When you visit a blog to read something, you rarely actually know how the owner is making money.
Could be a product they sell, or a whole online store. Could be affiliate marketing – referring you to other people’s products or services with the goal of making a commission after you buy.
Ads are an obvious way, of course, but no one likes seeing these anymore.
But there’s also one less-known online income stream that those who don’t own a site often haven’t even thought of. That’s sponsored posts.
What is a Sponsored Post?
A sponsored post is any piece of content you publish on behalf of someone who paid for it. You could write it yourself, or get it done by the client’s team. Whatever the case, it’s all about the link(s) in it.
What’s in it for the other party?
They get the chance to introduce their business to your audience, which you’ve worked so hard to build.
They also get link juice. You give them a dofollow link, and let the article stay on your site indefinitely, and they choose the anchor text so that it can also give their site some SEO boost, considering yours is more popular (but that’s usually the case as otherwise they wouldn’t approach you in the first place).
A sponsored post also gives them exposure. Usually, companies have a budget for a whole marketing campaign. Or invest monthly in boosting their main pages on the site. So they reach out to other site owners with the hope of getting a link on their site that’s included naturally in a sponsored post.
What do you get from sponsored posts?
More content, and you get paid for it.
Such articles or other types of content are a good addition to your overall strategy, as you mix things up, readers don’t even find out you got paid for it, but it’s also the most natural way of advertising. At least for me.
I’m a big fan of creating useful content. And if you allow other people to include a link to their website every now and then and charge for that, while posting a ton of free content the rest of the time, you’re all set.
It’s a win-win situation as everyone’s getting what they need.
How Can You Know You’re Reading Sponsored Content?
If you’re just a reader visiting different sites, you may never know. And you don’t need to. You’re there for the information. And if you see a link that’s relevant, it makes sense to click on it and be taken to another platform offering you something that will help you achieve the result you’re looking for.
But disclosure is important. I label anything that’s not written by me as a ‘guest post’ here on LRS.
Big sites such as Huffington Post and the like, on the other hand, expose the sponsor in a few ways at once. There’s their logo, links to it before the content, and maybe a whole popup letting you know they created the content to promote something.
How I Got Started with Sponsored Posts
It’s not the easiest way to make money with.
Now, there might be other options. Such as finding clients who want to get backlinks from popular sites, creating good content around that and contacting tens of these sites a few times a day so you can get a few approvals. Once you get that published there (although they usually don’t like promotional links and are quite picky with the source), the client who originally ordered that might pay you a lot, depending on the platform it now appears on.
But that’s not how I do it. And it’s not the respectful way either.
Truth is I never planned to make money from sponsored content. It happened over time. And it’s the sweetest way to make money from your blog, considering that you didn’t start doing this for the money, and that you’ve put in years of hard, focused work without getting any results in the beginning.
When I started the site, I never knew where it could take me. But it’s definitely one of the best decisions of my life, and a proof that if you stick to something long enough (even if you change direction a few times), things will eventually fall into place.
A platform that you create online is the foundation of your digital empire.
It starts with a simple self-hosted WordPress site, but it becomes so much more once you start taking care of it, adding content, making it look professional, and learning a lot about the whole blogging thing.
It’s where you’ll get your first fans, where important people will find you and take you more seriously because of what you’ve created, and it’s where you’ll sell your first products and hopefully make your first money.
There’s a popular concept saying that some people are consumers, while others are creators. The Internet is one of the most solid proofs of that.
Some are just there to consume information, clicking everything they see, reading random stuff, and not really thinking of contributing somehow.
Then, there’s the bloggers, the site owners, the social media influencers, the developers, the artists. All these usually start with just sharing some type of content that they feel passionate about. But when they see others having interest in their words and work, they see the potential in all this.
I’ve always been publishing articles. I love it. I’ve even stuck to the original themes I loved so much back then, that still take a big place in my mind today. That’s personal growth, the life lessons around us and designing a life you need no escape from. But now I’m also living these, not just reading and writing about them.
It all started with guest posts.
After having posted a few hundred articles here on the blog, other people started having interest in the platform I’ve created.
In the beginning, it was just guest posts. Meaning, new bloggers or just people who wanted to share their expertise on another platform asked me to publish their piece, mentioning their name and linking back to their website. I’m still doing that.
It felt nice to give them exposure and make them happy, and have a new perspective to share on my site.
Now, however, the guest post requests are many so when someone’s doing it solely for the link, I charge them. Otherwise, I offer them a nofollow link.
At some point back in the days, some clients reached out to me personally asking to pay for a sponsored post that they provide and which I just publish.
That was so new and unfamiliar to me, but something I couldn’t say no to of course, that I had no price in mind to offer even when they asked. I was just happy to make a side income by publishing a guest post.
Then, that started happening more often so I needed to make changes too.
I did a research to see how other bloggers are doing it and what they charge. Surprisingly, there’s still not enough info on this online. Which means people don’t like revealing this type of sweet income in details.
Let’s Talk About Numbers
In the beginning, I’d charge around $20 per sponsored post. That’s still a super low price I accept when I know the person is an individual and doesn’t have a big budget, but is still willing to provide a long, informative piece of content, and just wants a single link in it added naturally in the article.
But at some point a member of the team of a certain advertising company would email me, introducing themselves and saying they’ll pay $100 if I publish a piece of theirs.
Sometimes, we needed to exchange a few emails and make everything clear.
Other times, I’d just say ‘Sure. Send over the piece and I’ll publish it right away.’ And that’s what I did. Soon after that, I’ll receive the money in my PayPal account and a ‘thank you’ email by the same person. After which I’ll thank back, and let them know it was a pleasure working together and they can reach out whenever they have a new sponsored post for my site.
Over time, I created a page for sponsors. Now, some find me through it.
I’ve also joined many, many platforms online created to connect publishers (that’s me, in this case), with advertisers. There I just need to create a profile and share my website, together with some details about it. From then on, the marketplace does its job and every now and then I’d get an email saying someone has a sponsored post for my site and I have a week to post it. Or something like that.
There’s a ton of sites like that out there, and most give no results. The 2 I’m particularly a fan of, that worked for me, are PostJoint and ValuedVoice (formerly, LinkVehicle).
The usual price I charge for sponsored content on my site now is $45-$60.
If I need to write the article, that would be more as in this case, the client is also using my freelance writing services. So I’m investing my time in this.
Can You Really Make a Living from It?
Yes, you can.
It’s the sweetest income stream, but I know I’ve deserved it.
I said in the title it helps me make a living, and that’s true.
In fact, when I was in Thailand for 5 weeks, and got into the whole vacation mode, I was relying on that to still meet my monthly budget.
Making money with sponsored posts might not be for you. There’s a ton of work in the beginning. It’s for the ones who are gonna create a platform and take care of it for years to come. Eventually, with enough domain authority and time invested, sponsors will be interested in it. But without that, you’ll have nothing to offer them.
So, if you already have a site that’s got some popularity, and cover a certain niche, you can join marketplaces like the 2 I mentioned and see if sponsored content opportunities come your way.
Another thing you can do if you want to get started with sponsored posts, is to put up a page for advertisers stating you’re welcoming such offers.
Last but not least, which requires a lot of research and thought, you can carefully create a profile of the ideal sponsors and think where you can find them.
If you’re in the travel niche and have built an audience of people visiting South East Asia, for instance, that’s what type of companies you should find and reach out to.
Even if they haven’t thought of it, they might gladly pay for a post where you mention their services and thus refer more people to their business.
You never know where such chances can come from.
Whatever you do though, keep growing your site and making it more professional and optimized, and eventually you might be making a living with sponsored posts.