The simple answer is, “yes and no.”
The entire concept of blogging has changed.
Back when blogging made the transition from its roots as an online journal to a respected means of communicating on a broad scale with a target audience, it was primarily just that: a communications tool.
Some of the key benefits of blogging were the ability for an audience to interact through commenting and the opportunity to build an audience through blog subscription.
Both were highly prized attributes of the biggest and most successful blogs out there: they had large, enthusiastic fan bases that routinely devoured every post the blogger created the moment it appeared.
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That’s what made it possible for people to effectively monetize their blogs and become “professional bloggers:” they could count on the fact that every post they wrote would receive a certain number of views from an audience of readers who had already proven their engagement.
The bloggers could then realistically rely on those readers to support them when they decided to include affiliate links in their posts, banner ads on their pages, or when they created products of their own like e-books, webinars, and courses.
And that’s also why, at the time, guest blogging was almost a guaranteed method for building your own audience and/or selling your own products. If you could “borrow” a large and established blog’s audience for a day, you could expect to reap the fruits of the labor: an instant bump in volume, a boost in sales, or a rush to retrieve more of your written content.
Instead of the content marketing strategy it’s now become, guest blogging was a popular strategy for optimizing SEO.
While all of the factors described above still technically exist, the power of pro blogging, and consequently guest blogging, has changed dramatically in recent years.
Why Has Blogging Changed So Much?
The reasons behind the shift in the blogging world are varied, but there are a few key factors that played the biggest roles:
- RSS Feeds: While we don’t hear quite as much about RSS feeds and RSS readers these days, they were a truly disruptive technology when they first became popular. Essentially, these apps allowed blog audiences to consume content from their favorite sites without having to actually visit the sites to do so; RSS feeds and readers would stack new content in a sort of “inbox” for readers to scroll through and click from. Blogger, one of the longest running blog platforms on the web, immediately felt a sharp decline in engagement and ad revenue as a result.
- Social Media: The rise of social networking in the last several years has dramatically shifted how information is accessed and shared online: 28 percent of Internet users’ online time is spent on social media. This has been a mixed blessing for bloggers, as it offers an excellent opportunity to inexpensively expand distribution of content, but it also required building brand-new audiences in a dozen different places, rather than only focusing on one.
- SEO’s Evolution: Again, the changes in SEO over the last several years have been a mixed bag for bloggers. Meta tagging is out, and spamming your own posts with irrelevant keywords doesn’t work anymore. While the changes have helped to weed out money-hungry pro bloggers and refocus on high-quality content, they’ve also rewritten the rules for traffic generation over and over again, sometimes destroying individual blogs in the process.
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For all of these reasons, blogs are a completely different animal from what they were just five to seven years ago. And, logically, guest blogging has changed as a result.
So Does There Remain Any Benefit in Blogging or Guest Blogging?
Absolutely. It’s just different than it previously was.
Rather than viewing a blog as a means of creating content and eventually selling it to a core audience of rabid fans, we should now be looking at our blogs as a central hub for content creation and archiving that feeds the numerous distribution channels our audience wants to use for content consumption. Blogs and social media platforms not only coexist, but passively collaborate; and without the second, the first nearly loses its purpose.
In other words, your blog is where you put your highest quality content, and you use social media, emails, and other means to share that content with your audience.
In that manner, blogging is still one of the most effective tools out there for content marketing, and they should be a part of nearly every inbound marketing strategy.
Blogs allow individuals and companies to disseminate marketing content in digestible bites without being overly salesy, to keep prospects and customers apprised of company information and updates, and to take advantage of the most up-to-date SEO tactics to draw in new, interested traffic through organic search.
For all those reasons, guest blogging is still an effective tactic as well.
As long as you’re looking at your guest blogging efforts as a means to introduce yourself and your ideas to a new audience, and not as a tool designed for instant traffic explosions and revenue, you’re going to be able to benefit from putting in the work.
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There are still thousands of high-profile blogs that accept and appropriately promote guest posts. If you submit high-quality content, give their readers real value for the time they spend consuming the content, and go into it with the right expectations, guest blogging can do wonders for your thought leadership and inbound marketing efforts.