Close
Close

How Sponsored Posts Can Ruin Your Blog

This guest post is by Kalen Smith of OnlineRookies.com.

More bloggers accept guest posts for their sites.

Guest posts are an arrangement where a guest author will write content and submit it to the blog. In exchange, the blogger will allow the blogger at least one backlink to promote their own website. Guest blogging is a great opportunity for both the blogger and the guest author to receive exposure and share ideas.

Or is it? Some use guest blogging as a means to monetize their site: they charge a fee to guest authors for sponsored posts.

What is a sponsored post?

Most bloggers are more than happy to receive free content to their site and offer a backlink in return. A blogger will not generally pay nor receive money for a traditional guest post. However, some bloggers insist on taking sponsored posts instead.

A “sponsored post” differs from a traditional guest post in that the blogger will require the guest author to pay a fee to post the content. They see guest posts as a way to make money blogging.

I generally discourage bloggers from using these kinds of sponsored posts for several reasons. I think they are unfair to the guest author and can damage your site. I suggest you pursue other advertising strategies if you are looking for a way to monetize your site.

Let’s see why.

Why do bloggers take sponsored posts?

I don’t blame bloggers who are frustrated with guests who submit low quality content. Many SEO linkbuilders certainly fall into this demographic.

Some SEO companies do a very good job guest posting. One of the SEO companies I’ve worked with actually secured a guest post with one of the biggest social media managers in the world, because they were committed to quality.

However, there are other SEO companies that do a very shoddy job with their services. Although I want to encourage bloggers to be open to anyone offering a guest post, I certainly understand and respect their decision not to take a guest post from freelance writer or business they aren’t familiar with.

What concerns me is bloggers who insist on taking a payment from authors wanting to secure a spot in their blog’s schedule. These bloggers clearly aren’t discouraging what they consider “thin content” from being submitted as a guest post. They are simply using guest posts as a means to monetize their sites.

I am opposed to this as matter of principle, but it can also ruin your site in a couple of ways.

What harm can sponsored posts do?

I have a few qualms with sponsored posts. If you are offering sponsored guest posts, I ask that you at least hear me out here.

They’re unfair to the guest

Many bloggers charge a fee because they want to receive something from a guest blogger. They don’t realize they are already getting something: fresh content for their blog.

A guest poster has to spend time writing the content that they are going to submit. Warn any guest poster of your standards beforehand so they don’t waste your, or their, time. If they take their work seriously, they will submit a high-quality post to you.

As a blogger, you understand how long it takes to write great content. By accepting guest posts, you get several hundred words of great content and a fresh perspective for your readers. This can save you a considerable amount of time writing content yourself.

In return, they get a two-sentence biography and a link back to their own website. It is still a great arrangement for both parties, but you are already getting the better deal for the amount of work involved. Is it really fair to ask for a payment on top of that?

Most bloggers who charge a fee to place sponsored posts do so arguing that these posts are “advertising.” However, they stipulate that sponsored posts cannot be promotional in any way. I find this to be ironic and very unfair to the guest blogger. If a business is paying for promotion (sometimes to the tune of $250 for a post), shouldn’t they have a chance to promote their company somewhere in the post?

I can understand charging for a post that is specifically written to promote the company. However, guest blogging was intended to be more of a bartering system.

They can hurt your relationship with readers

I don’t have a problem with affiliate marketing or any other business model that makes money from great content. You can build affiliate links into your content naturally without compromising the value of your post. Affiliate marketers still focus on creating great content and share resources that benefit their readers. Sponsored posts are a bit more awkward.

Your readers could actually be offended to see you running guest posts. Why? If I see a blog taking sponsored posts, I assume that they are relaxing the standards of quality to make a buck. I am sure other readers feel the same way when they see that they are reading a “sponsored” or “paid” post. You may argue that you only take high-quality content on your site. However, I don’t believe most bloggers hold companies and SEO freelancers to the same standard when they are paying for the post.

The United States Federal Trade Commission requires you to disclose whether or not have received payment to post any promotional content or links. Other countries may have similar laws. If you are abiding by these laws, then your readers will know that you are getting paid for these posts.

Many bloggers argue that they need to generate advertising revenue. I understand that we need to make a living. But is the content itself the right way to advertise?

You are selling links

Many people who take sponsored posts claim they are against black-hat tactics such as selling links. Frankly, I don’t really care if someone wants to sell links or not. It’s not usually illegal and it’s not hurting anyone.

However, you should at least be honest with yourself. I roll my eyes when someone pretends they are superior to anyone who sells links but then turns around does the same thing themselves.

Of course, my personal opinion shouldn’t concern you. There are bigger implications, such as the fact that selling links can harm your blog’s ranking. No matter how many times you tell yourself you aren’t in the link trade business, Google will probably decide otherwise if they know you are taking dofollow, sponsored posts. In fact, Matt Cuts has written on this very topic in his article Paid Posts Should Not Pass Pagerank.

Anyone who knows you take money for guest post placement can report you to Google (including a guest blogger who was irritated that you asked for payment). Google itself can find out how much sites are charging for post placements. Matt Cutts said that Google did a small test and found a number of sites that were running sponsored post contests. Those sites are now on Google’s naughty list.

Of course, you can put the “nofollow” tag in a sponsored post, but what guest poster would agree to that? Commercial companies are usually interested in getting link juice.

Also, you better be honest with them if you are going to nofollow the link once they’ve paid good money for it. Withholding your intentions can get you into trouble later on—and with others besides the disgruntled author.

Is it worth it?

Taking sponsored posts can be risky. Is it really worth alienating yourself from your readers and damaging your position with the search engines in order to make a quick buck?

What are your thoughts on taking sponsored guest posts? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Kalen Smith writes about the importance of a social media marketing plan and Internet marketing experiments and case studies on his blog OnlineRookies.com.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. I appreciate your words here. But…

    The idea of sponsor posts is a gift to us from probloggers. They have started it and we are continuing it even many top bloggers are into sponsor posts.

    According to me it doesn’t hurt your blog at all. The one who can hurt your blog in terms of SEO is not sponsor posts its you who is responsible for each and every post in your blog. If you review third quality product in your blog then definitely you will hurt your blog. But reviewing top quality product can not only gives you better SEO but also help you monetize your blog well.

    • Kalen says:

      I appreciate your thoughts Irfran. I do have to disagree though on the SEO front. As Matt Cutts pointed out, Google has banned many sites that have used sponsored posts http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/sponsored-conversations/. I would be particularly careful because if Google found out that you were charging for dofollow links then you risk being banned as many sites already have.

  2. Oliver - TBU says:

    This is a ridculous guest post that generalises bloggers and…. guest posts! And supposedly written by someone of authority? Give me a break.

    For example….under the heading “Why do bloggers take sponsored posts?” the question wasn’t even answered!! Instead the author choose to talk about SEO companies, quality of work and matters of principle?

    That is all well and good, but what about actually answering the question?

    And bloggers aren’t charging for content, they are charging for links. After all, the author should know this.

    • “Why do bloggers take sponsored posts?”

      It seemed to me that the author did indeed answer the question posed by that heading by stating that 1). some bloggers charge for guest posts to discourage low-quality posts presented by SEO companies who are merely after mass backlinks for their clients without really offering high quality content, and 2). ultimately, some bloggers simply charge guest posters in order to make money off of them.

      • Kalen says:

        Thank you Chris. I thought I made that clear as well. I am glad that somebody else saw the point I was trying to make :)

  3. I feel terrible now, as I published a sponsored post just 10 minutes ago! :)

    Although I’m not really a fan of sponsored posts (I only have three or four of them on my 7 year old blog), I like to set some ground rules for them, if I’m going to publish them.

    For example; I’m not publishing “sponsored guest posts”. I can publish formal press releases but if some company wants me to publish a blog post they wrote, I don’t approve it. If you’re going to publish on my blog, you’ll have to allow me to write the post. Not only that would be more “honest” because I wouldn’t just praise everything about the company or the product, it also wouldn’t bother the visitors and followers since they’re still reading one of “my” posts.

    The other rules of mine are more like “technical limitations”, such as the number of links and visuals inside the post, or the word count, or how long the post will be on my blog.

    I don’t really care about search engines (which actually makes me more valuable in view of search engines), I care more about my visitors and followers. Yes, if I publish too much sponsored content on my blog, my followers will decrease but I know plenty blogs and news websites in my country which have nearly fifty ads on their pages and post sponsored content regularly (a post every 3-4 days). It’s probably bad for self respect too, though.

    • Kalen says:

      I think those are fairer solutions Baris. I don’t see anything wrong with charging for a press release. I also don’t see a problem with charging for the link when you are the one taking the time to write the article. I just feel it is unfair to ask a guest blogger to write an article that meets your guidelines and then charge them for it at the same time.

  4. Hi Kalen,

    If the post is of high quality, I say go for it.

    No matter if the blogger accepts money for the post, or not. I think that many people have a weird view of money, and even worse, people demand that bloggers give away their precious real estate for free.

    I accept free guest posts, but would accept payment for posts too. Why? I have honed my craft and busted my ass for the past 4 years, and have churned out over 2000 posts on 2 blogs. That is a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and I know my worth.

    So I say, sponsor post away! As long as your blog is valuable real estate, and the post itself is solid, go for it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • Brian Rock says:

      I agree. If I owned a billboard space on the Garden State Parkway and thousands of people saw it every day on their way to work, I wouldn’t give it away for free. I’d make someone pay for the right to use it to advertise their product.

      Likewise, if I had a subscriber base that included thousands of people and someone wanted to write a post to market themselves and/or their product, I don’t see how it’s unfair or wrong in any way to ask them to pay for that privilege. I’m putting their face in front of people, and that’s advertising. I can have standards about the post (I don’t have to accept crap just because you’re paying), and I don’t have to do it every day (that would piss off the subscribers), but with standards and a balancing act there’s nothing wrong with it.

      If, on the other hand, someone is contributing a post that is informative in nature (and not marketing themselves or their product), helps fill a gap in the content on my blog, then in the same situation I might be willing to give up space for free. That situation would be much more like me commissioning a writer to do a piece, and compensating them with exposure and links.

    • Kalen says:

      Hello Ryan,

      Thanks for your feedback. I definitely agree with what you are saying about not giving away your real estate for free. However, I don’t see a blogger allowing a guest post as giving away anything. I see it as a bartering system where both parties benefit.Of course, the guest blogger gets the benefit of promotion. At the same time, the blogger gets the benefit of having content for their site.

      I take guest posts on my site and never once thought of it as giving anything away. If a guest post meets the quality standards I am looking for then I get fresh content that is engaging to my readers, helps with my SEO presence and provides a fresh perspective to my site. I am very happy to receive guest posts because I think they are very beneficial to me. I certainly don’t think that I am ever giving anything away.

      If a blogger sees themselves as giving their real estate away then I think they need to tighten their guidelines and demand higher quality content so that they benefit from it better. It should be a mutual and equitable benefit to both the guest blogger and host. The guest has an obligation to produce high quality content as well. This is the opposite side of the spectrum I didn’t have time to address in this post, but many other bloggers have already shared great resources on this.

      Also, you need to take into consideration the fact that you are selling links with guest posts and risk being penalized from Google. I think this is a huge risk to take and there are better ways to monetize your site than taking that risk.

      A blogger certainly deserves compensation for giving away the real estate on their site. I definitely agree with you there. However, I think that great content should be considered just as valuable a form of compensation as money.

    • Ivan Widjaya says:

      Agreed.

      I can’t understand why peope think that bloggers should give away their “real estate” for others to capitalize for free. it’s not a free clasified site; it’s a biz blog.

      To many, blogs are just online diaries; to some, blogs are businesses, and businesses need to profit – otherwise it’s not a business. Business blogs owners are (or should) promoting their blogs to their network. Guest posts are piggy backing the promotion done by the biz bloggers.

      If guest authors report blogs to Google for asking payment for sponsored posts, that’s just lame. unfair. unjust. you KNOW that some, if not many, of you write guest posts because you are receiving payment from your clients to promote their links. Now you are expecting blog owners to publish yours for free? Come on….

  5. Freya says:

    hmm this article is quite confusing. Guest posts and sponsored posts are two very different things but are being mixed up here. Guest posts are usually from fellow bloggers and you award them for unique, fresh and good content with a dofollow link to their non commercial blog. Sponsored posts are paid posts and companies do this usually only on established blogs with lots of readers and get a nofollow link for that. Most companies are fine with that cause they do not do sponsored posts to get quick backlinks but to reach a bigger audience with their product or service. By the way, my blog is quite new, so I have never done a sponsored post yet but can surely see the logic behind it. I also think everybody is getting to obsessed by SEO and backlinks, good content matters a lot more on the long run.

  6. JohnnyFit says:

    I allow both Guest Posts and Sponsored Posts.

    The way that I differentiate them is determined by where the backlinks point. If they point to a personal blog, or webpage with information that would be useful to my readers, I usually consider it a Guest Post and do not charge money for that.

    If the backlinks simply point to a product or eCommerce page, then I consider those to be sponsored links and require a fee for the advertising post.

    I’ve found that this method has discouraged a lot of poorly written guest post submissions that otherwise just want my link juice.

  7. I’ll be more careful this has ways to earn money with my blog, thank you for these superb advice.

  8. Leona says:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I would also like to state that video games have been ever before evolving.
    Modern technology and improvements have assisted create practical and enjoyable games.
    These entertainment games were not that sensible when
    the real concept was being experimented with.

    Just like other designs of know-how, video games as
    well have had to grow by means of many many years.
    This itself is testimony towards fast continuing development of
    video games.

  9. Ehsan Ullah says:

    I have never seen a blogger using sponsored posts and I hate bloggers who use it because It really hurts readership and reputation.

    Bloggers who use sponsored posts and using it as a way of monetization are those who aren’t able to find other ways to make money with blog, while there’s a lot.

    As a blogger, my readership, my reputation, my blog means a lot to me and I won’t let anything hurt my readership and relationship with other bloggers. If the guest post isn’t what I want, than simple I’ll reject it other than asking for money from the guest author.

    Thanks for writing on this Kalen, you’re rocking over on your blog at OnlineRookies.com :)

    • Kalen says:

      Thank you for your feedback Ehsan. I agree that it seems to hurt the reputation of the blog and I don’tthink it is fair either. I also reject guest posts that simply aren’t what I am looking for rather than asking the blogger to pay for an article that I don’t like.

  10. Samuel says:

    A good example is you were able to publish this post without paying a fee.

    The majority of bigger blogs out there allow you to guest post for free.

    I would follow their example.

    Thanks for the amazing article! :)

    • Kalen says:

      Thanks Samuel. I appreciate that input and you are right. Many great sites like Problogger, Read Write Web, Copyblogger and Forbes will take free guest posts.

  11. Julio Lopes says:

    I really do not support a fee that is charged to write a guest post actually the fee to be paid is the time it takes to write a quality article. I am Brazilian and here in Brazil maoiria the major blogs accept guest post at no charge.
    Great article!

  12. Andy says:

    You seem to be confusing guest posts and sponsored posts. Sponsored posts contain links to commercial sites and the whole point for the provider is that they get a link back – which they would expect to pay for. I know of no bloggers who charge other bloggers for guest posts linking back to their blog. What a confused article this is, I wouldn’t have accepted it as a guest post on my blog – paid or free.

    • Kalen says:

      I am not sure what you think I am confusing. Your definition is exactly what I said it was in my post.

      “Sponsored posts contain links to commercial sites and the whole point for the provider is that they get a link back – which they would expect to pay for. I know of no bloggers who charge other bloggers for guest posts linking back to their blog.”

      I do know a number of bloggers who charge for links back to other blogs, even if they are no different from their own. If you don’t like the idea of taking a guest post from a company that is promoting itself, then why not just offer to sell them a no-follow link to their site on one of your pages? Why should they have to write informative, useful, nonpromotional content AND pay you for the privilege of getting the link? Why not just charge them for the link itself and write the content yourself?

  13. Ahh! pretty thoughtprovoking post. It is very difficult to take any side and suggest. The multi-fold attempts in blogosphere makes it even more complicated.

    On one side, I’m much troubled by the guest post requests. They promise for original and unique content. Okay, the content is unique and original. But mostly it is from SEO agents. All they want is one or two back links from posts that pass the juice.

    Those people charge a handsome money from clients, write content and hunt for higher page rank blogs to publish. When he is getting good money, simply to inject client’s link in my blog, why shouldn’t I claim for the share? The client is not interested to what content he has submitted except if he is getting good anchor-text and dofollow link.

    Now when I find that the post is of high quality but it is from SEO company who has charged his client for placing link in my blog, should I reject the offer or should I charge the guest author?

    The worst is when you allow guest posts and the guest blogger never returns to the post once it is published. He got his money, he got his link and busy hunting another blog.

    So, I guess it is a matter of blogger’s common sense, if he/she will allow any particular guest post or not. I guess.

    • Kalen says:

      Hello Suresh,

      I think you have raised some major issues with the way that many guest bloggers work. I think a good way is to demand high quality content and insist that you will delete the post if the guest doesn’t reply to comments. While my focus has been on telling bloggers of the unfairness of charging for good guest posts, I admit that they can probably hold guest bloggers to a higher standard as well. They should be committed to providing a valuable service to the blogger as well as the client they represent.

  14. Daniel says:

    I had to go over your article a second time, Kalen.

    At first I thought you were referring to Guest posting…

    Guest posting is said to be one of the ” Pillars” for creating a successful blogging career…

    Though, sponsored posts is something I never spent as much time researching to get a better understanding of…

    When someone says ” sponsored post” I think “paid guest post”….which is what many Bloggers are making a career out of…..

    When you show it the way you have in your article, there does seem to be some serious conflict of interests that could evolve from this interaction….

  15. kalyan says:

    A good article Kalen, nice reading.. Anyway, I got a few questions for you? You said Google will eventually know who accepts paid posts and who not? Isn’t it a bit too too much to establish? Say, you submitted this article to Problogger. How can you or we or Google justify it’s not a sponsored post since your link is not a nofollow one? Will Google or the readers verify this from the blogger or the other blog readers? No, it’s just impractical to do this. At least I think so. I accept tons of guest posts for my blogs, none of them are paid ones, all of them have links in them. How can you verify this??

    Secondly, you said why charging a few when someone is already giving you a free & fresh content for your blog. He/she might have spent a lot of time in writing the post and you should check the quality of the post and should not ask for a penny to make it live on your blog. I cannot agree on this. The question comes up, who the writer is writing the article for? If it’s for his own blog, that’s great and we must accept it as a free guest post. But in most cases, it’s for a business site for which the writer is working. So, if the writer is being paid to promote his business (who he works for), why not the publisher charge a share of his income? After all it’s a business.

    Please no offense, I am just adding my points to this discussion. Hope I get to hear more from you and other commentators. Thanks for the nice article by the way..

  16. “Pay to play” absolutely sucks. It’s arrogant. It’s greedy, and it completely flips blogging on its head.

  17. Disha says:

    Hello Kalen,
    well first of all it must be know that what is sponsored post, So as I know about sponsored post. Most bloggers are some-more than happy to accept giveaway calm to their site and offer a backlink in return. A “sponsored post” differs from a normal guest post in that a blogger will need a guest author to compensate a price to post a content.

  18. I think you’ve got a bit confused with what a true sponsored post is. Sponsored posts are written by the blog owner to key messages from an advertising client for an agreed sum. A blogger will generally only agree to work with the client if it’s a product or service that they know and love.
    These differ vastly from the dozens of “guest” posts I get pitched for daily from SEO companies wanting to offer me “quality” content in exchange for a link to their insurance or online credit card company. I’m truly not interested in this type of content. It won’t be quality and my readers would not be happy if this type of content started appearing on my blog. I believe my blog real estate is too precious to give it away for free.
    I do, however, take pitches from other bloggers who are wanting to grow and expand their readerships. There is no charge for that!

    • Kalen says:

      Hi Nikki,

      Your definition of sponsored posts is how the term used to be defined when I first started doing internet marketing a long time ago. However, many bloggers now define any guest post written by a company as a “sponsored post.” They also specify in their guidelines that sponsored posts cannot be promotional in any way.

      I can see charging for a sponsored post that is obviously promotional. However, if a guest post isn’t promotional then why charge for it as advertising? If the guest post is low quality then why publish it all?

      Many bloggers use these terms very differently which is one of the frustrations that I ran into when I did guest posting for an SEO company. Unlike many other linkbuilders I often spent an hour writing an article. Many bloggers said the article was excellent but still wanted to charge as a “sponsored post” after I submitted even though it wasn’t promotional in nature. How could they define it as advertising if I made no mention to my client and didn’t make any effort to even encourage people buy their products? I once wrote a post on good diving sites when you visit Australia and linked to an insurance company. My post made no reference to insurance was still considered a sponsored post.

  19. John says:

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you’re making one fairly large generalization. Sponsored stories does not mean poor quality, unrelated posts, on topics that your readers would be offended that you’re sharing. Yes – you’re right in many cases this is true, but I don’t think that charging a fee to publish a story on one’s site is ultimately bad. Granted I don’t do it.

    One way around this aspect which I have heard of done before is simply charging a small fee for submission of guest post ideas. You can claim that you will read any and all guest posts submitted, but if you want your post to appear at the top of my pile then send it with a $5 contribution to the site. Of course, I don’t know the moral and legal ramifications of whether or not to refund the money upon denial of the post.

  20. Daniel says:

    Sponsered posts do in fact violate Google’s TOS. I know someone who lost a lot of ranking after getting turned in for accepting paid guest posts and allowing a dofollow link on there. If you are doing this make sure you use the nofollow tag to let Google know it’s a paid link. Thanks!

  21. CC says:

    This article seems to equate sponsored posts with link sales to a great extent. It also ignores that there are exceedingly more and more cruddy guest post requests put out there these days from commerce, brands, and seo companies who are simply seeking free seo benefits and free advertising. A quality site can sell sponsored posts at a good rate with nofollow tags. Yes, people do want those when they really are looking for advertising. It is only the link buyers who balk at nofollow and I for one don’t want to deal with those. Other sites may not have great concern about their google search rank or are willing to take the risk and will sell links. Certainly there is a risk to that, and I hope bloggers consider them, but in that case, the value of the link is usually more than the value of the article. Bloggers can buy similar articles on services such as textbroker for $10, and many of the guest post submissions were written from services such as that. Links usually are worth much, much more than that. I also don’t think that publishing a bunch of generic guest posts is going to do a site any real favors. It has become exceedingly rare for a truly good guest post to cross my desk these days. On the rare occasion that happens, or when the post comes strictly from a fellow blogger in my niche, I might publish it. But normally a brand or eCommerce is going to have to pay for advertising on my sites with nofollow tags. And they do so fairly often. So I see no compelling reason to change my policies.

    • Kalen says:

      I think that I am on the same page with you. Many linkbuilders write very poorly written content and there is no point publishing it. However, if they really do write a very well written guest post then I think they deserve a free link for their efforts.

      I see nothing wrong with selling a nofollow promotional link to a commercial site. However, I don’t think it is fair to ask them to write a high quality article that is going to benefit your readers but expect them to pay for the right to publish it.

      My views are this:

      1) sell a no-follow promotional link (either in the sidebar, content of an existing post or a promotional post written specifically to promote the company) OR
      2) demand high-quality guest posts and publish for free if they meet your standards

      No blogger should ever be forced to accept garbage submissions written for $10 on text brokers. Insist on quality content for the sake of your readers and the success of your blog.

  22. Excellent topic no wonder there are so many comments.

    This is all about NOT selling out.

    I tell people if you want to sell out just keep your day job where you are already sold, you human resource you.

    Why not just stay on facebook if you are going to offer content that you don’t own?

  23. For me, the key to make guest bloggers work for you is to accept only super high quality blog posts. Also do not let some lame sites to publish in your blog – this will ruin your authority and respect. And in the end do not forget so nowadays content is the king.

  24. Clarabela says:

    I am allowed a few sponsored posts on my blog. But they have to adhere to my guest post guidelines. They must submit a relevant post for my approval and they are only allowed to use one link in their bio.

    I also note at the bottom of the post that the post is sponsored.

  25. After reading several of these comments, it seems obvious that we’re not all defining our terms the same here.

    From the article, I gathered that the author’s use of the term, “sponsored post” basically referred to any guest post for which the guest blogger is charged a publishing fee, but obviously several commenters are using a more specific definition for sponsored post: i.e. a commercialized post (almost like an infomercial) which links back to a company/commercial website rather than linking back to an individual’s blog.

    I don’t think Kalen was blasting those who charge for infomercial-type posts (which are basically just very wordy ads), but was instead criticizing a blanket policy in which all prospective guest posters are charged a fee.

    Now that I see the difference in terminology, I have to agree with those who insist on charging for infomercial sponsored posts (using the real estate analogy) linking back to commercial sites and product pages, but I still agree with Kalen that big-name bloggers who charge for all guest posts – commercial/sponsored or not – are kinda sucky.

  26. Wow. I usually don’t comment but it angers me since I am constantly being bombarded by people who write content for businesses to give me “quality content” for my site for free. All they want is a few do follow backlinks. They think they are doing me a favor to fill in the gap with their “high quality” posts. You can’t imagine how many people I have to edit their content and it ends up being more work then if I wrote it.

    I do charge for sponsored posts from businesses since it is no different than advertising. Lots of big outlets are doing this too such as Mashable. it is called brand marketing. Those companies are providing useful content to the blogs readers with their company’s names in the bio.

    I also allow guest posts from fellow bloggers who want to extend their reach. I don’t charge for this.

    I honestly believe the writer of this post is confusing guest posting with sponsor posts.

    • Kalen says:

      Anna, I definitely understand your frustration. There are many guest bloggers who just present very empty posts that are clearly thinly disguised linkbuilding tactics. That shouldn’t be acceptable either. However, if the content is so bad, why publish it all? By charging a fee you may be encouraging poorly written content and discouraging decent guest posts from sending an article over.

      I am not saying that bloggers should be required to accept poorly written content. They have every right to filter out garbage and should do so for everyone’s benefit.

      I would like to know how you find a guest post written by a company to be advertising. If the writer provides valuable, useful nonpromotional information on a topic to your readers then it isn’t really advertising.

      Most bloggers these days say that they take sponsored posts but don’t allow a company to write anything promotional. That isn’t exactly advertising. They are writing a detailed guest post for you and getting a one sentence biography in return. If you want to charge for a sponsorship on your blog why not just sell a blurb in one of your existing posts instead of asking them to write content for your site?

      If on the other hand the entire post was promotional then I can certainly understand charging for it.

      • Kalen, I don’t agree with you. There are many forms of advertising and brand marketing is one of them where a brand provides useful content to a blog reader. To me this is advertising. Many times the content writers are being paid by the company to write the post. So, why shouldn’t I get paid?

        I do prefer to write the post myself and would employ the technique you mentioned above.

        To be honest, I rarely allow business content post since I find their work redundant to my site and often not very good.

  27. Andy says:

    I would say that the reason “there are so many comments” is because of the confused nature of the post with its inability to distinguish between terms

    • Kalen says:

      I think the issue is that bloggers have redefined what a sponsored post means. In previous years a “sponsored post” seemed to mean a promotional post dedicated to helping a company. Nowadays, bloggers say that they want “high-quality well written, nonpromotional content” if they are taking a guest post from a business, but still require the business to pay for it as a sponsored post. If it isn’t promotional I don’t feel it is fair to label it as a sponsored post or charge. Guest blogging should be a mutual benefit to both the guest and host.

      If the guest blogger is writing a good piece that is going to benefit the readers of the blog then both the blogger and guest benefit from it. Why should one party have to pay for something they both benefit from, especially if they have done all the work?

      On the other hand, it a post was really written to be self-promotional, then I can certainly understand insisting on charging a fee. That is what the term used to mean, but many bloggers are using it very differently these days. I can understand your frustration with my definition, but since bloggers aren’t consistent with what the term means it has come to mean something different.

  28. Alvia Taylor says:

    Sponsored posts are sometimes way different than the type of blog and content you’re writing they strongly focus on their own product or website which is why it may ruin you blogs standings among people who don’t like such posts..!

    • Kalen says:

      Alvia, I don’t think bloggers should take guest posts that are promotional or encourage sales to the product in any way. They should be nonpromotional and informative. If a guest blogger provides such a post the blogger has an obligation to their readers to refuse it since it is clearly promotional content.

  29. Kalen – From reading through the comments, one can see how easily debatable the topic can be. I do accept sponsored posts on my blogs and to an extent also make sure that they are of good quality and relates to my blog nature. I havent seen any harm whatsoever with my page rank or any other rankings.

    One main factor though is that none of these sponsored posts get any kind of comments from my regular readers. They tend to stay away from them when they realize it is not written by me. So there is a compromise there.

  30. I no longer bother responding to the emails, because the quality of their posts are so terrible. There are a couple of people I work with regularly, they respect the tone of my site and my posting schedule. But most of the people who reach out to me don’t know anything about dogs, mislead about what sites they’re linking to, and are terrible writers. Boooo!

  31. Shreya says:

    I allow sponsored posts on my blog ! And my readers do enjoy reading them from time to time :)

  32. Kevin says:

    So many people seem to think that it’s “bad” to accept money for publishing content, and that it’s somehow nobler or more ethical to only publish non-paid for guest content or content they have written themselves. This discussion misses the point

    Where the content comes from and whether the content is paid for or not is irrelevant. What matters is the quality and the relevance of the content to the reader and the niche. And if that content is top quality, then it will have value – which means it can command a price.

    Equally if a website features top quality content and is relevant to a niche audience, it too will have value, it’s space will be valuable and will be able to command a price.

    It’s no different to a newspaper, a magazine, a radio station or a tv channel. No need to get hung up about it.

    They are not “unfair” to the guest or the reader.

    I also agree with the point someone made about Google. Whether Google “disapproves” of sponsored posts or not is irrelevant. I don’t run my sites to please Google, but first and foremost and above all to serve my audience. What Google thinks, does or doesn’t do is secondary. Never become a slave to Google – or any other search engine. Put your audience and your business first.

    Rubbish content is rubbish content, whether paid for or not. Providing quality content is what matters.

  33. Raymond says:

    At the end of the day, quality post is required to engaged the visitors to your site. by getting paid to post a guest post may seem immoral or unfair, it generates income for the blogger to pay for their webhost and also the author would only submit high quality post as money is involved.

  34. Andy says:

    Interesting perspective Kalen. I ask you: do you think that a sponsored post from a reputable site is worth it? I have been approached recently and the site ranks high in Page rank and Alexa. It seems that the content would benefit the site.