Blogging, if you have the time and energy to commit to it, can be an excellent way of adding value to your business. You can share ideas and information in a space that you control, and you can create a focus and a mission of your own choosing, depending on what your interests are. Perhaps you want to focus on editing advice for independent writers; or maybe you’re interested in the small-business ownership element of your editorial career (like I am); one of my colleagues creates content geared towards academics working within the sphere of journals publishing; another focuses on developmental/structural editorial work; and yet another focuses on how to get the best from online media.
And yes, if done regularly and with fresh content that is relevant to your niche community, there can be terrific SEO benefits that will enhance your search rankings and increase the number and types of opportunities that come your way.
Given that some new entrants to the field may be considering exploring the world of editorial blogging, I thought I’d take a quick look at some of the joys and challenges that the blogger can be confronted with.
I recently took the step of adding guidelines for submission of articles, comments and advertising requests because I felt it had become necessary to be absolutely clear about what I consider to be the good, the bad and the ugly elements of the business blogging experience.
The good …
The good makes up the largest chunk of the blogging experience for most of us. Those who want to contribute, either by writing guest articles or by commenting on existing posts, understand our blogs’ mission statements and primary audiences.
They may be colleagues who do what we do (in my case that means they are fellow editorial freelancers) or they may work in a field that complements our own (for example, editorial software developers, publishers, editorial project management agencies, or authors).
I’m all for organic two-way linking between websites that complement each other. If a fellow proofreader writes for me, I expect them to include a link to their business website in their bio.
If an independent author submits a post that informs others like me what it’s like to work with editorial professionals, of course they can link to their author website so that they can improve their own SEO and promote their works.
If a project management agency or publisher creates a piece that discusses the world of working with words from their side of the fence, I want them to include a link to their business website.
All these links are good for the host, for the contributor and for the reader. The links are relevant, and the content that embeds them provides new information for the blog’s primary audience.
However, things start to go bad when the drive for SEO overshadows the quality of the content.
The bad …
The bane of most bloggers’ lives is the spammy commenter. Here’s a sample of some of the nonsense I’ve had to delete from my blog recently:
Utter drivel. Delete, delete, delete.
The ugly …
The higher one’s blog ranks in the search engine results, the more likely one is to be approached by individuals, agencies and organizations who are NOT interested in submitting high-quality, relevant content to your blog that expands your readers’ knowledge base, and engages with and contributes to the ideas and resources that you’re committed to exploring.
The aim is purely to grab a piece of your SEO by using your blog as a way to embed links and drive traffic to an external website. In these cases, the external linked-to websites will not be relevant to your blog’s mission or primary audience, though the authors will provide content that pretends to be.
An example: quite often I’m approached by student essay-writing services. The author will offer an article of 500 or so words that’s not particularly original in its approach, probably not directly relevant to my primary audience, but contains some relevant key words (proofreading, editing, etc.). The link in the bio will be to a service for students that helps them walk their way through an expensive college career without having to actually do any of the required writing or research.
University policies on the hiring of external editorial services differ markedly. Some don’t even accept external proofreading. Copy-editing is usually not allowed. Getting someone to write your essay for you is cheating. And the consequences can be serious – suspension or expulsion from the institution, and a fail awarded. What’s more, the editorial freelancer is considered to have colluded.*
Those of us who run editorial businesses cannot be seen to be offering such services; but nor can we be seen to endorse them by driving traffic their way.
Summing up …
If you’re considering setting up an editorially focused blog, and are excited about the idea of sharing ideas, tools and resources in a space of your own design – either as part of your marketing strategy or because you love to communicate online, or both – do take care with both the commenting and the contribution elements.
While most of those who engage with your blog will be genuine (and will deserve that SEO-rich link you allow them to embed in your site), there will be those who are looking to exploit your space as a nothing more than a traffic driver.
Always check links in comments and articles – are you happy with the content on the sites they take you to? Does linking to a particular site reflect well on you and your business? Is the content on that site relevant to your blog’s mission and primary audience?
If you’re not completely happy then delete the comment or decline the guest article. It’s better to have low number of high-quality comments and guest articles than a spam-riddled site that links to businesses that bring yours into disrepute.
Louise Harnby is a fiction line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in helping self-publishing writers prepare their novels for market.
She is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors, and runs online courses from within the Craft Your Editorial Fingerprint series. She is also an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and an Author Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Louise loves books, coffee and craft gin, though not always in that order.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader & Copyeditor, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
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