The danger of pay-per-post articles is the credibility hit to your blog. While most readers understand the commercial aspect of professional blogging, and won't fault you for having advertisers or sponsored posts, it's up you to not to turn your blog into a press release machine. Alienating your readership will lower your ability to charge a good rate for sponsored posts.
Use the following tips to enter the potentially lucrative world of sponsored blog posting without driving away your audience.
1. Your credibility is everything
Here's basically how the sponsored post industry works:
- You write great content that is useful to readers. You have the best interest of your readers in mind.
- Readers flock to your blog because you offer solid value for their time and have always treated them fairly. They trust your opinion.
- Advertisers pay you to write a post about their product. They pay you more because you have a loyal following of readers who come to your blog for advice.
Your readers must trust you or else you advertisers won't have a reason to pay for your blogging.
2. Do an honest review
Many sponsored post opportunities are for reviewing a product or service. Make sure you actually use the product or service before reviewing it for cash.
If you write a review based on other reviews, without actually touching the product, it will come through in the post. It's hard to fake a real review, and you may eventually get called out for it. That will kill any chance of landing another sponsorship opportunity. Nobody wants to read (let alone buy a $200 review) from a blogger who is just rehashing other people's work.
3. Full disclosure is a must
Make it clear that you were paid to write the post.
Say it at the top of the article. Say it at the bottom. Mention it in the title. Have a category called "sponsored posts".
Pay-Per-Post is so lucrative because it mixes advertisement with editorial content. That's where the advertiser gets all the value of sponsored posts. This intersection of sponsored and editorial content is also where bloggers can lose their credibility.
Full disclosure is the mechanism that allows you to insert paid posts into your blog stream without losing your readers.
Each sponsored post program will have their own rules on how much disclosure is required, so be sure to read up on them before committing to writing an article.
4. Keep sponsored posts to 5-10% of your content
As a rule of thumb, sponsored posts should be less than 5-10% of your blog posts. If you write 10 posts per month (about 2.5 per week), then a maximum of one sponsored post per month probably won't kill your readership.
There is no hard and fast rule, and you're free to accept as many offers as advertisers want to buy from you. Common sense, however, tells us that as the number of sponsored posts increase the value of each post decreases.
Some will say the 5-10% rule is too conservative, but personally, I think that even if only 10% of your content is sponsored, that's already too much.
5. Give the sponsor full value
Your readers aren't the only ones you need to take care of. Advertisers are paying you a lot for the sponsored post, and they deserve to get full value from you. When you write a sponsored post, make sure you're giving your customers (in this case, the sponsors) what they're paying for.
Don't write throwaway posts. If you continually shortchange the sponsors, you will get less lucrative opportunities coming your way.