Guest Posting & Hosting Guest Bloggers: Strategy Or Time Suck?

Pears_OPHosting guests on your blog – and guest posting on other blogs – is a great way to get your name out there in the blogosphere. But it works best if you create a plan and follow it. I’ll break down what I’ve heard and what I’ve done.

Guest posting as a marketing strategy

Sharing content with other bloggers via a guest post can be a great addition to a successful blog-boosting plan. Essentially, you are creating your own blog tour with the added benefit of choosing high traffic, reader-centric blogs that are often more closely targeted to your needs than a tour company’s choices. Here’s the general plan:

  • Sites you’d like to visit. Make a list of potential candidates where you’d like to guest blog – these will be blogs that cater to your target reader/audience. Find and record contact info for the blogger-in-residence.
  • Know the traffic rank. Check each site’s traffic on The lower the Alexa rating/number, the higher the traffic to the website. Shoot for blogs ranked below 1,000,000. Below 500,000 is better.
  • Subscribe to the blog. Or follow the blog via Feedly – either way, it’s important that you get familiar with the content they post.
  • Comment on posts. If you have time, commenting intelligently on the bloggers’ posts is a wonderful way to introduce yourself. That way when you do approach, the blogger is familiar with your name.
  • Create a query letter. Write a generic query letter that you will then PERSONALIZE for each blogger.
  • Prep blog titles. Prepare a list of potential guest post titles/headlines. It’s best to offer the blogger a choice of topics, in case they’ve recently posted a similar topic, or plan to publish on one you’ve offered in the near future. You should, of course, target the topics you offer to the type of content the blog already publishes. (You can write them first, or wait until a blogger has agreed to host you and chosen the topic, and write the post then).
  • Approach the blogger. Use their name, the name of the blog, cite the type of content they publish, and even discuss a post you found interesting and/or helpful. This lets the blogger know you’re familiar with the work they do.
  • Always be cordial. Take the time to thank the blogger for their reply, regardless if it’s a yes or a no. They might approach you later if they change their mind.

You should always offer new, unpublished content unless the blogger has specifically requested a re-post. That doesn’t mean you can’t recycle great content you’ve used on your blog or in a non-fiction book you’ve written on the subject you’re guest posting about. Just be sure you’ve re-written and re-worded content so that it’s presented in a new way, and do not over-recycle the same subject for a ton of different blogs.

Query letter do’s and don’ts

I get emails from a lot of folks inquiring about guest posting on my blog – they range from published authors to vendors that cater to the self-publishing industry. The quality of these queries vary, but I saved the best one and I’ll share it with you now:

Hey Molly,

I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog over the last month. I stumbled upon it when using twitter and I was immediately hooked by your helpfulness. I really enjoyed the entry about Confessions of a (part-time) writer it really resonated with me, being a part time writer, not by intent of course.

I currently have a project on Kickstarter called [     ] that will run through [       ]. Because your blog is about helping writers and authors and my project is on a platform that can help them, I thought I might share it with you. Would you be interested in doing a guest post on your blog? My hope is that it would add value to your audience, especially since it’s in line with helping fellow word artists.

I am proposing to show my experience in failing and re-launching a crowdfunding project. I want to show how this can be an easy and free way to learn marketing skills hands –on.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to future entries from you.

Best, Joshua Lancaster

I loved this query. He knew what my blog was about, he cited a post I’d written, he was personable and friendly and easy-going. I sent him my best wishes but declined his inquiry because I’d recently hosted a piece about Kickstarter and did not want to do another. He thanked me for my consideration, and I’ve never forgotten him.

Hosting guests

In line with Joshua’s proposal above, inviting other bloggers to share their content on your site can serve you well. Bloggers with well-developed social media accounts bring their personal traffic along when they visit your blog, which is great for you. You get the added benefit of attention from their social media followers when they share the guest post link across their accounts.

I look for people with expertise in an area/topic that fits on my blog. I watch convos on Facebook and Twitter to get ideas, and when I see someone discussing something interesting, I approach and pitch them to write for me.

Hosting guests also gives you a break from dashing off posts – and no doubt about it, blog fatigue sets in for all of us once in a while. I post four or five times a month – every Monday – and I schedule a guest poster approximately once every month.

Establish guidelines

It’s a good idea to prepare specific, generic guidelines for guest posters so you can share that info upfront. Here are my guidelines – you can use this example to develop your own:

  • Shoot for approximately 1000 words (800 -1200 is fine).
  • Try to break up groups of graphs with bolded headers where possible/suitable.
  • I “open every link in a new window,” so if possible, please include the actual url beside the bolded anchor link text in your Word doc.
  • Please include a brief bio at the end of the post, which includes your website address and most important social media account links.
  • Please send your headshot (and/or book cover image) as an email attachment.
  • Plan to have the content to me at least 3 days prior the publication date.
  • If you want to include an image that’s fine; please send it as an attachment. If not, I’ll find an image for the post myself, so no worries!

I follow up with every guest poster seven days before their run date unless they’ve checked in with me. Let’s face it: Stuff happens. We’re busy. Things come up, people forget. It’s safe to have a post waiting on the sidelines just in case.

Post guest guidelines on your blog?

Maybe, maybe not. I do not post guidelines, because I don’t want to give readers the impression that I invite a lot of guest posts – because in a way, I don’t. Although I do sometimes schedule a post from a blogger or vendor that approaches me with a query, most often I seek guests out, and they’re typically bloggers and authors I know. However, having said that, if someone approaches me with a clear-cut idea that works for my blog and is something I haven’t done before, I’m all ears.

Readers, have you guest posted or hosted guests on your blog? What were the results? Please leave a comment and share!

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26 Responses to Guest Posting & Hosting Guest Bloggers: Strategy Or Time Suck?

  1. Jan Christensen August 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Molly, this is very timely for me. I aim for one guest post a month (except December). I have one scheduled for the 30th of this month and am looking forward to seeing if it helps sales. In the past, not too much help, but I’ve seen an uptick the last two I did, so I think it’s building very slowly. I gave up my own blog because although I both enjoyed doing it and hearing from people via the comments, I thought it was taking way too much of my time to post two times a week. I blogged on Fridays about writing in general, and on Mondays about personal organization and time management. Several of my guest posts have been about organization and time management specifically for writers, and they have garnered the most comments of all. One of my mystery series stars a personally organizer who tends to stumble on dead bodies in the clutter, so I find it helpful to tie the two together while guesting. Again, thanks for this post–very helpful.

    • Molly Greene August 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks, Jan! I think it’s better not to think of guest posting as a direct-sale move, but more as enhanced name recognition over time. You might consider taking up your blog again and just posting once a week – your character is perfect for a tie-in.

    • Kathryn Goldman August 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      I love the “dead bodies in the clutter” story line. I’m going to check it out now.

      • Molly Greene August 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

        HA! That is a hilarious premise. Thanks on Jan’s behalf!

      • Jan Christensen August 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

        Why, thank you, Kathryn. Molly, I didn’t even have to guest post here to get some interest. LOL So, thank you as well!

        • Molly Greene August 25, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

          I know Jan, how cool is that? Yaaaay! Best to you in everything you do.

  2. Anne R. Allen August 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Excellent set of guidelines!! I’m linking to it from my blog, although I fear the people who most need to read it won’t bother. 🙁

    I’m sure it happens to you, too. When you have a great Alexa rating, you get daily requests from people who want to guest post, but they don’t understand you have to READ THE BLOG!! I’d say 90% don’t have a clue what the blog is about.

    And please, people, don’t query via FB or Twitter DMs!

    Like you, I prefer to invite guests rather than have them come to me. But I have got some great guests from queries.

    You make a fabulous guest, of course!

    • Molly Greene August 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      Thanks, Anne! I get my share of queries – mostly from fiction authors, though, and I fear that they do not understand that since my (and your!) readership is mainly authors, it won’t garner (fiction) book sales for guests, just a bit of name recognition. I don’t mind the queries so much as the folks who don’t take the time to say “thank you anyway” if they get turned down. Feels like sour grapes to me. 🙁

  3. Mark Armstrong August 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Many thanks for this post, Molly. I recently wrote my first guest post, and had a gratifying response. I really enjoyed the experience, and would like to do more– so your post on the subject was just what the doctor ordered.

    I’m an illustrator. I guest-posted on One Cool Site, which covers just about every aspect of blogging on My post was called Text Is Not Enough, and explained why images are a key ingredient in attracting readers and making a blog post successful. You can see it here:

    Thanks for sharing so many of your experiences, and for all the good tips on writing, marketing, and social media.

    • Molly Greene August 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

      Good for you, Mark, for taking the step – writing guest posts takes time but it sure can pay off! … and thanks so much for your lovely comment.

  4. AK Andrew August 25, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Great post Molly. Thanks for the nudge to put myself out there more. I’m exchanging guest posts with JeriWB this September which I really enjoyed doing last year. Really liked your guidelines too. We all need parameters. I hope I will come to you one day with a proposal you’ll love 🙂

    • Molly Greene August 26, 2014 at 7:29 am #

      Thanks AK! Jeri is a fabulous blogger and a good friend – hooray for you for working with her, and I’ll be happy to *listen* when you approach with a guest post pitch!

  5. MM Jaye August 26, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    Great post, Molly! I was looking for something enlightening re guest posting as I intend to use it as a promotional tool when my book launches. Thank you for the great insight!

    Greetings from Greece!

    Maria (MM Jaye)

    • Molly Greene August 26, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      Thanks Maria! I’ve missed you lately, looking forward to hearing about your vacation and your book launch preparation!

  6. Tomasz Chrusciel August 26, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    Hi Molly,

    Thanks for yet another informative post!


  7. Kerry August 26, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    I am in my first year of blogging and I love guest blogs, both appearing on them and having bloggers appear on my own blog. I think it is a great way to get your name out there. I like to interview interesting people and I hope to share what I have to say on other people’s blogs. I have had some wonderful responses and some support with this.

    • Molly Greene August 26, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Good for you, Kerry – swapping posts is a great tool to build name recognition and make new friends, and other bloggers DO tend to be super-supportive. It’s a win-win deal. Thanks so much!

  8. Laura Fredericks August 27, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    Hi Molly,

    This was certainly a timely response, as I’m in the midst of some guest-posting right now. I agree with you that this is more of a name-recognition over time and awareness-building tool. It’s also a great chance to get to know more bloggers and build relationships! Thanks for another insightful post.

    • Molly Greene August 27, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Laura, my pleasure – thank you and best to you with your guest post project!

  9. Mary H Collins August 27, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Hi Molly. This is great advice. Thanks for sharing. I used to get frustrated with blogging because I was trying to do too much. Recently I began blogging only on Tuesday and it works much better for me.

    • Molly Greene August 27, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Mary, I agree – one day per week is all I can handle, and it seems to work out well. Better to back off a little than quit!

  10. Jason Kong August 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Great post, Molly. Personally, I think a lot of marketing success you have through guest blogging depends on your blog and post topic choices. Other things too, but those are two big ones.

  11. Barbara Oliverio September 2, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Thanks so much for this timely piece! Having just hit recently tried this option, I was second-guessing myself. I feel that I’d like to explore it more and your piece gives me good food for thought.

    • Molly Greene September 2, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      Yaaaay! I love good timing – best to you with your guest posting project, Barbara!