Guest Bloggers: How to Build Content and Traffic Through Guest Posts

Writing great content week in and week out can be exhausting. And if you let it slip, even just a little, your blog readership can practically vanish overnight.

So how do you keep it going? How do you find new and interesting things to say? Where do you find the energy to write awesome posts and engage with readers?

Two words: guest bloggers.

Guest bloggers can be a wonderful way to build great content and attract new readers to your blog (kind of like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow). They can also be difficult to manage and, occassionally, a guest post can drive readers away (more like the leprechaun guarding the gold at the end of the rainbow).

Pros and Cons of Using Guest Bloggers

Positives –

  • fresh content and ideas
  • different perspective on important topics
  • a new and engaging “voice”
  • time for you to focus on other things
  • widens your reach (brings in new readers)
  • builds new relationships

Negatives –

  • tired, old, rehashed content and ideas
  • perspective that conflicts with what you’re trying to achieve on your blog
  • a confusing or unclear “voice”
  • time spent managing guest bloggers

Generally speaking, the positives far outweigh the potential negatives. But it’s good to be aware of what could go wrong before you decide that you’d like to put guest posts on your blog.

Is a Guest Post Right for Your Blog?

Think carefully about what you want your blog to be – the content, tone, and general perspective.

If your blog is a representation of you or your company, you may want to do most of the writing yourself so that it truly reflects you. A one-person blog is all about that person’s voice, personality, and perspective. Readers return to see what you have to say – not what others are writing.

If it’s more of an information-sharing blog, then guest bloggers would be more appropriate.

And if you’ve absolutely, positively run out of time, inspiration, or energy, then maybe it’s worth considering a guest post or two.

How to Find Guest Bloggers

If you put out the word that you’re looking for guest bloggers (e.g., on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or even on your own website), believe me, you’ll be inundated with people offering their services! And it’ll take a lot of work on your part to figure out who you actually want to have post on your site, because many of them won’t be able to produce the type or style of writing you’re looking for, or won’t know the content area well.

A better option is to go out and look at a whole bunch of blogs to find the ones you like or that would fit well with what you’re trying to do with your own blog. A good place to start is Alltop (search by category). When you find a blog you like, see which other blogs are in the blogroll – there are bound to be others that you’ll like as well.

Invite those writers you like best to guest post. Many will be very happy to do it as it helps to drive traffic to their own blog (and who doesn’t like to be invited to do something they love doing?). But don’t be offended if they say “no” as bloggers with popular blogs often get more offers than they can accept.

Guest Blogger Guidelines

Set clear guidelines for:

  • the types of topics that are right for your blog (don’t accept anything you’re not comfortable with)
  • the general style of the posts (recognizing that each guest blogger will have their own “voice”)
  • the length of each post
  • how frequently you’ll expect posts from guest bloggers (maybe just one post each, maybe once a month, etc.)
  • whether or not they’ll respond to comments on their post
  • whether of not you’ll edit the article before posting it (guest bloggers often prefer that you not edit their work)
  • if you’ll pay for their work (usually not the case, but sometimes it’s worth paying for a fabulous article)

 And be clear that you reserve the right to ‘reject’ any post that you feel doesn’t fit your blog. If it’s not a good fit, never feel pressured to post it anyway – one poor post is all it takes to sink a blog.

How ’bout you? What are your experiences with guest bloggers? Or being a guest blogger yourself?

4 Comments

  1. Felicity Waters on November 5, 2011 at 8:43 am

    its a good strategy to have guest posts – but I find the posts are sometimes to sales orientated and stop my blog from having its core focus

    as a result I have opened up another department on my website for those posts/articles that are off topic (design review) but are related to gardening –

    many of these people are really after links – rather than turn these people away I now request they write an article or they pay me to write the article for them – seems to be working

    • Monica Hemingway on November 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      What a good idea, Felicity, to have a separate section where guest bloggers can still post articles without affecting what you’re trying to do with the main part of your blog. You’re so right that many bloggers will offer to write a guest post simply to get links to their own site from a more popular blog. That’s why I prefer to invite people to guest post, rather than accepting “volunteers” (usually). That way you can also control the content and quality of the guest posts – although you may miss out on some good writers now and then.

      I’ve not come across anyone else who’s asking “guest bloggers” to pay the site owner to write an article for them. It sounds interesting. Can you tell us more about how you’re doing that?

  2. Jim Long on November 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    A method I’ve used is to host a author “guest appearance” on my blog. Sometime back I hosted a mystery writer who made a visit to my blog for one hour and her followers had to visit my site, see some of my recent posts, and search for a clue. It brought several new followers to my site.

    • Monica Hemingway on November 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      What a fantastic idea! I especially like the part about having people search through recent posts for a clue – what a smart way to introduce people to your writing.

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