The importance of guest blogging cannot be understated for people who need to market themselves and build a name. While most people have come to accept this as a fact, there are still many who don’t understand the value of choosing the right blogs to hone in on for contributions.
Before you commit to guest blogging for a site that has a readership of three, take the time to thoroughly investigate it. This investigation will help you to choose blogs to write for that will in fact build your name, and will also (and more importantly) teach you how to write well for the blog’s needs.
A contributing writer who doesn’t study the blog’s voice and history will not be long lived. Here are tips for guest bloggers who need to integrate themselves into new blogs and become effective guest bloggers.
Phone a Friend
When you’re in the process of choosing blogs to write for, asking friends and colleagues which blogs they read religiously is a good idea. As well as the blogs you love, the blogs your circle digs are most likely to suit your intended goal of building a voice within your industry.
Consult those people whose opinions you value most. Make a spreadsheet of potential blogs, including columns for contact information, blog reach, niche market, etc. As you refine your list of possible blogs, this list will ensure that future possibilities are not forgotten.
Choose the Blog
Contact the leading blogs on your list of possibilities, pitching general ideas, deadlines, and yourself as an asset. Keep the dates of contact noted on your spreadsheet so that you don’t accidentally nag contacts by following up with them too frequently.
When you get a few bites from blog contacts, prioritize your contributions on a schedule so that you meet every proposed deadline. Getting a reputation as a slack contributor could be the end of a guest blogging career.
Know the Team
A current blog team has a lot to do with the blog’s future, as they are the foundation and inspiration for posts. Reading a few of the contributions of each blog teammate is a good idea, as it would help you to avoid repeating ideas, and it would also help you to allude and link to their posts when applicable. Linking to a co-contributor shows team spirit and awareness.
Networking with the current team at a new blog is a good idea because it could lead to other, future possibilities. Furthermore, it should never surprise an industry insider that the names seen on blog rosters appear and re-appear all over the industry: making friends with inevitable future colleagues is smart business.
Know the Style
Each blog should have its own heart and soul, which new writers must discover and absorb. Derivations from this style should be chosen consciously and for noted reasons: merely being ignorant of the style is lazy, and won’t impress your new blog contacts.
Here are a few keys to blog styles that new contributors should notice:
- Layout – If every writer frames pieces as listicles, then it’s a style choice (such as on Cracked).
- Outlining – Note whether writers use bullets or numbers, short or long paragraphs, in-text bolding for emphasis or italicization, and then follow suit.
- Citations – Mimic the established method for citations and allusions.
- Linking – If everyone else is linking to a new window, you should at least ask before linking to open on the same page.
- Length – Try to stay within the established blog length.
- Images – Follow the general style of selected images, whether it’s black and white, humorous, candid, or other.
- Relationship to Reader – If everyone addresses the reader frequently, then it might be a tactic to use for your blog. Also note the tense, and whether first person is used for blogs.
Know the Audience
Reading the blog’s comments for the last month of articles can be incredibly insightful. You might learn the names of the active readers, as well as their peccadilloes. You could also learn how other bloggers are choosing to interacting with the readers, which is useful when your blog starts getting pings.
Make note of reader complaints, comments, and compliments. Try to keep these in mind while addressing your new audience.
Choose a Strategy
When you first start writing for a blog have a goal in mind and a path to attain that goal. Do not expect the blog contact to know your hopes and dreams. Tell him or her if your contribution is a one-off, or if you’d like to become an established, long term contributor. Setting clear expectations gives everyone a greater sense of trust in reliability and professionalism.
When and if goals change, always address this with your contact. Never leave anyone expecting a blog that’s not coming.
Being a guest blogger can build a person’s name, reputation as an expert, and his or her network of industry contacts. However, guest blogging for the wrong site will leave guest bloggers nonplussed when their Klout goes nowhere and the blog faces 0 comments for several weeks running. Writers should always investigate a blog carefully to choose the right one and handle it appropriately.