I write many guest posts and articles which are shared on big-name sites like Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Feminine Collective, and IndieReader.com. This didn’t happen because I tripped over these sites — it happened because I’ve been writing professionally about social media, branding, and book marketing since 2009, I submitted my work repeatedly (and faced my share of rejections), and finally ‘made’ it. I also share about my books and writing on author sites as well on many, many other sites (you can visit my personal author site here to learn more).
You can do this, too, and I recommend you do. Write about what you know, your experiences, your take on life. Guest blogging, writing articles, getting your name out there is a crucial part of any author’s platform for three main reasons:
- Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — the more your name appears on the ‘net, the higher your visibility in Google Search and
- Your SMO (Social Media Optimization) — a part of your SEO, SMO is how your articles and posts are shared primarily via social media, so the more visible you are on social, the higher your social visibility, reach, and engagement.
- Your Author Platform requires it. Blogging is a wonderful way to connect with readers outside of social media. It’s personal.
There are several ways to write guest blog posts, and people ask to guest here and on my personal site frequently. I turn many people down because they write hazy, general posts lacking a clearly defined message. Why do I turn them down? People don’t connect to The Vague — we connect to specific experiences, practical information, something that helps us connect to the writer in a way that says, ‘Yes! I relate.’
Here’s how to write the ultimate guest post!
One of the most popular posts here on this blog (and it was Stumbled over 3,000 times!) is by successful author Lia Mack, where she discusses ways she injected emotion into her writing. You can read it here. What makes this post so engaging is she gives actual examples of her writing, before emotion, and after emotion. People can see exactly what she means — this gives them real-life examples, specific information they can relate to, and the difference in writing samples.
For any author whose goal is to elevate their writing (and come on, who doesn’t want to do that?), this type of post is golden. Why? It’s personal, people connect to it, it’s real.
This, above everything else I can share with you today, makes a post successful!
On my author blog, people often send me The Vague, even though my blog guidelines state I require specific ‘real life’ experiences. I’m more than willing to work with a guest blogger, helping them to dig deep however, their initial post needs to discuss one specific experience, as that is the theme of my blog. Do you have guidelines for guests? If not, create them. See mine here.
Read My Guests here on RachelintheOC.com for an idea of what my guests write. These are the posts that pass muster because they are specific. If you’re writing for someone, find out what their theme is and write to that — that is your job as the guest — or expect to be rejected.
Be Structured and Use Visuals
Is your post all over the place? Add structure! Like anything we read, whether your realize it or not, a blog post is like a mini-story. Major structural tips:
- Have a beginning, middle, and end.
- Add an intro, summary, and bio.
- Split your post into three bolded headings — remember the Rule of Three? It’s a basic tenet in any kind of writing, and it works particularly well in blogging. Keep your paragraphs to three sentences, if possible.
*Have you noticed how many ‘threes’ I’ve used in this post?* Bullet points, headings, sentences… :).
Additionally, for visuals:
- Add a visual or two — either create your own or use royalty-free images from sites like Unsplash or Pixabay. Why? “Content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without, which equals almost double the amount of views” according to a study cited by Buffer.
- Tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets. This is huge for not only your reach but also, if you take that extra step to interact with and follow those your retweeted you, your engagement. *Remember, Twitter is not about the hard sell, but about building relationships.
- Provide your bio, hi-res author pic, hi-res book pic, and links (or ask for them if you are the host). Better yet: create a media kit/page. (See mine for example.) People are busy — don’t make us chase you down for this basic stuff.
Know How To Write a Great Headline
- go to @CoSchedule and use their free headline analyzer. It’s the best tool! Work your headline until they give you a score of 70 or above (they’ll give you a green dot). I did that with this blog post, as I do with every blog post. Their scores are based on hard research, and you can read all about it on their site.
Do not submit a guest post without a title, or a long streamofconsciousness title that makes no sense (wow, I get this a lot), or most importantly, something that won’t be optimized well for Google. People want you to guest for them to bring them site traffic — so do your job and bring them something professional. That’s on you. It takes one click to visit the headline analyzer, and yea, it can take you ten minutes to create a great headline, but so what? It’s a privilege.
If you are allowing people to guest on your own blog, state in your guidelines that you would like an optimized title — I’ll be honest, most people have no clue what that means! I usually end up optimizing the title myself, so I tell them I reserve the right to change/edit their title.
Ideal Blog Length
Most bloggers will argue that 500 words or less is the ideal length and I will state right here: they are flat-out wrong. When blogging first exploded, sure, maybe that was the case. When I first started blogging in 2008, 500 words or less was absolutely de rigueur. However, that changed in 2015 with Google’s new algorithm changes. The latest data and research from Snap, Moz, Serp IQ, Medium, and Hubspot all support 2,000 words or longer — (source: snapagency.com):
“content that is exceeding 2,000 words is doing the best on social shares and backlinks – two of the most important metrics for success online, leading to more traffic and more customers.”
This is not controversy; this is fact. Adjust your paradigm.
Are you shy or intimidated to ask to guest blog for people? That’s quite common with newbie writers — I felt that way myself! Here are two ways around that:
- Ask other writers and bloggers you fan over to guest for you. Not only will you start building relationships with people you admire, but they will bring their followers to you.
Be prepared for rejections; the people you most admire are likely very busy writing and may not have time to guest blog a lot — I know I don’t. It doesn’t mean I won’t ever have time, or that I don’t like you as a person — it just means I’m swamped at the moment. Ask me again in three months.
- Form a group of writers who discuss similar topics and trade off with each other (I suggest a private Facebook group with a strict editorial schedule). You’ll bring in each others’ readers and followings!
Hope these tips help you expand your author platform in 2016! As always, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.
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