6 Surprising Truths About Guest Posting on Blogs - Make a Living Writing

6 Surprising Truths About Guest Posting on Blogs

Carol Tice | 25 Comments

By Patti FoyGuest Blogger Surprise

Anyone else out there new to guest posting on other people’s blogs? I just did my first guest post recently, and whew, it feels like I broke the ice. I felt pretty well prepared since I’d studied up a little about how to go about guest posting.

But things didn’t unfold exactly as I’d envisioned and I got to learn a few lessons along the way.

For illustrative purposes — or even just for fun — you can find the articles I mention here:

Guest post part 1 The Rich Rewards of Fostering Dogs and here’s Part 2.

The “companion” post on my blog: How Warm & Fuzzy Can Be Potent Medicine.

What I discovered:

1) Writing a big honker may not impress your host.

My host said any word length is fine and before I knew it it was up to around 1800 words. When I sent it to her, I told her I’d be happy to cut it down or whatever she needed, but she took it upon herself to split it up into 2 parts and told me that after posting part 1. She seemed perfectly fine with that, but still. redface

Not only was it a little embarrassing but I wanted it all to be as easy as possible for her. Besides that, I would have structured it all slightly differently for two posts, done an introduction for the second, etc.

2) Many guest posts aren’t gotten by pitching.

I was under the impression that if I wanted to guest post, I’d have to approach someone and beg — er, I mean pitch my idea for a post.

But I was surprised to be invited out of the blue to guest on someone’s blog. I’d commented on her moving guest post and we developed a little rapport. I checked out her blog and although not my aesthetic, it had its own charm.

I’ve since found out that it’s very common, maybe even more common than pitching, to be invited to post on someone’s blog.

The moral of this story is to continue to get out there and get around, ideally with people you genuinely click with.

3) Your host’s blog topic may be very different than yours.

Especially in light of the fact that people invite you to guest post based on just seeing you around, you might find that their blog topic has little relation to yours.

This was the case for me but I was happy that her topic was something I’m passionate about. I easily figured out how I could post on her topic (dogs) and my topic (personal development) in the same post. That was fun.

Of course the reason to do this is so that some element of what you offer on your blog is there for your host’s readers to see, and thus attract them to your blog.

4) Once you hand it over, it’s out of your control.

After I accepted, my host said she’d like to put my post on her other blog that has more traffic than her dog blog. Well, more traffic’s a good thing, but this other blog was even a little less my aesthetic than the first one. (Just to be clear, I’m not claiming her aesthetic is “bad”, just different.) I wasn’t going to be picky because I have all of 14 subscribers and hey, it’s a guest post. And more traffic? Okay!

She asked for a small bio photo of me and when all was said and done, she used it as a full-sized image so it was all fuzzy and just looked bad.

I politely sent her a higher resolution in case she wanted to replace it. She removed it completely. Oops. It was a favorite photo (of me and my dog) and I was sad to see it go.

She arranged the other photos and text in an unexpected way. Let’s just say it’s not how I would have done it and it wasn’t apparent from her other posts that it would end up like that.

This was a good exercise for me to just lighten up. So, still good!

I’ve since learned that it’s common for hosts to edit their guest’s posts to some degree. Of course this makes sense, and even is to your benefit sometimes since hosts know their readers and what they want much better than you do.

Sometimes they ask, and sometimes they don’t.

I know one guest who was quite upset about some of the changes her host made to her post, feeling she ruined it. And I was shown yet another example where the host clearly dampened much of the post’s appeal by changing important parts (in this case, the title).

Still, just knowing all this will make the letting go much easier next time. (Oh wait, that’s this time! But it’s Carol — piece of cake!)

5) Posting about your guest post on your blog is good — if you can time it right.

I did a “companion” post on my blog the next day on both our topics (with an emphasis on mine, of course) with a thank you and links to her blog. This worked well because visitors from her blog liked my post and my blog and the crossover/combination approach helped make that happen.

Also, besides the fact that I wanted to, it only seemed right to do some back-linking to her blog (and magazine) as a thank-you, and I did it in that companion post.

6) It’s good to build the connection into a continuing relationship.

Besides that we genuinely like each other, she liked my post a lot and wants to also publish it in the next edition of her new online magazine. This is a good thing, it’s pretty snazzy.

If I were a bigger blog, or if my host’s were bigger, I’d be able to also share how it affected my stats. But alas, I barely saw a burp. So in the end, this exercise was good for practice and the nerves but not so important for traffic. Good enough for me. Maybe by my next guest post, I’ll be in a better position to benefit from the traffic to my blog.

Patti Foy writes about vibrant living through the use of practical vibrational tools and techniques at her blog Lightspirited Being.

Photo: Trippography

25 comments on “6 Surprising Truths About Guest Posting on Blogs

  1. Patti Foy on

    Hi k.t.,

    That’s so nice of you to offer to find that site for me, the health-related one, but I’m discovering there are lots and lots of blogs that call for articles and I actually have a few in the pike already, so I think I’m set for now. At least until I get faster at writing, that is!

    And so that was you on twitter?! Thanks! And I agree – Carol’s articles here are great. They’ve been very helpful to me in lots of different areas.

    Thanks for coming by, and for asking that great copywriting question. Good one!

  2. k.t. on

    Hi, Patti and Carol. I liked your blog, Patti! I ran into a site a few days ago seeking guest postings — if you’re interested I’ll find it again. Health-related.

    I’m very impressed with your subscriber list, as my site (an I-net mag; http://www.glutenfreesafari.com/) is new; just put a “subscribe” form on yesterday; few commenting before that.

    Also, I twittered your article on both my lists: @gfsafari, @glutenfreesnob.

    Just wondering — has anyone ever used a comment contest?

    I love these postings by Carol!

    Do you find that you can retain copyright on your guest postings?

    Talk to you later! I’d love input re my site from any and all!

    Happy blog-owning!

    K.t.

    http://www.glutenfreesafari.com/

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi KT –

      You generally do not retain your copyright on guest posts — they become property of the blog. But you can negotiate on that. I did a year-long weekly guest stint on WM Freelance Writers Connection on the agreement that I could reprint my posts elsewhere.

  3. Mike Corsa on

    If you do not mind me asking, just what exactly are you using to prevent spam responses? I noticed your blog is good and totally free from all the spam bots leaving comments. I have another site myself, and I like to keep responses open so I do not have to come on and approve them all the time, but the spam plugins I’ve tried using are usually failing to block even the most obvious and simple spam responses. Is there anything at all reasonable out there that does a good job or is my only hope to keep them moderated or just close them all together? Thanks, Mike Corsa

    • Carol Tice on

      Ironically, I found your comment in my spam filter, Mike! So my filter is not perfect, but it works pretty great — I use Akismet, which I think is the most popular one. It’s definitely erring on the side of exluding things — I think I have yet to find a single spam comment it let onto the site.

      Generally it seems to work great now — I only have to moderate in people the first time they comment, then it lets them in. I recently switched off Intense Debate’s spam system because it made me have to moderate everyone every single time they posted, which made me feel like I constantly had to be looking at the blog and moderating. Was a big timewaster.

      Now I’m on regular WordPress comments with Akismet and very happy!

      • Carol Tice on

        Mike, I’d add that I just changed my comments to close after a week. I find spammers often target older posts, so that’ll eliminate that problem.

        I don’t know of a system where you would never have to moderate that wouldn’t put you at risk of spam, but only having to bring people in once works for me.

  4. Hajra on

    Hey, nice post.
    I am new to blogging and recently wrote my first guest post. I enjoyed the experience. The author of the blog has been thoughtful enough to edit to an extent I would appreciate! Also, the post was very well treated. At the end of it all, I had a very comfortable time guest posting and am looking forward to more such experiences…hoping its all the same!

    • Patti Foy on

      Hi Hajra,
      Thanks for that great comment. Glad you had a good experience AND that you shared it.
      It’s so true, it IS a very positive experience and I, too, am looking forward to doing more of it.
      Good luck as you move forward with your guesting!

  5. Austin L. Church on

    Patti, Thank you for the insightful post. I’ve only begun thinking about making guests posts myself in the last three or four months. Your advice to relinquish control once you’ve sent them to the other blogger is particularly helpful.

    I can be a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, and I’d want to express my gratitude to someone kind enough to let me guest post by giving him or her dynamite stuff. I’d probably feel confused and peeved if I then discovered that my gracious host had butchered my “masterpiece.” I’d also be missing the point. Killing one’s own darlings is difficult. Watching someone else repeat the experience may be a necessary sacrifice.

    A little detachment and more gratitude than creative control sounds like the way to go. I’ll remember that. Good luck to you in all your writing endeavors.

    • Carol Tice on

      I think for bloggers who have no journalism background and haven’t been published before, it’s probably very shocking to find your work edited. But for those of us who write for a living, it’s a completely ordinary, accepted part of the editorial process.

      Tell you a secret — my editor at Copyblogger completely rewrote the introductory paragraphs of my first post for them. Every single word before my list of 50 ways to get blog topic ideas started.

      I didn’t feel confused or peeved — surprised, maybe, but otherwise I was totally OK with it.

      I felt that Sonia Simone knows what makes a great post on Copyblogger. And she does — the post got 1,000 RTs and ended up in the Best of Copyblogger for 2010.

      I would have appreciated a chance to look it over and know that was happening ahead of time, but ultimately? That’s life. Lots of editors alter work and post it. If it’s a good editor, you trust that they’re making your post even better. Ultimately, it’s their blog, or magazine, and they know their readers best.

      Definitely an important point for new bloggers to know when they get ready to guest post!

    • Patti Foy on

      Hi Austin,

      Oh, you put it so well. All that talk of butchering and killing and sacrifice — so very descriptive of how I’d expect I might have felt about it, and how some people apparently do.

      But oddly, as much of a control-freak as I can be, something about this process has been much easier than I might have thought. It actually feels kind of good to just let it go and move on. (Everything on the internet takes on a life of its own anyway, in a sense.) I was lucky in that I had a wonderful host who checked with me for the most part and made good decisions for the rest. And ditto this post — I trust that Carol knows way better than I do what works. So that helps.

      But mostly, there were so many benefits and joys involved that they way overrode any negatives for me. It’s a great experience, and I’m sure when you finally break the ice you’ll agree.

      Thanks so much for your input!

  6. Krissy Brady on

    A wonderful post that I was glad to find, since I have yet to break the ice in terms of guest posting myself. It’s something that I am working up to, and look forward to doing so in the near future. I can now keep in mind your trials and tribulations to know what to look out for. 🙂

    • Patti Foy on

      Hi Krissy,

      Yes, and isn’t it cool that people like Carol share so much with us about how to do it well? Invaluable. I know that if I feel well-armed with good how-to info it’s much less scary to step out there and do something new.

      Yet even with that, I did get lots of surprises (as you might guess by the name of this post), but they were mostly good ones.

      And I think one of my biggest suprises on this blogging adventure is just how many genuinely nice people there are “out there” to interact with. Very comforting. I bet once you start guest posting you will be as hooked as I’m getting. At least I wish that for you.

      Thanks for sharing, and may you have a wonderful first guest post!

  7. Justin P Lambert on

    Patti,

    Very nice insights on guest posting, and an excellent post you’re using as an example too! Congrats on both.

    I’ve had some mixed experiences with guest posts too, but in reviewing all the details of my four posts, I’ve realized that a lot of the “disappointment” I felt can really be traced back to my own blog, not the blog I guested on, or even the post itself.

    I was lucky enough to land four guest posts on three high-traffic blogs: MenWithPens, Daily Blog Tips and Daily Writing Tips, so the volume was there. I know I put my all into the posts, and both James (at MWP) and Daniel (at the Tips) gave me positive feedback and we’ve connected further since then.

    But, what I didn’t do is prepare my own blog to take advantage of the traffic surges I received. I didn’t do the follow-up post like you, which I think is a great idea. I also didn’t have a tailored landing page, which is a good idea. And my subscriber form was not optimized at the point that all these posts went out there.

    So, all-in-all I picked up a tiny percentage of the readers I hoped, but I’ve at least learned some valuable lessons and I’m moving forward. Thanks for adding to those lessons for me!

    And thanks Carol for running this post! I’m loving Guest Posting week.

    • Carol Tice on

      My pleasure Justin! I was in the exact same boat — my site wasn’t really in good shape to welcome the visitors from my guest posts. I’m still toying with best practices for me on that.

      Glad you enjoyed the theme week! Next week, we’ll be on to other freelance-writing topics, such as where those top-paying clients are hiding.

    • Patti Foy on

      Wow, Justin, very helpful comment. Thank you! I’m not even there yet, needing to think about landing pages and that kind of thing, but that gives me something to aspire to, lol.

      And really good point about being prepared yourself so you can best take advantage of all that good traffic. Proves again that when opportunity knocks, it behooves us to be ready. Of course, needing landing pages indicates you’re already doing something right where opportunity is concerned!

      Thanks for sharing your lessons with us.

  8. Carol Tice on

    Thanks for sharing your story of the realities of a first guest-post, Patti. I think it’s pretty typical that not much happens on that first one…and then you dig in and start learning about conversion. Personally, I’m still learning about it!

    • Patti Foy on

      Hey, Carol,

      Thank YOU for inviting me. I’m still so out-of-the-egg and having a host like you has been such a pleasure. It makes this guest posting thing not quite so intimidating as it might be otherwise.

      Not only that, but I learned quite a bit doing this guest post too, and was lucky you were so patient with me as I fumbled with formatting the submission correctly and things like that.

      I also didn’t know I would be allowed to reply to comments here today, let alone encouraged to, so one more good lesson! (That one I learned from your most excellent post earlier this week.)

      Good thing I love to learn because something tells me I ain’t done yet. 😉

    • Patti Foy on

      Hi Anne,
      Yes, I think people like you who have that double perspective can be especially helpful to those of us who (so far) have only experienced one side of it. Helps us understand specific changes and better yet, to anticipate them… Thus making it more fun all the way around.
      Thanks for sharing!

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