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Getting Knickers in a Twist over Blog Sponsorship – Blog Case Study

KnickersThe following post was submitted by Danae Shell as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I’m the editor of a lingerie weblog called Knickers (warning: as Danae says – this is a lingerie blog and could be unsuitable for some workplaces etc – Darren).

Knickers is a product weblog that features beautiful lingerie with advice about what to wear, etc., and also has an ongoing interview series with lingerie designers and other professionals within the industry. I started Knickers because there was no resource like it on the web, no ‘lingerie heaven’ where women could go to find beautiful lingerie and learn about bra-sizing, and what suits their body type.

Knickers has been running for nine months now, and it’s getting to the point where the weblog needs to start monetizing properly, or it’s not going to be worth the amount of time I put into it. The main sources of revenue just now are Google ads and affiliate links, neither of which performing beautifully. I’m now seriously considering sponsorship for Knickers, but am concerned about the implications ‘will I lose credibility? Will I alienate other designers? Will new readers be confused as to whether I’m owned by the sponsor?’

I’ve looked around quite a bit for pro-blogging articles about sponsorship, but it’s usually only mentioned as one possible revenue stream, i.e. ‘or, you can get a sponsorship.’ I’d be really interested to hear from other bloggers who have done sponsorships, and to learn how they decided a price for the sponsorship, what their terms were, and how it’s working for them. I think an ideal sponsorship would be one that brings added value to the readers of the weblog, and would love to hear of creative ways bloggers have teamed up with sponsors to benefit their readers.

Thanks in advance for your insights!

Danae Shell
Editor
Knickers www.knickersblog.com

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. jim says:

    I don’t think you need to worry about alienating your readers because they can see how much time you’ve invested into the blog and don’t mind seeing you earn a fair amount on the side for all your effort. Just follow all the general advice you read about advertisements on blogs (relevant, not force-fed, etc) That being said, calling it a sponsorship might not be the best term for it because a sponsorship usually implies a tighter relationship than just an advertisement. Good luck!

  2. David says:

    I have a “52 Books, 52 Weeks” project on my blog, Largehearted Boy (I read 52 books in a year and write short reviews). In late 2004 an independent bookstore offered to sponsor the project by providing the books in return for the mentioned books linking back to their website. I weighed the free books versus the lost Amazon Associates revenue, and decided to agree to the sponsorship. This sponsorship has great synergy: I get free books with a leading independent bookseller, and the bookseller gets increased visibility to a key demographic.

  3. Martin Ralya says:

    I guess it depends what you count as “sponsorship.”

    For example, do you plan to write posts on the spnsor’s behalf (stealth ads), or just display their ads on your site? I see those as two ends of a spectrum — I think the former will affect your credibility, the latter will not (as you’re already displayed ads).

  4. danae says:

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your comments so far! To answer Martin’s question, I wouldn’t consider doing any “stealth” sponsorships, i’d prefer to hand-pick any advertisors and present them (and their products) to the readers as something that we love and recommend. I’ve been thinking about possibly doing a “sponsored product” kind of idea where advertisors feature a particular product and i add that within the content area (and indicate it as an ad), which would hopefully make it a bit more relevant for the readers than a plain banner ad.

    Cases like David’s are exactly what I was thinking of when I asked this question — I knew people had to be doing creative things with their advertisors/sponsors beyond just putting their ads up, I just couldn’t find any :-)

  5. Clyde Smith says:

    Great blog. I look forward to learning more about lingerie in the near future!

    I think as long as you’re up front about your relationships with advertisers and/or sponsors (either term is fine, sponsor has a long history as another term for advertiser), people will understand. Besides, you’ve already got advertising, so you’ve established that aspect already.

    There are a number of reasons that you might consider using BlogAds as one source, including the fact that they are going to increasingly be seen as a way for bigger companies to advertise on blogs as money moves from tv and print to online advertising.

    Feel free to drop me a line if you want to know more or need a sponsor (which you have to have to sign up). I’d be happy to help:
    clyde(at)prohiphop(dot)com

    Peace,
    Clyde

  6. Fabio says:

    Danae,
    you have a very cleaned and great niche blog. I think you have only to optimize more your adsense ads. Little changes will do earn you more…
    For example you can insert some images near the ads between your posts and change the actual ads format in 300X250 or 250X250 ads.
    Another tip could be to test Chitika eminimall in your post/blog. For me it converts very well.
    If you want, you can view a my niche blog (www.gpsnews.org) and see how I optimized my ads and testing this on your blog.
    Furthermore on problogger there are many post about optimization tips that can help you.
    Good Luck
    Fabio

  7. Hi Danae
    I’ve seen a lot of fashion blogs and I like the flavor of yours better than a lot I’ve seen. My blog is about the utilitarian side of fashion (ie, manufacturing for entrepreneurs). Most of my visitors are manufacturers of sewn products rather than just lingerie.

    As it happens, I’ll be doing a post (prolly today) on the problems of thoracic shaping and the consequent problems of fitting bras. I’ll be sure to mention your site so we’ll see if anybody approaches you with some ideas (my co-blogger also manufactures lingerie). There are also a couple of internet newsletters strictly for buyers/manufacturers of lingerie so that may be a source for sponsorship too. Then, there’s always the fiber producers.

    I’m curious to know how utilitarian type posts would work on your site, just to add to the mix, I mean.

  8. danae says:

    Thank you to everyone for the fantastic comments! I’m learning a great deal from them, and please, keep them coming! I’ll be e-mailing some of you seperately to follow up on various things, just wanted to say thank you here for all the great advice.

  9. “Monetize properly” is, I think, too vague a goal. You need to know your actual revenue goals.

    Once you know how much revenue you need — and at what time scale — you can examine ways you can offer sufficient value to sponsors or advertisers or subscribers. It makes a huge difference, though, whether you’re seeking six hundred dollars (David’s 52 books, less the 40% discount that bookstores receive) or $60,000 (perhaps enough for a small salary and a modest office) or more.

  10. John T Unger says:

    Hi Danae,

    I recommend checking blogads.com… they allow you to accept or reject advertisers and I’ve found that the ads are better looking and more targeted. I’ve been really happy with both the performance of the ads and the support staff there. They might be agood match for the sort of audience you’re cultivating.