I still remember that first time when a brand asked me for my sponsored blog post rates.
I felt like I was floating on cloud nine. I never imaged that someone would want to pay me to publish a post on my blog! But today, writing sponsored blog posts is one of the top ways I make money with my food blog. This is also a great form of monetization in niches such as fashion, parenting, tech…
Heck, it can be a good monetization strategy for just about every niche out there.
Sending rates to the potential sponsor was really, really scary, though. I almost told him that I didn’t write sponsored posts just because I was so nervous about giving him a price!
I think a lot of bloggers struggle with setting their sponsored blog post rates. So, today, I thought it would be helpful is I wrote out a step-by-step guide to figuring out what to charge.
Step 0: Should You Even Do Sponsored Posts?
Before we get to step 1, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Should you even do sponsored posts at all?
For some bloggers, it does not make sense. For other bloggers, it makes sense to do sponsored posts, but to be very selective when choosing sponsors for these posts. And of course, some bloggers do several sponsored posts per week.
Here are a few questions I want you to ask yourself:
- How much time does it take me to write a sponsored post? Is that time better spent doing something else that will bring in a lot more money? (For example, if you would make more money writing a post containing affiliate links, that might be the better option.)
- Does my ideal reader want to read sponsored posts? Do they like reviews, recommendations, and product information, or do they come to my blog for other reasons? Will sponsored posts drive them away?
- Do I like working with clients? Am I willing and able to write posts that make my clients (sponsors) happy without compromising my personal voice or brand?
- Do I have multiple other forms of income from my blog? Will sponsored posts allow me to diversify so that all my eggs aren’t in one basket? Or am I already diversified when it comes to blog monetization?
- Do I like writing sponsored posts? Is this something I will find enjoyable or will it cause me to dislike blogging?
If you decide that sponsored posts are right for you, here are a few tips I have for learning when to say yes and when to say no to a potential sponsor:
- Stay true to yourself. Do not take on sponsors if you feel like they aren’t a good fit for your blog style or niche. Do your research on the brand before you say yes or no. Sometimes, even if you love the product, it is not a good fit because the way they market the product doesn’t match what you do on your blog.
- Work with products/brands you like and trust. If you don’t like the product, no amount of money makes the sponsored post worth it, because you are misleading readers with your recommendation. If you have never used the product before, do some research first to make sure you will be able to promote the product in an honest way. (For example, recommending it for a certain type of person, even if that person is not you.)
- If you get a bad or pushy vibe from the client, say no. It is okay if the sponsor knows what he or she wants. However, the post requirements should be spelled out before you start. If you feel like the sponsor is trying to push you around, negotiate your rates in an insulting way, etc. just walk away from the table.
- Only use no-follow links. If you don’t, it can lead to Google penalties and also tells you that the client does not authentically want to reach your audience. They only care about SEO and think that a link on your site will help. (Confused about what a “no-follow” link is? I recommend reading this post from Blogging Basics 101.
- Negotiate, but within reason. If a client can’t pay your sponsored blog post rates, that doesn’t mean you should immediately slam the door. You can negotiate so that you’re both happy – for example, maybe you offer a lower rate and in exchange the client features you in their newsletter… or maybe you offer a lower rate, but the post won’t be on your home page. If the client’s budget is way lower than what you quote, it’s okay to say no. There will be others.
- Stick to your niche. I get request ALL THE TIME for products that have nothing to do with my blogs’ niches. Most of the time, these clients want a do follow link, but even if they don’t… say no. Every post you publish needs to make sense to your readers, or they will stop reading your blog.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to go through the steps of actually setting your rates.
Step 1: Figure out how much value you bring to the table.
A lot of people will tell you that when you set your sponsored blog post rates, you have to start by thinking about your hourly rate… but I personally think that is Step 2. For me, Step 1 is to determine how much value you bring to the table.
Yes, your hourly rate is important when setting your sponsored blog post rates, but I believe that as a blogger, you are selling a serve when you sell sponsored posts, and in any service-based industry, you’ll find the most success when you put the client first. So start there!
The “value you bring to the table” is the number of eyeballs who will see the sponsored post and – this is important – want to take action.
Think about the type of client who will order a sponsored post from you. What is their end goal? It’s going to be different for every industry, but most of the time the end goal for the client has something to do with making money. Otherwise, why would they buy a sponsored post?
When you write a sponsored post, how many readers will see it and how many of those readers will care? You can charge more for sponsored posts if…
- Each blog post you write gets a lot of traffic
- Your readers are very targeted and thus more likely to take action
So, you see, it is not about traffic alone.
I actually have one niche blog where I charge $800+ per sponsored post and it only gets about 30,000 pageview per month. I can charge that much because the traffic to that blog is extremely targeted and people visit that site to read product reviews and make buying decisions. About half of my sponsors end up being repeat clients, because they see really good results. They knew they could spend $800 with me and see $5000+ worth of profit every time.
On the other hand, I have another niche blog where I only charge around $100 per post even though it gets the same amount of traffic. On this site, the bounce rate is higher and people are just browsing for entertainment purposes. They aren’t in buying mode. So, sponsors don’t see as much action toward their goals.
I personally believe that $10 per 1000 page views per month is a good starting point for sponsored blog post rates, and then to adjust this rate depending on how targeted your traffic is for your niche and how active your readers are, as well as your hourly rate ideals, as we’re going to discuss in Step 2.
If you want to raise your sponsored blog post rates, increasing your traffic is the easiest way to do it. I’m an affiliate for the ebook 21 Strategies I Used to Increase My Monthly Page Views from 17k to 400k+ in 10 Months from Lena at What Mommy Does, which I personally purchased and highly recommend if you are looking for techniques to increase your traffic.
Step 2: Determine an hourly rate that allows you to make money.
Now that you’ve thought about the client, you have to think about yourself.
If you only charge $100 for a sponsored post, based on your traffic, but it takes you 12 hours to research, write, edit, format, and promote that post… you’re barely making minimum wage. Wah-wah.
And that’s not even counting the time it took you to email back and forth with the sponsor about the post!
So, yes, your hourly rate matters.
Plus, when you are a more experienced blogger, you can charge more, because…. well, frankly, you’ll be better at it! I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, and I cringe to think about the posts I wrote nine or ten years ago. Heck, I cringe to think about the posts I wrote one year ago!
If you’re a good blogger, you are constantly working to improve, so the longer you’ve been blogging, the more you should charge.
You can also charge more if this is your full time job and you live and breathe blogging and your niche (versus blogging being an when-I-feel-like-it hobby). Someone who spends 40+ hours per week perfecting their craft is simply going to be better at it, on average, than someone who only spends 3-5 hours per week on it.
I recommend setting your sponsored blog post rates to start with Step 1, then breaking it down to an hourly rate. When it is all said and done, how long does it take you to write a sponsored post, on average? Divide the amount you figured out in Step 1 by the number of hours.
In the United States, the average hourly rate for business services is $25 – $30. This is the average for all experience levels, so breaking that down, this is a little guide to the MINIMUM you should expect to make:
- 0-5 years of experience: $10-20 per hour
- 5-10 years of experience: $25 per hour
- 10-15 years of experience: $30 per hour
- 20-25 years of experience: $35 per hour
- 30+ years of experience: $40-$50 per hour
If you are not making at least this rate, you need to readjust your prices, because otherwise, you could be making more money working for other people than you are with your own blog.
I suggest you do some budgeting right now, and some goal setting too, so you can figure out exactly how much money you need to make per year in order to maintain the lifestyle you want. Then divide this amount by the number of sponsored blog posts you think you can do this year… THAT number should be your minimum rate. Otherwise, you won’t meet your financial goals.
Step 3: Put sponsored blog post rates into packages or tiers.
Once you’ve determine prices for sponsored posts based on the value you bring to the table and the hourly rate you want, I suggest that you create some packages or tiers, which can include other benefits to the sponsor so you can charge even more. Here is an example:
- Bronze Package: Includes 1 sponsored post and basic social media promote with one link on Facebook and Twitter – $250
- Silver Package: Includes everything from the Bronze package, plus pins to 1 individual board and 3 group boards ($200 value!), 1 promotion for the post on Instagram ($100 value!), and 3 high-resolution photos you can use for your own marketing efforts – $400
- Gold Package: Includes everything from the Silver package, plus 2 addition promotions each on Facebook and Twitter over the course of the week ($100 value!), inclusion in our weekly email newsletter ($250 value!), and an ad on our sidebar for 1 week ($200 value!) – $750
These packages are just examples – your own sponsored blog post rates might be a lot higher or lower. Basically, you want to make each package progressively better (and more expensive), and you want each to be a better deal than the one below it. That’s why I like to say “$100 value” or whatever when I am creating the packages. It makes the sponsor really realize how much they’d have to pay to buy all of these things separately.
Here are some ideas for what you can include in your packages:
- Social media promotion – this is the most common thing sponsors want, especially on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest
- Social bookmarking on sites like StumbleUpon and Reddit
- Promotion in your email newsletter
- Promotion in an email that is just about the sponsor (i.e. not an ad in your newsletter)
- Video promotion (YouTube, Periscope, etc.)
- Ads on your sidebar or other locations on your blgo
- Wearing their shirt at a conference or other event
- Mentioning them during a webinar or online class
- Releasing images for the sponsor to use
- Multiple sponsored posts over the course of a year instead of just one
- Extra links within the post
Get creative! Think about what will help your sponsors achieve their goals and what you can best offer to be able to raise your prices.
Free Stuff for Sponsored Posts
Before closing out this blog post, I want to also mention this topic, because it is one that is highly debated in the blogging world: should you accept free stuff in exchange for sponsored posts?
There’s not an easy answer to this one, especially if you are just starting out and don’t have the kind of traffic most sponsors want to see in order to pay for posts. To answer this question for yourself, here’s something I want you to remember:
You can’t pay the bills with anything but money.
Free stuff is great, if the product you’re receiving is valuable and if you would have purchased it anyway. But if you’re doing a sponsored post in exchange for something free that isn’t worth much or that you don’t really want/need, what is the point?
Once, a local grocery store offered me a gift card in exchange for a sponsored post, in the amount that I would normally charge. In this case, it made sense for me, because I would typically buy groceries anyway. So, I said yes.
Another time, a company offered me jewelry exchange for a sponsored post. The jewelry was worth more than I would normally charge for a sponsored post… but to be honest, I’m not really a jewelry person. My landlord does not accept jewelry as payment, so I said no.
Another time, I was offered some cookbooks in exchange for a sponsored post. I do love cookbooks, but their value was way below what I would normally charge for a sponsored post. So, again, I said no.
Not everyone will be able to pay for a sponsored post. A lot of companies will contact you to ask for a sponsored post in exchange for free stuff, because they don’t have a marketing budget. It is okay to say no. You don’t have to feel bad… because you are a business too.
If you are making money with your blog, you are a business, like it or not! 🙂 And it is not a smart business move to give away your services for free unless you have a really good reason. If another business owner can’t understand that, it is not your problem. Be courteous because they might have a marketing budget someday, but don’t compromise.
On the other hand… it is also okay to say yes! I wanted to mention that because I often see bloggers putting one another on guilt trips over accepting free products in exchange for sponsored posts.
Frankly, it is no one’s business but your own what you charge for a sponsored post or whether or not it is a good business deal for you to accept free products instead of payment. Do what is right for your blog/business.
Okay, so there you have it, my complete guide to sponsored blog post rates. Got a question about how much to charge? Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help!
Click the below image to pin this blog post so you can reference it later and share it with your friends: