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The Blogger’s Dilemma: When Is it Time to Start Paying for Exposure?

This guest post is by Amanda DiSilvestro of Highervisibility.

When you’re a blogger, you want to gain as much visibility and authority as you can, and featuring your content on more established websites is one way to make this happen.

Guest posting is becoming more popular, and it works well for all parties involved: the editor gets a great piece of content and someone new promoting the site, and the writer gets to put his/her content in front of a well-established audience and reaps many SEO benefits.

So what’s the issue?

More and more blogs are beginning to ask writers to pay to post content on their pages. This typically occurs for a few different reasons:

  • The site is usually very authoritative, meaning it has a high PR and a good readership. This means that any link the owners put on their website is providing the guest poster with significantly better SEO and visibility benefits than links from lesser-known sites.
  • Sites that ask a writer to pay to post an article likely have a large influx of articles every day. Everyone wants a piece of the exposure, so asking writers to pay will weed out those who aren’t serious.
  • Asking writers to pay means more income for the website.

Being that there are still many websites across the Internet that are thrilled to meet with a guest contributor, a blogger has to stop and ask whether or not paying to publish a guest post on a particular site is worthwhile.

How to make sure paying for the spotlight is worth it

In some instances, paying to put your content on a very authoritative site is going to be worth it in the long run. Sites that ask you to pay to feature your content typically will promote your content to thousands, which will help you establish a name for your brand.

There are a few things you should do to make sure that payment is worth it in these situations:

  1. Ask the site owners what they can do for you: If a site is asking you to pay, make sure its owners are willing to help promote your article. Ask them if they will be sending your article to their subscribers, how and where they’ll share your article on social media, and if they are willing to continue to help you grow your brand in the future.
  2. Analyze the site on your own: Even if a site tells you they are going to do all of these great things, check up on them yourself. Make sure the site has a great PR, check to see the average number of tweets and comments that an article on the site receives, and talk with others who have contributed there.
  3. Decide whether or not you really need a quick fix: Getting your content on an authoritative site should, in theory, speed up your brand management process. However, it’s important to consider whether or not you really need this quick fix. There are many websites that have grown successful without paying to contribute their content, although it may have taken them longer (and in some cases, taken more work).

It’s also important to realize that, in Google’s eyes, paying to guest post isn’t quite the taboo that paying for other backlinks is. Google looks down upon sites that pay for links because the search engine likes to see backlinks generated organically. In the case of a paid guest post placement, the links are organic and they work in the same way that links in any other guest post would.

When to just say “No” to paying for exposure

Naturally, you should decide against paying to place your guest content if you find negative responses to any of the points discussed above.

However, the biggest thing to keep in mind is whether or not you have the power and resources to really get the same traction without paying for placement.

It is entirely possible to post your content on very authoritative websites that don’t charge you to submit, but it will take a lot of time and effort. Several bigwig sites have declined my writing, but eventually I got it right and was able to get a link back to my blog from those sites.

In my opinion, you should never have to pay to place your content on a blog if you have the time to really work hard to find other alternatives.

Have you ever paid to place your content on a blog? Did you feel the benefits were worth the money? Let us know your story in the comments below.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger at Highervisibility, nationally recognized as one of the best seo firms in the country. Connect with HigherVisibility on Twitter to learn more!

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Comments

  1. Dion Lynk says:

    Posting on other blogs is very useful, but nothing beats paying for an ad on an up and coming blog. Nothing too big or expensive either. 125X125 is just fine so long as its attractive and immediately conveys your “main idea” to your desired audience.

  2. Chase Sagum says:

    I’m glad you covered this. I’m curious from an SEO and Google perspective if Google will find a way to catch on to this and treat a paid Guest Post the same as a Paid Link.

  3. Mr.X says:

    No I haven’t. I agree with all the points you mentioned above. If you’re creating great content for the site you’re guest posting on, I see no reason why they shouldn’t accept your post and give proper attribution. Yes, this is a long-term strategy. It requires time and effort to make connections with other bloggers. In the end, it’s a lot more satisfying than paying to get exposure.

  4. I agree with your point Amanda.

  5. Anthony says:

    My biggest regret is not actually paying for traffic earlier. But once you have a product that is performing, then it becomes pretty apparent that the next step is to multiply your exposure. Though it is pricey.

  6. German Dave says:

    I agree with the premise!

  7. Hi Amanda! I’m glad you called paying to be published a “quick fix.” I think it’s a bad idea because if we all pay to get published, then success is based on the size of our budget rather than the quality of our content and writing. I stay away from those, especially since you can’t feasibly make a living if you’re constantly paying to be published, and, as you said, there are too many free avenues for sharing your work. Some blogs even pay the contributor!

    I think paying for ad space is a given, and it’s very different from paying to write and publish content. Pay for ad space, but don’t pay someone to let you write for them.

  8. I dunno. That sounds pretty messed up to me. The thing I like about guest posting is that it’s REAL. Isn’t there enough BS out there? And now bloggers are selling out in this area too? Makes me sick…

    I’ll never “Pay-to-Play” on somebody’s blog, and I’ll never expect anybody to pay me for a guest post on any of my sites either (not that anybody’s beating down my door for the opportunity).

    I think the only legitimate middle ground would be to require prospective guest posters to be active, paid members of the blogging community in question. At least that would carry the appearance of genuineness.

  9. Heather Buen says:

    These are all very good points. I am a blogger sometimes people want to post content on my site without following my guidelines. To stay in a site’s good graces please actually read their policies and if they say they wont post it, then let it go. I can’t tell you how frustrated I get with guest post writers who don’t listen to what I say with regards to content on my own site. I am also willing to pay for the right posts most of which I advertise on sites like elance, odesk and vworker.

  10. Alex says:

    Great post Amanda, I agree you shouldn’t have to pay for exposure, there are enough other ways to get exposure and drive traffic. However if you do pay for exposure you should drive the incoming traffic to a landing page so you can get them to sign up to your list so you can maximise on that exposure because if you’re having trouble getting the audience you should capitalise on the traffic you are paying for.

  11. Daniel says:

    I can definitely understand why high PR sites would charge someone to guest post. Obviously there’s the profit motive, but more than that, I can only imagine how many guest post offers they receive that are little more than thinly veiled spam. Even lesser blogs can become inundated with such requests.

  12. Pavan says:

    Good Post Amanda,
    I think it holds meaning to pay for the guest article we are submitting to a site as we don’t know how would google treat guest posts in the future. If a site reputation goes down because allowing too many guest posts it would be a problem. So I think this sounds good but however its again a paid content and from the recent blog news I have heard that a news paper page rank went down from 6 to 4 because of paid promotions.

  13. Amanda writes: “If a site is asking you to pay, make sure its owners are willing to help promote your article. Ask them if they will be sending your article to their subscribers, how and where they’ll share your article on social media, and if they are willing to continue to help you grow your brand in the future.”

    This is spot on. Find out exactly how your content is going to grow with their audience. See if they will construct a google analytics dashboard for you, if the relationship is more than a one time post.

  14. Thank you for all of your comments everyone! I’m very sorry I’ve been missing them–could have sworn I subscribed. I might be able to give advice about paying for content but apparently don’t ask me about replying to comments….

    My thoughts in a nutshell: I’m glad everyone agrees! It definitely is beneficial to pay for ad space, but content is different. In most cases I feel as though a website should be paying ME for content, but somehow that’s not how the game really works. Either way, it’s important to evaluate your site and stand your ground if you feel like you’re getting ripped off :)

  15. Karen says:

    Excellent advice Amanda. While I would prefer not to pay for content, I can see where occasionally it might be worth it. Of course, your points about how the article will be promoted are crucial.