I am getting this request more and more often - to the tune of multiple emails a week at this point. It usually starts friendly enough - friendly enough to that I know the sender isn’t a robot, they’ve very clearly looked at some of my pages. But then the pitch starts: “I’d like to contribute to your website an article on X” or “I’d be delighted to contribute to your website on this topic.” Usually promising to do so for free.
So I want to be very clear about my position on guest articles:
I am NOT interested in guest articles. Not for paid. Not for free. No matter what the topic. I am not interested in any article not written 100% by me. Not now. Not ever.
First, I am on my third decade doing web development. I cut my teeth during the first dot-com boom. I’ve been around, I’ve seen some things. In all that time there is one inescapable lesson I have learned: nothing is free. Everything has a cost, even if that cost is not immediately apparent to an untrained reader. A guest post may be “free” to me, but somebody is paying you to write it, and they are expecting a return on that payment. That means anything you write “for me” will be, at best, a weak attempt at steering SEO to your site. At worst, it will be a straight up advertisement and riddled with affiliate marketing links.
If you are writing for me “for free” then I am not your customer. I am, at best, just another marketing funnel for you to fill.
Second, while this is not my first blog - I was a heavy LiveJournal user during college - it is by a fair bit my longest running one. I’ve been posting here for more than 15 years now. And with that amount of time, and with the number of articles that have been linked to various places like Reddit and Stack Overflow, it doubtless has a lot of SEO juice for some very specific keywords. And that make it an inviting target for people looking to take advantage of that.
I get what’s going on here: this is content marketing. Google’s algorithm changes over the last few years have started preferring “organic, human content” and you’re hoping I’ll place your content on my site so that Google will index it faster, increasing clicks to your client and, ultimately, sales for them and probably a commission for you. Sorry, but I am not going to “help” you with that, especially because not a single person who has written me so far has been honest enough to tell me that this is what they are trying to do.
And if you are not going to be honest with me about your motives for wanting to send me a “guest article,” why should I trust anything that article says?
Like I said, I’ve been around this long enough to easily pick out attempts to game search engine results (which is what most “SEO” is). I do very little “SEO” on this site beyond what is necessary to make the content relevant to actual human beings; it’s just incidental that doing so also makes Google happy. I have been on both sides of this, and I am choosing to opt out of this game. Sorry, I know that sucks for you, but you will have to find somewhere else to try to game Google. I am not going to help you with that.
If I do it even once, I will do it again and again. And before long this is just another SEO mill full of low-quality mass-produced crap articles that are completely useless to a regular human being. I refuse to allow that to happen, and I refuse to cede control of my site to others, to use 15+ years of built-up goodwill, as just another marketing funnel to sell SaaS subscriptions or trash products. I refuse to compromise my morals.
This is my blog and my very own personal expression of the IndieWeb movement. There are no ads here, and no affiliate marketing. I don’t track people. I am not even selling things so I could not possibly care less about “lost sales.” The closest I get is asking for donations if people enjoy the content. I know this may seem weird, but not everyone and everything on the Internet is about making money. I write because it’s fun and everything posted here is 100% my words. It has been that way since 2007, and it will continue to be that way as long as I am able to write.
So consider this post a digital no soliciting sign. To reiterate, I am not interested in guest articles. No, seriously, yours is not the exception.
For the Non-Marketing People
This is a personal blog, and I absolutely get multiple emails a week from people wanting to put content on it solely because it’s been around for ages. It’s a nearly 20 year old domain and nearly 15 years of unique, continuous content. I am saying no to these “offers,” but I guessing that a lot of people don’t.
So if you come across a blog post elsewhere that seems out of place, of poor quality, or overly-eager to get you to use some product or service, you are looking at content marketing.