Grow Your Blog: Be a Great Guest Poster

No Vacancy Motel SignIf you are reading this article, then you likely want to grow your blog.  Did you know that a great way to expand your audience is by guest posting for a fellow blogger?  And did you know that most larger bloggers welcome great guest posters?  It’s true.  Bloggers take vacations, they like different content (so do their readers) and sometimes they just need a break – that is where you come in.  Here’s how to become the contributor that everyone wants.

  1. Target bloggers that you are most interested in posting for – those that you really like.  Rather than writing everyone in your address book, pick three or four bloggers that you love and ask them first.  You don’t want to go crazy, because if you are a craft blogger than you are going to have to come up with a project for each of those blogs, and you don’t want to commit yourself to 37 projects for the month of February.  It’s going to be easier for you to create great content if you are a reader of the blog you are targeting.  Plus, no one likes to be used.  Choose your bloggers with integrity; don’t pick them based on the size of their blog.  Pick those you honestly love and read.  Remember that even a smaller blogger can grow your audience.  A few loyal followers are worth way more than a large number that will never visit you and/or eventually unsubscribe.
  2. Write a short and sweet e-mail, sending examples of your work. Here’s an example of an e-mail I would love to receive:  “Dear Mod Podge Amy, I am a fan of your blog/longtime reader, and I’d love to do a guest posting for you when you have an opening.  I love using Mod Podge and you can see some of my work in the following entries: ________.  Let me know if you’re interested and what date might work for you.  I look forward to your response.  Signed, Wanna Be on Ur Blog.”  Except put your name at the end instead of what I wrote.  You can definitely add a more excited tone to your e-mail, but you don’t need to go into a ton of detail.  Be patient in waiting for a response; larger bloggers typically get a ton of e-mail.
  3. If you aren’t accepted, don’t take it on the chin. You never know the schedule of a blogger, personally or online, so if you get a “no” you should move on without holding a grudge or taking it personally.  This is why I said you should identify three to four blogs that you would like to guest post for.  You may catch one of the bloggers at a bad or busy time.  It’s not about you.
  4. If you are accepted, ask the blogger their editorial guidelines, timeline and posting policy. Find out when that person needs the post and what format – and editorial guidelines are very important.  For most craft bloggers it’s pretty loosey-goosey, but some craft bloggers ask for costs of materials, time project takes and/or want the post in a certain format.  Also be sure you know when you are allowed to re-post the tutorial on your own blog.  I personally ask for at least a week.  The exception may be if you are sending the blogger a post you already have on your blog; if that is the case, make sure that the blogger knows you are not sending completely original content.
  5. Put your best foot forward in your entry. Make sure that your project, writing and photography are the best that they can be.  Copy edit your entry and spell check.  Make sure your instructions are written clearly and that the tutorial photos are clear.  You don’t gain a good reputation by sending your reject projects out as guest posts.  For many of the readers on the guest blog, it will be their first time seeing you.  Remember the old Head & Shoulders adage – “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  I want to add one extra tip: try to make sure that the exact same project is not part of the host blogger’s library.  You are likely to get more publicity and respect if it’s a completely unique project rather than something the host blogger has already attempted.
  6. DON’T put the same content on more than one blog at a time. I know this is similar to #3, but I have to note that if you are working several guest blogging gigs at a time, you’ll need to do something original for each.  You don’t want a blogger to poop their pants when they announce your guest post and see it another another blog that day.  It’s just not good practice.
  7. If you have a craft fail, write the blogger immediately. If something happens and you can’t finish your post, let the blogger know.  It’s not going to be the end of the world, I promise, and everyone has craft fails sometimes.  The sooner the blogger knows, the sooner your host can schedule something else in its place and give you a new guest posting date.
  8. Promote your blog entry and the guest blogger as best you can. If you have an e-mail list (even informal), a Facebook page or a Yahoo! group, mention that you are guest blogging and you’d love for people to come see you at the host blog.  After all, if you followed rule #1 then you love the host blog, so you shouldn’t have a problem doing this.  The host blogger will love you for it and will be thankful if they get a few visitors out of it, too.  This is great for networking and relationship building.
  9. Send a thank you note. This is my own personal rule.  I always thank the host for allowing me to guest blog.
  10. Expect reasonable results. So you didn’t grow your readership by 100 readers the day you guest blogged – you shouldn’t be disappointed.  You are now part of another blog’s post library, and that will typically result in a slow gain in followers from that blog over a long period of time.  You’ve also built a relationship, and that’s worthwhile.  You just keep going, and keep guest blogging, and keep building.  You will experience results eventually.  Don’t give up after one try.

Guest blogging is one of the best things I did for my baby blog in its beginning stages (when it was called World of Mod Podge!), and I still hold onto those relationships today.  We’ll be doing several posts on growing your blog, and guest blogging is just one piece of the puzzle.  We’d love to hear your feedback on guest blogging and experiences in the comments.

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