As a parent with a teenager who runs a quick errand with my car and returns 4 hours later, I understand how difficult it is to hand over your beloved “thing” to somebody. There are trust issues. There’s learning how to share.
One of the first lessons we taught our kids as toddlers was how to share their toys. It’s a code we instill from early on. Sharing toy trucks and stuffed bunnies is far easier than an automobile or a blog, however. By the time we’re grown ups, we’ve figured out that we need to work hard for the things we want and it’s not so simple to let someone come in and borrow it.
If you own a blog that has a good following and you wish to leave for a business trip, vacation or another reason, would you consider permitting guest writers to come in and write for you in your absence?
There’s a new service, in Alpha (not Beta?), called Guest-Blogger.com, that hopes to provide a writing stable of sorts for bloggers. Lisa Barone, blogger for Bruce Clay Inc., challenged the theory in Your Blog Is Your Baby, Don’t Leave It With Strangers. She also raised questions, and rightly so, on the value of paying for blog comments.
It may or may not be easy to step into someone else’s blog shoes. On the one hand, if you leave and prepare your readers for guest writers, that consideration may be rewarded by steady traffic while you’re away, especially if the writing is by known bloggers. If those writers are complete unknowns, how will your readers feel, even with the warning?
I wouldn’t do it. I don’t get strangers to feed the cats in my house when I’m away. Why would I let a stranger write in my blog?
Sometimes guest blogging is the perfect solution. When Rae Hoffman let her blog be taken over by friends from her industry, it worked for her. Firstly, her regular readers were more likely to already be familiar with the guest writers. Secondly, she has a raucous blog with colorful language and her guest writers were free to not only emulate her style but take it to new levels if they wanted. The result was shocking, hysterical and my guess one of the most successful weeks, traffic-wise, she had and she was traveling!
The downside of that example is that guest writers who write in a different style to fit into the new blog may risk losing respect or potential business. Search engines save everything and a search on your name by a potential employer or client that displays a side of you that only comes out when you’re dancing with a lampshade on your head may not be the kind of publicity you want.
Aaron Wall wrote about blog inspiration and offered examples in, 11 Unique Content Sources in Saturated Markets. He offers fresh ideas that I hadn’t considered. Those same ideas can be used by guest bloggers that you invite.
When Rand Fishkin, of SEOmoz.org let his fiancé, Geraldine (aka “Mystery Guest”) write in the company’s blog, she immediately garnered herself a following. Her writing style is relaxed, fluid, funny, brutally honest and intelligent. She didn’t barge in as a know-it-all. Rather, she took little steps as if entering a crowded room and politely introduced herself, her opinions, her observations and respectfully tip-toed back out of the room until she was invited back.
Today, whenever she writes, I don’t hesitate to see what she has to say. It makes no difference what her topic is and if it’s off-topic, all the better. She’s too fun to read. Should you find a truly talented guest blogger, you may not want to let them go. She was no stranger plucked from the Internet ocean. They knew who they had and ran with it. You may not have the same luxury with a guest blogger service unless there are samples of their work. By the way, Happy Birthday Rand Fishkin!
Can You Be Replaced?
Some blogs are known for the personality of the blog owner/writer. I’ve never considered inviting anyone to write for this one. It’s not like I don’t have a lot of friends who could do it. Rather, I’m so fiercely independent that I get stuck in that mode and forget to let others “in”.
If I did, I would want to try before I buy. For the Guest-Blogger.com service to work for stubborn folks like me I would need writing examples, bio, blog history and as if that isn’t enough, proof that the guest wouldn’t come in and trash the place.
Customer satisfaction is important for any service. It’s not hard to prove good writing, but trust and integrity are. A picture isn’t enough to prove authenticy, nor is an example of writing style. I’m reminded of a recent post from SiteLogic called Are You Creating a Customer Experience?.
There’s a perfect illustration of attempting to purchase wind chimes online. Sure, pictures can be pretty. But what do they SOUND like? I have a good assortment of chimes at my home, of many types, and still make poor decisions on where best to put them because information on how much stress they can take is never part of the product description. Can they handle rain? Hurricane strength winds? Will a gentle breeze tangle them up?
Can You Control the Discussion?
When you’re not posting in your blog, and nobody else is either, there’s safety in the silence if you moderate your blog comments.
Will a guest blogger have comment moderation access rights? What if they allow language or discussions you would never allow?
Blogs are a form of social media. Some of them have rollicking “discussions” in the comments section. Comments are not only for sale, but resemble the pioneer days of the American Wild West.
You may come home and find your beloved blog has turned into a Saloon. This may or may not be a bad thing, especially if you’ve been bored and want to reinvent yourself.
I’m thinking Calamity Kim in chaps, leather vest with flowing fringe and some nice silver spurs on my boots, yes?