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May 26, 2015

How Can Guest Posting Help Us?

Arrows pointing in every direction with text: Expand Our Reach with Guest Posts

As writers, we have to be a one-man band for many aspects of our career. Those of us who self-publish have to direct everything, from the editing and cover design to the publication of our work.

Those of us going the traditional route can turn over some of the jobs to others, but even if we traditionally publish, we still have to do the majority of our marketing. And that can be a problem.

No matter how we publish, there’s a limit to how much marketing we can accomplish on our own. We might not have a big platform, with only a handful of friends or followers on our blog or social media.

Or our platform might not be that engaged. Some people fall for the temptation of a “I’ll Like your Facebook page if you Like mine” or a “I’ll follow you on Twitter if you follow me” approach. That method can improve our numbers, but they might be numbers who don’t care about us or what we have to say.

Either way, we probably have only so many friends or family members in real-life or online who are willing to go above and beyond by spreading the word about our work, and the word-of-mouth approach that people respect is difficult to get started. So how can we reach people we don’t know?

We Can Borrow a New Audience

One way to expand our reach is to “borrow” the audience of someone else. Essentially, that’s what happens every time someone retweets or shares our social media posts. A retweet or share spreads our message to a new audience—that of the person sharing our post.

Blog tours work on the same principle. The readers of the blog might be different from those who read our blog or social media messages directly, so we get to expand the scope of who’s exposed to our work.

Many marketers talk about the power of guest posting, which can be done anytime, not just during a new release. Even if all we have is our blog or social media accounts, we can impress others with our insights or knowledge or inspire them to want to hear more from us.

Done well, guest posts can benefit both parties, as both the guest poster and the host share audiences for the day. For both directions, a guest post can expand their reach by spreading their message to a new audience.

How Do We Guest Post?

Some bloggers don’t take guest posts, or they invite the few participants they’re willing to accept, so they’re never open to guest post proposals. Other blogs are built on guest posts, so they have a formal proposal process. And plenty of others fall somewhere in-between.

My blog usually falls into the “I invite those I want” camp. When I think of a blog topic that I don’t have the experience or knowledge to tackle, I reach out to someone who does and ask if they’d like to guest post.

Most guest post proposals I receive every week are no better than spam. They have no idea of my blog, my readers, the value I try to deliver here, etc.

That’s the first key. We need to find a blog where our message would be a good fit for the audience. That means we have to know the blog to some extent, know their audience, and know their policy about guest posts.

The second key is knowing how to present our proposal for a guest postNo blogger wants to risk their reputation on a bad guest poster, so we need to convince the host that our post would be a good match for their readers.

3 Tips for a Successful Guest Post Proposal

Last fall, I opened my blog to guest post proposals for a couple of days to help me out during NaNoWriMo. After I analyzed what made me choose certain proposals, I noticed the winners all succeeded in three areas:

  • Add Value for the Host’s Readers

All popular blogs have an audience because they offer something to their readers. They’re providing a benefit of some sort. The best guest post proposals will include information about how the host and/or the host’s readers will benefit from saying yes to the proposal.

Personally, last fall I looked for posts I couldn’t write. I don’t claim to know everything or to have had every experience, and as I mentioned years ago about why I do accept guest posts, the opportunity to expand the knowledge base here with topics beyond my awareness is one of the best (if not the best) reason to allow guest posts.

  • Appeal to Many of the Host’s Readers

If we know the blog we’re applying to (and not just “cold-calling” them with spam), we’ll know something about the blog’s audience. A blog geared toward non-fiction might not be the best place to propose a post about character development. *smile*

Last fall, I tweaked some of the proposals so the topic would be more applicable to a broader range of readers. For example, rather than a post targeting just a certain genre, I asked the guest poster to expand their tips to be inclusive of many genres.

  • Meet Expectations of the Host’s Readers

Some people proposing ideas think only about what they can gain from a guest post, so they don’t think about why a reader would care about their message. There’s a reason I don’t run promo-only posts here.

I allow guest posters to plug their book or blog in the bottom of the post, but the post itself must be full of information because that’s what my readers expect. To that end, I gave suggestions for how the guest posters could make the post meet my readers’ expectations, such as how to focus on tangible and applicable tips.

I had great success last fall in being able to pick from the best of the proposals. I was able to offer posts about topics that I didn’t have experience with or that offered insights beyond my knowledge.

At the same time, my guest posters got to borrow the readers of a “Top 100 Websites for Writers” blog. And due to my blog’s popularity with search engines, those guest posts live on for anyone searching on the topic later.

However, I don’t want my blog to be overwhelmed by all-guest-posters-all-the-time because I know what it’s like to follow a blog that seems like a bait-and-switch. So I open my blog for proposals only at certain times (as in, last fall was the first time ever).

Want to Guest Post on My Blog?

The first part of July will be the second one of those times for me. *smile* My family is taking our first vacation in years by traveling with my extended family to a remote mountain area…where the internet connection is a question mark. (Let’s hope I won’t need to *cue banjo music*.)

So through the end of May, I’m accepting proposals for guest posts. If your idea is chosen, I’d need the post by the middle of June so I can schedule it into my blog before I go, and the post would run sometime between June 30th and July 9th.

Have an idea for a guest post? Hit me up through my Contact Page with a proposal for what you’re thinking. I run topics here that cover all aspects of writing, from craft and publishing advice to the ups and downs of writing life.

Anyone who guest posts would be providing a direct benefit to me by filling in during my vacation. So unlike most of the time, I’m eager to receive proposals. *grin*

Have you ever proposed a guest post to a blog? If your proposal was accepted, why do you think it was? Did it fulfill each of the three criteria? If it wasn’t accepted, were you missing one of these three points? Do you have any questions for me about guest blogging or proposals?

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7 Comments on "How Can Guest Posting Help Us?"

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Rhoda Baxter

I’ve found that hosting guest blog posts is a really good way to meet new people too. I’ve also had lots of great book recommendations through the Inheritance Books feature on my blog.
Okay, I’m going to go sit in a corner and try and think of a blog post to pitch to you. A blog post about writing. You’d think this would be easy…

Rhoda

Anne R. Allen

Excellent advice, Jami. Guest blogging is a great way to expand your readership and grow your own blog audience. It’s one of the best ways to get your name out there. These are all really useful tips for getting guest spots. (And always, always follow the blogger’s guidelines if they are posted!)

And you are so right about bloggers needing to vet their guests carefully. I just had to turn down a post by a well known bestseller because he linked to a site owned by Author Solutions, which is a vanity press that used hard-sell tactics on newbie writers. I think the author didn’t know, and he’d been duped by ASI too. But I couldn’t be linked to that company without taking a big hit in my reputation.

Karen McFarland

Jami, I understand your criteria for accepting a post. I have had to tweak a post or two in the past in order to make the guest post fit the tone of my blog. It is the reason why I haven’t had a guest post in quite some time. Some are just not appropriate. As you know, I just moved and I’m still trying to get settled. Yet, I made a promise to myself to get back on track. I realized that getting settled is not an overnight venture. It’s going to take some time. So why not focus back on my writing and get with the program. Thus I finally wrote a post for my blog last week. I guess I am too much of a perfectionist. But I think I’m capable of writing a post about writing. I will message you! I do hope you have a wonderful time with your family. What a nice way to take a break from the heat! 🙂

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[…] you should blog, and Vinita Zutshi explains how to best edit your blog posts. Jami Gold explains how guest posting can help us, and Kathryn Lilley warns us that Internet fame doesn’t always drive book […]

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