Everyone says you should start a blog to increase your readership. The trouble is, it can be hard to know what you should blog about, finding the time to blog is challenging, and you’re not convinced it will actually help you sell books.
Writers often ask if they should blog or not. My answer is usually yes, you should blog, but not necessarily on your own blog, at least not to begin with. Instead, guest blogging can be more effective.
In this post, I’m going to explain how to get started with guest blogging to increase your readership, and why you should try it. When you’re ready to get started, I have a free pitch template to help you secure those first guest post spots. Click here to download it.
It’s extremely important for authors trying to grow a platform and particularly an email list, to have an outreach strategy in place to attract their ideal readers.
An outreach strategy means you position yourself where you can be seen by leveraging the audiences that other people have already built, rather than scrabbling to build one of your own from scratch.
So, instead of spending time blogging on your own site if you’re not getting any visitors, go where the people are – ideally, your people. This is a great way to build your readership!
If you have done your homework on who your ideal readers are and know where they are hanging out online and the content they are consuming, you can head straight for those blogs to pitch yourself as a guest writer.
If you don’t yet know where you should be guest posting, a little bit of research can go a long way.
There are a couple of things to consider when looking for the right blogs to guest post for.
First, you want to look for blogs where your ideal readers are consuming content. Your goal, after all, is to find new people who will love your books.
Second, you need to look for blogs that accept guest posts and have a decent following, to make sure it’s worth your time pitching them. Bear in mind that if you’re just starting out you don’t want to only pitch authority blogs, as they are much harder to land posts on.
It’s often easier for non-fiction authors to find relevant blogs. You’ll simply look for other blogs that talk about your topic, or a related topic.
For example, if you write about mindset for professional athletes, you could guest post for a blog that covers nutrition for competitive athletes. Your post may talk about the effects different foods have on your state of mind.
Fiction writers may pitch other authors’ blogs. You could offer a review of another book in your genre, talk about your writing routines, or even share an interesting research trip you took.
Alternatively, fiction writers can also pitch non-fiction blogs. For instance, you could pitch fitness blogs with a post about how to fit in exercise when you write all day, or how to avoid wrist pain when you type a lot. You could pitch time management or productivity blogs, personal development blogs, or business blogs that want to know how you fit an author business around a day job or what you look for in a virtual assistant.
These blogs may not be a perfect fit – the readers won’t all have an interest in your books – but fiction readers are everywhere, not only reading blogs about their type of fiction. If you get yourself in front of enough people, some of them are going to be your ideal readers.
Once you have some topic ideas in mind for blogs, you can use Google to find blogs that accept guest posts. Try searching [Your Topic] + [Guest Post] or [Your Topic] + [Write For Us].
If you already know some blogs you want to try, search for guidelines for submitting guest posts or contact details for the blogger or an editor. Some sites won’t have a ‘Write For Us’ page, so have a look to see if they publish guest writers. If they do, it’s worth sending them a pitch.
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Once you have found some blogs you want to write for, you want to think of posts that would be a good fit for them.
Have a look at the kind of content they have published already, especially which posts are most popular with their readership. Some blogs list their most popular content, while others you can figure out by looking at how many shares and comments a post got.
Advanced tip: you can use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out what is the most popular content on a particular site and how much engagement it has had on different platforms.
If you’re struggling to come up with content ideas, go back to your ideal reader avatar. What problems do they have that you can help solve? Most importantly for fiction writers, use your storytelling skills. Storytelling is important in non-fiction writing to keep an audience engaged, so show off what you can do. If people enjoy what you write, they are more likely to check out your fiction, even if you have written a ‘how-to’ post.
Fiction writers need to be prepared to seize guest blogging opportunities by thinking outside the box. I had a client who managed to land a guest post about ‘When is it time to stop driving?’ the day after the UK’s Prince Philip (then aged 97) had a car crash. This tied in with my client’s book, in which he wrote about a hair-raising road trip with an older relative at the wheel. My client had no idea that opportunity would come up, but he was ready when it did!
Once you know what you want to write, use my free template to put together your pitch – click here to grab it. Start by following the blog submission guidelines. If none are listed, send a short pitch by email including your topic ideas and/or headline. Include a link or two to any previous posts you’ve written that had lots of engagement. If you’re just getting started (or if requested), you may want to send your full post so they can get a sense of your writing.
Most importantly, personalize your email and include something that shows you are familiar with their blog. Remember, it’s not about you. The blogger wants to know what you can offer their audience, not how a post on their site will help you sell more books.
The whole purpose of guest blogging is to get in front of new potential readers to let them know you exist. To be able to keep in touch with them and let them know about your books, you want to move them to your email list.
You can usually have one link, and possibly a social media link, in your bio. Rather than send people to your home page, or your Amazon page, link to your reader magnet. This is how guest blogging will build your author platform, increase your readership, and allow you to grow a community of engaged fans.
So that’s it, now you know how to guest blog to grow your author platform. If you’re ready to give guest posting a try, don’t forget to download The Smart Author’s Guest Post Pitch Template right here!
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Belinda Griffin is a Book Launch Coach and Author Publicity Expert at SmartAuthorsLab. Belinda helps authors of all kinds launch and market their books with impact, so they can grow a thriving community of engaged readers, sell more books and make the difference in the world they care about making. Learn how you can grow your readership with her free guide, Get To Know Your Readers – 15 Essential Questions!
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of 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. 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 and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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