Monday, 3 November 2008

Why Jo thinks guest blogging is NOT a good idea (stick that in your pipe and smoke it, ProBlogger)

Here's the thing. I know loads of you do it, or get other people to write guest posts for your own blogs. I can see the advantages: spreading readership, a break from the norm, that little tingle of pride you get when someone else thinks you're a good enough writer to grace their readers with a post. It's the blog equivalent of house-sitting; you are responsible enough to guard someone elses patch and not mess it up or vomit on the carpet. (Funnily enough, guest posts always seem to start with that kind of irritating quip about looking after someone’s blog house while they’re gone. Oh snooooze. And I'm a hypocrite, again)

So I get the reasoning behind it. I really do, and Google lists thousands of reasons why it's a brilliant idea to get more readers, network, get more readers, blah blah, yadda, get more readers, yadda.

But from a reader’s point of view… the concept just doesn’t work for me. “Are you not entertained? Is that not why you are here?” Well...Actually, no. it’s not.

In fact, I can't remember a time when I've clicked onto someone's blog, seen that it's a guest post, and actually read to the end of it. More often than not, the guest blogger is trying so hard to impress that it just comes across as a bit of an effort. “Ooh, hello. I’m So and So from this blog and I’m here to tell you a story about the day I tripped up on the way to the shops. It’s truly hilarious. Promise. I’m doing it as a favour, definitely not to promote myself. So, err, do stop by.”
I think part of the non-appeal is that if I'm reading a blog regularly, it's because I like the writing style or I want to know what happens next in the life story. Take those two elements away, and what’s left? I don't visit the blog because I like the decor, it's because I like the person who writes and what they have to say. If they bugger off on holiday for a week, good times for them! Tell us about it when you get back, we’ll still be here! (I’ll just have to do a bit more work in the meantime)

Yes, there is the potential for a guest poster to be this amazingly funny, witty person who will make me cry with laughter and send me running to their blog to read forever more...but how often does this actually happen? Isn't it usually the case that your regular readers will click on, read a few sentences, realise it's not you then click off again? Or is that just me?

On the flip side, if someone whose blog I read regularly does a guest post somewhere else, I'll click over to see what they're writing…but even then they never seem to write with the same sort of spontaneous manner that attracted me to their blog in the first place. Occasionally there’ll be a gem, but usually the post always seems a bit contrived as if they've racked their brains for a story to write about.

Anyway, I'm interested in the whole thing. If you do it, is there a pressure to write something special, or do you just churn out any old hat? Do you often find interesting blogs from guest posts, or do you not really pay attention to them? What’s the motive if you get people to blog on your behalf while you’re away, be honest. For the good of the blogging community, or to keep numbers up?

20 comments:

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh yes, I am with you on this one. Guest blogging is not good at all. Like you, I read because I like the way a person writes and if someone else comes over and writes instead, chances are it won't appeal.

The other thing I don't like is when people go on holiday and scheduled posts pop up in their absence. I like to think that what i read is up-to-date and spontaneous and not something someone prepared earlier. I always ignore scheduled posts too. I think if someone goes on holiday they should let their readers have a holiday too!

I do have someone to blog-sit for me when I go away - but they don't write anything, they just keep an eye on my comment box for me incase there is any trouble. They have the power to delete comments or switch my blog to private if needs be.

I have written guest posts a few times and I found it really difficult because I wasn't too sure of the readership and felt I ought to make the effort to fit in with the style of the blog. I did two a while back but would not ever do it again.

Mouldy-Old-Tartlet said...

I didnt even know that this phenomenon existed! Sounds slightly odd to me ...

Anonymous said...

I am taking over a photo blog, as the owner is moving away, and the very next month after their departure I am moving to that topic city. Although there is generally only a quick 1-5 sentences along with the photos, I still feel like It's an almost bad idea. Timing is perfect, I would be taking a photo and posting it on another blog anyway...But personally, when he first mentioned he was leaving and wanted someone to keep it going, I thought, "shit. Now some psuedointellectual phoney arse is going to take over, take crummy photos and try to say something clever that digs at our nerves because no one will ever be ______". I am sure everyone else is thinking the same. One person had replied and said they were happy that it would continue because they enjoy seeing photos of the city for sentimentality. But I feel like I am becoming what I (and most of us) hate. A guest-blogger. 99.9% of the time they are just an annoyance, and there to make you miss the real blogger while they are away. So surely taking over a blog permanently is much worse?. I don't know.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I’m with you. For me, guest blogs always reek of trying too hard. There’s a whole community of people who support this peculiar practice. More power to them.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Reluctant - I'm middle of the road on the scheduled posts. Sometimes I schedule mine for later that day, and once I did when I was on holiday just for the novelty value... but generally, I agree with the not liking pre-prepared posts thing. At least they're written by the blog author though. I like to read about stuff that's current, something that has some sort of tie to that day or week of the reader's life. There has to be some sort of narrative to keep you interested in my book. Guest posting negates that completely.

m.o.t - It is an odd practice. I think I'd feel a bit uncomfortable with someone else taking over my blog for the day.

anon - That's a difficult one. See, with that you'd have a chance to make it your own and people would gradually get used to it. There might be a backlash to begin with and there might be a drop in readers, but ultimately a good photo is a good photo, and you'd already have a solid base of readers to start with. As long as you give it your own style - it's just what people get used to. I don't like guest posts because they're one offs and they all seem the same no matter what they're writing about. So I choose not to read them. The photobloggers have the same choice. Maybe do a vote?

unbearable - Yeah that's the thing, there's just something I can't put my finger on about the way people write when they've been asked to do it - it just seems strange. An unnatural way of writing. It doesn't inspire me to read their blogs.

Interesting opinions so far...

rosiewishes. said...

I would never even contemplate letting anyone anywhere near my blog! But that's mainly because it's my blog and I write it mainly for me, my enjoyment, and my memory keeping.

I could understand guest blogging if it was more of a factual blog... but not a personal one.

And I, like you, read blogs for the writing style or because I want to know what's going to happen next! ...not because it's just there.

Clarissa said...

I've never considered having anyone guest blog my blog. I figure it's old enough to take care of itself.

I've only ever fully read one guest blog. Fat Jim on Mr. Angry's sight. And the shame of it is that Fat Jim doesn't even have a blog of his own that he was shamelessly promoting. So I got completely hooked on this guy Fat Jim, only to learn I could get no more.

Hannah said...

Oooooooh, no. I don't like that idea at all. As you say, a personal blog is just that. Not a freeferall.

blueskies2day said...

Did you just quote Gladiator in a post about Guest Blogging? Hehe... "Are you not entertained?"

I disagree with Reluctant Blogger regarding the scheduled posts though: the only time I've ever encountered them was when you (Jo) went on holiday. I wasn't expecting a post, but when one appeared I felt really warm and fuzzy, like you do when someone's made you a present instead of buying one.

Regarding Guest Blogging, I don't like it for all the same reasons everyone else said. And one more: a "Guest Blogger" implies that you're like a "celebrity guest" on a blog. For me, that goes against what blogging means. I don't write a blog to be famous or promote myself, and I tend not to be very impressed with those who do that themselves. Guest Blogging seems pretentious and a bit arrogant.

It's things like Guest Blogging that make me want to delete my blog and go and find another, more old fashioned way of expressing my thoughts.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

rosie - Nail on head...No one forces us to read blogs, we do it for our own enjoyment, hence having a select number of blogs in a feed reader that we might read every day. Sure every once in a while you might want to add some more to the list, but generally you read what you like reading, not what's forced upon you. I understand the factual blogging side too, that would work with guest blogs. Particuarly if it was a good guest. Like Jade Goody on why you shouldn't call a beauty salon "Uglies".

Clarissa - I agree with the Fat Jim guest posts! They were funny. Almost part of the charm was that he didn't have a blog to promote. It was just someones mate taking over for a week or so. Who's up for Miss Pink doing a guest slot? (NOT)

Hannah - There'll be no freeferalls around here, I tell thee!

blueskies - I maaaaay have quoted a little bit from Gladiator...slightly, maybe, a smidge. Ahh, I'm glad that my scheduled posts make you warm and fuzzy like a big marshmallow off the fire! All unexpected like a sneaky fart. And yes, I totally agree with the arrogance aspect of it. Even the way people introduce themselves along with their blog, or try and slip their link in somewhere inconspicuous...it makes me cringe a bit in that way. Just get on with the post fa gods saaake!

jo said...

i think i'm bout as open bout letting someone write a guest post in my blog as i am bout letting someone stay over at my house. and i have to say... i'm quite a commitment phobe who likes her personal space. haha!

but that said, i think that guest blogging could be interesting if it were someone from your "real" life blogging bout your "real" life adventures together. it gives a different perspective to possibly the same story being told. i might consider that except that i would be mortified if any of my "real" life friends knew bout my blog. so there you go... back to what i said bout being a girl who likes her own personal space haha!

Miss Em said...

I totally agree with you. Guest bloggers suck arse. I've had two on mine, (they weren't even proper bloggers, just friends of mine who 'wanted a go'). I don't read to the end of them on other people's blogs, so why should you on mine. I also have the same policy with memes. I hates them. Don't do them when I'm tagged, don't read them. I don't care whether you prefer vanilla or chocolate, or what books you've read.

Elaine said...

The only time I've ever written on someone elses blog was when a blogfriend of mine was in hospital having a mastectomy, and all her friends wanted to know how she was doing, so I updated her blog for a few days.

If it's constructive - and for a reason - then I think it's a good thing. Otherwise, it's pointless.

Rol said...

I do find myself agreeing with you, which makes me a hypocrite too, as I've done a few guest blogs in my time too. The first couple of times it was an interesting experience but I did end up depressed by the idea that here I was screaming "love me, love me!" at someone else's party, and getting roundly ignored for the privilege. But that's not to say I wouldn't do it again, if asked...

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

jo - That's the only angle I can see that might be of interest, like getting a boyfriend to tell the other side of a break up story, or a friend like Miss Pink who I rant about on here to do a post. But then like you said, that would mean exposing the blog to people who might not know about it. I like this being my own space.

miss em - Yeah I'm the same with memes. It's always nice that people think to tag you in them, and people (including myself) love to share information about themselves, but I always get tagged then realise that actually, I'd just be writing a load of gumpf that no one really ends up reading.

elaine - That's a nice thing to do. I agree in that respect - taking over someone elses blog for 'the greater good' as it were makes sense. If people are concerned about someone else but that person can't get to a computer, it makes perfect sense to nominate someone to do updates. Again, it works because it fits with the person's life. It's still interesting. If you'd taken over and posted about your trip to the shops that day, it would be a different matter!

Rol - I've never been asked to do one and I imagine it must be quite a nice feeling when someone does ask you. Interesting you say about getting 'ignored for the privilege' because I always notice that even on the most popular blogs, if there's a guest post the comments drop to much much less, sometimes nothing. Surely this is a sign that you're losing readers, not gaining them?

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who enlists the help of guest bloggers on their own blog - what's in it for you, or, given the responses so far...us?

weenie said...

Meh, I don't tend to read guest posts - sometimes find it hard enough to update my own blog never mind someone else's! I may have tried the odd scheduled posts and do have pending posts that aren't ready to publish just yet. My blog is too anonymous to have someone blog-sit it whilst I'm away!

weenie said...

Ok I meant to say that I wouldn't guest post either - not awake, too little sleep sorry!

Agent Elle said...

Everyone seems to be guest blogging at the moment (is this some kind of new trend?) I'm torn on this one - I like the idea, providing that the guest blogger and/or post is relevant. If it's random, what exactly is the point?

surviving myself said...

So...

Will you do a guest post for me?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Only if I can write a guest post about how much I really bloody hate guest posts. And link to an animal porn site instead of my blog to teach people a lesson.

 

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