Sponsorship for Writers - Review of Options

The life of a cash-strapped writer is not an easy one - and a tip jar only gets you so far - so, for the last couple of months, I've been testing out ways to bring in pennies to subsidise my writing habit. 


For the benefit of my writing friends, I thought I'd share my thoughts on these. I've thrown the word 'promotion' into the tags for this post in the interests of full disclosure. None of the links that follow will benefit me if you click on them, but some will throw me a few cents if you buy full versions of things. Free trials are just that. Free. Nothing comes back to me at all if you try out all the wonderfulness of the last reviewed product for instance. I'll give you an honest review regardless of any potential return to me on anything that follows. As ever. Don't feel bad about trying out free versions either. I want to share the good stuff. :)


Magpie 


When I decided to put out marketing messages - on Twitter mainly - my goal was twofold. First, I needed some cash. Second, I wanted to share cool things with my followers. Very quickly, I realised that the second point was more important to me than the first. My followers are worth more to me than a few cents for a click on an affiliate link. This is the reason I ditched Magpie so quick. It was a way to make money, but I got no sense from the company that my followers mattered. The offers were irrelevant to the community I was serving, and I found the people who ran the organisation unhelpful. Magpie may be the original but, unlike Corn Flakes, they are not the best. 


Sponsored Tweets


Next, I tried Sponsored Tweets . This was much better, and I still use it. but I have some issues with it. On the bad side, the offers from advertisers - called 'opportunities' - are not always very focused. You specify the kinds of advertisers that would be most suitable for your followers, but that is not always what you get. This can be frustrating. 


On the other hand, sometimes you get amazing opportunities - great deals for your followers that they would not otherwise find. I love these and can't wait to share them. It's a major pain when people miss these chances. I'm not going to jump around and point to them once they're out there. For one thing, it's annoying. For another, it's not helpful for the businesses advertising the products. If my followers don't pick them up, it's better that they don't advertise with me again. One must be grown up about these things. 


Lots of celebrities use Sponsored Tweets and, if you have decent traffic, it has the potential to be fairly lucrative. The big down side to it is that they don't pay out until you hit $50. It looks like they are toying with the idea of changing this policy but, at the time of writing, it still stands. This means, for all the promotional tweets I've put out through them so far, I've not been paid a penny. That said, one day soon I will get a nice $50 bonus - very handy. Also, as the main point is to share cool things with my followers, I'm adding value for them by sharing this stuff. While I haven't made any money yet, my followers have saved a stack of cash through the offers. It's all handy karma. It's very easy to use, and clearly shows how many clicks each ad receives. 


MyLikes


Finally, MyLikes . I LOVE this company. It is a much better platform for people with a smaller following too. In a week, I'd earned what it took two months to earn with Sponsored Tweets. MyLikes doesn't withhold funds. Anything over $2 is paid to you via PayPal every Friday. To be clear, I'm not talking big bucks with any of these organisations, but every pound/dollar towards ink, postage or paper is handy for a writer. 


The choice of advertisers with MyLikes is bigger than Sponsored Tweets, and way more specific than Magpie. The support is better than either of the other companies. They reply to your emails. It's even fun to use. It's set up a bit like Facebook - you 'like' things and share that with the community. Unlike Facebook, the privacy policy makes sense. Unlike Facebook, your 'likes' are not used to get other people to make money from you, but to make some cash yourself. You can still 'like' things for no money. Plenty of the things I've listed as 'likes' were not sponsored; I just thought people would find them useful. The one thing I find annoying about it is that Farmville ads keep appearing. I'll never ever promote them so I wish they'd bog off. That aside, it's a good experience. 


In two months of promotion on twitter, I've only had one narky comment (from a follower who'd only just started using Twitter). I've had countless 'thank you' messages though, from people who've found my recommendations useful, and appreciated the special deals etc.


If you want to have a go at this, 
  1. Be open about what you're doing. I have total disclosure on my blog and in promotional tweets (all marked #ad or 'sponsored'). 
  2. I wouldn't recommend Magpie but have found both Sponsored Tweets and MyLikes easy to use.
Social Oomph


Finally, I've been promoting Social Oomph because it rocks! I'm happy to report that many of you are now using it (I don't get to see who you are - just the number of people using it via me) and I've had many messages of thanks from people who've found it invaluable. Everyone, so far, is using the free version. I earn nothing from this but, as I said before, sharing the good stuff is just as important as making pennies. It's such a useful tool for writers as it makes social media so much less of a time suck. The free version is brilliant, and I'd recommend everyone to try it out. You never need to upgrade if you don't want to. That said, I upgraded for a month to see what the professional version did for me and I hope I never have to go back. It's brilliant. At the moment, MyLikes is paying for my professional version of SocialOomph, which has given me back so much time to write. If you want to see a quick vid of what it does, I put this together: bit.ly/2busy2tweet 

Have you tried any of these? How do they work for you? Do you use anything different? Leave comments below. 



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Rebecca Woodhead  – (4 July 2010 at 18:20)  

Thanks to everyone who has commented on Twitter via @ message and DM. It's good to hear how useful you've found these when you've tried them. MyLikes and Social Oomph have been getting particularly glowing reports. Don't be shy to leave comments here too.

Rebecca

Rebecca H  – (14 July 2010 at 02:12)  

Great post. I totally agree with you. I have a large Twitter account and use the same companies you mentioned, though my dissatisfaction with Sponsored Tweets is growing by the day due to their lack of targeting with their opportunities, low pay rates and high payout figure.

However, I do think it's probably a great platform to advertise on and I'll be considering trying them out on that.

Again, a great post.
Rebecca Habel
Rebecca's Resource
Helping website and blog owners make money online

Rebecca Woodhead  – (21 July 2010 at 21:17)  

Thanks Rebecca H. Good to have your feedback.

Mary Owens  – (22 July 2010 at 02:55)  

I can only send 1 mylike to twitter a day. Do you get to send more?

Rebecca Woodhead  – (22 July 2010 at 03:18)  

Hi Mary,

Good question. No, you can only send one mylike a day to Twitter. The 'trick' is to make sure you pick the right one. That way, your click rate is higher. Of course, it's not really a trick as it is the best possible scenario for your followers. They will click on things that are useful to them. It's really important not to spam followers.

I've turned down 100s and 100s of advertising opportunities just because they weren't relevant or useful for my followers. To start with, this feels odd - as you're turning down money all the time - but eventually it makes sense as followers grow to trust that you won't promote something unless it is something you think they'll genuinely benefit from. At that point, your click rate goes up.

Another side effect of this is that I hardly ever get any complaints about ads. My follower numbers aren't affected either. I've got over 9,000 followers and can count the complaints on one hand.

I think the best rule is to be guided by your followers. Don't think about the money as such. Think about what will help your followers. If that's your focus, the money comes as a side effect.

Hope that helps.

Rebecca

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