I’m not sure exactly why, but in the past week or so, I’ve received a large (in excess of 10) emails from different people wanting to guest post here on Side Income Blogging. I’m guessing it’s maybe due to this site finally reaching some critical point of age and search engine ranking, but who knows. Regardless, I’ve declined every one of them so far. Yes, I responded to most of them saying, “Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
Don’t get me wrong, accepting guest posts can be a great way to feature some great content on your site, give you readers a break from reading only your content, and give you a break as well. On the last point, many bloggers often publish guest posts when they go on vacation or when an unplanned event occurs that will cause them to be out for a bit.
Guest posting has changed
I remember a time, in the old days of blogging (some whole 3 years ago) when guest posting was done almost 100% by bloggers trying to gain some exposure on other blogs. I did this on Get Rich Slowly when I was trying to grow my first blog, Gather Little by Little. I was working hard to break into the “top personal finance bloggers” group, and I used guest posting as a strategy to help me get there. I spent time writing what I considered really great content that not only benefitted the target site, but also allowed their readers to get a little insight into my writing style and perspective. This turned out to be a great decision, as a few months down the road, I was in the top 10 list of personal finance blogs.
BUT…as with all things, everything isn’t roses. Let’s just be straight up for a minute – The reason anyone, including bloggers guest post is for a link. In my example, I wanted exposure and I spent extra time writing really great content. What I really wanted though was that link that allowed people to get to my site. Without that link, your guest post only benefits the target site, not you. That little link, if it’s a follow link, is internet gold. That link not only drives readers of the target blog to your site, but also shares some of that sites reputation with yours. A win/win. Guest posting, when boiled down, is just exchanging content for a link.
Link building is a strategy employed by most anyone that wants to rank well on search engines. A popular way to link build is to guest post and companies that offer products know this well. They hire freelance writers and pay them for every published article they get and that guest article will always contain at least one link, maybe more.
Here are just a few reasons why you might want to decline that guest post offer:
1 – The email or comment from the writer doesn’t use your name
90% of the guest post email offers I receive have something like “Hello Admin”, “Greetings Blogger”, “Dear fellow blogger” or some other greeting that clearly conveys they don’t know me or my name. If someone wants to write a guest post on my site and doesn’t spend 30 seconds figuring out who I am and what my name is, they don’t get a guest post. Why? Because the writer is just spamming sites trying to get replies. Not the kind of writer I want to feature on my site.
2 – They don’t have a “real” email id
If the writer’s email address ends in “yahoo.com”, “gmail.com” or even worse a domain name that doesn’t even exist, the answer is no. Almost all credible freelance writers or bloggers wanting to guest post have email addresses from a domain name they own. For example, if I send an email to someone to offer a guest post, it comes from sideincomeblogging.com.
3 – The writer lies
I received an email that said this:
I hope this message finds you well. I came across “sideincomeblogging.com” and saw that you are looking for guest authors. I’d love to have my writing team contribute an article, and even work together long term if there is an opportunity to do so. And you can also suggest your Topics.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. I hope to hear from you and work together soon!
Couple of things wrong here:
- “Hello Admin” – My name isn’t Admin and if you spent 30 seconds looking at my blog, you would know my name – See point #1
- “saw that you are looking for guest authors” – Really? Where? Actually I am open to them, but other than this sentence, I have never stated I’m looking for guest posts. Lies!
- “my writing team contribute an article” – In other words, you’re an article farm – Thanks, but no thanks.
Now, I didn’t respond to this email, as I didn’t want to encourage them, but I can almost guarantee you the included link would be to some product some company is selling. That company is paying this article farm to publish guest posts linking to their product. Why in the world would I want to help that company sell their product? Certainly not a win/win.
4 – The link the writer wants to include isn’t a reputable site
This doesn’t occur too often, but I have received a few guest post requests where the link they wanted to include went to a site that either 1) Wasn’t indexed by Google or 2) Had a pagerank of zero.
Be careful what links you link out to from your site. If you link out to a site that has a low pagerank or a site blacklisted by Google, your site’s reputation can be damaged, in particular if you link to a blacklisted site. Also watch for redirects, where they give you a link but it redirects to another site. If you aren’t sure about the link quality, don’t link to it. Once you get the guest article, confirm the link included to make sure it’s the same link you agreed to. Don’t fall for the bait and switch tactic.
Bottom line: Do your homework and understand what you are linking to. A link is like a personal recommendation to a friend.
5 – The same writer has published almost identical articles on other blogs
I received an email the other day from a freelancer. The email came from their personal domain and when I did a google search on their name, they came up as a credible freelance writer. The email they sent me was detailed, showing me they had spent time looking at at my site and they knew my name. They even offered a couple of article ideas in the initial email. So far so good…
I replied asking them what link they wanted included, to which I received the following reply “just one small link to <here>”. I’m not including the link, but first off, what the heck is a “small” link? The link was straight to a product site that did A/B Testing. I declined. I only link to products that I personally have used, like and endorse. This type of guest post request is very common and I get them probably 2-3 times a week.
Now, how does this relate to identical articles? Well, I was reading through the various blogs I follow in Google Reader over the weekend and found two guest articles from this same writer. Guess what they were on? A/B testing. Both had a link to the same product site – but interestingly different pages. The articles were a little different, but not much. Had I accepted that guest post offer, the article on my site would have been another similar article, with just subtle differences.
Something to keep in mind related to this, Google doesn’t like duplicate content and will hit you hard as a result. Google is also really smart and I have little doubt they may consider this type of scenario to be duplicate content. So be careful.
Don’t get me wrong, accepting and publishing guest posts on your blog can be a great thing. I love giving other bloggers, especially those starting out, exposure on my blogs. Large bloggers gave me the same benefit when I was first starting out, and I want to “pay that forward”. Be careful though. The guest post “market” is full of people offering guest content, but at a cost. Just make sure the benefit of the content is worth the cost. Don’t ever compromise the quality of your blog or send your readers (intentionally or unintentionally) to a site that may not benefit them. Remember: Always put your readers first.
Photo by: Zach Klein