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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://www.bizmavens.com/media-kit-examples/
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!
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!