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Cash In by Paying for Guest Posts

This guest post is by Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing.

If you’re looking for a way to grab attention for your blog and grow your income, I’ve had great success with this one: I pay writers.

Since May 2011, I’ve been paying $50 for guest posts on my blog. I started paying because my mission is to help writers earn more, and I needed to walk my talk. I usually buy two or three posts a month.

I thought it would just be a cost I’d have to cover every month. But paying for guest posts has turned out to be one of the most powerful strategies I’ve found for building my blog into a money-earner. My number of subscribers has doubled in the months since I started to pay.

I know—you’re here to learn how to make money with your blog, not spend it!

Fair enough. But I’ve discovered investing a little money in your content can be an affordable way to draw that big audience you’ve been trying to coax over to your neck of the virtual woods.

Here’s how paying for guest posts helps my blog succeed:

  1. It changes your attitude. When you start shelling out $100 or more a month for content on your site, it constantly reminds you why you have this blog: it’s a business. You’re investing in your business so it can ultimately earn you money. When your business has overhead, you get focused very quickly on how to earn enough to cover your costs.
  2. Quality goes way up. You get a lot of submissions when you wave a few bucks in writers’ faces. This means instead of begging and scraping to find guest posts when you need a writing break, you can pick and choose the posts you accept. You end up with better posts, and that attracts more readers.
  3. You are news. Offering pay in the blogosphere right now can get you some free press and valuable backlinks on popular sites, too. My blog has turned up in several widely read list posts about paying markets, such as this one. These are great traffic drivers whose effects can last for months.
  4. Word spreads like wildfire. In a world jammed with starving, out-of-work writers, the news that you are willing to shell out even $50 for a blog post gets you a lot of attention. Set up your writer’s guidelines to recommend writers subscribe to learn about what your readers like, and it can drive signups and grow your list.
  5. You learn and improve. Instead of just slapping up whatever half-baked ramblings would-be guest posters send you, you start editing and polishing. You ask for rewrites, because you want your money’s worth from the post. It’s an opportunity to help other writers improve their craft and do some giving to your community, as well as a chance to hone your editing skills. Who knows? You could find a gig editing another blog off that experience. You also gain exposure to new ideas and approaches to writing on your niche topic that can help improve your own posts.
  6. It builds your reputation. We all know trustworthiness is a critical factor in whether visitors decide to subscribe. When you pay for content, readers sense you are the real deal. After all, you’re putting money down to bring them valuable content.
  7. It’s a good marketing value. My experience is that paying for posts is more cost-effective than other forms of paid online advertising you might use to promote your blog. You could easily blow $100 on Facebook ad click-throughs and not get as good-quality new subscribers as you do when those paid guest posters tell all their friends to check you out.
  8. You make raving fans. When I look at who retweets everything I post—the people on Twitter and Facebook saying things like “@TiceWrites is a genius! Read her awesome post right now”—they are often writers who have previously guest posted on my blog. Pay a writer, and you earn their undying gratitude. Months after their guester, I see many writers out there, continuing to mention my blog.

Paying writers helps you grow a network of enthusiasts around your work. Then, when you have a paid product to launch, you’ve got a ready-made group of devotees ready to buy it, review it, affiliate-sell it—or just plain spread the word.

What tactics have helped grow sales on your blog? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog, and serves as Den Mother of the Freelance Writers Den, the learning and support community for freelance writers looking to grow their income.

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Comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Would have never thought about it like this. That’s definitely an interesting idea. I don’t know that I could manage $50 a post, but I’ll definitely keep this in mind for the future. Cool post!

    • driss says:

      the problem with outsourcing the content or post writing tasks is that you can not control your freelancer at a 100%. Meanwhile outsourcing online is definitely one of the best ways to generate great content because you have high chances to bump into a freelancer who knows the topic you want to write about very well

  2. Ben Norman says:

    Seeing your blog as a business has got to be one of those steps that every successful blogger has to make at some point, and when have you ever heard of a business which doesn’t reinvest in itself. $50 a post may or may not sound like a lot of money depending who you are but I imagine the posts could easily pay for themselves on a blog with a reasonable level of traffic, all the while helping to develop the site through no effort from the owner and allowing them to further develop the blog with the spare time that is generated from not having to keep up with such a rigorous posting schedule.

  3. Kenny Fabre says:

    Carol

    guest posting is a very profitable way of making money online, and I like the fact that you are kind enough to pay for guest posting, there is guy name Oni Bamidele thats making 10k a month from guest posting, so it works

  4. Mark says:

    I do a variation of this, I pay retroactively. Every quarter I look at my revenue then use a portion of it to pay the authors who have posted during that quarter. That way I don’t “lose” money I don’t have.

    • Nice, Mark! While this is better than not paying, I like it less than simply setting a flat fee. That way it’s not a gamble for the writers on what they’ll make. Because there are so many scammy revenue-share situations out there, I wouldn’t want to position myself this way.

      I would think after you’ve done this for 6 months or so you could see your average revenue and turn it into a flat fee, then maybe just update your rates every 6 mos or so. You shouldn’t lose money over the long run…and remember money paid to writers isn’t really ‘lost’ anyway as it reaps so many marketing and relationship-building benefits.

  5. Great suggestions! I have done some guest blogging, but haven’t had one write for my blog yet. I really like the idea of showing your appreciation for their time and work by paying them.

  6. Hey Carol,

    This is classic!

    I totally agree with all what you said and I plan to roll-out a plan to be paying for guest posts soon; I’ve incurred a lot of expenses lately so I have had to delay that…but I’ll be back soon!

    I can only imagine how much publicity paying guest bloggers would have generated for you. That post you linked to on my blog has been read by around 5,000 people and around 50 people still read it a day, mostly from email and bookmarks.

    • Thanks for sharing those interesting stats, Oni — a great example of how being a paid market becomes its own publicity machine. A few favorable mentions as a paid market on high-traffic sites become ongoing traffic generators for your blog…you can’t buy that kind of exposure at any price.

      You know your own blog is just going to EXPLODE when you start paying for posts, Oni.

  7. Hi Carol,

    So fascinating when money enters the conversation, right?

    When you shell out, the quality of your guest post offerings goes through the roof, I imagine. Really cool idea which seems to have done awesome things for your blog.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  8. Pete@News says:

    Carol, this is a nice write-up, I’ve seen your blog once on YoungPrePro but never tried it out. But I’m going to do so now and also tell my friends about it. Thanks for the opportunity!

  9. Darryl says:

    I’m so not sure paying a writer $50 for a guest post will ensure the quality of content going up on your blog. At that rate of compensation most writers worth their salt would spend about 30 minutes (or less) pushing out a few hundred words of what? –gibberish? –half baked thoughts?
    Maybe if we all had the super human abilities like Bradley Cooper in the recent film “Limitless” this would be a plausible existence for earning a decent living.

    • Maybe you’d think not, Darryl, but because there are so many paid markets at substantially lower prices — $5-$25 or so — $50 is an attractive rate for plenty of writers. I find I get a real steady flow of solid pitches.

  10. John says:

    I like this idea of encouraging quality guest posting on your site – it’s certainly hard to do this when you’re just starting out.

    I like the way that you have it set up as well – payment upon published post – allows you to budget yourself to what you can afford each month for this expense.

  11. Hi Carol,

    Great post! I fully agree with you saying a blog is a business. Paying writers a small amount to write on your blog is a great way to open your site up to their traffic from social media websites and it is quality traffic too rather than it being from a Facebook ad or a Adwords campaign.

    It allows you to “suck in” those readers who are mutual to the guest writer in question and allows your blog to expand quicker and more efficiently.

  12. Kevin Paddock says:

    Wow awsome post. Thanks for the insight Carol on how you run your business and also how you reinvest your money into it.

    Seems like an idea that a lot of bloggers would have done already but insight from someone who has actually done it helps me out greatly. Gives me some ideas for my site about guest posting more.

    Keep posting more quality stuff.

  13. Hi Carol, you know what? I never EVER thought about paying writers for guest posts. I love the idea and will definitely look into doing that for a number of reasons:
    1. I really want to help people.
    2. I like the idea of quality posts.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • So many places don’t pay, and rates are so low for many markets that if you offer even $35, you stand out right away and get a lot of attention. I’d recommend giving it a try and seeing what happens!

      • Oh definitely! Speaking on low rates, there are writers that still search for writing jobs that pay $5 per 500 word article? It saddens me because I started that way then I became wiser. So thanks for doing what’s right.

  14. My experience is that once your blog grows, you get offers of top-quality guest posts. For example, for Writetodone.com I get at least three guest post pitches per day. There are always gems among the potential guest posts.

    I reckon that publishing a guest post is a service I offer for fellow-bloggers. It’s a win-win situation: they write (for free) – and I publish (for free). That’s a good and fair interaction.

    • Hi Mary –

      I think on the very popular, big-traffic sites you don’t have to pay because so many people just want to get a chance to be published on your platform (take this site, for instance, for which I’ve happily written this for free).

      But being a paid market is a great strategy for a more up-and-coming blog that really needs to build its audience. And of course, as an advocate for writer pay, I’d like to encourage more blogs to consider this strategy.

  15. Jason Martin says:

    Great post Carol and food for thought for someone like me, who badly neglects their blog. You’ve got yourself another regular reader.

  16. Kenneth says:

    Thanks Carol. Absolutely awesome. I totally agree with what you’re saying and I also used some of your advice there. It really works. Plus, I want to add one more thing. If you pay somebody, you get some time for other things, like other projects of yours. I pay for writing on my older site while focusing more on my new online project. Though editing still takes some time, it’s way faster to edit rather than write something from scratch.

  17. Thanks Carol. Can you recommend how you approach prospective writers on this? Email, phone and script?

    I think this is a great idea.

    • Hi Chris — that’s the beauty. You don’t have to approach anyone about guest posting — the pitches start landing in your email box as soon as you announce you’re a paying market. You’ve got your pick.

      I do sometimes hear success stories in my community site and then I’ll ask if someone will do a guest post about how they got a client or did creative marketing…if I spot a topic I want, I might go after a particular guest poster. But in general, the guest posts come to you once you wave a few dollars at writers.

  18. Tyler Herman says:

    All really great points.

    It is funny. I come from the design field where most of the bigger blogs pay for guest posts. Over here in the making money from blogging circle, no one pays. Seems pretty hypocritical, greedy and dumb of the successful bloggers in this niche. The quality of the submissions you receive and the extra traffic you get make up for the little bit you have to pay out for posts.

    I don’t really blog for money but I make a little bit from writing elsewhere. And the blogs I write for I tend to follow closer and promote their work more often. Exactly as you say.

  19. Okto says:

    Nice idea, this is about doing something different in a crowd niche. Carol has successfully managed her blog. And most important thanks for sharing your idea to us.

  20. Dzulhelmee says:

    Thanks Carol. Definitely your ideas is unique but effective. I am thinking of doing it also depending on my budget. It also a great way of boosting my blog popularity. Do you have a standard rate for this or it’s up to the blog owner to decide?

  21. Pradosh says:

    Thank You. I was thinking about this for long time, and this article highlighted all I was planning.. But never made any decision with cost of the post.

    Did you provide backlink to paid post

    • I do still offer a couple links back to your own blog. Clients I write for regularly do that for me, either directly or through an ‘author’ page with my info, and I feel comfortable doing that.

      The exception to my payment plan is if it’s a post where the writer is actively presenting a product or service — maybe we’re doing a paid event coming up. Those are unpaid.

  22. This is a great idea. I may have to consider this for my Christian Church blog. Thanks for the idea.

  23. zahib says:

    Very interesting

    At my stage of business I can’t pay for post like that but it might be a good Ideas to bring the price down a notch like, say $20 a post.

    I can definitely see the possibility in a small blog getting noticed sooner with letting people know that you pay for guest blog post. And if PR media press still get’s traffic now these days, then that will be some news worth spreading.

  24. Work says:

    Thats a good idea I need some exposure to my websites, kinda still struggling at getting good traffic.

  25. Tomas says:

    Great Idea. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

  26. Bryan Ring says:

    That really is a great idea for business bloggers that can afford to do that. Your site has a pretty good ranking, so just asking people to guest blog may be the thing now. Or offering a contest to win some money would be a great way to switch it up.

    What I am getting at(which you probably already have thought of) is; you have marketed you will pay for guest bloggers. So now you are labeled as the “Payer”, and people will now expect the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So if you are in a “$$ pinch” and traffic is so-so, you could also offer “Back Links” from your high ranking site.

    I do not think I have actually commented on your post. Maybe my two cents was not needed, but my intentions are good. If I see that someone is going to pay me for something I will investigate first. When i see your website, it tells me you have a strong passion for what you do and I love that! !

  27. Johanna says:

    Offering $50 for a guest post that may come back for edits and re-writes seems a little like charity to me. I think that “Waving a few dollars at writers,” severely undermines the time spent on our craft.

    Although your motives are honorable and fair, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I do feel that this is in a way, undervaluing content. To write a half decent post takes time, and obviously that time is dependent upon how well a writer knows their specialty topic, what new information they have to hand and how much research they need to do.

    If writers are serious about what they write and approach a newspaper or magazine with a good pitch, they may well get accepted for publication and earn 6 + times as much. In effect that means that writers could approach 5 magazines and be rejected by all of them, but if the 6th accepted their proposal then they would still be quids in, so to speak, because writing well for a blog takes about the same time as crafting the same length article for a magazine. Or should do. Otherwise blogging is the poor relation to print media and aren’t we all fighting hard against that?

    So much on the internet is free. As a writer I’m amazed that I can access free technological stuff like plugins and widgets and things to make my life easier. Five or 6 years ago, I would have had to depend on web developers and not been able to afford to update my own site and ramblings – unless the site was soundly hooked to a business that was earning money. I’m so happy about this, and really thankful to the people beavering away to make this possible for free. Which means I’m also happy to cast my words out into the web pond for free, if it helps others, and has a little kickback for me in the way of increased readership.

    I think that guest posting is a way forward for bloggers to hone their craft and attract more readers to their own blogs … and by doing so eventually open up other lucrative ways of earning money either from their blogs or their services. Soon innovation will play its part, and I really trust that there will be ways of “earning a living” from writing content for the web in the near future.

    Chasing the gravy train in return for a few dollars, is not a good way forward for serious writers on the web and will only undermine strategies for us to truly earn our keep in a sustainable way by writing great (not quickly hashed) content.

    But thank you, Carol. As one of the first blog publishers to offer payment, perhaps you have started the snowball for writers to be recognised for their hard work. Perhaps this IS the beginning of a new innovative trend. Writers paying writers?

    Oh, and thinking about it … I’ve just finished the last drop of wine in a rather nice bottle of red, so umm, rattling the empty piggy bank, “How about a Guest Post, then?” :)

    • Hi Johanna –

      A newspaper or magazine article I write in which I need to travel and interview sources is far more time-intensive and certainly should pay more than a blog post I’m asking writers to create a brief post out of their own experiences. I wouldn’t think it takes more than an hour for most, so to me that’s still a fair hourly rate. I do sometimes ask for rewrites, but I also accept posts from new writers, for whom I think it’s an invaluable first look at the editing process.

      I get that “How about a guest post” pitch a lot…but in fact my guest slots go to the writers who take the time to read and follow my guidelines and pitch an idea that’s appropriate for my blog. Think that’s true everywhere.

      • Johanna says:

        Hi Carol,

        Agreed, that’s a fair hourly rate for a blog post which is a brief post created from the blogger’s own experiences.

        And point taken!

  28. Archan Mehta says:

    Carol,

    I have been a fan of your blog, it seems, for the longest time. Thanks for providing such a service for your readers. We appreciate your work. And thanks for posting on this fab blog too. It is great you are offering a few dollars to guests to contribute articles on your blog. This is just the incentive they need to make value added contributions. A lot of readers are on the look out for such content too, and they are sure to find it on your blog. You know how to create a win-win partnership, but it is equally true that some blogs do just fine without a payment plan. The publicity is enough for a guest blogger to want to make a contribution. Some of the more popular blogs out there know how to reach this goal. They have cemented their place in the market, over time, and know that readers will want to contribut even if they are not paying. Still, it is better, me thinks, to dangle carrots than to expect people to contribute without.
    Cheers.

  29. Carol, it is great that you offer to pay. I wish the rest of the world (ie companies looking for free content) would use the same model. It is really irritating being asked to do everything for free.

    Some blogs only pay $20. I think this is awful.

  30. Dan Sumner says:

    Hey Carol,

    This isn’t the first time I have seen bloggers paying for guest posts. The first time I seen it I thought to myself that it would attract some great writers and by the info in your post I was right.

    It’s all win win for the blog. This is definitely on my list for this year.

    Great info thanks for sharing.

    Dan

  31. I must admit that I have never thought about this as part of the tactics in building a better blog. Well, now I know :). Thanks

  32. Rob says:

    How do you deal with the linking issue and the payment? I could be wrong but if any followed linking is involved with a paid blogging scheme, it could be considered grey hat or black hat from an SEO standpoint. What’s your policy or thoughts on this?

    • I vigorously disagree that giving a writer a bio link off a paid piece represents anything even gray hat. When I write for magazines for $1 a word, they give me a link in my tagline in the online version of that. To me, that’s simply proper attribution in the Internet age. If you write and you’ve got a website or blog, you get a chance to send people to check it out.

      I don’t let paid guests seed their post text with disguised or hidden links to products, or anything like that, if that’s what you’re asking. There’s no ‘scheme’ to my paying bloggers…except my scheme to promote writers getting paid rather than simply writing for ‘exposure.’ Scheme to me implies some kind of bait-and-switch or a scam where if they clicked a link on my page it made them enter an email without their knowledge or 20 windows popped up with sales offers or something. Nothing like that’s happening.

      As I say above, if the poster is an upcoming expert/guest on my podcast who’ll be selling a product, then usually that post is unpaid, as they have another mechanism they’ll be earning from related to the post.

  33. Daniel says:

    Interesting concept, Carol.

    For the more established blogs(sites) I guess paying for guest posts would not be a problem.

    Though, I imagine that they would only be offering financial incentives to “established writers” thus ruling out up and coming bloggers.
    Unless of course they have a pay scheme based on qualifications—level of success—and how established the guest Author is.

    Conversely, the “up and coming bloggers” if under financial constraints, cannot afford to pay for guest posts.

    I have seen many guest posts by established writers that were of the highest quality, yet, there were some written by “so called top bloggers—or there about) that were abysmal.

    The articles in question were a disgrace, yet going by the success level of the host site, I would imagine financial incentive would have been outlaid.

    The up side is that if crap writers can secure(paid) guest post engagements, the possibilities for cleaning up monetarily through writing paid guest posts, are endless.

  34. Prakruthi says:

    Hi Carol, I like the idea where you say that spending money on content for a blog will make me more focussed in getting the most out of my blog. I think I have been taking it a little easy on the promotion part of my blog, simply because I write my own posts. Maybe this will change when I apply what you suggest. Shall check it out. Thank you for sharing!

  35. George says:

    At the risk of getting this comment filed under “let me Google that for you” -

    Is there a reputable place one could post such an offer and have it seen by quality writers? I’m asking (not Googling) because I find that industry experts such as yourself often have resources and experience that you just cant get from a SERP.

    I bookmark a lot of articles and tweet even more, but this is the first post in a while that got me genuinely excited. I’m going to start this right away – maybe not $50 at first, probably $25 for starters – but I just got paid today and I’m ready to do this yesterday!!

    So how about it? Where could a blog runner post a cash offer? Thanks!

    • I’ve only had to post it on my own blog — I did an initial email about it, and it sort of promotes itself. Writers who guest post tell other writers, people find it. And I have a ‘This site pays writers’ button I occasionally bring out on the blog if my stash is getting low.

      One place you could post though is Blogger LinkUp http://www.bloggerlinkup.com/ – it’s a mailing list that matches blogs seeking posts with writers seeking to guest.

  36. Alex says:

    I really like the idea of adding guest posters. I really agree that once you are paying 100+ a month for guest posters you start approaching the whole thing with a whole new attitude (you start caring a lot more) I have totally found that you get out what you put into endeavors in life (including money) I also feel like it will give my blog a fresh perspective, that it may be lacking in its current form. Any time I can add a broader reader base to my blogs I am winning.

  37. That’s awesome, proof that it works is that I just clicked over to your site to see about writing a guest post, but also to check out your blog, it’s a win-win in the end.

    I’ve been thinking about outsourcing some things, and maybe this is a good way to go.

  38. Hi Carol and thanks for sharing this idea. It has been tugging at my thoughts since reading it and I think I might give it a go!

    The key to your method seems to be inviting guest posts with a cash incentive rather than simply outsourcing your blog writing to cheaper writers. I can see how it would achieve the benefits you outlined particularly around the effect of your guest posters becoming champions of your blog.

    The main challenge I see is marketing it so it doesn’t compromise my branding but I can see that it doesn’t have to. What a lovely little marketing experiment!

  39. Danlord-The infotainer says:

    @ Carol- guess what? I found this out when i Googled about sites that can pay me to write (paid to blog). That is to say that Google recognize that u a doing a greate job. Now to my reason for writing. I have been online and have been blogging for more than 8 years now. But still have little to show for it. Though my offline jobs are doing me much better my believe is that the future lies in my online business. I’ve done countless times researching and reading about keywords, latent symatics etc. But the major breakthrough i had last year was a joomla website i designed for someone for $1000, i got the job offline though. The point is when i see people like you giving this much to writers. I feel very happy. I want to sow a seed into your ‘ministry’. Pls choose any two topic and send it to me and i will write you two quality article on those article. Then send me a keyword of any niche site you want and I will build the site (joomla site) for you for free and also host it free for one year. All you have to do is to register the domain by yourself and forward it to the host. Pls you can reach me on: danlord4u (at) yahoo.com (i guess u can figure that out). Take care and God bless u:-)

  40. Danlord-The infotainer says:

    Sorry about the typos and errors- i typed this on my phone :-)

  41. Vi says:

    @Carol, why do you call it “guest posts” ? It is paid content all I can see here. You are hiring writers to create content for your site and I can’t get why the word “guest” is used in this context.

  42. Joe Smith says:

    a nice piece of writing. i was told to read by my younger brother but i never regreted. it made my day a wonderful one.Joe Smith