One of the things you might have noticed I changed this year are my sponsor options. I see others going through similar changes as they grow - reevaluating and trying to decide on options that better suit themselves and their blogs. I decided to make my own rules, and wanted to share a bit of insight behind my decision...
1 >> No More Group GiveawaysAs much as I love giveaways, the group ones felt repetitive in a way, and I didn't feel the givers were being showcased as much as they deserved. Plus the time it takes putting those together can be daunting. The more design jobs I accept the more precious my time becomes, so I really needed to decide on what I was going to offer to replace the giveway perks.
2 >> Minimizing Sponsor OptionsI didn't want to axe sponsors all together because I like offering an option for others wanting to grow their brands, I enjoy the partnership, and believe they make my sidebar engaging. But, I realized adding more sponsor options comes with more emails, communication, organization, tracking, shout outs, etc. It can get super overwhelming! I felt the best way for me was to reduce ads to 15 spots, one price, sidebar placement, and discount code promotion. It's simplified things a lot for me and has allowed me to welcome other partners looking for more than ad space.
3 >> More Product Reviews/GiveawaysWhile I don't plan on doing one every day of the week, if I was going to host giveaways I wanted to focus more on spotlighting the shop owner and sharing products I love with my readers. This allows me to keep everything in-line with my taste, the time I spend on giveaways to a minimum, promote growth of myself and the shop owner, and most importantly allows it to be from my own voice.
4 >> Reducing Active AdsI might change my mind about this later, but for now reducing the amount of active ads I have in the blogosphere reduces my work load a ton without having so much information to submit every month. You would think without as many blogs to sponsor I wouldn't have opportunities for much growth, but I'm surprised with the amount of requests I get to contribute to friend's giveaways and guest posts. In a way, I'm more appreciative about these opportunities because I'm genuinely being thought of, and not paying for it.
5 >> Genuine PromotionI've done this in two ways: I've gone back to adding a blogroll of my favorite reads and I'm sharing my favorite links and finds every month from all over - not for money, but because I genuinely want to share the content and blogs I'm inspired by. I wonder.. what if all of our shout outs were "just because"? I think the blogging world would be a more honest place and not just favored towards the ones who have extra cash to spare.
The bottom line is... I wanted to stop making blogging feel like a job! When you have sponsors counting on you, it can feel just like the pressure you get at work. Weekends can get sacrificed because you feel you "should" be spending time blogging or putting together that giveaway...
But the thing is, even when you're working hard for your sponsors, your voice can easily get lost in between the link-ups, guest posts, spotlights, etc. Suddenly your blog can turn into one big advertisement - and I personally wanted to stray as far away from that as possible.
This is not a "bash on sponsors" post - I agree it's a great way to make a nice income from your blog and have funds to put towards ongoing promotion while making friends - we shouldn't be ashamed of making a little extra on the side or enjoying some free perks from practicing our passion!
For me, though, I wanted to focus more on income through design as opposed to ads and perks. I needed to keep blogging fun and designing work - not the other way around. Now if I don't have time to cram posts in because I have other things to do, or I simply just didn't feel like it, I don't feel as guilty.
The point I'm trying to make is that we should all be OK with going our own directions and deciding for ourselves where to draw the line when it comes to sponsors. Our success shouldn't be measured by numbers, but rather by integrity, content, and our ability to inspire. If we're doing it for other reasons, what's the point? After all, blogging shouldn't be a race to the top - it should be about enjoying the journey!