rules of guest posting

Published on: September 22, 2023

The 3 Laws of Guest Posting (Plus A Few Price Negotiation Tactics)

Yesh Quijano


When I started my link building business, I thought I can provide my clients with cheap, but high-quality links.

And I was able to deliver that. Well, to some extent, and it was not a nice experience.

I didn't charge exorbitant margins to begin with but trying to offer "cheap" but high-quality links left me with almost nothing.

That's when I came to realize that there’s a rock-paper-scissors kind of law when it comes to earning outreach links.

Times are a-changin'...bloggers are more SEO-savvy and with the increase in the number of SEO Specialists who offer blogger outreach services, blog owners realize that there is money to be made by selling guest posts. 

You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too: The 3 Laws

In some strange utopia in SEO, outreach links that are cheap, high-quality (content and metrics-wise), and fast (turnaround time) are plenty.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in paradise, so we only have this relationship:

  • If it's good and cheap, it won't be fast.
  • If it's cheap and fast, it won't be good.
  • If it's fast and good, it won't be cheap.

Unfortunately, you can only pick two out of three.

And this "law" can be observed in many types of services. Graphic designers, web development, content writing - you name it, this law applies to it.

Let's take a closer look at these laws:

Rule #1: Cheap Outreach Links With Fast Turnarounds *Might* Be Bad Links

From my experience of sending out over 50,000 outreach emails, cheap blogs who can deliver live links quickly (in as little as 24 hours for some) are usually: 

  • Blogs with no authority.
  • Spammy blogs who will accept any link
  • Blogs with high metrics, but seem to be penalized or are on their way down.

An example for the third point would be this blog, who kept selling links on its way down:

penalized website

This blog kept selling links at around $30 per link, duping less-meticulous SEO Specialists who might only look at the Domain Rating (DR).

As you can see on the screenshot above, DR 46 is still pretty high. However, other metrics tell a  different story. For example, this massive traffic drop indicating a penalty of some sort:

drop in traffic

Even my own Link Opportunity Evaluation Sheet is telling me to reject this website:

link eval sheet spammy blog

There are some exceptions to this, however. For example,  blogs who are mostly just starting out and want a bit of income to pay for overhead costs.

Rule #2: Cheap, But High-Quality Links Will Take Time

Mainly because you have to run a manual outreach campaign to secure free links.

So, how do you run a manual outreach campaign?

It’s going to take a whole blog post to explain, but the gist of it is you reach out to high-quality blogs and offer something of value - a really, really good article that’s relevant to their audience is one example. Honestly, unless you have a lot of time, it's too much of a hassle to do.

As I’ve said earlier, high-quality blogs usually know their worth – they’ve spent resources, and taken the time and effort to grow their blog to the point that you want a link you better pay up, or offer something of equal value!

Most of the time, high-quality blogs know their worth so they’re either going to ask for payment (on average, our experience is about $100, but we also get emails asking upwards of GBP300), or reject your offer because they do “all their content in house”.

rejection email

We get rejected from time to time.

But we also get really strong links at lower-than-usual costs:

good website

It just takes them a long time to get published:

long publishing time

For the email above, I reached out to them on September 13th, so it takes around 22 days before the link goes live. They have really stringent requirements which took us about three days to satisfy.

Additionally, manual blogger outreach campaigns take time to warm up too.

More often than not, you won't get the perfect email pitch on your first try. Internally, manual outreach starts ramping up in the 2nd month if it’s an easy niche we worked with before. It takes a few weeks to optimize the campaign that’s why there’s a slight lag time. 

Unless you have a really, really, REALLY good hook – it’s going to take a while before you get your links.

Rule #3: High-quality links with quick turnaround times are not cheap.

If you want the best of both worlds, be prepared to pay.

These links are delivered quickly because your guest post provider has already established strong relationships with those bloggers, ensuring your order is prioritized for publishing.

Budget Constraints & Some Negotiation Tips

We want to pay for high quality links, sure, but how do you make sure that you’re not overpaying?

Here are some tips:

If you don't have the budget to pay for links, but have plenty of time (and motivation) to run a manual outreach campaign yourself, we have a guide here.

1. Don't beat around the bush.

Go straight to the ask! 

Blogs are so used to guest post pitches that it doesn't matter how innocent-looking your email reads, their bullsh*t alarm will still go off faster than you can say 550 error: high probability of spam.

Unless your website is hyper-relevant to theirs and your pitch is something that their audience will truly appreciate, stop beating around the bush and ask them directly.

Make your emails short, sweet, and straight to the point.

2. Make sure that you’re not over paying.

Bloggers are notorious for over charging for guest posts. I don't think it comes from a place of bad intentions, most of them simply overestimate their blog, pretty much like how you think your cat is the best feline to have ever lived.

Before you reach out to any blog, make sure you have a price limit in mind.

For example, say “I will not pay over $120 for anything less than DR 30, but I’m willing to pay $200 for a DR 50 link”.

3. Set the right expectations

It's practically impossible to get a good link for $20.

Don’t expect to get a link from a DR 91, 10 million monthly traffic blog when you only have a budget of $45 for each guest post. That’s setting yourself up for disappointment.

4. Negotiate in increments

Blogs are notorious for overcharging, but most of them are also open to negotiation.

Try to negotiate in $10, $15, and $20 increments.

price negotiation template

A standard price negotiation template.

We're fairly successful when negotiating for $10 less. 

Try to get a feel for your niche's "haggle-ability" (don't know the exact word for this).

  • First ask for $10 less for the first 20 sites in your email outreach queue.
  • If you have a 70% success rate, try asking for $15 less on the next 20 sites.
  • Keep repeating this until most of them are rejecting your offer.

This gives you an idea on the *actual* prices of guest posts on your niche.

That being said, don’t ask for 50% off on the first ask, you’ll just piss off the bloggers.

Some bloggers know what Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA) are.

If they're asking for a price that's waaaay above their metric - as I mentioned, some bloggers tend to overestimate their blogs - respectfully let them know that their DR 20, 800 visits per month blog does not fetch a $250 price tag.

They're more keen on agreeing to a lower price once you tell them this.

5. Non-US, non-EU blogs are cheaper

I’ve had success asking for up to 30% to 50% discount on non-US and non-EU blogs. They could go as low as $20, depending on the country.

Careful though, you might not want to have a link from a site with predominantly Indian traffic if your website has nothing to do with India. 

6. Outsourcing? Look for an outreach expert that is mindful of costs.

If you're can't do it yourself for lack of time or expertise, it's good to find an outsourcing partner that is transparent and mindful of costs. 

Take note that I said "mindful", not "cheap". 

Being mindful of costs is considering your budget constraints while trying to get the best possible links at that budget.

I have to admit that my services are not cheap, but I make sure you'll get the most value out of your hard-earned money by outsourcing an effective and ethical custom outreach campaign for your business.

Wrapping Up

I hope this article sheds some light on our mentality and approach regarding outreach. I also shared some price negotiation tips that will hopefully be helpful when you decide to run your own outreach campaign.

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