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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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