I remember the first time I got a cold email asking me to publish a paid guest post on my website in my early days of blogging. I asked some bloggers' forums that I was in, and 99% of the community members told me to ignore the email.
The reason for this outrage is because according to them, Google will penalize your website if you accept payment in exchange for a dofollow link, which is something that these SEO agencies are usually after when reaching out to bloggers like us.
While I understand where they come from, the $30 they offered back then (which is peanuts, according to them) could actually change my life at the time. I just quit my job, and I barely made ends meet because of that.
Despite what everyone told me about the risk of accepting paid guest posts on my website, I decided to give it a go. I needed the money, and $30 was basically the money I spent to pay my hosting provider at the time so if anything, I'd consider it a profit for my blog. To my surprise, I got paid for it easily.
It's been years since I started my blog, and now I have decided to write about it since I realized there are not many bloggers out there who would be so candid about how they operate to monetize their blog.
Everyone glorifies the “white-hat” technique, although I know some big bloggers who also make money from selling links on their websites. So in this post, I'm going to share a complete guide to accepting paid guest posts on your website.
Is selling a dofollow link on your blog allowed? Will it put your website at risk if you do it when you're short on money? How can you do it effectively without getting penalized by Google? I'm going to share everything I know, based on my experience in this industry for the past six years.
So, here's everything you need to know about selling dofollow links on your website!
Why Selling Dofollow Links on Your Website is (Technically) Not Allowed
Before deciding to add requested dofollow links on your website in exchange for money, it's important to fully understand why the reaction of most bloggers about this situation is negative so you can understand the risk before giving it a go.
First, Google Search Central has made it clear that selling links will violate their quality guidelines, which could risk your website getting penalized for doing this type of business.
This is fair because, as the main search engine on the World Wide Web, of course they have a right to do whatever they want. Just like what they did in the HCU and broke thousands of websites on the internet. (LOL)
So, before starting to sell dofollow links on your website, keep in mind that the chance of your website getting penalized is never zero. If you're not sure the next step to take, I'm going to share my stance in the next section.
Why I Decided to Accept Paid Guest Posts on My Website
I'm not going to lie; the reason why I started selling backlinks from my website is solely for money. A few years ago, when someone reached out to me for a paid guest post, I said yes for $30 per post despite so many fellow bloggers telling me to ignore the email.
While I respect their insights (most of these bloggers are successful ones, definitely more successful than I am!), what they don't really understand is that $30 per post could really change my life at the time.
As an Indonesian, I use an Indonesian hosting provider, Dewaweb, and back then I barely paid $30 per year for my hosting. The money I received for a paid guest post was enough to cover my expense for my annual hosting fee. I'm not good at math or economics, but I know that it made my blogging business a profitable one.
In addition, me being Indonesian makes me feel like I've got a loophole that justifies my action: we don't really have a law like GDPR or CCPA, so I'm the last person that could potentially get sued. It's basically one of the advantages of coming from a third-world country, I suppose.
Another thing that I also considered when I finally decided to accept paid backlinks from my website is this: I refuse to become religious toward Google. They can have all the rules they want, but I will only test out what works for me and forget about the rest.
Back then, as I was so desperate to make money, I basically had no real strategy for selling guest posts on my website. However, as my blog has grown, I decided to set up a strategy to balance things out about both monetizing my blog and minimizing the risk.
So if you're on the verge of saying yes to these cold emails offering guest posts, here's what you need to know before starting to sell quality backlinks from your website!
What to Do When Selling Quality Backlinks on Your Website
One thing that I've learned about those people doing the outreach for paid guest posts is this: they need it more than you need them. So it's really your prerogative to set the price for the backlink on your website, whether it's through guest posts or link insertions on your existing posts.
To keep it simple, when it comes to selling dofollow links or paid guest posts on your website, as a blogger you will have the following options:
- You just keep it simple and refuse to accept any paid guest post at all.
- You strictly only accept paid links on your website, tagged as both nofollow and sponsored.
- You accept adding paid backlinks from your website, with several terms and conditions. E.g. you only have it live for a limited period, etc.
- You are totally open to accepting paid guest posts and link insertions with dofollow links with permanent placement.
If you decide to take the last two routes, here's what you need to prepare before starting to sell a follow link from your website!
1. Set your standards
No matter how much money you desperately need, always set your standards about the type of content you want to accept on your website. Think of the minimum amount of words you accept to consider the guest post a quality one.
You definitely don't want to get paid $30 only to have to expand the article since it's too short, do you?
Some of the standards that you need to set up before accepting paid guest posts may include:
- The general topic that you accept. Some agencies are also open to ideas of the article title that they can develop for your website.
- The minimum amount of words in the article.
- Image sourcing in the article. Can they provide photos for the article, or will you have to use stock photos for that?
- The maximum period you can have this link/article. Will you remove it after some time?
When you set your own standards, not only will you save your time getting back and forth with the low-quality agency that only wants to take advantage of you (there are too many of them out there), but you can also ensure that the person or agency you work with respect your boundaries in the case like this.
After opening my website for paid links and guest posts, I decided to create this page where I outline all the standards that need to be met if they want to publish a link or a post on my website.
Is it controversial? Of course, some people (who literally messaged me first for the paid link project) ended up lecturing me to take down the page, as Google may penalize my site for having this page. Some also named some popular blogging coach about this kind of page that may put my website at risk, etc.
But my stance toward this is the same: My blog, my rule. They shouldn't have contacted me for paid guest posts to begin with if they knew it was against the rules.
2. Payment first; publish the article later
There's a lot of things that I've learned the hard way from blogging. One of them is that while most blogger outreach professionals are usually reliable, one of them went MIA one time after I published their article. I got ghosted by a specialist who sent me the draft of the article that I had already published.
Don't repeat my mistake, as you can always make it clear that you will only publish the article after you receive the payment. When you publish an article only to not get paid later, it will mess up your website especially if the new article gets indexed instantly.
So I've come up with this workflow where I can only send them a public preview link and publish the post after I receive the payment and they approve the outline. I use the Public Post Preview plugin on WordPress for this functionality.
Most of the clients I've worked with are happy with the arrangement; some send me repeat orders that I could make over $1,000 per month just from these paid guest posts. More importantly, I don't have to deal with the aftermath when I publish a guest post only for the agency to ghost me.
3. Publish it under a different author
One of the most important things about publishing guest posts that aren't written by you, especially if you're a writer and you use your blog as a portfolio, is to organize your website to split the guest posts from the organic posts written by you.
If you decide to accept guest posts, whether it's paid or not, you need to create a separate author profile where you can publish all these posts so you won't mix your writing portfolio with the others.
For WordPress users, you can just go to your admin dashboard, click the “Users” option, and choose “Add New User” to create a new profile for this type of content. You can use a different browser to access this account to make it easier for you to organize your blog from different accounts.
4. Take some time to properly edit the draft to your style
Apart from receiving money as a form of payment for this guest post, you also want this blog post to give your website an advantage for search engines. This is also another reason why most bloggers choose not to accept any post at all since the quality of writing for these blog posts often doesn't meet their standards.
So, one thing that you need to prepare when accepting paid guest posts on your website is to dedicate some time to properly edit the draft so that it is not only optimized for search engines but also relevant to your other posts.
To ensure this standard, this is usually what I do for all the guest posts I've published:
- Check the draft for plagiarism using Grammarly. You can also use other tools like Plagiarism Checker X or Plagiarism Detector.
- Add internal links to relevant posts on my website, as well as affiliate links (with nofollow), to maximize the chance of earning extra income from the post.
- Create pinnable images to optimize it for Pinterest.
- Although some people usually provide the images for the posts, I prefer doing it on my own to ensure the images are relevant to the rest of the content.
- Add alt texts for all images, as well as the meta description for the post.
I do exactly the same sequence as I do when I write organic posts, because I care about the quality of content I deliver on my platform. And I think it also works to “deceive” search engines to make it look like I do it organically.
5. Update the post from time to time
When you sell backlinks on your blog, you don't want to insert and forget them because it can do harm to your website in the long run.
It's still important to update the post from time to time, not only to make sure that your website is optimized for SEO but also to minimize the risk of too many broken links on your website. More often than not, it's because the link goes to a website that no longer exists.
To minimize the risk, I also use the Broken Link Checker plugin on WordPress so I'll get notified of any links that are no longer active on my website. It's easier to organize these blog posts that way, and apart from that I can still keep the posts as long as the content still serves my website.
When it doesn't, I will either delete the content or just put it on noindex so that it won't harm my entire website.
FAQ About Accepting Paid Guest Posts on Your Website
To sum up this guide about publishing a paid guest post on your website, I'm going to add a few frequently asked questions about it in this section. Let's dive in!
What is paid guest posting?
The term “paid guest posting” can be a bit ambiguous, as it may refer to you writing a guest post for another website and you get paid for it.
In this article, we're talking about paid guest posting, as in you will get paid as a publisher instead of a writer. Typically, a freelance SEO specialist or an agency will reach out to you to offer a post for your website, and in exchange you will get paid for it.
It can range from $30 to $300 per post, so you have the right to name your price based on what you think your (blog) worth is.
By doing this, you don't have to write an article from scratch, but rather you can act as an editor where you accept the draft and edit the content to make it relevant to your website.
How do you respond to a guest post request?
The demand for this guest posting will be alive and well as long as SEO industry is still thriving, so after a while you can expect to get some requests for this type of collaboration.
It's really up to you whether you want to respond it to discuss the possibility of working together moving forward, or just delete the messages and move on like most white-hat bloggers.
But if you could really use the money, you can always be straightforward and tell them the price you expect to accept for this type of collaboration. After that, it's up to you whether what they offer is worth your time or not.
Be careful though, since it's pretty well known that some cheap agencies usually get quite persistent about working with you, even though they can't afford to pay what you offer.
How do you make money from guest posting?
So here's how it works with this guest posting industry… Some people label themselves as an SEO strategist, and some are big agencies that actually scale their business by doing this.
Either one you work with, their goal is pretty much the same: to boost their client's online visibility by growing their backlinks.
Since guest posting is pretty much the best strategy to gain organic backlinks, they're willing to pay bloggers to publish it as long as they can guarantee a link that can result in ROI (return on investment) for their clients.
In this scenario, here are some possibilities:
- The SEO strategist or the agency will gain their reputation as their client is happy with the result of what they got paid for.
- The blogger can get the money, as well as free content to grow their website.
How to earn money from guest posting isn't a big science, it's really just your decision as a blogger and whether you can tolerate the pros and cons of accepting it.
Accepting paid guest posts on your website is a controversial topic among bloggers.
Don't expect anyone in the industry to respond to you positively about it, because a lot of them prefer playing it safe and choosing not to accept any paid guest posts to minimize the risk. If anything, they will advise you to go against it.
I hope this post will help you make a decision if you're not sure whether you should accept paid backlinks on your website.
I know I was lucky when I took a leap of faith to go against what other people suggest, because it worked well for me. Most of my income comes from publishing guest posts, so I don't regret my decision to sell dofollow links on my website.
Marya The BeauTraveler
I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.
This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.