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The ProBlogger Evolution: Our Halt on Guest Post Submissions

This week, I had a day-long blog strategy workshop with my team. We covered a lot of ground in that time and we have an exciting year ahead!

Among the decisions we made was one to shift the way we handle content here on the blog at ProBlogger.

Some years ago I opened up Problogger.net to guest posts as a means to give the blogging community a stronger voice, and help us gain from each others’ experience. I think that approach worked well, especially in the days before social media, when it could be difficult to find and connect with other bloggers.

Today, though, we’re in a different world. It’s much easier to find, connect with, and even meet other bloggers in and beyond your niche. There’s a plethora of information available on all types of topics related to blogging, and here at Problogger, we want to meet your needs as they evolve.

And that means a few changes in the way we present our content.

Guest Post Submissions Closed

Our strategy for 2013 means that we can no longer accept unsolicited guest posts on the blog. Our submission guidelines page  has been updated to reflect this change.

If you’ve been given a publication date for a guest post submission, don’t worry: that date stands. We’ll be publishing those guest posts over the next month or so.

If you’ve already sent us a guest post submission, but you haven’t heard back about it, Georgina will be in touch with you. We may be able to accept some already-submitted posts, but probably only a handful.

The reason for that is that we’re very excited to shift into a new gear for 2013, and while it’ll take some work, we’re keen to do it a.s.a.p. And of course there are plenty of excellent blogs where guest posts are well and truly welcome.

Looking Ahead

This change won’t meant that I’ll be the only person you’ll ever hear from on Problogger.net—far from it. But where we need content, we’ll be getting in touch with bloggers we’d like to feature on the blog and inviting them to participate.

If you’re already working with us, we may well be in touch with you soon! But of course, we’ll also be looking beyond our existing pool of contacts to bring you fresh voices and unique ideas every week.

Watch this space…

Will our new approach work? Only time will tell. We may find once we put it into practice that our new strategy has room for more posts from guest bloggers, and reopen submissions.

We’ll be keeping to our regular publishing schedule for the next few weeks, but after that, you can expect some changes to the blog!

I can say that my team and I are very excited about our plans for the blog this year, and I look forward to sharing more of those ideas with you as they’re ready.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Definitely a mixture of :( and :)

    Good luck with the transition!

  2. Gary Arndt says:

    I think this is a great move. Too many posts of marginal quality lately.

    Focus on fewer, quality in-depth posts.

    • My thoughts exactly. After being subscribed for a couple years I’ve been biting my nails over whether it was time to unsubscribe.

      Very happy to hear that won’t be necessary! I’m really looking forward to a more focused Problogger.

      Reminds me of when Smashing Magazine did something similar, but by focusing on more in-depth content and focusing on ‘authors’ instead of guest posts. Their site is incredibly valuable in the midst of all the I-wrote-this-in-five-minutes design blogs out there.

  3. Very disappointed personally and from a community standpoint. Getting on Problogger has always been a future goal of mine, and I think that closing submissions prevents some great posts (from other unknowns) from coming to light.

    I love Problogger, but that’s just my two cents on this move.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Thanks for the feedback Michael – it’s something on my mind too and am considering some possibilities for helping to unearth quality posts from those we’ve not featured before.

      In addition to what we may do on this front a couple of other ways to get on the radar of our editorial team might include:

      1. comment here on the blog – I know I’ve noticed a few of our regular and most useful commenters here and have suggested they submit posts in the past.

      2. similarly comments on our Facebook and G+ page that contribute to the topic and show what you know could help.

  4. Wow, I should have seen this coming Darren. Problogger has been the go-to resource for quality guest posts and one time you accepted and published mine, I felt like Obama. Lol!

    But one thing is certain, accepting guest posts all the time may not be friendly with your objective as a businessperson. Come on, we’re not just bloggers, but entrepreneurs. I’m totally in support of your decision and when you do reopen guest post submission, I know you have worked it out as well.

    I want to specially appreciate Georgina for handling, reviewing and formatting all of the guest posts bloggers sent you. She’s truly a Super-woman and I adore her strength. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and see what happens to PB.

  5. Kelly Exeter says:

    Such an interesting (and industry leading) move here Darren! I am sure lots of blogging hearts just broke but I suspect this is going to make it much easier for you guys to manage your content going forward. And hopefully it will make all your inboxes much easier to manage too!

    • Greg says:

      Ha ha I agree on the inbox comment Kelly. It’s an awesome, often thankless service Pro Blogger has been providing.

  6. Nuno Cabral says:

    I think that your blog will gain in quality( even more ). The idea of invitation is superb, because you better than anyone knows the quality of the writer!

    One important thing tough, is to find new talents with new ideas to give a breath of fresh air to the blog!

    Best of luck with this new approach.

  7. David Boozer says:

    As long as the continued high quality content still flows here, I am good to read it…Thanks for the update Darren and hope to improve my own skills to be asked one day.

  8. Paul says:

    Ha, the timing for this couldn’t be worse (for me) as I am on the site right now looking at submitting a guest post. My loss, continue the great work on this site!

  9. Ryan Snefsky says:

    From a strategy perspective, I think this makes a lot of sense. Good for you for making this decision. Ultimately, your brand is most protected when you keep eyeballs glued to THIS blog. As a finance writer and executive, I can tell you that the overall worth of your blog, from both its ability to sell info products and its ability to be sold if you ever wanted an exit strategy, is much better preserved by having fewer guest posts. Good luck!

  10. I did the same thing Darren for the same reasons, just 2 days ago.

    Of course I feel grateful to be slated here for the 25th I believe ;)

    Go with your vision. Whatever vibes with you and your blog at the time you must follow this pull as it will benefit everybody.

    Thanks!

  11. Dave says:

    About time.

    It’s been like a repository for z-list blog posts recently.

  12. I’m looking forward to this. As much as I like guest posts, I feel some of them contain rinsed content (not that there’s anything wrong with that though)

  13. Mostly glad to hear this. Some time ago I unsubscribed from the main ProBlogger feed and subscribed to Darren’s author feed at problogger.net/archives/author/darren/feed.

    I was finding it too hard to keep up with so many posts, and while some were good, a lot were poor quality (I can remember one in particular I was just horrified with and couldn’t believe it made it onto the site).

    I submitted one guest post myself and was considering submitting more, so that part of it is slightly disappointing, but overall this change should mean less quantity and more quality.

  14. Eric says:

    So do you think that this is a shift that others will follow in 2013? I can respect a decision such as this, and I can appreciate the idea of wanting to bring only the best of the best. This is for sure a bold move and will be interested to see how all this plays out.

    • The Blogger says:

      DailyBlogTips already did it Eric, surely more to follow. Times a changin’, on blogs, in Search, with Authorship, and more. Are you an avid guest poster?

  15. Derek says:

    It’s going to be nice to see some changing going on around here. I love reading blog posts on problogger and looking forware to it’s future.

  16. Shahzad says:

    Whoa! Really exciting news and really excited to see what will be happening next on Problogger. I got an email from Georgina about the post I’ve sent. Will definitely working on it.
    Looking forward to see how this transition work.

  17. Andy says:

    It’s a fairly ironic decision. I pretty much stopped reading PB regularly when the site starting accepting all sorts of guest posts. At the same time, it seems funny for a site that has included advice on submitting and accepting guest posts to shut its doors. It’s the “we’re too successful” syndrome that actually puts off many bloggers from submitting content to big blogs in the first place.

    As for being an “industry leading move” — oh please don’t kid yourself! I think it’s probably time to take PB off the radar completely.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Andy – we’re not shutting our doors to guest posts – we’re shutting our doors to ‘unsolicited’ guest posts.

      We’ll still be seeking out and including great contributions from others (in fact they’ll probably still make up the majority of posts here) – however they’ll be posts we’ve commissioned and that will fit within the momentum that we’ll build on the site this year.

      We’ve certainly written about guest posting numerous times over the years – the problem is that guesting posting has changed a lot in that time and an increasing number of the guest post submissions we receive are either low quality, irrelevant (or at least tenuously relevant) to our blog’s topic and often from SEO or content marketing companies.

      The other problem with including a lot of unsolicited guest posts is that you end up not being able to take your readers on a journey over time. The new approach that we’re developing will still include a spectrum of voices and experiences but will hopefully be able to give readers more focused teaching that takes them on a bit of a journey with one post building on another rather than random topics from day to day.

      There’s certainly nothing ‘we’re too successful’ about this decision – if anything I felt we were not being successful enough in helping our readers which made me make this move.

      And you’re right – I don’t think this is industry leading really – many blogs have experimented with many models (including this) over time.

      • Tom Southern says:

        Interesting! It seems that Google is setting a benchmark for quality content as being content that teaches quality. Good on Google, and good on you, Darren and your team at Problogger.net, for being in the game.

        At a time when other popular bloggers are promoting guest posting as a means of starting your successful business online, it seems that, either their students need to be enlightened of this change, or the teaching needs to take account of it. For example, it’s no good just advising people to guest post, it’ll get you noticed. Of course, there are courses that have set the gold standard on this; Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course, for one.

        It stands to reason Problogger’s going for the invitation-only guest post option. All the blog giants are, and that’s good for their readers. No doubt about it. Just one thing irks me – where can those of us just starting our online businesses showcase our writing so that we can get on the invitation-only list?

    • Brian Clark says:

      Copyblogger has had this policy for almost two years, and I totally understand why Darren is making this move. All this means is the site will be “hand picking” outside writers instead of dealing with submissions.

      I don’t think a lot of people understand the editorial work that goes into receiving and evaluating a flood of submissions. It’s hard work!

      • I completely concur, Brian. In fact, I was thinking of Copyblogger when I read the above post and about how I think it made it a much stronger blog (despite the fact that I had hoped to submit a post at some point before that happened – oh well!)

        I’ve recently opened up my own blog to more guest posts as I’m about to go on maternity leave and didn’t want to have to write the whole time, and it’s almost more work than just creating my own posts. It made me realize that going forward, I’d rather create a team of regular contributors and solicit guest posts from specific writers on specific topics. I think it’s the best way to make sure you are both protecting the quality of the content and giving yourself the ability to lead them through topics in a strategic manner.

        Looking forward to the upcoming changes, Darren.

        • Nina Amir says:

          I seem to have missed the boat for submitting my own posts at both Copyblogger and Problogger, and I’m sorry about that. But I know how hard it is to get quality unsolicited guest posts and to manage submissions of unsolicited posts.

          I think this move is a smart one for many reasons, and other sites should consider it as well if they want to maintain their quality standards, address the needs of their readers and showcase the work of the top experts in their subject area. I tried unsolicited posts briefly–still have the notice up, but I’m about to take it down on both my blogs as well.

          Good luck, Darren!

  18. Kashif says:

    I totally second this decision. Hope this will help ProBlogger to maintain its high quality standards.

  19. John says:

    well, This is really a bad news for all of bloggers who wants to do guest post on your blog. But still best of luck with that :)

  20. Yetunde says:

    This sounds like a good idea. I will certainly like to see the bar raised on the quality of posts coming through. It’s nice that over the years you’ve given a platform to up and coming bloggers but it’s even nicer to go back to producing high-quality content for your primary audience: the blogger who wants to learn from the best.

  21. Darren, I am so happy to hear this. I stopped reading Problogger months and months ago. I have never truly appreciated it since you stopped writing the posts. I was close to unsubbing but your headline caught my eye today. I’m a long time fan and ten year blogger who hated much of what has been published in recent years.

  22. Richard Ng says:

    I believed this will be a great move and the ever changing SEO algorithm will second that too i.e. quality is much more important than quantity now! ;-)

    All the best

  23. Darren,

    I applaud this move. To be honest, I haven’t been paying much attention to your blog lately as I want to hear from you, not someone who wants to be you. I would far rather learn from those who do, than those who teach and hope to do.

    In my former business life, there was no shortage of eloquent folks willing to talk about this or that. However, when you looked at their P&L statements, I often found nothing but bags of hot air.

    I have extensive experience consulting in the financial services world. The firm I was affiliated with generated millions of dollars of gross revenue each year helping folks and giving them a good dash of accountability.

    I think that you could accomplish the very same thing. If you like, we can talk about it sometime. Just drop me an email.

  24. Jenn says:

    Agree with the comments. Loved some of the blog post but also thought it was becoming a little much and some seemed a little half-baked. By the way Darren, I’m ok with it just being you as well.

  25. Brandy says:

    Excited to see the changes!! Always great to evaluate business and move onto bigger and better strategies that work in the current year!

  26. I think this will be a great move for you. On my own site I had opened up to guest post contributions, and to be honest, the editing, corresponding and sifting through posts that miss the mark (and dealing with bruised egos) has made it more difficult than writing posts on my own.

    I was personally wondering how this was working for you, and to be honest, I missed your posts.

  27. Dude says:

    I believe that this is a bold but good change and will look forward to hearing more quality posts

  28. Syed Balkhi says:

    It would be great to have you back publishing on the site Darren. P.S. I’m always open to write some content if you need anything related to WordPress.

    Looking forward to this change.

  29. Wayne Turner says:

    It seems like I just squeezed in with my first and last post on Friday. Thanks for the opportunity of being able to write at least one post for your site. It was a privilege and a pleasure. Hope that the new strategy works well for you guys. All the best for the future. You remain my number one go to site for the latest and most informative content.

  30. I know a lot of people who will be really happy about this, including myself. I’m curious to know how ProBlogger will look. Thank you for the opportunity to write for ProBlogger and be featured too. It was fantastic!

    Best of luck in 2013 – I’ll be reading along with everyone else.

  31. Kristi Hines says:

    Though my blog is certainly not at the same level as ProBlogger, I can kind of sympathize with this decision. I opened the door to more and more guest posts since most of my efforts were focused on my freelance writing business and producing content for clients. It became overwhelming to manage all of the submissions, many of which were pretty terrible and while I did my best to QC everything coming in, I probably published some things I shouldn’t have just to keep up posting on the site.

    There’s nothing wrong with posts from other bloggers, and even some of the content from SEO’s wasn’t too bad. But there’s definitely more bad than good guest post submissions out there now which is pretty sad.

  32. I must admit though that when reading FLIPBOARD I am always looking for the latest Darren post because it’s more focused and you can feel that it fits in more with the goals and strategy of the site. It’s the same with ZITE. If I look at my Read It Again/My Pocket articles the majority that I’ve saved from ProBlogger are Darren or PB staff articles. So despite how the change in policy feels it’s going to be best for all of us.

  33. Darren

    I really like this idea. I believe Georgina wrote a guest post for Copyblogger that explained the idea of taking readers on a journey, and narrowing down the contributors, and their topics, will certainly help that.

    I also hope that this idea encourages more of a dialogue in the comments, more than just the “great article” comments that are so common now.

    Good luck (and can’t wait to see a case study on this new idea in the future)

    Ainslie

  34. ed cyzewski says:

    This strikes me as a natural part of the evolution of content marketing. As more companies want to place posts on industry leading blogs as part of their strategy, the bloggers need to decide how they’ll adapt. I think this is the right call for this site especially. I ghost write content for companies (I can’t tell you how weird it is to visit an writing/blogging industry site like ProBlogger that I regularly read and see my post there!), and while I think I write helpful content, it makes more sense for bloggers to take greater control of the precise topics that appear on their sites.

    The only way I’ve made guest posts work successfully on my blog about Christian theology (inamirrordimly.com) is by giving a very simple, narrow prompt and limiting queries to 2-4 sentence pitches and focusing on stories so that writers won’t jump in just for the SEO benefits. For 2012 I asked female pastors to share their stories. In 2013, I’m asking for specific stories about actively pursuing justice. I still turn down submissions, but a specific prompt for a limited period of time means I don’t have to turn down too many.

  35. Wayne Turner says:

    I’ve been giving this more thought today and realised that those of us who have written posts for PB are the best type of commentator to engage with people who make comments on the posts that Darren and team write, especially in the area of your expertise or skill. I know it’s great to have your name attached to a post but I think your expertise is what will be most valued whether it be in a post or comments on a post. So find the posts that are in your realm and make solid, substantial and engaging comments. A win/win situation. It may not be a plan A but it makes a damn good plan B.

  36. Ali says:

    I’m really happy at your move, Darren (thank God my post was published well before you guys closed your doors). In fact, more often than not, I would come to PB, scan to find a post by yourself while skipping the guests posts, and read it. Best of luck :)

  37. Darren, i was initially surprised, but yours and the team’s logic makes perfect sense; especially given the comment from Brian Clark. Firstly, thank you for allowing me to guest post previously and a huge thank you to Georgina for her guidance, patience and support of my efforts in the past. She is a true gem.

    All the best with this new direction. I’m looking forward to see how it goes.

    Matt

  38. mohit says:

    Great decision,from towards will love to see the articles from you.For which this blog is famous.

  39. Jhay says:

    Finally, a break from the guest post after another which, quite frankly is just a rehash of some other guest post from last week.

    Looking forward to a new Problogger.net!

  40. Monja says:

    Couldn’t agree more with what is already said. I was a big fan of Problogger until I just saw posts from whoever every day. I wanted to read from you, not anyone out there in blogging land ;-) Although I appreciated many posts and although they handled a lot of value I really look forward to get back to your posts.
    So definitely looking forward to your new Problogger in 2013!

  41. Julie says:

    Hi Darren … I’m glad to hear this! It’s really interesting (for me only I suspect :D) but we decided to do the same thing this year on our website as we found the content too variable and it was difficult to find a consistent thread through our posts. We now have different days that we focus on different types of content and also a core group of authors that have been hand selected by us because of the value of their knowledge and the quality of their writing. We’re not as big as Problogger and it’s early days yet, but we’re definitely finding an improvement across social sharing and engagement across our various social media sites (as well as our own website of course!) It’s nice to get validation that this is the right strategy.