No no, this isn’t a guest post. Sounds like one though. Even I’m not completely certain who’s writing this…

I have been, and remain, pretty ambivalent about monetizing my blog. To me, there are just too many downsides. Simply activating ads yields very little revenue and you have no control over the content of the ad so you may end up inadvertently promoting a product you dislike to your readers. Affiliate links are a bit better but still not particularly lucrative when you consider that you are still actively becoming an advertiser and selling a product to your readers which comes with a range of responsibilities. I’m lazy, I doubt I would find the commission worth it.

whelp, I’m exhausted

The other option are the various means for getting money directly from your readers, like Patreon or Ko-Fi. Those don’t have the moral implications of advertising but aren’t necessarily that suited to our specific needs.

The way I see it, the great majority of amateur bloggers dream of being able to sustain themselves through their blogs. I get it. Even though I’ve actively stayed an amateur and quite enjoy my job, there are days when I wish I could stay home and just write a couple of posts and watch some anime. It sounds wonderful in theory. Unfortunately for most of us, our core audience is also bloggers who are trying to live off their own blogs. Giving the little money they have to another blogger is rather counterproductive and receiving money is meaningless if you just turn around and give it to another blog.

And for the aniblogging community in particular, even if we manage to work hard and gather an extended following beyond wordpress, most of our readers will still be students or young adults who don’t have much or any disposal income to begin with. For most of us then, this is probably not a viable option for anything beyond slightly mitigating blog costs.

yato poor
ok, two more weeks and I can sponsor one blog

So where does that leave us. If we’re not getting money from our readers either directly or indirectly, the options are pretty limited. But they aren’t inexistent! You can still try your luck directly with companies.

Sponsored posts for instance are a way to get paid for advertising where you have complete control over the message and you can get at least a base fee regardless of sales. There are also companies that are happy to send review samples or products in exchange for a post on the subject and most of them cannot legally require a positive review if you didn’t like the product. I say most of them because international advertising laws are tricky, and the internet is still a gray zone. This said, if you decide the product is bad and offer to return it rather than post a negative review, most of them will simply let you keep the goods.

I know that getting free merch isn’t the same as getting paid. It is better than nothing though.

I can’t explain this – I just like it

But how do you even get the opportunity to do sponsored posts? I never really thought about it myself. For the longest time, I just figured that lucky bloggers got approached with sponsorship opportunities by entrepreneuring marketing execs through their contact page or something. That may still occasionally be the case. However, as the internet has expanded to a zillion blogs, wikis, fan pages and youtube channels all with their particular opportunities, it is less and less practical for any specific company to comb through it all to find interesting marketing options. A lot of them no expect people to come to them instead. And that’s where the media kit comes in.

A sponsored post is essentially a job. Most of the time, you need to apply for one. And the standard way to do so is by sending them a nice little presentation email with a description of what you could do for the company and what you expect in exchange. And a media kit that will give your potential “clients” all the information they usually request to make these types of decisions.

The most important thing to include are your numbers. Basically, your average number of visitors/views per month, your number of followers on both your blog and other social media platforms. If possible, an idea of your visitors’ engagement such as return visitors, comments, likes so on.

anime thumbs up
thanks, you too!

Another interesting statistic for advertisers is demographics. You can easily see where your readership comes from through your wordpress stat page. But you can also run polls to try to figure out age and gender of your readers. I mean, it’s an anime blog so that already gives you an idea.

After that you can also include testimonials, if you’ve ever done sponsored posts before or if you’ve done paid posts on other blogs. A list of potential services is also interesting. In your letter you can offer something targeted to the person your writing to but it’s good that they know you can do other things as well. Aside from reviews you can also write essay type posts, how to posts, start tags or projects, add the product or company to lists, use the products for giveaways, use images of their product in other posts and if you happen to have other platforms potentially discuss them in videos or podcasts. This is what I came up with, I’m sure you can think of your own options as well.

Pricing for different options is good but you can always leave it up for negotiation as well. You can also create packages by offering multiple posts or different types of posts.

just give it over…

Finally, you should always add your contact information. I know it’s on your blog. I know they can just hit reply to your email. Put it in anyways and make it super obvious! Here are a bunch of media kit examples I found for your reference:

Don’t be too intimidated by the numbers on these examples. Anime is still considered very niche and we are not expected to pull in the same amount of readers.

I have not in fact tried contacting companies so as usual, take everything I say with a huge grain of salt. But like I said, it’s a lot like a job application and just like job hunting it can take time. You have to be prepared and ready for a lot of rejections. That’s normal. But hey, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? Besides, it’s not like there’s anything to lose!

sket dance
is there a hockey anime?

One last piece of unsolicited, unresearched and unfounded advice. You can expand beyond your field of expertise. If you write about anime, you don’t *have* to reach out only to companies that are somehow directly related to anime. Anyone that wants to get the attention of your audience could be interested. People that put together conventions for instance (i.e. event planners). Non Profit organizations that want to reach younger audience. Heck if you like their mission statement you can even volunteer. I bet something like the Trevor project would be delighted to get some free recognition. You also don’t have to stick to the big guys. Netflix and amazon probably don’t need any extra exposure, but your local manga shop may love to get a touch of business in exchange for a few volumes a month.

Like I said, I am talking purely theoretically here. In all likelihood, this will never allow you to live off your blog either. I just studied up on media kits a little while ago and thought the information might be interesting to some of my fellow bloggers as well.

If I missed anything or if you have experience with sponsored posts, please let me know in the comments. I’m sure a lot of us would really love to have this information!

Deku taking notes

26 thoughts

  1. “Unfortunately for most of us, our core audience is also bloggers who are trying to live off their own blogs”

    This! In the end, that’s the truth for the anime blogging community in general. I notice that usually my audience is other anime bloggers, so in the end, it would be difficult to monetize. And using Ko-fi/Patreon not so successful either, at least for minor blogs.

    I though about using Ko-fi, but considering the % that they take from small donations, I prefer that people don’t donate to me at all.

    For medium and bigger blogs I guess would made a lot of sense to have sponsored posts and partnerships. As you mentioned, you would actually get something out of it, and still control your content

  2. This is some pretty sound advice tbh. While I’m nowhere near thinking about doing any of this ( numbers are down and I’m busy) I think I can add one thing and that’s making sure your blog is appealing to advertisers. So like if you’re a little relaxed and kind vulgar like mine then people should think about cleaning it up some and taking it a bit more seriously.

  3. This is neat Irina! I really hope I can put these tips to the test in a year or two. I was actually approached by an online manga company actually. I decided not to do affiliate marketing with them because they mostly liscensed x rated manga and because just wasn’t ready. Guess I was one of the lucky few to grab someone’s attention. I don’t know how.

  4. My secret, sinister plan is to write such inane stuff so very badly that the blogging community as a whole offers to pay me to stop writing. And since mine is a weekly blog, I’ll expect a sweet weekly rain of cash(!) to buy my continued silence. . .

    1. It’s not like I taught YOU anything but others could have learned something. I a masterclass in blog advertising coming up?

      1. And THAT’S how you monetize – you pretend to know something and start selling that knowledge as paywalled courses! The ways of the modern ‘influencers’!

        1. Oh man In that case I’m an expert – I’ve been pretending to know things for years (it’s one of my most used tags!)

          1. (Initially posted as anonymous, because I’m new to WP and fumbled it) Intentional world play. But the question is, when will you paywall it? 😉

      2. And that’s what is important! 😀 Everything you said makes a lot of sense and can actually help a lot of people ^^
        Yeah, there is! It will probably come out after the Winter Season guide is finished. This time around I want to do a full guide, passing everything I know. So, it will take longer to complete it 🙂 It will be, of course, free o charge. The idea is to help everyone 🙂

  5. Anyone who wants to make money off of their own blog should definitely follow all of the above advice. And check out mine for an example of exactly what NOT to do if you want to make your blog marketable.

  6. I don’t get remotely enough hits to come close to warrant thinking about this. If I were to think about monetisation I’d start a patron or make use of a similar type of service.

    I think once you start getting advertisers one you blog, it ends up turning your blog into something completely different. And it’d be something I’d be less interested in writing for.

    1. I have my own worries about it, then again a lot of great blogs I enjoy have advertising and it doesn’t seem to have changed them at all

  7. This is all good advice.

    I’ve never pursued sponsored posts myself, but I get quite a few review copies from companies I’ve successfully built up relationships with, so I can talk a bit about that.

    In some cases, my background in the commercial press helps with this (reputation counts!) but I’ve also approached some people I’ve never spoken to before and been able to score some freebies.

    The important thing is to set a good first impression. A full-on media kit isn’t 100% necessary for this, but you should be polite and articulate in your email, making sure to explain what your site’s all about, what your background is and why you’re interested in Thing. Also be realistic; if you might not be able to churn out a review of Thing within 24 hours, let them know what your estimated timeframes are, and stick to them.

    Having previous examples of covering similar things (or similar stuff from the same company, if you’re re-establishing contact after a long period) is very helpful, be sure to provide a few links that you think are representative of what you can offer.

    It also helps to be human! You’re writing to another person, not a robot, so show some personality in your email. If you copy-paste the same blurb to 50 companies, it will be obvious. Take the time to add a personal touch.

    Social media can be helpful too. Interact with a company or their representatives on Facebook and/or Twitter, and a conversation can often lead to some sort of collaboration.

    Finally, make sure you disclose to your readers when something you’ve written is a sponsored post or the product of a freebie — particularly in the former case, as a lot of readers these days are very savvy to people trying to advertise to them without their consent. (You should also make sure you disclose if you’re using affiliate links.)

    Most of the above pretty much boils down to common sense and not being a dick, but I hope these points are helpful to someone!

    1. Definitely agree with this. I’ve found that interaction, politeness, and honesty works wonders when reaching out to people. I only reached out for review copies from companies on the off chance, and it’s paid off so far, so that’s been great. As to sponsored posts, I haven’t reached for one either, but a few have come to me. I’m not sure how it started, but i’m happy to embrace it to be fair 🙂

        1. It really depends what the sponsor wants. If they’re wanting something other than a review written it can take two to three weeks to set up. If it’s a review it can be quicker. If really varies from post to post.

    2. wonderful – thank you so much for this. I badly just wanna send an email to sentai or right stuff saying gimme anime!

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