I am excited to have blogger and writer Denise Drespling author the first guest post for The Write Place blog. I hope readers will take a moment to consider her insights and comment below. I met Denise on Google+ a few weeks ago, so if you’re not already using social networks, my advice is: start now. Okay, let me turn it over now to Denise as she offers a 12-point guide to guest posting.
I want to thank Joe for having me stop by his blog today to talk with you! It seemed only appropriate, since I am here visiting, to spend some time talking about the purpose of guest posting.
What’s the point?
Guest posting provides benefits to the guest, the host and the followers. It’s all about exposure.
1. The followers of the blog get new content from a fresh source. (And will hopefully find another blogger to enjoy and follow.)
2. The guest will get access to new followers and gain exposure for his or her own blog or web site, which will hopefully create new, lasting followers.
3. The host gets a day off from posting (and let’s face it, sometimes writing content is hard). Usually, guests will also post on their own site and social media outlets directing followers to the guest location. More traffic for the host site!
But it’s not only about exposure. It’s also about making new connections and building a network, which brings me to the next section. How do you go about guest posting?
Where do you look?
Joe discussed this in a recent post, and here’s what I’ve discovered to work. Start with your resources. Chances are, you already have connections that would be a perfect choice for swapping posts.
1. Look at your friends who do what you do. When I started blogging, I sent a message to my writer friends who also had blogs. The message was as simple as, “I have a blog about writing. You have a blog about writing. Want to swap some posts?” I have had many of my friends on my blog, and I’ve been to theirs. Since then, I’ve made connections on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter that I could ask to visit my blog and who would likely have me to theirs.
2. Make new friends! Here’s the quick story of how I met Joe and ended up posting here today. Someone posted on Google+. I commented and he commented. He mentioned something about wanting to do some guest posting and I jumped at the chance. I sent him a private message, and a few messages and a few emails later, here I am! Ask around. Chances are there are others out there who want to guest post, but aren’t sure how to go about it. (Facebook Groups and Google Communities are great places to make friends with like-minded people.)
3. Submit a pitch. Many blogs (especially the larger ones) will have guest posting guidelines. These differ from site to site, but usually involve you sending in a pitch to say what you want to post about, a sample of your other work, and a link to your site. The guidelines all vary, though, so be sure to read them carefully. Joe and I exchanged a simple outline stating the points we would cover in our posts. It was informal, but set expectations and gave us each a chance (before the work was done) to say nay if we felt the content was wrong for our audiences.
How do you make it good?
Once you’ve made a connection or had your pitch accepted, there are a few basic rules to follow. Common sense, I think, but hey. It’s not always as common as it should be.
1. Send your best work. Don’t write some quick and sloppy post. Your host is trusting you to provide good content. Spell check, grammar check, proofread. Polish it up and present them with a gem. And be sure to do your best at promoting the post. Drive as much traffic as you can to the blog. Think of it like bringing dessert to a dinner party. You bring the fancy chocolate cake, not the half-burned cookies you baked in a rush the night before.
2. A good way to make sure you provide quality content is to be familiar with the blog. Don’t send something (or pitch something) completely irrelevant to the reason the followers come to that blog. If it’s a blog about writing, probably a post about how you clean your house wouldn’t be relevant (unless it’s relatable somehow to writing—then go for it!)
3. Respect post length. If most posts on the site are around 1000 words, don’t send 2000 and don’t send 200. The followers are used to things being a certain way.
4. Respect your host’s suggestions/requests. If he asks for two links to your blog, don’t send five. If he wants a bio and a photo, include them! Not doing what’s asked can put your host in an awkward position and make him not want to connect with you in the future.
5. Be on time! If you’re given a deadline, either meet it or send it in early. If something major comes up, contact the host right away so they can fill your spot. Don’t just leave them hanging, scrambling to come up with content at the last minute.
6. Don’t disappear after the post is live. Hopefully, your post got some comments. Check back and respond. Engage with the followers of the blog. Ask questions and answer questions. Keep the discussion going.
When Joe responded to my very casual suggestion that we trade posts, he did everything right. He sent me an outline that fit my blog content. He searched out my common post lengths. He looked at the style of most of my photos and found one that fit. He even sought me out on other social media platforms and followed me. He told me his expectations of me and what sort of promotion I could expect from him. And you know what? That makes me want to have him back to my blog and keep him as a connection.
It comes down to professionalism. Yes, as I pointed out, everyone can benefit from guest posting, but your job as the guest is to make sure your host benefits the most. Think of the old adage that says you should leave a place better than you found it. It applies to digital space, too!
What have your experiences with guest posting been like? Tell me in the comments below!
Denise Drespling is the author of the short story, “10 Items or Less,” which can be found in the Carlow 10 Anthology, being released in spring 2014. In her words, she “writes like a fiend and reads like a maniac and almost always has multiple projects happening at once. She writes mostly fiction that contains some element of fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural/paranormal. Usually a spiritual element, too.” She has been told she is “uniquely unique” and “more entertaining than cable.” Also, in her words, she tends to talk a lot. Check out Denise’ blog on books and writing, or follow her on Twitter.