Here’s How to Write The Ultimate Guest Post via @BadRedheadMedia

By Rachel Thompson | Blog

Dec 26

badredhead media, rachelintheoc.com, guest posts, blogging

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:

  1. Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — the more your name appears on the ‘net, the higher your visibility in Google Search and
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Be Specific

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!

Be real.

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

badredhead media, rachelintheoc.com, guest blogging tips, book marketing Many authors fail to write great headlines — most of us aren’t trained in copywriting. Here’s a great cheat, though:

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.

Be Brave

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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All content © 2016 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


photos courtesy of royalty-free unsplash.com
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About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published by Shadow Teams NYC and represented by Lisa Hagan Books. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs,  #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

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(10) comments

[…] Rachel Thompson at BadRedHead Media outlines what you get out of writing a guest post for someone else’s blog (like ours!) (hint: free visibility!) and what you need to know so you can write something effective. From writing great headlines to structuring your post and using visuals. Read more… […]

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[…] Guest blogging, podcasts, and interviews: give and receive. I often have people guest post for me and vice versa. This is totally free, and if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out on a huge visibility opp. Look for bloggers with whom you have similar interests and approach them. This is the building relationships I speak so much of. You blog for them and find new readers; they blog for you and find new readers. Win/win. […]

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Very good post, I shall save, read, inwardly digest and then approach you…

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[…] Speaking of friends, it was from Rachel Thompson of BadRedHeadMedia that I’ve learned this fantastic secret to blogging that I just had to share with you all because that’s what friends do. And appropriately, I discovered this little gem while reading through her great article called Here’s How to Write The Ultimate Guest Post. […]

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Carol Cameleon February 28, 2016

Wow, there’s a lot of immensely helpful information here Rachel, thanks. I’ve bookmarked to keep coming back to this. It seems I’ve got to work on my post length… #MondayBlogs

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[…] to help you get started or perfect what you are already doing.Rachel Thompson, providing ideas for how to write strong author blog posts.Jane Friedman, answering the question "What Should Authors Blog About?"Kimberley Grabas, providing […]

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[…] know how to write a guest post? Learn. There are a number of blog posts about writing the ultimate guest post. Or you can hire a content creator or content creation firm to write posts for […]

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[…] Guest blogging (like I’m doing right now! podcasts and interviews. This is free marketing, builds relationships and gains new readers. Trade off with authors and bloggers who write what you write and/or have similar branding platforms. AC Fuller has a popular author podcast. […]

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[…] by an author who admits to not having any experience in the industry, I’ll go with the latter. Experience comes with doing. We all get it eventually. I’d rather bet on a writer who spends their time writing rather than […]

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[…] by an author who admits to not having any experience in the industry, I’ll go with the latter. Experience comes with doing. We all get it eventually. I’d rather bet on a writer who spends their time writing rather than […]

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