how to open up a sponsorship program on your blog

7.25.2014





Romper (under $10!), shoes, and bracelets ℅ Sears; Urban Outfitter's hat, old (option); Forever 21 sunglasses.

I've been blogging for a little over three years now, and one of the biggest questions I for myself had at the beginning was, "When do I start with sponsorships?" I've written about Making Money Through Blogging and How To Grow Your Blog before, but today I wanted to go over how to open up YOUR OWN sponsorship program and make some money! Not all blogger's are in it for the money, some of us do it for the pure pleasure of it (I am like that sometimes!), but if you want to branch out and make a little cash through sponsorship, here is how you do it. 

1) The first thing you have to do is determine if you are ready. This was so hard for me, as there is no concrete number of readers and page views that say "Start now!", but you DO have to have an archive of solid content to start. I also think you should have some loyal readers on your blog and on social media who like and read your blog on a daily basis. The point of having a sponsorship program is to share your readership base with those that sponsor you, as well as to drive traffic over. If you can't do that, then you probably should't be taking money from someone and saying that you can! 

For myself, I didn't start my sponsorship program until I had close to 1000 followers via GFC. It is a lot of responsibility to feel that folks are spending their heard earned cash on YOU, and I wanted to be able to deliver. That meant I had solid content on my blog, I had a considerable reach on social media, and I felt comfortable that I could give what I said I could deliver. 

2) Figure out what you have liked and felt worked well while sponsoring other blogs, and adapt that to your own sponsorship program. For myself, I am comfortable offering a Group Giveaway option, because I know that it was always a home run when I participated on one, and I knew it would work for my readers. It benefits everybody! This option does take a lot of time to put together and run, so I tend to like to do only that when working with other blogger's, and save my other sponsored posts and such for companies that reach out to me via email. 

Other bloggers offer Feature ads, Social media shootouts, Sidebar ads only, Consultations, Product Features, etc. These can all be successful and worth it, but you have to determine how much time you want to give when running all of these together, as well as the pressure to deliver on what you promise. 

3) Something I found difficult to determine was what to price everything so that it wasn't too cheap, but didn't drive folks away, either. For my group giveaway, I had always liked that it was a relatively low buy in (with an additional amount thrown in for a group gift card), and that it was accessible to a lot of folks. One of the easiest ways to see if you priced things right is to see if it sells out quick, or if it sits unused. The first six months of my giveaway option sold out each time, so that told me I could raise the price slightly, because it was a popular option. If it didn't sell out, I would have lowered the price or offered promos. I have tried other options that have not been as popular and found that I either didn't like offering them and took them away, or I tweaked what I had until they worked. You can look at blogs that have a similar readership size to you and see what they charge, this can give you an idea of where to start. 

You can also run pricing deals on your Facebook or Twitter pages for your readers to raise awareness, or give discounts to returning customers. (Like this: For a 20% off promo code for my group giveaway option, you can like my Facebook page to get it, and get in line for August's giveaway. No really, this is true! Book now;)

4) Don't be afraid to get yourself out there! I run my ads and sponsorship program through Passionfruit, which makes it really easy to set up my ads on my blog and sell them there as well. It takes the thought out of installing ads, and just makes things easy for me and my sponsors. Once I had created my ad shop and installed it on my sponsor page, I wrote a post about it and asked some blogger friends to share the news. You have to market yourself and be a little pushy about getting it out there (Twitter and Facebook are great for this!), because if you don't do it, no one will. Sponsorship spots don't sell themselves at first, it will take an effort from you to get your name and options out there. 

5) Lastly, rely on feedback to let you know what is working and what isn't. I keep stats on how each of my sponsors are doing in the month they follow me, so I know exactly how much they grew while sponsoring me. This gives me a concrete idea of how well I did for them and what worked the best. I find most of my sponsors come back month after month to re-sponosr me as well, which means they liked the results, too! In the past, I've also found that certain options weren't working as well as I wanted, so I either eliminated them or made them better. If my sponsors aren't happy with results, than neither am I. You have to be willing to work hard for those that spend their money on you, and give the results that you promise. 

Tell me, do you have a sponsorship option for you blog, or are you thinking of it? What can I help YOU with? 

 More Blogging 101 posts HERE and HERE

I also wrote an ebook on all things blogging, HERE!

back to school, back to you

7.23.2014



Day look: Dress (only $12.99!) and vest (in white) ℅ Sears
Night Look: Dress (another option), Vest (in black, which I have and LOVE!) and Heels ℅ Sears.

I haven't been in school in quite some time, but seriously, once Fall comes each year I can STILL get the feeling that I need a new notebook and pens and highlighters and all the other things an organized gal like me gushes over. Oh, and school clothes! Remember when we could go shopping with mom and pick out new outfits for that first day? I miss that!

I went to college for my undergrad at Keene State College in my home state of New Hampshire, and it was hands down one of the BEST experiences of my life. I was in a sorority (which rocked),  and the campus was in the middle of the mountains. It was so beautiful and perfect. The campus was small enough to sort of get a chance to recognize most everyone, but big enough that you could get the true college experience. I made my best friends there, I met my husband there, and I grew up there in a way. It was amazing.

My style back then I was a freshman in 1998 (I graduated in 2002!), was everything you would expect from the late 90's. Lots of thick soled black sandals, white eyeliner, hair flipped up at the ends, and on most days, pajama pants and a large sweatshirt. I remember trudging through the snow in high heeled, knee high boots, and also had "party" black pants that could be sprayed with Febreeze after a get together and worn to class the next day. Febreeze was a college girls best friend, I SWEAR.

My idea of style has changed drastically since then (thank goodness!), and if I were magically transported to the ages of 18-21 again, I can imagine I would report to class on the first day in a look like you see above. An easy/breezy dress, a cute little knit vest, and a tote to carry all my books in. The awesome thing about college is that there is no dress code and you can really be yourself and wear what makes you happy. Come to think of it, that's not that far off from being a stay at home mom who now drops her OWN kids off for the first day of school;)

As for a night out? I love the thought of wearing the same thing, but spicing it up a little with some heels and fun accessories. College was never really dressy, so I think it takes a small change to sort of jazz up your "going to class" look to a "let's go out and have some FUN" look, you know?

I picked up these items from Sears this past week and was blown away by how inexpensive and downright CUTE their stuff was. Everything was on trend (ikat! lace up heels! boho knit vests!) and fit my idea of how I would shop for myself for a back to school look. It shows how I WOULD dress for school, as well as my REALITY of life now, as a mom. I mean, this dress was only $12.99! I love shopping for trendy looks that can be bought for less. I live on one income and have two kids, a home, and all that goes with it. Sears gave me the ability to look amazing for less, and I love that. I also picked out this romper, this owl printed sweaternude peep toe flats, and the black version of the knit vest! Most of the times I chose were under $20 each and the quality was great. Everything I chose can be worn now, and then layered with tights, chunky cardigans and boots for Fall. I just love versatility, don't you?

P.S. Here's a sneak peek of another, back to school, back to you look (for only $9!), coming this Friday!


For more SearsStyle, click HERE!


Sears had the hottest trends, and celebrity tips and trends you can afford to try!

“Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Sears via Mode Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Sears.”

looks are deceiving (6 tips for living life frugally)

7.21.2014




Knit vest ℅ Sears (only $12!); Old Navy dress, old (optionoption); Marshall's scarf, old (option); Target sandals and necklace (option); Forever 21 sunglasses.

I think it's natural when reading about someone else's life to assume certain things. "Wow, she must be rich to shop so much," or, "I bet they are in debt because they have buy a lot of things." I can't speak for anyone else, but looks can be so deceiving when it comes to blogging. The facts is, I love shopping and love buying new things. It just makes me feel good to have pretty clothes, but I also practice restraint when I need to. My husband and I have a plan for our finance's, both short and long term. We discuss how we want to spend what we have, and what we need to buy, and budget accordingly. I haven't worked outside of the home for six years and find that we do pretty well with what we have. It's a blessing to have worked towards what we have, money wise, and I'm so thankful for his regular paycheck (the military is good like that!), and for all we have.

Here are some of the things we do to live a great life, financially (or, how does she get to shop SO MUCH?!)

1) The first thing we did after getting married was begin paying off our college debt. We both had substantial loans and started paying them off with our tax returns from the start. I can't remember the exact amount of time it took to pay them all off, but it was within five years, and while it was NOT fun to spend huge chunks of tax money on this at first, it gave us freedom.
When I went back for my Master's Degree it worked out well that I could only take couple of classes at a time, so we paid that off as I went, which worked well finically (though it took me a lonnnng time to graduate!

2) We keep cars for a long time and pay them off quickly! My husband has had the same vehicle since college, and after we finished paying off our college loans we began paying off huge chunks of car loans. I've had two cars in twelve years and this works great for us (we also keep them for about six years, typically.) We buy used, pay them off within two years, and then have no car payments for about four. 

3) We have no credit cards! Everything we buy is in cash. If it's not in the checking account, or can't be  paid with savings (and put back immediately), it can't be bought. We have done no interest credit cards in the past for things like our flooring in our Florida home, or a hot tub, but we carry the balance for less than six months, then pay it off with our tax money. (That tax money is useful!) 

4) The magical tax money is something we budget the entire year for. We get a large, lump sum at tax time (it just works to have more taken out in our paycheck and get a huge amount back), and it works well for us. We use some for adding into our children's' college accounts, and the rest is for whatever we have coming up. Sometimes we plan big family vacations, this year I am getting a new car (we will need a down payment), and often we have to use some for practical things (home repair, etc.) 

5) My husband and I both know what bills are going out and keep an eye on our checking account daily. I don't have a budget for shopping, but I do know what we have at any given moment and can plan for that as I shop. I tend to buy a lot of inexpensive things, and most of the time I can shop with my blog income (bonus!) If I see that we are getting low, or if I know we have a lot of bills going out, I don't shop. Period. 

6) Finally, having a savings account is key for my peace of mind. We always had a goal in mind of how much we wanted in there as a buffer, and we reached that about five years ago. I love that we have that for emergencies. If my car needs a repair that comes out of the blue, we can cover it. If there is an emergency and we need cash quick, we have it. I could never comfortably buy anything if we didn't have this savings account. We rarely take money from it and our goal is always to keep it where it is and to keep adding to it monthly. We also have retirement accounts that are added to monthly, so we can have a future and a retirement that is (hopefully!) worry free. 

Tell me, how do you budget yourself, while shopping and otherwise? (I like to shop at inexpensive stores (Target! Old Navy!), and spurge only on certain occasions (my birthday! Christmas!)

Shop this post:


My favorite things (kimono hoarding excluded, obviously)

7.18.2014


Forever 21 tunic; ℅ Levi's shorts (option); Target bag (option); Sam Edemlan boots; Forever 21 sunglasses (save, splurge); ℅ Just Dawnelle floral headband.

Taking a note from a lifesaver in the name of the Total Social link up, because I had NO IDEA what to write this evening, and I spent 6.4666666 million hours at the pool with 4,364 splashing children this afternoon and MY GOODNESS, I need sleep. 

And also, nothing is better than coming home from said pool, taking a lukewarm shower, and drinking an ice cold beverage on my (quiet) back deck while my animal beast precious children are stunned into silence by the television.

Amen.

Here are a few of my favorite things!

Favorite Style Icon: I've loved Jackie Kennedy with a passion for years, and actually collect books and things from her. She inspired me stylewise and made me more aware. I may not dress like her, but she was the beginning of my love of style, and I am obsessed. You can read more about how she inspired my blog name, here

Though seriously, my sister in law just told me that my style reminds her of Nicole Ritchie and I almost DIED of happiness. Her boho/rocker/edgy/girly style is amazing. I'm obsessed. 

Favorite Book: Being an avid and all consuming reader, I can't exactly say I have a favorite favorite book, you know? There are just too many I love. I can say that the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is up there, as is anything written by Elin Hilderbrand, and I have a serious crush on on the romantic trilogies by Nora Roberts. I collect my favorite books and have a huge collection at home that I reread a lot. I sort of fall in love with characters and don't want to let them go sometimes. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is really great, too, which I was surprised about. 

Favorite Song: I have a lot of sentimental songs that make me happy, like our wedding song,"It's Your Love," by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, or that Hawaiian song that mashes up all those classics that I can't think of the name of(?). "Remember When," by Alan Jackson always makes me cry, as does "Landslide", by Fleetwood Mac. Right now I love listening to Mumford and Sons with the windows down on a bright Summer day, and singing loudly with my kids. I would LOVE to see them in concert someday.

Favorite Color: I am the girliest of girls and have the heart of a six year old, so PINK. Or purple. Or a combination thereof;)

Favorite Meal: I don't have a real favorite (can you tell I'm indecisive yet?), but I love sushi, anything Italian (my husband makes KILLER spaghetti and meatballs), enchiladas make me really crazy happy, as does a great steak.

Favorite Picture: Typically any picture of my kids' as babies makes me happy. They had the squishiest faces, and I swear, I get really sentimental and teary when I look back. I also have a picture of the first day that my husband and I met, back in 2000 in college. I love that we have that photo, even though it was a chance meeting and I didn't know then what we would become. 

Favorite Year of life: This year, right now is seriously awesome. I love that life keeps getting better and better, and keeps topping the year before. I can also say 1999 was great because I was living in a sorority house with my best friends, I was free as a bird, and had the time of my life. College was so awesome and the best experience for me, I couldn't imaging it being better than it was.

Favorite Place: I am one of those people who really loves being home. I am surrounded by my things, my family, and all that I love. It really is my happy place. Being in the military lifestyle makes me appreciate the here and now, it also gives me the knowledge that my favorite place is always where my husband and children are.

Favorite Movie: I love, love, LOVE, "Father of the Bride", and it's sequel. I have them dvr'd and usually watch them both when my husband is working at night. They bring me back to watching them in middle and high school with my mom and imagining myself getting married someday. 

Favorite blog post: I wrote a post one night, spur of the moment, about all the things I didn't know about having a daughter. I cried while writing it (emotional, much?), and it ended up being showcased on Parenting.com…so that was awesome. 

Linking up with Helene and Sarah!

Shop this post:


how i blog (summer edition)

7.16.2014

℅ IWYP tank (size medium, and true to size); Forever 21 kimono and sunglasses; H&M skirt, old (option); Shoemint sandals; Haystack necklace (local boutique), similar.

I think in year two of blogging I figured out something really important: there are seasons of growth and seasons of stagnation in blogging, and Summer is one that stagnates for just about all of us. I think it mostly comes down to a lack of motivation to sit and really dedicate ourselves to write truly engaging pieces this time of year (the beach calls my name!), as well as the fact that we all have less time to give. I know I have less time to really engage with my readers on a full time basis because my kids are home, and in general, I just lack motivation. Does this mean I don't find this space as fulfilling and I'm giving up? No. I just readjust how and when I will blog, as well as what I will and won't do during the two and a half months or so of Summer vacation. 

I've gotten several emails from readers asking for help on this subject, and the common denominator seems to be, "Help! My stats and readership are down and what am I doing wrong?" The best answer? "It's Summer. It's notoriously slow, there is nothing wrong with you, and it will get better." I promise! 

Here is how I change my blogging routine to reflect this slower time

1) I switch from blogging five times a week to three in June, July, and August. This not only cuts down my actual photo taking, editing, and post writing time, but it also gives me off days where I don't have to blog and can relax. 

2) I do batch photo shoots! This time of year it is warmer and I can plan outfits that can be quick changed in my car, and photographed together. I find that doing two photo shoots at a time is easier for me to manage, because the other days I may only be wearing a bathing suit and cover up, or I'm going to the gym, and I just don't have the time. Every outfit you see is something I have actually worn. I never photograph something for the sake of it, I just don't often get the chance to take photos when I'm wearing it (going to a concert with friends is just a weird time to stop and pose!), so I  will put it on again for photos a couple of days later. 

3) I stop my sponsor program for the month of July to give myself a break. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes of running a group giveaway (emails, keeping track of stats, putting together the widget details, locating winners, follow up details, etc.), and I like to give myself a vacation from that and regroup.  

On that note, my Group Giveaway option will be back in August and already it is starting to sell out! Join in on the chance to grow your readership HUGE amounts and be a part of a giveaway that typically has upwards of 14,000 entries. I will be approving ads August first (so that your ad corresponds with the giveaway!) You can book your spot HERE. Spots are limited and sell out consistently every month, get in while you can!

4) Summer may be slow, but I take this time to plan how I will be growing my blog this Fall. I browse the Passionfruit Marketplace for sponsor options, and read the sidebars of my favorite blogs to find great opportunities to get my name out there. Taking part in giveaways, purchasing feature spots, and keeping yourself relevant and out there (social media!) is the key to growing. 

5) Lastly, I ignore my stats. I haven't looked at anything more than my individual post page views and comments since May, and that has been completely liberating. It's really hard to see a slower season translated into page views, and can make me feel less. I like to look at the health of my blog in a new way. Do I have reader engagement (comments?) Yes. Am I still getting business opportunities that make me excited? Yes. Am I engaging with my readers (reading THEIR blogs, email replies, relying on social media?) Yes. The rest can wait till Fall when I can devote more time and energy. 

Tell me, how do YOU blog in the Summer? Is it different than other times of the year?

P.S. This super cute tank I am wearing is from a fabulous and fun blogger, Whitney, and her (awesomely) named blog, I Wore Yoga Pants To Work. She design a different tank or tee every month and this month I am honored to show off one of her designs. This tank is really comfortable, has a longer length that I adore, and has the type of fabric that feels substantial, yet lightweight. I assumed it would be a good tank, and it exceeded my expectations. It's an AWESOME tank. 
  • Orders will be taken through Tuesday, July 22nd at 11:59PM. After that, these shirts will no longer be available.
  • All orders are hand packaged and shipped by Whitney herself.
  • Each shirt comes with a custom kookie. 
  • Shirts are $25 + $5 shipping or $8 shipping for non-US addresses.

For more details on where to buy this tank (quick, get it while it lasts!) you can go HERE.
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