An Open Letter to Popular Bloggers Who Love Guest Posts but Hate "Coming Soon" Pages

open letterDo you accept guest posts for your blog?

If so, you're certainly not alone. Many popular bloggers rely on contributions from talented writers to help fill out a hungry content calendar.

Usually these writers are unpaid but get to link to another site (e.g., their own blog) in their author bio at the bottom of the post.

And that's a fair trade – you get quality content you don't have to pay for, and they get to promote their site to your audience.

But now and again you may come across a situation where a writer pitches or submits a post, but they don't have their own blog yet, just a "coming soon" page.

And you've probably wondered...

Why would someone want to write a guest post before their blog even exists?

The simple truth is that starting a new blog these days is hard. Really hard.

A few years ago, you could create a blog on Blogger or WordPress.com, write a post a week, and before long, people would start finding and reading your work via Google.

But not any longer. Millions upon millions of blogs exist, and the web is dominated by a few blogs that have built a large and loyal following (and kudos to them for doing so).

The result is that smaller, newer blogs tend to get ignored.

Of course, you can still create a new blog and start writing. But for months (and maybe even years), you write content that almost nobody reads (except maybe your mom). We say it's like teaching in an empty classroom. Which is a crazy waste of time and effort, right?

So how on earth is a new blogger to get a foothold?

If they're smart, they'll write for the already-established blogs (like yours) and use that exposure to build a small audience for themselves. All before launching their blog. Once they have a guaranteed audience, then, and only then, will they launch their blog and start writing content.

But how do you build an audience for something that doesn't exist yet?

Hands-down, the best way to do so is to host a simple "coming soon" page on the domain of your blog-to-be. You create a simple page that allows interested future readers to join an email list, so that they can receive your latest content once you do launch your blog.

Once you have 500-1,000 interested people on your "waiting" list, then you launch your blog with a ready-made audience.

But even though this works great, some popular bloggers don't like it.

Why popular bloggers don't like guest writers who don't have blogs yet

Some popular bloggers simply prefer to feature guest writers who've already launched their blogs. And you may feel the same way.

In fact, it's totally understandable.

When your readers click on the link in the author's bio, you'd rather they found a live blog with real content that's regularly updated, not a temporary holding page that makes the site look like some kind of fly-by-night operation.

After all, you want to support other active bloggers in your topic area, not people without a track record who, let's face it, may never even get round to launching their blogs.

So, you might decide that you'll only work with writers who have established blogs. And that's fine; it's your blog, and you make the rules. We totally respect that.

But what you're also doing is sending the message that your blog is not a place where a talented beginner can get a foothold in the blogging world. You're effectively saying, "I'm happy to benefit from free, high-quality content, but I'm not willing to help the people creating that content to get a start in their blogging careers."

And the irony is, that even though a "coming soon" page might make someone look less serious and committed, it usually means they're more serious and more committed to becoming a successful blogger. Because they've done their research and they've learned the best way to build a successful blog without spinning their wheels for months and months.

That's why you might decide to allow your guest writers to link to a "coming soon" page - even if you don't much like it.

Not just because it helps out new writers, but because it helps you too.

By letting some writers in at the "ground level," you'll ensure a healthy supply of talented new writers for your blog. Which is important because, inevitably, when your guest authors reach a certain level of success with their own blogs, it won't make as much sense to write free content for other blogs any longer.

Why Even Authors Who Have a Blog Often Link to a Landing Page

Hopefully it's now a little clearer why people might want to write for you before they've launched their blogs. It's simply the most efficient way to get started.

But sometimes even writers who do have active blogs want to link to a separate "landing" page from their guest posts rather than the front page of the blog.

Usually that separate page is focused on trying to get visitors to sign up to the blogger's email list. There could be a free gift - like an ebook - to encourage the visitor to sign up, and the page itself might even be a little, well, salesy.

And what's noticeably absent is any real content. The kind of content a visitor might naturally expect to find when clicking the link.

So what gives?

Well, email subscribers are the lifeblood of any new blog. When you have a growing email list, you needn't rely on Google or social media to send you traffic because you have a way to contact your readers directly and tell them about your latest content. That's what it really means to build an audience.

And when someone reads a guest on a popular blog (maybe even your blog), and clicks a link at the bottom of the post to visit the author's blog, it's most likely because they want to hear more from that author.

But if they land on the homepage of the blog, it's overwhelmingly likely that they'll browse around for a minute or two then leave and never return.

And it's not because they don't enjoy the content - it's just the nature of the Internet. Even if we like what we're reading, we quickly get distracted by someone else. And even if we have every intention of returning, we rarely do. We forget to do so, or we try but can't remember the name of the site and give up.

Even if they have every intention of subscribing, something else catches their eye, and they forget.

That's why it's crucial for a new blogger to grab their email address right away.

And the best way to do that is a dedicated landing page that encourages the reader to sign up.

And the difference in results is huge. A guest post that links to the home page of the author's blog might result in 0.5% of visitors becoming subscribers. The same post linking to a dedicated landing page might "convert" at 50%. That's a 100x difference!

To put that into perspective, it means that one guest post linking to a landing page could gain the author as many new subscribers as a hundred guest posts linking to the front page.

When you look at it like that, guest authors would have to be insane not to link to a landing page, right?

However, despite the obvious benefits for the writer, you may decide that guest authors on your popular blog may only link to their blog's homepage. And again, that's fine. It's your blog and you have the final word.

But it means that many active bloggers (including most of the smart ones) will find your blog a less attractive place to publish their content. They'll naturally gravitate toward the blogs that give them that extra flexibility.

Remember that Guest Posting is a Two-Way Street

We're not here to tell you how to run your blog. If you've built a strong following in a super-competitive blogosphere, it sounds like you're doing just fine without our advice.

But we just wanted to let you know that you may be making decisions that affect other writers - the types of writers you probably want to support - without having the full story.

But whether you decide to make some changes or not, at the very least, we hope we've helped clear up a couple of questions that might have been on your mind. 🙂