Last updated February 18th 2015
Like most bloggers, you dream of making money from your blog one day.
In my experience, blogging is largely a labor of love, especially in niches like travel, a topic I started blogging about three years ago and still cover devotedly. You can check out my travel blog if you wish, but if you’re not familiar with Get In the Hot Spot, I started it almost three years ago and have been selling advertising for about a year.
My main focus here on Successful Blogging is to help other small business owners or writers use blogging to sell more of their services or products.
Blogging is brilliant for that – it’s helped me get a lot of well paid freelance writing work, including some sweet travel writing gigs, and it’s also helped me find more clients for my web and blog design business. Well, I didn’t find them, they found me through my blogs.
Normally I avoid writing about making money from blog advertising because it’s not relevant to writers and small business owners. But there are more and more blog writers here on Successful Blogging who are hoping to make an income directly from sponsored post on their blog.
Some of my clients and readers are now being approached for advertising and don’t know how much to charge for sponsored blog posts.
Plus, I keep hearing stories about how much (or little) bloggers charge for sponsored blog posts and seeing recommendations about how much to charge for sponsored blog posts which think are way too low. I can’t stand the thought of small business owners and bloggers being poorly paid for valuable access to their readers so it’s time for me to weigh in.
What is a Sponsored Blog Post?
A sponsored blog post is a blog post which you are paid publish on your blog. It may be written by you or by the advertisers.
In accordance with FTC regulations you should always mention that it’s a sponsored blog post, usually at the end of the post with a byline such as:
“This blog post was sponsored by (Name Brand Here).”
Even if you are not legally bound to disclose that you’ve been paid to publish a post, you should.
Trust and authenticity are important and your readers will soon become disillusioned and jaded if you mislead them, whether intentionally or accidentally.
Sponsored Blog Post Rate Recommendations
I’ve seen several rate charts lately for sponsored blog posts. I think they’re way too low and cause bloggers to undersell themselves. This is why I want to fill you in about sponsorships.
Some, like this rate calculation, are based on complicated algorithms where you add you number of monthly page views to your number of Twitter followers, divide it by your Google Page Rank and so on.
Even that site admits the algorithm doesn’t work because you should get paid more, not less, the higher your Google Page Rank is.
What Blog Advertising Agencies Charge for Sponsored Blog Posts
Based on the above algorithm I should charge about $55 per sponsored blog post on Get In the Hot Spot. Sadly it would hardly be worth my time dealing with an advertiser, writing a post, publishing and promoting it for that low rate.
I wouldn’t recommend that bloggers sell sponsored blog posts for such a low figure unless they don’t have a loyal and returning readership and don’t care about losing the readers they do have.
In fact I charge (and get paid) about 14 times that rate.
I didn’t pick my rate at random either.
I based my current sponsored blog post rate on what a big blog advertising agency charges brands for sponsored blog posts on blogs with similar traffic to mine. I can’t show my sources but I got this information from a leading blogger who uses a major blog advertising agency.
The brands actually pay the blog advertising agency twice as much as that but the agency keeps 50% and gives the blogger around 50%.
Since I know some brands pay $1,500 through a blog advertising agency for a sponsored blog post on a blog with similar traffic to mine, and I charge half the price, I believe my rate offers excellent value.
Of course some companies and brands won’t pay this high rate but that’s fine. I want to attract quality advertisers who value my blog and readers by offering a quality blog. Charging more and delivering better quality and results works out best for both parties bloggers and advertisers.
There’s a rate card (for sponsored blog posts here), which under charges up to $350 per post according to my rates, or up to $1,050 according to what an advertising agency might charge. That’s a huge difference and a lot of money potentially being lost. Or a lot of bloggers being ripped off because they don’t know what to charge.
Here are my suggestions on what bloggers should charge for sponsored blog posts.
I’m using two metrics here, unique visitors per month and Google Page Rank, as a means of establishing a blog’s traffic, age and authority.
How to Decide What to Charge for Sponsored Blog Posts
You can see there’s a lot of leeway in my rate suggestions. It’s up to you to decide what to charge, but when setting your rates, you should consider:
- How many sponsored blog posts you’ll write each month. For example, you could promise only two sponsored blog posts a month and charge more for that exclusivity.
- Would you prefer to offer more sponsored blog posts at a lower rate or less at a higher rate? I’d prefer to work with few clients and charge more.
- What else you can offer your advertisers in terms of exposure on your other social media outposts, such as Twitter or Facebook.
- If running a sponsored blog post by a certain brand will provide value to your readers and add to your blogging credibility.
- If the brand has the same values as your blogging brand.
- If the brand or product is something that would naturally interest your readers and fit with what you normally cover on your blog.
- How much time you’ll spend researching, writing and finding images for the sponsored blog post.
- If you’ll write the post yourself or just edit and format a post the advertiser has written.
- How much influence you have online, and if that will be eroded if you work with certain brands. or promote too many brands too often.
- If the post needs to be an advertorial about the product or if you can just write your normal blog post or a post on a related topic without pushing a brand or product.
- How engaged your blog readers are. I believe engagement is more important than the number of readers a blog has.
Best Practice Tips for Sponsored Blog Posts
1. Start small
If you haven’t sold any sponsored blog posts yet, start by charging less until you can build up a portfolio to show other advertisers and get testimonials.
Remember, these will be your first paid advertisements and sponsored blog posts which you can show other clients, so you want to make sure they look good and get comments.
2. Set a rate according to your experience, reputation and influence
I’m qualified and have 17 years experience writing copy for the web. I charge $125-$250 per hour for web copywriting and my rates for sponsored blog posts show that.
3. Take payment in advance.
I won’t start writing a post until I’ve been paid.
4. Be professional
Establish a clear process for accepting and publishing sponsored blog posts such as:
- payment taken;
- headline approved;
- blog post written;
- changes made if requested by client;
- final copy approved;
- blog post scheduled;
- blog post published.
You can do this in your media kit by explaining what you offer and for what price. In my media kit I say all sponsored blog posts are written by me. That also accounts for the high rate as it pays for my time.
I rarely take posts where the advertiser writes it but when I have, I suggest the headline, have final say and edit their copy. I charged less as I didn’t have to write it but remember that editing, formatting, and promoting still takes time.
5. Compete on quality, not on price
Generally I will only accept a sponsored post if I write it myself because I don’t want to run the risk of having boring content on my blog and losing readers in exchange for money.
So I need to be paid for writing time, for building a conversation around a brand and for making them look cool.
Many companies that approach you aren’t interested in that anyway and look as sponsored blog posts as a way of building incoming links and improving their search engine optimization.
I’m not selling an incoming link on set key phrases though, I’m selling access to an engaged readership, exclusivity (because I limit the number of blog posts) and the chance to be featured on an established and high quality blog.
6. Prime your readers
When you start writing sponsored blog posts let your readers know why you’re doing that and how it will benefit both the blog and them. Ask for their support and explain that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship which you’re excited about nurturing.
7. Ask for repeat business
Since some companies, such as advertising agencies, where you will be acting for their clients, may be able to offer you multiple sponsored blog posts. You might want to offer a discount for that.
Always let your client know when the post goes live, tell them the post is going well and let them know that you’d love to help them again in the future.
8. Follow the Google guidelines
Google frowns on sites that sell text links and can even ban such sites from search engine results. They do this because there are so many search engine optimization agencies buying links and so many low quality sites that exist purely to sell links and improve search engine rankings. Google says:
“Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:
- Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag
- Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file”
9. Consider using a blog advertising agency
Blog advertising agencies will usually only want to work with big blogs and trusted bloggers, but they will be able to negotiate the best rate possible, as well as save you time finding suitable advertisers. It’s a service that’s worth considering if you’re struggling to run the advertising side of your blog alone.
10. Build a strong, trusted brand first
I waited a long time before monetizing Get In the Hot Spot because I didn’t want to plaster my blog with ugly ads. Stay true to your values and avoid overloading your blog with advertising or sponsored blog posts because it will cheapen your brand.
The Final Word on Sponsored Blog Posts
Charging more for sponsored blog posts and delivering quality is better for readers, advertisers and bloggers like you and me.
Remember, a sponsored blog post is a personal recommendation from you – from a real person your readers know and trust. Don’t sell yourselves or your readers short. Price high because quality lasts and doesn’t come cheap and brands know that.
Your time, work and recommendation is valuable and it’s worth paying for.
Here’s What To Do Next
If you want to earn an income with your blog, I’ve got something special for you. It’s a step-by-step report on how to make money by blogging.
Click on the picture below to download your free report:
Sue Anne Dunlevie
Sue Anne Dunlevie helps beginning bloggers succeed online. She works one on one with her clients to give them the tools to achieve their goals. You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.