Guest Posts can work well for both guest and host, if both do everything they can to make the visit a success. Appearing as a guest helps when you have a new book out, and can raise your online profile in general. It’s worth finding a subject which will engage readers of the blog that you’re visiting, and to add a tiny bit of promo at the end. This is indirect promo, and much more effective, I think than direct promo; because no one wants to be told to buy something; it needs to be their idea, and if someone engages with you as a writer, and connects with what you say in your post, they’re more likely to buy your book. And the more content you have online, the more likely you are to come up in a Google search.
I’ve advised authors on how to go about requesting guest posts and have arranged guest posts on behalf of authors too; plus I’ve hosted guests on both of my blogs over the past few years. Here follow 19 tips on how to be the ideal guest, so your host views your visit as lots of extra hits for their blog and an abundance of social media promo for them with minimal effort on their part; so they’d invite you back in a flash. These bullet points explain how to be the most ideal guest ever, and even if you follow most of them, you’d still be a pretty decent guest to have round for a cup of tea and slice of cake. Blogger means authors or book bloggers, and it’s good to arrange a mixture of both, where possible. These tips are mainly intended to be used when you approach a blogger, rather than when you’re invited. If you’re invited, the host is very grateful that you want to appear on their blog in the first place!
- Do research on where your guest post would fit best, as it makes life difficult for a busy blogger to have to find a nice way to say no. If you write historical fiction, there isn't much point in asking an author who writes contemporary thrillers if they can host you. You’re looking to reach the audience (ie. potential readers) of whoever follows the blog, and guest posts are a way of reaching that audience. The same goes for book bloggers, aim for one who reads and reviews your kind of book where possible. If the host isn’t on Twitter or Facebook, or if they have the accounts, but don’t use them; there isn’t much point in appearing.
- Ask if you can be a guest, nicely with date suggestions, or with your ideal date range (perhaps to coincide with the release of a book). Accept whatever date the blogger comes back with, even if it’s after the release of your book. If a blogger never hosts anyone and they’ve been around for a while, it’s probably because they’d rather not.
- Approach at least a month in advance of when you’d like the post to appear, as many bloggers book up guest posts a long time ahead. Two months is even better. Book bloggers are more likely to accept a guest post, than a request for review (which needs to be asked for at least two-three months in advance), because most have piles of books to get through, and need lots of notice, plus they need to want to read your book.
- If you plan to appear on a few blogs during a certain time period, it’s best to write a different post for each blog, and to make that clear to the host when you approach them. Nobody wants their blog to be part of a merry-go-round of the same post. This does mean that writing your posts will take more time, but it’s worth it.
- Explain that you will promote heavily on social media (and do!)
- Suggest and be ready to discuss the title of your post, and to adapt to what the host prefers, and be prepared to stick to a specified word count. The host may offer to interview you, which is great, if you like being interviewed.
Sending your post:
- Before sending your post, check carefully for typos (obvs, I know, but it saves the host a job).
- Avoid including anything in your post that the host would not like to be said on their blog, eg. something very controversial or political.
- Send the post in good time before publication date of the post (ideally a week before, or earlier if possible), in case there is anything that needs to be changed.
- Include at the end of your post: bio, blurb for your latest book; social media, website and blog links; and photos (as attachments): profile pic, book cover and any photos to be included in the post. It’s worth including place holders throughout your post with eg. [Photo 1 of mountain] as this makes it so quick and easy for the host to put the post together. It’s worth creating a document for the above info about you to use with all guest posts.
- Thank the host at the beginning or end of your post for the opportunity to be on their blog.
When the post is published:
- Look out for the post as early in the day as possible (if the host hasn’t advised you of publication time), and schedule your tweets and Facebook Page update from 8am onwards, if you can.
- Promote heavily on social media: on Twitter- twice or three times per day for the first couple of days, retweet the tweets from the host, and search your name and the title of the post for other tweets linking to the post (those automated directly from the post aren't likely to @mention you)-thank users for those tweets and retweet them, spreading them out as much as possible over the day. Vary the wording and hashtags in your own tweets to expand your reach, add photos in some too. Post on your Author Facebook Page using @ to find the Facebook Page of the host (if they have one), so they receive a notification. Google + the post too if you’re a member and @mention the host if they’re on there, plus add relevant hashtags.
- If you post on your personal Facebook profile too, be aware that the audience needs to be Public or Friends so the host can share it, if they wish to. Find the post on the host’s personal profile and Facebook Page, then: Like, comment to thank them and share. You may have thanked them fifteen times already elsewhere, but if someone reading that particular post sees you haven’t, it doesn’t look great.
- If you want to publish the post on your own blog, wait for a suitable amount of time, perhaps at least a month. Ask the host if they mind, and add a paragraph introducing them, linking back to their blog; and mention the host when you promote on social media.
A bonus for the host:
- Comment on the post when it’s published to say ‘thank you for hosting me’, or something similar.
- Check the post for comments for a few days, and reply to them.
- In the run up to the publication of the post, and afterwards, interact with the host online, by retweeting their tweets; and by tweeting links to their other posts, and by commenting on them where possible.
- Continue to promote the post on Twitter for up to a week, once per day after the flurry of tweets you post in the first couple of days; using relevant hashtags such as #MondayBlogs. Promote the post every now and again after that too.
If all goes well, (which of course it will!), you may find that you make a new online friend, or that you get to know someone better than you did before; a day enhancer when spending time on social media. The most successful guest posts are where both host and guest work together to promote the post on social media. And don’t forget, be prepared to reciprocate!
I’ve had some fantastic, generous, and exceptionally wonderful to host guests on this blog over the past year, and you can read their posts here. Thank you to all of you, if you’re reading!