Lately my inbox has been full of requests from people wanting to submit guest posts. Only that these people are representing companies with a “team of writers” who want to provide “useful content” for foXnoMad and my other sites. You too may be seeing more of these types of requests in your inbox and there are a few things you should know about them.
It’s All About Links
Links are one of the most important ways to build Google PageRank and establish your blog on the Web. While some of these companies don’t outright say it, they want to embed several links within the body of these posts on specific keywords. So, you might see something in there like “…that’s where you can get cheap flights” or similar. There’s nothing wrong with building links but embedding keyword links and using a guest post as a cover doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
- This is more so if you sell text links or do paid reviews on your blog. An embedded link is like giving away free advertising.
Poorly Written Quality
You’ll find that many of the PR companies who contact you are working for a team of travel sites. Many companies outsource the writing, typically very cheaply on sites like Elance.com. You can go on there yourself and see how many people are looking for 10 or 20 travel articles for very low rates. The content produced is generally poor and depending on your posting frequency, you don’t want to waste a day with something that’s just not that great.
- Also, since I’ve got several travel blogs and sites, I’m often submitted guest posts for different sites that are very similar to one another. They aren’t original and the writer has likely never seen the blog they are writing for.
Some Signs To Look For
Not all guest posts written by companies are bad or simply out to get links, although many are. These aren’t links back to an original site, like you would in a guest post bio line, but to specific keywords as I mentioned above. Some of the signs to look out for are:
- Not being addressed by your name in the email. My name easily found on my about page, and prominently on the sidebar of my main travel blog. If yours is too, any email from someone you don’t know that doesn’t address you by the first name should make you wonder. (By the way if you don’t have your name or picture on your site, consider that it’s one of the ways to build a successful travel blog.)
- No distinct website. Many of the emails are from companies working on behalf of other travel sites, lots of them in fact. If you can’t quickly narrow down one website behind the guest post I’d say be weary.
- Multiple Emails. If you’ve got more than one site, wait a day or two after getting an email for a corporate post. You’re likely to get one at any additional website email addresses you have.
In the guest post if there are any random keywords, going to multiple sites, and no single author you can pin down, you’re probably just providing a free link back, inside a mediocre post, to a few other travel websites.
Have A Policy
It’s important to have set policies around certain aspects of your travel blog, including guest posts. A set policy will save you time from having to filter through requests about guest posting, advertising, or anything else. My guest post policy is that I don’t allow links within a guest post unless I personally know the author. Otherwise, I give a 1-3 line bio with a link back to a travel blog and typically I add a link back to their site at the end of the post as well. I evaluate each guest post individually and don’t promise anything upfront.
- Whatever you decide (even if it’s running corporate guest posts) have a policy and some set rules. It will save you a bit of headache in the long run.
I’m not against building links with other travel sites – it’s an important part of what I do – but I don’t think it’s worth a disingenuous guest post that will take up a valuable thing for my readers…time. Consider that time is the most important thing your readers have – so when you ask them for some, make it worthwhile. Besides, those same companies offering you guest posts would likely be willing to pay a bit for a text link if you just ask.
[photo by: thornside, mandiberg]
I so much agree with you. I also get horde of these kind of mails, off late it has increased many folds. Till now I was just plain ignoring them but I think I need to have it written somewhere on my blog.
Thanks Nisha. I always respond to emails, even ones I’m not too fond of. Thought this might help others who are getting some of these emails as well; of course nothing wrong with posting them, just not my cup of tea.
I don’t allow guest posts on my blog. I just don’t do it. But, if a company is interested in a sponsored or paid review, I will do it if it is relevant to my readers. Obviously a positive review is not guaranteed, but I want my readers to know that I’ve looked into the company/website and I won’t hesitate to let them know what I think of it. Meanwhile, the company gets its links and I get my money. I see it as a win-win-win situation.
I’m pretty open to some other bloggers submitting guest posts, sometimes it helps to mix up the content and tone on my site. I used to do sponsored reviews but have since stopped, although there is good money in it for more established sites I think.
I’ve been working behind the scenes on a guest post policy and was pleased to read that much of what I had written matches the advice you give here.
Primarily, if it’s not a win for the blog owner, and it’s not always monetary, why give free advertising?
At first when you get a bunch of these emails you think – wow, cool…great for my blog! Then you realize some of them are just using your site for links in poorly written posts :/ I think many of them get away with it a few times after people catch on I suppose.
I haven’t been blogging for long (about 6 months now) and I’m starting to get requests for guest posts weekly.
The ones starting with “Dear editor/Wonderful Wanderings/author/…” are deleted immediately. If they address we with my name, I read what they have to say, but I’ve quickly realized that most of these ‘deals’ include very poorly written content.
I just can’t have that on my site. And that goes for corporate guest posts as well as for posts by other bloggers.
I’m still working hard on my own writing style and research. I definitely still have a lot to learn. But that doesn’t mean I have to allow anything on my blog…
Thanks for writing this post, Anil. Made me realize I need to distinguish more on guest posts and sponsored posts and come up with a good policy. So far I have posted corporate guest posts with links to various travel companies that really would have suited better as sponsored posts. I like your policy of only giving a short bio with a link to a blog, and not including links within the content.
The issue sort of crept up on me as well – I suppose if another blogger I know thinks one of their links in a guest post they write is relevant, I might consider leaving it in. Seemed as though the corporate guest posts are only about the links so the policy makes it easier to respond to those types of inquiries. Plus as sponsored posts I’m sure you could make a bit of extra traveling money 🙂
I have been getting a few of these emails as well. I have a number of travel websites so I also get the same email within a week. Funny thing was that the first time I got one of these emails, it was full of gushing praise for one of my sites and I almost emailed the writer back. Then when I got the exact same email for another site of mine I was glad not to have emailed them at all.
Some of them have me tempted too. I respond to every legitimate email I get but some of the offers are so well written they’ve tempted me to accept before too…until I get several of the same for my other sites. Hah, good to know I’m not the only one 🙂
I only have one travel site, but even then…
I got an article proposal and it was just poorly written. I told them I couldn’t publish that and so they sent me an ‘edited’ version of the article.
Just as badly written:D
Really enjoyed reading this post – glad to know I’m not alone! I particularly cringe when I read “Dear Webmaster…”
As in your case, my name is easy to find. If they can’t manage that, then I have to be suspicious about their claims to write “original content that fits your site…”
It was especially funny getting those offers for this site right after I had posted this. I was thinking, “um, I guess you haven’t read this: [link]” 🙂
I usually quote them a crazy price for guest posting with the bio link, then a per link cost. I also add that guest posts are only kept live for 3 months…Oddly no one has taken me up on it. 🙂
I’m shocked! 😉
The flip side of this is when you are offered to write a guest post for them and you get the old ‘all we in ask in return is a link’. They set a blog with a low PR that collects these guest posts. It gets zero comments undoubtedly little traffic, and that’s where your valuable guest post is published. The catch is, they ask you to link to their main business site. You get nothing out of it. They get a link for free.
Exactly – although that concept can be very confusing for newer bloggers. It seems like, “hey I’m being asked to guest post” and giving the link shows off your work. With enough fish in the sea they undoubtedly catch many people off guard.
Haven’t heard about this one before. Could you explain a bit further?
So a company asks a blogger to write a guest post with a link in it, but instead of ending up on the company’s main site, the guest post is being published somewhere in a corner where no one looks?
Something like that. It’s more that the company will have a blog – full of low quality posts/guest posts. The blogger sends them the guest post and the blogger then promotes that post; the get free traffic and content and you get practically nothing in return for an article that could have been more useful on your own site or a proper blog.
I do take sponsored posts as well as guest posts – but as you say it’s easy to get fobbed off with a poor quality article that doesn’t do your blog any credit. I work hard to collaborate with sponsors to come up with ideas and give them guidance on what kind of article I feel will work.
I also define all this in my guest post page which I ask people to read.
You should also beware the guest post offer that looks genuine until you spot the byline at the end – Joe Bloggs is a travel writer and works for Cheap Flights inc in his spare time (link to commercial website)
I like that you post your policy – so many sites don’t do it and it’s confusing (also misleading) for readers without it. Also, great point about the link thrown in at the end!
I actually learned A LOT from your policy!
I haven’t published mine completely, but I written it down for myself and together with some other sites’ policies, yours has formed the base!
Like Heather, I also take both guest articles (typically other bloggers) and paid-for sponsored articles. The latter may include up to two links and all articles must be unique, though uniqueness is obviously difficult to police (you can check whether the article you receive already exists but can’t stop it being republished). The quality varies from excellent to terrible and I am having mixed feelings about continuing down this route, though the extra dollars are helpful. I spell these conditions out up front via email (I also respond to all requests by email except for the outrageously rude ones) and that cuts out most.
I’ve noticed a strong trend to go this route over simple text links; it will be interesting to see where this market goes. There certainly is a lot of money there though which I think is enticing many bloggers. I just don’t like it when the company isn’t upfront about their intentions.
I’ve worked on both sides of the fence, blogger and ‘evil corporate person looking for links’. Personally I don’t accept guest posts on any of my blogs (I have a few other blogs outside of travel) but I am open to doing this like reviews, press trips etc.
I had thought about charging people for posts but as you say most of the content gets sent out to freelancers who get paid sweet f.a. to thrash out 400 words as fast as they can – it can make the blog look really tacky.
Yes, sponsored posts are usually the factory kind. Better to have very good guest posts – I don’t run very many of them myself and end up rejecting most; but a different voice with new information is a nice occasional change of pace.