Writers are advised that one way to grow an audience is to guest post on other sites and blogs. Whether you end up working with the blogger herself or with a site’s editor, and once your offer to write has been accepted, here are 6 things you need to know to be a good guest.
1. Deliver Your Post Publish-Ready
Don’t leave basic editing duties to your host. By the time you send your post to her it should be in great shape — edited, proofed, and formatted. Imagine that it will go up as is, and make sure you’ve cleaned up all writing issues — grammar, spelling, punctuation. Check that your prose is structured well, that it offers a strong introduction and an effective conclusion, with clear thoughts that are easy to follow.
2. Don’t Be Late and Do Be Responsive
Get your submission to the blogger/editor on time or even early because she will need some extra time to get the post publish-ready. It may need specialized editing to fit her format. It may need an image to drive your main points home. It may need to fit in with an ever-changing editorial calendar.
As the host preps your post, she may need to reach you again. Be attentive and respond in a timely manner in case there are any follow-up issues she needs to resolve to get your post queued up.
3. Be Careful How You Deliver
For the love of the Oxford comma, deliver your content in a format that works for your host. For example, I do not like to receive Word files for all the extra work they require. Why? When you compose in Word, the cut and paste action imports not only your text but also lines upon lines of extraneous Word code. It takes precious time to strip all that out and increases the likelihood of an editing error.
On the other hand, an editor I work with requests that I use Word when I deliver content to her. So I do.
It’s always good to ask how to deliver.
4. Ask if You Should Send Your Bio and Headshot
A host may or may not require these, but in the event she does, don’t make her chase you down. Include both an intro line at the beginning and a bio line at the end of your submission. Do a bit of research to see how your host has credited previous guest posters and imitate that style (long or short bio, in italics or not, how many links are allowed, etc).
Ask what resolution and size the blogger/editor would like for your headshot and then comply. She can always shrink an image but she probably can’t embiggen.
5. Ask Before You Submit a Previously Published Post
Make sure to let your host know if your post has been used elsewhere. If you’re expecting to get something from guest posting (a larger audience, for example), your host has the right to expect a post that won’t mess with her search rankings. It’s a courtesy to let her know if the post has been previously published in some form.
6. Don’t Forget These After-Posting Activities
Once the post is published, keep an eye on it for the first two or three days. Share the post via your own Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media channels, tagging your host. Respond to any comments that are made, and do your part to get the post seen, read, shared, and discussed.
Remember: if the hosting experience turns out to be a good one for the blogger/editor, you just might be invited back. Do what you can to make the process easy for her, and deliver a post that is well-written and ends up being well-read.
What other tips do you have for guest posting?
(This article first appeared on the now-defunct BlogHer *sniff* and was edited by the incomparable Melissa Ford. )
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.
Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.