There’s a HUGE number of bloggers and site owners that are selling backlinks on their websites under the guise of ‘sponsored content'.
If you're wondering how to sell backlinks the right way, or just want a better understanding of the marketplace and how it works, we've got you covered.
Why Sell Backlinks?
The truth is, website owners are making a killing from selling backlinks.
Links are one of the number 1 Google ranking factors, and for that reason, they have now become a valuable commodity.
This means that if you own a high-performing website, people are going to want a link from you.
Most sensible websites do this under the guise of 'sponsored posts'.
In reality, ‘sponsored content’ really translates to ‘selling links’. Companies aren’t buying sponsored content because they think it’s going to drive them new customers and traffic (although that may be a nice byproduct of the campaign).
What they’re primarily interested in is the value of landing a permanent backlink on that person’s website.
And many websites are earning thousands per month just from selling backlinks.
How do we know this to be true?
Many bloggers and niche site owners are all too happy to reveal this information publicly via income reports, giving us some rare insights into things from their perspective
Income Report Examples
In our article all about buying backlinks, we identified some examples of bloggers who are taking home a huge amount of money each month selling sponsored posts.
Example 1) FitMommyinHeels.com
Here's a blogger who earned a whopping $9500 in a single month selling sponsored posts!
Example 2) Wanderluststorytellers.com
Here's a much more modest income report from an independent travel blogger. But still, $1000 per month from selling sponsored posts isn't bad!
Example 3 - Fitnancials.com
Here's another finance-related blogger who earned over $2000 from sponsored posts 5 years ago. Based on the upward trajectory of the industry, I'd imagine this amount would be much greater in the present day.
Of course, the vast majority of people selling links are not blogging about it so there’s no public information on the numbers.
However, since we’re a link-building agency that admittedly buys some links from time to time, we have a pretty good idea of what’s really going on.
By looking at a sample size of 200 smaller independent blogs in various industries, we estimate that on average each one is earning more than $1,600 per month selling sponsored content alone. That’s based on selling 13 posts per month at an average cost of $120.
Many larger websites are selling a single sponsored post for $1,000+ and we can tell from our teams' analysis that they’re selling multiple paid pieces of paid content each month.
Of course, this is only one point of data from a relatively small slice of the pie.
We only ever consider working with reputable websites that we believe are committed to a sustainable model for the long run. If that sounds like you, we've got some tips on how to proceed.
How to Sell Links Ethically
If you want to sell links on your website, here are some top tips to do so the right way.
1) Be selective about who you partner with
This is the first thing we absolutely must recommend. If you’re going to sell links on your website, you need to set some ground rules.
Only partner with websites & brands that actually have a connection with your audience.
For example, if you’re a travel blogger and Trip Advisor comes knocking on your door, then of course that’s going to be an exciting opportunity.
They’ve likely got a good budget in place, and they’re a travel company. You can work with them to create a piece of content that ties in perfectly with your audience, and any loyal readers you have probably won’t even know it’s a sponsored post.
The power is always in your hands and it should stay that way - Work with good companies that can deliver you strong pieces of contributed content that fit in seamlessly with your style, and you’ll be in a strong position.
2) Partner with Link Building Agencies
Link-building agencies are essentially dealing with your perfect customers on a daily basis.
They have a huge demand for high-quality links on strong websites, and they can help accelerate the number of deals that come across your desk to evaluate.
Some of the top link building agencies include:
No BS links
Drop them a professional email and let them know that you’re a dependable blogger to work with, and convince them that you have high editorial standards (trust me, they’ll appreciate that!).
3) Join influencer networks
This is similar to the method above, but lets you cast the net out even wider. Influencer networks deal with a ton of companies who want to work with social-media influencers, but they also love relevant bloggers as well.
Again, they’re able to bring you a ton of potential deals if you can position your website and brand correctly on these platforms.
Some of the top influencer platforms include:
4) Reach out to link buyers
It’s super easy to create a list of websites that are buying links in your niche.
Here's a step-by-step process on how to do it.
Let’s say you’re in the travel niche.
Make a list of popular mid-tier blogs in the travel niche
Go through their latest posts - I’d estimate that at least 1 in 10 posts is paid for, they’re pretty easy to spot
Find out the company they’re linking to
Take note of the company and find the right contact details for their SEO manager
Reach out to them and let them know you’re open to accepting sponsored posts
5) Don’t let your website become a link farm
By all means sell a few links and partner with brands that actually tie in with your audience.
But don’t sell your soul and lose all integrity in the process.
Unfortunately, the ability to sell links at scale has led to a massive proliferation of link farms - where unscrupulous scam artists are buying old domains and making them appear like authentic, traffic-generating websites for the sole purpose of selling links.
Once you start leading your editorial standards slip, it becomes easy to fall into the trap of letting what was once an incredible blog fall into the dark underworld of link farms.
Link Farms are Making a Killing Selling Links
First of all, I just want to say that I hate link farms with a passion.
These are people who are selling links on websites that are really worthless.
The sites don’t rank for any meaningful keywords, and the only content they’re publishing is super-thin articles from the unfortunate ‘suckers’ who have paid them.
We mentioned earlier that these link farm owners are making a killing, and it’s true.
How One Link Farm is Earning $350,000+ per year
We recently uncovered a link farm network (very similar to a PBN link network) that owned 7 different websites. They all had a very similar design, and the person even mentioned to us that they owned all 7 of those sites.
Out of curiosity, we started trying to build up a picture of just how many sponsored posts they were selling on an annual basis.
Using an average price of $60 per post, we estimated that each site was earning at least $2700 per month from selling links.
So clearly, this is a very lucrative endeavor for the scammers.
Here’s what they’re doing:
They’ll buy an expired domain which has a ton of history and backlinks. It’s easy to do this and a ton of websites out there sell these.
They’ll throw up a basic looking template on the website, sometimes adding a facade of branding to make it look authentic.
In order to give the appearance that the site is generating organic traffic, they’ll create AI generated content around search terms which tools like Ahrefs believe have high search volumes.
But beware, it's not only obvious spammy keywords that these people are going after...
High Search Volume, Low Difficulty
For example, if you can rank in the top 20 for ‘Disney+ login’ Ahrefs will attribute something like 1,000 visitors per month to your website, which is pure fluff traffic.
Another classic one is to rank for celebrity net-worth type keywords, because they're super high search volume and some of them have relatively low competition as well. So again, even if you're ranking on page 2 for those keywords it's going to artificially inflate your perceived traffic.
It’s a clever way to artificially inflate the perceived traffic of your website if you're a link seller.
As we've discussed, selling backlinks is an incredibly lucrative industry, but one which needs to be navigated extremely carefully due to the bad actors out there.
If you're a website owner looking to sell links or sponsored posts, then by all means do so, but be mindful of the long-term implications and try not to devolve into yet another link farm.