Thursday, April 19, 2018

Blogger Goes on Tirade About ‘Free’ Guest Posts, Misses Point

I recently read a blog post that was essentially a rant about guest posts and the expectation that a blogger would post it without charging a fee.

I’ll be upfront: the post I read about guest posts annoyed me on multiple levels. I’m not even going to link to it because, honestly, I don’t want to contribute any page views.

But the point of the offending post is this: someone contacted a blogger — I’ll call the blogger who was contacted “Blogger X” — about doing a guest post on X’s blog. Blogger X was outraged that the potential guest writer was not willing to pay for the post to be published on X’s blog.

This fact led to a tirade about how much work poor Blogger X has to put into maintaining the blog and a list of expenses that has to be shelled out every month just to keep the blog going.

If that weren’t enough, Blogger X ends with proof of missing one of the most important advantages of guest posts on a blog.

Let me break it down a bit.

Said blogger apparently figured out what a post on their blog is worth through a third-party service that apparently takes into account your site’s monthly page views and then seeks to set a price you should charge people who wish to publish a guest post on your site.

Well, that’s a great idea, isn’t it?

There’s just one thing: when you pay to post something on someone else’s blog, it’s no longer a “guest post.” It suddenly becomes paid content. It’s a sponsored post because the writer is paying the blogger to run it on their site.

Would Blogger X have labeled it as such? Maybe, maybe not. Ethically, however, X would have been obligated to be upfront about the fact the writer had paid to have the post published there. If you’re like me, when you see “sponsored content,” you click on something else. That’s a good reason, unfortunately, to discourage bloggers from making that clear.

I’ve had only a handful of guest posts on this blog over the years. I’m not opposed to a guest post in theory, but because this blog is called “Patrick’s Place,” I’ve always felt a bit funny about guest posts. I’m sure that’s a great example of me over-thinking the thing, but it’s just a feeling I haven’t been able to shake.

That said, the few guest posts I’ve run on this site did have two critical things in common.

First, they were written by people I respect personally. That’s right: the writers are people I either know personally or have talked to personally. I wouldn’t run a guest post from someone I’ve never had a face-to-face conversation with, even if that face-to-face time was on Facetime.

Second, they were written on topics that I was interested in and felt you would be interested in. If I had no interest in the topic, I wouldn’t consider running it here. But more importantly, if I didn’t think you, my audience, would be interested or would benefit from it in some way, I wouldn’t run it.

In no case did I either charge someone to run a guest post here or pay them to write one for me.

Guest posts aren’t supposed to be about money.

Blogger X made a list of all of their expenses. It was actually a list of expense!

There was everything from web hosting to domain ownership to even the portion of her electric bill that would cover the time Blogger X was actually performing some essential function for the blog.

It’s as if Blogger X somehow things that no one who has a blog has ever had to pay a dime.

It’s not exactly a surprise that running a blog costs money. This blog is now 13 years old. In the early days, it was almost free because it was run on the now-defunct AOL Journals platform, but I still had to pay electricity. Of course, since I like hot water and like to eat and stay warm, electricity isn’t a blogging expense: it’s a life expense. I can assure you that I paid for electricity long before I even considered starting a blog.

Blogger X even complained about all of the work that would have to be done promoting the guest post, and that X should be compensated for that. The problem is X will end up doing that work anyway in promoting one of X’s own posts…one that runs on the date the guest writer’s post might otherwise have been published.

Guest blogging is about exposure: it’s about offering a different point of view on your blog that happens to have been written by someone else, and it’s about giving someone else an opportunity to have a different set of eyes on their work.

Blogger X apparently doesn’t understand this, either. X claims that the X blog and the would-be guest blogger’s blog have roughly the same number of page views, adding that he shouldn’t have wanted to post on X’s blog, anyway since they have the same size audience.

But it’s not about the total number. It’s about the individual people.

I’d be willing to bet almost any amount that there’s a zero chance they both have the same audience.

If X’s blog gets, for example, 4,000 unique visitors per month and the guest blogger’s site also gets 4,000 unique visitors, that doesn’t mean it’s the same 4,000 people!

A guest post would have allowed the 4,000 people on Blogger X’s blog the chance to see something of this guest writer: the guest might have picked up some additional eyes from that post on Blogger X’s blog.

But then Blogger X might have benefitted, too, since the guest writer would surely have posted on social media and probably on his own site that he was posting a guest post on Blogger X’s site. That means some of the guest’s audience would have visited Blogger X.

Both could have benefitted. Unfortunately, neither has that chance.

That’s a shame.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.