The Anatomy of an Artfully Branded Blog Post
Writing a tasteful sponsored post without sounding too promotional is an art form. Your readers are aware that you get free products and occasionally monetary compensation for promoting a brand or product-- they aren’t oblivious ding dongs, so there’s no use trying to sneak it by them. If you do it right, they won’t mind. If you do it wrong, you’ll be branded a sell out. And nobody trusts a sell out.
Elana of ElanaLoo is pretty skilled when it comes to sponsored posts. She weaves products and services into interesting storylines, and does so without sounding salesy. To give you a clear idea of what this looks like, we’re going to dissect one of Elana’s blog posts from earlier this year. We present to you: the anatomy of an artfully branded blog post.
Strong brand fit.
If you are selective about who you work with then creating authentic content will be easy. The product or service should fit into your life seamlessly. There should be no need to create a whole new storyline around this brand, it should naturally fit into a pre-existing storyline (i.e. your life).
Elana blogs regularly about travel, the outdoors, and wellness, so working with a health food company specializing in trail mix like Orchard Valley Harvest was a no brainer. Now, if she had written this post about snacking on Poptarts, her readers would have been quick to question whether or not she even really ate Poptarts, which doesn’t look good for the brand or the blogger.
Catchy non-branded blog title.
Elana’s title, “How to love life, even when you sit & stare at screens all day,” is sure to resonate with a lot of her readers. They probably read it and thought: "dang, I do hate staring at screens all day, it’s starting to wear me down. Let’s see what she has to say." She hooks them in with a relatable storyline and a solution to one of their problems.
A title like “Orchard Valley Harvest Review” isn’t very sexy, is it? And unless someone is specifically searching the internet to figure out if they want to buy some nuts from Orchard Valley Harvest or not, they will not be interested in reading a straight product review.
If a brand requires that you include their name in the title of the blog post, which might happen, put some effort into an intriguing title. You might hate it, but click-bait style titles could work in your favor here. Think, "Capture Adventure | Creating High-Quality Photo Book with Blurb Books," or "5 Things You Didn't Know about Take5 Bars."
Clearly demonstrated value.
As with traditional advertising, it shouldn’t be all about the product; it should be about what the product can do for the customer. Focus on how that product can improve your audience’s life or solve one of their problems. Here, Elana offers several pieces of advice before even mentioning Orchard Valley Harvest, and then when she does, it’s worked into the overarching organic storyline. She discusses the importance of keeping healthy snacks (like Orchard Valley Harvest trail mix) on hand for your overall wellness while working. You keep reading because not only does Elana show how and why the product could fit into your life, but she’s also offering more than a product review.
Consistent voice and formatting.
Keep the formatting, voice, and style the same as your other posts. Some brands offer to provide a pre-written blog post for you to share on your own blog-- please, don’t do this. Or some bloggers adopt this salesy tone when talking about products and services-- please, don’t do this either. Branded blog posts should blend in with all of your other blog posts.
The voice and style of this post fits right in amongst Elana’s other posts that take you behind the scenes of her entrepreneurial, adventurous, and stylish life.
High quality images.
If you regularly feature original photography, this should be no exception. Don’t just pull images of the product off of google or from the brand’s website. You’ve talked about how this product fits into your real life, but now you have to figure out how to visually show how it fits into your life.
Elana features some crisp, on-brand photos of her at-home workspace, a few of which include Orchard Valley Harvest snack packs. It’s pretty obvious from the images that she was sponsored by Orchard Valley Harvest, but they are still visually interesting, tasteful, and cohesive with the rest of the photography on her website.
Like I said before, no point in trying to pull a slick one on your audience. Plus you don’t want any run-ins with the FTC. Include an authentic disclosure stating the nature of your relationship with the brand, and reinforce that all of the thoughts and opinions are your own.
Elana concludes her post with both a giveaway and a genuine disclosure.
And that, folks, is the anatomy of an artfully branded blog post.
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
I'm the Oxford comma's biggest fan.