I’ve been thinking about guest blogging a lot lately. Not a day goes by when I don’t receive emails asking about guest blogging opportunities at the Freelance Writing Jobs network. As you know, I don’t actively solicit guest bloggers for FWJ anymore because I feel it’s akin to soliciting free work. Instead, I look for paid contributors.
To be honest, I always hesitate before accepting a guest blogging proposal because I don’t want to be accused of taking advantage. I’m a little gun shy because I was called out as looking for free content on two separate occasions in the past, once during guest blogging month and once when we had a writing contest. The backlash against these events made me think twice about accepting guest blog posts.
I’m not against guest blogging opportunities…as long as they’re really opportunities
When I began paying guest bloggers and contributors, many people in the freelance writing community took it to mean I was against guest blogging and didn’t recognize it to be a terrific marketing opportunity. That’s not true at all. I guest blog on my own and I occasionally post guest submissions here.
To me there’s a difference:
Actively seeking free content for your blog in the name of exposure = smarmy.
Offering to guest blog in exchange for visibility=marketing.
If I made an announcement on Twitter about looking for guest bloggers for FWJ, I’d get dozens of takers. If I posted a similar ad on Craigslist looking for free writers, I’d get an angry response. Where we look for writers and how we word our requests make a big difference.
Why are you offering a guest post?
A couple of months ago I explored guest blogging in a post entitled, Guest Blog Posts: Good P.R. or Free Content? In that post, I didn’t suggest writers NOT write guest blog posts, but rather, they consider each opportunity. For example:
- Who are you blogging for?
- How will this help your career?
- Are you responding to a call for free writers?
- Will you truly gain something of value from the experience?
What’s in it for you?
In another post about guest blogging I confessed to being confused by the mixed signals I get from the freelance writing community. On one hand, people who advertise for free writers are considered to be taking advantage. Yet, we actively encourage writers to get their free writing on because it’s good marketing. Can we have it both ways?
When is it a good idea to write for free, and when are writers to proceed with caution?
My suggestion is to ask what’s in it for you. When I do a guest post, I do it for several reasons:
- The other blogger is my friend.
- I’m trading services with another writer or blogger.
- For exposure on a high profile blog.
I turn down guest blogging opportunities when:
- The owner of the blog is only trolling for free content, not a guest blogging discussion from another blogger.
- I don’t agree with the blog’s message.
- I don’t know the blogger and it’s a brand new blog with no traffic.
As I struggle with whether or not I should open FWJ up to guest blogging opportunities and whether or not I’m a hypocrite for guest blogging on my own, I’d like to revisit this discussion.
Is guest blogging vs. writing for free a matter of semantics? Is writing for free good marketing, and if so, why are we so upset whenever anyone looks for free writing on Craigslist? Why are we pissed off when a content studio wants to pay $20 to a bunch of writers when we’re advocating free work in the name of exposure or marketing?
I’m very interested in your thoughts.