Guest Posting: When Your Favorite Blogger Pulls Back

Today is Day Six of our Guest Posting Series. Day One through Five covered:

Landing a Guest Post Gig
Stacking the Odds in Your Favor
Throwing Away Your Chances of Success
Feedback Red Flags to Watch Out For
Finding Motivation for Guest Posting

Now we’ll discuss transitioning into guest posting – and how to avoid being a greedy content consumer. That couldn’t be you… right?

We bloggers are real people beneath the gleam and gloss of fame. We eat, we sleep, we go to the bathroom, we get discouraged, we get tired. If we had “real” jobs (and I say that with sarcasm), we could even take a vacation for a recharge-the-batteries holiday.

Well, not bloggers.

Readers bask in the creative content or the stunning personality of their Beloved Blogger, and they take no prisoners. They appear to be understanding, but they love with a steel hand.

“A small break? Oh, certainly. Take a weekend. Maybe a week or two, even – if you really need to. But you will come back. Or I will leave you.”

It’s a problem.

Some blogs begin as single-writer affairs. The writer develops a readership, a community and a following. People fall in love a little and idolize their favorites. Come on, admit it. You know you do. We all do.

And it’s all good. Putting a blogger on a pedestal is fun for everyone. The blogger gets continual adoration, praise and makes plenty of friends. It’s the big times. The readers converse, talk and get chummy with their favorite celebrity. Blogging allows that personal connection.

There’s a problem with that, though, and it’s one that many bloggers start to realize after they achieve popularity. Two hands. One brain. And usually, some other projects that actually bring in money besides blogging.

Bloggers can’t shut down, but they can’t continue to maintain the pace they have. They’re stuck.

So Beloved Blogger takes on a guest poster. Maybe that poster becomes a regular. The workload eases, the blog is nicely populated, and projects set aside come back to life. It’s peace at last.

As it should be.

Most blogs serve a purpose, and that purpose is usually money. Blogs are built to sell, are monetized heavily or they become gateway blogs to attract clients. It makes no sense that a blogger be chained to the responsibility of free content when he or she needs income as well.

Bloggers are like anyone else, though. They want to grow their business and achieve more. They want to expand and offer new projects to readers.

But they can’t. They have to blog. So sometimes, they turn to guest posting. A weekly post here, a regular there… maybe they even take on a blogging partner or two.

Readers are cruel. They unsubscribe when they miss their Beloved Blogger. The rumbles ripple through the blogosphere and discontent grows. People complain. They tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on…

Readers aren’t very forgiving with a Beloved that replaces content with guest posters. Fickle people, you.

How to Avoid the Gilded Cage

If you’re a blogger, be careful with your branding. When you brand yourself personally instead of branding your business, you jam yourself in a cage. If you grow and achieve success, you’re screwed. Your readers aren’t going to accept change easily and you will have a rough time of it.

Multi-author blogs are a good answer to blogger burnout. Having more than one poster helps maintain consistent quality – and make sure it’s the same quality you provided, or better.

Another option is a regular guest poster, someone who consistently returns on a specific day or two per week. This person has to be one whom readers can develop a relationship with and whom they can get to know.

Find someone who can offer great work and on a regular basis. Make sure the person is someone that both you and your readers enjoy. Begin slowly, warn your readers and introduce the new blogger.

Listen to feedback, too. You can’t please everyone all the time, but if most of the crowd aren’t happy, find out why – and do something about it.

How to Be a Kind Reader

If you’re a reader of a blog undergoing transition from personal to business branding or moving from single to multi-author format, be understanding.

Don’t play into that selfish, spoiled brat behavior, demanding stellar quality and frequent appearances from your Beloved. If you do, you’ll become just another greedy content consumer, uncaring about the person behind the writing. You’re just waiting for the machine to churn out more.

Support Transition

Speak up. If you don’t like specific guest posters, say so. Be specific. Some people do speak up, but most don’t. Send a private email. If your Beloved Blogger doesn’t know what you don’t like, how can change occur?

Be respectful. This isn’t your blog. Blog owners can and should be allowed to take decisions for themselves and their best interest. Blogging should never be a job unless someone is paying you for it.

Be open-minded. Are you complaining just because you’re pissy that your Beloved isn’t around as often as before? Have you truly given the guest posters a fair shot to see if they offer true value? Most do. They’re just written in a style and tone that is unfamiliar to you – for now.

Ask questions. The guest poster is there to answer your thoughts. Speak up and discuss. Build a relationship. You may find that you like the person after all. You just didn’t give him or her a chance.

Know the glamour and the garbage. Does our life here at Men with Pens look shiny and easy? We’ll be the first to say that what we do isn’t easy at all. The work is hard and wearing. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before saying the person shouldn’t make changes.

Some of you may think that I’m speaking of one particular blog. I’m not. I’ve seen many blogs move from single writer to multiple authors in the past six months. I’ve seen many of my friends burn out and walk away. It’s a struggle sometimes, as seasoned bloggers juggle their business, their blog and their life.

I support each of these bloggers as they try to reestablish balance. After all, if Beloved is tired, there ain’t no lovin’ goin’ on at all, now is there?

Speaking of business, blog and life, we’re not quite done with this series on guest posting. Stay tuned for next week, where we answer your questions on guest blogging (drop them today in the comment section!) and discuss our stance on guest blogging – amongst other good things.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Good post, James. I’ve noticed that many of these transitions fail or succeed based on the quality of new content; some people just aren’t very good gatekeepers for trash. And then I’ve seen instances where the blog fell apart because the audience revolted for no good reason like you’ve discussed.

    There are bloggers out there who think strategically, but not nearly enough of them. These transitions would be smoother if they did.

    Joel Falconer’s last blog post..How to Double Your Income with the Art of Delegation

  2. Thanks for that article, James. On my blog at GoodlifeZen.com I’m still managing write all posts myself – but I’m beginning to dream of guest posts.

    Leo Babauta has recently made me Chief Editor of WritetoDone.com and I’m suddenly faced with the opposite problem – finding a steady flow of good quality guest posts, as well as some by Leo and myself. I’m still looking for some guest posters, especially in the fiction area.

    I’ve found a great compromise between writing an original post and accepting a guest post: interviews! I’m just doing one for WritetoDone with Liz Strauss. She’s an outstanding blogger! And her Ebook is the best book on blogging I’ve read so far.

    Liz suggested developing the interview one question at a time so that it reads as if we’re sitting on the beach, talking about writing and her passionate relationship with readers. I’ve also done one with Darren Rowse of Problogger and Steve Pavlina (for GoodlifeZen). Creating a lively interview is a real artform and I’m keen to develop it.

    I’m just developing a list of resources for writers. Men with Pens will definitely figure!

    Mary@WritetoDone’s last blog post..The Secret of Writing Funny

  3. @ Mary – Heh, I was reading and just about to say, “Hey?! What about u- Oh, good girl.” ;)

    Finding good guest posters that are interested, reliable, dedicated and well able to handle a pen is certainly no easy task. I hear you!

    @ Joel – Definitely. That’s one of the “do this” points I mentioned in an earlier post of this series.

    But I will say this – complainers are generally pretty sneaky. They’ll complain elsewhere or to friends.

    They won’t face a person and say, “Hey. I get what you want to do and that’s great, but it’d be even better if you chose XYZ instead.” Or, why not offer up your own services? “I noticed ABC isn’t doing so well… want some help with that?” Or offer a new solution. “I noticed the community isn’t too happy… how about you try QRS?”

    Don’t you think that would be best?

  4. These are important points. It seems that blogging brings with it certain expectations that you don’t find in other types of publishing. Maybe bloggers need to band together earlier in the process to create mutli-authored brands that gain a following while avoiding these kinds of problems, as much as that’s possible.

    Bill K.’s last blog post..Matters of mind

  5. Great last sentence.

    Pacing and renewal of the well. HUGE consideration.

    One of my favorite series here, guys.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Seashells or Dalmations?

  6. “If you’re a blogger, be careful with your branding. When you brand yourself personally instead of branding your business, you jam yourself in a cage.”
    from this post

    and

    “A huge mistake many people make with their online business is that they build themselves a job; they don’t build a business.”
    from your ‘Four Areas to Think of When Building an Online Business’ post

    are both very good pieces of advice. There’s no reason to place the emphasis on yourself when it’s the business you’re trying to grow. You want your customers to think of both the name of the business and the people when it comes to your product .

  7. My dad runs a successful flower shop with a thirty year history. It is successful because he goes to the flower market personally and hand selects all the flowers himself. In thirty years the only other person who has ever done this job is me. Now he’s in a situation where he can’t do anything else. He’s never believed that anyone else can do what he can, so he’s built himself a cage. Or as I told said, “Pop, you’ve made yourself a pair of concrete boots.

    Writer Dad’s last blog post..I’m in My Thirties, Why Am I on Restriction?

  8. Interesting article. As to taking time off for a holiday or whatever, I think if your readers know you won’t be around for a certain amount of time, most of them will be understanding. I’ve seen a decrease in readers when I’ve stopped updating, but the numbers have usually returned to normal when I resume. As you say, you can’t please everyone so there’s no point really trying to in the first place.

    John Lampard’s last blog post..Web Directions Jobs – a new web job board

  9. I can tell you there’s more than one major blog I’ve stopped reading because of all the guest posters.

    Nothing against guest posters. Love ‘em.

    But these particular blogs didn’t do a good job of filtering out crap articles. They went from “every-post’s-a-winner” to “they let ANYBODY post here!”

    *sigh*

    At least they have good Archives :-)

    Dave Navarro’s last blog post..Too Busy to Fit Something Else In? Bull. Read This.

  10. There ought to be a name for this, not exit strategy, not frequency of post, but something else that is this “necessary down time” … hm. Balance is bandied about, but it is actually more of a policy and intention thing to create that balance. Guest posting, interviews, strategies to maintain quality, extend the quality to other locations and yet still keep the center intact and populate the content. IS there an umbrella term ?

    The no one can pick the flowers but me is REALLY a great visual story. Thanks for that.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Time To Just Paint

  11. Content population strategy, maybe?

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Time To Just Paint

  12. Honestly, there are only two reasons I’ve ever unsubbed from a blog.

    1. The quality of the content changed and no longer provided whatever it was that caused me to subscribe in the first place.
    2. I changed, and the content no longer provided whatever it was that caused me to subscribe in the first place.

    I do think that sometimes you outgrow a blog.

    KatFrench’s last blog post..Would you rather be Scarlet O?Hara, or Melanie Wilkes?

  13. Graham Strong says:

    I know that the common notion is that you need to post to your blog every day to build a community. Perhaps this is a great forum to open that question up. If James and Harry posted four times a week instead of seven, how many of us would unsubscribe?

    Seems to me that reducing frequency might avoid blogging burnout, and maintain the quality of posts.

    (Okay, maybe MWP is a bad example — they could post 14 times a week and still keep the quality up…)

    ~Graham

    Graham Strong’s last blog post..One Dime Is All It Cost: How to Keep Your Content Current (And Why You Should…)

  14. Haha. . . I’ve seen many tips on how to be a good blogger but this is the first time I read about how to be a good blog-reader!

    I know burning out is a big issue among bloggers, and entrepreneurs in general. First step is to set it up right. Can you really keep on posting every day? I’ve chosen to post just two to three times a week from the beginning so that my readers know the pace. Same with guest posting, I think. Start incorporating it into the picture early on.

    On the other hand, I have some blogs on my feed reader that I’ve been keeping despite the fact they haven’t been posting for weeks. Sometime they come back. In any way, I LOVE them, so I wait patiently.

    Akemi – Yes to Me’s last blog post..Five Signs Of A Small Blog That Is Ready To Grow

  15. What I’d like to know is, do you have any questions for me James? (sorry, I just read your last Copyblogger article and it seemed appropriate)

    Tim Brownson brought up a good point on Catherine’s blog. He said when he submits an article for guest posting on another website:

    I always stipulate that I retain the rights to the material for use in Ebooks, any offline use or use on my site if the other blog closes down.

    Do you do anything like this?

    John Hoff’s last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 9 – Becoming A Problem Solver For Sellers And Showing Them You’re Here To Help

  16. Ideally, guest posts should enhance a blog, not diminish it. The blog owner simply has to figure out a formula to make that happen.

    Furthermore, it seems everyone has guest posts. Since that is the case, guest posts in of themselves are not going to chase people away. It’s simply in how often they are done, and how well the material fits in with the overall vibe of the blog that determines the response.

    Bamboo Forest’s last blog post..11 Requirements to be a Mad Scientist

  17. Friday finally came around , and honestly, it was worth the wait and the suspense. As implied by you, a lot of my doubts have been cleared. Thank you.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Custom T-shirts

  18. @ Janice – I like “content population strategy” because it implies the involvement of people. You’re not just good with paints, but words too!

    @James – I get feeling like wanting to pull back every summer. I think it has to do with over 20 years of summer-downtime…

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..Looking for a Lab-Rat

  19. @ Alex – I hear teachers take the summer off. I have yet to hear that bloggers get the same rights ;)

    @ Nicole – You’re very welcome… sneaky woman. ;)

    @ Bamboo – Well, not everyone. In all the time we’ve been around, we have posted… uh, is it three guest posts? Or two? That’s it.

    @ John – Wow. No. I’m so against that idea that it isn’t funny. When you give a guest post, you GIVE it. You get credit, but cripes, keeping it to run around and republish all over just waters down the value of the gift that you gave to someone else. That appears a very selfish thing to do when you’re trying to already promote yourself by leveraging someone else. “Here, allow me to use you. Oh, and use you again. And again. And again…”

    @ Akemi – :) Yes, there is such a thing as a good reader. I’m glad you enjoyed!

    @ Graham – You flatter me. Will you be my new friend?

    @ Kat – Good point, I like that very much.

    @ Janice – Isn’t that just a fancy word for, “How do I fill up my blog and stay sane?”

    @ Dave – I hear you there. I think some people get caught up in the idea that they can outsource all their work and forget quality counts.

    @ John – We took a break for a full two weeks. Nothing bad happened :) But I’ll admit, we were nervous as hell about doing so… two weeks on the Internet is a looong time.

    @ Writer Dad – Exactly. That was the perfect story. Thank you.

    @ Mark – What Dad said.

    @ Michael – Heh, you’re welcome! I had a fun time writing this one, too.

    @ Bill – Unfortunately, multi-author blogging brings its own share of drawbacks and isn’t necessarily easy either. Harry and I are extremely lucky to have such a good relationship that we can pull it off easily.

  20. @James,

    Best statement I’ve seen all week anywhere:

    “It makes no sense that a blogger be chained to the responsibility of free content when he or she needs income as well.”

    I might frame that or do something grand with that one. I love it.

    When a blogger is doing his or her monthly budget and financial plan, the issue of what is really bringing in the money arises once again.

    Everything must be truly examined for real payoff–because some things pay the bills and some things don’t. Reality can never be escaped for too long.

    @Graham,

    Good question and suggestion:

    “If James and Harry posted four times a week instead of seven, how many of us would unsubscribe?

    Seems to me that reducing frequency might avoid blogging burnout, and maintain the quality of posts.”

    Some people can post every day and not be burned out (like James apparently) but many can’t.

    I think three quality posts a week is plenty. If the posts are good, then that gives each post two or three days to really garner comments and get the discussion flowing.

    A new post every day can be overwhelming not just for the blogger, but often for the reader as well. Some people only check their feeds a few times a week; those unread posts can build up fast.

    Jesse Hines’s last blog post..Business Blogging Expert Says Grammar Still Matters

  21. @ James – yes I can imagine that having multiple authors gets into some complications, unless you run it like a real magazine. I see big blogs like Treehugger and io9 just crank out the content and I couldn’t even tell you who writes for them, but people definitely read them.

    @ Graham – I would certainly continue subscribing to MwP if it slowed to four posts a week. I think the only time I would unsubscribe from a blog for not posting enough would be if the blogger clearly had run out of steam. Less frequent posts can actually be a selling point for a well written blog, imo, similar to what Jesse says above.

    Bill K.’s last blog post..Matters of mind

  22. @ James: Point taken. You have basically no guest posts on your blog. And you blog 5 days a week. Make it 6.

    I am convinced that you eat your Wheaties EVERY morning.

    Bamboo Forest’s last blog post..11 Requirements to be a Mad Scientist

  23. @ Bamboo – Coffee. In industrial quantities.

  24. All I know is that people are starting to like James, Sonia and Jon more than me at Copyblogger.

    Evil escape plan is working. ;-)

    Brian Clark’s last blog post..I Don’t Care About You

  25. @ Brian – You’re quite mistaken. It’s a takeover plan, my friend. Obviously our subterfuge works better than your escape plan ;)

  26. Oh James… such a silly boy. You three have been scheming right according to plan. :)

    Brian Clark’s last blog post..I Don’t Care About You

  27. Urban Panther says:

    Je suis si confus! . .and pas simplement parce que c’est vendredi francophone. Invitons-nous des personnes au blog d’invité, ou pas? Nous allions accueillir un poteau mensuel d’invité comme un ‘bonus feature’. Bonne idée? Mauvaise idée? Sigh.

    Pas pire, eh?

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..So, you want to online date

  28. @ Brian – Considering what Comment Luv is picking up for that comment… too funny. Uh huh. I’m onto you now, buddy.

    @ Panther – Mensuel? Ouais, ça d’l’allure (en bon Québecois). Je vous dirai d’établir un sujet qui ne change jamais pour cette “bonus feature” pour garder la continuité de mois en mois. Mais aussi, souviens toi qu’un mois, c’est long en crisse dans un monde virtuelle. Bi-mensuel, peux-être?

    For those who have no idea what’s just been said, Urban Panther is practicing Francophone Fridays to learn the language, and I’m pleased to help her out. Plus, we’re just nice guys like that. (I have trouble with Russian, still. Please don’t use Russian.)

    She asked if guest posting was a good idea at all, considering this post, as she and Lion were thinking of a once-a-month guest post feature for their blog.

    I replied that it’s a good idea, though I’d suggest establishing a subject or focus for that feature to keep consistency from month to month. Also, I mentioned that bi-monthly might be best.

    Cheers!

  29. @ James- yes, but I needed a word/s to fit on the “map”.

    @ Alex-thank you very much. Not anything like these guys are though.

    @ Brian- Women’s underpants. That was funny. And way to stand up for your crew. Props.

    @Kat- you reminded me to unsub to several space holders in my subscriptions thanks.

    @ Graham- just hi. coming to see you.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Time To Just Paint

  30. @ James – I see your point (about not putting in stipulations about you being able to republish content you submit for a guest post). I see Tim’s also. Traditional way of thinking would say if you write it, you own it so put a clause about that.

    But all these damn blogging rules break traditional thinking! LOL

    John Hoff’s last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 9 – Becoming A Problem Solver For Sellers And Showing Them You’re Here To Help

  31. My favorite part:

    “If you’re a reader of a blog undergoing transition from personal to business branding or moving from single to multi-author format, be understanding.”

    So very true. Great article! Barbara

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach’s last blog post..Join ME on Facebook! (plus 119+ Must See Facebook Resources including Marketing, Education, Security, Apps and more!)

  32. Sneaky? Who me?

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Custom T-shirts

  33. Brian: Two words.

    Bob Hoffman.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: This One’s for the Boys

  34. Hey James:

    Question—(possibly a future thought) . . .

    How would you reach out, if you have a blog, to
    find a good guest writer?

    Someone who could either fill the gap during breaks, or
    join in to putt along with the writing.

    BTW: great series.

  35. @ Mike – Thanks! We have three more posts in the series (M, T, W) – The first is some common FAQs guest posters have, the second covers what to-dos to do when you guest post and the last post discusses the flip side – what to look for in a good guest poster.

    As for reaching out to find a good poster when you have a blog, I’ll point you back to post number one: Just ask.

    That said, know who you’re asking and why you’re asking that specific person. A good rule of thumb is to observe the person for some time to know how he or she handles himself on the home blog. Most likely, that person will offer the same quality on yours.

    (Good to have you stop by!)

Trackbacks

  1. Blogging Au Naturel | A Few Strong Words... says:

    [...] On Monday, James at Men with Pens announced that they are Cutting Back Posting Frequency to help avoid reader burnout. I believe that the first seeds of this notion came about a couple of weeks ago during their great series on guest blogging, when James touched upon blogger burnout. [...]

  2. [...] this. Just a few days ago I read an interesting article by James Chartrand, called Guest Posting: When Your Favorite Blogger Pulls Back. He shines a light on the downside of having a passionate relationship with readers. The love that [...]

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