The Ugly Underbelly of Guest Blogging

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and a conversation on Facebook really brought this into the front of my mind this past week. If you’re in any social groups related to blogging you’ve likely heard about guest blogging. Maybe you’ve seen some guest posts on your favorite blogs and blog networks. You might have even been asked to accept a post or received a request from someone to have you be a guest on their blog.

With all of that in mind I’ll keep my explanation of what guest blogging is pretty short, just in case you haven’t come across this recent blogging trend yet and are feeling a little confused. Guest blogging is what it sounds like, writing content as a guest on someone else’s blog. The benefit of it is that it usually includes a link in the byline to your own blog or even to a specific page depending on what the host allows in terms of linking.

I like to think of it as targeted article marketing. Instead of submitting that fresh article you wrote today at a directory like Ezine Articles you can contact a specific blogger who you’ve visited that has an audience you want to reach with your information. That way you know your words and ideas are getting in front of people that will find them interesting and can use the information you’re providing, as opposed to at a directory where you just submit your article and hope for the best and wait on people to find it.

At least that’s how guest blogging works when it’s done well. The ugly underbelly of it all is that brands and marketing reps have caught onto this trend and they’re essentially trying to get free advertising out of the whole thing. They’re contacting bloggers that they see doing product reviews and accepting sponsorship and they’re saying things along the lines of, “I have this guest post I’d like you to run on your blog, it’s free content and it will help you with search engines.” Usually that’s all the information they provide, not even a snippet from the article they supposedly have to offer. Then the blogger asks to take a look at it and the post has five links in the article and it’s often poorly written, and sometimes it’s not even relevant to their blogging topics at all. Not cool, dude.

Don’t be that person. If you want to offer a guest blog post to someone the very first thing you should do is look at their blog! Then provide a unique, useful, relevant article that their readers will love and they will be proud to publish on their blog.

Loretta Oliver

Want to do guest blogging for major traffic and exposure?
Check out Nicole Dean’s How to Blog Tour: Guest Blogging for Free Traffic

9 thoughts on “The Ugly Underbelly of Guest Blogging”

  1. These media reps are getting really cranky about it to when you turn them down and tell them you would love to send them your advertising rates. Seriously, if you are hitting me up from then I know you are a media rep. It’s not brain surgery. You got paid for placement and writing, it’s only fair I get my cut 😉

    I’m only taking posts from people I deal with personally online now. Just telling everyone else no. It’s not worth messing up my SEO to take every guest post and it’s definitely not worth my time having to read through the bad articles like you said.
    Val recently posted..How to Get Over Time Management ProcrastinationMy Profile

    1. I agree. I’m mostly focused on accepting guest posts from people I know and work with on a regular basis. I’ll consider a guest post from someone if the email request is well presented and they at least include an outline or rough idea – but if I open the preview pane of the email and it’s a oneliner “I have a guest post for you, it’s going to be great for your SEO” I’m just hitting delete without opening it all the way.

    2. I will also say that if you are a media rep and you’re honest with me about that up front and say “I’m working on placing some guest posting articles for my client and we would like to contribute an article about XYZ for your blog,” and the content is actually *good* and relevant to my website readers, I will accept it. I don’t mind working with reps, but don’t pretend that you’re not asking for advertising space – just say what you need, what you have to offer, and be open about it so we can work together to get it done.

  2. I don’t mind media reps asking for posts to be accepted but I’m all about high quality content that will help my reader. I know that most people only guest blog to advertise, drive traffic, or build a following. There is nothing wrong with that either. The problem comes along when you don’t realize that I value each and every one of my readers and I don’t want to put spam or poorly written posts that won’t help them on my site.

    It’s the same when I want to write a guest blog. I read the blog, subscribe to the RSS feed, interact a bit. I want to make sure I can bring something useful to the table BEFORE I contact a blogger.

    I should note though… when it comes to people emailing me, I don’t mind if they don’t know what they are going to write about and are asking for ideas. Everyone is new at some point and I believe that EVERYONE has something to teach, even if they don’t know it. Some of my best guest posts on my site were written by newbie bloggers who had never written for another site before.
    Amanda Thomas recently posted..Ordered a New Gadget and Back to Vlogging Tomorrow!My Profile

    1. If only more reps and bloggers did it the way you do, the internet would be a better place for sure. Subscribing and reading for awhile before pitching is definitely the way to go. It makes things easier on you as the writer because you get an idea of the blogs style and preferred content. It makes things easier on the blogger because you’ve already done your homework and that will show through when you contact them with your idea.

      I should clarify, I don’t mind getting a pitch without an article preview, especially if it’s a newbie blogger/writer – I love those posts and I’m always willing to discuss topics, offer suggestions that might be a good match for my site and theirs, etc…

      But when the media reps reach out they often just say “I want to publish a guest post on your blog, it’s going to be great for your search engine ranking” or some other one-liner that seems so completely random. Usually they don’t even have an idea of what category or broad area they want to post about, which usually means they haven’t read the blog at all. They also seem focused more on search engine rankings than the actual content, which is just a complete bummer. Sometimes if I’m in a patient mood I’ll reply back and ask them what they have in mind, but a lot of times I do just delete them.

  3. I have set an 800 word minimum in order to try and weed out the many low quality guest submissions I was getting. This has definitely helped, but there are still people who insist on sending and resending 400-500 word articles even after I keep sending them to my guest post page that stats clearly there is an 800 woird limit. It’s a bit annoying when people want you to read and critique their posts, yet can’t be bothered to read the requirements.

    So if you are a guest blogger I would HIGHLY recommend you thoroughly read the requirements of each individual blog, as it can definitely rub the blog owner up the wrong way if you don’t!
    Jon Rhodes recently posted..Comment on How To Make An Amazing Blog Post by jonrhodesukMy Profile

    1. Having requirements in place is definitely a time saver. I agree, if they didn’t follow the guidelines then the delete button is your friend.

  4. @Loretta and @Amanda Thomas, You are both very kind to allow inexperienced guest bloggers to approach you with ideas, then guide them along the way. You may uncover some gems and help propel some fabulous online careers!

    I know some bloggers (Lynn Terry and James Chartrand come to mind) publish their own VERY specific requirements for guest post submissions. One requires posts to be in Word format and s/he will find the appropriate photos, another asks for WordPress-ready HTML, for example. In addition to reading and understanding the culture of the blog you are targeting, a writer would be wise to see if they have particular requirements upfront.

    By the way, Loretta, terrific headline! Karon Thackston raved about it on Facebook so I came to check it out.

    Anita (who is a little embarrassed by all the name-dropping in this comment. A little.)
    Anita Hampl recently posted..The Ultimate Biography PhraseMy Profile

    1. I think new writers and bloggers often bring the best point of view with them; it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s different, and I love that <3

      Also, nothing wrong with a little name-dropping now and then, especially when they're brilliant names like that 😉

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