If you’re an active blogger like me, you must be getting a lot of emails from fellow bloggers & marketers offering to contribute ‘free’ content on your blog. There are usually two main categories of posts that you get pitched for: Guest posts & Sponsored posts!
In my older posts, I had discussed a lot about guest blogging. Today, I’ll be discussing about sponsored posts as well, and how these days marketers may cleverly offer sponsored posts in the guise of guest articles – pitched so ingeniously that you may not even recognize! So, let’s discuss them one by one in detail:
What are Guest Articles?
We all need a regular stream of useful articles for our blogs. A blog without fresh content will sooner or later starve of traffic. And, without traffic, it will die. Let alone part-time bloggers like me, even full-time bloggers may sometimes run out of ideas to write. Here is how the content marketing community introduced the concept of guest articles – A fellow blogger contributing his ideas on your blog ‘for free’, and in return expecting due recognition to his work in the author byline. That’s a win-win for both the partners!
What are Sponsored Articles?
As the name suggests, these are articles sponsored on your website either directly by a company or by a digital marketing agency on behalf of a company. These are similar to guest articles in overall representation of the ideas, but they get a little commercial (i.e, the tone of the article tends to get a little promotional) around the sponsored link. The intention is to use rhetorics so powerfully convincing that it compels your readers to visit the sponsored link & initiate the desired call to action on the client’s website. This can be either to purchase a product or even email sign-ups! That’s what they (the sponsors) pay you for.
The difference between Guest Articles & Sponsored Articles:
By now, you must have had a basic idea about guest & sponsored articles. Now, let’s make an attempt to make the distinction more clearer:
|Guest Posts||Sponsored Posts|
|Do you get paid?||No.||Yes.|
|Tone of the article||Neutral: Usually resourceful & informational||Neutral in the beginning, but promotional towards the placement of the sponsored link|
|Marketing value to the guest blogger/sponsor||Yes. Traffic & Back-links!||Yes. Traffic & Back-links!|
Thus, besides providing fresh content to your blog, sponsored posts (if done right) may also turn out to be an attractive source of income! But what if a sponsor is pitching you as a guest blogger? How would you identify? This is what I’ll be discussing today.
How to identify a sponsor pitching you as a guest blogger?
I’ve had many experiences where a potential sponsor has pitched me just like the way a guest blogger would usually do. Have a look at this email conversation:
Some, 5 days later…
Michael sends an excellent article. I begin reviewing it from top to the bottom, but hey! wait…wait…wait. There seems something fishy in the author byline: A back-link pointing to a commercial webpage! I visit the link and discover that it’s an email marketing company! Not cool, really. Michael camouflaged himself as a guest blogger/freelancer writer & attempted to took this opportunity to build a free back-link to his client’s website.
Small businesses usually spend thousand of dollars on digital marketing campaigns in a bid to acquire potential new customers & better visibility on search engines. Michael might have been working for a digital marketing agency which might have promised some SEO benefits to that email marketing company (for a price – say, 1000 USD). What if I had accepted his article with alacrity? I would have lost a potential sponsored post opportunity, and thus leaving behind an opportunity to make money.
Tips to identify sponsored post opportunities:
Here is what you should do to identify hidden sponsored post opportunities in emails pitched as request for normal guest posts:
- Make a thorough assessment of the outgoing links. Any link to a commercial webpage/service is a red flag.
- Look at the email of the sender. If the domain name is associated with a digital agency, consider it again as a red flag. Otherwise, if it is associated with a blog, or if it’s on gmail, then it might be a genuine guest post request.
Although it certainly helps one to know the vital points of differences between the two, in my opinion, discerning between a guest post & a sponsored post is a matter of pure experience.
What has been your experience with sponsored posts? Looking forward to your comments below.