The Thin Line Between Guest Posts and Sponsored Posts

You are reading this on my blog. That is why many people would refer to this article as a blog post (however, I use the terms article and blog post interchangeably).

If another blogger had written this blog post for me to gain exposure for their own blog, it could be referred to as a guest post.

If a company had paid for this blog post to be published, it could be referred to as a sponsored post, promoted post, paid review, or an advertorial.

Both a guest post and a sponsored post are forms of blog posts. All the terms do are highlight how the blog post was contributed.

The goal of guest bloggers, and advertisers who pay for reviews and sponsored posts, is to generate a backlink to improve their search engine presence and raise awareness of their brand, service, and/or product.

However, the line between these different types of blog posts can sometimes be a little blurred.

When is a Guest Post Not a Guest Post?

The general accepted definition of a guest post is a blog post that has been submitted to a blog free of charge.

In return, the blogger gets their link place in the bio area underneath the blog post. Some blog owners also permit the blogger to insert a link or two to their blog within the content area.

I pay those who want to submit a guest post to as I feel that they should get some sort of compensation for their efforts. However, if a blogger is paid for a blog post, can it still be considered as a guest post, or should it be considered as a regular blog post?

And what about sponsored posts.

If an SEO company asks for you to publish a blog post that contains a link to one of their clients, should you charge them for it?

I believe you should charge for any form of advertisement as SEO companies charge clients hundreds of dollars for creating dofollow and nofollow links to their URL on multiple domains. It is only right that you should be paid since they are profiting from your blog (remember that search engines want you to attach the nofollow attribute to links in sponsored posts).

However, technically speaking, there is no real difference between a guest post that is submitted by a blogger and a sponsored post that is submitted by a marketing company.The blog owner is still getting free content and the contributor is still getting a backlink.

Therefore, it may seem a little strange that a blog owner would accept one article without payment, but charge a fee for another (obviously, I am making the assumption that both articles are of the same quality).

When to Charge for Free Content

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that an article I had paid for contained a link to an article on the bloggers website. I hadn’t noticed it at the time when I reviewed the article.

It was not a major issue as the article he had contributed was good; however, it get me thinking. Should I have paid him for the article if he was getting a dofollow link back to one of his blog posts, in addition to links in the bio area?

I have a pretty healthy policy about linking and encourage writers to link out to related articles whenever it makes it better. I was not too bothered that he had linked to one of his blog posts, as it was related to the topic he was covering.

However, it is clear that there is a thin line between what constitutes a paid post, a guest post, and a sponsored post.

Ultimately, you want to do what is right for you, your readers, and your blog.

It may be tempting to accept every blog post that is offered to you as it adds more great content to your blog and does not cost you a penny. However, by not charging companies for publishing content on your blog, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Sponsored posts and paid reviews can be a good source of income for blogs. Therefore, it does pay to have a policy of charging companies for publishing on your blog. Even if that means occasionally rejecting submitted articles from companies because they are not willing to pay your sponsored post fee.

If you want to learn more about how much to charge for sponsored blog posts, I recommend reading the following articles:

Sneaky Bloggers

SEO companies are doing their utmost to get links inserted into blog posts on high traffic blogs.

Since most high traffic blogs do not work with SEO companies, the companies are approaching bloggers and asking if they can insert links into any articles they write for clients.

This is not something that sits comfortably with me as I like to be 100% honest with clients. And I believe it is unfair for companies to try and get around the policies put in place by a blog owner.

Interestingly, I have found someone who did this with me. I paid a blogger to write an article for me. During the proofreading stage, I noticed he had linked to a few irrelevant links that had nothing to do with the topic.

I imagine that the blogger would have been paid by an SEO company to insert these links; however, I removed them as they had nothing to do with the topic and looked like spam (Note: I still paid the blogger for the article).

Obviously, I do not appreciate companies trying to get links onto my blog free of charge. If they want to promote their product on my blog, they need to pay me to review it.

But again, this highlights the thin line there is between what counts as a guest post and what counts as a sponsored post.

What Say You?

With the changes implemented by Google in their algorithm over the last few years, SEO companies are turning to blogs to increase backlinks. I have seen a stark rise in the number of emails I receive every week about guest posts and sponsored posts.

As long as the quality of submissions are good, accepting articles from others can provide you with great content for your readers; and possibly increase your income too. Just be sure to understand that search engines expect you to make all links nofollow.

What is your view on accepting guest posts and sponsored posts on your blog? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment area below.


I am an experienced blogger who has been working on the internet since 2000. On this blog, I talk about WordPress, internet marketing, YouTube, technology and travelling.
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