A monkey put his hand into a jar of cookies. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the cookie jar. Unwilling to lose the cookies, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment.
Recently, this message popped up in my inbox. (I’ve changed names and niche.)
“My name is ‘Ashley,’ and I’m a ‘computer tech’ writer. I’ve been following and enjoy your content. I wanted to reach out and see if you’d be interested in publishing an original article from me on your site.
I have experience writing articles that rank well on Google and generate traffic for the websites they’re published on. And, oftentimes, these collaborations turn into recurring deals beneficial for all parties involved. At the moment, I have a relatively restricted budget but am open to discussing sponsorship rates, according to your expectations and practices.
I am interested in writing for our computer tech partner – AwesomeComputers. They have experience of nearly 40 years in the business, craftsmanship, high-quality design, top-class support, and quality are their top values and models of conduct.
Opting for sponsored content on your blog would be a suitable match. However, I look forward to your feedback to further discuss potential partnerships and ideas.“
As I’ve written before, guest posting seems to be dying off. There are too many spammers. But Ashley sounded like a real person, and I knew about AwesomeComputers. Sure, the canned email was part of a guest post outreach campaign, but why not see where the trail led?
So I responded. And that’s the start of our story!
How To NOT Submit a Guest Blog Post
“Normally I ignore guest post solicitations, but yours might be from a real person!
I’m familiar with AwesomeComputers. What’s your relationship with them? Affiliate partner or freelance marketing manager?“
I’ll save you the next few emails. Ashley and I digitally shook hands. Here’s what I suggested: Sponsored content from AwesomeComputers would be a much better fit on another website in my portfolio, I said. Also, the client would gain more authority from the site if they published a series of posts (like a mini learning course).
- “Price is $150 per post for a 4-post series at one post every 2 weeks.
- Each post should be officially authored as yourself as a representative of AwesomeComputers. Backlinks will be marked as sponsored. You are absolutely welcome to promote the manufacturer in context, but this should be an info blog post, not a disguised sales pitch.
- MyWebsite.com owns exclusive, complete, permanent rights to the content. But so long as the content is useful, it will stay live and active in perpetuity.
- You will submit topic ideas for approval and we’ll choose one. Please browse the site for ideas on content our Readership will find useful.
- Post should be 800-1,500 words of 100% unique non-AI content.“
To recap: I was charging $150 per sponsored blog post for a 4-article series. That’s a stinkin’ good deal. And I was not only encouraging Ashley to promote AwesomeComputers, I was even naming AwesomeComputers as the permanent author of the mini-series!
How Much Should a Blogger Charge for a Sponsored Blog Post?
I have found the best way to price sponsored blog posts is 1% of monthly page views. And no matter how small your site, charge at least $100 per post! Anyone who accepts less than $100 is usually just a glorified link farm, like the Hoth.
If you prefer flat rates, $200-300 per post (single) or $150-200 per post (series) is a reasonable number. This is assuming 10,000-50,000 page views per month.
If your website receives more than 50,000 views per month, try to charge more – but be aware that many marketers aren’t willing or able to pay more than $300 per sponsored post.
Are Sponsored Links Required for Guest Posts?
Ashley didn’t think my deal was so awesome. She quickly responded:
“Thanks, however nofollow/sponsored content tags don’t have the potential to help us. I would opt for publishing an article with a dofollow link (that is not marked as sponsored) and be happy to pay $150 for that. As a side note as well, your website seems to rank less stronger than initially advertised.
If you’re willing to agree to that, as well as to publish something on YourOtherWebsite.com too – so that is 2 posts for $300, that would be great.“
^This is why guest posting is such a spammy, greasy business. I have two big problems with her response.
- The myopic obsession with PageRank. Ashley is afraid that “rel=sponsored” attributes won’t pass PageRank. She’s out to get that link! She’s not marketing; she’s running a link building scheme according to Google. That’s why she wants two posts rather than four. It’s easier to get as many backlinks from as many domains for as cheap as possible rather than build authority with a partner brand.
- The assumptive accuracy of SEO software. Judging by Ashley’s comment on my website ranking, she likely ran the alternate URL through a backlink research software like Ahrefs and found the estimated pageviews were less than she hoped. What’s ironic is that both websites get about the same traffic. SEO software is notorious for grossly under- and over-estimating analytics on smaller websites.
Monkey With His Hand In the Jar
Dofollow links for sponsored content are against Google’s guidelines and are considered a link scheme. If you are merely digging for PageRank, then there are plenty of gray-hat websites that will be happy to sell you (and everyone else) space and links. (Although I doubt that’s what AwesomeComputers is truly looking for).
Best of luck,
Write for people first, Google second, I say. I get dozens of emails a week from so-called “freelance marketers” and “SEO consultants” and “digital marketers.” They’re all the same, glorified truffle pigs rooting around for cheap backlinks.
Eh, maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe Ashley really is a decent marketer who just drank a little too much of the backlink Kool-Aid. Maybe I’m the dinosaur, the guy who still thinks writing for people first is best practice!
But beating the algorithm is hard work. I’d rather work with Google (even when it screws me) to build a long-lasting foundation. Hey, that reminds me of another of Aesop’s fables: The Tortoise and the Hare.