unhappy and be accountable when you mess up.

Out of the 30+ blogs I have sponsored, there have been two times when I have asked for a refund.  One time I felt that I was purposely lied to about the numbers.  The day my guest post went up I got 26 hits from that blog even though I had been told that the blogger's traffic was up to 100,000 pageviews a month.  I felt that the blogger had been dishonest about pageviews so I asked for a 50% refund.  She said no. I dropped it.

Another time the giveaway I was participating in didn't go up the day the blogged had said.  I was counting on the giveaway for traffic and posted something special that day to catch new traffic.  The post didn't go up and no word from the blogger.  A few days later, when I had a guest post on my blog, the giveaway randomly went up.  I felt that I couldn't take full advantage of the giveaway because I didn't know the day it went up.  In addition to this, traffic from the blogger's site was extremely low as the blogger didn't post as frequently as normal because it was a very busy that month and there were many stressful things going on with her family.  While I certainly am sympathetic to the situation, I didn't believe I should have to pay full price if she wasn't able to give the sponsorship her full attention.  I told her my concerns and asked for a 50% refund.  She complied, but followed it up with a rude email saying that I had walked all over her.

Both experiences with these bloggers bothered me a bit.  They both replied to me that low traffic was not their fault, and that I take a "risk" when I sponsor a blog and basically I need to deal with the consequences.  While I certainly agree that what traffic comes to my site isn't completely their responsibility, they have made it partly their responsibility by accepting my money.  The blog is now a business, and part of that should be keeping me happy, right?

I suppose this is where I have a bit of a problem doing business with bloggers and small business owners (i.e. Etsy).  You ask for a refund and the way they react you'd think you threatened to kill their whole family.  They can get so defensive and mean.  I feel like yelling to them, "Hey!  It's not that big of a deal, girl.  I still like you!  It's just you sold me a product, I was not satisfied with the product, and now I would like some of the money back that I gave you.  No biggie!"  Businesses understand this.  Wal-mart certainly doesn't get all up in arms when I take back their pants that don't fit.  Neither should a blogger.

I have had a handful of times when sponsors have told me they weren't happy with sponsorship.  In July, I completely spaced putting Jenn's name down as my feature sponsor.  Consequently, I didn't put her ad up.  Halfway into the month she asked me where her sidebar ad was.  When I realized what I had done, I apologized and said I would put it right up.  She said she wanted a refund and I should take better care of her money. I agreed and said I would be happy to give her 100% refund or two months of free ad space, whichever she preferred.  She was much kinder to me in the next email, we worked out a compromise that made us both happy, and we are on great "blogging terms" now.  Anytime a sponsor has complained to me I have offered a refund or free ads.  To me that's just good business.  No need to get offended or defensive, just admit wrong and try to fix the situation.

This month I had one of the best sponsoring experiences with Heather from Just Love.ly.  She has a huge readership, but I wasn't getting views from her site.  She told me straight up how many people were clicking over to my blog versus how many people normally click over on the blogs.  My number was very low.  She explained to me that she didn't think our styles match up. She focuses on DIY and beautiful homes and recipes.  I focus mainly on making fun of seventeen year old hoodlums.  We didn't match.

I was floored when she apologized for the traffic and told me she would offer me a 75% refund.  I didn't even ask her, she just offered it.  To me, this is excellent business.  Not only was I happy, but now I am eager to recommend her blog to others and will certainly recommend sponsoring her to those who have similar blogs to hers.  This is a woman you want to do business with.

3.  A good blog to sponsor tells you their monthly pageviews.  When it all comes down to it, this is the only number that matters.  Twitter followers, GFC followers, Bloglovin, etc is all useful only in that it should contribute to your monthly pageviews.  Some tell you their pageviews right out on their sponsor page,  but some don't.  If they don't, I ask them straight up.  You'd be surprised how many bloggers have 4,000+ GFC followers but aren't even getting 20,000 monthly pageviews. The big giveaways that took over our blogosphere there for a minute greatly inflated "follower" numbers and quite frankly, now they can't be trusted.  Ask monthly pageviews to really get a good idea of how many eyes will see your post.

4.  A good blog to sponsor tells you the day your post is going to go up.  As soon as I have paid my money, I want to know what date the guest post or giveaway will be.  I have had sponsors tell me before just to send the post and then they'll fit it in whenever works for them.  Nope.  Give me a date and I will send the post before the deadline.  I like to know when the post will go up and know that that day has been set aside for me.

5.  A good blog to sponsor is not shady.  I suppose this could go a lot of different ways.  I get that the term "shady" is totally vague, but I can't think of a better word.  Just be upfront.  Don't lie.  Return emails on time.  Explain exactly what a sponsor is getting.  If you say "social media love" then what does that mean?  Do you #ff them with a group of a bunch of other bloggers?  Or do you link to a specific post of theirs three times a month?  Because those are very different things.  I feel like with sponsorship, the vaguer a blogger is, the shadier a blogger is.  What time will the post go up?  Don't post a guest post at 3 in the afternoon.  Post it early in the morning.  I was pretty frustrated this spring when I paid for a guest post and waited all morning to see traffic coming from that blog.  It didn't come and it didn't come and it didn't come.  Finally, at noon, the blogger put my guest post up.  At 2:00, there was another sponsored post up.  She gave me two measly hours and I paid for a full priced sponsorship.

I would say that most people when they are doing a guest post on your blog expect the post to be up for 24 hours or close to that.  This month I have been emailing Jenni about doing a guest post.  She said she would be happy to let me BUT there would be a high possibility that there would be two posts that day.  She couldn't guarantee me 24 hours.  I respect this so much.  Instead of just taking my money and then posting two or three sponsored posts that day without letting me know, Jenni was upfront about it and told me exactly what the jig would be.

As I'm finishing this post, I realize it sounds a bit more bitter and negative than I meant it to. I'm sorry. This wasn't my intention. I just think that bloggers who operate this way with their sponsorship need to stop.  I think they need to be called out on it.  Sadly, there are  bloggers out there who are just all about making a buck.  They have discovered the wonderful fact that their "little corner of the web" can bring them in a pretty penny and their minds start racing.  I don't think they're evil in their intentions, I just think they get a bit carried away when they realize how much money they can make and I think us, as fellow bloggers, need to tell them to cut it out and treat the customer right!

And wow.  What a rant!  Excuse me, it's my grumpy time of month.

Peace.  Love.  Sleep.

Originally published August 11, 2013

20 comments:

  1. This is really good information! I'm just starting out so I am not very knowledgeable about sponsorships but good to know for the future!

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  2. Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing this. I am so ignorant about so much of the "blog world" -- I didn't even know it was best to publish posts early in the morning! Obviously I'm not doing sponsorships or anything because my blog is very tiny, but coming from the perspective of someone who is looking into buying sponsorships on bigger blogs, this is really useful information. And I absolutely agree with your perspective on customer satisfaction and refunds. I'm sorry that people have taken your complaints personally, when -- like you said -- it's really just about the product!

    - Leah

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  3. I loved reading this! The one and ONLY time I ever paid money to sponsor a blog, the blogger got pregnant so she hardly ever posted. My promised guest post never went up. I asked for a partial refund, and she was apologetic and gave me all my money back. I appreciated this, but since then I haven't ever paid for an ad space..... I am way too paranoid lol!

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  4. Excellent advice and great information. I've been sponsoring blogs and have sponsors for my blog for more than a year now and I really agree with everything you said.

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  5. I've never sponsored a blog nor have I been sponsored, but I definitely agree with everything you said here. You made a totally valid point about Wal Mart not hating you over returning the pants. Love the post, love your blog :)

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  6. I agree with all of this. the exchange of money = a business transaction not just friends doing each other favors. People need to be upfront about what they offer and that's that.

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  7. I really appreciate this post! I am just starting to look into sponsoring and all of this information is so helpful. Thank you for your honesty!

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  8. You know, this post is really great. I have to admit, I was offering sponsorships for a while and I was totally one of those people who didn't return emails ASAP and didn't give specifics. I realized that what I was doing wasn't cool and stopped. I know that my blog isn't a business and I don't treat it as such. I'm definitely coming to realize that more and more! I don't have time to do the things you listed, so I'm not offering sponsorships. Easy as that! It's good for bloggers to realize just how much of a commitment it is before jumping on board. So thanks for the post :)

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  9. Interesting information

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  10. I totally agree that page views are the most important metric. I don't understand how bloggers calculate their "total reach" based on followers on different platforms - especially when most readers generally follow across all platforms. So, instead of being counted once, if someone is following you on BlogLovin, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, that person is counted five times.

    So, yes. Those numbers are pretty inflated.

    As a PR person, it drives me crazy, so I've found other ways to analyze influence when planning campaigns that involve bloggers.

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  11. I found this post really interesting, I've never quite understood how sponsoring works apart from the basics.

    guesswhathollie.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. yes, ma'am, bonnie. we have indeed been on better terms ever since. love ya, lady. i'd sponsor you every month if i could. :]

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  13. Loved this post and the real insight into everything. Also, just went over to check out Heather's blog. Good for her.

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  14. This is such good information! I am actually in a spot right now where I paid a blogger for a service and she did not follow through on her promise. I was trying to figure out the proper way to go about confronting her on this. This post really helped. Thank you!

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  15. I have been flirting with the idea of dipping into sponsoring other blogs but am terrified because 1) I am so overwhelmed and 2) do not really know what to expect. These are great points of what I should expect from the person I plan on giving my money to. Thank you for the advice!

    Cheers,
    Alyson

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  16. Thanks Bonnie. I love your honesty. I don't sponsor nor do I accept yet- I think because I have read many stories and tips just like this over the last year and just don't want to be wasting hard earned money on people who are shady and dishonest. Refunds are a part of business. Period. You have made me very aware of the types of practices some bloggers out there are conducting and I will keep my watchful eye when I start doing them....if I ever decide to.

    Thanks,
    Ginny
    www.buttergirldiaries.com

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  17. I love this post! I've recently started offering ads on my blog, and I'm always wanting to improve. I definitely like the point you made about refunds - I know there have been a few bloggers who I've really wanted my money back, but instead I just got incredibly rude emails or, for that matter, no response at all. That's one thing when I paid 5$, but entirely another when I paid 30$. And I'm still not over the blogger I paid $50 to sponsor because I went based off of follower numbers without asking her page views - but I guess that's my fault.

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  18. I can't believe this is the first post I've read that covers this. Maybe because it's a touchy topic and/or a potential criticism of other bloggers? I don't know, but it's really good information, so I'm glad you shared it even if it was a rant.

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  19. Thank you for sharing this post! I finally took the plunge into this whole sponsorship thing this September where I am currently supporting two bloggers who I believe in. My stats have so far improved, but nothing too sensational. I will take note of these tips when I continue to sponsor other blogs, and/or when I eventually offer sponsorship in the future.

    Jae
    SCATTERBRAIN

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  20. Fortunately for you, you still have people sponsoring you! My sponsorship seems to have died with my lack of new posts (I just post once a week now). It's honestly such a relief. I LOOOVE it. There's no pressure anymore. No more sponsored posts, no more guest posts, no more promises. To me, that's a relief. I wish you the best of success with your continued sponsorship options. You're rockin' it, Bon. Proud of you.

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