I love guest posts. Although I haven’t had much time for guest posting lately, I think it’s fun to reach new readers, especially when you blog in a related niche that isn’t exactly the same as the niche you’re in. New eyeballs are always a plus, and even if you don’t drive a ton of traffic back to your own site, you can make some cool contacts that could come in handy later. It nothing else, you’ve connected with another blogger, which is rarely a bad thing. Guest posting is a form of social networking in some respects.
I’m saying all this because I don’t want to sound like I’m completely poo-pooing guest posts. Sometimes, guest posts can be great!
Other times, not so much. All the blogging experts out there tell you to post, post, post on others’ blogs to promote your own blog, but sometimes, frankly, that’s a really stupid idea.
The Time Factor
I already mentioned that I haven’t done much guest posting myself lately due to lack of time. I’m currently in the pre-launch period for a large product I’ll be selling later this month, I’m running After Graduation completely solo, and I’m blogging here, for JobMonkey, and for Binge Gamer. I also have a few writing clients who order work regularly, and I occasionally like to have a life. So right now, guest posts aren’t in the stars. Heck, right now, having a life isn’t even really in the stars!
Don’t get bogged down thinking that you have no time – but if your own blog has to take a backseat because you’re doing so many guest posts, you aren’t prioritizing your hours correctly. After all, the point of guest posting is to drive traffic back to your own blog, right? If your own blog is empty, readers aren’t going to stick. Your personal blog and your personal products need to come first. Only use left-over time for guest posting.
The Topic Problem
Ok, let’s say that you do have enough time for guest posting. That’s great! Time to email all the awesome bloggers you know, right? No! *Whap* That was me whapping you on the back of the head. Whap is a technical term. Trust me; I’m a professional.
Anyway, right now is not a good time to guest post because you haven’t really thought through your subject matter. Guest posts should add tons of value to the blog posting your content, but at the same time, they should benefit you as a blogger. What are you promoting on your blog? That message needs to carry over with your guest posts.
Let’s look at my blog as an example. Right now, I’m not selling anything to After Graduation readers. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do any guest posts at all (when time allows), but writing a ton of generic posts about freelance writing doesn’t really make sense, even if the quality of the content is fairly high. Instead, I need to think about the goal of my website. Right now, since I’m not selling anything, my focus is on getting people to download my free ebook and sign up to my mailing list.
My ebook happens to be able reaching salary goals. So, it makes sense for me to write guests posts about related topics, like how to set goals, how to choose clients, and so forth. Chances are good that the readers who will check out my site after reading a guest post are the ones most interested in the post’s topic, so they’ll also be the readers most likely to sign up for my mailing list to get the free ebook. On the other hand, if I just wrote a guest post about a random freelancing-related topic, I might get some traffic to my site, but it would be much less specific, with a lower likelihood that new readers would sign up for my ebook.
The point is, if you haven’t thought about your blog’s goal and topics that could help you reach that goal, you need to do that before you start guest posting.
If you’re interested in guest posting, you probably already have at least a mental list of the blogs that you’d most like to contact, even if they are well-known experts in your niche and less likely to accept your post than smaller blogs. Now may not be a good time to submit a guest post simply because of that blogger’s schedule.
For example, at one point, I ran an entertainment blog that covered reality television on Bravo (Project Runway, Top Chef, Real Housewives, you get the picture). One of the cool things I was promoting for a hairstyle-related program on this channel was the “expert” analysis of each contestant’s work by kids I knew. It was a cute, funny series of posts each week that put a totally different spin on the typical show reviews other blogs were publishing. While in this middle of coordinating the kids to do these reviews, an adult reader of mine contacted me and offered to do a guest post reviewing one of the episodes. It didn’t fit at all with the flow of my blog, since I was promoting the kids’ reviews, so I said no.
And really, it was a red flag that the person just wanted to link up with my website. Any true reader of mine would have known about this huge promotion I was doing.
We can’t know what’s going on with every blog in our niche all the time. I realize that. But do a little research before you email a fellow blogger about doing a guest post. Sometimes, it just isn’t the best time for a guest post about your specific topic – or any guest post at all. Stick your idea in your back pocket and make a note to email the blogger at a later date instead.
I hope I haven’t discouraged you too much – guest posting can be a really great way to promote your blog and reach new readers. Just realize that guest posts are only part of an overall blogging plan.
Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. Her upcoming product is specifically for college professors, so it probably doesn’t have relevance in your own life, but thank you for asking! (And if you happen to be a college professor, email her!)