As part of the natural evolution of the blogger, you get to the stage where you’re starting to monetize. One of the ways to make money with your blog is to take on sponsored posts. This is when a company comes to you to get you to help promote a certain product, promotion, contest etc. The company will either provide you the content to post on your blog or you have the freedom to write a story that relates to the campaign. You post it and when you do, you get paid.
Now these opportunities are hard to come mainly because you won’t have the contacts to find out what travel brands are looking to work with bloggers. The ones you do receive through e-mail are usually fishing for unpaid sponsored work or sketchy link buying schemes (i.e. casinos). So what do you do? Well that’s precisely why platforms like IZEA exist.
IZEA is one of many platforms that is built for bloggers to be able to connect us with brands. In a nutshell what happens is that a brand has a campaign and wants to work with bloggers. Often times brands (or PR companies that represent them) don’t have the time to reach out and handpick bloggers to work with so they approach a company like IZEA to host their particular opportunity in a listing type of format. For us as bloggers, we join platforms like these because we want to make sure we are informed of these opportunities that come up.
How does IZEA work?
When you sign up, you start with the “Free” plan and what this means is that you get only a maximum of 3 bids per cycle. Your cycle reset date is basically when you sign up so every month your number of bids gets reset back to 3. If you want to upgrade, you can do so but I wouldn’t really recommend it despite the price being so low just because its not like there’s a flood of opportunities on IZEA.
So what’s a bid? Well a bid is basically every time you see a listed opportunity that you like and you pitch to the brand what you’d charge to do keeping in mind their maximum. You will not be able to bid an amount greater than the maximum. You will also have an opportunity to write a short pitch as to why they should pick you. Make sure you read the requirements carefully to make sure you even qualify.
Taking a step back for a second, the below is a screenshot of what you’ll see when you first sign into IZEA. The sponsorship page is your dashboard for all available opportunities, bids that are pending, direct offers (you’ll learn about that in the next section) and bids that have been accepted.
While most opportunities are in the form of sponsored posts, IZEA also has social campaigns available on occassion.
After your bid is in, all you have to do next is wait. Some advertisers don’t even bother replying but if they do you’ll get an email and you’ll find out if you’ve been accepted or rejected.
While I wish I had screenshots of the next process, you’ll have to settle for me explaining it. After you’re approved, the next steps are to write the actual article. I will typically do this in WordPress to get it all formatted in the way I want to and to be able to drop in the images. What you have to take note of is that the opportunity will have specific pieces of link code that you need to include. You want to make sure you implement it in the exact same way as they ask. I say this because the system won’t allow you to submit your piece until you have all the required links in place.
Once that’s done, I simply copy and paste this into the text field that IZEA makes available for you to submit to the client. The client will review your work and request a change or approve it.
After it’s approved, you’re free to post it on your blog and when that’s done, you’ll have a box available on IZEA to enter in the link to the post after its been published. Again, the system is very picky so you need to make sure your post is unchanged from the approved post and in particular those mandatory links they ask for.
When that goes through your job is done and typically a month later a credit will appear on your IZEA account which you can then deposit into your Paypal account (minimum $100 threshold).
My experience with IZEA
So why don’t I talk about my personal experience with IZEA. To date, I’ve gotten two big opportunities from them but I will mention that for each of them, I was contacted by the client directly through the platform for a specific opportunity. This is called a “Direct Offer”. What happened was I got an IZEA-templated-email from two big travel brands about a campaign they were running and were interested in paying me $X – accept or reject. Both offers I got from the above brands were above average and since I knew how I could craft a post around these opportunities, I accepted.
Nothing has come up in 2015 yet.
What I like about it
- All the opportunities on the platform are legit and vetted.
- E-mail notifications of new opportunities so you don’t have to constantly log in and check.
- Writing guidelines are very clear.
- Clients are very well informed and so far none have asked for do-follow. In fact they specifically ask for no-follow.
- Payment via Paypal very easy.
- You’re never handed a written piece to post. You are always in full control of the content that you end up posting.
What could be improved
- Final copy of the sponsored post needs to be approved by client before posting. Now I don’t have a problem with this but I know a lot of bloggers don’t like to go through an approval process with the client.
- The platform for submission is a bit glitchy in that if you copy and paste it over from WordPress it doesn’t come over completely the same but I usually just ignore it.
- Almost all the offers on the platform are low-ball. Come on, maximum of $50 for a post? You gotta be kidding!
- No way to filter by category so I end up doing a CTRL-F on “Travel” to see what shows up.
Is IZEA worth your time?
Now this is a question I constantly get from other bloggers. I know some bloggers haven’t had a lot of luck with it but my line of thought is that you really can’t lose by signing up.
If you’re someone that’s at that stage where you want to take sponsored posts, I encourage you to apply to any and all platforms you find because you never know what might pop up.
It’s really just a matter of filling out your profile completely and letting it sit there. The beauty of IZEA is that you’re going to get update emails whenever new opportunities come up so you don’t even need to log in periodically to check to see what’s available.