If you’re willing to accept guest posts on your blog or website, don’t bother charging for the ‘privilege’.
I was recently pointed in the direction of a website called Careerealism, which happens to have a guest contributor network. This isn’t uncommon; a lot of websites, blogs and communities offer a chance for guests to contribute to their network. I’ve personally written for websites like Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today, so offering guest spots isn’t an unfamiliar practice. What I was surprised to see with Careerealism, however, is that they charge people to write for them.
Charging for guest posts is a horrendous practice for a whole host of reasons (a few of which are listed here). Sure, these guys have a fairly substantial number of unique visitors (though I think they might be bolstering those numbers a little bit, as my research through Alexa and Compete put their unique monthly visitors substantially lower in recent months, not to mention the fact that they’re certainly double-counting a lot of their social audience members, which is visible right away) but is it worth paying $130 per month to be a part of their ‘expert’ program?
No matter how you spin it, it never is. Here are a few of the reasons why charging for guest posts will always be the lesser of your options when running a blog that accepts guest contributors.
You immediately lose credibility.
Being a good writer does not make one an ‘expert’ in his or her field. Here is the list of requirements to become an ‘expert’ contributor on Careerealism:
- Must be an author, consultant, advisor, or coach for a career-related industry (i.e. social media consutant, life coach, etc.)
- Must have a website or blog
- Must submit a writing sample (URL from previous guest posting/blog posts)
- Must have an updated LinkedIn profile
- Must have an updated Twitter account
- Must provide a headshot and bio
Where exactly are the credentials that indicate that the person submitting their profile is an expert? Oh, I see, there are none.
One larger problem that this showcases (which I will not get into here) is that the ease with which personal brands can be established (he says as he writes from his self-titled blog) makes terms like ‘expert’ and the oft-overused ‘guru’ meaningless. Moreover, in this case, use of the term ‘expert’ is diluted even further by the fact that these ‘experts’ are paying for the title.
Imagine if MDs has the option to either pay standard tuition for medical school, go through their years of practice and receive their degree OR pay slightly more to skip the schooling and receive the degree right away. Having $130 in disposal income and a registered URL does not an expert make.
You limit your contributor network.
Anybody who works in the field of marketing, particularly those who focus heavily on social, will understand immediately why a potential network of contributing writers is shrunk substantially when they’re charged to write. It’s too easy to write for free.
Granted, to make it onto some of the larger publications it takes some time, a lot of work on your part to build that personal brand and, in some cases, a friend on the inside, but that effort is well worth it when you receive the credibility that comes with being published on one of these reputable sites. Readers can see right through that when the blog to which you’re posting very publicly touts their pay-to-post structure. So savvy bloggers will naturally steer clear. The problem with that is that it’s the savvy bloggers that you want.
Which brings me to my next point…
Article quality goes down the drain.
When savvy, experienced writers are turned off by your structure (and they always are in cases like this) you’re left with the bunch that is more desperate to have their name published with a third party than willing to craft high-quality content.
These are the cases where you see lazy posts that are repeated all over the place (with different titles). Case in point, when I type ‘personal brand’ into my finder on the Careerealism blog, I get 9 results…on the first page of posts.
You want honest, unique articles. Lists are great – the stats prove that – but subjective content that dissects phenomena, news and one’s industry are what make guest blogs great. There is only so much value that can come from reading list after list of ‘expert’ tips.
What’s more, if I, as a writer, am paying anything to write, I want to churn out as much content as I possibly can (with the expectation that, because I am a pre-approved ‘expert’, it will all be published) in order to get some value out of the money that I’m spending. Again, this often leads to shorter, repetitive articles that generally won’t do much to add to the reader’s experience. And that means that it won’t be long before reader attrition rates surpass acquisition rates, and you’re forced to try and explain to your paying contributors why they should stick around as readership declines.
This is an issue that I feel pretty strongly about (as you can see) because it cheapens the hard work that so many people put into building their personal brands. Sites that offer these kinds of programs dilute the value of real experts that have worked to earn that title (though hopefully not by touting it on LinkedIn, because that also cheapens the term).
I also think I should make it clear that Careerealism is not the only site like this. There are plenty out there. This just happens to be the example I’ve decided to write about.
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