First, you HAVE to disclose your sponsored content and affiliate links. I've seen quite a few bloggers not do this, or do it "creatively." Outside of being illegal, you're being a huge jerk to your readers. They think you genuinely like and are endorsing something but all the while you're just trying to make a buck. I've actually stopped reading blogs that don't properly disclose paid content, because if they can't be honest about that, there's a whole host of things they're not honest about. I don't have time to read that garbage! You need a brief disclosure on the actual page of the post, and a more thorough disclosure (with more details and definitions) that can be easily found somewhere on your blog. Mine is here.
Yes,actual- post-page-disclosures might instantly turn some people off. Yes, some people will avoid your affiliate links, even if they want to purchase the product. That's how it goes. Some people just don't like monetized blogs. Oh well. You can mitigate distaste in readers' mouth by limiting your sponsored content. Some of my old favorite bloggers turned "to the dark side" by posting majority sponsored content. And even the posts that aren't fully paid for by XYZ sponsor are littered with affiliate links at best, and at worst? It's a full out post dedicated to projectile vomiting every affiliate link they can on their readers. I get puked on enough by babies. I don't need "blogger make-a-buck-puke" too.
Second, once you start working with brand-blog connectors (I work with Collective Bias, Linquia, Influence Central, One2One, and Sverve), you get contractual obligations to produce content. That means that no matter how tired you are, you HAVE to blog. You have to edit images. It doesn't matter if you're having a bad day or your child is sick or your got in a car wreck. You also have to use your social media channels to promote your posts. That means getting creative so that the sponsored content fits your style, personality and aesthetic in all your channels! Posting and promoting on time is holding up your end of the bargain; theirs is paying you.
This sponsor required an Instagram syndication, which is the hardest of all channels to cross promote in - unless you're a fashion blogger. Applying the same filter and photo editing techniques help the photo blend with your feed as opposed to stick out as obvious sponsored content!
Speaking of paying, if you work outside of legitimate brand-blog connectors, you have to chase your money down! When I work with the aforementioned folks, I get paid within 30 days by the payment method I have on file, and all my tax information is housed with them too. Easy! But when I work with Joe Schmo who emailed me about "an opportunity", there has not been one instance yet of independent sponsors paying me easily and on time. NOT ONE. I have to chase (and by that I mean email 10+ times and threaten to remove posts) them for over a month to get paid. This isn't unique to me; every blogging friend I know has experienced the same.
On the plus side, those independent sponsored posts tend to pay more, and you can negotiate your price. So if you're a strong negotiator, you're going to come out way ahead! You also can set your own terms about what you'll include in the post and how you'll promote it, which works in your favor, too. But you'll be chasing that payment for weeks on end. Blogger beware.
Blog monetization isn't all bad, however. The tide is really turning with how these posts are written, and that's having a fantastic impact on page views for you as a blogger. What do I mean? The classic "product review" is dead. No longer do we as bloggers ramble on about a product and it's benefits in order to get paid. Why? I think too many bloggers didn't know how to accurately describe a product or an experience. I can't tell you how many times I've read, "I'm obsessed with this lip color. It's going to be on major repeat all season." Um, ok. Great. That doesn't tell me anything. In fact, Googleing it would give me more info...
Blog monetization has it's perks. You know, like the money! And the direction it's headed is a great one that readers are interested in reading, unlike the old-school product review that made your page views drop. But there are some things I wish I had known about blog monetization before I took the plunge. Your workload increases dramatically, and you become contractually obligated to produce great content - including photos. You have legal requirements and tax implications. Perhaps worst of all is chasing those dang sponsors who go MIA when it's time to cut you a check! But it's still worth it in the end. My blog is now my business and I'm an entrepreneur. Something I never imagined I'd be!