The pros and cons of allowing big brands to use your blog for their content marketing

taking on board sponsored blog posts could turn your brilliant blog into a lemonLately, I’ve noticed that more branding agencies are approaching small business blogs about sponsored links or blog posts. As your blog grows you can expect to attract more attention from corporations who want to leverage your blog for their content marketing. However, while it may be tempting to take the money and run, there are a few things you need to consider first.

Here are a few things you need to weigh up before agreeing to publish a sponsored blog post.

#1 Do some research on pricing before committing to take on board a brand’s sponsored blog post.

Branding agencies know that many small business bloggers have no clue about how much big brands really spend on advertising and marketing. Big brands see sponsored blog posts as an easy and cheap solution to reach more people within a target market and share their brand story via social media.

The problem is that most branding agencies only see your blog as a means to an ends. They don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into building your following and they often don’t see the impact that sponsored content can have on your blog in the long term.

In their eyes, they are paying for a backlink, but, if you want to maintain your integrity, it pays to view things differently.

For starters, when a brand pays you for a sponsored post, they are not just paying for a link. They are paying to reach your loyal audience. So, before you decide whether or not to take on a sponsored blog post, consider how your followers will feel about it.

You can’t please everyone, and neither should you try to, but you need to weigh up whether the promise of easy cash in the short term will pay off in the long term.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this brand a good fit for my blog?

If the answer to either of these is no, then you need to feel okay about walking away.

#2 Branding agencies will mainly look at your page rank to determine how much they should pay you (and in many cases they will try to underpay you).

There is so much more to blog-clout than page rank these days. How active you are on social media (in particular Google Plus) and your content’s quality may now have a much bigger role to play. For instance, there is a lot of speculation (I have tried in vain to confirm that this is actually a real thing and not a term made up by bloggers) that Google now gives you an author rank (so long as you’ve set up your authorship tag on Google+ and your blog). The theory goes that if your author rank is high, you will show up more frequently in organic search than if your author rank was low.

So, before taking on board a sponsored blog post, consider how it may affect your credibility in the eyes of Google, and take your influence (not just your page rank), your social reach and your writing experience into account when negotiating rates.

For instance, one of my websites has a page rank of 3 but I have been writing professionally for 20 years, have a dedicated, loyal following on social media and a very specific niche for that website. So, if I’m going to write an article for a sponsor, I would charge way more than somebody who has a similar page rank but not so much writing experience. It’s just not worth my time otherwise, and it’s not worth provoking the ire of my loyal followers.

#3 Another consideration is to weigh up how important blog sharing communities are to you.

I personally love the social-sharing community, Triberr. I’ve found brilliant content on Triberr to share with my followers and have been able to build relationships with other bloggers who write about content marketing, and social media marketing. I have found the community there to be very supportive and my blog posts are shared way more than they were before I joined Triberr. If you plug in to communities like Triberr you need to be wary of sharing sponsored blog content. As a general rule, communities like this prefer original, helpful content as opposed to sponsored blog posts (even if they are helpful).

Some business blogs lend themselves towards sponsored blog posts more than others, so there’s no one size-fits-all rule. However, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of shorter-term financial gain as opposed to longer-term relationships before diving in and taking on board sponsored posts.

Here is a great blog post I found about sponsored blog posts (including a pricing guide) if you want to know more: http://blogadvertisingrates.com/2011/09/09/what-is-a-sponsored-post/.

What’s your opinion about sponsored blog posts? Should you or shouldn’t you?

ps: If you write about content marketing for small business, I am establishing a tribe on Triberr for high quality marketing writers who focus on this niche. To join, simply join Triberr and do a search for the “Content Marketing For Small Business” tribe and request to join.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Super points here Cas especially the note about tribing it up and sharing sponsored posts.

    Make sure you stay on topic and keep your integrity intact. You must vibe fully with the big brand thing to prosper with the strategy. Do your clearing and if you vibe with it move forward with faith.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      Thanks Ryan! Yes, I agree on following your gut feeling. And, I love that you can comment on Triberr and it shows up in DISQUS. Awesome!

  • http://www.linguisticatelier.com/ Polish translator Warsaw

    Good points and I couldn’t agree with you more. I know that sponsored links on your site downgrade your authority but what if the links are just within the natural text? I’ve been writing for one year, and weeks ago I installed a plugin, which makes use of my past texts (even one year-old) to link to the word-related content. I wonder how do you and other people react to such a practice. Do you think it may push visitors away from the blog?

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      I would steer clear of any automatic linking plugins. You’re better off manually doing them. You can use programs like Scribe (Studiopress) to search for relevant backlinks within your website. That’s what I’d recommend anyway. Thanks for your question.

      • http://www.linguisticatelier.com/ Polish translator Warsaw

        Thanks for the hint. Of course I didn’t know the tool but I’m looking for it right now. Thanks again. You are the boss!

  • http://everylastdetailblog.com Lauren @ Every Last Detail

    Excellent points! My issue is that big brands don’t even want to pay- they just want to reach my audience. And I’m in the top 20 of blogs in my industry! And when I tell them that they have to pay for a post, they scoff at me and tell me they don’t have a budget for that. But then I go to another site in my same industry, and see a giant banner ad and sponsored post there. HA. Next time they email me (which will no doubt be later this year) I will delete their email.

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