Guest Blogging in 2013: The End of Unsolicited Guest Posts?


I love guest blogging. As a matter of fact, I got my first freelance writing inquiry thanks to a guest post on Social Media Examiner. I know how powerful guest blogging is for building your reputation and increasing your business.

If you have been looking for guest blogging opportunities lately, you may have spotted a discouraging trend. Here are some examples of what I mean.

Mashable’s former guest writer guidelines pages now goes to a cute 404 error page:

mashable-closed-guest-post-submissions

Copyblogger closed guest post submissions:

copyblogger-closed-guest-post-submissions

ProBlogger, well known for publishing a high volume of guest posts, just recently announced their halt on guest post submissions:

problogger-closed-guest-post-submissions

And they are not the only ones. If you search accept unsolicited guest posts, you’ll find 2,000+ results from sites that no longer accept them.

Why Blogs Are Closing Guest Post Submissions

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I can share some examples of why I closed unsolicited guest post submissions on my own blog. First, there were the bad pitches.

bad-guest-post-request-1

Then there were the unrelated submissions. This guy stole an image of Chase Crawford to “personalize” his Google account and auto-submits posts like this daily through my contact form. Yes, I said daily.

bad-guest-post-request-2

This one was about a taxi booking service.

bad-guest-post-request-3

Then there were the responses when I rejected submissions that didn’t fit the guest posting guidelines I had set.

bad-guest-post-request-4

bad-guest-post-request-5

You can see more bad examples in The State of Guest Blogging presentation. I can’t even begin to imagine what sites like Probloger, Copyblogger, and Mashable were receiving on a regular basis. I still get about bad five requests a day even after clearly noting on my guest post guidelines page and my contact form that guest post submissions are closed.

If bad requests weren’t enough, then there’s the video of the head of Google’s Webspam, Matt Cutts, talking about Google’s feelings towards guest blogging for links:

If Google doesn’t like the guest blogging for links strategy, they probably don’t like the blogs that post those guest posts either.

How to Increase Your Odds of Getting Accepted

So how do you increase your odds of having your post published on quality blogs? Here are some tips.

Be a real person.

If your business is outsourcing a guest blogging campaign, find real people to help you with it – not cheap link building services that are likely using $5 writers who use celebrity photos and fake names to pitch your content. Preferably real people who have an established reputation in the industry you want them to write for.

Work your way up.

Unless you are already an established, well known writer or have an amazing blog, you will need to start building your reputation. Most people can’t go from unknown to Mashable right out the gate. Start with smaller blogs in your industry, create great content for them, and then work your way up. Use your best guest posts as examples along the way.

Create a relevant portfolio.

Most blog owners and editors will want to see a sample of your writing beyond the piece you submit to them. The best place to create samples are on your own blog. You can even create a portfolio page that lists your latest contributions to other blogs to let people where else you have been published. You can create this page manually, adding links to your latest post as you go.

If you have a WordPress blog and regularly write for blogs that offer an RSS feed for your post, you can use the RSS Agregator plugin to publish your feeds into one page. You can see this plugin in action on my own portfolio page.

To make this work, you will need to find your author page on the blogs you write for by clicking on the link to your name in the author bio. Some blogs, like this one, have an RSS icon linking to the RSS feed for on the author archive pages. If it doesn’t, you can add feed to the end of the URL (http://domain.com/author/yourname/feed/), test it, and grab it as your author RSS feed.

Once you have a strong portfolio page, you can include it anytime you inquire about a guest blogging opportunity.

Build relationships.

You might have noticed that while a lot of sites are not allowing unsolicited guest post submissions, they are still publishing content by multiple authors. If you want to be one of those authors, you’ll have to know someone on the inside to make it happen. The best ways to get to know a blog owner and its writers are the following.

  • Actively follow the blog’s latest posts. Subscribing via RSS using Google Reader is one of the easiest ways to keep things organized and not blow up your inbox.
  • Read the posts and when you feel you have something valuable to contribute, comment.
  • Share the posts on Twitter and include both the blog’s main Twitter handle as well as the author’s.
  • Interact with the blog owner and authors on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Aim for the network where they are active but get the least attention – usually that’s Google+.

Get Introduced

Once you’ve built up a strong relationship with a regular contributor to a site, see if you can get them to introduce you to the blog owner or editor.

Look for golden opportunities.

If you can’t get an introduction, then look for golden opportunities to request a guest post spot. For example, if you get listed as one of Social Media Examiner’s top social media blogs or ProBlogger’s top bloggers to watch, that is the perfect time to approach the blog to become an author.

You can also take advantage of other opportunities. Say you find a broken page or error in a post. Submit a contact form and let the blog know. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and get a response from the blog owner or editor themselves. They’ll know that you are familiar with their blog and that might be your in to ask if they are accepting guest posts. Better yet, say that you have this great topic in mind and wish the blog still accepted guest posts so you could submit it. Sometimes that works too!

Do you still accept guest posts on your blog? Are you running into lots of sites that don’t? What is your take on the future of guest blogging? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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About Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance blogger, ghostwriter, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. Connect on Facebook and Google+!

Comments

  1. We’re totally on the same page here Kristi! Guest blogging is a great way of spreading the word about yourself, especially early on when you’re just trying out, but spammers have totally ruined it with lots of bad approaches and guest posts of no quality at all – I’ve actually removed my guest blogging page recently as well to minimize the approaches.

  2. I can completely related with this Kristi. Guest blogging is such a great way but spammers are ruining it. As a result, Google will release another update and all the work of authority bloggers will suffer. Its pathetic.

  3. From time to time I have received a few guest posts that are actually good. Most have not been, so they never got posted or were posted on some other blog I own.

    People will always be looking for sites where they can get a link–that’s a given, as long as Google continues to put an emphasis on links. Seems as though there is a lot of interest in Authorship nowadays, and perhaps the next big thing will be something like AuthorLinks.net, which caters to those who want link from verified Authors.

    • If Google starts ranking content in order of author authority, it should motivate people to only publish content by established authors, ruling out the use of the fake personas marketing companies are abusing.

  4. I was sad to see some sites I would have liked to blog for shut down for guest posting opportunities. However, I totally understood why. I saw the comments from readers, for instance, on ProBlogger saying they felt the quality of posts had gone down. That’s no good.

    I get the same spammy requests for guest posts all the time as well. While I still allow submissions, I rarely take one. I typically ask experts I know to submit. And that’s also how I get my guest posting gigs…through the connections I’ve made.

    Thanks so much for the intel on how you created your portfolio page using the RSS Agregator plugin to publish your feeds into one page. I will be trying that out for sure! I did two blog tours this past year when my book, How to Blog a Book, was released. I’d have all those posts on a page on my blog, but I’d love to easily aggregate them the way you have on my other blogs. Great tip!

    • You’re welcome Nina. I’ve been trying to automate my portfolio for awhile – this is the best setup I’ve found so far. :)

    • Hi Nina, my name is Maxine Kennedy and I am new to the blogging community, but I love to talk. My web site is also new and I need help. I have followed several of your posts and I think you’ve got it going on with the blogging. I am asking that you review my site and send me some suggestions on how to improve it and how to get traffic started, also I would like for you to give me some tips on guest blogging and where I can begin to guest blog. Please help me.

  5. Whenever you get something that’s good–such as guest blogging, those who are doing it just because they can get a link back and they can increase their search engine rankings are going to ruin it for others.

    If you have a blog, then why not accept guest blog posts and just make it very clear that the links in guest posts are going to be nofollowed. And that you’ll delete any requests for guest posts that are off-topic.

    • I don’t mind giving dofollow links to great bloggers who are contributing quality content. I created lots of guidelines for my guest bloggers – the ones that abuse the system don’t actually read them. One even mentioned removing links altogether if the author didn’t come by to respond to comments. That didn’t stop them.

  6. Truth is guest blogging has been bastardized and it needs to be properly monitored… this days it does more harm than good and if you cant efectively monitor each guest post i would say dont do it at all.

    • Exactly! And i just don’t have the time to monitor it all. I’d rather spend my time on my own content and not have to worry about researching everything that comes through my inbox. :)

  7. I actually take a different approach to guest blogging. While I am currently updating my site, I let people know that I have one guest post option. I’ve created a series called Budget Travel Guides (I just published the 15th one in the series a couple of hours ago and have many more lined up to publish later) where people can submit a short travel guide based on specific criteria that I set for any destination they want. Rarely, I will accept a guest post on a unique topic but only from people I know.

    This gives me a chance to allow people to write a post on something I want that’s limited to an ongoing series that my site, my readers, and the guest blogger. Not only is this series growing in popularity, most of the travel guides are on the first page of Google for their keywords.

    So I think shutting down guest posting completely is not something you have to do. Just create a unique series, topic, or niche that you allow and say no to everything else. This can work very well even on sites like ProBlogger. You could have a specific blog topic and share the different experiences from many other bloggers through their guest posts while everything else is written in house.

    • I love that strategy Jeremy! Your guest bloggers have to conform to one type of post and your audience knows what to expect with that series. Thanks for sharing that – I will keep it in mind for when I decide to open up guest posts again. :)

      • One other thing to note about the series – I have very specific and high standards for the guides. Some are better than others. Sure, it means I do have to spend time reading and reviewing but if it isn’t good enough, I ask them to edit or say no thanks.

        After all, if you are going to have guest posts on your site tell them what they can and can’t write about and how they need to do it. The good thing is there is enough flexibility with my series (and for anyone else who wants to do this) that you don’t have to take away their voice

  8. I am totally on the same page with you on this, Krist.
    Guest blogging is a great way of link building, but also to bring traffic to your website. But, if you do it just for link building and there is no quality, it is bad for you and also bad for the blog you guest post on. I haven’t closed guest posts on my blog, but I do not approve low quality posts. Luckily, I’ve got a few good blogger friends who have done tremendous job as a guest bloggers on my blog so far. So, I am actually excited about it. :-)
    Regards,
    Kumar

    • It’s always helpful to know the bloggers who are submitting posts to your site. Generally if you have a good relationship with someone, they are not going to send you bad content. Glad to hear it’s still working for you! :)

  9. Hi Kristi, Awesome post and presentation. There’s been a lot of talk about this and even some rumors spreading about Google penalizing sites with low authority guest authors.

    My secret weapon for vetting guest bloggers is SpeakPipe. I removed my contact form and installed the SpeakPipe widget which means people need to leave me a voice mail in order to request a guest posting spot. This dramatically reduced the amount of requests I was getting from low quality content providers.

    Have you ever tried SpeakPipe Kristi? They have a WordPress plugin now too.

    • Hadn’t heard of that plugin, but I have seen some blogs that say “leave me a voicemail” and I wondered what they were using. I bet that cuts all kinds of spam dramatically! Thanks for sharing Ileane! :)

  10. This is an excellent post Kristi. I have been hosting a guest blog series on my website about mothering and creativity and have had a pretty steady flow of really good content. I invite people directly. I guess since my reach is pretty small so far, I have not had any problem with people offering posts that I don’t know. What I do get it people interested in me posting about their products. I think this may be because I veer close to the mommy blogger category and that market is so much about products.
    Keep up the good work!
    Suzi

    • I think online marketing-related blogs get hit harder with spam than most other blogs. It’s nice to know the spammers haven’t corrupted guest blogging for everyone. :)

  11. I have one blog where I accept guest posts and will probably continue doing so. It’s in a specific niche and I have a guest posting policy where I’ve put something in that tells me whether someone has actually read it or not, and if they haven’t I just delete the email before I even download it to my computer. I do check every submission to see if it’s been copied and for quality of some type, and I also vete (you know, I’m a good speller but have never known exactly how to spell that word) every link before I approve it; some I don’t approve, some I tell them that they’ll have to pay for the post to be added and they go elsewhere.

    The way I see it, one accepts guest posts if it benefits them, not anyone else. If you’re looking for a benefit then you ask someone to write a guest post for you, something I’ve done 14 or 15 times over 5 years. As Matt Cutts said, that’s where you get the biggest benefit. But in the video he didn’t necessarily say Google doesn’t like guest posting; he just said that if the posts are weak or look like they’ve been copied or spun that they probably wouldn’t count the link. As one of your other commenters stated, as long as Google values links the way they do it’s always going to be a major strategy for some people.

    • What Google will probably do is put together some sort of algorithm that busts bad guest posts and the sites that posts them. The unfortunate part is that sites that think they have published quality guest posts will get harmed in the process as algorithms are not 100%. :(

  12. i really don’t know whom to blame for this situations, i.e. spammers who spammed all the way through to make their website popular or webmasters or blog owner who accept the guest post blindly and publish them. i think it is not the problem created solely by spammers but the webmasters and blog owners are equally responsible for all this crap.

  13. I’m surprised that it has taken this long for Google to speak out on this practice, especially in light of both the Panda and Penguin updates. But, even more importantly, because of the rise in their efforts to sweeten the deal to get folks to use AuthorRank. Multi-author sites have to jump through all kinds of hoops to get authorship markup to work properly. Heck, there are 14 connections just to get it fully functional on your own site where you are the primary author and to properly close all of the loopholes.

    There are several blogs that I stopped following because way too much of the content was being farmed out to guest writers. On top of that, some folks who are big now, who got a break on a big site with their guest post a couple of years ago, have said that there is a point of diminishing returns on the practice.

    I’m all in favor of discovering new bloggers by being introduced to them via a site that I enjoy and a blogger I already trust. But too much is too much and actually hurts the reputation of that site owner.

    I get asked to write guest posts all the time for the reverse reason. Folks with smaller sites want to bring my audience to their site. I turn down most of those requests because it’s simply not a good fit. Sort of the reverse of the bad pitch. One I received recently gave the reason for asking me to write as being that she didn’t have time to do it herself. That should be a huge red flag to the quality of the site when the owner doesn’t have time to talk to her own audience.

    So, I’ m delighted to see the return of site owners writing more of their own posts and cutting down on the noise of filler posts.

    • I feel like guest blogging didn’t get really bad until last year. Then, instead of just one bad apple out of many, it became hunt for the one good apple in the bad ones. I’m enjoying taking my blog back over again. I’ll probably invite people I know to guest post from time to time in the future, but that will be about it.

  14. Pssst…. Google Reader is going away soon. You should suggest something else. (But I don’t know since I don’t usually use any RSS feed)

  15. Hey nice blog post It’s very useful kip it up buddy!

    Thanks

  16. These are very good points Kristi. I am both a freelance guest blogger and a blogger so I can say what things are like on both ends. As a guest blogger, I got irritated when low quality sites I wanted to publish guest posts on wanted me to pay for the privilege after I spent so much time writing the content.

    However, I have now come to see how frustrating it can be on the other end too. I have received a number of submissions to one of my other sites that were just terrible. They weren’t written in coherent English and most of them were just the most basic types of posts you can get. I probably received a dozen article submissions on “Why You Need SEO for Your Website” or “Best Marketing Practices of 2013.” Ugh!

    What is worse is the sense of entitlement that many of them have. So many would say “send me an email with a live link as soon as you post it.” Another writer wrote to me in broken English four times over the course of a week harrassing me to publish his post even saying that he couldn’t hold onto the article for so many days. When I actually read it I had no idea what it said.

    My message to other guest bloggers is this. I had to work very hard and invest a lot of time to write articles that was worth getting published in sites like Problogger and Forbes. I had to revisions on occassion because good sites require excellent content. Don’t take the lazy approach and don’t feel that a blogger owes you something. We have worked hard to build our blogs up and we don’t owe you the opportunity to publish something on our site.

  17. I fully endorse Kristi’s opinion on Guest posting. Because of a few spammers the genuine ones suffer.

  18. Great post Kristi.

    Just to add my 2 cents; I get 3-5 guest post inquiries a day on my blog and most of them are crap — off target, haven’t read guidelines, poor writing — the whole kitchen sink of what “NOT” to do as a guest poster.

    However, in spite of this, I haven’t shut down my guest posting opportunity page because it’s those gems you do get that make it worthwhile. I just look at it as part and parcel of operating a blog.

    I agree particularly with MaAnna of BlogAid.net who said, “I’ m delighted to see the return of site owners writing more of their own posts and cutting down on the noise of filler posts.”

    Most of the time when I fall in love with a blog it’s because of the first-hand experience/advice of the blog OWNER. While guest contributors are nice, I still want this type of connection to the blog creator because I’m usually looking to learn and up my game. It’s like having a substitute teacher — while it’s nice for a day, the “regular” teacher is the one who’s really plugged in and knows her students and what they want and need.

    One of the things readers of my blogs have consistently told me over and again is that they like my advice, how I tell the good, bad and ugly of freelancing — from my own experiences. Of course, it’s because I write almost all of the content for my blogs. Hence, blogging is not something I fit in “when I have time;” it’s part and parcel of running my online business.

    Again, great, insightful post.

  19. Nice compilation Kristi :)

    I have been looking for guest bloggers on Facebook groups, and must say this:

    1. Many submissions have flawed grammatical usage.
    2. Many submissions have spun content (obvious too!)
    3. Many submissions are re-written copies of titles with 1000s of previous posts.

    However,

    4. There are also quite a few genuine writers who are just starting out in the blogosphere and are looking for exposure.
    5. I’m having the time of my life having so many new articles delivered to my inbox!

    Editing guest posts has been a very educative experience so far :)

    Given the fact that Google Traffic to several blogs is in the doldrums right now, I think creating a network of genuine guest bloggers and cross-promoters is a great idea.

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  22. Truth is guest blogging has been bastardized and it needs to be properly monitored… this days it does more harm than good and if you cant effectively monitor each guest post i would say dont do it at all.

  23. hello Kristi that is great article about guest blogging really informative post for every blogger i like your information and thanks for valuable content :)

    Regards
    Rahul Kashyap