Hosting 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 Alexa.com. 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You should always offer new, unpublished content unless the blogger has specifically requested a re-post.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:
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.
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.
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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