The Internet has been in a scuttlebutt over Matt Cutts’ announcement that guest blogging is over. What he meant was that guest blogging as a form of link building was over. Guest blogging as it was intended? To reach a new audience and share insights? It’s still on.
In fact, now that he’s made this announcement, I’m even more excited about guest blogging. Perhaps it will go back to what was originally intended, which was people sharing ideas and interacting with new readers.
What Happened to Guest Blogging?
Somewhere along the line, guest blogging became spammy. Ask any blog owner and they’ll tell you that they get several weird emails a day asking if they’ll accept a guest blog post. I get several of these a week and many of them have nothing to do with the subject matter of my blog. I used to politely respond and now I just ignore them. There are too many and it’s obvious that the folks sending them don’t care about a real exchange.
But it isn’t just the spammers that ruined guest blogging. Authors and writers had a hand in it, too. In the pressure to get books in front of readers, we’ve now become all about having someone “post about your book” than about actually connecting with an audience.
Guest Blogging Takes Work
We’re always looking for shortcuts, aren’t we? Guest blogging was originally a great way to introduce yourself to another blog’s audience. Over time, spammers and authors decided it was a lot of work. Spammers just spammed it up, but what about the authors out there?
In the last few years I’ve received chunks of publicity material along with every other blogger out there with little dialog about how to best showcase the author or their work. These authors weren’t interested in writing about something that could benefit other writers or the very readers they were trying to attract. Why? Because it’s work. It’s especially hard if you have a deadline for your book and your publisher is wanting you to get your name out there.
How Did Guest Blogging Get So Out of Control?
In the early days of blogging, people were building brands, trying new things. Guest blogging was a collaboration and if you wrote a post for someone it was a privilege. You wanted to make it your best ever so you took your time with it.
Somewhere along the line, however, this practice was about grabbing as many readers as you could, making money, and not paying all that much attention to what you were putting out there. Guest blogging changed from being a privilege to a chore. And the quality showed.
What’s worse, spammers caught on to blogging as a way to get links to their products. Did readers actually click on these links? I can’t imagine that they did or why this became such a huge practice.
How Blog Tours Changed Guest Blogging
I’ve done several blog tours for my books and also hosted many authors on my own blogs. Blog tours work well because you can create lasting “tour stops” in places you wouldn’t normally be seen.
I still believe blog tours are a great way to market your book. But authors need to be smart about this.
Too often, what happens is that the author has just finished writing the book and is tired. They may receive little or no direction from an agent or publisher other than “you need to market your book” and so they write up a few blog posts and try to get bloggers to post and/or review their books. Sometimes authors write new posts, and sometimes they recycle. It’s all done in a very haphazard way, with the author feeling rushed and exhausted.
Going forward, we need to slow it down. I’m not convinced that the one or two month “push” that comes with blog tours (doing 15-30 stops in a short amount of time) is good for the book or author. The author can’t properly interact with the bloggers and their readers, and their posts might be hurried or recycled. How does that attract new readers?
The stops made at blog tours are, for the most part, permanent. So let’s treat them with the specialness they deserve. If writing a block of high-quality new posts is too much, don’t do it until you can commit to doing it right. Anything less is like showing up unprepared for an in-person bookstore appearance. You won’t get new readers that way.
Do Something Entirely Different With Your Blog Post
Space out the blog posts so you can give the blogger something of great quality that their readers will really remember. And change it up! Who says everything needs to be about putting more words on the Internet? Do you have something else to share? A photo essay that goes along with your book? Some artwork? A series of walking tour videos of a neighborhood similar to where your main character lives? Give readers a sense of your personality and the book you’ve just written by showing your creativity.
Make Readers and Bloggers a Part of Your Guest Blogging Experience
Change the thinking from “I need to promote my book” to “I want to give readers something they’ll enjoy.” Make it about the people who will read your book, and your results with guest blogging will be that much better.
The best way to find out what people are looking for is ask them. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your own blog to get some ideas. Ask the bloggers what type of posts they would like, rather than saying, “Here’s what I can give you.” You’ll have a better experience if you allow them to direct you.
Anything worth doing takes work, so let’s embrace it or not do it at all. Now that Google has made the announcement about what guest blogging will and won’t be, let’s make it work for us.
Here’s what we can do:
- Be original.
- Take your time with the posts.
- Work with the blogger to do something really unique for their readers.
- View every guest blog as a way to connect with a new batch of people.
- Promote your guest blogs long after they’re first published.
- Go back and thank the blogger. Ask them what else might work for their blog.
- Don’t view guest posting as a chore. If you do, it will show in the quality of your words.
- Embrace the work. It’s hard stuff. But anything worth doing is.
Be thankful for the opportunity to appear on someone else’s blog. They are doing you a favor. Not the other way around.
These steps can help bring back guest blogging to the powerful experience it once was and benefit both you and whoever happens to come across your future posts.