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Get in Shape for Guest Blogging

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Guest blogging is something that everyone should do at least once, either as host or guest. For the host, it gives editors and writers a break from writing and can also offer a fresh perspective on the topics they cover. In addition, guest bloggers can pull in their readers as extra traffic if they publicise their guest posts on their own blog.  As a guest, it’s a fantastic way of generating backlinks to your own blog or website, increasing your traffic and giving you greater exposure to readers in your niche. Do it well enough and you may even be invited back on a regular basis, as a number of writers have done at Feministe.

There are several websites and blogs that I’d love to write for, even if it was just the once. I have article and story ideas lined up, I have the contact details for the relevant people, I even have a couple of draft emails ready to send out. So why haven’t I done anything about it yet? Because while I might be, this blog isn’t. If I was going to use to guest blogging opportunity as the chance to increase traffic to this blog, I’d want it to be worth people’s while to click over here once they had read my guest piece. And at the moment, I don’t think it is.

Guest blogging is not the same as blogging for yourself. It’s important to research the site you will be writing for to be sure that you understand their style, philosophy and the type of audience they are writing for. While you may be providing a different voice, you don’t want it to jar and alienate their readers. Asking your host what they expect from you is always a good idea, but there may be some unspoken or unwritten rules that you won’t be aware of. Skimming over their most recent post will not necessarily tell you everything you need to know. It’s important to read the reader comments too, especially if you’re hoping to attract some of the same readers to your own blog. They’re more likely to visit if your guest blog seems relevant and complementary to the content they normally read.

But the work doesn’t stop once you’ve decided the tone to take. Once you’ve decided on that, you need to spruce up your own blog to make sure that it will appeal from any visitors from your guest blog. It’s all very well writing a brilliant post for the niche that you’ve targetted at your host’s website, but if readers click through to your own site and find nothing similar, they’re not likely to become repeat visitors, are they? It might be an idea to prepare a landing page for visitors where you can display the most relevant content that they’ll be interested in, a “Best Of” gallery of sorts.

Alternatively, if you cover a number of niches, as this blog does, it could be as simple as making sure that your guest blog is published after you have taken the time to put together a number of posts that showcase your topics of interest, again a manner designed to appeal to readers coming from your host’s website. So if, for instance, you run a blog on renewable energy and had the chance to guest blog on a bigger website that is more concerned with green living, you might do a number of posts on cheap and effective ways to reduce household bills using renewable energy before your guest post was published. These could then be displayed as recent posts, which would reassure any readers clicking through from your host that you blogged on similar topics and may encourage them to become regular readers.

At the moment, I don’t think this blog is quite ready for the influx of traffic that would come from doing a blog post at any of the websites on my wishlist. For one thing, there are still some things I would like to do with the look of the blog, even for regular readers. For another, I have a very clear idea of the kind of content I would want in my “Recent Posts” sidebar if a large number of people were going to click through from elsewhere, and I haven’t written it yet. Of course, I could always put together a landing page for those visitors, but again, I’d want specific content on that page.

Guest blogging, especially if you get to do it on a more prestigious blog or website, is a tremendous opportunity. It is, however, an opportunity that is all too easily wasted if you don’t put in the legwork beforehand to make sure that you will derive the maximum benefit from the extra traffic you will receive. Rather than seeing guest blogging solely in terms of the number of backlinks you can generate to your own content, it’s far better to think of it as a means of forming new relationships you previously didn’t have. A one-day spike in visitors is only a temporary boost to your traffic and ego; steadily increasing your number of readers over a longer period of time is far more satisfying.

[Image by McClouds]

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