Evaluating Paying for a Blog Post

At a recent meetup I talked a bit about how I’d been using blog posts on other blogs, both free and paid for as a primary user acquisition tool. I was very shocked, when several were surprised and curious on the method for this. In tech startups coverage is common, but its usually just that press, not paid for press. I must say I love how the tech community doesn’t force people to pay to get the word out, but it is very much a competition; that might be just as much work as paying.

In contrast the wedding industry is very much a pay to play space. If you give some money you can get some attention.

First things first, contact the blog you’re interested in being written up in and ask for their media kit. If they welcome sponsored posts, then it is likely called out in their media kit. However, this isn’t always the case, if you’ve noticed posts on their blog that have been sponsored posts but pricing isn’t called out in their blog then email them explicitly and inquire.

Once you’ve got their media kit its time to do some digging. My process has first been to validate their numbers. Most blogs include their unique visitors and page views in their media kits. I immediately jump over to compete to check if their numbers are even in the ballpark. To clarify in the ballpark can be somewhere around 1.5x of compete. There are a surprising number of blogs that may be 20x off in the numbers they are stating. This could mean you’re outright lying on your stats, or that you’re not running a solid enough business that you know how to effectively track your numbers. It could be, because your blog exists on 5 different domains, while compete I’m checking only the primary. Regardless, if you’re numbers aren’t close, it often means you’re not as together as we’d like.

If they pass the first smoke screen of the stats being in the ballpark, then we can move on to evaluating sponsoring a post. Traffic’s a big factor, unique visitors are important as well as page views. Next we’ll typically look for how active your users are. Do users actively engage in comments, where there are active commenters there’s usually opportunity to get a bit more out of your post.

Next would be, how frequent are posts. Are you looking at 1-2 posts that go up per day, or 10. If 10, it simply means your content will be pushed to the bottom of the page pretty quickly, in this case if page views are exceptionally high, it may mean that users only view 1-2 posts per day and miss the others. I’ve historically done this on a subjective basis, but it could easily be a number that is calculated and factored in.

So you start with this basic methodology for one blog, then do it for a few more. Its pretty simple to compare 3-4 blogs on their potential value, but when you really start expanding this you could be looking at 100 blogs. If that’s the case it does help to have some structured method. We typically weight their unique visitors, page views, a factor of how accurate they are against compete, their commenter level, and finally their post frequency. We multiply that weight against the cost of a sponsored post and there you have your priority in terms of which blogs to begin advertising on. Its usually best to try 2-3 blogs to determine your return. But even one can give you an idea of results.

A quick recap of the basic formula:

  • Factor of stated traffic compared to compete traffic
  • Post Frequency (less is better)
  • User engagement (measured by comments)
  • Page views relative to unique visits
  • And of course, cost of the post

As a tangible example, we’ve had variations of 2x from something that ranked nearly the same through the above calculation. Another interesting note, is even months after a post we have seen slow and steady referral on some posts. This method is definitely not ideal for all companies to acquire users, but for many should definitely be explored. And remember, you should always track these against your metrics to know true effectiveness.

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