Guest blogging has become a popular way to share content and increase your reach, with about 22% of bloggers doing it on a weekly basis. When uploading on the right host platforms, it can improve the authority of your brand while driving traffic towards your website. Such a tactic could help improve your SEO much more than if you were only to write on your website. 

Guest blogging, however, comes in different posts. In some cases, the publications come free of charge. Other times, bloggers need to tap into their budget to get their content posted.  Both paid and free guest blogging have their advantages, so you need to choose the option that works best for your needs. In this article, you will obtain a rundown of both options so that you can make your choice.

What Is Paid Guest Blogging?

Paid guest blogging, as the name suggests, is a practice where a blogger pays another blogging platform a fee to have their content posted. In this case, the paying blogger usually writes the content themselves (or has someone else do it), and then pays a fee to the host blog to get the post published.

Payment is usually given as a flat fee to the host website owner, whether for one post or a bundle of them. How much you pay and the rate you do so depends on the website that receives your content. The host benefits from this as it helps monetize their website while getting access to content, all while you improve your exposure. The option is often recommended for bigger businesses and SEO specialists who wish to minimize their publication efforts.

Paid guest blogging can be a good option for improving SEO using backlinks, but bloggers need to be careful about ethical considerations. For instance, paid backlinks and link schemes could end up being penalized by Google, but this does not necessarily apply to the publication fee. Each host blog has the right to charge a fee for the right to appear on the website; they just can’t charge for the backlinks. 

They can, however, decide to offer the links and other benefits as a token of goodwill and collaboration. As long as the content is qualitative and valuable, without the sole purpose of being promotional, you are most likely within search engine guidelines.

What Is Free Guest Blogging?

Free guest blogging is similar to paid guest blogging – but without the actual pay. With this type of guest post, you contribute content to a certain blog as a result of a mutual collaboration. This could include blog posts, articles, reviews, or other types of written content. 

Like with paid guest blogging, the blogger either writes the piece themselves or pays someone else to do it for them. The host website thus receives quality content that keeps them active for search engines, whereas the guest blogger obtains access to a different audience. The purpose of free guest blogging is to offer expertise and insight to the host, all while establishing yourself as an authority. 

For the most part, free guest blogging is recommended for individuals and small business owners who have just begun their journey. At this point, the marketing capital is relatively low, which means they have to cut as many costs as possible. Non-profit organizations and community builders can also use free guest blogging to raise awareness of their cause, without spending unnecessarily much on advertising.

Pros and Cons of Paid Guest Blogging

When it comes to paid guest blogging, there are certain advantages and disadvantages that you need to put in balance. This way you can determine whether or not they are the right choice for your needs.

Advantages of Paid Guest Blogging

Paid guest blogging comes with a series of benefits, including the following:

  • Quick Publication

Think of paid blogging as an express pass to reaching a certain domain. Very often, numerous guest bloggers are trying to publish their content, paid or not. By paying, you increase your chances of being accepted and published, making matters much easier for you. 

  • Better SEO 

By going for paid guest blogs, you are often allowed to put backlinks that go back to your website. The more links like these you have, the higher the chances that your website SEO will improve over time

  • High-Traffic Blog Publishing

Most high-traffic blogs nowadays require a fee if you wish to have your guest content published on their domain. With a larger audience, you could also gain more visibility. This could improve brand exposure and perhaps even offer access to a broader market

  • Higher Credibility

Paid guest posting is usually applied to sites that already have authority in the online field. This means that they are seen as “credible” by their readers, which is great if you have something to sell. By posting on such blogs, you will be piggybacking on their reputation, which can make you seem like a credible source as well. 

Drawbacks of Paid Guest Blogging

While not always the case, paid guest blogging can also come with a few disadvantages. This could include the following: 

  • Financial Costs

Perhaps the most obvious disadvantage of paid guest blogging is that you will have to pay a publication fee. This often depends on the platform you are publishing on, but the more you post, the more you will have to pay. Not every guest blogger has a big budget to handle these kinds of expenses.

  • Limited Content Control

You may be the one writing the guest post, but it doesn’t mean the text will look exactly the way you want it to. Some guest blogging platforms have strict guidelines that you need to adhere to, and this could affect the way you usually present your articles. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean that the content needs to be written by someone other than yourself, limiting your control even more.

  • Risk for Rejection

Paying for guest blogging is not a surefire way that your blog will be published. If they somehow feel you don’t meet their guidelines, they can have the content rejected or removed. It doesn’t matter whether or not you paid for it. Sometimes, you can get your money back if the post ends up rejected, but this all depends on their terms and conditions.

Pros and Cons of Free Guest Blogging

Just like paid guest blogging has a series of advantages and disadvantages, the same applies to free guest blogging. Consider them before you make your choice.

Advantages of Free Guest Blogging

Depending on your possibilities and preferences, free guest blogging can come with a few benefits. This could include the following: 

  • Cost-Effective

The most obvious advantage of free guest blogging is that you won’t have to pay a dime to get your content published. All you have to do is make sure the guidelines are respected and that the content piece is high quality. This allows you to redirect those funds into other aspects of your business. 

  • Relationship Building

When guest posting platforms accept your blogs, they do it more for the content rather than the money they earn through it. This allows you to build relationships with them and create opportunities for other guest posts. In the long run, this can help you build your audience.

  • Possibility for Backlinks

While paid guest blogging offers a higher chance for backlinks, it doesn’t mean that free guest blogs won’t allow it. If you build a strong enough relationship and prove that what you offer is valuable, the host website can offer backlinks to your website. This could help improve your traffic, depending on who you are working with.

Drawbacks of Free Guest Blogging

While the financial advantages are fairly notable, certain disadvantages come with free guest blogging as well. This can include: 

  • High Competition

Businesses come with numerous expenses that you need to cover, and the more you can cut them, the better it is for you. It’s obvious that many people would try to do that by cutting the marketing costs. This can lead to a higher number of submissions to a specific platform, increasing your competition. Unless your content is particularly outstanding, there is a good chance you may not be approved.

  • Low-Quality Platforms Potential 

By going for free guest posts, there is a good chance you might get what you are paying for. Many of these platforms can have a low follower count, which is why they won’t charge much to get your content posted. This might lead to very little changes to your website traffic. 

  • Little Control over Publishing

When it’s free, guest posting is more or less a request; a collaboration between two bloggers. Once you’ve handed over the content, you might not have much control over when or how it’s published. They may do it tomorrow, or it might get posted in three weeks (if ever). They might also decide to present the piece differently so it fits their brand image better. 

Things to Consider When Choosing Guest Blogging Host

Paid guest blogging can offer various benefits if the right persons use it. Below are some things to consider when choosing the host on which you aim to post the content:

Niche Relevance

For you to gain awareness and obtain traffic from the host website, its niche needs to be relevant to your industry. Occasionally, this can be difficult to do with paid guest posts, as the bigger websites tend to have wider audiences, as well as a potential broader niche. Regardless if you opt for paid or free publications, the niche has to be close enough to encourage conversion.

Website Metrics

Aside from niche and content type match, you should pay a close eye to the metrics of the host website. The first thing one should look at is the traffic statistics for the blog, as higher traffic could lead to a bigger audience. The domain authority score is also important, as they often rank higher on search engines. Generally, higher authority blogs are the ones that require payment in exchange, but you could also find no-payment options with a good score. 

Editorial Guidelines

Each guest blog host, regardless of their authority score, should have quality standards and editorial guidelines to some extent. While these might appear restraining to the guest blogger, it proves that their purpose is to provide qualitative, engaging, and informative content. Paid guest blog hosts often have stricter guidelines, but their presence on a free website could suggest they care about their reputation. If the latter applies, it could also add to your own credibility.

Social Media Presence

Social media is a great power nowadays, and an average of 90% of bloggers use it to drive traffic to their published posts. Bigger platforms that are paid for will usually be active on multiple social media platforms, which brings the potential to improve your reach even more. That said, collaborating with blogs that offer free guest blogging could also offer the same benefits. Check with the blog that you are planning to submit your post to, and determine whether or not they are active on other platforms. If you see that they regularly share the blogs they post with their followers, you might gain exposure beyond the actual website.

Long-Term Opportunity for Relationships

When choosing a host, consider whether or not there is an opportunity for ongoing relationships. This would allow you to offer regular contributions, significantly increasing your exposure to their audience. Paid guest blogging is often project-based, but could also offer bundle options. Free guest blogging, on the other hand, is much smaller, but with a higher chance of building a lasting relationship. This steady relationship would offer consistency, which makes you appear reliable in the eyes of search engines.

The Bottom Line

Both paid guest blogging and free guest blogging can ultimately be beneficial if you wish to improve your reach. The choice ultimately depends on your budget, target audience, business type, and goals. When implemented within a marketing strategy, both can paint you as an authority.