Guest Posts Gone Wild

Photo courtesy of Manolo Chertien via Unsplash.

Buzzfeed is reporting that one single contributor who wrote 700 articles for Forbes and 300 for Entrepreneur magazine, has been charging brands to mention their names in his articles. It is yet another posts-payola scheme.

BuzzFeed News also obtained an email pitch from an AudienceBloom employee to a potential client in which he offered the ability for them to review an article with a brand mention before it was published. The pitch said a mention with a link back in a “premium tier” publication like Mashable would cost between $1,200 and $2,000.

In December 2017, Outline reported that “publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Huffington Post and Forbes, wherein freelance writers were taking payments in exchange for favorable coverage.”

It happens with such regularity — especially at Forbes and Entrepreneur — that I usually ignore everything these publications offer. And when someone sends me a link about themselves (or one of their articles), I make it a point to not take them seriously in the future.

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Back in 2004, my blog, now defunct GigaOm, was one of the first blogs to invite community members and some readers as guest bloggers. Of course, no one had come up with a marketing term for these contributors.

Over the years, this idea of guest posts and guest bloggers became prevalent everywhere — and eventually, it became less valuable, mostly because PR firms inserted themselves in the middle. Smart posts became an opportunity to market your brilliance to the world. In other words, it all became a steaming pile of doggy-do. I wrote about this earlier, so I will avoid repeating myself.

Fast forward to today, that doggy-do has gone nuclear. The publications started to use guest blog posts as a way to increase page views and thus get some ad-dollars, even though it was deprecating the reader experience. (Media executives almost always deprecate reader experience and cut the journalists in response to falling revenues due to their shortcomings — no matter how big or small a publication.)

This isn’t going to end because the publications are still trying to pump out as much content, get as many falling dollars and prostitute themselves in the name of growth. Marketers will keep pushing their clients and making them influencers. They will add credibility to fake news. Nothing will change up until the time the advertising model moves away from page views and clicks.

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