There have been some misunderstandings perpetuated lately about how much money successful mommybloggers make. Because most of the really successful ones will not talk about how much they make except off the record, it is easy to assume that everyone who mommyblogs is fighting over gigs that are worth a few hundred bucks a post at most: those are the people who respond to a general call on Twitter about rates for sponsored posts. But saying that this represents what successful mommybloggers make is like saying that you can judge the salary of a working actor by the extra who works as a waitress at nights to make ends meet.
The people who are making the real money are not talking about it publicly. They are not talking about it because the amount of money they make for these posts is jaw-dropping.
For bloggers who are doing it professionally, sponsored posts pay very very well. You probably don’t even know how well unless you happen to be one of those bloggers, or unless you have access to one of them. For example, in a recent post about how much money mommybloggers make, there was a bit about a blogger who claimed to have a million pageviews per month and who charged one thousand dollars for a sponsored post. I received a direct message on Twitter from somebody who knows how much these posts pay which said, “The fact that this blogger would charge only $1,000 for a sponsored post proves that she cannot possibly have a million pageviews.” Because if she really had a million pageviews, she would probably be charging at least $5,000 for a sponsored post. Or else in the market for new representation.
So you can see why turning down sponsored posts would be very difficult for bloggers to do. A few hours (tops) of work for several thousand dollars? It would be tough to find a writing gig that rivaled that return rate.
The problem is that all but the most dedicated of fans tends to be turned off by sponsored content, and I assume this is why these posts pay so well. I used to think that well-placed ads and professionally done placements would temper this effect, but recent months have shown this might not be the case. Is it that readers begrudge the blogger making money? Perhaps in some cases, but generally I think it has more to do with an authenticity problem: people who are attracted to blogs tend to like the personal, unpolished touch that differentiates blogs from magazines. Sponsored content gets in the way of that, and some audiences are more tolerant than others of the distance.
Whether you are a big blogger or a smaller blogger, you should keep this problem in mind when deciding to do a sponsored post. The larger bloggers need to worry about how many they can do before the audience turns off completely, and the smaller ones should probably be turning down most of (if not all of) the small offers if they ever want to be one of the people entertaining a large offer.