I know a lot of people firmly believe that you can–and should–increase your web presence by finding other people with a presence and asking them if you can write a guest post. The idea is that, by exposing their audience to you and your ideas, you will gain new community members.
Each week, I receive four or five emails asking if the author can provide me with a guest post. I always thank the person for their offer, explain that guest posts don’t align with my strategy here, and ask if I can help promote their content in some other way.
I stop short of telling them that I believe their community-building (or attention-getting) strategy is broken. But it is broken.
- No Shortcuts: A guest post might get you a nice bump in traffic. It might give you a nice little boost in attention. But neither of those are great indicators of success if everything else isn’t right. There is no quick fix for a long term problem.
- No Content: If your own blog isn’t already chock full of great content, there isn’t any reason to believe that pointing people to your site is going to help you build community. Your site needs to stand on its own; it needs to be worth the reader’s time and attention because it’s a great resource. This counts for a lot more than a recommendation.
- You Don’t Want Community: If you are selling a product, especially a software product, you don’t really want to build community–you want to advertise. Content about your product, your service, or your offering is marketing–not a guest post.
- Fake Backlinks: It’s a nice idea to believe that guest posts are going to create the kind of backlinks from highly trafficked sites will improve your SEO results. But there’s a better way to get backlinks: publish something worth linking to in the first place.
There are points for style here, too. If your email begins with, “I am a big fan of your blog,” or “I just read your post titled . . ,” you very quickly betray the fact you don’t read the blog and that you are outside the community. If you were part of the community, you would already be known. Guest posts work better when you are already part of the community.
Now I am no expert on content marketing. For that, go see copyblogger and Chris Brogan. But the heart of content marketing is content. The more great content you produce, the easier it is to produce the “marketing” results.
What do you want to accomplish through a guest post?
Is a guest post the best way to accomplish that goal?
Would you do better to focus on producing better content?
Are you trying to build community or are you really trying to advertise?
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