Tips and Strategies for Guest Blogging

One of my personal goals at the start of 2021 was to write and publish guest posts on other sites. I figured it was one more way to share my expertise with others and show my writing talent. It also adds to my portfolio that I can show to potential clients. I’ve done enough research on the topic that I’m willing to share what I’ve learned so far.

In content marketing circles, guest blogging is the act of contributing content to another website or blog. A guest post often includes your byline, and the site editor might describe you as a “Contributor” or “guest author.” In addition to gaining a wider audience for your writing, there are numerous other advantages to guest blogging.

* It helps you promote your expertise on a given topic.
* It can help you grow your personal brand or your company’s brand if you work for someone else.
* It can help you expand your audience for your blog
* It can help drive referral traffic.
* It can help you build relationships with other bloggers and online publications, leading to business partnerships or job leads.
* It can help you increase members to your email subscription list

With so many benefits, it’s hard to believe that so many writers don’t take advantage of this outlet. However, it takes time to see your efforts pay off. You have to work at it, and you have to plan ahead what you want to write about and who you want to write for. Most important, you have to know your ‘why” – why do you want to be a guest blogger.

Set goals for your guest posting campaign

Many content marketing experts will tell you that a successful guest blogging campaign begins with a goal. What do you want to achieve with your guest post? Do you want to promote your expertise as a thought leader? Do you want to expand your audience for your blog or website? Do you want to build relationships with other bloggers or organizations?

Once you’ve determined your goal for guest posting, you can begin to brainstorm story ideas that will tie into your goals.

Brainstorm niche topics and article ideas

Say your goal is to be seen as an expert in career issues, but your blog is about office management and productivity based on your experience as an office manager. Maybe you’ve written a few career-related articles for your blog, but you’d like to share your expertise beyond your own audience. Start by making a list of career topics you’d like to write about. Make sure these topics aren’t already covered in your own blog, otherwise they may be rejected. Many sites want stories that you haven’t written and published anywhere else, including your own site. Once you compile your list of topic ideas, set them aside. These are the stories that you’ll pitch later.

Research potential sites

Once you have your list of story ideas, you’ll need to find a home for them. It helps if you are already following sites that you want to write for. If you haven’t done this already, start following them on social media or subscribe to their newsletter, if they have one. This way you can track what they are publishing.

You can also do a simple Google search.  Enter keywords such as “write for us,” “become a contributor,” and “guest articles.” See what comes up. Be prepared, however. There are numerous articles on the subject of finding guest blogging opportunities. Make sure to focus on your niche.

Once you’ve noted the site you want to pitch to, you’ll have more homework to do. Check out each of the sites on your list to see if your proposed topics have already been published – and if so, when. The editor might be more open to your pitch if the similar story on their site is older than a year or two.

Also note how often they post outside submissions. Do they post contributing articles once every few months or several each month? It’s up to you to decide if the site is worth pitching to.

Review editorial guidelines carefully.

Find the editorial guidelines on your targeted site and review them carefully. Many editors have specific instructions. Make sure you follow their submission guidelines or your pitch will be rejected.  

Some sites offer small compensation for your writing. Others offer non-monetary rewards, such as your bio and byline and links back to your own blog and social media accounts.

When your pitch is accepted….

If your story idea is accepted, congratulate yourself. It might be a good idea to have the article already written, or most of it. Based on the editor’s feedback, you might need to make some changes. Make sure your article is polished and well-researched. Remember that a new audience will be reading it and hopefully, becoming part of your own readership.

Make sure to promote the post and the publisher

Perhaps the most important step is to promote your guest post. Share it via all your social media channels and on your site. But don’t let the post-publishing promotion end there, writes Ann Gynn, editor of the Content Marketing Institute blog. You can develop a stronger relationship with the posting partner (the site that published your article) by taking additional steps. Monitor any comments that are posted and be sure to answer each of them, even those that are critical of your content. No need to engage in an online debate with your critic. A simple, “Thank you for reading,” or “Thank you for sharing your thoughts,” will suffice.

A month or so later, check in with the publisher. Share any success stories you had as a result of your guest post. Inquire about opportunities for subsequent posts. See if they’re willing to put you on a regular posting schedule.

Track the results

Content marketing experts suggest tracking results of your guest blogging campaign. There are tools you can use to help you do that. According to the Alexa blog, it’s helpful to track things like:

* Number of new website visitors
* Number of social shares
* Referral traffic
* Number of comments
* Number of new leads
* Number of brand mentions or links
And more…

Tracking these statistics helps you gain insight into which sites helped you achieve your goals and sites that didn’t perform as well. (Editor’s note: Alexa is a monitoring service that tracks that kind of information.)

Want more information?

This is just a cursory overview to get you thinking about the possibilities of guest blogging for your writing practice. There are plenty of resources available about guest blogging. To learn more, check out these articles:

Hubspot: Everything You Need to Know about Guest Blogging
Optin Monster: The Ultimate Guide to an Effective Guest Blogging Strategy in 2021
Neil Patel: Guide to Guest Blogging
Content Marketing Institute: A Step-by-Step Guide to Guest Blogging
Alexa: Guest Posting: A Step-by-Step by for Getting Started

Interested in having me write a guest post to your blog? Contact me at theregalwriter@gmail.com.

How to Give Writing Feedback — Thoughtfully and Effectively

office-1209640_640

Whether you’re part of a writer’s group or manage a department of creatives, you may be called upon to give feedback about someone else’s work. It can be doubly difficult to critique someone’s work, especially if you like and respect that person. You don’t want to upset them or discourage them from writing more. On the contrary, you want to provide feedback that will challenge them to produce better work.

Most experts agree that it’s important to provide some positive comments along with negative feedback. Critiques without positive comments can be devastating to creative types, who are naturally sensitive about work that they’ve poured their heart and soul into. Negative critiques can make writers feel their work has no redeeming value, and they may be tempted to give up writing altogether. There is always something positive to find about someone’s work. A good editor will see it and won’t hesitate to share it.

So what’s the best way to handle critiques? How can you provide meaningful feedback that supports and encourages other people to produce better work without crushing their soul? Here are a few tips for giving effective feedback.

1. Read the piece thoroughly. If it’s a shorter piece, like an essay or news article, read it several times. Here’s how I like to assess a written work: The first time through, I read to get the gist of the story. During the second reading, I make notes about technical issues, like grammar, punctuation and run-on sentences. The third time through, I make notes about content issues. Are there confusing plot points? Does the story flow seamlessly, or are there sticking points where nothing appears to be happening? It’s usually during that third reading that the biggest issues pop out like a neon sign. If possible, avoid reading the piece right before meeting with the writer. It simply does not allow enough time to mull over the writing.

2. Find the story’s good qualities. Don’t just focus on mistakes and confusing content. Start with sharing the positive qualities of the story. Some managers and editors have used the sandwich method for critiquing a person’s work — couching negative feedback between two positive statements. According to the Grammarly blog, some editorial experts claim that this method isn’t effective in providing constructive criticism. I see nothing wrong with this approach, however. I suspect that its lack of effectiveness has more to do with not properly communicating constructive feedback.

Here’s how the sandwich method works:

“I love your story idea. I think it’s sharp and witty, and a lot of people will appreciate the humor. However, I noticed a tendency for run-on sentences. Perhaps you were thinking faster than you could write? Sometimes it helps to read aloud your story so you notice those run-on sentences. Once you fix those run-on sentences, I think you’ll have a stronger story..

You notice that I not only pointed out the weakness of the story, I offered a suggestion for fixing it.

3. Choose your words carefully. According to the Balance Careers blog, it might be helpful to begin statements with “I” rather than “You.” The “you” focus can be perceived as a personal attack, which you want to avoid. Focus on your own response to the story. Instead of saying, “Your story is boring,” say “I found the story boring in some sections.”

Be honest with your critique, but approach it with the intent of helping the writer improve their work. Always offer suggestion or tips, but refrain from directing the writer how to fix things. Respect them enough to give them space for resolving their own writing issues.

4. Provide detail… Don’t just mention the issue, but provide some detail. Don’t just say, “I thought your story was boring.” Explain why you thought it was boring. Was the entire piece boring to you, or just one or two paragraphs? Was there too much narrative when you were looking for more dialogue? Did the story need more conflict? Did the story move off on a tangent that was difficult to follow and had nothing to do with the story? The more feedback you provide can help the writer analyze their story with an eye on improving it.

5. …But don’t nitpick. You might notice a lot of things wrong with the story. In that case, for the sake of your working relationship, focus on only one or two things that the writer can easily fix. Remember, your role is to provide helpful, practical suggestions.

6. Call out recurring mistakes right away. If you have read several pieces by the same writer over time and notice that they tend to make the same mistakes over and over again, you need to call them out right away, suggests the marketing experts at Hubspot. Don’t just fix the problems for them without mentioning it. If necessary, make the correction and show it to them so they see how to fix it. The only way they will learn not to make the same mistakes again is to make them aware of them in the first place. The sooner you mention those errors, the sooner they can learn to correct them on their own.

7. Ask questions to guide the writer. According to Grammarly, when you ask the writer questions about their work, it gets them to thinking about how to solve their own writing issues. It guides them to resolve the issues on their own rather than you telling them how to do it. For example, you might suggest, “Is there a way to simplify this paragraph, perhaps edit it for shorter sentences? It might make the story easier to read.”

8. Don’t make it personal. Critique the work, not the writer. Set aside whatever personal feelings you have toward the writer and focus on the work in front of you.

Remember these are works-in-progress, not finished pieces. Your job is to provide feedback to help the writer improve their work and sharpen their skills. Think about those times when you’ve had your own work critiqued. How did you feel when you received feedback? Did you feel deflated and discouraged, or were you energized and excited about moving forward with your story? Be the editor you’d like others to be with your own work.