by Ali Luke
One of the best ways to promote your non-fiction book is by guest posting: writing content for other people’s blogs. Whatever stage you’re at with your book (even if it’s currently just a back-of-an-envelope plan), you can try out guest posting. You don’t need to be an established author or a well-known name. You just need to be able to write. The best news? All it will cost you is a little bit of your time.
The Four Key Benefits of Guest Posting
Before we dig into the details of how to get your guest posts onto huge blogs, here’s a quick summary of why guest posting is so useful. It allows you to:
- Build a relationship with a big-name blogger who writes about your topic. It’s often tough to get on these influencers’ radars, but a guest post is a great way to leap ahead of the crowd. (You could leave comments on their blog week after week and barely be noticed.)
- Draw in an interested audience – you’ll get a ‘bio’ at the end of your guest post where you can include a link to your book’s sales page — or if you prefer, to a post on your blog, your email newsletter sign-up page, or anything else you want.
- Try out different writing styles and tones. You’ll usually find that different blogs have quite different tones; one might be snarky, another inspiring and encouraging. Learning to vary your voice to suit different blogs helps you become an even more skilled writer and, creatively speaking, it can be very refreshing.
- Create backlinks to your book’s landing page, or to your blog. These help you rank more highly in Google and other search engines. This definitely shouldn’t be your only motivation, or even your main motivation, for guest posting: writing a really good post for the host blog’s audience is what matters most.
**How to Get Your Guest Post on a Really Big Blog**
While a guest post on any blog can bring benefits, it’s obviously better to have an audience of 20,000 rather than 200. Assuming two blogs are equally on-topic for you, the bigger one is the best one to target. Many authors make the mistake of thinking that they have to work their way up, starting with small blogs, before the bigger ones will even take a look at their guest post submissions. This really isn’t the case, and you can go further, faster, by starting at the top.
Step #1: Choose Your Target Blogs
Hopefully, you’re already reading some major blogs within your specialist area. You might well be able to name five or ten right now. If you need to do a bit of research, Alltop is a great place to begin, as the blogs listed there tend to be quite large ones. There’s no ‘magic number’ to shoot for, but a good rule of thumb is to find blogs with at least ten times your own number of blog readers (or newsletter subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, etc).
Step #2: Find Each Blog’s Guest Post Guidelines
Not every blog accepts guest posts so, before you spend time writing a pitch or a draft, check that they are actually open for submissions. Many blogs will link to their guest post guidelines from their contact page. Guidelines are normally straightforward, and will usually give:
- An idea of wordcount (if nothing’s said, aim between 500 and 1000 words).
- The stipulation that all posts must be unpublished and unique.
- Broad topic suggestions, though some blogs won’t offer these.
- Preferred formats for receiving submitted posts (e.g. rich text, HTML, Word document, Google Docs)
Step #3: Target Your Post to Each Specific Blog
One mistake that writers make when producing guest posts, especially if they’re doing so as part of a virtual book tour, is to write all the posts first, then look for blogs that might be a good fit. It’s a much better idea to craft posts with a particular blog in mind (you can always rewrite and resubmit them if your top-choice blogs turn them down). This means your post will be a great match for each blog’s topics, audience, and style.
Some bloggers like to draft the whole post before sending a pitch, even if the blog in question just wants a quick pitch to begin with; others prefer to pitch ideas then start writing. Do make sure you’ve got enough time set aside to write the posts if all the blogs on your list say “Yes”!
Step #4: Write a Great Pitch
As editor of DailyBlogTips, I get a lot of really poor guest post pitches. Some of these are laughably bad – calling me by the wrong name, suggesting topics that have nothing to do with the blog, making typo after typo. So the standard you have to beat might not be as high as you think. You don’t need to wow a blog editor with your clever turn of phrase or your credentials (though those can help, of course). Instead, what you need to do is:
- Be clear and concise. Don’t waste a busy editor’s time – get to the point.
- Give the title of your suggested post, plus a brief outline (this could be in a single sentence or in bullet points).
- Follow the guidelines to the letter. If you’re told to write the whole post rather than sending a pitch, do that.
- Triple-check for any mistakes… and be particularly careful that you’ve got the editor’s name right.
None of this is tricky. There’s no ‘secret’ here and nothing that requires more than the ability to write clearly.
Step #5: Work With the Blog
If your post is accepted… congratulations! You may find you need to be fairly accommodating to what the editor wants, though. Even if this is a bit frustrating, you can trust that they know their readers and what’s going to work best.
You might be asked to change your initial plan – perhaps going into more depth, or focusing on a narrower topic. You may be asked to revise your draft and, in almost every case, you can expect the blog to make some editorial changes. Unless you have a really strong reason to insist on your version, accept edits and suggestions gracefully. You’ll not only be more likely to get through to publication, you’ll also be much more likely to be welcomed back in the future.
That’s it! If you’ve never tried pitching a big blog, do give it a go. You have nothing to lose and you just might find yourself getting the big break that you’ve been waiting for.
Ali’s Hot Tip
Keep asking yourself what the next step is… and then take it! There are all sorts of marketing activities that might feel scary at first, whether that’s putting together a virtual book tour, or something as simple as signing up for Twitter. Whatever stage you’re at, you can always take one step forward. (And chances are, you’ll find it’s not nearly as hard as you thought it would be.)
Ali Luke is the author of ‘Lycopolis,’ a novel, and ‘Publishing E-Books for Dummies’ (Wiley, 2012). She runs a community/teaching site, Writers’ Huddle (www.writershuddle.com) with monthly seminars on different aspects of the craft and business of writing.