Beautify your Blog: week 12 - Social Media, Favicons, Sponsors & Analytics

4:34:00 PM

Hi all and welcome back to the Sew at Home Mummy "Beautify your Blog" Series.

Sew at Home Mummy

This is week 12 of the 12-week series; next week we'll be doing a final wrap up on the tutorial series (how to upload a blog template, etc.) so we're not quite done after this week.

This week we'll be covering a mish-mash of topics which several readers asked about when I first proposed the series. 

As always, I suggest you start from the beginning of the series and work forward. Each week tends to build on the previous week's tutorial.

1. Start Here
8. Sidebars (Pt 1)
9. Sidebars (Pt 2)


Here we go for this week!

Social Media
Most people have at least one or two social media accounts, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, etc. 

There's definitely some benefit to having other social media accounts linked to your blog - some people may want to follow what you write in other formats (RSS readers, Feedly, Bloglovin', etc.) You may have a Flickr account for one of the online Bees, swaps, etc., you're participating in, and don't mind sharing your uploads. You may want to add an 'email' icon so that people can contact you, etc. 

Being linked in to other social media networks is also another way to 'market' yourself; if you're going to take on sponsors, or, you already have, your other accounts reach a different audience, expanding your marketing potential.

That said, you'll notice I don't have my Facebook account linked to my blog. No offence, but I find Facebook to be too personal to share - it's a way for me to share pictures with my family and friends at home and overseas. And Facebook is a bit of a pain in the arse to me, if I'm being honest ;)

But - nothing is stopping you from having both personal and public/blog accounts for your readers.

If you've decided that you'd like to have your accounts associated with your blog, and you'd like to add buttons like the ones in my sidebar, here's a tutorial on how to do it:

click {HERE}

(please note - it's an old tutorial, so the icons on my site are different now - and I'm in the process of designing new ones again). 

You don't need to make your own icons - you can easily find free icons (here's my Google search) and gorgeously designed ones on Etsy for really cheap. 

Favicons
What's a Favicon?

It's the little icon which sits up on the browser tab of your blog's open window (circled in red in the image below):
mine is a little blue square with a script 'M' in white:
If you'd like to create your own Favicon to customize your blog tabs, click

{HERE}

to go to a previous tutorial I wrote. 


Sponsors vs. Affiliates

a) Affiliates
Affiliate marketing: a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as 'retailer' or 'brand'), the network(that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as 'the affiliate'), and the customer (1)

You'll notice in my right sidebar that I belong to two affiliate marketing organizations: ShareaSale and Amazon.com.

Basically, when/if you click on one of the buttons listed under "Affiliates" on my site, you're redirected to the company's site, and the company tracks where you came from (my site) and keeps record of anything you might buy on that site - and then, I get a small (teeny) percentage of your sale.

For example: since I joined Amazon.comas an affiliate in January (so just over 6 months ago) I've earned about $4. Not much, but, maybe at the end of the year I'll be able to buy a presser foot.

If you're thinking of becoming an affiliate, here are some things to note:

1) you have to 'apply' to the affiliate company/program, and be approved. Often times once you've been accepted by the affiliate company you then need to be manually approved by the advertising company (they'll check your blog, content, etc., to determine whether they want you to advertise for them). For example, I signed up to be a part of ShareaSale, and then applied to be an affiliate of Craftsy - Craftsy then reviewed my application and approved me to advertise for them. I could then put a link/button on my blog.

2) it's dependent on the country and even state that you're in. Some companies can't allow for affiliates in certain states (for example, being in Illinois, I can't apply to be an affiliate for Fabric.com) and depending on your country of origin you may not be able to participate in certain programs.

3) In the USA, by law, you must divulge that your blog, post or site contains affiliate links. If you're in another country and you're posting affiliate links on your blog you might want to look into the rules on affiliate advertising. Here, in the US, the Federal Trade Commission has a law which states that you must disclose when any post contains an advertisement or affiliate link. 

You'll notice that all "Affiliate" advertising are clearly listed on the side of my blog under "Affiliates" NOT Sponsors. Big difference. 

You'll also notice that at the bottom of my blog, there's the following disclosure statement:
Some of the links in the posts above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
And - you'll also notice that each time I happen to include an Affiliate link in a post, I state that the post contains such links at the bottom of the post or within the post directly.

Why?

Because it's the law, and let's face it, this is a C.Y.A. world (cover your ... bumbum)... better safe than sorry. And it's only fair to let your readers know that, in them clicking your links, they are helping you to earn a few pennies (literally).


b) Sponsors
Attaining sponsors is not something really talked about in the bloggy world, and, to be honest, I'm not sure why. It's a form of advertising for the Sponsor and benefits the Advertiser (you!) - through the ability to obtain more readers through sponsored giveaways, to review new or little-known products, or through monetary compensation from the Sponsor. 

There are two main types of blog sponsors: those who sponsor reader giveaways or products for review, and those who purchase sidebar advertising (+/- giveaways). 

I should note that I have only been seriously obtaining/accepting sponsors for the last 6 months - so I'm relatively new to this game. I had to contact one of my Bloggy friends to ask some questions to help guide me along the way, and she was a great help.

Here are some tips with respect to accepting and maintaining sponsors for your blog which I've learned along the way.

1) Disclose, disclose, disclose.
When you've received promotional materials for reviews or giveaways, you must let your readers know that the company has sent you the materials for the purpose of the review or giveaway. It's the law.

2) Determine your Sponsor policy. 
Will you only accept sponsors whom you've personally shopped from? If you're accepting a product for review, will you review and post about the product, good or bad? or will you only post positive reviews and decline to post about products which you've determined wouldn't deserve a glowing review? Will you only accept sponsors related to the topic of your blog? Here's my sponsor policy:

Sew at Home Mummy: Information about Sponsors and Sponsoring!

...for your reference. I suggest creating your own disclosure statement if you plan on taking on sponsors or have already done so - and you can do that here, for free:

{Create your own Disclosure Statement}

3) Determine your rates.
How much will you charge for sidebar advertising (usually in a per month or in monthly incremental rates - i.e. $x for 1 month, $y for 6 months, $z for 12 months). If a company is supplying you with sponsored giveaway items, or items to review, how long will you advertise for them, or will you? Is the review a one-shot feature-post deal? If you decide to include sidebar advertising for them, will the value of the reviewed item determine the length of time you advertise for? etc.

Most importantly, when determining your rates: they should be reflective of your readership and the amount of advertising/featuring work you plan to do for the Sponsor.

In other words: you need to know how many readers and followers you have, and the analytics associated with your blog (analytics covered below). A blog with 300 Bloglovin' readers and 10,000 hits/month will charge a lot less than a blog with 2,000 readers and 200,000 hits/month.

4) What's included?
What incentive are you going to give your Sponsor for advertising with you? i.e.: what are they getting for their money?
- feature post? how many? how often? what will it contain?
- sidebar advertising? how long for? how large of an add?
- "Featured Advertisers" page? will you have a page on your blog with more information about your sponsors?

5) Securing Sponsors.
Two possibilities here:
a) Sponsor comes to you.
b) You go to (potential) Sponsor.

Most of us are not Big Fish, and we'll have to do the leg work - cold calling.

Yup.

Get your Sales Panties on.

There are a lot of companies out there whom are more than happy to sponsor giveaways for blogs, all you have to do is ask, and have a good reason and a polite, well written email to them. But.

Be prepared to be told No

Or, you won't get a response to your email at all. No harm, no foul. You tried! But if absolutely no one is contacting you back, something is wrong.

  • you're contacting the wrong company/people - aim smaller, and see what happens.
  • you're charging too much or not offering enough.
  • there's something wrong with your approach - your letter/email isn't formal enough, doesn't contain enough info, you don't give a good reason for them to sponsor you.
  • you're too small. And this is a big one for some companies - they only put their advertising dollars to work for the 'big' blogs, and until you get there, you're just another drop in the bucket. Don't take offence, this is just their marketing strategy. Continue to grow your blog and readership, and maybe try again in a year's time.
  • you need to work on your blog. How does it look? is it professional looking? do you post relatively frequently? Have your other sponsored posts been well written, with a lot of effort? 
  • the company you've contacted hasn't found the Blog-based marketing strategy to be an effective one. And this has nothing to do with you, it's just what that particular company has found in their research. 
  • you don't have a 'connection' with the company whose advertising you're trying to secure - you've never shopped there, your blog's theme or content doesn't fit their company's vision, etc.

6) Maintaining Sponsors.
So again, I'm relatively new to this. I'll be contacting a few of my first round sponsors soon to see if they've been happy with the level of service I've been supplying them, and if they'd like to renew their advertising with me. Keep track of when your Sponsor's end dates are, and contact them accordingly. While under sponsorship, make sure you're holding up your end of the bargain - make sure you're fulfilling your posting quota set out in your Sponsorship Agreement you and your Sponsor decided upon. Send them links to any posts you may have made during the time of the sponsorship; be active with your other social media outlets in tagging and posting about your sponsors and featured posts.

7) Press Package.
Ultimately, I'm working toward creating a 'Press Package' of sorts, one which will be sent out with each sponsorship request I make. The package will contain a bio, current analytics of my site and readership (covered below), advertising rates, and contact information. At the moment, I just include the analytics as a separate attachment to any emails or letters I send out, but I would like to have something more formal drafted. Adding that to my to-do list, too.

Analytics
Blog Analytics
I have to say, up until the end of May, I was just using Blogger's analytics (found under "Stats" in the main page of Blogger, left side bar) for my blog, and was contacting most sponsors with this information when trying to secure advertising space and giveaways.

And then a certain company (who shall remain nameless) turned me down - until I could supply them with 3 months of more in-depth analytics data, including bounce rates and session times.

To be honest - I had no idea what the heckadoodles he was talking about. I had to look it up.

And then I installed Google Analytics on my site. Holy. Cow. I wish I had known about this feature (free, I might add!) sooner. 

The pageview stat Blogger was giving me was grossly under estimated, it doesn't show you bounce rates, and can't tell you how long people are sticking around your site and how many pages they're viewing, on average - just to name a few.

I could do an entire, massive post on analytics - and maybe I will in the future - but I highly suggest if you're considering taking on sponsors that you install this now. You'll want it installed for at least 3 months before you start contacting anyone, so as to get a better view of:
- who your readers are and from where in the world
- what types of devices they're using (mobile? desktop? tablet?)
- what browsers they're using
- how long they're staying on your site
- how many pages they're staying around to read
- how many readers are new and how many are returning
- what your bounce rate is
Bounce Rate: the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page
.... so, you want people to stick around and read more on your site - it keeps them interested, it means your blog is easy to read and navigate, and - it raises your page views (and higher page views means better advertising power when contacting sponsors) = a low bounce rate.

Readership Analytics
My suggestion here is to 'screen shot' your profile pages from Bloglovin', Feedly, Pinterest, etc. at the end or beginning of each month in order to keep track of your stats for your potential Sponsors (so that you have proof of how many people are following you). 


Website Domains vs. .blogspot.com
Some of you noticed that I 'dumped' the .blogspot.com back in January and went to a custom domain name, "www.sewathomemummy.com".

In order to have a custom .com, .net, .org, etc., domain name, you need to purchase the name and have it hosted by a site. I personally use GoDaddy.com for my domain hosting - it costs me about $12 a year.

Setting up a custom domain name is a bit of a finicky task, so if you're not too tech savvy, consider asking someone else who knows what they're doing get it set up for you. A lot of the hosting companies will offer tech support, too. And Google's Blogger has a Q&A tutorial section which will walk you through it.

References:
(1) Affiliate marketing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiliate_marketing


Okay! So that's it for this week. I think there's ample information here, I'm sorry for the never-ending post. I hope you've gained something from this post and this series.

Next week will be the final wrap up where I'll show you how to upload an HTML blog template to modify your blog (if you've been only making changes to your 'test' blog up until now, you'll be able to transfer all of your changes over in one fell swoop to your 'real' blog) - or, maybe you've decided on a standard downloadable template from online and you'd like to upload it to your existing blog - I'll show you how.

And, if you're still with me: if you haven't seen my post on the great deal on Oliso Pro irons ($119!) right now, here's the post

Please note that this post contains affiliate links and in accordance with FTC regulations, I must disclose this.

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6 comments

  1. Wow! That's a lot of great information. I've started the process of adding Google Analytics and when it gives me the tracking code and says "copy and paste it into the code of every page you want to track" does that mean I have to add it to every individual post? Or just somewhere in particular once and that tracks for the whole blog? Just in case you hadn't figured it out yet, I am totally not tech-savvy! I have loved this whole series and can't wait to finish adding changes to my blog, especially a custom About Me once I get a picture of myself that is decent!

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  2. So much info, I'll have to reference this one a few times. Thanks!

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  3. Thank you,Erin, for all your hard work in producing this series. I have bookmarked everything so that I can work my way through it! I just wish I could have someone knowledgeable like you to hold my hand while I do it - so if you are ever passing by ......:-) Please, please do that massive post about google analytics - I know I am not making the most of it. Lynne.

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  4. I think I'm all caught up now!!! At least the test blog is. Can't wait to get it over to the main blog. Thanks for everything! You are awesome on so many levels!!!

    http://aquiltingchickstestblog.blogspot.com/

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  5. Thank you so much for this series Erin! I have learned a lot and can't wait to try some blog updates come fall.

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  6. Erin, now that school is out for the summer I can't wait to work my way through all of the great information you've shared. I do have one more area I'd love help with (I'm nervous to try the things I've found online). I'd really, really love to get comments to be numbered. Obviously you've done this...do you have a tutorial you can refer me to that you trust?

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