I Can't Pay You: Blogging for Guest Posts
Passion Project for Cash
Blogging is often seen as a "passion project" and can be started by anyone with any writing skill level. In fact, many blogs are started one day and then abandoned the next. There is typically no start-up costs involved (unless you want to be a professional) so the level of entry is extremely low. But there is an allure to blogging. There is a need to put something out into the world such as personal knowledge that drives people to blog. And in the quest to create a beautiful blog that people love, there is the possibility that someone will want to pay to be apart of that traffic.
Many bloggers go about the way of "affiliate links" trading a little bit of linkable space on their blogs for a kickback of cash should someone purchase or click on the embedded links. But there are other ways of getting paid through your blog that not many bloggers talk about and one of these is with guest posts.
What Is a Guest Post?
We're all familiar with affiliate links in the blogging world but when it comes to "guest posts," I was under the impression that this was a post written by another blogger for your blog. In a sense, that is exactly what it is or at least what it sounds like until I opened the doors of my own blog to allow for guest posts. I received some bloggers eager to post to my site; their own written content about things they loved. I even wrote guest posts for them, and we swapped stories to each other's blog sites.
In this sense, guest posts are great because you get to share each other's links, creating valuable backlinks and establishing friendships through a shared passion for blogging. It's a win-win situation to be in because all of this helps your own SEO rankings in the long-run. When you hear other bloggers claim that "bloggers aren't really your competition," this is what they are essentially talking about: the ability to help each other out while helping yourself.
There is another side of guest posting that comes in the form of marketing by professional companies or people who only want to create links for their clients. Companies that are honest in what they are doing and willing to pay bloggers for space on their blogs are not what my gripe is going to be about. It is perfectly ok for a blogger to take payment to either create a blog post designed around or for a business that is willing to pay them. Many bloggers do this for brands they love. Fashion and beauty bloggers often create links (that may also be affiliate links) back to the products they are promoting. Those brands may have either paid them for the post or gave them free items to review. This is also where the dishonest, bad side of guest posting comes into play.
What The Hell is SEO?
According to Moz.com, Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) "is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results."
Because the majority of web traffic is driven by search engines, not social media as one may think. Google, Bing, Yahoo...etc. should be on your mind!
I Only Have $5: The Bad Side of Guest Posts
Blogging is often a lonely and unrewarding job. Passion project indeed because you have to be passionate about doing something that millions of others are doing too. At times it feels like no one is reading your blog. Other times you feel lost, directionless, and you just want to get paid for something you love to do because you want to turn it into your "bread and butter." While searching for a way to make money, you realize there are many avenues to choose from, but not all of them work or go according to plan.
Eventually, I stumbled upon "blogger outreach" companies which are a great way to earn money fast through blogging. Some provide the content for you, and all you have to do is post it to your blog. Others require you to apply to a campaign, and if the company chooses your blog, you have to write the content around the keywords or around the content that they choose. When the content is provided for you, it is called "guest posting" because it isn't content you wrote yourself. Established blogger outreach companies have their own set payment prices which are usually based on your DA ranking. Then there are others that will just try to low-ball your value with pennies.
A few months ago I received an email from a company wanting to place their link on my site in a blog post. Great news! Or was it? I replied back that there is a cost for the blog post and gave that person a figure. He replied back the next day that he was "low on funds" and only had "$5 left and would I reconsider?" To me, this was a slap in the face. In fact, it infuriated me to know that he was totally undermining me and my blog as he tried to find cheap ways of creating backlinks for himself. I stayed true to myself and my price, but this wasn't the first time someone tried to swindle me. During my first few months of allowing guest posts from other bloggers, I had received a similar email from a woman who not only insisted she pay me $10 but that the links had to be "follow" only. Again I said "NO!" While these people may have been upfront in their tactics of wanting to create cheaply obtained backlinks, they're not as slimy as the next group.
Downlow on the DA and Linking
DA is the acryonm for Domain Authority (created by Moz.com) and every website has one. Depending on how popular your site is, your DA score goes up little by little. This change is due by many different factors: social media engagement, new posts, SEO, backlinks, and site traffic.
Linking: Backlinks come from other sites linking to yours. Follow links are those that are trusted by your site and are read by Google's bots. No-Follow links are not considered in Google's ranking but are still links
The Slimy Guest Posters
The worst of the bunch I've come across have been individuals who don't represent a marketing or outreach company, but rather they work for themselves. These people pretend to be bloggers, but they aren't bloggers at all. Whatever payments they receive for blog posts, they pocket for themselves and look for unsuspecting bloggers who are not privy to their predator tactics as they try to create backlinks for their clients. In my experience with them, they tend to display the same kind of "red flags:"
1. They don't have an actual blog, or they only have a Facebook account.
2. They submit sample writings to you which are links to things they wrote on other sites.
3. They don't want to provide a blogger profile or photo of themselves.
4. When you offer to write a blog post for them, they ignore or quickly decline the request.
The first thing to note is that even though there are lots of people that probably blog on Facebook, you'll want to take a good look at their said "blog." Many blogs actually look like blogs and will have an "about page, categories, and posts." Navigating through someone's blog and you'll see how authentic it actually is. If all they do is submit writing samples to other blogs they posted to, then that doesn't count as "their blog." I've even had people send me links to their supposed blog and after the post was published, asked me to take the links down because they no longer have those blogs...fishy! The biggest red flag is that they don't provide an actual blogger profile and picture.
As a blogger promoting myself to other people using guests posts, I want to send a good picture and profile to go with my work. I want readers to click on my links back to my blog or social media in hopes that they will become fans and sign up for my emails. These people don't want to provide this information because they're not posting to promote themselves, they're posting to fulfill a request for backlinks that they got paid for. The worst part of it is that they won't offer you a dime and they will lie about who they really are and what they really are doing.
Stay True to Yourself
In the past year, I learned a lot about blogging, but the most important thing I learned is to stay true to yourself. Lots of bloggers lose their way, get caught up in life in which their blogs start to suffer, or lose their love of blogging. I've seen some break down on social media over site traffic dips, and others fade away altogether.
In my own quest to make my blog great, I've changed the layout several times, optimized for SEO over and over again, and played with different affiliate links in hopes to earn some cash. The most lucrative thus far has been in the form of guest posts by companies who are straightforward and honest about their payments, and I am grateful for that. Even though the trickle of money is far and few and can literally be cents rather than dollars, don't let people take advantage of you with their unfair and shady tactics. At times blogging gets rough, and sometimes you just don't know what to write anymore, but this is not an opportunity to let someone else capitalize on your lack of motivation. So keep these points in mind while you blog:
1. Your blog has a value, treat it as such and don't let others low ball you so they can put backlinks on your site.
2. Your time is valuable, and you should be compensated for it.
3. You don't have to provide a link to anyone, even if they demand it or persistently ask for it.
4. Always keep the main focus of your blog in the back of your mind, and you'll never stray from your main subject.
In the end, the value of your blog is what you make it out to be. For a while now I was wondering how I would write this post and what I would say. I wanted to educate other bloggers out there on the deceptive tactics of people I've come across while blogging. My goal is that you learned something about what kind of slime balls are out there and that you'll know what to do should one of them try to contact you for a guest post on your blog. No one ever said that becoming a successful blogger is easy but, at the same time no one ever said you have to provide links and content to others for free either.
© 2018 Alice V