You have awesome content. Your traffic is steadily increasing. You’re setting yourself apart from other bloggers and podcasters in your niche. And yet, still, no sponsors or advertisers are knocking on your door.
Why? Why is no one interested when it seems like “lesser” content creators in your niche have more opportunities than they know what do do with? Why are you suddenly the last kid to get picked in gym class, the girl without a prom date, the smelly boy sitting by himself at lunch?
Easy: there’s a huge zit on your face, and it needs to be popped.
Bloggers and podcasters make one mistake more often than any other, and I should know; I’ve made this mistake too. Recently, while listening to Marcy Massura speak at BlogWorld New York 2012, I swear a light bulb clicked on above my head.
The number one mistake you might be making too is this: If you want family-friendly sponsors, you have to be family-friendly.
What does that mean? Let’s take a look at Disney, for example.
Think About Disney
Now, the likelihood that a company as big as Disney will sponsor your blog is low unless you have mountains of traffic, but let’s say you have a travel blog and you really are blowing other travel bloggers out of the water. You’re getting nearly a million hits a month and driving a ton of traffic to advertisers’ sites, which is going to make Disney sit up and take notice.
But what happens when they get to your site and see an f-bomb every two sentences. Is Disney going to slap a sticker of approval on your blog? Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter if your target audience is parents, not kids. Disney is a wholesome, family company. If they endorsed a foul-mouthed blogger it wouldn’t be in line with their company branding.
Now, Disney might not be your target, but any family-friendly company from a Fortune 500 corporation to a family-owned local travel agency is going to feel the same way. You become a risk, and risks are not good. So, instead, Disney and Mo’s Travel Shop are both going to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere.
Think about Disney when you’re writing or recording. If they wouldn’t be happy with your language and content, you should think twice before posting it online.
It goes farther than foul language, though. I know some content creators who never use a word stronger than “darn,” but family-friendly companies still shy away. Why? Because you’re scandalous in some way. You create controversy that makes the company uncomfortable. Here are some examples:
- You’re argumentative on your blog, podcast, or social channels.
- Even though you aren’t in the political niche, you voice strong political opinions often.
- Your content has a strong religious slant or bias.
- You party at professional conferences (or elsewhere – and pictures/videos are posted online).
- You attack other people in your niche or industry.
In other words, you rock the boat. And not just by writing op-ed pieces regarding what’s going on in your niche or including your opinion when you discuss the news of the day on your podcast. You rant, belittle, and take no prisoners even when the topic has nothing to do with your niche.
Again, you’re a risk. If a company sponsors you and your next piece of content is a rant about gay marriage or the next election or whatever the hot topic of the day might be, you put that company in a very awkward position of looking like they agree with whatever you’re saying, even though they haven’t voiced an opinion one way or another. They’re guilty by association, and your opinions might cost them customers who don’t agree.
If you’re scandalous in any way, sponsors are going to be scared. Just look how many sponsors left when Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked student Sandra Fluke.
Your Brand Matters Most
Regardless of what sponsors want, however, keep in mind that your branding needs to come first. Being a buttoned-up blogger or a demure podcaster might not make sense for you. We need people to question the status quo and certainly there’s a large audience who likes the more edgy style. I hope Erika Napoletano never stops “slapping” people, and I would cry if The Bloggess suddenly became a family-friendly blog. There will be plenty of people – and even plenty of sponsors – who are happy to support this kind of style.
Maybe dropping those f-bombs every two sentences or promoting your religion or being snarky on Twitter is what works for you and your community. That’s okay. Just understand the costs associated with this type of branding. Certain sponsors will never come calling if your content isn’t family-friendly. Be aware of your goals for sponsorship so you can make sure your content is setting you up for success, not scaring potential sponsors away.
Want to learn more about getting sponsors for your blog or podcast? Check out our monetization track at NMX Las Vegas!