In 2006 I began writing paid posts for PayPerPost. At that time I wrote posts about anything and everything because I was able to get paid to do so. I had already been blogging for a while at that point and the thought of making some money writing was really appealing to me. Starting out I didn’t give it much thought about how my voice could be one of influence for others. I’ll admit that in those early days I occasionally wrote about things I didn’t believe in very much just to earn more money. Over the past three years I’ve become a much more sophisticated blogger with a growing and intelligent reader community. I choose very wisely about what I want to share with my readers with regards to paid posts. I’ve also cultivated relationships with some amazing advertisers in those years. Relationships that have helped me improve as a blogger and have helped the advertisers get their products and services in front of people who want to hear about them.
I realized quickly that I was not writing just a paid post, I was participating in sponsored conversations. Conversations around brands that I trusted and I wanted other people to be familiar with. One time I blogged about a product that I had purchased because I had heard about it from a podcast. An advertiser that made a better product contacted me and asked me if I would compare his product against the other and let him know what I thought. I liked that product so much that we started a relationship where I would blog about the product in return for more of the products for contests on my blog.
In 2008 I was still working on my little blog contests with the same advertiser. We had gotten the word out about the product a little and had converted a few people to start using it. I was going to be going to IZEAFest that year as well as to Blog World Expo. I asked the advertiser if I could get some of the products to take with me and to give to other bloggers when I met them face to face. That product was the XShot and I had twelve of them to give away. I gave one to Ted Murphy CEO of IZEA because he saw me using it and asked where his was. I gave him the last one and showed him how it worked. Ted now uses that XShot everywhere he goes. Also IZEA recruited XShot as an advertiser and the network of bloggers on SocialSpark (another IZEA product) propelled the conversation about the XShot into the minds of many other people across the Web. Sponsored Conversations about the XShot were taking place everywhere all because as an advertiser they saw the potential in one blogger to use their product and start a conversation. The XShot is now a staple item for bloggers to carry with them at events because they can use it to take group photos and quick snapshots with the people that they meet. Google “”XShot”, Google “Camera Extender”. You’re going to see this product come up again and again because bloggers are talking about it.
Creating brand recognition through a sponsored conversation should be a part of any advertiser’s set of tools. As an advertiser who is looking to connect with bloggers you really should be looking to IZEA to help you with any sponsored conversation campaigns. IZEA has a network of over 250,000 bloggers who are ready to discuss your products and brands through a conversation on their blogs. And I do mean conversations, not just a link dropped into a post because they are getting paid, I mean bloggers who engage their audiences and ask questions, respond to their readers and become advocates for your brand.
Some of my best friendships online have been with advertisers who had enough faith in me to let me have one of their products to try out and to blog about. Other advertisers paid me to write a post about their product. I can’t even begin to tell you how many advertisers I’ve promoted in the past few years but I can tell you about the ones that I love working with like Ten Bills, Mad Gringo, XShot and IZEA as well. I love talking about these folks because they get it. They understand that a sponsored conversation is an important thing if it is done correctly.
To participate in a sponsored conversation correctly an advertiser and blogger must be transparent. I’m being paid to write 200 words by IZEA on the topic of Sponsored conversations. I’m also an IZEA Insider and have met many people from the IZEA Team personally. I threw in the 700 additional words because I feel passionately about the service IZEA provides to bloggers and to advertisers. As an advertiser you can also cultivate that passion from bloggers through a sponsored conversation campaign. There are other people who can talk in more technical and numbers based terms about why sponsored conversations are a good thing. One of them is Forrester Research. There is a .pdf available through IZEA that discusses the importance of sponsored conversations. There is also a very interesting article on groundswell by Josh Bernoff on why sponsored conversations work. Me, I just know that they work because of what I have seen from my experiences. I’m a passion guy, not a numbers guy.