Blogging isn’t just about publishing. It’s about sharing, commenting, and connecting. When we engage with one another, we strengthen the fabric that sustains the blogosphere and us as individual bloggers.
One way to both grow your blog and contribute to the community is with guest bloggers. More engagement? More readers? More conversation? Where do I sign up!? This week, we’ll talk about inviting guest bloggers into your online house; next week, we’ll look at how to find guest blogging opportunities for your writing.
Why would I want to publish someone else? Am I not enough?
A guest blogger is exactly what it sounds like: it’s someone who’s not you, publishing something on your blog — simple as that.
(Note: we’re talking about personal blogs and friends helping friends here, not commercial enterprises. There are many paid guest blogging opportunities, which you can find on sites like ProBlogger; that type of guest blogging is more like freelance writing than just lending your voice to another individual’s blog.)
What does a guest blogger add to your site? Potentially, quite a bit, qualitatively…
- A counterpoint. Perhaps your blog is topical, or you’ve had a series of posts on a particular issue. A guest blogger can offer a counterpoint that deepens the discussion and stimulates more conversation (and your own thinking).
- Expertise and perspective. On a related note, guest bloggers can bring in expertise and perspective that fill in your gaps, like a post on the mechanics of yeast on your amateur baking blog, or one on traveling with small children on your budget travel site. Inviting a voice to add new details is a service to your readership.
- Inspiration. A guest blogger who’s achieved something you aspire to is motivating for you and your readers; someone who’s published several books could be a great coach on your writing blog.
- A fun new voice. Guest bloggers don’t need to be “experts” — a guest can simply be someone whose work you enjoy. Introduce your readers to a new voice they’ll love.
…and quantitatively. There are real benefits for your stats page. (I knew you were wondering.)
- More readers and traffic for you. Your guest blogger will likely tell his or her readers about your site; a personal recommendation from a trusted blogger can do wonders for your readership and traffic. Guest blogging is a fantastic mutual growth opportunity.
- Increased conversation. When you introduce a new point of view, your naturally stimulate conversation. Plus, visitors who followed your guest over will likely enter the fray.
- SEO benefits. You already have great SEO on WordPress.com, and more inbound links makes it even better. If your guest links to you on his or her blog or a few new readers add you to their blogrolls, your overall visibility gets a boost.
- Positioning. If you write a topical blog, you’d probably love to establish yourself as a go-to site for people interested in your subject. Making your blog a resource for information is one way to do that. Inviting guest bloggers who have good advice and info turns your blog into a one-stop shop.
Building a guest list
Anyone who’s ever planned a wedding or child’s birthday party knows that building a guest list is fraught with peril, but finding a guest blogger should be much less stressful that figuring out where to seat your cousin’s father’s ex-wife’s daughter who no one really likes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Your favorite blogger to read.
- A frequent commenter on your blog, especially one who pushes back and makes you think.
- Someone who complements what you offer with a different but related perspective.
- A blogger you almost never agree with — point/counterpoint!
- Someone you often write about, like a friend, significant other, or older child.
Sending the invite
Asking is the easy part:
I really love your blog, and would love to feature you on mine and introduce my readers to you! Would you be interested in guest posting on my site? I admire what you have to say about X, and think we could build some really interesting conversation. What do you think about a post about Y, to publish in Z days/weeks or so? Let me know if you have any questions!
(Feel free to use that, if you’d like. Be sure to replace the X, Y, and Z with your own words and ideas.)
You’ll also want to work out some boundaries for the relationship. Even if the guest blogger is a close friend, it’s useful to have a conversation establishing some or all of the below:
- The date you’d like to publish.
- The length, if it’s not open.
- Whether they will cross-post the same content on their blog, and how you’ll be mentioned there.
- Whether they’ll respond to comments on your blog.
- Whether the post will include photos, whose, and how to attribute them.
- Any style issues you’d like them to observe — no foul language, no real names, no sales pitches or affiliate links, etc.
- Your ability to review and offer suggestions before posting. (The Request Feedback tool is especially handy for this.)
- Revenue sharing, if you use AdWords. Do they get a cut?
Guest blogging on personal sites is most often an informal, friendly arrangement — this isn’t meant to suggest that you need a notarized contract, simply that it can be useful to chat about the relationship so you both feel comfortable and confident.
When you ask for a guest blog, you must post it. Post it good!
Once you get down to posting time, there are a few last logistics to consider:
- How will you post it? You can either paste their text into a post and publish it yourself, being sure to credit them, or add them to your blog as a user and let them publish themselves. If the latter, you’ll want to add them as an Author or Editor.
- How will they post it? If your guest plans to cross-publish the post to their site, how will they do it — as a separate new post, or a reblog? Or will they simply link to your site?
Once the post is live, spread the word of your stellar partnership! If you both use Twitter, be sure to use their Twitter handle when you promote the post. If you’re friends on Facebook or Google+, tag them in your post. Ask them to do the same. Twice the social network means twice the love, twice the readership, and, hopefully, twice the conversation.
Next week, we’ll explore ways to create guest blogging opportunities for yourself — although once you start creating relationships with other bloggers, it’ll probably come naturally — and what to consider as the person providing the content.
If you’ve invited guest bloggers to your site, we’d love to hear about the experience!