Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Look at Guest Posting for Writers

To guest or not to guest. That is the question for today's social media and marketing post. 

If you've been following along (take a look at Blogging for writers, Facebook for writers, Twitter for writers, and a lovely post by Ralene Burke on social media for writers) then you know my focus for this month is social media and marketing for writers. If you're not a writer I'm pretty sure you'll still find some helpful tips for marketing and social media, but realize I am speaking to the writers out there.

Back to the question at hand...guest posting. Is it worth it? Is it too time consuming? What do you say when you guest? Where do you guest? Why should you even bother guest posting? I'll answer these questions and more below.

Guest Posting For Writers: To Establish and Build a Platform

To guest

We'll be talking about platform next week, but to start this discussion I want to hit the positive sides to guest posting.

1) Spreading the word

The most obvious reason to guest post is to spread the word about you. (Are you sensing a theme this month?) When you guest post on blogs or websites you generally get the opportunity to do a little bit of promotion at the end. Don't have a book to promote? That's okay! Promote your social media links and/or blog.

2) Follower fans

Another HUGE bonus to guest posting is the fact that you can gain new follower fans! Guaranteed that, should someone like your post, they will want to find out more about you. If they like what they find, you've just gained a new follower and/or reader fan!

3)  Be an expert

Guest posts allow you to be the expert. Choose your topics wisely (more on this in a minute) but make sure you freely give away some expert advise. You new readers will thank you--and sometimes that means a follow or like.

4) Discipline

The less-thought-of reason to guest post is discipline. When you agree to be a guest, you are then "chained" to a date and forced to think through your post. This is great practice for making deadlines, writing creatively even when inspiration may not be striking, and a fantastic way to hone your online writing style and voice.

Not to guest

Though there are some great reasons to guest, there are some downsides to guest posting as well.

1) Time's a wastin'

The number one issue with guests posts are the fact that they can take up precious writing time! (Let's be honest though. What doesn't take up time?) If you find yourself spending more time working on numerous guest posts than on your next novel, you've hit the "not to guest" side. Take a step back and re-evaluate the need to guest.

2) Small numbers = small reach

It doesn't matter how fantastic your guest post is--you may have just solved the problem of world hunger--but if no one is reading the blog you're guest was a wasted effort. Sort of like a tree falling in the forest is a guest post going live in a small, carved out space of the internet no one visits.

Make sure you are spending your precious time crafting your masterpiece guest post for a blog that gets decent traffic. I'm not saying ignore anyone with a small readership, but evaluate where you're spending most of your effort and time.

3) Repetition isn't helpful

If you're hoping to write one guest post and recycle it through a string of blogs across the vast expanse of Internet-space let me save you the trouble: DON'T. Why? Well, the overbearing ruler of the Internet these days is Google. Love Google or hate it (or a little bit of both) but don't anger it.

Google is great at detecting repetitive content in multiple locations. To Google that looks like plagiarism and therefore not-good content. That is a no-no in Googles eyes. So, if you aren't up to creating new content for every guest post, it's better say no.

Where to guest

There is no right or wrong answer to this. Since I'm a member of ACFW I've used connections I've made through the organization as well as at conferences to guest on other blogs. The best types of guest post positions allow you to get in front of an audience who will be receptive to what you are sharing.

Start by connecting with authors who write what you write (and who have an active blog). Check out their blog, read it, and see if they offer guest post options. If so, risk asking if you could guest. Before you do though, make sure you have an idea in mind and possibly a title. Being able to give them a snapshot of what you'll share can help them make a decision about letting you guest on their blog.

What to say when you guest

The last part is the actual writing. If you've decided to guest, take your time and make sure you're putting forth your best effort. Remember, you're acting as a type of "expert" in your field so make sure what you're saying is helpful, efficient, and accurate. Guest posts can also include things you are passionate about.

As example, I've guested about writing tips, photography, faith, and marketing. If you are using guest posts to grow your own audience and platform though, I'd recommend writing about things related to your writing or that capture the attention of people who would read what you write.

Don't forget a killer bio, links to your social media, and a headshot that accurately displays your personality (and isn't a selfie...please!).

End result: Guest posting can be a big aid in growing and expanding your platform but it can also eat away at your own writing time. The best approach is to schedule posts far enough apart and to write them as quickly as possible once assigned. Have fun, draw readers in, then give them the opportunity to connect with you on your own platform.

Check out some recent guest posts I've done: 
Reading and Writing: God's at work behind the pages on InkWell Inspirations
How to Create and Cultivate Community on the ACFW blog
A Page from My Journal on Trust on Putting on the New
Writing Like a Photographer: The Key to Descriptive Writing on Seekerville blog
Why Authors Need A Professional Headshot on PR by the Book

Your challenge:
  • Do you guest post? Reply yes or no!
  • Share the link to a guest post you've written
  • Share what topics you'd like to post about
  • Share what topics you'd like to read about
(Don't forget to use the hashtag #ttmediachallenge when you share your thoughts and tweet)


 Last weeks //WINNER//

I had the lovely Alice J. Wisler on the blog last week and she offered to giveaway a copy of her latest novel, Under the Silk Hibiscus. The lucky winner is...

Daniel Bryl

Congrats Daniel! Contact me and we'll get you your book!

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