Criteria To Choose a Publishing Blog
Ok, you have written this awesome, spectacular post and you have resisted the urge to post it on your own blog and want to show it off to the world on another blog. How do you decide where to publish it? It would be great if Darren Rowse, of ProBlogger.net were knocking at your door for the next masterpiece of writing, or Pete Cashmore of Mashable.com called you up, personally, and said he cleared his schedule, in anticipation of the next article that exudes from your great wisdom. Yeah, ok, we can dream, right?
So, where do you start? The key is to do just that… start! You have to start somewhere and it is ok if your first, or twenty-first guest blog post is not published on Mashable.com. There are a lot of great blogs out there, just waiting to hear from you and awaiting the beginnings of, hopefully, a wonderful working relationship and friendship in the future.
The first thing is to start, but you also need to have an idea of what to look for in a blog. If you have very specific ideas of what you are looking for, and a long list, in particular, it is unlikely that you will find that blog that fits your entire list to a “T.” However, if you write out your list and determine, say the top three items, you can help yourself in making a determination of which blogs to contact when pitching your article, and which offers to accept from which blogs.
Here is a list of some of the things you may want to consider. It is not an exhaustive list, necessarily, but my hope is that it will get those creative juices flowing and you can add to the list, according to what is important to you.
1. Design: Look and Feel
Is the visual appearance of the site important to you? If it is important, what type of visual appearance are you looking for on the site? Are you looking for fun? Business structure? Structured layout? This one is a very easy one to check, by simply visiting the site and getting a “feel” for the design.
While the visual appearance of the site is very quick and easy to check, the content may take a little while longer. This may not matter to you either, but it may be something you want to check to ensure that you are not conflicting or contradictory with the content of the site, and that there is not any content that you find “offensive” or detracting from the content of your guest post.
Is your content a good fit for the publisher blog and is the publisher blog a good fit for your content?
Going a step further than the content of the site, if you are particular about the ethics of your content and how it fits with the blog, you may want to check to see if they have a mission statement, or read their about page. For example, if you are a vegetarian and the site promotes hunting, you may have an issue, and it would be best to find that out BEFORE you enter into a discussion without having all the facts.
Load Time and Performance
Loosely related to the above topics would be considerations such as load time and performance of the web site. Granted, this is probably not the first thing to come to mind when evaluating a potential publisher web site, but, if it takes five minutes to load the home page, it is very likely that readers will not wait for your article to load and no one will read your guest post. However, keep in mind that there are momentary issues, and the issue may even be with your internet service provider at that moment, so do check back later if you notice that the publisher blog is having performance issues, to be sure that it is a continuing or consistent issue.
Here is a link you can use to check load time of the publisher blog (or your own!):
2. Credibility: Relationship and Professionalism
What is the reputation of the blogger and the blog? Have you heard some negative things about either? And, before you run off making a judgement call only on what you have “heard,” have you verified for yourself (assuming that this is an important criterion to you).
One way to get an idea about the reputation of the blogger and blog is to interact with him or her (or them) directly. BlogEngage.com is a great way to interact with other bloggers and get to know them, read comments that they make on other stories, follow links to their blogs and blog comments, etc. Also, another idea is to get involved in a Facebook group and interact with other bloggers there. You should be able to get a “feel” for reputation by using one of these methods.
Quality of Website
This relates more to professionalism of the site than content. If you visit the blog and there are broken links and missing images all over the site and it looks like a ghost town, it may be that the blog is not maintained. This may not be a direct correlation to professionalism, necessarily, but certainly if the blog looks like it has been abandoned, it probably isn’t going to get the exposure that you desire.
Is it important to you that the blog have its own domain? Pretty easy to check this out, with a quick visit to the site and checking the address bar. Keep in mind, there may be some awesome blogs that are on platforms such as Blogger, but you should decide whether having their own domain is a requirement or not, for you.
Up and Coming
It may be that the blog has a low PR (discussed below), but it is an “up and coming” blog. Similar to real estate speculation, you may want to consider guest blogging on say, a web site that will be featured on a television talk show in the coming weeks, ascertaining that it may get a lot of hits with the new found publicity. In this case, you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. This is not as easy to ascertain from a quick visit to the web site, but something to keep in mind if you are feeling psychic and can predict that this is the next best thing since the invention of sliced bread.
Based on your interaction with the blog owner and the community of bloggers on the site, does this seem like a “good fit” for the long haul? Possibly this is a site that you could visualize yourself partnering with in the future. You may want to give bonus points to the blog, if that is the case.
3. Practices: Culture and Procedures
Frequency of Posting
How frequently does the publishing blog have new articles. Does it look like a regular schedule? Is the regularity of the schedule important to you? If they haven’t had a new blog post in a couple of years, possibly this is not the blog for you, as it may not have enough exposure.
Social Media Practices
Is the blog well integrated with social media sites? Do they understand the difference between “connect” (i.e. buttons at the top of the site, bottom of the side, side column), and “share” (i.e. buttons near the post)? Do all of the buttons work and behave as expected? Does the Twitter link show “via @sharethis” instead of “via @publishingBlogNameHere” (demonstrating a need to configure their share buttons). Does it look like they passed “Social Media 101″ and it is important to them? Possibly social media isn’t important to you and you can pass on this one, but if it is important, you may want to take note of how well integrated and easy-to-use the site is, as well as number of shares on the social media counts. This topic could be another article, in itself, but this should get you going.
How many comments are on the site and do the authors tend to respond to the commenters? Are the comments a value-add (demonstrating thoughtful commenters) or do they look like spammy comments where the spammers didn’t take the time to read the article or interact? Also, does the publishing blog require you to respond to comments? If so, are you ready to commit to doing so?
Does the web site require a login for commenting? Do you feel that this limits the number of potential comments on your article? Keep in mind that if it is an extremely popular blog, chances are that the “regulars” are already registered and those who are not registered won’t mind doing so, for the sake of the popular blog.
There are many bloggers who love using the WordPress plugin, CommentLuv. I am definitely one of them. CommentLuv has so many features, but one of them is that it allows commenters to add a link to their recent post to each of their comments. Many publishers allow a “dofollow” link after a set number (i.e. 3) of meaningful comments on the blog. Since some bloggers tend to be attracted to blogs that use CommentLuv, this may (or may not) be something that is important to you as a guest blogger.
4. Influence: Ranking and Stats
Many times this is the most important aspect in deciding on a blog, and sometimes the only thing that guest bloggers look at, when deciding.
For some time, Google Pagerank has been the guiding light on determining whether the blog is a good investment for advertising dollars and subscriptions, as well as worthiness for guest blogs. Google has had updates (i.e. panda, penguin) which have affected some blogger’s pageranks in ways that may or may not accurately represent the value of the web site. So, use Google Pagerank with care, evaluating how important this criterion is for your overall evaluation of the publishing blog. You can click on the image, above, to check pagerank now.
There are various tools available to check out the stats and ranking of a web site, and, similar to the social media topic, above, this could be another article. Here is a free online tool that I found recently, that you could use as an evaluation of the publisher blog: Website Evaluation.
Another tool that is useful is to check the Klout rating of the blogger. Klout factors in influence across several social media sites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.). While it should not be the only factor, it may be interesting to check the Klout score. If you know the Twitter link, an easy way to find the Klout score is to replace “twitter” with “klout” in the address bar. Also, if you use a tool such as Hootsuite, you can click on the profile and view the Klout score within the Hootsuite dashboard.
Google Page Rank Trend
Is the Google PR going up or down, in particular, at a rapid pace? For example, was the blog a PR7 and dropped to a PR2 over time? Now, keep in mind, especially with recent Google updates, that there may be an explanation for this, so don’t cross the blog off the list just because you noticed a drop. First, determine if this is important to you. Second, if it is important (the change in PR), ascertain, to the best of your research skills, WHY the change in PR and then re-assess the level of importance to you.
5. Reciprocation: Authorship and Attention
When you search for an article, many times there is an avatar that shows up in the searches, called Google Authorship. Is this important to you? In other words, in many cases, because of how the blog is set up, the avatar will be the owner of the blog and not the author of the blog post (or no image at all). Whether this is important to you or not, you need to be aware of it, and if it is important, seek out a blog with the technology in place to insert YOUR avatar into that spot. The technology to do this is dependent on your Google+ profile, so you will need to find a blogger who has their end set up and you need to be ready to take steps to get your profile set up (if it isn’t already). My experience is that it is common (and easier) to have the blog owner avatar, so you may want to put this item lower down in your list, if you are interested in having a larger selection of blogs to choose from and who will choose you.
That said, an example of a blog that does honor the Google Authorship and has the ability to show YOUR avatar is Ms. Ileane’s Basic Blog Tips. Let me demonstrate.
At the top of this section, you will see a snapshot of the Google search engine results for one of my articles. It shows the link to socialwebcafe.com and the avatar is my avatar. Now, take a look at the image, below. This is an article Jeevan Jacob John on Ms. Ileane’s Basic Blog Tips. Do you see the avatar? It is Jeevan Jacob John’s avatar and not Ms. Ileane’s or the icon for BasicBlogTips. This is an example of where Ms. Ileane has “gone the extra mile” to ensure her guest authors get the exposure when they guest blog on her blog.
Another concern is the bio placement. Now, I have seen some articles where the author does not seem to be that interested in exposure for themselves, as authors, but rather links to their employer or brand, etc. In that case, maybe the preferred position for the bio (if there is a bio), is at the bottom of the post. However, if you are the type of author who likes exposure and branding and you want people to view you as a subject matter expert or guru and recognize you (branding), you may love it if the bio is at the top of the post. And, here is an example from Ms. Ileane, in this case showing her bio, but representative of how she highlights the guest author at the top of the post. Notice that the bio is right below the title of the post, shown in the image below:
I saw a web site, recently, and I won’t list the site because I don’t want to draw attention to it, but the bio was so tiny (4 pt font?), that I had to zoom in to read it. If it important to you that you be “seen” check on these details, as well as how the post is coded (the blog owner or “Guest Author”) and whether the blog offers the ability to have a gravatar, social links, etc. in the bio. This, too, could be another article!
Your thoughts about finding a publishing blog
So, there you have it. A list of criteria that you may want to consider (or not consider) when choosing your next publishing blog (or accepting a guest post opportunity). Over to you, let’s here your thoughts on the topic?
[ois skin="Contact Page Optin"]