How to Make Money By Writing Sponsored Content

Thursday, August 04, 2016
An example of sponsored content on a website.

As a freelance writer and editor, I make money doing a variety of jobs. One of the things I’ve been doing more of in the past few years is what’s known as digital content. While I did write regularly for one website in 2005-2008, the majority of my work came from service articles in print publications. As people turn to blogs and websites (and social media) more and more for their information, digital content can also provide a nice source of income for writers.

A few months ago, I had one client contact me and ask if I had any interest in writing sponsored content for their website. Within a few days, another magazine publisher asked me to consider working with their sales team by writing advertorial pieces. Since both provide as much income as writing a feature article, and require pretty much the same skill set, I said yes.

What is Sponsored Content?

Sponsored content is an editorial piece that provides value to readers, but is “sponsored,” or paid for, by an advertiser. For example, I wrote a piece for a parenting website called “5 Tips to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of Preschool,” which was sponsored by a company that owns several childcare development centers. I acted as a ghostwriter for the piece, getting ideas from the client, interviewing a teacher from one of their centers to provide advice for readers, and the piece ended with a bio of the group sponsoring the article. As a journalist, I knew to include reliable sources and practical tips for readers so that the piece didn’t come across as looking like a paid advertisement. The client was happy and I have an assignment to do another similar article for another advertiser next month.

How is Sponsored Content Different from an Advertorial?

Business profiles and advertorials are designed to match the look of the articles in a magazine or website. A local lifestyle magazine I work for contracted me to write “business spotlight” advertorials. Again, I wanted my first assignment to look more like a human-interest piece rather than a “my business is fabulous because . . ." ad. So I researched the company and put together a list of questions for them. In this case, it was a wealth management firm, and they have built it up as a family business and had an interesting life story. In the spotlight, I wrote about how the owner is caring for his elderly parents and even built an apartment for them in his basement, and how the family has spent time giving back building homes in a village in Guyana. It served as a good example of things to consider when planning retirement, and the article even included a few tips for couples in the beginning stages of planning. I like the way it turned out, and even though the company paid for this spotlight, I feel like it will present itself in a way that is more interesting for the reader editorially.

If you currently write for any magazines or websites and are looking to pick up more work, I suggest you look into writing sponsored content or business profiles. Mention to your contacts that you are looking to expand your portfolio, and go from there.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who makes money writing, blogging, interviewing, publicizing, providing digital content, reading books and reviewing them, and more. You can view her portfolio at FinishedPages.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Interesting post, Renee! This is becoming more prevalent. From a publisher's point of view, it's a win-win because you're getting high quality content and an advertiser is paying for it. I get emails asking if we accept sponsored posts all the time but they usually aren't a good fit. If I could find relevant companies that made sense with our site then I might try it.

There's also the other side of the sponsored post, where advertisers pay you to blog on your own site. These pay pretty well, but I haven't taken advantage of any of the offers.

If you don't mind me asking, how much does this type of work pay? Do you charge hourly or flat fee?

Renee Roberson said...

Hey Angela!

I agree that if these types of posts are done well, and with the reader in mind, they can be beneficial for both parties involved. Right now I've been getting paid per piece--which runs between $100-$200 for 750 words or less. These are for regional markets so I think the price is pretty fair. I have heard that writing sponsored content for the bigger national sites pays much more, though :-)

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