I love being a guest blogger. It has helped me make great connections, open up new markets, and cement my social footprint, all while allowing me to write on what I'm passionate about. But not all guest bloggers are the same - Matt Cutts, the head of Google's webspam team, recently made some excellent points on how the quality of guest posts has rapidly declined, as the practice has been compromised to focus solely on building links, rather than to educate and inform. And I agree with him - the quality of guest blogging has slipped. Open up your blog to outside writers and you'll quickly find content marketing's seedy underbelly, rife with pushy, demanding guest posters. They may not look or sound demanding in an email. In fact, at first they may sound pretty reasonable - until they slowly start upping the ante to see how far they can push you. I chatted with a few bloggers about their own experiences with guest blogging, and we found that there were typically five demands that bad guest posters will make.
1. Pay attention to me!
I respond to emails pretty much immediately, though occasionally one or two slip through the cracks, so I never mind when a potential poster follows up. However, when you send off three in the span of 24 hours, demanding that I respond, you seem more like a needy ex than a professional blogger. At least once a month, I have someone sending a barrage of emails, demanding that I answer immediately or risk losing him or her as a writer. Trust me - if this is how you treat me before I've even had a chance to look at your pitch, I definitely don't want to further this partnership.
2. Feature my post - you owe me!
Some bloggers are a bit underhanded when it comes to securing a guest spot. One of the most common, slightly deceitful tactics is to create a scenario wherein you "owe them one," and thus have to feature them on your blog. When introducing themselves they'll just happen to include the fact they gave you five stars on Yelp, or that they mentioned you positively on their blog, so you should reciprocate and do so immediately, along with @ mentioning them on every social outlet you have. Fashion blogger Heidi Nazarudin told me a story about a writer who wrote a flattering post about Heidi's site The Successful Style, and then sent her an email demanding that Heidi feature the post! Guest posters of the world, take note - if you write something kind about another blogger or site, you should not do it simply for the sheer motive that they will do the same and thus bump your Klout score accordingly.
3. Don't mess with my links!
Black hat SEO abounds in the world of guest blogging. Luckily, this is an easy one to catch - if the article you pitched to me was about small business financing, and you've stuffed the phrase 'cheap Louis Vuitton bags' into the post five separate times, I know what you're up to. Lela London of PR firm AR&L told me about her experience with a guest poster that tried to stuff links to black-market prescription sites in an article meant for a fashion site. Not surprisingly, it didn't get published. If I really like the post, I may send it back and ask the writer to remove these links, but more often than not they'll give me a reason why they can't and then expect me to post it anyway. Nope.
4. Stick to my schedule!
One of my social media manager's biggest pet peeves is when potential writers demand that we publish their post on a specific day. She and I both know they make the request out of some misguided attempt to influence SEO, and if the post is really good or on a topical subject we may agree to the deadline, but more often than not, the approach seems like the writer just trying to flood the internet with stacked, generic posts. Guest blogging should be done to the benefit of the writer and the publisher, and sometimes we just can't accommodate you on a specific day. So when you send ten emails wondering why your post didn't go up at exactly 11:12 AM Tuesday, we may just choose to pass.
5. Play along with my gimmick!
For long-time blogger and owner of Planning Pod, Jeff Kear once had a situation with a guest writer who was up to some monkey business - literally. He told me that the blogger wanted a picture and biography of a monkey to go along with his article and when asked why, the writer said he always thought a monkey could handle most marketing jobs.
In the blogosphere, it's all about working to stand out and many bloggers are on the hunt for that one idea that will set them apart from all other bloggers and skyrocket them into internet stardom. But more often than not, that idea is poorly thought out or just silly. Gimmicks have a fairly short-term lifespan online so I recommend avoiding them entirely. If you're trying to establish yourself as a serious blogger or even one who wants to be taken seriously, writing under the persona of a monkey isn't the way to do it.
Guest blogging for SEO may be dead, but the practice is still an invaluable tool for marketing and community building. Hopefully, at the end of the day, the loss of the SEO-obsessed will mean higher quality writers. I love the guest bloggers that I work with, but I certainly won't miss the confusing, demanding, and often-aggressive people trying to weasel their way onto my blog.
(Crazy guest blogger / shutterstock)