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How to be a Tacky Guest Poster

licensed by flickr user chris glein

Guest posting is a great way to make connections within the blogosphere and gain new followers, but if you do it wrong, you can alienate friends and annoy readers. I have had many guest posters on my sites, some great, some not so much. Here are some things I’ve learned about how to be a tacky guest poster:

1. Your guest post is light on content and heavy on shameless self-promotion.

I don’t mean the paragraph at the beginning or end of your post that introduces you. I mean the whole.dang.post. is fluff, and has no actual content besides pointing people to your blog. This is the tackiest type of guest post. Unless your host has specifically requested that you write this type of post, please avoid.

Example: “Look! I made a clown wig! Isn’t it so cool? Here are ten photos from different angles. To see how to do it, go to MY BLOG!!!!”

Instead, your post should be a full tutorial. Include:

  • title of project with “by your name here, your site here”
  • opening explanation paragraph
  • list of supplies
  • clear instructions with photos
  • concluding paragraph

To promote yourself, include a closing paragraph with a 2-sentence bio of you, along with a link to your site. If your host requests it, you can add a link to your most popular post.

2. Sneak affiliate links into your guest post.

I should have made this #1. Sneaking links that profit you financially into a guest post is by far the most obnoxious, tacky thing you can do. And this has actually happened to me. More than once. Please, for the love, if you are a member of affiliate programs, please control yourself and do not give in to the temptation to embed your affiliate code in any links you use in a guest post. That is like putting a tip jar out on someone else’s counter.

If you don’t know what affiliate links are, congratulations! You have not been tacky in this way! Affiliate links are links that lead to sales pages on other sites, like Amazon. These special links have a code embedded in them so that when someone clicks on them and then makes a purchase, the person whose code it is gets a tiny percentage of the sale. Affiliate links are NOT bad by themselves, but attempting to sneak one onto someone else’s site is a very rude thing to do.

3. Save the slush pile projects (that haven’t surfaced on your own blog) for your guest-posting gigs.

You had a slight craft fail, or a bad photography day. At any rate, your project doesn’t quite measure up, so you haven’t posted it on your own blog. A guest posting gig comes along, and you think, “I know! I can use that slightly lopsided pillow for her site!”

Think again. Your guest post should be your best material. That’s what I said. Save the crap for your own blog (or you have an open invitation to guest post on CraftFail, just email me). If you are guest posting, one of your main goals should be to appeal to a new audience. By putting your best material on another blog, you are enticing their readers to come visit you and see what else you have to offer.

4. Forget to promote the post on your own blog and social media accounts.

After your guest post goes live, you never mention it again. WRONG! You should dedicate an entire post on your site JUST to point to the article on the host site. The way I do it is: most enticing photo (but just one), write a paragraph introducing the project with an obvious link over to the project, and a paragraph about the host site.

If it doesn’t fit in your blog flow to write this type of post, at least write a p.s. at the end of your post the day the project goes up with a sentence about the project, the name of the host blog, and a link.

And, hey, if you are guest posting like four times in one week, then maybe just write ONE post with a list of all the places you are posting.

Oh yeah, and social media. At least one tweet and one link on your Facebook fan page, please.

Guest posting is all about the cross-promotion.

5. Forget to follow up.

This isn’t strictly necessary, but writing a quick email thanking the host blog for letting you guest post makes a fabulous impression. Mod Podge Amy did that when she guest posted on my site (that was my first encounter with her), and I still think she was the best guest poster ever!

6. Don’t bother spell-checking or proofreading. They can do that for you.

You might not realize it, but hosting a guest blogger actually takes effort. In my case, it takes more effort than just writing a post myself. You heard me: it is quicker and easier for me to write my own darn post than it is for me to prepare your guest post. Even at the best of times.

Things that make it easier for me as the host: when you take the time to make sure your post is well-written, including spell checking and at least a once-over to check for grammatical errors. Also, if you are writing a tutorial, please make sure your instructions are as clear as they can be.

7. Steal someone else’s content and pass it off as your own.

I know none of you would do that. Right? Don’t steal photos, don’t steal words. Can you imagine someone giving you a plagiarized guest post?

And please don’t copy a project you saw somewhere else and post it on my site.

If you ARE “inspired” by another project, please change your project enough so that it qualifies as its own thing, and not a dim copy of someone else’s idea. It’s also nice to give attribution to the project that inspired you. Say “I was so inspired by the clown wig over at Mod Podge Rocks that I decided to make this Pippi Longstocking wig.” and make sure you link to the inspiration.

8. Reprint previously-published content without telling the host.

Check with your host before you reuse a project you have already posted elsewhere (including your own site). Sometimes it’s okay, sometimes it’s not. If you are able to repost a previous project, take the time to write a new opening paragraph and tailor the project to the host blog.

9. Ask to guest-post on a blog that has nothing in common with your own.

If you have a craft blog, guest post on other like-minded blogs in your general arena (like home, food, DIY, etc.), not an automotive repair blog. This is a no-brainer.

On the flipside, if someone you don’t know approaches you and asks if they can guest post and their site is something like OnlineCollegeDegreez.com (or anything not related to your site), tell them thanks but no thanks. These people just want good link juice from you, and while they will write a passable guest post (usually), they are not interested in making a real connection with you OR your blog’s audience.

10. Agree to guest post on a specific date, and deliver your post a day late.

If you have a deadline for a guest post, be sure to deliver on time. Earlier is even better, and much appreciated by the blog host. A lot of times, if there is a specific deadline attached to your guest post, there is a very specific reason why. Maybe the host is going on vacation, or even having a baby on that day! Once you hand your guest post over, your host will still have to spend several minutes (or longer!) getting it ready for prime-time, so be sure you adhere strictly to deadlines.

Need a guest post? Want to increase your blog audience by guest posting? Network for guest posting here.

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23 Responses to “How to be a Tacky Guest Poster”

  1. This article was spot on! I loved it!!

    And I can’t believe anyone would embed their affiliate links into a guest post. I never in a million years would have even considered doing that. Tacky is an understatement.

    I had a guest poster once who is a more high profile blogger, and she gave me the code a day late and it was FULL of grammatical errors and incomplete sentences. The pictures were horrible.

    I cried. Literally. I sat there and cried and told my husband there was no way I could publish that. It was going to destroy my reputation. I had made a commitment though so I fixed it and edited it and then published it. I’ve since learned from that mistake though!

    Anyway, thank you so much for this awesome blog. I’m falling for Crafterminds. Oh, and if you ever want a guest post about blogging stuff, I’d love to submit an article. 🙂 I’ve got loads of useful advice.

  2. Nat says:

    First, the picture plus the headline made me crack up.

    Second, you are right on with guest posts taking more time than regular posts. I have guest posts running on my blog for the first time in a couple weeks and it really took a lot of time to make them work for my blog. It was my first time soliciting guest posts, so I learned how I need to be specific in how I like posts so we both didn’t need to do so much work on them later.

  3. Stephanie says:

    This article is the best! In all of the guests I have had on my site, I have only had 1 that was a total disaster- and by disaster I mean she fit the majority of those guidelines that you mentioned! It was ridiculous and I had to spend literally hours making it blog-worthy! Months later, I found out from other bloggers that I was not the only one she did this to. What is this lady thinking?!?
    And thanks for the reminder about these rules- I am not a perfect guest and I could do better with my blogger etiquette!

  4. J. Hill says:

    Yup. I’ve had a nightmare guest post too. With all the rewriting and reformatting, I could have written several posts of my own. Don’t be like that, friends. Seriously bad bloggy juju.

    On the other hand, guest posts are pretty awesome when all goes well. Thanks for the tips to help make sure it does!

  5. J. Hill says:

    PS Allison, if you ever want a guest post spot, you can come over to Mad in Crafts. Not just because I love your blog, but because my mom thinks you are a rock star. 😀

  6. LOL! I actually have done something correctly in this blog business! Great article, it’s good to understand everything. The first time I did a guest post I didn’t promote myself at all. (didn’t know I should have) and unfortunately the host didn’t either so it was disappointing. I realized later what I did wrong. Kutos to Tater Tots and Jello – I’ve guest posted for Jen twice and she always promotes me so well I start to blush….she is such a nice lady.

  7. I love this – i am a crafter but am looking to start a Military/Veteran blog geared toward well Military/Veterans. But i have ppl that want to post on their with their links & be guest posts that just don’t relate…some from other Countries.
    Glad i found this – helps a great deal-THANK YOU. i am sharing so that maybe some of them might read it and realize it will not help them. 🙂

  8. You are like the Holy Ghost…I was asked yesterday to to a guest post (my 1st) over at Little Blue Chairs and had NO idea of the “rules”. This post MUST have been divinely inspired. Not that I was thinking of doing any of those things, but still felt like I was sitting in church and squirming in my seat. Perfect timing!! Thanks 🙂

  9. Paula says:

    Thanks for a great post! I’m a newbie blogger and have never guest posted OR hosted a guest poster so I’m delighted to read these tips and learn how to do it the right way now before I start off.

    Love your site, by the way. Will definitely have you on my list of favorites!

  10. Felicity says:

    Really appreciate you taking the time to provide these kind of tips. Very helpful.

  11. MommaHen says:

    I’ve never done a guest post but I definitely would not do any of the above! lol!

  12. Megan says:

    This is a fantastic post. So much good information and also, good MANNERS that people might forget from time to time.

    I just recently posted a craft that was based on an image a friend sent me *from the internet.* He had no idea where the photo came from, or who it belonged to. I loved the photo (of a heart-shaped hard-boiled egg) and wanted to share it on my blog, so I figured out how to make it, and then posted the steps on my blog. I didn’t claim the egg thing was my idea, and I *DID* reference a girl whose site is CHOCK full of far superior food art, and gushed about how talented she is…

    But to my absolute horror, I found out a few days after my post went live, that the image my friend sent me, was FROM an unpublished post that the superior food crafter had been working on. How her unpublished image was circulated online is beyond me… but finding out that I posted a craft DIRECTLY inspired by her UNPUBLISHED craft made my skin crawl. After apologizing profusely to her for posting HER idea before she did, and adding a massive footnote once her post went live, I felt only slightly better. Live and learn I suppose… and always always check your sources when you are sent inspiring craft ideas!

    Thanks again for this post!

  13. Michelle L. says:

    Fabulous advice. And *gulp* it makes me nervous to invite guest posters over to my place.

    I have a question: if I do a long detailed tutorial as a guest post for someone else, is it uncool to post (several weeks later) a shorter version on my own blog? Of course also referencing and linking to the previous guest post! It was one of my favorite and most labor-intensive tutorials ever, and I sort of wanted the content to be on my blog somewhere, for new followers to have available. I have seen this done once in a while by other bloggers – what do you think???

    • heather says:

      @michelle, just check w/the person you guest posted with and see if they have any objections. They probably won’t. Usually people ask that you wait a week or a month before you repost it. If they do have an objection, try to negotiate. They didn’t pay you, and you own the rights to your post, so you have the legal right to do whatever you want with the post!

      p.s. Don’t be nervous about guest-posting because you are a rock star.

      p.p.s. Everyone, I did not have ANYONE specific in mind when I wrote this. If you have guest posted for me in the past (and even if you have done some of these things), I don’t actually remember who has done what, and I promise I’ll still like you even if you sneaked affiliate links into your post. 🙂

  14. Melinda Orr says:

    This is a terrific article…thanks so much for the good info….now would it be tacky to ask how you get yourself invited to become a guest poster to other blogs…with out being TACKY lol….maybe that’s another article 🙂

  15. MaryLea @ pink and green mama says:

    This is awesome Heather!! I was just asked by another blogger to a guest post soon and I will certainly keep this in mind!
    But… I may have to use your photo ; ) (kidding of course!)

    xoxo
    MaryLea

  16. Connie says:

    I am saving this post as a reminder – thanks for taking the time to write this up for newbies like me.

  17. Camilla says:

    This was so good to hear. I haven’t done this before but if and when I do I will have a good resource to help me along the way. Thanks for your work in putting it together.

  18. This post is SPOT ON!!! I recently started a swapping series on my blog and have had issues with other swappers… And it really does take extra work to tidy up their posts sometimes! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Once again, right on the money!!! I asked a fellow blogger for a guest post last Spring when I knew I would be out of town and unable to post. She said she had the perfect project for me.

    The post she sent was so LONG, I had to scroll and scroll and scroll to get through the whole thing. The worst part was that 90% of it was full of links back to herself, pictures of her other posts and features. It went on and on and on. The actual project she had promised me was maybe two paragraphs long and one photo. If I had been a new reader, it would have lost my interest almost immediately, b/c it was shameless self-promotion.

    My advice (that I use myself) is to set boundaries before agreeing to give a person a guest spot.

  20. Great advice!! After reading this, I don’t think I have ever been tacky. So tell me, is it okay for me to work a link in to my etsy shop?? I have done that before….

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