Back in July I was delighted to be offered the chance to write for Econsultancy, a blog I had been reading since I started out in SEO.
However, I soon realised that the opportunity to write for such a high-profile blog wasn’t something to be taken lightly, as the community of readers tore into my post and I was left with a very unhappy client…
Here’s what happened, and what I learned as a result of my epic, epic fail.
1) Don’t blog for links
Having only ever done guest blogging as a link building exercise, I was excited at the prospect of gaining links from such a high-authority blog.
I decided to write a video production post on behalf of a client of ours who was struggling for rankings. Surely Econsultancy’s authority would help their SEO?
Quite rightly, Econsultancy editor Graham Charlton saw the draft I sent over as too promotional and removed the link anyway.
The lesson: Yes, guest blogging is a decent way to attract links. However, if it is the sole reason for writing, your post will only ever read like an advertisement. Instead, use guest blogging to build relationships and develop your authority – author rank is becoming more and more important from an SEO point of view anyway.
2) Check your facts
The basis of the post came from a telephone interview with the video production client, who gave me a number of inside tips to add that industry expert input that I thought Econsultancy’s readership would love.
However, one particular case of ‘Chinese Whispers’ led to me publishing the exact opposite advice that the client had given to me.
This created something of a storm in the comments section, as readers who knew better corrected my ‘obvious’ mistake. Not only that, but the client was raging about the fact that his name was being associated with such wildly inaccurate advice.
The lesson: simple – check your facts! Had I got client approval before going live (page one of the account management handbook) I would have saved myself a lot of stress and a whirlwind of criticism.
3) Offer something unique
This was key to such an epic fail. Econsultancy is read by marketing professionals at the top of their game. They can sniff out an attempt to ‘wing it’ like a shark smelling blood, and they don’t mind letting you have both barrels when it comes to their feedback.
Because I took the main points of the article from the client, the advice was more suitable to business owners with zero knowledge of video production and marketing.
Therefore it was (at least in parts) too ‘entry-level’ for season specialists who scoffed at my advice to ‘be engaging’ and questioned the expertise of any marketing ‘expert’ who would think this was cutting-edge information.
If you can’t offer anything that hasn’t been said before, what’s the point in writing? You’re not standing on the shoulders of giants, you’re ripping them off and offering their expertise as your own.
The lesson: You need to be able to present some new information or a new perspective on your subject matter, or you can’t expect anyone to be impressed.
4) Write about what you know
All the above could have been avoided if I had stuck to my area of expertise. I could have written about SEO but instead I tried to relate information second hand, and the message was lost in translation.
The lesson: There’s no point presenting yourself as an expert on video production if you don’t know your tripod from your lens cap. Share your own expertise, whether you acquired it though great success or an epic fail.
This isn’t a story about how I became a better blogger as a result of my epic Econsultancy fail, or about how writing for blogs with a large readership is a bad idea. It’s about how I learned the hard way not to put yourself out there as an authority when you’re not.
Only write if you genuinely have something to offer, whether it’s new information, expert advice, or just lessons learned from an epic fail.
If you offer something new, people will listen:
Had a fail of your own? Please let me know how you learned from it by commenting below, and please share this post