Are Guest Posts on Blogs Just a Big Waste of Time?

Are Guest Bloggers A Waste Of Time?Don’t you hate it when two people in a field, both of whom you really respect, have opposite opinions? That’s the boat I’m in with guest blogging, which is our theme topic this week.

The first one — Zen Habits’ Leo Babauta — used guest blogging to become a super-successful blogger and print author, and continues to highly recommend the strategy in his A-List Blogger Club. The other one — conversion ninja Derek Halpern of DIYThemes and Social Triggers — tells me it may be a big waste of time.

In any case, Derek told me, guest posting ain’t what it used to be. I tend to agree.

Since the theme of this blog is making money from writing, you’d think I would never want to guest post anywhere for free. But I’ve found it a useful marketing activity that’s brought me writing clients as well as more subscribers for my blog. That said, it doesn’t ordinarily change your life overnight.

I personally recall feeling boggled about the whole idea of guest posting when I started blogging. I watched training videos on Copyblogger’s Jon Morrow’s site Guest Blogging, describing how he would get 300-400 new subscribers off of a single guest post.

I ended up guest posting on some very busy sites in the past year, including Write to Done, Copyblogger and DIYThemes, but I never saw anything like that big of a result. Granted, my site wasn’t ideally set up to capture visitors and turn them into subscribers at first, but even after I worked on that, I’d be lucky to get 100 subscribers off one guest post. Usually, I got less than that.

Given our limited moments here on Earth, is guest posting a waste of precious time?

My take: Guest posting is definitely less productive now than it was a few years back. But it’s still worth it.

As Derek pointed out to me, when Leo started guest posting, nobody guest posted. All the big bloggers were writing every single post themselves. It was utterly novel and fascinating that Leo’s post would suddenly appear on these sites! So it got him a lot of attention — and a lot of new subscribers, every time.

Today, many popular sites publish almost nothing but guest posts. The person who started the site might turn up once a week, or even once a month. So when your guest post appears, it isn’t as intriguing to readers as it was several years ago. If the content’s amazing, some folks might click over and check you out. But it’s much less of an event that you’re guest posting.

Guest posting is more of a long-term marketing approach now, of slowly spreading your name around to new audiences. I think it can still be worth it, but it’s definitely not a magical ticket to instant riches anymore.

Having considered my two experts’ advice and my own personal experience, here is my advice:

  1. Choose your guest-post outlets carefully. It should have an audience that closely matches the one you want, and very large traffic. I found posts I did on sites with under 20,000 subscribers weren’t worth the time.
  2. Try to have multiple guest posts publish at once. This was Derek’s recommendation, and I think it’s a good one. If you have multiple guesters on a single day or even within a few days of each other, it could help create excitement as the posts spread around Twitter and other social-media platforms, and bring more readers to your site.
  3. Write a related post on your site. Knowing that guests will be coming, try to prepare a post that relates to the guesting topic in some way. Maybe it expounds further on the same topic, or it’s a related topic you know those readers will like.
  4. Prepare your site. I can’t say enough about how important it is that your site be inviting and make it easy to subscribe.
  5. Guest post a lot. Even back when Leo started, he relates in his A-List training videos, he guest posted relentlessly. Sometimes he had a guest post every weekday. That frequency also helped get him noticed. In today’s more competitive blogging environment, many guest posts are even more important.
  6. Engage readers on the guest site. Respond to comments, offer encouragement — this is your chance to get this other blog’s readers interested in what you offer.

Do you think guest posting is worth the effort? Leave a comment and let us know.

Coming up on guest blogging week: A guest post about guest posting, naturally! Subscribe and you won’t miss it.

Photo via stock.xchng user raly

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