Before I started writing this post I had a quick scroll through some of my recent posts. Six out of the last ten were sponsored posts. Not just any sponsored posts though – these six included one on nasal spray and one where I took a sample of my own poo for testing.
Sexy stuff right?
I make no secret of the fact that my blog is highly commercial. It’s how I make my living and if I didn’t post a lot of collaborations then I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage. A lot of information for professional bloggers focusses on the balance between sponsored and personal content – ‘post more about yourself and less about brands!’ – but as much as I agree that personality is key, I struggle with this as a solution.
For me, it’s like saying that your sponsored content is simply less interesting than your other posts, and that in order to soften the blow, we need to mix up the brand work with the ‘good stuff’, so as not to annoy people.
But hang on, why can’t the sponsored posts be interesting too? Just because you’re being paid to write something, doesn’t mean it has to be substandard does it? If anything, you should be taking more care to make it entertaining – someone is investing in you after all.
Next time you sign up for a brand partnership, why not have a think about how you can make it your best work, rather than something you feel the urge to hide?
How to write sponsored blog content that still has personality:
Begin with a personal anecdote
People read your blog because they are interested in YOU, and just because today you happen to be writing about tinned peaches, doesn’t mean you can’t link it back to a personal story. That first paragraph is the one that’s going to get people hooked, so this is your chance to tell a story or share an anecdote that can lead into the product but is still about you.
Don’t be afraid to be honest
If a company wants to just have their key marketing messages reproduced word for word then they can do that themselves. They’re coming to you because they like your take on things and they want to get their brand across in a more personal, authentic way.
A great example of this is the recent work I’ve done with Iceland. My first post was called ‘Why Iceland is about more than kebab pizzas’. I talked about my initial impressions of Iceland as a brand, but then I was able to say how these had changed. The message was essentially a positive one, but I was also able to empathise with readers who might be thinking ‘Really? Iceland?’
Be relatable and solve a real problem
The aim here is to make people think ‘yes! That’s me! Tell me what to do about it!’
Take this sponsored post from Not Another Mummy Blog as an example. Alison is writing about a food box delivery, but begins by confessing to being lazy in the kitchen and cooking the same 20 meals over and over again. We can all relate to that right? Immediately we see something of ourselves in Alison and we read on to see how she is going to help us solve the problem.
Include some video
Even if it’s just a few Instagram stories or a short video clip for the blog, the very fact of being able to see your face will help to make your sponsored content more personal. People buy from people after all, so talking to your readers directly in a natural, informal way, is going to help to connect them with the brand you’re promoting.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
If you want your readers to be able to relate to you then you need to show that you’re not afraid to be funny at your own expense.
I know for example that fashion isn’t really my thing, so when I was asked to write a post styling jeans in different ways I enlisted the help of my daughter as photographer and she suggested poses for me – ‘pretend to be on Countdown’, ‘make friends with that bin’ and ‘stand against that wall and look like you’re in an Adele video’ all featured.
This post was popular with readers and with the brand, proving that sometimes you actually can please all of the people all of the time.
What makes a sponsored post interesting for you as a reader? What lessons could you translate to your own brand collaborations?