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How To Guest Blog Without Disaster

Guest writing on blogs can help you reach a new audience, build a better profile, network and perhaps grab a powerful link or two. While it is a great opportunity you have to do it right. It’s a topic that has been on my mind recently after being invited by a couple of bloggers to step in and help while they are otherwise tied up.

Darren has written from the perspective of the blogger hosting the visitor, let’s consider the other side, the guest blogger.

It is clear there are advantages for both visitor and host. The audience in theory should also gain from the fresh perspective and variation. So what could possibly go wrong? Just off the top of my head:

  • Getting the keys to someone else’s property can be dangerous, as any house-sitter could tell you.
  • What the guest says can reflect badly on the host, particularly as many people will not notice the author attribution.
  • Hosting guests for too long can alienate the subscribers, after all, they are here partly because they like the usual blogger.
  • You are effectively writing another blog, for free.
  • It can be difficult finding the extra time, something has to give. What are you NOT going to do while you are writing guest posts?
  • If you find topics hard to come by, how do you decide what to “give away” and what to keep for your own blog?
  • Your stuff had better be good or you will need a thick skin. Anything you post will be compared to the readers familiar blogger.
  • Readers might not recognise you and think “who the heck is this guy?”. Rather than gaining a new audience you could leave people thinking “Who does he think he is?”.
  • What works for your blog could go down like a lead balloon elsewhere.
  • … better stop here before I depress everybody!

Keeping in mind I have yet to guest blog, here are my solutions:

  • Prepare for the worst – Make sure the host has adequate backups and can be contacted if something goes wrong. Even better, email your stuff so the host can read through, edit and put into the system as draft or timed-release.
  • Mix it up – mingle guest posts with the usual content that people are expecting.
  • Know why you are doing it – go into guest blogging clear what the rewards are, more on this in a second.
  • Spread the load - in most cases you will be given good warning so don’t try to do everything at once. If you have to step in suddenly there will be a good reason for the panic. If not, turn it down.
  • Write to the audience - This is not your blog, write for the host bloggers readers. You will be able to find topics and a style that the audience can enjoy and it might help your creative process. Consult the host blogger for ideas also.
  • Introductions - Either get the host to introduce you or if that is not possible introduce yourself. Say who you are, what you will write about, what you usually do and why you are there.
  • Mind your manners - Your readers know what you are about and anticipate your style, language, in-jokes, idiosyncrasies, your hosts readers might not. Write like your hosts Grandparents are reading.

A lot of the tips come down to

  1. Courtesy
  2. Preparation
  3. Collaboration

It will be interesting to see if my tips help me avoid my own disaster guest spots. We shall see!

In the end a guest blogging opportunity must be win-win-win, the audience first, next the guest and last (but not least) the host. A bit of foresight can prevent disaster. Do it right and it can be fantastic for all parties.

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Comments

  1. Are you saying you’re looking for a guest blogger ;)

    These are some great points to consider. I’ve been a guest contributor over at lifehack.org for several months, and I think Leon does a great job of managing it. I think “Write to the audience…” is one of the most important.

    I’ve also been approached by a couple of people who asked about guest blogging on my site. I’m considering it, but I had some of the concerns you address here.

  2. Are you saying you’re looking for a guest blogger ;)

    These are some great points to consider. I’ve been a guest contributor over at lifehack.org for several months, and I think Leon does a great job of managing it. I think “Write to the audience…” is one of the most important.

    I’ve also been approached by a couple of people who asked about guest blogging on my site. I’m considering it, but I had some of the concerns you address here.

  3. Heh no Tony this blog is all me all the time ;O)

    I like lifehack, it seems to be doing the right things IMO

  4. Heh no Tony this blog is all me all the time ;O)

    I like lifehack, it seems to be doing the right things IMO

  5. Hey Chris,

    With regards to guest blogging, do you think that there is any good or proper way for the guest blogger to approach more prominent bloggers in their field offering guest content?

    Is it considered ‘polite’ to offer guest content or is that seen as self-serving and you should wait until the more prominent blogger offers you a spot/requests content?

    I’m curious about this, because I see guest articles on a number of blogs I read but rarely any requests for content. I’m wondering if these are bloggers that are generally approached for guest content privately or if they just send in a nice, personalized email offering the content in exchange for a backlink.

  6. Hey Chris,

    With regards to guest blogging, do you think that there is any good or proper way for the guest blogger to approach more prominent bloggers in their field offering guest content?

    Is it considered ‘polite’ to offer guest content or is that seen as self-serving and you should wait until the more prominent blogger offers you a spot/requests content?

    I’m curious about this, because I see guest articles on a number of blogs I read but rarely any requests for content. I’m wondering if these are bloggers that are generally approached for guest content privately or if they just send in a nice, personalized email offering the content in exchange for a backlink.

  7. I would regard it like making any proposal; look for signals of interest before making your move. Has the blogger made any indication they are open to these sorts of overtures? Most guest-blogging is arranged behind the scenes. Otherwise they make it known that the opportunity is there, sites such as Performancing that make it really easy to post your own content, or blogs that host open-mike sessions. Others like my own blog wouldn’t make sense to have other bloggers.

  8. I would regard it like making any proposal; look for signals of interest before making your move. Has the blogger made any indication they are open to these sorts of overtures? Most guest-blogging is arranged behind the scenes. Otherwise they make it known that the opportunity is there, sites such as Performancing that make it really easy to post your own content, or blogs that host open-mike sessions. Others like my own blog wouldn’t make sense to have other bloggers.

  9. Nice to see someone approaching the issue from the other side and not writing about the same things that everyone already talks about.

    Being a guest blogger can be risky; consider the last 2 posts on JohnChow.com that were done by a guest blogger. His first post was not favored by many ["too long", "boring", "commercial", etc] and his second post is still being criticized. The guest blogger is trying, though I am sure that shows John that having a guest blogger can mean that the content quality and style, no matter how good, may not be favored by your regular readers if someone new starts blogging on your site all of a sudden. John is still trying and has good content, and the guest bloggers are doing their best also. I guess many readers want to read the kind of posts they are already used to.

    I think writing in your guest blog post something like “This is my first post here and I am not used to writing for you all, so if I write something boring, please go easy on me and let me know how I can improve. I will do my best to impress you in my next post!”

    Courtesy, preparation and collaboration: good summary. :) I guess I should look forward to other aspects of guest blogging.

    Thanks for sharing, Chris. This makes me want to guest blog or find guest bloggers even more.

  10. Nice to see someone approaching the issue from the other side and not writing about the same things that everyone already talks about.

    Being a guest blogger can be risky; consider the last 2 posts on JohnChow.com that were done by a guest blogger. His first post was not favored by many ["too long", "boring", "commercial", etc] and his second post is still being criticized. The guest blogger is trying, though I am sure that shows John that having a guest blogger can mean that the content quality and style, no matter how good, may not be favored by your regular readers if someone new starts blogging on your site all of a sudden. John is still trying and has good content, and the guest bloggers are doing their best also. I guess many readers want to read the kind of posts they are already used to.

    I think writing in your guest blog post something like “This is my first post here and I am not used to writing for you all, so if I write something boring, please go easy on me and let me know how I can improve. I will do my best to impress you in my next post!”

    Courtesy, preparation and collaboration: good summary. :) I guess I should look forward to other aspects of guest blogging.

    Thanks for sharing, Chris. This makes me want to guest blog or find guest bloggers even more.

  11. Yeah I saw that, I think a blog named after the blogger like mine or Johns is a tricky one to include guest posts.

  12. Yeah I saw that, I think a blog named after the blogger like mine or Johns is a tricky one to include guest posts.

  13. Chris – thank you for a great post which for me is very timely as I have been approached to be a guest blogger for a duration of 2 weeks on a blog for a professional association.

    Your post did get me thinking about the fact that being approached to be a guest blogger is flattering as the host has considered and respects your style of writing. but also got me thinking about the criteria should we use to evaluate if we should accept the invitation to be a guest blogger in the first instance.

    Being a guest blogger is a great way to build your brand online, extend your reach and hopefully if people like what you write they may subscribe to your blog.

    But not carefully managed it could work against you.

  14. Chris – thank you for a great post which for me is very timely as I have been approached to be a guest blogger for a duration of 2 weeks on a blog for a professional association.

    Your post did get me thinking about the fact that being approached to be a guest blogger is flattering as the host has considered and respects your style of writing. but also got me thinking about the criteria should we use to evaluate if we should accept the invitation to be a guest blogger in the first instance.

    Being a guest blogger is a great way to build your brand online, extend your reach and hopefully if people like what you write they may subscribe to your blog.

    But not carefully managed it could work against you.