Are You Being Conned? Fair Sponsored Blog Post Rates and Best Practice Guidelines

By: | Updated: July 20, 2012

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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 blogged about three years ago and still cover devotedly.
Where blogging really shines is its ability to help 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 paid to write blog posts, 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 the sponsored posts 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.
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What is a Sponsored Blog Post?

A sponsored blog post is a blog post which you are paid to publish on your blog. It may be written by you or by the advertisers.
In accordance with FTC regulations, always mention 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. According to SEO expert Igor Kholkin, founder of Los Angeles SEO agency Avidon Marketing Group, Google actively monitors & penalizes sites that pass paid-for promotion as a natural endorsement.
Trust and authenticity are important and your readers will soon become disillusioned and jaded if you mislead them, whether intentionally or accidentally.

What Blog Advertising Agencies Charge for Sponsored Blog Posts

I wouldn’t recommend bloggers sell sponsored blog posts for 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 what normal bloggers charge.
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 brand pays 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.

How Much Do Bloggers Get Paid For Sponsored Posts?

It’s up to you to decide what to charge, but when setting your rates, you should consider:

  • How many sponsored blog posts do you 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 a few clients and charge more.
  • What else can you offer your advertisers in terms of exposure to 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 a brand or product is something that would naturally interest your readers and fit with what you normally cover on your blog.
  • How much time will you spend researching, writing and finding images for the sponsored blog post?
  • If you 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 to 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 of 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. Make payments in advance.
I won’t start writing a post until I’ve been paid.
4. Being a professional
Establish a clear process for accepting and publishing sponsored blog posts such as:

  • Payment is taken;
  • Headline approved;
  • the blog post was written;
  • Changes made if requested by the client;
  • The final copy is approved;
  • Blog post scheduled;
  • The blog post was 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 the 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 at sponsored blog posts as a way of building incoming links and improving their search engine optimization.
I’m not selling an incoming link on a set of 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 that you’re excited about nurturing.
7. Ask for repeat business
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 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. Prices are high because quality lasts and doesn’t come cheap and brands know that.
Your time, work and recommendations are valuable and it’s worth paying for.

by Brett Helling
Brett has been starting, growing, and monetizing websites since 2014. While in college, he began to learn about digital marketing. After graduating, he continued to build a diverse portfolio of websites while working a full time job. After years of building the portfolio on the side, he made the jump to run his websites full time.

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