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How To Sell A $100,000 Sponsorship For Your Blog

Joel Cheesman is a blogger in a niche of career/recruiting. Early in 2007 Joel sold a one-year sponsorship for his award-winning blog, Cheezhead.com, to Jobcentral.com for $100k. I recently interviewed Joel via email to find out how he did it, and how you can do it to.

jclogo207.gifJim Kukral: Was it your idea to sell your entire blog or did the sponsor suggest it?

Joel: Mine.

Jim’s Analysis: It just goes to show that success comes to those who ask for it. Decide what you want, then make it happen. It sounds harder than it is.

Jim Kukral: How exactly did this sponsorship come about? Who contacted who? Who came up with the $100k number?

Joel: My blog had done (and continues to do) a nice job of supporting my SEO business. So the issue arose of Do I focus on SEO and blog less, or do I create a revenue stream for my blog and justify the time spent blogging. Revenue stream and more blogging won. I contacted JobCentral. They were a great prospect because they had supported me before (http://www.cheezhead.com/2006/06/11/jobcentral-wins-auction/).

I came up with the $100K number. I knew that if we were going to garner attention, it would have to be something big.

Jim’s Analysis: Never undervalue yourself. Sometimes asking for too little is a very bad thing.

Jim Kukral: What exactly does the sponsor get?

Joel: Dominating presence on blog (header, banner, sponsors page, single post drop-down link); plugs in podcasts and videos; logo on T-shirts worn at tradeshows and conferences; advertising in anything I publish, etc.

Jim’s Analysis: $100k/12 months=$8,300/month. Not bad for all that. As Joel mentions below, a company can spend over $100k/year on a trade show presence and possibly never even track that ROI back. With a blog sponsorship they can track everything, and the buzz alone from the sponsorship can pay off as it reaches every major blogger in that space. Hey, look at this article for proof :)

Jim Kukral: What’s the advantage to the sponsor for doing this?

1) It sounds corny, but there was really an element of “supporting the arts.” Bill Warren, head of JobCentral, really believes in the medium and where it can go.

2) Brand awareness. My blog just won Recruiting.com’s Best Recruiting Blog for 2006. I have a good name in the industry and healthy growth.

3) Zagging. A lot of companies will spend over $50K on one tradeshow in our industry, where they largely go unnoticed. By sponsoring a blog at this level, JobCentral took a different approach to its competitors’ marketing activities.

Jim’s Analysis: While I don’t think this will be an easy sell to most companies who are used to dropping wasted money into trade shows and banner ads, I do think that smart companies will see the advantages Joel talks about. The trick is finding one like Jobcentral, who is obviously way ahead of the curve. I’m going to try and interview Bill Warren, head of Jobcentral next and get his thoughts on Joel and this sponsorship.

Jim Kukral: What’s the advantage to you for selling a sponsorship this way?

I can better justify the time spent blogging. Time is money, right?

Jim’s Analysis: I would agree. The #1 advantage is that Joel can now concentrate on his craft, instead of worrying about selling ads.

Joels’ Dirty Little Secret

I saw Joel in person at an event the other day and he secretly told me that after he sold this sponsorship he was contacted by other industry people he knew who wondered why he didn’t come to them first, as they would have given him way more than $100k. Lesson learned, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Read Joel’s story about “selling out” on his blog.

Digg this story please?

Here’s Joel’s “selling out” funny video. Good work buddy.

Cheezhead Sells Out

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Online Conversations & Business Blogging Insights From The Void

Hugh from Gapingvoid.com summarizes a talk he gave to the fabled PR agency Edelman.

bloggingthist.jpgThese 16 learning points pretty much sum up all intelligent thought on business blogging, online conversations and more. Do yourself a favor, click here, go read it and thank me later.

My favorite tidbits?

5. The growth will come, I believe, not by yet more increased efficiencies, but by humanification. For example, take two well-known airlines. They both perform a useful service. They both deliver value. They both cost about the same to fly to New York or Hong Kong. Both have nice Boeings and Airbuses. Both serve peanuts and drinks. Both serve “airline food”. Both use the same airports. But one airline has friendly people working for them, the other airline has surly people working for them. One airline has a sense of fun and adventure about it, one has a tired, jaded business-commuter vibe about it. Guess which one takes the human dimension of their business more seriously than the other? Guess which one still will be around in twenty years? Guess which one will lose billions of dollars worth of shareholder value over the next twenty years? What parallels do you see in your own industry? In your own company?

Indeed. How true is that? Which business are you? Think, be realistic. Which business do you want to be?

7. Blogging is not about reaching a mass audience. Blogging is not about creating yet another sales channel. Blogging is about allowing “The Smarter Conversation” to happen.

Why do some companies lose, while other companies win? Because the latter has a smarter “conversation” with its customers. Pret-A-Manger has a smarter conversation about food than Burger King. Starbuck’s came along 20 years ago and began a smarter conversation about coffee with millions of people within a very short space of time. Wal-Mart’s massive growth started from a smarter conversation about prices. Savile Row tailor, Thomas Mahon came along and, with his blog, had a smarter conversation about $4000 English bespoke suits.

Blogs allow you to cheaply and quickly begin a smarter conversation. And once you get it going, that conversation starts bleeding out into all other areas of your business- including advertising, PR and corporate communications.

Again, how true is this? This is the first thing I tell business blogging customers when I consult… We’re going to create a conversation, and that conversation is going to get you more customers, traffic and publicity then you can imagine, if we do it right.

If you are worried about what people might say about your company, you’re worrying about something you cannot control, because it’s happening, right now, online, whether you like it or not. The question for you is, are you going to control that conversation, or just let it happen without you?

It’s a brave new world out there. I’ve been setting up and building business blogs for over 4 years now. Back then, I didn’t think you had to have one. Today, however, I think it’s like a website. It’s a requirement. It’s expected. At least it should be.

Don’t have a blog yet? Not creating conversations with your customers? It’s time to get in the game, because you know what?

Your competitors are going to beat you to the conversation, and then they’ll control it leaving you playing blog catch up.

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