One of the things about blogging and being a writer is that sometimes you have the opportunity to write a guest post for someone else and expand your audience base by sharing your message with other readers.
But with anything in life, there are ways to screw up and there are ways to be a superstar. Today I share five things that have worked for me so far with either hosting or providing guest blog posts. I hope you enjoy them and will share your own tips and stories in the comment section.
Guest Blog Post Writing Tips
1. Talk to the host about what they want–get specific. Yes, reading their blog is great, but sometimes a blog owner is looking to change their focus or start a new series so your assumptions based on older posts may be off base in terms of what they actually want from you. So ask your host what they’d like to see and what their audience would enjoy. This can be everything from format, content, language, etc. (If you are hosting–be sure to share these things with your potential guest.)
2. This might go without saying, but write for the blog you are on. Sometimes (particularly for my other non-writing blog) I get guest post requests that do not fit with the theme of my blog, or heck, even the topic! In fact, sometimes the message in the proposed post is the COMPLETE opposite of what I am ‘selling’ on my blog. So be sure your message is on target and save yourself some time and rejection.
3. Use original content. Nothing bothers me more than when I get a post from someone that has already been all over the Internet. Especially if they don’t tell me and I don’t find out until later!! I don’t care if they have used those same five tips somewhere else, but if it is verbatim, it actually LOWERS my SEO (search engine optimization) because search engines see it as duplicate content (and old content at that) compared to the previous sites which lowers my overall rank. (Tip: This kind of thing can also affect your site if you are reviewing books on your blog and then posting your same review on big sites like Goodreads and Amazon–or so I’ve been told.)
4. Make it easy for the blog owner. You being a guest post should save them time compared to them writing a post of their own. That means as a guest you should provide links, cover art, bio, etc., (proofread!). Don’t tell them to look it up. They are doing you a favour by sharing you with their audience and expanding your reach. And be kind, helpful, and accessible. Most people pay for direct marketing like this. They are putting you in front of their audience they have worked hard to build and are vouching for you. Don’t abuse it. It’s a privilege.
5. Don’t use your email address in your email signature–it’s a good way to get your email address in front of spam bots. Stay with me here, but if you paste your blog post in the body of your email and it is followed by your signature, chances are it will look like it is part of the post and get included. Even if you use different fonts for your signature, the end user’s email program may strip that different font making your signature look like it belongs at the end of the post. (Recently I’ve begun stripping my entire email signature from guest post emails–that person has already seen the signature anyway and this way it won’t be mistaken as part of the post and get pasted into the post.)
6. Sending images with your post? Be 100% positive you have the right to use the images. You don’t want to get the blog owner in trouble for copyright infringement.
7. Ask questions in your post. Give the proposed readers something to latch onto. If you engage readers and try and get some comment interaction you are likely to be invited back or at least recommended to others. And yes, it doesn’t always work–you are lucky if one out of a hundred readers leaves a comment, it seems, but asking a question (bottom of the post is good) gives them something to comment on.
8. Don’t use a billion links. Pick one or two things you want the reader to click on in your post. This might be your book buy link and your newsletter. Sure, at the end you can provide a bunch of links but if you have everything from Pinterest to LinkedIn to Twitter to Amazon to your newsletter to your website to your blog to your… you are actually reducing the chance of getting a click because you have provided too many choices. Pick two and make sure those ones share portals to other places online. (Sometimes I like to think about what the post’s purpose is and what I feel will fit best with the audience. Eg. If they are Facebook types, provide that link.)
9. Help promote the post. The blog host is helping you find new readers, so help them get new readers. And if you feel ashamed (or some other I-don’t-want-to-do-it type adjective) at the idea of sending people to their blog, then you shouldn’t be there.
10. Reply to comments. I don’t know how many people return to a post where they have commented to see if there is a reply, but I love it when someone replies to a comment I’ve made. And as you and your name grows you may find that replying means more to readers.
11. Don’t skimp out. If you don’t have time to do a proper job of a post right now, beg for an extension or when you say yes, give yourself some breathing room timewise. As well, do some post formatting if you can or leave the host notes.
12. Are you hosting? Read the guest post before publishing it. And read their notes, if any.
13. And of course deliver what you say, when you say you will. Be professional and have fun!
How about you? Do you have tips to share on writing or hosting guest blog posts? Share them in the comment section and help out other writers.