If you’ve had a blog running with regular content for three months or more you have likely been approached one time or another for a sponsored post, guest post, or link sale. And sometimes the money seems so simple it is hard to justify NOT doing it. Let’s go a little deeper into the three and discuss what is acceptable and what is frowned upon, plus some best practices and a hint at what you should charge.
Selling Links For SEO Value Is Not OK
I’d like to state up front that selling “do-follow” links (as opposed to no-follow) is frowned upon and not worth it in the long run, and can ultimately get your site de-ranked from search engines. If you are like this secret blogger that may not matter to you, and the short term maybe has more value, and the benefits outweigh the risks.
But if you care about your readers, my personal recommendation is – don’t do it. Here’s the thing: all paid links should be labelled as such and marked up with the “no-follow” attribute behind the scenes. Consider affiliate links paid links too.
Tell Your Readers If You Truly Recommend A Link Or If You Are Being Paid For It
When a reader reads your post and sees a link, they trust that you are sending them there because it is of relevance to the topic at hand. If you were paid for the link and don’t disclose that fact, you are essentially duping your reader. It’s the truth. You’re “suggesting” they click the link because it is relevant to the topic and you, in a sense, “recommend” it.
Mark A Link As NoFollow For Google And Other Search Engines
Search engines will look at it the same way. You are giving a “vote” to that link which can help the linked-to page rank higher in the proverbial SERPS. And while they cannot easily determine by the surrounding text that should be in place that says something along the lines of: “I have been paid for this link,” or “I may be compensated if you buy something after following this link,” the rel=”nofollow” attribute attached to the anchor tag in the HTML will tell the search engines that no vote is cast for that link.
When Giving Someone A Link You Are Boosting Them In Some Way, Whether Disclosed As “Paid” Or Not
I get requests all the time for links with specific anchors in my existing blog posts. These posts have PageRank all their own and links with anchors can arguably help the site being linked to. And well, as I’ve learned, people are willing to pay good money for them.
When you tell them that you will disclose the link to readers as being “sponsored” and you will disclose it to search engines as being paid by using “nofollow” you most often never hear from them again. Either that or you get a “thanks but no thanks” kind of reply.
But truth be told, if you stick to just providing links that you would normally link to anyway, and put the proper disclosures in place when you are getting paid, your readers will continue to trust you. And many well still click over if the “copy” is compelling enough, so these links can still have value to everyone involved. The advertiser doesn’t always see it this way however.
The Difference Between A Guest Post And Sponsored Post Is Usually Who Writes It And If There Is Money Exchanged
I look at guest posts like this: someone with a blog very similar to yours that would appeal to your audience writes a post and provides it you for free in exchange for a link (dofollow or nofollow). They get the exposure of your readers and the potential SEO value and a long term link in your archives. What do you get? Depends how you look at it. This can turn into a networking opportunity, a joint venture, or even a friendship since you most likely share the same passions. This also gives you a day off from blogging if you are a once-daily blogger.
The Rules For Sponsoring Posts Can Be Your Own, But Here’s Mine
If I run a site that I blog for daily and someone is willing to pay me to write a post about their site or product I quickly take it into consideration and look for the following criteria:
- Will they accept that I am nofollowing the links and disclosing the “sponsored” part of it all?
- Am I linking to somewhere I would normally consider linking to anyway? i.e. Is it of value to my readers?
It’s that simple. If that criteria is met, it is almost a no-brainer to me. And since I am a daily blogger the only difference is that the topic was chosen for me. It may or may not require extra research.
Charge By The Word Or By The Post And Perhaps Base It On Traffic And Engagement
I personally look for future benefits of a “sponsored blog post” arrangement in the same way as guest posting so I don’t charge a lot. That and the fact that I’d be normally doing the work anyway. Granted I could be inserting affiliate links which from experience have landed me anywhere from $0 to $5000 and counting for a single link (organically), but I could still be getting paid from the surrounding advertisements on the page anyway.
I normally charge $5 per 100 words when writing for the web so I might charge $10-$20 per 100 for sponsored content, to a set maximum. This depends a lot on the traffic of the site and perhaps PageRank. It also depends on if the sponsor wants me to share the post with my giant list, or my Facebook/Twitter/G+ following. The price can go up if that’s the case.
With that said, there are long term benefits to “old” links, and if you plan on building the site up even more over the years, your prices could reflect that. I recall seeing a “suggested price list for sponsored blog posts” chart with prices ranging from $60 to $3000 based on PageRank and traffic. Some say never to go less than $1000 regardless of traffic and PR.
Myself, I’m happy with $50 on low-traffic sites, between $100-$200 on mid-traffic sites, and about $500 on high traffic sites that have lots of engagement. That is still good value for your time, or at least for mine, especially considering the other actual and potential benefits.