My approach to distributing my writing has changed dramatically over the years. I used to be pretty pro guest blogging, and now not so much. Explaining my current syndication approach can help others better promote their writing. This is, however, not a technical guide.
Originally published at https://pushroi.com on December 12, 2022.
I’ve written for places where I was paid and many places that received content for free. In aggregate, those that paid took less work to get published and treated the writing and writer with more respect during the process.
Years of seeing articles I’ve written for free vanish from the internet, be reattributed to someone else, or end up on a website unrecognizable as the place I submitted to led to this approach change. Now I will write words in exchange for money or syndicate content I’ve written as widely as convenient. The exception to this is a high-profile OpEd in a well-known publication, and possibly due to existing relationships.
I don’t see a way around this. Even among well-financed and big-name players, publishing is chaotic. Publishers rebrand, change their CMS, close, pivot to a new model, and get acquired. Things get lost in the shuffle.
For a big legacy media example, I once had photo credits on the Dallas Morning News website. Years ago, when DMN spun out an entertainment publication, Guide Live, an entire section of Dallas Morning News redirected to the new site’s home page. The articles using my photos were not individually migrated and redirected; they vanished, and when Guide Live died and redirected back to the Dallas Morning News website, they never reappeared.
With smaller publications, it’s way worse. Here are a few more examples.
Tech.Co got acquired, and the new owners deleted several articles without telling me. The reason for deletion was that those articles (most of them were, at the time two-year-old) news briefs weren’t driving traffic. The site also redirected my author archive page to the team page.
Business 2 Community, a site fueled by contributors for many years, seemingly exists to promote links to crypto and gambling now. The site also attributed all of its thousands of unpaid contributors to one of six bylines. My byline was restored after I complained on Twitter, reminding me, Business 2 Community made it impossible for contributors to correct so much as a typo (even if introduced by an editor) after publication, and you never could reach an editor by email.
Social Media Week got acquired by Ad Week. Each bylined individual article still exists, but (like with Tech.co) my author page showing the archive with everything I contributed doesn’t.
Social Media Today, Robin Carey, the founder / CEO, passed away unexpectedly. The site sold to Industry Dive, and the new owners ended the unpaid contributor model, leaving my bio forever linking to a failed startup website that someone else started using as a PBN.
Thrive Global, according to Arianna Huffington, was never a media company, but the company, for many years, had a strong media company apparatus. I contributed only one article back in 2019; that article has changed URLs at least four times since it was published, and not all of them have been properly redirected.
Those are a handful of larger sites that got free original writing from me. The list doesn’t include dozens of blogs that vanished, pivoted to company websites, broke embeds, or removed links and other functionality.
The benefits of guest posting are distribution, search engine optimization via a wider footprint of backlinks, and possibly building relationships. If a site turns spammy, removes all bio links, breaks its own links by changing URLs, or stops hosting the content, the SEO benefit fades to nothing.
For distribution, most of the sites people think of as traditional publications have a minimum number of readers for each article, measured in hundreds or thousands. A few places may have the floor in the low tens of thousands. Remember that for every viral article you see, there are a dozen news briefs you didn’t.
Syndicating widely instead of just sharing links creates the largest number of readers to the words I publish. Currently, the distribution floor of something I write is 1,200 reads between all the places I syndicate. Some sites routinely bring in a few hundred reads and some only a few dozen, but it means people are reading the thing I’ve written.
It no longer makes sense for me to write free original content for a site with a lower minimum distribution than I get from syndication and a risk that the article disappears, loses SEO value or becomes hard to find.
Everything has an end, but at least with writing, if that end is completely outside my control, I’d like to be paid. Otherwise, I’ll syndicate broadly to get the widest distribution possible. And the content will live on even after the death of any single site.