What’s Up with Owned, Earned, Paid, and Shared Media?

by Sunny Chanel
Owned Earned Paid Shared MediaMost of us started out this way; you begin a blog to share your ideas, thoughts, and passions in post form as a way to amplify your message beyond the playground or boring board meetings. Then you realize something powerful beyond your postings; your words have intrinsic value, monetarily and otherwise. You, my friend, discover that you are an influencer and can gain exposure, traffic, and yes, money through your message.

When working with brands, there are several different ways this is categorized: Owned, earned, paid, and shared media. Let’s break this down for what it means for you and what it means for a brand.


OwnThis is you, your site, your brand, and your social media channels. This is the heart of your operation, which all the opportunities and sponsorships flow through. Your site and/or social media channels should be your priority. As in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” and building a brand that has the potential to create value and flourish is of the utmost importance, then and only then “they will come.”

For the brand, this would be their own company site where they control the message, all the content, and all the information. This is the heart of their outreach and where they, as a brand, would like to drive traffic in order to make sales or gain a meaningful market share.


Earned-2Earned media is exposure that is gained by word of mouth via a blog post, social media, or by interacting in person – note that earned media happens without payment. While you may not get paid a dime for your work, what you get back can be so much more. Through posts that broadcast your passion, you’ll be able to assemble a loyal audience and build your brand through retweets, Facebook shares, and comments. You want to write about what you love, don’t you? (Or perhaps you may feel it’s your duty to get the word out about a product or service that is sub-par.) While you may not be paid for it initially, you’ll get back value by being on-point with your message, your passions, and the core of your values.

You shouldn’t only write or review a product, service, or event if it is a paid gig; you should review the product because you believe in it (or want to warn others). If you get a press release and the information would be helpful or meaningful to your readers, don’t dismiss it just because it isn’t sponsored, write about it because you want to and because it is a topic that would interest your readers. Plus, down the line, this could lead to opportunities such as sponsorships and trips. And that’s probably why you started your site to begin with, to write about what you love. Never, ever lose sight of that.

If you do have brand content on your site, you want to make sure that you strike a healthy balance between paid and non-paid posts. The percentage is up to you, since there aren’t any hard and fast rules, but in order to grow, nourish, and maintain your audience, you want to make sure that the balance is there. The last thing anyone – from your readers to your sponsors– will want to see is a blog with a high ratio of brand content.

For a brand, earned media is extremely coveted; it’s a marketers dream. They are able to get their word out in an organic way and without investing money, via word of mouth, trending content, and unsolicited/unpaid reviews.


PaidThis is a basic – this is when a brand pays you for a post, ad space, tweets, and anything else you can get a price for. As mentioned in the earned section above, you really want to make sure that you don’t overwhelm your site with too much paid content. You might be tempted to say yes to every offer, but make sure that you partner with brands that make sense for your blog. If you have a blog focused on family fun, having a sponsored post for feminine hygiene products – though potentially lucrative – would not only stick out by not meshing with your message, but will dilute your brand. Sometimes it really is worth more to just say no.

And speaking of getting paid, you may also end up being compensated to write a post or contribute to a brand’s site in the capacity of a freelance writer with the brand either appreciating your voice or wanting to have you affiliated with their message. When you are hired to do a sponsored post, be prepared for the client to give you feedback and to approve the final post before it goes live. You’re being hired to help deliver their message and being that they are your client and will want, nay need, to have the results they are looking for.

For a brand, this is a standard line item in their marketing budgets. What’s important to them is partnering with bloggers that are a good fit for their product or promotion and who will deliver in a timely and effective way.


SharedShared media is when a message is shared via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, or includes community-driven content and co-creation content with brands. This may have a price tag attached (hello Twitter parties!) or it may just be a tool to drive engagement and awareness. For blogs looking to increase their reach, having your posts shared on places such as Huffington Post and BuzzFeed will help with exposure for your personal brand. You might also have a post that you do about a brand because you love what they’re doing, that wasn’t compensated, but the brand then promotes it on their end via their social networks and their site, which could drive more traffic to you. But always be mindful (and sometimes wary) of brands who try to offer you “exposure” in lieu of payment for writing about their product, event, or services.

For a brand, this might me a great way to partner with a blogger, but they should always keep in mind the operative word “share,” both parties should get something out of it. Having an influencer contribute to a brand’s properties can be a powerful tool, Social Chorus noted a recent study that influencer content on a brand-owned property does far better than the general content a brand posts, just proving, yet again, the power of the influencer.

A Mixed Bag: The Power of Integration

All-2These days there is often overlap between these types of media for a strong marketing plan. A perfect storm is when owned, earned, paid, and shared media all merge together to make a meaningful and powerful impact. In order for this to happen, both the brand and the blogger need to be strategic and smart in their marketing plan.

When the magic happens, it’s a win-win situation for both the brand and the blogger – like lightning in a bottle. The trick is to capture it, cherish it and try to do it again!


About the Author

sunny chanelSunny Chanel is a full time content provider/blogger/writer/word stringer. She’s a co-owner of Wonder & Company and also regularly contributes to Disney’s,, Fandango’s Family Room, Café Mom’s The Stir, Hispana Global, and is the West Coast editor for Mommy Nearest. She also provides content to Disney Imagicademy. Every now and then she updates her personal blog Beyond all the writing, her best gig is hanging out with her husband and 8-year-old daughter, exploring the always fun and fascinating streets of San Francisco.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Sunny! This really helped a lot to differentiate between what’s out there and made everything so much easier to understand

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