In addition to being a web consultant, I’m a writer. I’m a professional writer. That means I get paid for writing. My blogs help me make money through my writing and reputation. So why would I want to give my work away for free?
When the benefit of good will exceeds the return on the investment.
Before I get into the issues of deciding when to pay guest bloggers, let me address the cultural definition of “guest”.
Do you charge a “guest” in your home for their visit? Do you expect compensation when a guest spends the night or two? A guest on your blog is no different.
Guests often like to pitch in, help with cleaning, fixing meals, and even offering to contribute by paying for groceries and such. But blatant compensation for the visit is considered poor manners in much of the world. A guest is a guest because they are treated differently from the rest of the family. They are like royalty in your home, treated with honor. You share your home, food, and anything you can with them.
This is how a guest blogger should be on a blog – if the visit is occasional. If the visit turns into a long-term stay, or is repeated enough that they turn into renters or boarders, then the situation changes and compensation of some sort is expected.
At what point does this changeover happen on a blog?
When Should Money Enter the Guest Blogger Situation?
This is a two-fold issue. The issue I’m faced with as a incoming producing writer is how to make my writing make me money. Blogging for someone else could mean a loss of income, or it could mean a jump in attention and increase in reputation, thus indirectly making me more money.
For the blogger hosting guest bloggers, the issue is whether or not you should offer to pay guest bloggers when they blog. After all, you are using their experience, expertise, and hard work to make money, directly or indirectly, on your blog. Their participation, and bragging about their guest blogging efforts on your blog, brings in links and thus more readers and attention, building your reputation whether or not you directly generate income on your blog.
While the guest blogging gig is of benefit to both parties, should guest bloggers ask for money, and should blog hosts offer money to guest bloggers? If so, when?
What Are The Benefits of Guest Blogging?
Without a doubt, the two greatest benefits of guest blogging and having guest bloggers is the generation of attention and energy on your blog.
Links are flying everywhere, linking from your blog to other blogs and from other blogs to yours. It’s a great way of spreading the word about your blog by working the word-of-mouth marketing that comes naturally with guest blogging.
Readers get a new perspective on old and new subjects. They get a change of pace that isn’t a slap in the face. They are eager to see who will be up next and what all these new voices have to say. They come back to your blog more often, and many tell their friends about all the excitement.
As a host, I have to tell you that my mind is racing with new ideas and blog post stories as I read each post by the different guest bloggers on my blog. Instead of hunting for story ideas, they are being generated by others right on my blog. The ideas are coming to me! A small part of me can’t wait until this is over so I can let lose with months of new ideas and posts. And the guest blogging series is less than two weeks old. I’ve got a month and a half left of guest bloggers. Who knows how full my blog post idea list will be by then!
Our house gets its best cleaning job before visitors arrive. Doesn’t yours? So did my blog. Having guests makes you ask, “What will the guests think?”
Guest bloggers feel the energy and enthusiasm on their blogs as well when they put themselves out of their comfort zone to offer their thoughts on someone else’s blog.
So what other benefits come from guest blogging and hosting guest bloggers?
Builds Reputation on Both Sides
If you aren’t known for anything, who cares? As good as you may be at your blog or work, if you aren’t know, no one knows you.
Guest blogging is an way to get introduced to new people, thus getting better known. It can establish you as an expert in your field, and improve your reputation.
In turn, having quality guest bloggers on your blog helps build your own reputation for continuing to provide quality content from a variety of sources and voices.
Guest blogging gains a blogger access to readers that might not normally visit their blogs, thus increasing their visibility to a new audience, and hopefully improving their consistent traffic.
In turn, if the guest blogger brags about their guest blogging gig, host bloggers get the benefit of readers coming to check out their blogger’s efforts on your blog, and you may pick up some new readers, too.
It’s Who You Know, Not What
After my first guest blogging gig with Darren Rowse of Problogger, a lot of people sat up and noticed. I heard from some who admitted that if I blogged for Problogger, I must be an “important person”.
Darren is known for quality content, thus he wouldn’t risk his blog to just any blogger. His reputation for excellent must mean that I hold the same standards.
While it is an assumption, the blogs you guest blog on tell the reader something about you just by association. The guest bloggers you open your blog to also tell the readers about what type of person you are, your standards, and about how careful you are in choosing your friends.
It’s a nice thing when you are known for hanging with the best of the best.
Sharing Benefits of PageRank
Google’s new blog algorithm now shares PageRank with those linking to and from other blogs. If my blog is a PageRank 6 and it links to a blog that has a lessor ranking, the two work together to bring up the other blog’s score.
This comes from the new TrustRank part of Google’s PageRank system. If you are a qualified and known and trustable blogger who wouldn’t link to splogs or spammers, then the search engine may trust the links you include as good ones, thus improving their ranking.
If you have a guest blogger with a higher PageRank, linking between your blogs may increase your blog’s score, and increasing the guest blogger’s score if the host blog has a higher ranking, if all things are equal.
Guest Blogging Improves Your Blog Writing
You want what you publish on another blog to be your best work, since, in a way, you are publishing your resume, guest blogging improves your blog writing.
Guest bloggers look at their posts with a sharper eye than they would on their blog. The thought that this will be seen by hundreds or thousands of new readers, each a potential new reader for their blog, makes them want to do their best, and their best must be the best they can do.
Guest blogger hosts also improve their blog writing by reading their guest blogger’s posts, and thinking about how they express themselves and share their ideas.
Putting a Price on Those Benefits
How do you put a price on those benefits which will allow the guest blogger to ask for money and make the blog host willing to pay the guest blogger?
How much is your time worth? Honestly? As a guest blogger, how much time are you going to put into your guest blog post? Ten minutes, one hour, two hours, six hours? How much time and work will go into it?
If you have an hourly rate or rate estimate, you can apply it to that time period to determine how much your guest blog post is worth, based solely upon the writing effort. You could then add an estimate to that amount based upon how much income you think will be generated to the blogger by your blog post. That’s a much harder estimate to make without intimate knowledge of their income statistics.
Or maybe you have a per post rate, the amount you want to be paid for each post you write, no matter how much time it takes to write it.
Let’s say that you estimate your guest blog post to be worth USD $100. Now, how how much do the benefits of guest blogging total? Can you estimate that amount?
- How much is an incoming link from a higher PageRanking blog worth?
- How much is the new traffic attracted to your blog worth?
- How much would you pay to get that kind of publicity and advertising?
- How much would you pay to get that kind of exposure for yourself, your work, and your blog?
- How much time and money would you spend becoming the best buddy to a well-known blogger, cultivating that relationship over time so that their popularity would rub off on you by association?
- How hard would you have to work to get a letter or recommendation from them? Guest blogging on their blog is a HUGE letter of recommendation, isn’t it?
- How much would you pay to take a class or workshop that would give you the lessons you would learn from guest blogging?
Would the total be more or less than $100? If less, then consider saying no to the guest blogging position or asking for money. If yes, then why not blog for free because the return on the investment exceeds the direct income. It would actually earn you more in the long run.
There is another aspect that is rarely discussed and that is if these cost benefits come to you, as the blog host, but not to the blogger.
Should Guest Blog Hosts Pay Guest Bloggers?
This is an “it depends” question. If the guest blogging opportunity is a short term time investment, then no, I personally don’t think guest blog hosts should pay guest bloggers.
If the whole blog is dedicated to nothing but “guest bloggers”, which turn into “columnists” or regulars, then yes, I think guest bloggers should be paid.
If you invite one or two guest bloggers to take over your whole blog for a week, two weeks, a month or more, then consider offering to pay them for their time. Taking over a blog while the main blogger is off on vacation or mostly out of touch is hard work.
It is more than just writing a blog post or two. It becomes a job as blog administrator, checking comments, marking and removing comment spam, responding to comments, checking trackbacks and other sources for possible copyright violations (if it’s longer than a week or two), and making sure all is still functioning and functioning well on the blog for the blogger. It’s very hard work to make sure the blog is intact and still working when the blogger returns. They tend to work harder on someone’s blog than they would on their own.
If your blog features the same guest blogger more than two or three times a month, consistently month after month, that person is no longer a guest blogger but a contributor. Pay them accordingly.
However, if the guest blogger is “more important” than your blog, if your blog is new, or not doing as well as it could and you want the benefit of a top blogger guest blogging on your blog, then seriously consider paying them to guest blog.
In this instance, the benefit is to you, the host, not to them, the blogger. When the potential rewards do not exceed the effort, you will have to make up the difference, and money speaks loudly.
How much to pay them is another “depends”. If your blog generates income during their administration session, then maybe you should pay them the whole amount or a majority percentage. After all, they did the work during that time. Or consider an hourly sum to pay them for their time. Or reward them with the equivalent time running their blog when they go on vacation. There are many ways of providing “compensation” if your budget is insignificant.
Should Guest Bloggers Pay Blog Hosts?
While rare, some blogs will accept payment for the “privilege” of guest blogging. This is the equivalent of paying advertising expenses in order to boost your own blog.
If you come across such a situation and it interests you, again, check the return on your investment (ROI) against the cash outlay. If the ROI value is greater than the outlay to create it, then it may be worth it.
Still, carefully evaluate these blogs, their PageRank and history. Their reputation becomes yours when your byline appears on their blog.
The Art of Guest Blogging Series
- Learning the Art of Guest Blogging
- The Art of Guest Blogging: How Do I Help Guest Bloggers Blog?
- The Art of Blogging: How Does Guest Blogging Work?
- The Art of Guest Blogging: What Do Guest Bloggers Need to Know About Your Blog to Guest Blog
- The Art of Guest Blogging: Preparing Your Blog
- The Art of Guest Blogging: What Do I Blog About?
- The Art of Guest Blogging: Should You Pay Guest Bloggers to Blog?
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.