Pulling back the curtains and getting real about why I’ve decided to stop accepting sponsored posts.
Before beginning, I’d like to preface by saying I in no way hold anything against my fellow blogging buds who accept sponsored content. Many of my people do and they are awesome at it! I love my community of bloggers and everyone chooses the best path for their mission / family. For me, this decision is equal parts a personal choice, business decision and listening to my readers.
For those confused about what exactly a sponsored post is, I’ve answered that question (here and here). I’ve also shared tips and personal experiences about sponsored content specifically for bloggers (here). But if you don’t want to click to another page, sponsored posts in general are when a company sends product (or not) to a blogger and pays them to write about the experience. Sometimes this involves the company sending product and the blogger in turn creates a project around it. Sometimes it’s pretty photography and a little writing. It’s a broad brush when it comes to sponsored content these days because occasionally you won’t receive product at all. Companies have offered to pay me to browse a website and act as if I purchased something or share what I would have purchased and why. Sometimes they have asked me to write about products I own already. Not saying I have done either of those (I haven’t!), just stating examples about how sponsored content may be achieved without the use of product in hand.
Ok, getting off on a tangent. You get it jist. Companies are paying a blogger to write and promote their products / company.
That point brings me to my list of reasons for not doing sponsored posts anymore.
Warning: There’s a couple raw, brutally honest confessions here, but I strive to be real with you guys and share my experience with bloggers reading this. Trust me, if you’re a blogger, you need to read this.
SIMPLY ORGANIZED IS ITS OWN BRAND
I hate the way that sounds because it’s so annoying to me when people say “I’m a brand”…but until I find a better name for “brand”, let’s go with that. What I’m trying to say is that Simply Organized is a business in and of itself. It’s unique in that I have in-person clients as well as the online side of my business. But I think most businesses these days, especially creatives like me, have a foot on both sides of that fence. Simply Organized is a small business, but a growing one. And a small business needs nurturing and attention. At some point, SO needs to stop directing traffic away and instead share more about what SO is doing. What I am doing. What the business is doing. Share inspiring organization projects. Share great ideas and conversations that motivate you, as a reader, to get organized. Maybe motivate some of you to follow your passion and start a business. Connect with my fellow professional organizers and bloggers. The content needs to be focused and directed in a way to keep you interested in being here. In coming back. In staying! Not telling you about this great product and then directing you off into another corner on the internet.
Will there be and has there been times I’ve talked about a product when I wasn’t getting paid? Absolutely! Truthfully, that is the majority of my work here. The sponsored content has been minimal. As in, like 5% of my writing. I want you as a reader to know that if I’m talking about a product, it’s because I used it for a client or in my own home and it was something I organically fell into. I’ve built a trust with my online friends and want to keep it that way. It’s imperative to gain and keep that trust!
One last bit, at some point I have hopes to have products of my own. Even if it’s as simple as an e-book. There comes a time I need to promote Simply Organized and not other brands.
MY PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION CLIENTS (MY FAMILY…AND ME) COME FIRST
Don’t need to elaborate much because it’s evident how this would impact my decision. However, it’s worth mentioning that when you see a client “after” shared on the blog, that is the culmination of hours upon hours of work. And that is happening several days a week. Each and every client is treated individually and solutions are custom to their life / habits. The time involved is great…and I love every second. My work with clients always took precedence over a sponsored post timeline.
In addition, my client work time typically bleeds into the weekends. I’m so passionate about organizing that it doesn’t always feel like “work” to me. But on the occasion I had accepted a sponsored post and agreed to a drop dead post date…chances are, because of my busy weekday schedule, I’d be working until the final moments to get the content written and photos edited. In general that type of work fell over the weekend. During a time I should be relaxing, re-energizing, resting my mind, not being creative or enjoying my family. I can’t churn out creative ideas if I never allow my mind to turn off.
I was feeling burned out.
MY BLOG WRITING TIME IS FOR ME – NOT TO PROMOTE OTHER COMPANIES
This blog is the heart of my business and always will be. I view this space as the cornerstone of everything. It’s where my business launched. It’s where I come to be real and share with you guys. It’s where I keep my client portfolio. No, I’m not the best writer, but love writing so it’s also my little creative writing escape. When I have the time to write, you better believe it’s going to be about something that excites me, fulfills me and ultimately motivates or inspires you. It’s going to be real and genuine. Not forced or paid for.
I DON’T HAVE EXTRA TIME IN MY SCHEDULE
This was sorta mentioned above, but worth expanding upon. The time involved in a sponsored post is HUGE. This is something I had to explain to companies time and again when they contacted me about a partnership or questioned my rates. Many times they were blown away by the amount of work and time a blogger puts into one post. Many times I was blown away by companies that still didn’t care and wanted what they wanted without any value on my time. True. You can read more on that statement a few bullets down. But if you care about your blog and your readers, every piece of content is like a precious gem. I strive for each post to be crafted beautifully, with exceptional photography, and spend a lot of time editing, conceptualizing, writing, promoting, etc. There is much more involved than simply snapping a few photos and throwing together some words. That type of work takes time. It’s what I choose to stand for and how I choose to blog / run this side of my business. My best guess is each post takes anywhere from 6-12 hours – especially if you have a hands-on project to complete before the photos are even taken.
I came to the conclusion that, on top of everything else in my life, I don’t have the extra time for sponsored post requirements.
THE POSTS FELT INAUTHENTIC
This is a BIG one. These posts felt inauthentic to me. I’ll talk a bit more about this topic toward the end of the post because not all sponsored content should or does feel this way. But if you have a company you aren’t getting a positive vibe from, your gut isn’t in line with or you’re struggling to write about their product because you didn’t like it…then you should absolutely NOT be writing about it. Your experience will come through in your writing. Your readers will see between the lines and you’ll lose their trust.
No one likes being a sock puppet. I don’t! And many times I felt like I was having my strings pulled by a company that wanted me to say and do it their way. I didn’t have the fight in me to say, “I don’t think this is a good match…thank you for thinking of me, but I’ll pass this time around.”. So you can learn from me that it’s ok to say no when it feels inauthentic. Even after you’ve received the product and check. Yes, it’s true. You can feel free to offer a refund and return their product. Being authentic is ultra important when you’re blogging. Arguably even more important as an individual on your moral / values compass.
It was always interesting to me when during the initial email communication with a company my gut would be firing. Inevitably the sponsored post to follow would feel inauthentic. It took me hours longer than projected to write the post too because it wasn’t coming from that natural place. I always kicked myself for not saying NO during those initial chats because I had gone down a slippery slope. It was hard to turn back. And I lacked the confidence to say no.
COMPANIES WERE ASKING FAR TOO MUCH AND NOT PAYING NEARLY ENOUGH
There’s always a lot of chatter and vagueness around this topic. For some reason blogger’s typically aren’t open to discuss sponsored content compensation. I will tell you I’ve made as little as $50 to as much as $600. It’s been rumored, and I’ve heard a few blogger’s being interviewed, that there’s the potential for up to $20,000 or $30,000. Ummmm, say what?! In my dreams!
Speaking from my experience, when a company initially contacted me they would throw out a number and then I would respond with a number I felt comfortable with based on what they were asking for. I came to a comfortable number over time after finally deciding to charge by the hour. My rate for clients was around $75 per hour so I calculated $75 x however many hours I anticipated the project taking. Most companies would say they didn’t have that number in their budget. At that point it was on me to accept their best offer or walk away, saying thank you for reaching out. More often than not, I was not getting paid nearly enough for all the work I was doing.
To top it off, many times companies would throw on additional requirements or requests. I work alone and don’t have an assistant, a business advisor or agent to run these offers by. I also don’t have anyone to handle contracts for me. So in the end I would get the short end of the stick…after putting in all that time, work and care and, again, PROMOTING SOMEONE ELSE’S COMPANY.
I WAS FEELING USED
It’s true. I felt totally used. Especially when it came to my Instagram feed. My IG feed is my personal space to share client afters or images from around my home. I share on Facebook and Pinterest as well, but my IG community of friends has grown over time to a number even I have a hard time understanding sometimes. I love being there, love the connection and love communicating with those leaving comments. Companies see that “number” of friends and they see “numbers”. They see potential exposure for their product. I get why a company would want that, but those numbers are people. Real people. And I’m not willing to clutter up my feeds with 1,000 products…for $.
Not sure what else to say here but I occasionally feel used or disrespected when this happens. And it hurts me for the friends I have over there following for the help to get organized. Sure, I could let it roll off my back and not internalize it that much…but I’m me and that’s who I am.
I WASN’T SEEING ANYTHING POSITIVE FOR EITHER SIDE – ME OR THE COMPANY
When the post went live, often times there were audible crickets in the comment section. My social media friends weren’t engaging either. Over time I came to learn that the friends following or reading along were visiting to hear from and about Simply Organized. Not about a different company and their product. So I wasn’t seeing a positive for me and that certainly didn’t bode well for the company seeing great conversation rates or traffic.
I DUG MY OWN HOLE
All that said, when I take a look at the situation overall, I dug my own hole in a way. Several years ago when I was getting the blog up and running, I began accepting sponsored posts as a way to keep the lights on. They never stopped from there. I had periods of several in a row, but more often than not it was random and infrequent. Even when the site moved to wordpress, I had a sponsored post rate on the “work with me” page. That invited more e-mails from companies and I finally had to remove that option. I still am contacted by companies all the time and there are other ways to partner with me, but the option for paid sponsored content isn’t there anymore.
It’s all 100% authentic. Period.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT MOVING FORWARD?
Not that things are going to be much different because there hasn’t been a sponsored post on the site for months and months. But I wanted to share what what will be happening moving forward. It’s pretty much already happening now…but, worth chatting about.
This is an organization blog and there will be posts in which you see links to a product (affiliate or otherwise). Keep in mind, I will not be getting paid directly by a company to share that link (unless you purchase something and I receive a small affiliate commission). I take pride in sharing products that I believe work or that a client raved about. Many of you have found my shop page to be a great resource. Thank you! I set that up for you since the questions were rolling in each day via e-mail. Those are products I use and love or that clients use and love. We know because we’ve put them to the test. So you’ll see some links to products but those will be shared in posts that I have written without a company paying me to do so.
You may from time to time see me link to a great resource like the Blogging Toolkit I shared a few weeks ago. That was an affiliate program and I really thought about it before sharing it. Again, the resource was and still is something I tap into every week. Or I may share great educational resources for e-books or courses. I might talk about a blogging friend and what they are up to. I may talk about my fellow professional organizers and things they are offering to get you organized. Again, these will only be mentioned when necessary or I feel it’s important enough to pass along.
Important to note is that I have a great working relationship with many many companies and plan to continue to work together for partnering on the blog in unique ways. I’ve recently been partnering with Erin Condren and Grove Collaborative and in the near future have a few other fun things in the works. But beginning in the New Year I won’t be accepting payment to write a blog post on behalf of any company.
I have to admit, getting this off my chest makes me feel so much better. Additionally, coming to this decision was long overdue. I had this sinking feeling inside for a very long time about this type of content. I’m not only a blogger, I’m a business owner…with a reputation to uphold on both fronts. It was time to make it official and move on.
In the coming months I’ll be updating some things here on the site, including the “work with me” page and the addition of other pages along that top menu. As things are updated I’ll point it out.
Have a great day guys!
This is so refreshing to read! I have seen so many bloggers go the other way and it really turns me off. If there is a product a blogger loves & wants to share, I want to read about it just as I would be receptive to a friend giving me product recommendation. This is a bit of circular logic but I value that you value your readers. Thank you!
Thank you. Thanks for thinking it through and thanks for explaining.
As a reader there are a few sponsored posts I like (Making it lovely) and a few that just work naturally (Emily Henderson and Target). But so many times they are a bit (or a lot) clunky and I have stopped looking. I don’t need to read another legacy box, grove collective, blue apron add.
What I would love to read more of is your client stories. This is the problem and this is how we solved it. About the work you are already doing.
Samantha you are the best.
I have unsubscribed from a few blogs do to the plethora of ads. Readers can clearly see when a post is sponsored (when not declared) , because many of the decor bloggers are mentioning the very same things. Nates new line at Target for example. Myers cleaning products etc. on and on. Stop it! ha.
This may sound a bit harsh, but I absolutely hate reading sponsored posts. If the writer mentions about sponsored post on the beginning of the post, I usually don’t even continue reading. If I have read the entire post and writer mentions about it being sponsored in the last paragraph, I feel cheated. I understand that it is extra income for bloggers, but I’d rather read about something else…
Wow this was a fascinating read. Thanks so much for sharing your thought process about this. I imagine you’ve learned a lot about certain companies based on how they treated you and what they offered you for your time. I am always wary when I see sponsored posts because I don’t feel like you really can give an entirely honest opinion when you’re being paid for it as opposed to having bought something yourself unprompted. I really like your approach to this!
Thanks for sharing and being so open about your experience with soonsered posts & companies! I’ve got a small blog & have started thinking about possibly doing sponsered content in the future. But after reading your post, it has given me more to seriously think about. Thank you for sharing your heart! I’m looking forward to hearing about the new changes coming to SO!
Good post and thanks for the actual thought process. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who have a brand (and it’s not a dirty word!) and most of the time sponsorship is not the best idea, it just seems easy to do.
As a big blog reader I hate sponsored content and purposefully do not engage with it. Trust me, readers can feel when it’s not a good fit and inauthentic.
Thoughtful post. Appreciate your sharing the decision and thought process behind it. I look forward to reading more great posts from SO!
Thank you for your honesty. Sponsored posts are a huge turn off for me. The majority of them sound fake and rushed and you can tell the writer doesn’t really use the product. On a side note, I have been reading your blog for quite a few years and have gotten many wonderful tips from you. I’m always interested in reading about products that a blogger actually uses and loves. I’ve purchased several products on your recommendation after seeing on your blog how well they work. I also got brave and redid all of our old ceiling canister lights with new LEDs. Would probably have never known that was possible or even attempted it if I hadn’t followed along on your blog post — complete with step-by-step photos which were so helpful. My daughter was telling me that she wants to organize my granddaughter’s princess dresses so I sent her a link to your post about that very same thing. Thanks so much for the time you take to share your ideas with us and getting us organized.
Sam, this was a wonderful post. I agree with the comments above. Your blog has been my favorite for a long time. I know when I see a new post it will be interesting and thoughtfully written. I am pleased for you that your business outside the blog is doing well. Being authentic is key to a happy life.
Thank you for being so candid in the why of your decision. Your blog is one of very few I still come back to each week. There are so many wonderful blogs, but just not enough time to read them all and yours has always been a practical favorite of mine since almost the beginning! I too do not care for sponsored posts as they often seem out of left field and typically aren’t products I’m interested in. I would much rather read about products that a blogger chooses to share organically because it is something they have found, used, and loved. I look forward to continuing to be one of your biggest blog fans!
I absolutely love your honesty and agree with so what so many others before me have said. Thanks for keeping it real!
You’re welcome!! I aim to be totally upfront and honest here, so I loved hearing your comment. Thank you!