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November 12, 2012 (Updated: February 3, 2023)
First-time guest bloggers have a lot to keep in mind while writing an introductory blog article. It’s easy to accidentally step on the toes of colleagues without realizing it, or to write something that doesn’t help the blog’s agenda.
In order to meet the needs of the blog, and to earn the respect of new colleagues, here are a few of the things guest bloggers should be mindful of from day one until their last post.
It’s likely that other bloggers have already scooped-up the topics you most cherish and enjoy blogging about; unfortunately, even if you’re more experienced and have fresh insights, those topics should be off limits unless you discuss taking them over. No one appreciates being replaced, especially when the replaced blogger has to stick around and move to another beat. Overshadowing someone will only lead to career-long beefs that could end up as conference dance-offs and industry-wide rumors.
Research which topics are available and discuss it with your blog contact. If there’s a topic you covet, ask the writer if he or she would like to switch, or if you can double-up. If not, patiently wait until that person has moved on, or seek out other blogs that need writers in your area of expertise.
The “If you build it, they will come” mentality works well for guest blogging; if you build a reputation over time as an expert, people will realize it and defer to you for advice. This is accomplished through consistency and focus: never slight people who seek you out for advice, and never stop publishing. This single-mindedness will read across the interwebs as commitment to passion and professionalism.
If you investigated the blog thoroughly, as was recommended in last week’s post, then sticking to the blog’s format should be easy. Outline your piece to match their standard length, and periodically step back to make sure you’re falling within the intended word count.
Go out of your way to fit in with the current style, especially on your first post: a lot of guest bloggers try hard to stand apart, which ends up making them seem ill-fitted to write for that blog. Style should be developed over time, so that a readership gradually understands who you are as a writer. Unless you’re Langston Hughes.
When you promote guest appearances by ‘liking’ and sharing, it helps the blog you’re writing for, and it also makes you seem more engaged and committed. Also, respond to any blog comments as quickly as possible to encourage the readers’ interaction. If it helps, setup alerts for your smartphone so that each comment comes through immediately. Every comment—even a criticism—is a compliment, because it means the reader cared enough about what you said to take the time to respond; and that’s flattering.
While it can take months for the long term benefits to become apparent, guest bloggers should not be dissuaded or discouraged. The immediate perks—such as backlinks and traffic from the author page—should be enough encouragement to stick to the task. Long term perks like branding and the awesome power of networking will eventually win out as the real reason guest blogging is so worthwhile.
One amazing benefit of guest blogging that people often forget is the feeling you get when the blog starts to do better. Knowing that you’ve helped a blog to become stronger is inspiring and fun, and it’s a feeling the entire team will remember as they meet time-and-again within the industry on other projects.
The disadvantages should be noted, too. It can take a long time for results to become empirical, and even then they’re often unclear. For those writers who can handle a long term commitment to an unclear outcome, guest blogging is a great idea.
Be willing to hear a few harsh opinions when you ask for honest critiques from blog colleagues and peers. The first month or so of blogging might be misled, misinterpreted, or unintentionally re-spun from past posts (because let’s face it: it’s hard to absorb the entire history of a blog that’s been running for years). With a little work and a few honest reflections, guest bloggers can rebound and become thought leaders and mentors for a future generation of guests.
Guest blogging has immediate and long term perks that can make the political nature of joining a tight-knit group of writers worthwhile. Initial growing pains might seem daunting, but with a little commitment and the suggestions of friends, new guest bloggers can become powerhouses in their areas of expertise.
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