Unless you’re tearing out your hair because you can’t deal with the demanding schedule you’ve set for your blog, don’t jump into using guest writers for your blog without giving it its due consideration. It isn’t quite the no-brainer that you might take it for. There are cons, such as diluting your own voice, getting seen as too spammy by search engines and spending all your time editing bad texts into mediocre ones.
And though the pros, such as building up new relationships, pulling in new readers and breaking new ground, can certainly outweigh these disadvantages, this will only be the case if you choose your guest bloggers carefully and manage them well. So be careful who you use, give them clear guidelines and don’t be afraid to use the word ‘no’ every so often.
When you’re running a blog it can get pretty demanding. This is particularly true if you’re trying put new content up every day. You try to work ahead but unforeseen day-to-day events eat into your lead. Had a drink too much last night? Your mother needs you to move the shelves out of her garage? A friend is having a nervous breakdown? Before you know it, your buffer is gone and you are operating by the seat of your pants. In these situations guest bloggers can be a godsend, giving you much needed breathing space.
Whether you’re going to use them isn’t a decision you should just rush into, however, because it isn’t quite the no-brainer you take it for. So unless you’re tearing out your hear because you can’t keep up with the demands of your site, before you decide to take that plunge consider the pros and cons.
Con: It Is Not Your Voice:
This is important. You’re not a news site with dozens of contributors and dozens of outlets around the world. Nor do you want to be. People come to your blog to read your point of view and see what you’re thinking about and when you start bringing in guest bloggers that can get diluted.
The more guest writers, the more diluted it gets.
Of course there are two easy antidotes to this. The first is, don’t have too many guest writers. Just restrict it to something that you do every once in a while – a few times a month perhaps. The second is to state that the guest author has to allow edits. Now this second one isn’t always looked upon favorably by guest writers. Some may find it insulting.
Still, maintaining quality takes time and sometimes requires stepping on a few toes. And besides, real writers appreciate good editing. They put their egos aside and use it as a learning experience. Remember that when your guest writer is complaining (though maybe don’t say that to their face directly).
Pro: It Is A Different Point Of View:
Sometimes inviting in a different point of view and a different set of expertise can breathe new life into your blog, as it starts of a cascade of posts and counter posts that otherwise might never have happened. The danger of blogs is often that they end up one sided and though this is something that some of your readers might appreciate, as a writer it is important to constantly keep expanding your horizons. Otherwise you’re going to run out of things to write about!
A guest author can do that for you. They can break you out of your rut of the oft walked path and give you the freedom of the open savannah.
Con: It Might Cost You More Time than It Saves:
As already mentioned under the first con, you should probably edit your guest writer’s work. Editing can be incredibly labor intensive, though. Especially if your guest writer wants to take a final look at the text before you put it online, it can be demanding in terms of time as well.
And then there are those situations where their posts just aren’t all that good. In that case however much editing you might do, you can’t make it work. The problem is, sometimes you only discover this after you’ve already spent a whole bunch of time on the text. You realize that basically the article needs to be rewritten in its entirety. At which point it’s not really our guest writer’s article and you’ve got to deal with such problems as who gets their names on it. In other words, headaches are all around.
Pro: It Can Draw In New Readers:
This is particularly true if your guest writer is actually somebody with a bit of a following of their own. These people will often tell their audience about their guest posts, thereby redirecting their audience to your site. Some of those people might actually stick. In this way it can be a boost to your popularity.
Con: Google Might Punish You:
On the other hand, Google has in the past said that it will devalue “Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.” So if you are not careful it could cost you readers as well. Note that this is not a threat for most bloggers using occasional guest bloggers, so don’t sweat it if you’ve had a couple of people write for you in the past.
On the other hand, if you’re being approached by larger agencies proposing spammy titles, you might want to reconsider. Also, be careful of what anchor texts you let them use! There’s a real danger that this might put you on Google’s poo poo list.
Pro: It Builds Relationships:
Allowing guest writers to write for your blog is a great way to start a relationship with them, and since it isn’t what you know but who you know, this can be a real advantage. Of course you do have to be a bit selective. Some writers are great to know. Others are like your uncle Tommy who keeps asking to borrow money and can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble.
At the same time, just because a writer hasn’t made it big yet doesn’t mean they won’t in the future, so don’t just go for the ones with a big following. If you like their style and their point of view embrace them! Because if they do make it, they’ll remember those who were there in the beginning, before their name was written in neon lights across the sky. And they’ll hopefully give those people a bit of extra credit and attention. Even if they don’t, their names will still be all over your website, so there’s that.
Using guest writers shouldn’t be seen as a way to get some time off. You need to be careful. Don’t just accept any Tom, Dick or Harry (or Sue, Rachel or Francine). Vet your authors, consider their topics and edit their work. If you do that then they can be a real boon to your blog. If you don’t, then you might well rue the day that you decided to go down that path.
One thing that can certainly help you find your guest writing rhythm is to take the time to write guidelines for them. Consider the pros and cons listed above and use them to create your own dos and don’ts for guest writers. If you do a good job with this, you should find the whole process becomes a lot easier with your guest writers having clear expectations of what you want as well as what you will do with their text once you get it.
Also, don’t be afraid of the word ‘no’. Even after a guest writer has sent you a text, if you decide it doesn’t work for your blog then tell them so. Yes, you might hurt their feelings, but that’s more desirable than hurting your blog, because feelings generally will recover, while your blog might not. Still feels too selfish? Then think about your readers. They have a right to quality. Don’t short change them by being afraid of that powerful two-letter word.