Why Every Writer Should Be Guest Posting

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This is the first post in a three-part series on guest posting. The full series is:

  1.  Why Every Writer Should Be Guest Posting
  2. How to Craft a Guest Post That’s Likely to be Accepted
  3. How to Pitch Your Guest Post – Successfully

If I had to point to the one technique that’s made the most difference to my writing career, that technique would be guest posting.

In case you’ve not come across the term “guest posting” before, it simply means writing a blog post for someone else’s blog.

(Generally, you won’t get paid for guest posts.)

Here are a couple of examples of guest posts I’ve written recently:

A 5-Step Plan to Improve Every Blog Post You Write – on Copyblogger

How Often Should You Blog? (Hint: The Answer Might Surprise You…) – on ProBlogger

You don’t need to have a blog of your own to guest post – though most guest posters do. And you don’t need to already have a relationship with the owner/editor of your target host blog. All you need is a strong idea, and the ability to do justice to that idea in writing.

So why would you want to do it?

Seven Key Benefits of Guest Posting

Guest posting has huge benefits for writers – whatever stage you’re at with your writing career. You can:

#1: Get your work read by a big audience. When I started out guest posting, this was the biggest attraction for me: instead of having no feedback at all on my posts, I suddenly had comments and emails.

#2: Learn to write for different audiences. Every blog has its own unique style. Even blogs with quite similar topics will cater to slightly different audiences (take a look at Men with Pens vs Write to Done, for instance; Men with Pens is more focused on writing as part of a business).

#3: Build up your writing portfolio. One of the biggest struggles that new writers have is a lack of publication experience. Landing guest posts on a few large, well-known blogs will give you some great clips for your portfolio.

#4: Establish a relationship with the blog owner / editor. When I first started Aliventures, I was freelancing for a couple of blogs that I originally wrote for as a guest poster. I soon added two more. If you’re looking for paid blogging work, guest posting can be a great way to get your foot in the door.

#5: Promote your blog or book. At the end of your guest post, you get to put a “bio” – a couple of sentences about you and your blog, book, newsletter list, or anything else you want to promote. This is a great way to get traffic to your blog, or to let people know about your book.

#6: Get your name recognised. If you guest post on several big blogs in your field, their readers will start to recognise your name. So will influential people – like those who put together conference line-ups.

#7: Improve your SEO (search engine optimisation). By getting a link back to your blog from a major site, you’ll improve your blog’s ranking in Google and other search engines. Since you write your bio yourself, you can choose the exact text you want, too.

There are plenty of less tangible benefits, too. It can be a real buzz to get your guest post accepted by a major blog – especially if you’ve been a fan of that blog for a long time. And even if you get rejected, the process of submitting posts is great practice for when you want to submit a magazine article or book – it can get you used to the fact that rejection is part of the writing game.

Who’s Guest Posting For?

You might think that guest posting is just for bloggers … but that’s not true. All sorts of different writers choose to guest post. That includes:

  • Non-fiction writers with a new book out. (I already have some guest-posting opportunities lined up to promote my book Publishing eBooks For Dummies, which will be out before the end of the month.)
  • Fiction writers, particularly  indie authors who’ve published their own book. These authors often go on “virtual book tours” or “blog tours” where they guest-post on a number of different sites.
  • New writers who want to get some experience, or who simply have a message or idea that they want to share with a wide audience.

Whatever sort of writing you do, and whatever stage you’re at with your writing, guest posting can help you promote yourself and your work.

Exercise:

This week, look out for guest posts on the blogs that you read. Make a list of any blogs that seem to use guest posters – and that you might like to write for yourself.

 

In the next part of this series, we’ll be looking at the “how” of guest posting – how to decide which blog to write for, and how to craft a post that’s very likely to be accepted.

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24 thoughts on “Why Every Writer Should Be Guest Posting

    • Jim, this is a question a lot of people have — and I’ll be tackling it in the next post in this series. 🙂 Thanks for reading, and for the comment!

  1. Great article, Ali!

    I’ve seen many of these benefits once I started guest posting.
    #2, leaning to write for different audiences, has help to hone my skills in copywriting for different clients. Writing for other blogs is a great break from your own, often mundane style.

    Steve Maurer
    Maurer Copywriting
    Steve Maurer’s last blog post ..Is Your Home Page a GPS or a Laundry List?

    • Thanks Steve! And I agree — I’d get bored if I only ever wrote here on Aliventures, because every so often I want to write something on a different topic, from a different angle, or in a different style. And, like you say, guest posting is a great way to flex those writing muscles and hone your skills.

  2. I’m still at the blog commenting stage of my brand marketing career. Between that and working on the quality of my own blog I haven’t really explored guest blogging.

    But it is definitely next on my radar.

    Are my skills already adequate to entice some high page rank webmaster to give me a shot? Well, we’ll see.

    While I think it would be good to guest blog on almost any blog that is more popular than your own, obviously you’re unlikely to start off on Huffington Post.

    Your point about guest blogging leading to paying gigs was an interesting one, and an added incentive.

    Thanks.
    Adam D. Oglesby’s last blog post ..Abstinence Doesn’t Work: How Long Can You Wait?

    • Adam, I think you should definitely give it a shot. 🙂 The worst that can happen is that the blog you target is busy and says “no, sorry” — and in that case, you can simply submit your post to the next blog on your list (tweaking it if necessary, of course).

      I’ve found guest posting to be a much way of building relationships and traffic (and boosting SEO) than blog commenting — though this may well be because guest posting suits my personal writing style better than writing lots of individual comments.

  3. I love to blog. It’s a lot of fun, and I keep reading how people end up getting paid for writing online. Is there much substance to it, how do you get started, that kind of thing?

    • Bert, I get paid for writing online, so I’d definitely say there’s substance to this!

      There are a lot of different ways to go about it — I got started with paid blogging (basically like guest posting, only for money and usually without the advantages of a bio at the end of the post). I wrote about my own experiences last year:
      http://www.aliventures.com/make-a-living-writing/

  4. Just don’t email a blog owner saying you’d like to write “something” for a guest post on their site.

    A better approach is to take a few minutes to at least see what their blog is about, and suggest a couple of specific ideas for posts you think their target audience might like to read, or mention that you have a lot of experience with X and ask if they would be interested in a post on that subject.

    • The nice thing about being a writer is that you never have to go up to bloggers face-to-face and ask for a guest posting opportunity … you can do it all through email (which I vastly prefer!) The majority of writers I know are quite introverted, and some are very shy.

      I think your pledge is a great one — best of luck with it! I was pretty nervous when I started sending out guest posts, but as soon as I’d got past the first few, I became much more confident. 🙂

  5. I’m looking forward to your future posts about guest blogging. It’s something I’ve been trying to work up the courage to do, but I’m not sure quite how to go about it. What would I have to offer that these amazing bloggers already don’t? Hopefully I’ll work up the courage soon.
    Diana’s last blog post ..Insecure Wednesday

    • For many big, busy bloggers, you can offer them a day off…! Even if you don’t have the same level of industry knowledge as they do, you can still write a perfectly good post — and they may well be very grateful for it.

      Also, if you’re fairly new to your blogging topic, you’re in a great position to write a post that beginners need (and for most blogs, beginners make up the majority of the readers). Bloggers who’ve been writing for several years on that topic may have forgotten about all the questions/worries/etc they had in the early days.

      I hope you will find the courage to try a guest post — I’m sure you’ll find you have much more to offer than you think.

    • I occasionally take guest posts, but usually by invitation only, I’m afraid! I’m not taking any new guest posts at the moment (about to have a blog hiatus). In future, I’ll make sure the Contact page states whether or not I’m open for guest posts. 🙂

  6. Ali,

    Thanks for contributing this post: it was fun to read. I would add that guest posting is also a great way to establish your “expert status” as a writer or author. That is, provided you can find your niche in the market.
    The more you stay on topic, well, over time, the more likely you are to be perceived as an expert. And then the offers will follow your trail: speaking opportunities, endorsements, lecture circuit, consulting gigs, etc. But one has to be willing to invest time and energy, to be sure. Cheers to your life.

  7. Hi Ali

    Just stumbled upon your blog. You have some amazing information! My partner and I have a blog called veryitchyfeet.com which started in 2007 as a way of letting our friends and family know what we were up to when we travelled, as we do a lot of it. One of us is the photographer, the other a writer. We now want to turn our passion into a job. Some believe that you should ‘throw yourself into it’, some say research … we belong to the latter group. We both feel that there is much to learn and be improved upon. We look forward to reading more on aliventures.

    • Thanks Ombi! I think you need a bit of both, actually: definitely learn more about blogging and making money from it … but also try to put into practice what you’re learning. I’ve seen quite a lot of bloggers and writers over the years get very bogged down in learning rather than doing!

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