Getting guest posts published on other people’s blogs is generally considered to be A Good Thing. It can bring you new clicks, followers and even customers. But even if you’re being commissioned to write a blog post for someone else, there are some fairly unwritten rules that will help you to make it a success on both sides.
In this article, I share what makes a good guest blogger, from initial contact to thank yous and shares in ten top tips for being the perfect guest blog poster. I talk about being a good host here, by the way).
1. Do your homework
You’ve got a post you want to share and you think it’s a good guest post. Before you even contact the host to ask them to post it, do your homework. Check whether they have a guest post policy (I have one, and you can find a link to it on my main blog and in more detail on the Libro Full Time blog). Many busy bloggers will not even reply to you if you haven’t looked and noted any guidelines. I will give people a second chance if I have time – but not always!
Presumably you know the blog because you’ve been reading it already. Have a think about who the audience is. What sort of posts does this person publish? How does your prospective guest post fit in with them?
2. Pick your hosts wisely
Have a think about whether this person welcomes guest posts. Are they on your topic or are they specific interviews or on other subjects? Is this someone you’ve engaged with on a long-term basis? Have you liked, shared, commented on their posts for a few months already? If they know your name and where your expertise lies, they are more likely to welcome your guest post.
Note that common advice is to only guest post on blogs that are more popular than your own. You can look at their Alexa score and yours, for example, to see which is more popular. BUT, because part of my mission is to help other small businesses and colleagues, I’m happy to guest on smaller, newer blogs, like I did here and here, to help to promote them as well as myself.
3. Show that you’ve done your homework
When pitching to place a blog post cold, or when replying to a commission, make sure that the host knows that you’ve had a look at their blog, that you’re familiar with their style and content, that you have an idea who their readers are. Nothing annoys a blogger more than having a random person contact them saying “I have read your blog [on football] and I think this post [on nuclear physics] would fit really well, please post it and all my links as soon as possible”. Even super-polite old me doesn’t always reply to those ones!
4. Follow the guidelines
If a blog has guidelines for guest posts, like The Creative Penn does, for example, then do follow them! (These ones are very detailed because it’s a very popular blog with lots of guest posts, but as I said above, most people have them). In fact, if you can’t find any published guidelines, ask the blogger if they have any specifications as to the ideal length, angle, etc. Make your piece match these as closely as possible.
5. Don’t duplicate content
Google and other search engines do not like duplicated content. So make sure that any blog post you tout around is fresh, new content, not something that has appeared elsewhere or been pitched elsewhere. It’s fine to pitch the same post to several potential hosts as long as you do it in series not in parallel, i.e. you wait for the first rejection, then try the next blogger. Also see section 9 to avoid doing this on your own blog.
6. Help the host with the formatting
As we learnt in the last post on hosting guest posts, formatting text sent in by someone else can be a nightmare. If you really want to help your host, by all means write your post in Word so you can spell check it, etc., but then “save as” a plain text file with a .txt file (drop down the “save as” box when you’re saving and choose “plain text .txt”). Your host can then open the file in a text editor and paste it into their blog editor.
You can always send a Word version as well, so they can see any bold or italics or special formatting.
It goes without saying that you’ll spell check your post and – if necessary – have it checked by your proofreader first, doesn’t it?
7. Provide an author bio and links
To make it easy for your host, do provide a short author bio about yourself, and links to whatever it is you want to promote. I usually put together a few sentences on what I do and what I care about (this guest post by me has a good example which the host has altered slightly to fit her style and context) and then give the full URLs for the links, with an explanation of what they’re linking to. Some hosts will put the links under the text, some will put them next to the text, all should make them live.
8. Accept feedback and give feedback
Many bloggers who accept guest posts will want to tweak your article a little to make sure it fits their guidelines, style and readership. Please do accept this graciously – you’re playing round someone else’s house, so you do need to play by their rules.
I submitted one piece to a blog as a guest post, but it wasn’t what they were looking for. They came back to me with ideas for tweaks, but in the end I thought it was better to abandon that idea and do a whole new post for the other blogger. That was accepted immediately and proved popular with their readers. Not being one to waste some good text (and proving that it was fine as a blog post, just not as a guest post on that particular blog, I tweaked it to remove references to the original blogger and published it on my own blog!).
Once the piece has been published, have a look at it, and if there are any errors, do let the host know. Typical things to look for include spelling your name incorrectly and not putting live links on. If you spot anything like this, let them know right away and give them an opportunity to put it right. No one’s perfect, and I would certainly prefer my guests to let me know if there was a problem.
Related to this, though: don’t push. If you’ve submitted a request to guest and haven’t heard back, by all means drop one reminder or question a week or so later, but that’s it. For many bloggers, blogging isn’t their only job. Sometimes my blog has to come second to my paid work (I pre-write and auto-post, so even if it looks like I’m spending time on the blog every few days, I might not be!) and I’m sure other people are in that situation, too. Hassling will probably lead to a refusal!
9. Promote and share
Your guest post will build hits for and interest in both your host’s blog and products/services and yours. So get promoting and sharing on their behalf, since a hit on your guest post is likely to generate a click-through to your blog or other resource. I get a lot more hits on those posts that both my guests and I promote – AND because there are more hits, the click-throughs go up, too (this is particularly noticeable on my small business chats, when it can make a big difference). So you have a vested interest in promoting the blog on which you’re guesting.
One important point: don’t paste the whole of your guest post into your own blog. By all means write about it and link back to the original (this is a good example by one of my guests) but duplicating content over two different blog posts will make your content disappear down the search engine rankings very fast, as the search engines are suspicious of anything that looks like automated activity and will ignore two blocks of identical text.
10. Say thank you
It’s always nice to say thank you. So email the blogger who has hosted you and also put a public thank you out there on the social media. I’ve got a page on my blog where I list my own guest post requirements but also list all the guest posts I’ve placed – and that sends a few people over to my hosts every day.
This post has talked about how to be a good guest blogger. If you enjoyed this post, please click some of the share buttons below or post a comment yourself – all are welcome! And if you have an idea for a guest post for this blog … do get in touch!
Guest posts 1: How to be the host(ess) with the most(est)
10 reasons NOT to write a blog
Scheduling blog posts and keeping going
September 17, 2013 at 11:04 am
Thank you, Liz. I have found your tips on both hosting guest and guest posting over the last two weeks really helpful.
Liz at Libro
September 17, 2013 at 11:53 am
Thank you, Lindsay, I’m so glad that you’ve found them both helpful!
September 18, 2013 at 10:21 pm
Reblogged this on How to Make MASSIVE Cash..
September 22, 2014 at 3:28 am
Great advice! Shared on FB, LI, Twitter 🙂
Liz at Libro
September 22, 2014 at 6:40 am
Many thanks for sharing – much appreciated!