On my contact page I make it clear that I do not accept offers of guest articles from third parties. This doesn’t stop me receiving emails from various shady entities asking if I would like to post a guest article, although I’m assuming that they have picked up my email address from a list and therefore not read the contact page.
Either way, the stated reason why I don’t accept guest articles is that I want all the content on this blog to be my own. It is, after all, called ‘Neil Turner’s Blog’ – putting in content written by other people will get confusing. But that’s not the only reason.
The main reason is that I’m convinced that most offers for guest articles are there simply to promote other web sites, and improve their ranking in search engines. Which can backfire; search engines like Google are getting better at detecting this sort of thing and can penalise web sites that host spurious guest articles, especially if it’s the same article copied and pasted onto multiple web sites.
A more recent development sees marketing firms wanting to buy links in normal blog posts. So I would write my own blog post about their topic, and just happen to include a link to their site with the relevant key words. Gawker wrote about this a while back, as it seems some firms are happy to contact even big-name blogs. Evidently it works; Gawker links to this Huffington Post article which includes a link to a ‘freelance writer’ in the third paragraph. Although with only 6 shares on Facebook and 13 tweets its hardly been popular, but the article has been up since October and at time of writing it’s still there.
I won’t do this, even with an offer for money. And sometimes the money is pretty good – $250 for linking to a casino web site for 12 months, is one example from recent memory.
But, whilst I have been given freebies in return for a review, this is standard practice in the media. And I’m always honest about it, with a disclosure at the bottom of the post. I stand by any recommendation or endorsement that I make. To do otherwise is unethical.
As an aside, since posting this I’ve been made aware that I asked for guest articles in 2009, to cover a two week holiday. Nowadays I would schedule my own posts for that period, so this no longer applies.