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Regular readers will know that I’ve been hosting interviews on my blog and doing guest posts on other blogs this year. I’ve learned a lot in the process and I’d like to share with you how to do it right.

Requesting Guest Posts/Interviews

You want to host a guest post or interview on your blog. How do you do this?

Sometimes these things just land in your lap. For instance: an author has a new book coming out and wants to do a blog tour, so they invite bloggers to host them. You fill in a form and voilà – you have a guest post/interview for your blog. (You’ll need to have a respectable amount of online followers for this to work, but that’s why I encouraged you to build your online presence last month.)

Or, more likely, you know someone who started something great that is related to your brand. So you send them a direct message on Twitter (sending them a tweet to tell them you’ve done so) and ask them if they’re interested in an interview or guest post on your blog (whichever you feel most comfortable with). I covered how to do this properly in a guest post over on Writer to Writers. Check it out for success in landing a guest blogger for your blog.

You can always ask an expert you follow and interact with online to write a guest post for your blog about an area of interest (say they’re a social media guru and you’d like them to write a post about social media for authors). Most people have a contact form on their blogs/websites so either use that or send them a direct message on Twitter. Refer to the previous link for a step-by-step how-to.

Always be polite.

How to Handle the Interview/Guest Post

You’ve exchanged email addresses, so this is the way to communicate from now on.

Send your interview questions/answers via a Microsoft Word document. Most people use this and it’s just a lot easier to use to copy everything to your blog. Don’t write this in the body of the email – there’s a reason you can attach files to an email.

As the host, make sure your guest knows exactly what you expect from their guest post.

As the guest, follow the instructions your host gives you for your guest post.

Always ask/send an author photo, author bio and social media links. This looks great at the end of a guest post/interview. Remember: author bio’s should always be in the third person. Also remember to name your photo something like “Ronel author photo” to make it easier on your host: IMG-20171015-WA0010 won’t make your host happy – or the bots curating info for SEO. As the host, always ask for this information (it makes it worth your guest blogger’s time). As the guest, provide this as neatly as possible – don’t make your host do all the work of making this presentable.

Your Responsibility as the Host

Give your guest enough time to properly write their responses to the interview/write their guest post. So tell them when you want to run the post on your blog.

If you’re going to make changes to their post/answers, make sure to run it by them if it’s more than just putting an apostrophe in the right place. People get upset if you just change things because you can.

Share your guest post/interview on all your social media sites, @mentioning the guest blogger/person interviewed.

Thank them for doing the interview/guest post.

Encourage your followers to check out their blog.

Make sure all the links work properly and that the layout of the interview/guest post looks good and that it works with your usual theme.

Your Responsibility as the Guest

Write your post/answers in a timely manner. Your host gave you a deadline, so keep to it.

Write the best post you can. This is your chance to shine in front of a new audience, to hook them with the type of content you usually write. If you’re answering interview questions, make sure you’ve been as informative as possible without boring the readers.

Make sure all your links work before sending your post/interview.

Share your guest post/interview on all your social media sites, @mentioning your host.

Thank your host.

Encourage your followers to check out your guest post (without annoying them).

Answer comments on your guest post/interview. This is your chance to meet new readers and possibly make new friends.

How to Seek out Opportunities

You read a lot of blogs in your area of interest. Most will have a contact page. You already know if they do interviews/guest posts on their blog ‘cause you read it. If appropriate, send them a message via their contact page to request that they host you.

How?

  • Let the blogger know that you’re familiar with the blog. Something like “I really enjoy the writing tips you’ve been sharing” and something specific like “especially the one about writing flash fiction” should be sufficient. It shows that you’re not a spammer or, worse, someone who just wants to put their blog post about cats driving cars everywhere.
  • Propose your ideas. Write a short paragraph explaining each idea (max. 3) you’d like to write about on their blog. Be specific without going into minute detail. If the blogger is interested, they’ll ask for more information.
  • Mention if you’ve had success with this type of blog post or if you have previous experience writing guest posts (add the relevant URLs – people like to check claims).
  • Include your name, email address, blog URL, a short author bio and your social media networks (if it’s important to your pitch).

Some blogs have guidelines for guest bloggers, so follow it to the letter. Following guidelines will put you ahead of the pack.

Extra Info for Guest Blogging

If you want a step-by-step guide on how to handle interviews and pitch guest posts, check out Basics of Author Online Presence Challenge Day 19: The Value of Guest Posts and Interviews that I wrote in August for Writer to Writers.

The point of your author online presence is to reach out to your target audience (your thousands of online followers, book buyers and adoring fans around the world) and to connect with other writers, experts, editors, publishers, agents, book sellers, librarians, etc.

How do you do that, exactly? Through guest posts and interviews.

Anne R Allen has a list of do’s and don’t’s for querying a blogger – definitely check this out if you want to be in the top 1% of queries.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because blogs are technically “social media,” that standard rules of business etiquette do not apply.

A query to a blogger—whether you’re asking for a review, interview, spotlight, or guest spot—is a business letter. Would you go to a job interview without bothering to find out if the business is a fashion boutique, a pharmacy, or a XXX porn theater?

I didn’t think so.

So use your head and put your businessperson hat on it before you hit “send.”

If you’re a regular reader of a blog, you’re much more likely to get a spot, so the best place to start querying is a blog you read regularly because you actually like it and have an interest in the topics it addresses.

Catherine Ryan Howard has excellent tips on how to be a good guest blogger.

WRITE A GOOD GUEST POST—FOR YOU

A guest post, especially one that’s part of a blog tour or some other organized activity that aims to launch or promote your book, is kinda like a profile on an online dating site. It’s not just about what you’ve written, but what it reveals about you: as a blogger, as a writer and as an entertainer of the internet at large. The ideal guest post would:

  • get most people who read it commenting and/or clicking the “like” button
  • get a significant number of people who read it sharing it online, e.g. tweeting a link
  • get a good number of people clicking the link to your blog and having a look around
  • get a handful of people to subscribe to your blog, or start to follow you on Twitter
  • get at least one person to go to Amazon and look  at (or, heck, even buy!) your book.

And can we just be blatantly honest about guest posts for a second? Sometimes, people don’t read them at all. They don’t read them because, hey, they were tuning in to see a rugby game, and it’s not on because rain in Brazil made the Formula 1 qualifying session run long. So their eyes may skim the guest post but really, they’re waiting for tomorrow when the actual blogger will be back. So you have to get them to read your guest post. You have to convince them to stop and take it in. Otherwise, what’s the point? There isn’t one, and that goes for you and your host.

My personal checklist for a guest post goes something like this:

  • Would this be something I’d post on my own blog (or am I just half-assing it because it’s going on someone else’s)?
  • Is this really “me”? Am I recognisable? (Or am I trying to emulate my host too much?)
  • Is it entertaining?
  • Is it informative?
  • Is it an invitation to check out more stuff by me? (And by invitation I really mean a reason, not a long list of links the readers of my host blog won’t be clicking on.)

Rachel Thompson’s post about how to write the ultimate guest post will help you to write the perfect post for SEO, SMO and your author platform.

Write about what you know, your experiences, your take on life. Guest blogging, writing articles, getting your name out there is a crucial part of any author’s platform for three main reasons:

  1. Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)— the more your name appears on the ‘net, the higher your visibility in Google Search and
  2. Your SMO (Social Media Optimization)— a part of your SEO, SMO is how your articles and posts are shared primarily via social media, so the more visible you are on social, the higher your social visibility, reach, and engagement.
  3. Your Author Platform requires it.Blogging is a wonderful way to connect with readers outside of social media. It’s personal.

There are several ways to write guest blog posts, and people ask to guest here and on my personal site frequently. I turn many people down because they write hazy, general posts lacking a clearly defined message. Why do I turn them down? People don’t connect to The Vague — we connect to specific experiences, practical information, something that helps us connect to the writer in a way that says, ‘Yes! I relate.’

Mladen Reljanović, founder of Writer to Writers, wrote an ultimate guide to guest blogging. This is my favourite description of guest blogging from his post:

Guest blogging is the way for you to grow your targeted audience and become a recognizable name within the writing community.

I hope you found this informative and that it inspired you to try out guest blogging/interviews in the near future. What are your thoughts on guest blogging/interviews?

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