Your business is going to reach a point where you’re not hustling to make connections, people are reaching out to y-o-u.
This is a sweet moment (celebrate it!), but also one you should be legally prepared for. After all, your ideas have inherent value, and you want sponsorship to support, not detract from, your well-heeled image.
You’ll never compromise your own message or values just to get a kickback. There are some important things to consider as you start doing or disseminating sponsored material.
Read on to learn all about how to legally do a sponsored blog, post, or other form of content; what you need to think about in the course of a collaboration like this; and how you’re going to expand your reach without trading value.
Speaking of spreading the love, The Legal Legacy Lounge™ is a go-to community for movers and shakers like you. Check it out!
What is a Sponsored Blog Post?
If this is still new on your radar, let’s set some ideas up.
A sponsored blog post or article can happen in one of two ways:
- An article that someone else writes (usually a business) that you post on your blog or website.
- An article that you pay someone else to write about your product or service, posted on their blog or website.
In addition to sponsored blog posts, you may do (or ask others to do) sponsored product reviews, sponsored videos, and even sponsored testimonials. You can already see that the nature of the individual, business, and digital property you link up with in this process is going to matter.
How Does Sponsored Content Get Handled Online?
If you’ve been scrolling on Instagram lately, you’ve watched your favorite influencers post sponsored content, which usually has a big disclaimer: THIS IS A SPONSORED POST. They have to do that, per Instagram’s rules, and most platforms and websites are similar. Here’s what sponsored content is/looks like:
- First, sponsored content often looks like it’s a natural part of a website or social feed. It’s designed that way, which makes it different from an ad that you buy.
- Second, sponsored content is something that you create to post, or something that someone gives you that they created to post. This is, again, different from an ad company or design department creating it. Even if you’re just talking about a product you love, it’s in your own words. Not the product manufacturer’s/creator’s words.
- Third, while we are talking about blog posts — we already said it but just to remind you — sponsored content isn’t just text-based: it can also be videos or even audio (like on a podcast).
- Fourth, sponsored content is ultimately about sales or exposure, both of which can make you money (which is why it’s worth paying for, but also why there are rules to govern it).
Let’s talk about those rules a little.
FTC Rules for Sponsored Content and Endorsements Online
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has something called Endorsement Guides that dictate the parameters around sponsored blog posts and other sponsored content. This impacts influencers, reviewers, and anyone else who’s trading something for sponsored content.
Endorsements include any kind of advertising message that consumers “are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser.”
Some of the guidelines include the following:
- Endorsements must “reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experience of the endorser.”
So, if you’re sent a productivity planner and find it confusing and hard to use, you shouldn’t put up a sponsored post about how much you love it.
- Endorsements don’t have to be “phrased in the exact words of the endorser.”
This is especially relevant if you’re rocking a podcast. You may be given an exact script to follow for sponsored snippets, but you may not have to read it word for word, instead speaking from the heart about how much you love Wix or Monday.com or what have you.
- Endorsers must be bona fide users “at the time the endorsement is given.”
So, if a teeth whitening company reaches out, sends you a sample product, and asks for a sponsored review, you shouldn’t give them a glowing review if you never tried the gel.
If you’re going down the road of sponsored posts with any regularity, it’s worth checking out the FTC regulations in full, and probably enlisting the help of legal counsel to ensure you stay within the boundaries.
Examples of Sponsored Content
Here’s an example: You use Planoly to schedule social media posts for your life coaching business. Planoly reaches out and asks you to write about how much you love them. You review Planoly on your site in a sponsored blog post, and receive some kind of remuneration.
In that review, you’re saying about Planoly what Planoly would say about Planoly (they’re awesome). Your readers perceive it as your personal opinion, and because they love you, start using Planoly themselves.
It’s fairly simple and, as long as you do it according to the book, it can add a lot of value to your business.
What’s the Value of Sponsored Content and Collaborations?
Doing sponsored content can provide value to your brand in two ways:
- Growth Opportunities
When you either post sponsored content or are asked to post sponsored content, it can give you a moment of visibility with a brand new audience. This has exponential power to it, possibly unlocking a lot of new opportunities.
- Greater Brand Recognition
If your goal is to be a household name (get it, girl!), you can accelerate brand recognition by working with sponsored content. The more you do it, the more you’ll become an influencer of note to bigger and bigger brands. It may have a compounding effect, getting your brand on more people’s radars.
Two Tips for Sponsored Blogs/Posts
Sponsored posts should be covered by a contract that delineates payment details, outlines the deliverables, and protects your intellectual property. This is definitely worth having an attorney do right, as both parties stand to gain (or lose) depending on the strength of the agreement.
While sponsored posts are easy to do (if you do them right), you need to be cautious. If you do this too much, you could start to lose credibility with your followers, because your feed or blog could become like one long commercial. To avoid that fallout, we have these two bits of advice:
Be transparent — don’t ever ever ever (ever ever) pretend like a sponsored post isn’t. Think it through. Write it well. Use your own voice. In an effort to be natural and off the cuff, don’t be so contrived that it isn’t clear the content is sponsored.
Be genuine — the more popular you get, the more offers you may get to promote a product through sponsored content. Be careful. If you don’t like kale, don’t go repping for kale juice. Be authentic. Remember: you are the magic. Don’t lose that in an effort to grow fast.
Sponsored Blogs or Other Content for Business Growth
Legally doing sponsored content is just one more tool in your arsenal toward business growth.
Whatever success looks like to you, it’s always achieved by you bringing your best to the table. If you can be a mouthpiece for great, deserving brands whose products you love, sponsored posts are the way to go. Choose wisely, do it by the book, and be yourself.
Are you in startup or scale up mode? The Legal Godfairy is here to answer all of your questions, supporting your biggest dreams with professional legal contracts, tips and guidance, and a community that believes in your rockstar potential. Contact us to learn more about how we work with people like you to change the world.
*Disclaimer: This blog post has been prepared solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to provide, nor should it be relied on for, legal advice. Should you require advice regarding a specific matter, appropriate legal or other professional advice should be obtained.