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July 10, 2007

Your Blog Is Your Baby, Don’t Leave It With Strangers

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Bear with me; The Lisa’s mad.

So, you decided to start the New Year by creating a new blog. Your head was overflowing with great blog topics, you were happy about joining the community and you were excited about giving either yourself or your company a more public voice. You created your blog and promised to love and cherish it through the good times and the flame wars, to update it, moderate it and to be an all-around good blogosphere citizen for as long as you both shall live.

But that was six months ago.

Now you’ve either run out of blog topics, you’ve made enemies in your space, you’re on to the next fad, or you’ve decided to spend July hanging out at the beach (and really, who can blame you on that last one?). So what do you do? You decided to phone it in and hire others to do your work for you. What are "ethics", anyway?

I don’t know if I should be sad, upset or offended by all the services popping up lately aimed at helping people become sucky bloggers who insult their audiences, but last night I was very glad I didn’t have a puppy. If I did have one, I may have kicked it. I found myself in a dismal blogging mood yesterday for two annoying reasons: Guest-Blogger and Buy Blog Comments.

The first offender was brought to my attention while I was reading the new Authority Blogger Forum. I came across a post about a new service called Guest-Blogger that is designed to "facilitate introductions among bloggers". Basically, if you’re going out of town or are too busy to blog, you can look up a blogger who writes about your topic and solicit them to pinch hit.

The mere idea of this is completely frustrating to me. No doubt this service includes some veiled way for bloggers to screen candidates before the deal is finalized, but even so, you’re still trusting your blog and your audience to someone you don’t know. Is this how you treat things you care about? The only people I can see benefiting from a service like this are people pushing out spammy Made For AdSense sites and labeling them "blogs". Giving your blog to someone you don’t know is like asking the bum on the street to baby-sit your children. Don’t expect your children don’t look at you the same when you get them back. Try to ignore that crushed looked beaming out of their little eyes.

I understand that people take vacations and people have lives, but if you’re a good blogger and a trusted member in your space, it should not be difficult for you to find someone that you know and trust to lend you a hand with your blogging. If there was ever a community that looked out for one another, it is the blogging community. Just ask Rae Hoffman. People were tripping over themselves offering to blog for her, including yours truly.

The second service that got my blood boiling was Buy Blog Comments. The company lets bloggers do exactly what it sounds like it does – buy blog comments. This could be one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and I can feel my head getting ready to explode just thinking about it.

Isn’t there enough automated blog spam out there without hiring real people to contribute to it? I think so.

And have you read the content on their home page? I don’t know which line was more horrifying – listening to them tout how they specialize in selling blog comments for "blackhatters", watching them promise you better search engine rankings, or this grammatically incorrect gem:

"We dont use people who can’t even speak English. It is important to have well written blog comments so that they will not get deleted by the blogger. All of our trained staff are currently from the USA and Canada and speak English very well."

I don’t want to give the site too much attention, but I think the fact that the 20-year-old founder of the site has a testimonial from himself on the home page speaks wonders.

There’s value in using blogs for link building and search engine optimization purposes, but this is so not the way to go about it. Loren Baker had an excellent post yesterday about SEO & Link Building via Blog Comments. If you don’t know why you should be commenting on other people’s blogs yourself, go read his entry. You’ll learning something.

In the end, by participating in these kinds of spammy services you’re hurting everyone involved – you, your blog, your readers, and the community as a whole. You should care enough about your blog to not leave it with strangers or muddy its reputation through these kinds of programs. And if you don’t respect your blog enough, it’s time to get out of the space. We don’t want you.

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11 responses to “Your Blog Is Your Baby, Don’t Leave It With Strangers”

  1. Nathania Johnson - Guest-Blogger.com writes:

    Wow, Lisa, I’ve been reading you and linking to you (at the SEM ZONE) for months. But I can’t believe your statements about the site – Guest-Blogger.com – that my husband and I started.

    We didn’t design it so that people will get lazy about blogging. I mean, it’s HIGHLY UNLIKELY you’re going to get somebody to just blog for your blog all the time for free.

    There’s a lot of interest in the blogging community in guest blogging. I mean, blogging is about community. So why is guest blogging so offensive? Problogger does it, Wendy Piersall does it, sheesh, the list goes on and on.

    We’re just helping less famous bloggers do it too.

  2. SEO Honolulu writes:

    Well there goes my request for you to guest write my next 3 blog posts….

  3. Lisa writes:

    Nathania — I apologize if you took offense to the post, that obviously was not my intention.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with guest blogging; it’s healthy, both for the blog and the blogger. What I’m not comfortable with is the idea of opening my blog up to someone that I don’t know or have some kind of connection with. A blog is personal and your readers form an attachment to you. To let someone come in that you can’t vouch for me, to me, that’s problematic. The blogosphere is filled with people looking to get noticed. If you’re looking for guest bloggers, ask from within your community, frequent commenters, other bloggers that you have relationships with and who know what you and your blog are about.

    The other issue I have with Guest-Blogger is that I fear less than respectable “bloggers” will ultimately take advantage of it and use it to feed their MFA sites. And when that happens everyone loses.

    Again, my apologies if I came off strongly in my post. I didn’t mean to totally lump you in with the spammy Buy Blog Comments site and that’s probably how it came off.

  4. Lisa writes:

    Matt — I’d guest blog for you any day because i know you and you know me. I know your blog, I know your real name, and I know when I get to Hawaii drinks are on you! We’re blogging buddies.

  5. Kim Krause Berg writes:

    For many of the blog categories listed on the Guest-Blogger site, I can see how it would be easy and fun to do. Where I don’t see it working would be blogs such as this one, and mine, and others where the blog is known for the owner’s personality and writing style.

    Granted, Rae did a fine job cloning herself with her guest bloggers. Subbing for me would be so boring it would make everyone cry, compared to her place. :)

    Another thought is how well Mystery Guest did whenever she popped in at SEOMoz/blog. Her writing style is so incredible that she not only fit right in, but easily took the throne.

  6. Nathania writes:

    I should add that we have started a blog on Guest Blogger (what a concept) to help our users understand the fundamentals of guest blogging. I also revised the copy on the front page to help reflect a better vision of why we started it. (although please note the ALPHA!)
    And yes, people will take advantage of our service, just like they do Digg, StumbleUpon, comments on blogs, etc. But for us, that’s not enough reason not to start the site.

  7. Wendy Piersall writes:

    Well, since Nathania is not only a friend of mine, but a long-term reader of my blog, I feel the need to defend her just a tiny bit. :)

    I think you might be confusing the baby with the bath water. Any respectable blogger is going to read anything before posting it on their site. Any any guest blogger writing for free is going to want to write for a respectable blogger, not some spammy site, what would be in it for the author besides a bad rep?

    I mean, anyone can write for their own spammy site if they really want to go there. ;)

    I see it more like a free temp agency for bloggers – where due diligence is required on both sides for it to work. But when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean the temp agency is the one in the wrong.

    Just my $.02. :)

  8. Iantrepreneur writes:

    there is enough automated spam and now human edited spam – this is just horrible!
    this service by Jon WarASS is going to be the most hated person in the blogsphere

  9. Steven Bradley writes:

    I want to defend Nathania too. I can’t say I know her very well, but from what I do know I have no doubt there is only the best intention with the Guest Blogging service.

    I also think it can be a valuable service. It’s very elitist to think most of us can just alert readers we’re going on vacation and looking for guest bloggers and think they’ll be falling all over themselves. Rae can, but most of us can’t.

    Now I wouldn’t let anyone write for my blog. I do care a lot about it and am very protective of it, but I may not know enough people who I could directly ask to fill in for me. A service like Guest Blogger will help build relationships among bloggers so they can get to know each other.

    I completely agree about paid commenting being a bad idea, though. That’s just spam waiting to happen.

  10. Kathy writes:

    I don’t find anything wrong with guest-blogging as long as:
    1) You identify the guest-blogger
    2) You have editorial control over the post.
    My blog reflects upon me, and I wouldn’t want someone to post something that I don’t agree with. It’s like a newspaper: the editors ultimately decide what gets in.
    Instead of guest-blogging, I future-post. When I have a free moment and an extra post idea, I compose it and set it to show up when I’m on vacation. It’s fun to see what shows up when I’m away. :)

  11. Rebecca Kelley writes:

    Mystery Guest easily took the throne, Kim? Way to hurt Jane’s and my feelings!



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