After being connected with many blogs over the years, I’ve received my fair share of emails from writers who want to contribute a guest post to the site. It’s no surprise. Guest posts are always on page 1 of any online promotion book because they allow you to reach a new and, many times larger, audience.
The only cost to you is time. You do need to initiate relationships with bloggers. And you need to write the posts.
How Guest Posts Help Authors and Bloggers
Guest posts can help build your reputation as an expert in your field and promote your blog and book. But guest blogging isn’t all about promotion. As a writer, guest posts can serve many purposes. For instance:
- If things are going badly, a guest post can jolt you out of writer’s block.
- A guest post can give you a welcome break from the topic of the book you’re blogging.
- And many times a guest post sends you back to your own blogging with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm.
What’s not to like?
The trouble is, bloggers will rarely come knocking on your virtual door asking for a guest post. You have to search for a great blog, approach the blogger, and convince them your work would be a valuable addition to their current content.
If that is your plan, here are a few tips for what to do…
DO Follow the Rules
When working with WOW-Women on Writing, I received countless emails that basically said, “This is who I am…can I do a guest post for you?” They only served to annoy me. Why?
First, we didn’t accept strictly promotional guest posts; they had to be about a writing topic. Second, I was not the person to contact about guest posts. Third, these rules were highlighted weekly when we published a guest post each Friday.
These request for a guest post published on the WOW site indicated to me that the person contacting me hadn’t even read our blog for a full week. Even though I always forwarded the emails to our guest post contact, another blogger might be quicker to hit “delete” without even bothering to reply.
Many blogs include a “Guest Posting” section that lays everything out: how to contact them, post length, topics, if they want ideas or entire posts, and lead time. Read these guidelines, and follow the rules!
With some blogs, it’s more difficult. They may not have a section dedicated to guest post submissions, but they still have hidden rules. It’s up to you to determine what they are. Start by reading their blog. What topics do they address? Do they have a specific length or format? Do they ever publish guest posts? Forget about what you want (publicity) and determine what this blogger wants guest bloggers to give their readers. (Knowledge? Entertainment? Something new?)
Do your best to figure out how to contact them, and, if your inquiry goes unanswered, follow up—once! —just in case your original was overlooked in an avalanche of mail.
DO the Extra Work
Hooray! You’ve landed a guest post. In addition to writing a killer guest post, go the extra mile and make this guest post effortless for the blogger.
Include copyright free graphics or images, an author pic and bio (check their blog for length and format of bios for past guest bloggers), and links. Please do not forget a link to your blog! All of this information may not make it into the final draft of your guest post but if a blogger decides they want to include some or all of it, don’t make them go searching.
DO Shout it from the Rooftops
Use your platform to give a shout out to this marvelous blog before, during, and after your guest post. Of course, you’re going to tell everyone about YOUR guest post. But be the best guest blogger ever by promoting the entire website, not just your brief moment on it.
Let your blog readers know about other posts on the blog, and use social media to do the same. Generally, give them online love! But don’t mindlessly promote them every day. Find the posts that speak to you and share them with your online community. Be authentic!
You’ve landed a guest post. And you would so love to do another…and another…and another. So how do you not blow it with this blogger and all their blogger friends who you might be contacting in the future?
Here are some tips on what you do NOT want to do if you want to succeed as a guest blogger…
DON’T be Unoriginal
You may think that, since this is your first time as a guest blogger on a particular blog you can re-use some old writing. Don’t…just don’t.
Allow the blog to boast that they have original content, not something you re-published or re-hashed after it made its debut somewhere else.
Also, don’t use a one-size-fits-all piece either. Get to know the blog’s audience and write something that specific audience will appreciate. Bloggers will remember that you took the time to write for THEIR audience, not just ANY audience.
DON’T Miss Deadlines
Can you feel me blushing? Because, although I am a stickler for deadlines with written work, somehow they get away from me with online assignments.
If you’re anything like me, you feel the pressure of editing, printing, mailing to meet deadlines when working with print publications, but things seem more….flexible…with online publications. They are not.
Bloggers have their own responsibilities to their readers and hence, their own deadlines. Respect the deadlines given to you. In fact, it’s never a bad idea to send your guest post early to allow time for any rewrites needed.
DON’T Become a Ghost
You did your homework, landed a guest post, wrote something perfect for the audience, handed it in early, and told your online community to stop by and read your guest post. Your part is done – or is it? Not quite.
Once your post goes live, try and open up a dialogue with the readers. You can do it by asking readers a question at the end of your post, in the comments section, or in a tweet or Facebook update. Also, check back to see if anyone has left a comment and respond promptly. Invite readers to follow you and follow those who post a reaction to your post.
Naturally, we’re going on the assumption that everyone loved your guest post. If someone doesn’t like your post <gasp!> and feels the need to vent in the comment section, through tweets and other online platforms, breathe. Remember that people can disagree with you without necessarily being wrong. Do not make it your mission to convince them that you are right and they are wrong.
Instead, take the high road, and thank them for their thoughts. It’s unlikely that a reader will become abusive, but this often depends on the subject of your guest post. If their response is abusive, it’s best to allow the owner of the blog to run interference for you with a general comment about civility and respect for others’ opinions.
Good luck as you venture forth on visits throughout the blogosphere! I’d love to hear about your best and worst guest blogging experiences. Tell me about them in a comment below.
About the Author
Jodi Webb has written advice columns on organization, text for Nintendo DS games, trivia questions for charity fundraisers, and toy and book reviews in addition to annual reports, press releases, and company brochures. She’s written hundreds of magazine articles and contributed to over a dozen books. The former blog tour organizer at WOW—Women on Writing currently works for a small regional newspaper and writes a blog about community life, events, and people. She’s also has a WIP about the zany world of used book sales.
Image copyrigh: jessie_zy86 / Pixabay.com