Risks and Rewards of Handing Over Your Blog
SMX Advanced Seattle is arguably one of the top sources of search engine announcements and cutting-edge tactics. So when Susan was suddenly left to liveblog the conference without a number two as originally planned, she went MacGyver on us. The woman put together an impromptu blogger troop of experienced Internet marketers willing to tax their fingers and attention spans for the cause.
Alan Bleiweiss, Dana Lookadoo, and Gil Reich pumped up the SMX liveblog posts with their personalities, astute observations and comprehensive session coverage. They did this with no guidelines, no training and no compensation (other than my eternal gratitude and a healthy bio on the post).
CC BY 2.0
There’s a lot a blog can gain from close-to-live coverage and from guest authors alike. Our liveblog posts are regularly our top performers in terms of traffic, comments, social sharing and general engagement. We gained a reputation for first-class liveblog coverage early on in the search conference scene, and we’ve maintained that reputation through regularity, reliability, range, and a measure of entertainment. Guest authors, meanwhile, bring their own networks to the blog, which translates to new readers and increased visibility from any promotion they may do. A new voice on the blog also injects freshness and variety, which regular readers must appreciate.
Now, while we’re familiar with both liveblogging and guest authors as their own entities, we’ve never combined the two forces together. When we did, we learned something about mixing high speed, strong opinion, community relationships and lax guidelines. In short, there’s potential for stress anytime you lend your brand to a guest.
Since early days, we’ve always offered our liveblog coverage with a side of sass. Bringing our opinion to the discussion adds entertainment and perspective, differentiating our coverage from other sources. So when Gil’s coverage of So You Want to Test SEO came in with a critical review, we had a decision to make: censor the commentary or leave it as is?
We only have a few rules for the blog, and one of the most important is “don’t attack individuals.” In this case, did we want to cut the comments out? Or should we add a disclaimer such as “views of guest bloggers are not our own”? Beyond style, spelling and grammar, we’ve never edited or disavowed content clearly attributed to others before. We decided we wouldn’t start now.
We want to apologize to John Andrews, one of the session presenters, for what amounted to a personal attack. By no means are we throwing Gil under the bus for this circumstance. We didn’t provide the livebloggers any guidelines, and we should have. We had the opportunity to edit the content before posting it, and we didn’t. We misassessed some comments as opinions of the presentations rather than opinions of the persons. If we had thought it about for a moment longer, we may have recalled that distinction.
We are honored and grateful that these passionate authorities offered their time and services to us and our blog. We asked our guest bloggers to be themselves, and we knew they would bring with them their opinions and their knowledge. It’s been our goal to develop the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog as a community hang-out for discussion and debate — and for learning lessons relevant to both the industry and ourselves. This week our guests helped us grow by leaps and bounds.