The last guest post that i accepted onto my site was not terrible. Infact, when i first read through it, i thought it was actually ok. It was only once i had already posted it that i began to realize that it wasn't really 'right' for my site. Since then i have not been accepting guest posts to my site at all and honestly, i don't think that i will be for a while. And let me explain why.
The fact that the guest post did not really 'fit' and that i had realised it only once it had already been published was not the guest bloggers fault - though many site owners would come to this conclusion. It was infact, my fault. My blog did not have a 'voice' and therefore did not really have any form of criteria, in terms of what i would or would not accept onto it. I had a vague idea of what was 'ok' but i definately did not know what would 'work'.
I see a lot of blog and site owners making this same mistake, when accepting guest posts onto their sites. They very often allow content that is not relevant at all to their sites to get published, diluting the general feel and tone of the site before it even has a chance to grow and mature. My observation is that this is almost always with newly formed blogs aswell.
It is pretty clear to me that this particular problem arises when one starts accepting guest posts at a time that is just to early for the site. Yes, the benefits are there. You don't have to write as much to get the same amount of content. But the downside, in the form of irrelevant content is just too much to risk. Better to wait and let the tone and general feel of the blog develop before accepting other people onto it.
My opinion is that it typically takes a year to develop a blogs 'voice'. And before then, it would be unwise to accept guest posts. Lest that voice get diluted. Waiting that length of time also has the added benefit of you having a bigger blog - as your audience will have grown in that time period, if you were consistently writing and growing your blog. There are also additional benefits that i have listed below, that can be gained by waiting.
Some of the other benefits to waiting this length of time are:
1. That, because your site is of a higher quality after a year, you will likely recieve higher quality guest posts. As the best writers typically only want to post to high quality sites.
2. That you will better be able to select the 'right' content for your site, as you now have the benefit of a 'voice' as well as a recognition of what fits in with that voice.
3. The guest posters that you do accept, because they will likely be aligned with your blogs voice - will be bringing their followers, who are very likely relevant and high quality - to you.
Most of the larger blogs online tend to accept guest posts happily and have no problems in rejecting them too, whereas a lot of the smaller blogs tend to not accept guest posts as readily. In my opinion, the issue of not understanding your blogs/sites voice is one of the fundamental reasons why. Give yourself time to develop a clear voice and stand behind it, and a lot of the problems associated with guest blogging simply dissappear. You will have better content coming your way and you will have also developed a better eye for what works for you.
Take your time, and don't be in a rush to accept guest posts onto your site. It's worth the wait and will be much better for your site and the blogosphere as a whole in the long run.
Do you have views on when the best time to accept guest posts is? Let me know in the comments!