by Mickie Kennedy
Guest blogging can be a great way to get your work in front of new sets of eyes and your books on new bookshelves. But landing a guest blogging opportunity isn't as easy as sending off an email to your favorite blogger. Before you write up that perfect guest blog post, check out these guest blogging best practices.
Finding a Place to Guest Post
You're a writer and a reader, so it's very likely that you already have a few places in mind where you'd like to see your content hosted. But how many is that? Five? Maybe ten?
Eventually, if you begin building links and authority via guest blogging on a regular basis, you're inevitably going to hit a point where your content outstrips the places you have to put it; and don't count on sites where you've posted before to host you multiple times. Not only will their audiences begin to want something different, but your blog's link profile will begin to look a little suspicious to Google: too many links flowing back to your page from one domain tends to send up some red flags.
In other words, you're going to need some tools for finding fresh sites that will potentially host your content. Here are some of my favorites:
Topsy is a completely free service that allows you to harvest the top Tweets related to any given search term; you don't even need a Twitter account to use it. Simply type in your area of interest and then read the top results. Who shared this content? Do they have a blog of their own? Do they accept guest posts?
While Nuzzel does require that you have your own Twitter account, unlike Topsy it doesn't limit you to a single search term. When you sign up you'll be prompted to choose from several categories, or to choose your own. You'll then be shown a list of the top trending stories among those you follow on Twitter that pertain to the Nuzzel categories you chose.
What sites have trending stories? Do they accept guest posts?
Not only does this make finding new guest opportunities easier, but it's also a great springboard for generating new content ideas for your own site.
Another service that's going to show you what's popular in the world of book marketing is AllTop. Simply find the category that best suits your needs and browse that most shared and linked-to stories from some sites you're sure to know about, and some you're sure not to.
What sites are sharing the most popular posts? Do they accept guest posts?
BLOGGER LINK-UP (BLU)
I'm personally a big fan of Cathy Stucker's Blogger Link-Up as the site offers numerous layers of protection against information scavenging and obvious spam. You don't find a ton of opportunities here, but those you do find tend to be receptive, offer fast feedback and will often post your content the same day.
BEFORE YOU REACH OUT
Great: so you've found a site that may potentially host your post.
Believe it or not, though, you're likely not going to be the first indie author with a great book and loads of knowledge/insight to share that's reached out to that site. In fact, you're likely not even the first that day.
So it helps to follow a few ground rules that will help put you head-and-shoulders above the rest.
Here's what you need to do before you even ask for blog space:
1. Read the Blog
This can't be overstated enough. You're asking a blogger for a favor. If you aren't familiar with their writing and their readers, you will not be given the opportunity to write for them. Don't send out cold emails without first reading and researching their website, especially other guest posts.
2. Their Name
Use their name, and get it right. This can typically be found in the 'About' section of the blog. Addressing the person 'Dear Blogger' or 'Dear Friend' makes you sound like a phishing scam-artist with millions to impart if only they'll send you their bank account number.If you're unsure of who to address your email, it's best to simply leave off the greeting.
Well before you drop any guest requests, make your presence known by commenting on your favorite articles, past and present. This is especially important if you have expertise on a subject. Later, when it comes time to pitch your own guest post, your name will be familiar to the blogger.
4. Fewer Words
A lot of times good writers aren't familiar with blog-style writing (lists, sub-headers, bullet points). Familiarize yourself with these techniques to set yourself apart and keep the writing conversational. Check out a site like com to learn "internet style" writing.
5. Follow the Guidelines
More well-known blogs will generally offer guidelines for would-be guest bloggers. Read them and follow them in order to improve your chances of a guest post.The most important guideline to follow is your method of contact. Many blogs and websites have generic 'Contact Me' forms. If that's how they want to be contacted, then so be it. Don't go digging up their personal email via an internet search or a WhoIs search. It's rude and ineffective.
6. No Spam
Nobody likes commercials, so don't send an advertisement espousing the wonders of your new book parading as a "guest post." It won't get read and you won't get another shot at a guest blogging spot.
If and when you're given the green light to write for the website, you are going to need a great topic. You are already familiar with what has been written, so here are some ideas to get you started:
1. A Day in the Life
Talk about a funny moment for you personal life or your writing life; perhaps a turning point when you knew you wanted to be an author. Let new audiences glance you on a more personal level. So few authors break that 4th wall that it'll be sure to make you stand out.
2. Seasonal or Event-Related Content
Holiday or seasonally-related topics are always popular and widely-read. If your book doesn't tie into any particular holiday, don't worry; try creating a "winter break reading list". Slip your book into the mix.
3. Trending Topics
Take a look at Twitter's trending topics for a subject to write on. If people are talking about it, an article on a related topic is bound to be popular.
Write a review of a newly released or re-released book. You can also pull together some news about new books and authors. You can also do a back and forth interview with another author.
5. Lists People love lists.
Sites like Buzzfeed have made their name on the draw of list-style content. Some list-style post ideas:
* Ten Things I Need Before I Can Write a Word
* Five Essential Books for Summer Reading
* Six Ways How Switching to Decaf Made Me a Better Writer
There are plenty of topics out there to choose from, but your best bet is knowing the audience and following the blog rules. You're an author, so you already have the writing bit down.
Have you hit a guest blog post out of the park? What did you write about? Start the conversation in the comments.
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