Why Publishing Guest Posts Can Be a Bad Thing

If you look around, you’ll find hundreds of blog posts that talk about the benefits of writing guest posts for other people. Few people seem to talk about the pros and cons of actually being the publisher the guest posts.

It’s worth noting that certain blogs thrive on guest posts, and regularly utilize guest bloggers.  Other blogs seem to rarely publish guest posts (like me). Then of course, you have the blogs that are somewhere in the middle, and periodically publish guest posts, but not on any regular schedule.

But can it be bad to be the one who actually publishes guest posts?  I’ve decided to dig in a little bit deeper on this topic…

Some Interesting Data

Let me start by first saying that I don’t regret the recent guest posts on my blog by Sunil and Spencer.  I respect both of them, and firmly believe that their writing brought value to my blog. In fact, I wouldn’t have even thought about writing this blog post if I wasn’t checking my RSS feed stats recently.

What I decided to do was graph the past 4 months of my RSS feed subscriber stats, taking a look at percentage change in subscribers for each day (rather than total subscribers, which has trended upwards at a fairly steady rate since I started this blog).  What I found was actually pretty interesting, although I don’t necessarily believe the data is significant.  Here’s the graph:

As it turns out, the two lowest points over the past four months, where my RSS subscriber count decreased the most (in terms of % of total subscribers) were the days immediately following the only two guest posts I published on my blog.

To put it in words, in case you don’t like reading graphs, my RSS subscriber count decreased 5% after Spencer’s guest post, and decreased 18.2% after Sunil’s.  It’s worth noting that in both cases, the RSS subscriber count bounced back within the few days that followed each drop.  It’s interesting nonetheless, especially since we’re talking about 4+ months of data.

I can’t say with any real certainty that these drops were caused by publishing the guest posts, but it has inspired me to write about the reason why publishing guest posts can be a bad thing.

Okay Then, Why Can Publishing Guest Posts Be a Bad Thing?

There’s one primary reason why I think publishing guest posts can negatively impact your blog, even if the impact is brief:

The posts aren’t written by you.

This is probably the biggest reason I can think of.  People generally come to your blog to read your writing.  Unless your blog is in a very unique niche where there aren’t many other blogs, or you have something else significant that differentiates you, your voice is most likely the “unique” aspect of your blog.

Therefore, when you remove your voice, you’re essentially removing the reason why many people visit your blog.  This isn’t a problem in most cases, because it’s temporary.  But I can almost guarantee that if I stopped writing and replaced my weekly posts with guest posts from different writers, there’s a good chance I would lose some of my regular readers.

Obviously there are some blogs that make this work, and then of course you’ll always have SEO traffic, which is mostly blind to the author of an article.  The blogs that publish guest posts frequently, however, can do so for one main reason – they’re already very popular! After all, why would there be so many people willing/wanting to write guest posts for them?  By this logic, it makes perfect sense that they can publish guest posts with a greater frequency and not damage their following.

The Benefits of Publishing Guest Posts

With any decision, you need to weigh the benefits vs. the negative points.  Given the fact that guest posts are popular all over the blogosphere, it makes sense that there are some benefits to publishing guest posts.  Here are a few of them:

1) They give the blog owner a break.

Depending on what you do for a living, blogging may not always have a place in your schedule.  If you don’t write with any sort of regularity, this isn’t a big deal, but if you try to write once per week or more, you may need a break at times.  Whether you’re going on vacation, busy with work, or just feel lazy, guest posts can give you a bit of breathing room.

2) They offer a different perspective or “expert” insight.

Different perspectives are generally a good thing, and this is one advantage of guest posts. Depending on your niche, there are probably people who are more knowledgeable than you about a particular topic, and guest posts allow you to share that knowledge with your readers.

3) They provide more content for your blog, which has lasting SEO benefits.

In general, more content on your website looks better to Google, provided it’s unique and not riddled with ads and spam.

4) They allow you to network with other bloggers, and open doors to future opportunities.

To me, this is the #1 benefit (so ignore the fact that I listed it fourth).  By publishing someone’s guest post, you’re doing something that’s mutually beneficial – you get their content, and they get a link on your blog and whatever exposure comes along with it, which they will definitely appreciate.

This strengthens your relationship with the guest writer, which could give you opportunities in the future (being able to guest post on their blog, working with them on a joint venture, etc.).  In the “business world,” everyone preaches the benefits of networking and building relationships, and a lot of that applies to the blogging world as well.

Conclusion

It’s clear that, in most cases, the benefits of publishing guest posts outweigh the primary disadvantage (the “loss” of you).  Even so, it’s worth considering the negative impact of publishing a guest post, especially if you’re a newer blogger with a limited following.

Remember, people started reading your blog for a reason.  Don’t take that reason away.

What do you think? Are there any other reasons why publishing guest posts could negatively impact your blog?

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24 Responses to “Why Publishing Guest Posts Can Be a Bad Thing”

  1. excellent analysis Eric. it is interesting to note the results following a guest post. i too have seen similar results, both on my blog and on others such as yours where i have guest posted. i posted on another blog around the same time as i posted on yours. the post on your blog yielded a total of 13 comments, while the post on Ana’s traffic gen cafe yielded well over 100. i still get notifications till today.

    interesting thing is that time spent and post lengths are very much comparable. when writing guest posts, i keep the host blog’s readership in mind. i targeted both posts accordingly.

    some theories on factors that impact participation: tone, topic/subject coverage, day of the week it’s published, time of the day, author participation in comment threads, post promotion

    i have not found a formula to date that delivers consistent results when it comes to guest posting, whether positive or negative results. i am constantly surprised to see the “surprise” factor involved in each initiative.

    here is the kicker – many A list blogs if not most are moving toward a collaborative model (i.e. pro blogger, entrepreneurs journey, copy blogger). think huffington post model. the question is – is that the future of blogging? or does that simply kill the author/main voice and dilutes it? do people want the author/voice more or diversity of information and education? tough questions . . .

    where do you stand?

    where does your readership stand on this?

    in conclusion, though only 13 comments, i don’t regret the time investment at all. thank you for the initiative.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Sunil – and as I said in this post, I don’t think this has anything to do with the quality of your writing. Obviously, you’re a strong and interesting writer, evidenced by your postings on some of the most prominent internet marketing blogs that exist today.

    As I ultimately concluded in this post, I think guest posting is a GOOD thing. Maybe it’s not something everyone wants to see, but it has its benefits, and those benefits clearly outweigh anything that can be perceived as negative.

    As I also wrote, I think the movement toward more a collaborative model on some of the bigger blogs out there is a function of the blog’s popularity. As Pro Blogger became more popular, there were a couple major things happening:

    1) The large readership and wide exposure that the blog offered became attractive to potential guest bloggers.

    2) Darren Rowse probably got a lot busier – popularity and success generally trigger more projects and more things going on in general. In order to keep up the active nature of his blog, he probably became more willing to publish guest posts.

    When you combine those two things, you have a recipe for a lot of guest posts being published.

    If you can control quality and only publish high quality guest posts, then you’re without a doubt adding value to the blog. Also, the more popular your blog is, the less the blog requires your unique voice to maintain popularity (in my opinion at least).

    As for the low # comments on the post, I’m not sure why that is. Sometimes it does have to do with the day/time of the week, but other times, it seems to be random. My blog posts don’t always have the large comment volume that more popular blogs do, but that’s not to say I haven’t had several posts with a good number of comments.

    Thanks again for the guest post, Sunil, I definitely appreciate it.

    [Reply]

  2. I think you are the first blogger I read talking about the negative side of guest posting, because it had to be one. And your also right, for example I’m subscribe on a specific blog on the comedy niche. There are 5 people posting there on a regular bases but I only read articles from one specific writer. I don’t care about the other even thought the a part of the official staff.
    Same with guest posting.

    Its only good when you want to get new readers and traffic fast and only if its reciprocal. I mean if someone benefits by guest posting on your blog, why won’t you do the same thing?

    PS: I mixed up the posts for some reason with Chrome, please delete the first comment. Thanks.
    Cristian Balau recently posted… The Best Definition Of MARKETING?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Cristian, and you made some good points there.

    [Reply]

  3. Eric,

    I do think a degree of ‘trade-off’ should be expected when a blogger decides to publish guest posts. When you provide a platform to someone else, you are essentially letting them tap into your traffic and audience, in return for, hopefully, an increase in value provided to your blog.

    I think you hit the nail right on the head when you said “The posts aren’t written by you.” Interestingly enough, several top blogs that I use to read have now lost any semblance of the uniqueness and ‘personal tone of the blogger himself/herself’ that was actually the cause of their becoming so visited and popular in the first place. It seems like the expected norm/MO for bloggers, nowadays, is to establish one’s blog with your OWN VOICE and personality, and, then, upon becoming popular, transitioning to having a majority of guest posts.

    Perhaps this is just ‘easier’ for them. Let’s face it, when you already have a ton of traffic, you can get just about anyone to guest post for you just so long as they are being recognized and given a link back to their site. That’s why guest posting is such a viable strategy….I do tend to believe that some authenticity behind the blog, itself, is lost when bloggers begin to essentially make their blogs nothing but guest posts.

    Have you noticed this Eric? It’s actually turned me off to a few top bloggers. I know they have the traffic, and can do whatever they like with their blog and business, however, I do feel that some authenticity is lost. In quantifiable terms, I know there are alot of variables involved, but I believe about 1 guest post every 1-2 weeks in sufficient enough to provide value, without sacrificing authenticity.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Howie, and I agree with everything you said.

    Authenticity is definitely lost when a blog seems to publish guest posts more often than not. Unfortunately, when blogs become popular, they have the flexibility to do this and not lose their popularity, so it’s somewhat logical that they do it (although I can’t say I like it).

    [Reply]

  4. Sad but true, I’m generally disinclined to read guest posts. With so many things I could be doing with my time, I tend to visit a blog for the blog owner’s unique view, not that of an unknown entity. It’s hardly fair, but it’s usually true.

    Made especially weird by that fact that if they had posted on their own blog and you had linked to it, I would be much more inclined to read their writing!
    AJ recently posted… Don’t Follow Me On Twitter

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I’m the same way, AJ. Usually what draws you to a particular blog is the writer, not the topic. For any given topic, there are hundreds or thousands of blogs, so naturally you will be drawn to the writers you enjoy reading.

    [Reply]

  5. I agree about “voice” of the blog. Many top bloggers are losing it due to excessive guest posts. Problogger seems to be the one getting bombarded with guest posts. As a reader i don’t think this is good sign for any blog which is popular because of single person behind the blog. Blogosphere is changing, it was easy to form relationships earlier, but it is getting harder today because people are sticking to “promotion” side of it instead of relationship.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    True – some blogs make it work, however, like Problogger. I think that’s one example where the guest posts are generally very good, and people have become used to reading articles from guest bloggers on that site.

    Thanks for the comment Mahesh!

    [Reply]

  6. I’d say the middle blogs get the most damage. It all depends on what your readers get used with. If you get often guest posts, you’ll get readers that like diversity. If you get no guest posts, you get readers that like your style. What’s in between? Mostly drifters, you’ll have a hard time keeping readers.
    Richard recently posted… How to Fill the Container for the Paint Zoom

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great point, Richard. It’s hard to find the balance without alienating some readers. Unfortunately, it’s not an exact science, so you just need to go with your gut and do what you think is best for your blog.

    [Reply]

  7. I am planning to have guest post but not, it seems I have to think of it first…
    Sher Chives recently posted… KNOW ABOUT FOREX BEST TRADING SYSTEM TO EARN HIGHEST PROFITS FROM FOREX MARKET

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I wouldn’t worry too much – As I said, if the post is high quality, I think the benefits of publishing it outweigh the potential costs.

    [Reply]

  8. Sounds great,Interestingly enough, several top blogs that I use to read have now lost any semblance of the uniqueness and personal tone of the blogger himself/herself’ that was actually the cause of their becoming so visited and popular in the first place, Thank you for this information.
    Lynie recently posted… angry birds tips

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Lynie. :)

    [Reply]

  9. I really don’t pay attention to RSS subscribers. Feedburner’s stats are messed up any way and you can go from +30 to – 50 within a day, even if the traffic doesn’t even show that many visitors.

    I’d focus more on quality content but do believe that guest posting is one (of many) ways to get yourself out there and build your brand. Even if this doesn’t reflect your subscribers.

    Holla!
    ralph recently posted… Are Video’s Your Traffic Generators?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree, Ralph, which is why I’m still on board with guest posting. I just felt no one ever discusses the downside of guest posting, so why not explore it. :)

    [Reply]

  10. You missed what I consider my biggest fear of publishing a guest post – is it for a genuine other blogger, or a business that is masking it?

    I only accept guest posts from trusted bloggers that I know. Too many people are trying to get free business links through guest posting.
    Robert @ My Multiple Incomes recently posted… 5 Ways To Fail At Your Next Product Launch

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Definitely, Robert. I prefer to only publish guest posts from other bloggers who I follow or have communicated with in the past.

    [Reply]

  11. Is this really possible??I am already planning to have guest posts for my blog…
    Lenny recently posted… Truth Behind Lose Weight Chinese Pills

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Don’t worry, Lenny. I would still go ahead and publish the guest posts, but just keep in mind that you don’t want your unique voice to be lost, especially if that’s the reason people read your blog in the first place.

    [Reply]

  12. Hi Eric…You are so kind that you have shared this to us and we should be aware of this…Thank you…
    Anjieline recently posted… Easy Muscle Building Diet

    [Reply]

  13. Hey Eric…I know some bloggers like to have guest posting but I am actually not aware of this one…
    Crissy recently posted… Suggestions for Applying Home Improvement Loans

    [Reply]

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