It pains me to write these words.
No, it’s not because my fingers are sore. It’s not because I’m suffering from carpal tunnel. It’s not even because I’m sitting in an uncomfortable chair. (Although…)
It’s painful because I know what I’m about to say will challenge paradigms and hurt people’s feelings.
And not just any people…
People who follow me on Twitter. People who have subscribed to my email list. People who have written guest posts for me.
I’m stalling. It’s best to come right out and say it…
Remember the guest post you contributed weeks, months, or years ago? The one you eagerly shared with your friends and proudly display on your sidebar or “about” page?
I’m removing it from the website. I’m taking it offline. I’m clicking unpublish.
And the most painful truth of all?
Your post shouldn’t have been published in the first place.
Still Reading? It Gets Worse
It just wasn’t ready.
Like an old-fashioned Polaroid or a minor league pitcher who can’t throw his curve for strikes, your guest post needed more time to develop.
That’s on me.
I should have given it back to you for further editing. I should have asked you to make more revisions. I should have demanded more detail and less filler.
But I didn’t. I clicked publish, promoted your post to my trusting readers, and hoped for the best.
Worse? It’s not just yours – I’ve published several guest posts that needed more time in the editing room before seeing the light of day.
I let feelings of obligation and my reluctance to say “no” override what I knew to be true:
“Even if a guest post is good, it doesn?t mean you should publish it. The content needs to be great!” – Neil Patel
Even though I teach readers to do their best and make every post count, I’ve published guest posts that fell short of those standards.
Even though I once spent seven months from start to finish on one of my own guest posts to ensure it was worthy of the website publishing it, I’ve failed to demand the same level of commitment with guest posts written for my own website.
Even though I wanted great, I accepted good.
Thankfully, it isn’t too late to remedy the situation.
It’s Time to Unpublish
On January 1, 2016, any Be A Better Blogger guest post deemed “good not great” will be taken offline. At that time, their URLs will redirect to the post you are reading right now.
Why wait until 2016? Why not take them offline right away?
Because I want to give these guest bloggers a second opportunity. I want to challenge them to do what I failed to ask them to do: Be better.
Revise your guest post. Improve it. Add additional details.
Turn your “good” guest post into a “great” one.
Yes, I realize this is crazy. What I’m proposing is unrealistic, outside the box, and sure to ruffle some feathers.
That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.
We bloggers are taught to update our old posts. To breathe new life into them. To better them.
Why should guest posts be any different?
Why shouldn’t bloggers reach out to past contributors whose content needs refreshing? Why shouldn’t those old guest posts be improved upon and revised?
Why don’t guest bloggers take initiative?
Why don’t we revisit our old guest posts and offer to make them better?
The Road Less Traveled
Have you ever read an old guest post you’ve written and thought, “I could do that way better today”?
Why not do something about it?
This morning, I emailed everyone who has ever published a “good not great” guest post of mine. The details varied, but here is the gist of what I sent them:
You’re going to think I’m insane.
First off, thank you once again for allowing me to write for your audience back in [month and year]. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and I’m happy your readers enjoyed it.
All that said, I think I can do better. It’s been [length of time since publishing] and a lot has changed. After rereading [name of guest post] recently, I thought of several ways I could improve it.
I’m not talking about adding any additional links to my website. I’m not talking about including an opt-in bribe or anything like that. I just want to make the post 5% better. I want all future readers of the post to see the best possible version of it.
In short, I’d like to update it.
Would you be open to that?
Why did I do this?
I did it because the lifespan of a guest post doesn’t end after the first couple days of comments and social media shares.
People continue to discover your guest posts months – even years – later. In most cases, these posts are the only content these individuals will ever read of yours.
Don’t you want to impress them? Don’t you want to knock their socks off? Don’t you want them to seek out other posts you’ve written?
Of course you do. Or, at least you should.
Everyone who reads a piece of content you’ve written is a potential fan for life.
They’re people who could subscribe to your email list, follow you on social media, and buy that eBook or course you’re planning to create one day. They’re people who could tell their friends about you. They’re people who could shout your virtues from rooftops.
You should do whatever it takes to turn that potential into action.
And those tired, out-of-date, or “good not great” guest posts you’ve written?
They’re not going to cut it.
In fact, they could be doing more harm than good. It’s quite possible they’re hurting your reputation as well as the reputation of the blog owner who published them.
The Unpublish Challenge
Revisit the guest posts you’ve written. Go through them with a critical eye while asking yourself the following question:
“How could I make this post 5% better?”
Is the post a work of art? Awesome. Take a few minutes to share your masterpiece with your followers – it may be brand new to many of them.
But if you find things to improve? Things that kind of… well, suck? You need to do something about it.
Using my email above as a template, reach out to the blog owner who published your guest post. Offer to make it 5% better with absolutely zero strings attached.
If they take you up on your offer, start writing. Make the post the best it can be for all those potential fans for life who will find it.
And if they say no? Well, you need to ask a tough question…
“Does this post help my reputation or hurt it?”
If the post helps your reputation, flaws and all, great. Email the blog owner again and thank them for their time.
But if it hurts your reputation?
Politely ask them to take the post offline. Explain why the post no longer benefits either of you.
Extreme? Yes, but it’s for the greater good.
Keep in mind: You can’t demand they comply. The post is theirs. They own it. You gave it to them.
However, no respectable blog owner will want a mediocre post on their site that’s been disowned and renounced by its author. Your request could be the kick in the butt they need to realize their old content needs refreshing.
Yes, This is Scary
It asks you to critique your work.
It asks you to look a little foolish.
It asks you to reach out to bloggers you admire and say, “Hey… can I try that again?”
It asks all those things of you even though the payoff is immeasurable and could be years down the road.
But it’s worth it.
Somewhere out there is your next fan for life. It could be someone of influence, a future business partner, or the person destined to be your new best friend. And someday, they’re going to stumble across a random guest post you wrote.
Don’t you want it to be great?