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@Deni - do you track the referral traffic from those blogs to yours? That's a good way of learning if they do have an effect. Most blogging platforms and Google Analytics would show you where the traffic is coming from. I do struggle with the writing for little or free in exchange for exposure proposition. Valuable content is hard work and nobody should be taken advantage of in my view. if you didn't even think about the writing for a pittance trade-off, it would be a real one. I've learned to trust my instincts when it comes to gut checks :)

@Eric - remember that their network include 6,000 unpaid bloggers. We had the same with Fast Company. At the beginning it was a small group and we had a lot of visibility, then it was dozens and dozens of bloggers and it become noisy. Some of the threads never got visibility on the site's home page, so it was much better to go for a personal platform as first choice. I like your idea and emphasis on commenting -- that is a vital part of the community mindset, and one of the reasons why I often cite your blog as an example of taking a topic some would consider too niche and expanding it to serve a community.

Hi Valeria,
There is a pretty big difference between doing a blog post for XYZ Marketing Blog or The Huffington Post, but I get your point. We built our following with our community blog The Urbane Life http://www.urbaneapts.com/urbanereflections-blog/ (which is nothing about our apartment business, but lots about the local community) in much the same manner, but with a mix of Guest Blogs and paid blog posts, however what gained us the most traction was each blogger was required to leave 3-5 thoughtful comments on like local blogs.

What we found was that the commenting piece, which really was just engaging in the larger community actually took as long or longer than the blog posts, but delivered substantial dividends

Valeria,

I participate in a couple blogs as an occasional guest blogger, but do not have quite enough experience in this regard to say one way or the other how much benefit it is to me. I would suspect, as with many things, if I put more into it, I would get more out of it.

Your premise that we should focus on building our brand by offering valuable content, by otherwise being of value to others and to network in our niche, makes solid sense. And while blog networks may be a piece of that, in my own experience, personal networking is essential.

As to your point about content for exposure: I believe there are times when it may be worth it to do posts in exchange for getting in front of an audience that we would not otherwise have access to. The deciding factor would be if there is a way to convert that exposure to something of value on our own end.

Meanwhile, your overall gist hits on something that I encounter in my "other life" as a freelance arts critic. I am often told that I should be pleased to write for a pittance because I get to see things for free. While I do enjoy that perk, it's not free when it takes up my time and when I see more than I would otherwise, to keep up with my beat. Still, I do feel I have an impact on the communities and people that I write about -- so this is a reward that helps me keep on keeping on.

Lastly, it is a longstanding circumstance that writing is an undervalued skill. Most journalists and other types of scribes are underpaid in comparison to what they contribute. Bloggers don't have it any better, however, this is not a new development.

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