Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To sponsor or not to sponsor?

As the year draws to a close, I'm looking over at my Muntedkowhai expenses. This year was an experimental year for Muntedkowhai, I wanted to see how sponsoring blogs could affect Muntedkowhai sales. Sponsoring blogs is a way of marketing your brand and shop to readers of certain blogs by paying a certain amount per month to have your shop logo on the side bars of blogs.

I never sponsor more than one blog at a time, mostly due to financial reasons. Plus, I see alot of businesses sponsor blogs that are interlinked to each other. What I mean by this is that, readers of "X" blog also read blog "Y" and "Z" because they are in the same aesthetic circle of popular blogs. (You can say that readers of Modish are sure to read Creatures of Comfort and Bliss) So I tend to stray away from sponsoring more than one blog running in the same blog circle. Your can easily tell what circle they run by their blogroll.

It does take a lot of time to research which blog suits you, your logo and idea of what you want your readers to think of your product. A lack of research in this department is like flushing your marketing money down the loo. You want to target a certain niche market that will be more likely to be smitten with your product and viral spread it on their blogs, twitter and tell their friends. For this reason, when Traci French of Bliss blog opened her blog for sponorship, I jumped on board. One year later, I am still sponsoring Bliss. I will explain more as to why Bliss is the only blog I am still sponsoring.

There are two kind of blogs that I've sponsored. To break it down easily, they are either personal or inspirational blogs. What does this mean? Personal blogs are blogs that center on the blogger's life. Their worn fashion, where they eat, photographs of their neighbourhood and their recent fashion purchases. These blogs tend to hail in huge numbers of comments, readers that admire the blogger's sense of lifestyle. Such blogs are: Rockstar diaries , Cupcake and cashmere, Cup of Jo or Style Rookie etc. (Actually, Style Rookie doesn't even accept sponsorship)

Writers of inspirational blogs fill their blogs with images, products and artwork of new and unfound artists. Bloggers of these blogs have an eye for colours, design and presentation that creates a realm of a perfect world for their readers. Readers of these blogs are usually artists themselves and read these blogs to get inspiration, learn of new artists and even like myself, catch up on what is hot lately. Inspirational bloggers work hard to search high and low in the internet world for new and "unfound artists", fresh ideas and heart melting products. Their time is consumed by the internet and it is often the mecca for indie artist features. Such blogs are: Bliss, Frolic, Creatures of Comfort, oh Hello Friend, Modish etc.

There is also another distinction between these blogs: price of sponsorship. Personal bloggers on average charge quite a bit for your logo on their page per month. (We are talking about hundreds of dollars. I am not kidding) Whereas Inspirational blogs are more small business friendly. They can range from anywhere between $40-$80 a month. Some blogs even put a minimum of months you are required to sponsor.

This year, I sponsored BOTH. Yes, this adds up to quite a bit of marketing expenditure but I really wanted to find out if there is a difference at all. I am well aware that there are more variables than the type of blogs that affect my sales, for example, my items for their blogs also affect my sales.


I sponsored a personal blog and an inspirational blog at the same time (as to cross out different season effect on sales *think wedding season and summer season*). The personal blog reigned in huge traffic views but no significant sales. The only positive part of sponsoring such huge blogs were that they allowed for one giveaway. Everyone loves free products and this usually brings in loads of comments to enter the giveaway for the blogger. A few sales may result from the giveaway but more often than not, it does not. The rest of the month, your logo is lost in the panel of logos. It was an expensive conclusion, I tried two personal blog and the take home message for Muntedkowhai is, expensive sponsorship does not equate to dedicated buyers. Inspirational blogs also failed in increasing my sales with the exception of Bliss blog. This conclusion mirrors the advice of Seth Godin, advertising does not work. Readers and buyers actively ignore advertisement. They are bombarded daily with advertisements that a potential buyer will most likely ignore that panel of paid adverts. What really gets buyers attention? The blogger features of a certain item. Features are free. You can submit your product for a feature on inspirational blogs and if the blogger falls in love with it, they will feature it. This is more effective and has the increasing tendency for it to go viral. (If it is truly a remarkable product)

Bliss blog is awesome that way. Bliss accepts sponsorship of shops that she truly loves and it shows. Her "I heart" monday lists often comprises of items she hearts and from time to time, she follows up on her sponsor and discover new items that she will feature. That is what I love about Bliss. She doesn't just take your sponsorship money to have your logo on the panel, she really really loves her sponsor's items.

So what did work for me this year? In terms of sales and exposure, it has to be Refinery 29. Why? What is making such a difference between sites like Refingery 29, personal blogs and inspirational blogs? The readers.
The majority of readers of Inspirational blogs: crafters and artist.
The majority of readers of Personal blogs: artists.
Don't get me wrong, I know that fashion and magazine bloggers and writers read both but they don't make up the majority of readerships.
People who check up on sites like Refinery 29 are true fashionistas, buyers and magazine editors. I say this because when Muntedkowhai was featured on Refinery 29, these were the people that contacted me. As with any features, the wave of attention and sales goes up and down but when you compare the financial input and financial gain; free features on sites that are admired and adored by the right group of readers and viral spreaders are most effective.

Now this is MY conclusion, it may not result in the same conclusion for YOUR shop. If you sell supplies, then it is most probably a different route you would want to take. I figured I should share my results with everyone since I've paid for it already!


chelsea said...

It's great to have people talking about this and I love hearing the feedback!

Hello Lindello said...

I'm so glad you touched upon this subject.

I've done pretty much what you did and found the same conclusion. I really appreciate what Traci has done and I wish more bloggers took her approach.

I understand why some bloggers who have a ton of viewers ask for a couple hundred to advertise, but there are some blogs out there that shouldn't be aksing that much! I can see through analytical how many viewers I get through them and sometimes I am so disappointed with how much they charge when I am paying half that much on another blog and getting just as much or even more hits! And your right, in the end, it doesn't really matter how many "hits" you get, but if people are actually buying stuff or interested. Its all a learning process!

sorry...I had to vent.

Laura said...

great feedback, ive been wondering about sponsorship and ads for a while, thank you for sharing this!