The Pros and Cons of Guest Posts
Having a blog and keeping it current will eventually put you in the position to need a guest post. Everyone needs a break once in a while, and sometimes having a fresh perspective from a respected source is just what you might need to build reader community and trust. There are a lot of reasons why you might want to take someone up on an offer to help you write content for your blog; especially when you are a busy homeschool mom like me. Before you say yes to every guest post request, however; you might want to make sure that everyone involved is blessed by your partnership.
In all honesty, I began writing this article because of the amount of emails I have gotten in the past few months with people asking to guest post on my blog or the Homeschool Post. It seems the latest trend is for companies to hire ghost writers to work for them rather than pay advertising fees on multiple sites. They pitch “guest post” to bloggers that have good SEO or Google ranking so that they are allowed to backlink on blogs.
While a quick and professional-looking post (that you didn’t have to slave over or format) might look good up front, be sure to weigh the cost before you accept your first ghost “guest blogger”.
Remember Your Mission
Why are you blogging? What is your area of expertise? Your readers trust you and have come to know you through your writing. They are coming to your site because you offer a unique perspective on whatever topic you write about. They believe you and rely on you to provide honest and accurate content. Don’t be so quick to hand over the microphone – or you may appear to be a “sell-out”.
Your time and your blog are worth a financial investment. In case you didn’t know it, most of these companies are just trying to increase their own Google rank – and not because they really read or like your writing. They know that if they were to ask you to place a link, you might charge them something. Having a writer offer you an article in exchange is cheaper for them. You are the one who is not being valued in the situation, though. They sought your site out because you have traffic, and because you have built up your reader trust. Don’t sell yourself short.
Learn Something About SEO
Search Engine Optimization… fancy pants for ‘how to get more eyes to read your stuff’. You need to understand what embedded links are worth and what backlinks do for you (or for the other guy). The value of a website is based upon how many links it has coming in to it; this is the Google Page Rank system. The higher ranked sites that send you traffic boost your ranking with search engines. Companies know this – and that’s why they want you linking back to them… to land THEIR website on Google’s page 1 during a search – regardless of what their link does to YOUR ranking.
Does it bother you when you get spam comments – in broken English? [If I have to delete another comment written by “great essays” or “Viagra”, I might scream!]
How about all those spammy ads on Craig’s List?
“Guest Post” articles with embedded links are technically the same thing. Brush up on your embedded link understanding and see why they are targeting your site.
How to Deal with the Requests Tactfully
Time is money. Set up an automated response email or policy page on your blog to direct these ghost writers to. You’ll find that a lot of the emails are spam, anyway – and you won’t ever get a response back if you ask them to pay you what you are worth. Figure out what your time is worth and charge a flat rate for doing a “sponsored post” – which is what these types of posts really are.
Make sure you clearly define rules up front, such as:
– the cost to them (and it could be different if they do the writing or require you to do the writing)
– whether you will reserve rights to edit or add disclaimers (you are crazy if you don’t)
– how long their links stay up and if so, when they expire (you might want to put time limits and eventually delete old posts at a later date – make sure you are up front if you are planning to unplug what they are paying for)
– what is in it for them (let them know you are a page 1 ranking site on Google for a multiple number of keywords – let them know you are helping them improve Google rank by “advertising” for them)
– offer them other ways to advertise if you wish (link up your media kit that includes your rates for graphic ads, sidebar text links, sponsored tweets – whatever you offer)
Remember that once you start allowing sponsored posts, you will get more requests for this sort of thing. The same goes for review materials. If you have a review blog, that might not bother you – but most people aren’t following review blogs as regular readers. Reviews also bring deadlines – and the cost of purchasing the items yourself should be equal or higher than the worth you place on the time it takes to write an honest review. Too many reviews makes a normal blog in to a review blog by default. Is that where you want your blog headed?
Would YOU read your blog? Would you read it if you had a sponsored post every week?
Stick to Your Standards
Also – it goes without saying, but is worth a quick reminder: make sure if you do link back, you approve of the link or business they are representing. If you make a habit of not linking to things that you wouldn’t promote yourself, your readers will trust you. A hundred dollars for a backlink is great, but don’t compromise your blog to make a little cash. It won’t be worth it in the long run.
The Best Kind of Backlinking
Guest posts aren’t bad. I certainly don’t want you to be scared away from linking to valuable sites. Just seek out authors to write for you that you admire and want to promote. Chances are, your readers will love the other bloggers that YOU love – if they are already reading at your site. Having same-niche bloggers pour their valued time in to your website is a way to build community and REAL traffic.
Guest Posting is a really positive way to network and grow your blog… so make sure you grade each guest post on how you would feel as a reader surfing in to your site.
Guest Post Grading Sheet
– Is the author someone you have heard of before?
– Is the author an expert or person who is knowledgeable about the topic or niche?
– Does the topic or niche fit the demographics of your blog?
– Are there multiple links in the post that seem to be leading the reader away or distracting them?
– Do the links take you to sites that are in line with your style/philosophy/niche – do they detract or add to the article?
– What is the benefit to your blog by posting the article?
– What is the benefit to your readers?
Keeping your blogging purpose and readers in mind – and not just your bottom line – is a sure fire way to make the best choices regarding your content. And remember – your content is KING. After all, why blog at all if you can’t stand behind what you post?