Question #1: When did you start providing the option for people to sponsor you? Is there a right or wrong way to begin? Do you sponsor other people?
Hey Girl! I'm actually answering a second question of yours at the bottom of this post too (: This is going to be a LONG answer.
I believe you should offer a Sponsor page on your blog from day #1. Use Passionfruit. I cannot stress that enough. It is free and it will make your life so much easier. At the beginning, offer swaps. Offer swaps as long as you like. I made the decision in the beginning that I would always offer swap size ads for ANY blog. This was based on the fact that I was appreciative of the women who swapped with me when I started out and I always wanted to provide that to other girls. You don't have to have swaps forever, that is just my take on it. I would say that around 300 followers you're safe to start charging. I think I started with 2 paid slots: a smaller one for $2 and a large one for $4. It's nice to offer paid slots because some girls want their ad on top. And companies won't be able to offer you sponsorship until you give them a slot to buy. After that, I based increasing the cost on how the slots were doing. If they were full and booked through the next month, I knew it was time to raise the prices. I always raise the cost by $2. I never want the cost to seem insane, so I frequently look at other blogs my size and try to make sure our prices are around the same. Those are my opinions on starting ads for your blog. I don't think there is a right or wrong time to start charging, but I do think every girl should at least offer swaps. It's a free way to grow!
Now I do want to say something about paid ad spots. I offer them to other bloggers who want to grow and expose their blog. I pride myself on the fact that I invest a ton of time into my sponsors. You don't just get your ad on my sidebar for most of my slots. I video chat you, work with you to set goals and help you grow as best I can. You should never promise these things with an ad spot if you aren't going to fulfill them. Sponsorships take a lot of time for me. So just consider that as well when deciding to do paid slots. Your sponsors are paying for a service, so don't let them down!
I also don't believe on posting monthly posts saying "Sponsor me next month!". I'm not hating on anyone who does (I know the majority of bloggers do this), I just personally think it's tacky and I don't feel the need to ask people to sponsor me. I've stuck with that policy and my ads are ALWAYS full and booked for months out. Also, don't make your ad spots so expensive that you have to offer 30% discount codes on a weekly basis. Just make your ads affordable and you will have plenty of sponsors.
Do I sponsor other blogs? I do. I will tell you I have only sponsored less than 5 though. I got to where I am today by swapping for the most part. I continue to swap whenever I can. As your blog grows, buying ads on a blog that would promote you becomes increasingly expensive. Right now, to get my ad on a blog that I would consider a "good investment ad slot", it would cost between $50-70 a month. Therefore, I have to save money and choose wisely when it comes to who I sponsor. At 200-300 followers, you have an insane amount of blogs to choose from. The pool is a lot smaller for me. I not only look for a blog with 1000+ more followers than me, but also an ad spot that will be more than just my button on their sidebar. Those two things combined will ensure I get my advertising money's worth from that $50-70 I drop. Again, all of these are just what I have found that works for me, so take it or leave it!
Question #3: How do you store your makeup, hair and beauty products? Especially since you get items like Birchbox in the mail?
Hey Jax! I won't lie...getting new freebies each month from Birchbox is a little overwhelming. Since they are such small items, I usually keep them all in a small makeup bag on my counter so I remember to use them and try them out! As for my other products...all my hair and body stuff is in a tote that I leave under the counter. I store my hairdryer and straightener under there as well. Our current house has NO storage (not even a medicine cabinet) in our bathroom, so I have to settle with under the counter space. In the past, buying a plastic set of drawers (about thigh height) always worked well. I love to be organized, so having separate little drawers for everything is a really great way to go.
Question #4: How do you deal with negative comments left on your blog and how do I stop people from being "Anonymous"?
Oh girl - Honestly, if it's a really mean comment, cry about it if you want. Vent to your husband or friend. Whatever you need to do. And then let it go. Unless the comment may have some truth to it and you want to address it publicly on your blog, I say it's best to just delete it and leave it alone. I can't stand when girls freak out over a comment or an email and then blast it out on their blog or twitter. I've been told many a time: You knew going into blogging that you were putting yourself out there...so you can't be surprised when not every single person in the world loves you. Do I agree with anonymous posting? No. I think those people are being cowards. If they don't like something I wrote or have a problem with me, they should have the guts to tell me themselves.
In the past few months I discovered a website that's sole purpose is to rip apart and bash bloggers. Thousands of pathetic people sit on the site and create thread after thread on this message board about bloggers. I am encouraging anyone reading this to NOT go and try to find this site. Not only will you be "upping" their traffic, you will also increase their searchability on Google. I only found this site because I noticed a ton of traffic coming into my blog from it. When I read the thread that was about me I was devastated at first. I almost cried, I emailed a few blog friends and I called Ryan. The stuff they were writing about me was so hurtful...and completely untrue! Our first instinct is to defend ourselves, but I knew if I tried that I would only bring more attention from them. They attacked me as a person, they attacked my marriage and they said some of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. I emailed Erin when I saw she was also listed on their stupid board. She told me to cry, vent and let it go. She made the decision, "These people don't know me. If they meet me in person and still want to say those awful things about me then that's fine." It's easy to bully from behind a computer screen and as "anonymous".
You can block "Anonymous" people from posting on your blog though. Go to your Blogger dashboard and click "Settings". Then under Posts & Comments where it says "Who can comment?" - choose Registered User. That will at least keep people from writing on your posts (:
I hope you guys enjoyed seeing some of your questions answered! I'll be back next Tuesday with more!
I'd love for you to submit a question for me to answer & for you to be featured next week!!!