Sponsored Content: Are the High Costs Worth It?

Sponsored articles, sponsored content — or whatever you want to call it — has been popular off late. Publications make money from it. For many bloggers, it happens to be a great source of revenue.

Sponsored content (and no, we aren’t talking about native advertising which is a completely different thing) is when you’d pay a publisher or a blogger to have content published.

You’d know it’s sponsored content when you see something similar to an article or blog post, in various places within the publication front end (like underneath the blog page or right in the middle of content you consume).

For brands, Sponsored content allows for direct access to a popular blog or a major publisher to use the pre-existing audiences for each of those blogs or publications (In the example above, Forbes actually has a dedicated tab for a few big brand names to allow for continuous sponsored content).

Instead of having to do all the hard work of reaching out to editors, writing up great blog posts, and waiting for bloggers or publications to accept (and publish your content), sponsored content allows you to charge your way up the queue and get your content published.

Brands and businesses do that to save time and to avoid the effort regular outreach demands.

How much does Sponsored Content Cost?

Eric Murphy of HubSpot tried to answer this question, and he gets pretty close to it.

Now, that data is old.

In the year 2014, he collected data from about 550 blogs and publications with many predictor variables such as Domain Authority, Page Rank, and social followings for each of those blogs or publications.

This is what he arrived at:

More than 97% of blogs would charge up to: $1500 per piece of content.
Large publishers like publications would charge above: $1500


“… a blog with a Domain Authority of 55, 25,000 Facebook Fans, an AlexaRank score of 1,500,000, and a PageRank of 4 should charge somewhere in the ballpark of $342. Anything significantly higher or lower is probably not priced in line with fair market value.”

To establish fair value for how much sponsored content should cost, Eric also has a formula for it:

For publications, the same analysis revealed strong correlations between sponsored article prices and Domain Authority, Facebook Fans, Pinterest followers, and PageRank. The predictive pricing model is as follows:

PUBLICATION PRICE = -37000 + 314(DA) + 20.9(thousand FB fans) + 5152(PR) – 46.6(thousand Pinterest followers)

Using the same logic, a publication with a Domain Authority of 75, PageRank of 5, 350 thousand Facebook fans, and 35 thousand Pinterest followers should charge somewhere around $18,000.”

Ayaz Nanji of MarketingProfs published another post with a few more details of what sponsored content costs like, quoting a BlogoSphere Study.

Here’s how the average fee range for sponsored content looks like, depending on page views for blogs or publications

But the question is this: Is it really worth it?

No, it’s not. For small business owners, individual bloggers, SaaS businesses, and many others, it’s not a feasible option.

Let me explain why:

Traffic Spikes Aren’t Sustainable

If you have pockets deep enough to get at least one piece of content sponsored each month, and you continue doing that, you’d amass traffic.

There’s no doubt about it. Heck, one single mention at Elegant Themes almost wrecked my analytics.

But most businesses can’t afford to pay $350 or so, four times per month, forever and ever.

Why do something that you can’t sustain? What’s so appealing about getting traffic spikes and links from popular blogs for momentary boosts in traffic?

For all traffic incoming, what’s the guarantee that you’d make enough sales to bring you a return on that investment?

You are bypassing awesomeness

Your job was to create content that you’d be incredibly proud of —the kind of content that makes a difference to your community, the kind of blog posts that provide value for your customers, and to write epic shit that even your customers will notice.

Now, although I am not a big fan of guest posting, even that’s a great way to get yourself published for no cost (except the back-breaking effort of outreach).

Instead of doing all that hard work, however, if you choose to bypass the queue with Sponsored Content, how long will this game last?

You know you took the shortcut, don’t you?

It won’t sustain, because it gets expensive

If you had $6000 to spend every single month, you’d be better off spending that money on actual paid advertising.

Isn’t paid advertising the same as sponsoring content?

No, it’s not.

Paid advertising is targeted. Facebook Ads and Google Ads (or even Twitter ads, Pinterest ads, and LinkedIn ads) — all of these channels allow for extreme targeting. You can pick and choose exactly who looks at those ads and clicks on them.

Plus, you can control your spend, test ads, and more.

With Sponsored content, you’d publish on MarketingProfs, for instance. Granted that you’d get massive exposure but what’s the point of doing that if your brand only caters to the United States and not India, China, Brazil, Venezuela, and all of Europe?

Getting published on a huge publication is just as good as getting mentioned on a massive, global newspaper.

You’d get branding, impressions, and tons of exposure.

But why are you spending to get exposed to the whole world when you are too small to be that big, or when you don’t serve those markets, or when you don’t really need all that exposure?

When does sponsored content make sense?

It never really does. For small businesses who are bootstrapped or for entrepreneurs struggling to get their businesses off the ground, it’s a very expensive way to get back to the same kind of advertising digital marketing was supposed to be superior to.

But then, if you are a large brand and you’ll do very well with controlled and global exposure, it does make sense.

If you are reading this, you know your business best.

What would you choose?

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