Writing is hard work. It’s easier to buck hay bales, stock shelves at the grocery store, or bust your knuckles turning wrenches than to write.
Well … “good writing” is tough.
Running someone else’s work through a spin cycle, or producing 400 keyword-littered, semi-understandable bits of garble isn’t all that difficult. Given the wonders of technology and the internet, anyone can become a published writer.
The demand for website content is insatiable. All you need to do is throw up a site with words on it – making sure to optimize for the search engines – and you can make money like you’ve cranked up your own mint. It’s simple: draw a ton of traffic, pepper the pages with Adwords and affiliate links, then go fishing and wait for your bank account to overflow with cash.
Live the easy life, my friend. Have no concern about whether or not you are producing anything of any value to a single person on the planet; just figure out how to manipulate the search engines and you’ve got it made.
There was a time, in the not too distant past, when that scenario was close to being accurate.
Then along came Panda and Penguin to crash the party
April 24, 2012, a day that will live in infamy. Bloggers around saw their websites disappear from Google’s search engine results pages (the SERP). Terror set it. Many who had been laughing all the way to the bank were crying in their milk, wondering how to get back on top of the game – how to manipulate the SERP and get back in the winner’s circle … fast.
The experts began experting and the pundits punditing. They came from every corner of the blogosphere, claiming divine knowledge of how to repair the leaks. New cottage industries sprang up overnight. “The problem is spammy links,” the first wave of gurus proclaimed. “You have to inspect your link profile and weed it like a rose garden.” (And we can do it on your behalf – only $99 down and $99 a month for 99 years.)
Websites became inundated with requests, demands, and threats: “Take down your link pointing at my site, or else!”
Pandemonium. Finger-pointing. Mass hysteria.
Google’s chief spam detective, Matt Cutts, began showing up in more places than the common cold – bloggers and website owners falling to their knees, begging forgiveness. Google announced they would receive requests for clemency, then released a disavow tool … quick as spoiled fish, the game was on and confession was in full swing.
Oh, don’t you love a true-life drama?
Guest blogging – a way to get “good links”
But how do you get those good links? Why you produce content, of course, and you get it posted on someone else’s websites. What a concept. Tell Google you repent. Take off the black hat and slip on the white hat. Then get back in the saddle.
Unfortunately, one thing got missed in the rush to become bonafide guest bloggers: if you take worthless content and move it from worthless sites to sites that aren’t (yet) deemed worthless, nothing changes in the long-term. The search engine robots will sniff you out … eventually.
Believe it or not, you see, there are a ton of websites on the internet, who are content to do something a bus driver told me years ago, when comparing his company to the giant in the business: “We haul a better class of trash.”
Ouch. And I do mean ouch. You see, every sorry tactic I’m whining about is something I’ve tried myself. I’m no angel … that’s for sure.
Guest blogging gets a black eye — but not a black hat
After another round of Panda and Penguin — and after many site owners had given up the battle and moved on to other projects — the pundits began blaming guest blogging for their failures. Surely, the search engines were now discounting guest posts. Didn’t Matt Cutts say as much?
Good God, y’all. Do you think the caliber of writing could have something to do with it? Did you listen to Matt at all?
Listen, I’m no prophet, and I sure don’t claim to have divine revelation concerning Google’s plans, the future of the internet, or how to become an overnight zillionaire.
I am an eyewitness to the events I speak of, however, and the picture looks pretty darned clear when you take a minute to let the dust settle.
The world is on information overload. We are inundated with advertising, get-rich-quick schemes, and reasons to “spend your money here.” It may be that the only sacred spot left on earth, safe from marketing madness, is the inside of a casket lid. And I’m not so sure that’s safe. Think of all the eyes you could capture at a funeral.
The gurus are now murmuring about the dangers of guest blogging — and, you know what I think? They’re right! If you spin the same old worthless mash you’ve been posting on sites that have vanished from the SERP, then go looking for other places to stash it, your efforts will eventually turn against you.
Stop doing that.
Take this pledge: From this day forward, I (insert name) will do my best to write or speak only those words that have a reasonable chance of benefiting the planet and its people. Amen.
Here’s a 5-step plan to producing content that will help you prosper
- Have something worth saying – something of value to others.
- Say it in a way your potential readers will be able to understand.
- Pay attention to the rudiments of English grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- Only allow your work to be published on a site that accepts quality material.
- Join the conversation with others about your topic. Don’t spam them; talk with them.
Not every writer needs to possess the copywriting savvy of Demian Farnworth, the depth of critical insight afforded by AJ Kohn, or the entrepreneurial wisdom of Guy Kawasaki. If you know your topic, it is something others care about, and you can write well enough to get a passing score on a high school essay, you can write guest posts others will read and appreciate.
But how do you get a guest post published?
When the company I was working for pulled me up from the marketing writers pool to work with the SEO team, my instructions were to pen something for the web that would be linkable back to one of our sites. So I did that.
Our database guy knew somebody who knew somebody who was looking for articles, so my first guest post was an immediate success. (Okay, I would be embarrassed to show it to you now – but it was published).
I wrote another article. Now what?
The database guy said he had secured membership with a service that specialized in providing a place where writers and publishers could hook up and help one another out. Writers need publishers. Publishers need writers. It’s a beautiful thing.
That was my introduction to My Blog Guest (MBG).
A company born for such a time as this
Take a cherub-faced young woman from the Ukraine. Have her earn a degree in English, train her up in SEO, and fire her with enthusiasm for the power of the internet. Then, publish her on top websites, hire her to help shepherd Internet Marketing Ninjas towards becoming the “leading free Internet marketing resource uniting SEO experts from all over the world,” give her a name that screams “This woman knows her stuff” … and you have the SEO maven, hard-sought conference speaker, and founder of My Blog Guest, Ann Smarty.
Ann saw a need, figured out a way to fill the gap, and gave the work her customary 110% effort. Writers and publishers found out and began signing up in droves, realizing the immense value of a site where writers can concentrate on writing, publishers can concentrate on publishing, and the design of the site makes it easy for the two to meet up and help one another out.
Do you manage a website that needs great content? Sign up for a membership with My Blog Guest, find an article that suits your needs, tell the writer you want to publish it, wait for him or her to approve your offer and … voila! … you can get original, unpublished work FOR FREE!
It’s a concept almost too good to be true. The caveat, of course, is that the writer gets a link back to an appropriate URL of his or her choosing. Better than watermelon pie, right?
What could be simpler than that?
Unfortunately, the same unrelenting drive to get links, links, and more links – by any possible means – moved from the realm of obvious spam and black hat tactics (buying links by the truck load, for instance) to the less obvious, and much more respectable, business of guest blogging. Anyone who could operate a keyboard began hammering out one poorly-written article after another, aimed at nothing more than getting the coveted link.
Moreover, the publishers who were living the good life by capturing traffic and getting clicks now desperately needed that content to try to push their websites back upstream (or to launch a new site, under a new URL, that wasn’t (yet) Penguinized).
And … in the midst of it all … My Blog Guest.
Ann Smarty designed the website to make it easy for internet writers and publishers to connect and help one another. Ann never planned on making any money from the project, she just wanted to add value to the online community.
With the new emphasis on guest blogging, though, and the onslaught of black hats trying to at least appear like white hats, separating the wheat and the chaff became more complex.
And with every new revelation from the gurus, the crowd would swing direction like a school of fish being chased by a great white shark. There are times when it seems Ann’s is the only reasonable voice cutting through the cacophony.
Oh, say can you see?
We are smack in the midst of a search engine shake-up, with no sign of the turmoil letting up in the near future. The experts are still experting and the pundits are still punditing. Some are finding a way to prosper, and others are standing on the corner with a “Will work for food” sign. These are exciting times.
From my vantage point – drawing on direct knowledge of the situation from my work with corporations, small businesses, agencies, and service providers – it seems to me the wise approach is to slow down, stop trying to guess which way the herd is headed next, and focus on the fundamentals.
That, my friend, is evergreen advice. It’s what my percussion teacher told me in grade school, my wrestling coach told me in high school, my favorite professor of business relied on in college, and what every successful person arrives at in the end: Focus on the fundamentals.
From my own experience, both as a contributing member of My Blog Guest and as a member of the team that supports My Blog guest – here are just a few of the tools and techniques you can employ to get more work accomplished at a higher level faster.
Please note: These are my own observations, not official recommendations. Other MBG staffers likely have their own favorite ways to work with the site. That suits me. This is a for-what-it’s-worth post, meant to open up the discussion, not monopolize and seal it as absolute.
My Blog Guest tips to help writers
If you are a spammer, please stop reading now and go get a job. A real job. Pump gas. Wait tables. Anything but write more spam.
On the other hand, If you care about your work, care about the quality of information on the internet, and have something valuable to say – you’re in the perfect place to get your voice heard. There are thousands of publishers searching My Blog Guest, looking for quality material. So take heart and write your best stuff.
My Blog Guest currently has three membership levels: Free, Basic Premium, and Advanced. For $30 per month, Premium gives you access to the Articles Gallery. Basic Premium allows you four articles live simultaneously, and Advanced grants you ten. Any way you cut it – if you are a writer and want to gain the attention of publishers, the fee is well justified.
If you want to save the thirty greenbacks, the Free plan grants access to the Forums, where you can offer your work to publishers and meet other guest bloggers. Free is good, but Premium is the ticket (in my opinion). I’ve enjoyed both types of memberships, but the Premium level allows me to focus on my writing, while my articles are in the Gallery working on my behalf 24/7 to attract the right publisher.
(By the way: Free members can offer their websites to publish articles. In order to request an article, you don’t need a Premium or Advanced account. Free works just fine.)
How to make the most of your My Blog Guest membership
- Step up to a Premium or Advanced membership. That gives you access to the Gallery, where your work will be visible to publishers. Be sure to pay special attention to your title, description, and layout. Don’t assume the publisher will be happy to perform a major tune-up for you. Do your best to make your work cut and paste. Check the HTML for spurious code, use H2 or H3 tags for your headings and subheadings, embed rights-clear photos to complement your work, include authority/reference links to help your reader understand the concepts in your article, and make sure your work adheres to My Blog Guest guidelines (and common sense).
- Once your article is live in the Gallery, use the Search function (on the main page menu bar) to run a Site Search. Either choose the Category, from the dropdown menu, or type a term that best describes the focus of your article into the Tags box. This will return a list of publishers who may be interested in the topic.
- Sort the results by Blog power and consider each entry closely. When you find a website you think is appropriate for your article – a place where your efforts will be appreciated and well-tended, click on the user name and send the prospective publisher a private message, explaining why your article is a perfect fit for the site, linking to your Gallery article, and inviting him or her to come take a look.
- Go to the “Looking for a blog” Forum. Choose the best category for your work, start a New Topic, and invite others to come see your masterpiece (leave a link).
- Go to the “Looking for a guest author” Forum and have a look around. Chances are good the publisher you seek is also looking for you.
- Participate in the other Forums. Talk to people. Don’t just do hit and run link dropping – converse with others and build relationships. Grow your presence consistently.
- Look elsewhere online. Use search parameters to find sites that fit your target description. Get in touch with the editors to let them know what you have and why it would work on their website. Don’t be cocky, but do be confident. Invite them to take a look at your article in the My Blog Guest Gallery. (BIG TIP: When publishers use the MBG platform to request your work, you have a layer of protection. My Blog Guest tools will monitor your work to make sure it remains published. Moreover, should you ever have a problem with a publisher, MBG staff will hop in and help straighten things out.
- For power hitters, step up the Elite Gallery. The bugs are still being worked out, but the idea is another Ann Smarty brilliant idea. To gain recognition as an Elite-caliber author, you must prove the ability to deliver articles that are grammatically and structurally correct. Your work doesn’t have to be perfect (mine’s sure not), but it needs to pass muster. Elite articles must also include photos, appropriate reference and authority links, adhere to My Blog Guest guidelines for linking and bylines, and deliver content with substance. In return for your hard work (and a few bucks a month), My Blog Guest provides feedback to help you get your article ready, then comes alongside to help promote your work to publishers. Moreover, the Elite Gallery is separate from the General Gallery. Your titles are much more visible to publishers and are likely to get special attention from them. I’m prejudiced, of course. My primary job on the MBG team is to tend the flock of Elite articles and authors.
Those eight principles definitely are not an exhaustive list of all the tools and benefits you can get from My Blog Guest membership. The site offers boo-koo tools, and it is steadily expanding in capability. To find out more, just sign up and look around. If you want a guided tour, message me and we will set up a Hangout or Skype session (no charge) to check it out.
How to get the most from My Blog Guest as a publisher of articles
I have both written articles that were published by other My Blog Guest members, and I have published articles written by MBG members. I’ve picked up both ends of the stick. And, for my money, it is absolutely amazing that cream-of-the-crop articles last more than a day or two in the Gallery. They are FREE, folks. Publishers don’t have to pay a dime to get them. Writers sweat great drops of ink, research for hours or days, and craft their work with great care … and GIVE their work away! It’s unbelievable.
Okay, I know, they get credit as the author (unless they are corporate writers, submitting under a pseudonym) and they get the all-important link to the site of their choosing – and that is something that will work 24/7 for them until the cows come home (or the internet ends, whichever comes first).
Publishers, you have it made on MBG. Don’t walk – run over there and check it out. Here’s how:
- Sign up for membership. Basic is free, but Premium will give you the ability to better interact and track your favorite authors. It is well worth the relatively small investment. Be sure to list your website in order to qualify as a publisher. Without an approved site, you can’t offer to publish articles through MBG.
- Click on the Articles Gallery, then on Elite Articles. Right now, the Elite Gallery is not accessible from the front page (though I hope that will change soon). Browse the Elite Gallery to see if there is a topic that would fit for your website.
- Click Preview to see a portion of the article, a list of the links and photos it contains, and the author’s byline. This procedure is the same in both the General and the Elite Gallery.
- If you like what you see, and you think the article would be a good fit for your website, push the Offer button. That will give you a pop-up with three boxes: one where you select the site you want to publish the article on (many publishers manage multiple websites), one where you note how soon you could publish the article, and one where you leave a personal note for the author, saying why he or she should turn over their hard work to a cad like you. Don’t skimp on that last entry. Authors often get a dozen or more offers for their work. You want to tell them why you stand out. Maybe you will promote the work to your 10,000 Twitter followers, or were recently mentioned in the New York Times – make a case, and don’t depend on Page Rank only to swing the deal. Good writers know how to sniff out good blogs. Tell them why that sweet smell of success is hovering around you.
- Check out the “Looking for a guest author” Forum. Leave a post there to let writers know exactly what you are looking for. Then, go visit the rest of the Forum. Take part in conversations. Be kind. Be wise. Get your name out there. Make connections. That is a big part of the My Blog Guest experience. Once the writers find out you are the real deal, they will provide an unending supply of content for your website – and never ask a dime for it.
- If you opted for a Premium membership, the world is your oyster. (I’m really not sure what that means, but I like it.) When you find work you admire, you can friend the author and set up notifications so you can be among the first to know about new work by that writer. Like several of the other tools on MBG, that’s a huge timesaver. You don’t have to chase after information; it comes to you.
- When you are awarded an article, you always have the option of refusing it. Perhaps the preview didn’t show some issues that preclude your following through. No big deal. If you don’t love it, don’t print it. Reject the article and let the writer and the moderators know why. MBG folks love to learn and improve. Every experience helps; even if it is not the desired outcome. One important note, though. If you see copy that needs changed or a link that you question – anything at all – communicate with the writer to get changes made. No biggie. Work together to make the article as good as it can be.
- For a supercharge jujitsu to the entire situation, let writers know what you are looking for, then wait for them to contact you with proposals. It’s the smart person’s way to superb content, and it’s simple to get going. Just select Article Requests from the main menu, enter the particulars of your request, and wait for the offers to pour in. You can’t beat that for service.
And finally …
I didn’t plan on making a novel out of this post, and neither did I intend to make it a sales pitch for My Blog Guest. My desire is to pass on a little bit of information about a tool I have found to be of immense value to bloggers. I believe in the idea – a place where writers and publishers can meet up and do business – and I admire the no-bull leadership Ann Smarty lends to every project she’s involved with.
Long live guest blogging – the internet couldn’t survive without it – and long live My Blog Guest. Whether you are a writer, a publisher, an MBG member, or not … if you would like a guided tour of the site, just let me know. There are few things I enjoy talking about more.
Join the conversation in the My Blog Guest Google Plus Community: Have fun. Share your wisdom. Meet others who care about guest blogging.