Handing Over the Keys To Your Blog

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.

Inspiration

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?

14 thoughts on “Handing Over the Keys To Your Blog

  1. I tend to agree with you; maybe it’s just ego, but I’d have trouble handing over the “keys”. Of course, unlike a child or a puppy, you can leave a blog alone for a week or two and it will generally be ok. I’ve even noticed that sometimes, when I disappear for a week or two and then come back, my readership bumps up. I’m not sure if that’s an example of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or if my readers prefer it when I keep my mouth shut ;)

  2. Hi, this is Nathania from Guest Blogger.

    If you’re going to have a guest blogger, I recommend approving posts before they’re published. You can get all the submissions before you go on vacation and then future-post them (at least if you have WordPress).

    Host bloggers should introduce guest bloggers to their audience so there won’t be any confusion. And definitely check people out.

    But don’t forget the advantages – your guest blogger’s readers will come to your blog and you could have a whole new audience! This is a huge value to your blog!

    Every blogger has to choose for themselves obviously. But Guest Blogger helps bloggers find people who are open to the idea. Could be a time-saver.

  3. ‘I’m thinking Calamity Kim in chaps, leather vest with flowing fringe and some nice silver spurs on my boots, yes?’

    Another download for my iFantasy.
    Or do I need to put out for an iFetish?

    I note that calamity-kim.com is available…

    There are four routes to take time off from frequent blogging:
    1. don’t. Blog while on vacation. This is the silly choice. If you follow this choice you deserve to crash and burn.

    2. silence. It will still be there when you get back. Whenever. This is the flip-of-the-coin; will your audience remain loyal or go hang with Jakob? Of course you likely look better in a bikini. Or chaps, vest, and spurs. We may be fickle but we are also shallow :)

    3. guest bloggarts. This can work well. It also can destroy all that you have built. The more esoteric and more sub the niche the less likely just anyone can step in for the owner. The expertise just would not be there.
    A reciprocal agreement among ones peers is best. I recommend having a guest bloggart regularly (and returning the favour for them) so that your audience is pre-comfortable with them (and theirs with you). Your (and they) get exposure to a wider audience and taking time off becomes much easier.

    4. cushion. Create a cushion of articles that can be auto-loaded. If you do an extra evergreen article each week you can run away from/with the family for several weeks every 6-months. Evergreen does not ‘need’ commentary so turn off that problem. Or whitelist a select few to retain comment privileges.

    Is supplying guest bloggarts (or guest commentarians) a viable business model? Perhaps. Is it a viable ROI for solo-expert run blogs? Doubtful.

  4. ‘Not anymore.’

    So vanessafoxnude.com now has competition?

    ‘Vanessa Fox. Nude.
    what, you were expecting pictures?’

    vs:

    ‘Calamity Kim in chaps, leather vest with flowing fringe and some nice silver spurs on my boots, yes?’

    When intelligent, capable, attractive, professional women just wanna have fun…
    And yes we expect pictures :)

  5. My photographer friend is coming over Friday night. Already on it. Pointed the DNS.

    And people think I’m never serious.

    humpf.

  6. These days I see many blogs being written by either guest bloggers, or a team of bloggers even when initially the blog was started by a single individual. I think when your blog is up and running — that is, it has a decent following — it doesn’t harm if you let others blog for you for a while, provided they meet your blog’s quality standards. It brings extremely busy bloggers some respite. It also brings in more variety and a different writing style.

  7. Kim, you are setting a standard I can’t possibly hope to emulate. Forty-plus years ago maybe I would have considered leather vest and spurs (although caftan and flowers in my hair would be more me even now) but on this aging body leather would look really silly.
    Seriously, getting back to the origins of this conversation, my blog is more of an alerting service for careers guidance practitioners in the UK than it is about writing articles. From that viewpoint I *could* hand over for a short period without too much trouble (so long as person had access to the same sources I use) — but I don’t. Give my baby to someone else to spoil? I’ll share the childcare with Dawn who works with me on the print-version newsletter — if I can ever persuade her that writing for the blog is not rocket science and she does have something to contribute — but probably not anyone else.

  8. LOL Welcome Hazel!

    There’s definitely some blogs that would thrive with the Guest-Blogger.com’s service. There’s hobby blogs for one, and then anything where personal stories fits right in, like travel blogs. Pets…caring for things, how to do things… And your blog sounds like it has the same possibilities.

    As for age and leather…I’ll be 50 next year, but barely feel 30, so I’m thinking a little bit of cowgirl spirit will help me not totally freak out over the age thing. :)

  9. >>>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

    I’m going to have to disagree there. I picked people who I knew had that “snarky” side who weren’t going to be “changing their style” to fit into my blog. Sure, Vanessa and Lisa can’t blog the way they did on their corporate blogs – but that was the cool thing for them… they got to have an individual voice instead of the corporate one. I’d hardly say anyone was going to lose business or clients based on a post on my blog. If the types of posts made that week, as you pointed out, were “close” to my own “style” then by those standards, one would think I shouldn’t be turning away business. Of course, very little of my time is spent consulting, but, I am who I am. People hire me based on my SEO skills and not that I have a Bruce Willis action figure. And maybe I get away with a bit more for being “old school” but I think they did a bang up job and didn’t see a single thing any of them posted that they or anyone else wouldn’t see as good fun.

  10. Oh, and to satisfy curiosity – the guest week was in the top ten for weekly traffic numbers, but not in the top five.

  11. That’s surprising. I thought that week was strong, if only to see who outdid the next guest post.

    As much as I wish sometimes to let “Bad Kimmy” out to play, in my business set up it wouldn’t have worked. I have too many contracts and alliances and am expected to handle myself in a certain way. The risks would be too high.

    Regardless, I used your site as an example of guest blogging that not only worked, but pushed the envelope. Others have staff and guest writers but not the same sense of fun or adventure that you pulled off with your’s.

    I guess the point is that some thought should go into the decision to seek out guest writers. Just because one blog does it well doesn’t mean it works universally, or should.

  12. True – it isn’t for everyone. And yeah on the traffic, but keep in mind, my site has hit the digg homepage several times and also scored netscape and delicious homepage hits… so it helps push the “best traffic week” goal pretty high. It was however the absolute highest week for comments ever.

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