Bloggers Beware: WriterBay.com Uses Guest Posts as Link Spam

Update: I received an email from David from Writerbay.com this morning. While we still disagree as to the spam nature of these kinds of contests, I do want to update you about a positive development. The primary concern with the contest was the target list of bloggers that was published for participants. I was informed (and then verified) that the list has been removed. Writers can still contribute a list of blogs  they think would be appropriate, but those submitted blogs will be visible only to the writers who submit them. For that, a big thank you to Writer Bay for doing the right thing and ceasing to target specific blogs for the mass submission of guest posts.

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I received an email from someone pitching a guest post to All Freelance Writing this afternoon. That's nothing new. I get a lot of those -- most of which blatantly ignore our guest post guidelines. But this was was different.

The person who contacted me let me know that the guest post they wanted to publish was for a writing contest run by a site called WriterBay.com (copy / paste if you want to visit the site -- I don't link to these crappy "freelance job sites" here).

The Contest

The contest basically calls for writers to spam a selection of blogs covering freelancing, writing, and some related topics. They actually have a list of target blogs people are supposed to submit guest posts to, assigned one of three classifications -- basic, premium, and elite. The higher the classification, the more points the writers get.

"Winners" in each of four categories (most posts, most "successful" post, most points, and a committee-chosen best post) will get $250, giving writers the chance to earn a total of $1000 -- but at the expense of any semblance of professionalism.

Their target publication dates for the contest run from September 24th -- October 23rd.

The Problem

The problem with this contest is simple. It's blatant blog spam, exploiting blog owners who accept guest posts.

These are not traditional guest posts, where the author is the one promoted and it's done largely to reach an extension of their own audience and in networking with other bloggers.

This is one company putting together a group of writers to spam their link around the Web for the chance of being paid, and doing so with a ranking system that shows they're trying to exploit a site's link value.

Even worse, this has the potential to get around guest posting guidelines from bloggers who actually care about linking to relevant and high quality sites -- like we do. For example, if someone from WriterBay.com directly tried to pitch us a guest post, they'd be rejected up front because their site violates our guidelines. That's for two reasons:

  1. The gigs they offer exploit writers -- boasting about $20 per page being a "good salary." Um, not so much.
  2. Worse than that, this site is about "academic writing" services. You know, those are the freelancers who help students cheat by writing their essays for them. Way to throw your professional reputation out the window folks.

Do you want to support these kinds of sites? Then by all means, do it. But I sure as hell won't.

Guest posters are required to insert a link to WriterBay.com with the articles. And the link text will apparently change with each page load (whether or not that's okay with the blog host). Here's what their site says about it:

"Before sending the post to the blog owner for approval, include the link that has appeared on your control panel into the post. You will see your unique ID# in the link – this is the number that we use to keep track of all the posts made by contestants. The link text is automatically altered each time you reload the page. We strongly advise you to not alter the link text and to make sure the blog owner doesn’t alter it either. If the link text is altered, your post may not be taken into account."

The Targeted Websites

I created an account to see how and why All Freelance Writing was targeted. And when I logged in, I was greeted by a list of 27 targets (one listed twice) -- their "list of guest blogs." I damn well know they didn't ask for permission to target this blog in this way. So I doubt they contacted the other blog owners. Here's a list of blogs they're targeting, so if you own one and have a similar problem with this kind of spam you'll know it as soon as you see the guest post links.

  1. AboutFreelanceWriting.com
  2. AllFreelanceWriting.com
  3. BasicBlogTips.com
  4. BloggingTips.com
  5. CopywriteMatters.com.au
  6. DailyBlogScoop.com
  7. FreelanceFolder.com
  8. FreelanceMD.com
  9. GadgetsReport.com
  10. InboundMarketingExpert.org
  11. MyWritingBlog.com
  12. NovelPublicity.com
  13. NowSell.com
  14. OddBlogger.com
  15. OneWomanMarketing.com
  16. OnlineIncomeTeacher.com
  17. ProcrastinatingWritersBlog.com
  18. QuickBlogTips.com
  19. TechMaish.com
  20. UrbanMuseWriter.com
  21. WebmasterFormat.com
  22. WebWriterSpotlight.com
  23. WritersDigest.com
  24. WritingForward.com
  25. YaminaToday.com

I don't know if this list will change at all during their contest, but these are the target sites as of right now.

Here are two final thoughts for WriterBay.com -- I don't know what SEO genius thought this crap up as a good link building strategy, but it's time to get a new one. And instead of throwing money at a contest to spam your link around the Web for no guaranteed pay to writers doing all the work, try hiring one of them to fix your own website first. You claim to be "the best among the freelance writing Websites" after all.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

23 thoughts on “Bloggers Beware: WriterBay.com Uses Guest Posts as Link Spam”

  1. And I am so heartbroken I didn’t make the list. 🙂 It’s times like this I am happy for my little niche. At least I don’t pretend to be a site for freelance writers like that site does (and a few others I could name, but won’t). 😉

    Reply
    • Things like this appeal to writers who are desperate for cash. They see that $250 – 1000 payday if they “win” as a big deal. So they take part, even though most won’t see a cent. That’s the really sick part of it. People who claim to be about freelance writers don’t have the decency to PAY writers when they want written work on their company’s behalf. And the writers are equally to blame. They choose to take part instead of putting their time into seeking legitimate freelance jobs. The whole plan is a disaster, and it’s incredibly disrespectful to blog owners.

      Reply
  2. What a blessing that my site also didn’t make the cut! LOL Never been happier to be overlooked.

    My post tomorrow will expand on this a bit, but this is the epitome of exploitation. I don’t believe for one second there’s any “prize” that will go to any writer other than some pre-selected person. I’ve never seen places like this give away anything other than stress and grief.

    Also, I wonder what kind of writer would be sucked in to this blatant attempt to spam and use? Then again, there are people out there, both new at it and not-so-new at it, who would do anything for a buck (literally – a buck).

    Reply
    • Given, the contest just started, but when I logged in only one writer had participated so far, and only with one post on a “basic” blog.

      Ewww. Just logged in again, and the target list has grown to 121 blogs. Still only one participant with an active post so far though. This note is also appearing above the list:

      “The websites listed below are not connected with Writerbay in any way. They serve as an example. You may suggest any other websites you like.”

      Um, then you shouldn’t be listing them and ranking them for points. These people seriously don’t get it.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for writing this! I’m always wary of people’s motivations when they guest post for me at MeganWrites.com. I don’t allow affiliate links and the link has to be relevant to what they’re writing. I often ask if they have a stake in the company, and if I get no response or an affirmative determine from there if the idea will go forward or not.

    Reply
    • I’ve had to get much stricter about things like that lately. Certain niches are out. I won’t take guest posts from SEO or marketing firms on behalf of their clients. And if I get a bad vibe about anything (from a clear lack of writing skills to something sounding shady), I don’t waste time on the request. And like you, I require all links to be well-targeted. I generally won’t take posts from online education sites for example because they’re notorious for guest post spam. I received a pitch recently though, and the content was well-targeted. So I offered to post it, but only if we removed the generic online learning link and linked instead to writing-specific courses. In that case we worked it out because they didn’t push the homepage link which is against our terms due to their niche and relevancy issues. But if they won’t agree to better targeting in their content or links, they’re out.

      Reply
  4. Scams like this ONLY exist because there are writers who are willing to “play.” So, frankly, I’d put most of the blame on the writers… There will always be crooks. That’s a given. But, those crooks will succeed only to the extent that they have willing accomplices/suckers.

    And I didn’t make the list either – yay! 😉

    PB

    Reply
    • The writer who pitched me seemed more naive than anything. She wasn’t trying to pull one over on me — she told me exactly what the “guest post” was for. Other than mentioning the contest, I honestly don’t know if she realized this wasn’t a real guest post. I haven’t heard back from her since responding to her email. But I was slightly harsh, so it’s not much of a surprise.

      There are definitely writers who willingly jump on any scam or spam tactic they can to make a buck though — including some reasonably well-known folks. You’re absolutely right about them being a big part of the problem. And willful ignorance isn’t really an excuse either. There’s enough legitimate information out there for new writers that there’s no good excuse for getting involved with these kinds of “clients” in the first place. So I don’t know. This is one of those situations where I’m just left shaking my head in disbelief, wondering how this crap keeps happening in the writing world.

      Reply
  5. I’m not surprised this angered you – it’s wrong in so very many ways! Very disrespectful to you and the other bloggers listed, exploitative of the writers and yet another source of spammy spam which, let’s face it, there is more than enough of on the web already.

    Reply
    • There’s definitely too much of this kind of thing going around. It’s bad enough when companies use guest posts as link spam. Sometimes the pitches come directly from marketing or SEO firms who are open about their only intention being to get links. Sometimes they’re just poorly-targeted pitches because someone sees you used a certain phrase once on your blog, and you have high enough rankings that they know the links will have value (a big problem in the online education niche). And sometimes you have issues like this, where a company tries to have others do their spamming for them.

      Honestly, whenever I get a guest post request now, I dread reading the email. The vast majority aren’t even worth a response anymore. I received five of these emails just this morning, and it’s not even 11:00am here yet! Of them, only one will likely lead to an accepted guest post. One was a marketing firm. Another pitched a site that’s retired and hasn’t been updated in a very long time (how do they miss that?). And two others seemed completely unrelated to this blog, and they clearly didn’t read the guest post guidelines. Ugh.

      Reply
      • I’m not surprised it makes you dread opening the emails. On my writing blog I don’t have the problem, but I also write for a pretty high profile group blog and we have to be very careful with some of the requests that can disguise, right until the last moment, their true intentions. I like it when it’s obvious at least, but the sneaky ones are the worst.

        Reply
  6. I was owner one of them. I’m not gonna disclose that blog name here. I had published 70-75% guest posts on that blog. Mid of 2014, google sent an email for containing unrelated link inside the content. It was in author bio and google dropped my PR. Once I removed all author bio links including that link from that site, google gave me back PR.

    I wish I could found your post earlier.

    Reply

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