This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren
While Darren and his family are on a well-deserved holiday, he has lined up enough pre-written content and guest posts to keep ProBlogger readers supplied with plenty of quality reading in his absence. So it makes sense that, this week, we’ll be focusing on the art of the guest post. The most important thing to remember is that guest posts are a win-win situation for the host blog and guest blogger. Keeping that in mind as you send pitches (or review incoming pitches) will take you far.
Regator has, as always, provided a list of the ten most blogged-about stories of the last seven days, and we’ll use posts about those hot trends to learn about what makes a great guest post:
Example: A Traveler’s Library’s “Baghdad in War Time”
Lesson: Have a strong understanding of the blog you want to write for. What topics are covered? Who is the audience? What tone is used? Preferably, you’ll pitch your idea to a blog you read regularly, but even if you’re trying to expand your niche by writing for a blog that is new to you, take time to skim posts dating back two to three months to ensure that your ideas are in line with the blogger’s vision. Pitching an idea or post that is not in keeping with the blog you’re targeting shows a lack of respect for the host blogger’s time. In this example, the guest poster has a history of writing about topics from health and science to environmental news, but this post shows a clear understanding of the tone, theme, and audience of the host blog.
2. Emmy Awards
Example: Plus Size Plum’s “Plus Size Beauty Goes to the Emmys”
Lesson: There are several reasons you might solicit guest posts for your blog: They provide fresh voices and content, allow you to take breaks without leaving your readers hanging, and as this post demonstrates, guest posts can be used to provide a unique point of view. This guest poster wrote about the Emmy Awards from the perspective of an attendee whose spouse was nominated for an Emmy—a vantage point that few, including the host blogger, would have been able to provide.
3. Glenn Beck
Example: Religion in American History’s “Beck Plays Prophet”
Lesson: As a general rule, bloggers do not want recycled content. When you pitch a post or idea, it should be something that has not been published on your blog or any other blog. But as this example demonstrates, there are times when a blog sees fit to use a guest post that has already appeared elsewhere. The important thing is to be honest and up front about the post’s history. Unless you explicitly state that a post has run elsewhere, most host bloggers will assume you are delivering original content.
4. Apple TV/iPod Touch/Ping [It was such an Apple-heavy week, that I’m combining the three so that they don’t take over the trends list. Apple fever is an epidemic.]
Example: Silicon Alley Insider’s “Apple Just Killed MySpace Even More Dead”
Lesson: When relevant and appropriate, link to other posts on the host blog. It’s good for their SEO, it shows the blogger that you are keeping up with the blog, and it’s helpful for readers.
Example: Sociological Images’ “Racial Violence in the Aftermath of Katrina”
Lesson: Don’t save your best material for your own blog. Put your all into every guest post. After all, the key word is “guest.” When you’re in your own home, it’s fine to put your feet up on the coffee table if you want, but when you’re a guest in someone else’s home, you should be on your best behaviour and respect the rules of their home.
6. Paris Hilton
Example: Clusterstock’s “Senators Are Pushing To Cut Taxes For Paris Hilton”
Lesson: Once your post is published, your work is not finished. You’ve got two more jobs: 1. Assist with promotion. Share the link so the host blogger receives new visitors from your network. Remember the win-win rule. 2. Check back to answer questions and follow up on comments. This example received several negative comments but when the guest poster didn’t return to address them, they got out of hand. It’s the internet, once the negativity starts, it has a bad habit of snowballing. A simple reply can show that you’re engaged and open to discussion.
Example: The Best Defense’s “How to get kicked out of Afghanistan without really trying — too hard”
Lesson: Before pitching a post or idea, ask yourself what you’re offering and how you’re adding to the blog. You should, as always, be solving a problem or providing a solution with your post. This post by a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve offers an insider’s perspective.
8. Ground Zero Mosque
Example: Pagan + Politics’ “Guest Post: Islamophobia”
Lesson: Include a brief bio with your post. If the host blogger wants to write his or her own intro for you, as has been done with this example, he or she will do so, but a brief, well-written bio provided by you may save time on the blogger’s end and will give readers an idea of your expertise and background.
9. Discovery Channel
Example: Watts Up With That?’s “Stop the Hysteria”
Lesson: Stirring controversy in a guest post is risky business, particularly if the host blogger disagrees or the comments get out of hand. As Chris Garrett said in a ProBlogger guest post from 2008: “If you are going to be snarky, damage your own brand.” This example, however, is opinionated but clearly backs up the host blogger’s opinion. You’ll need a pretty good sense of his or her ideologies before you can do that though, so understand where you stand before you take the plunge. As always, be sure to take the blog’s tone into account. Darren has fostered a positive, helpful vibe here on ProBlogger so my posts are still very “me,” but tend to be a bit less snarky and opinionated than posts I might do elsewhere.
10. Oil Spill
Example: Naked Capitalism’s “Guest Post: Scientists Say Dispersants May Delay Recovery of the Gulf By Years … Or Decades”
Lesson: In addition to building your reputation and expanding your audience, getting backlinks is one of the main reasons many choose to guest post. This example shows subtle promotion. Don’t go overboard and make the entire guest post about you and your brand. It’s content, not an ad.
Do you accept guest posts? What advice would you give those who wanted to guest on your blog?
For further reading on ProBlogger, check out:
- “How to Guest Post to Promote Your Blog”
- “How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest Posting”
- “Finding New Readers for Your Blog With Guest Posting”
- “9 Ways to Become and Exceptional Guest Poster”
- “How to Use Guest Blogging to Grow Your Blog Exponentially”
- “How NOT To Get A Guest Post Published On A Blog”