As you can see, changes are happening on Final Fashion – only the second reorganization since I moved to this URL. It is not exactly a redesign – the same basic template has been in place since May 2006, and I like to keep it simple – the changes just to the main menu which is now in the header, the new wider sidebar, and an effort to clarify the agenda. As I am going through an intense life transition right now, it makes sense to re-evaluate the structure and role of the blog.
Over the course of 2009 and 2010, I experimented with a sponsorship program on Final Fashion. Like a lot of fashion bloggers, in 2011 I’ve decided to move on from the badge-and-banner stuff. It was an interesting process, as I developed and soft-launched a unique program. There were two components – a custom-illustrated badge in the sidebar, and a monthly sponsor news post, which the sponsors contributed words and images for on their own. I never promoted sponsorship on the site very actively, and yet I found that small to medium sized businesses, mostly in Toronto, voluntarily stepped up to support was is and has always been a very personal, niche fashion blog.
Because Final Fashion is not a shopping blog, I’m not sure that the results for the sponsors were anything more than a certain level of brand awareness among a very select population of regular visitors, which is hard to quantify. As I am primarily a fashion illustrator, and the blog is neither newsy or consumer focused, in the end I don’t think that media sales as a business model is a good fit for this site.
I did a brief anonymous survey with the sponsors. For anyone who is interested in the feedback from my small modern media venture, I’ve paraphrased the answers, and I’ve thrown in some of my own thoughts as well.
Have you ever sponsored a personal blog before?
80% of sponsors answered no, which I think reflects so well on their enthusiasm and gutsiness for trying an untested program.
Would you ever sponsor a personal blog again?
80% of sponsors answered yes, which gives me the sense that the overall experience was positive.
What results, if any, did you get from sponsoring Final Fashion?
80% of sponsors said that they got referrals for their website, which is the obvious function of a badge. Other answers included: brand awareness, insight on blogging, and inquiries from new contacts. Another clear benefit mentioned was direct referrals through me – when I work with trusted clients, they’ll often ask me for suggestions for other services or introductions, which is something I am always happy to help with if I can.
How did you feel the sponsor news posts complemented the program?
Most sponsors appreciated the opportunity to directly address a blog audience. The added benefit of increasing incoming links and google rank was mentioned. Some sponsors found the task of assembling a post too time-consuming and onerous to do regularly.
Why did you decide to sponsor Final Fashion?
Most said that they like me (aw!), and they like the site, and that’s a good enough reason. Some cited the discounted rate on the custom illustration for the badge. The aspect of promoting their business was almost an afterthought, which surprised me and made me feel grateful – a sponsorship program is more like patronizing an artist than it is like a traditional advertising model.
What do you feel is a fair monthly sponsorship rate for a niche blog like Final Fashion?
All over the place from $20/month to $150/month. Final Fashion’s monthly reach is between 15,000 and 20,000 unique visitors, including subscribers, to give you a sense of scale.
Any recommendations for those who would be interested in sponsoring personal blogs?
One sponsor wrote:
Before selected a blog to sponsor, be sure to understand who the readers are to understand what type of audience you will be reaching. It’s always good to be a followers and frequent visitor to that blog also.
Any recommendations for bloggers who are interested in sponsorship?
Connect with your sponsors and ask for feedback.
Any final thoughts on the Final Fashion sponsorship program?
I thought it was a great and unique way to introduce and promote my company. I loved the personalized illustration.
Another sponsor adds:
We loved working with Danielle. She makes it so easy to send posts and always sent out reminders.
A heartfelt thank you to all of the businesses who sponsored Final Fashion, for your support and your responses.