8 Tips For Writing Great Guest Posts

Guide to Great Guest PostingHaving a guest post published on a popular blog can drive traffic to yours and often acts as a dynamite credit for you.

If, however, you’re following some of your favorite writing blogs, you may be aware that many of us are tearing our hair out because we’re getting so many offers for guest posts by people who, in spite of what they say in their email, have no clue what our blogs are about.

Then there are what appear to be almost automated queries that are coming from organizations that are trying to build links back to their site. If you’re writing for a company that’s doing this, please stop. While links back to a guest poster are legitimate, wholesale writing to generate links back is poor form to say the least.

Some of the better known bloggers are changing their rules. Cathy Miller is one who announced in Spammy Guest Post Requests Have Mellow Blog Owners Screaming  that she’s changing her policies regarding guest posts. Check out the comments and you’ll see other writing bloggers echoing her thoughts.

Others, like  have actually begun to slow some of the worst guest posting practices down with her Bloggers Beware: WriterBay.com Uses Guest Posts as Link Spam. There she relates a change in policy by the company she talks about.

I wrote a whole rant about guest posts called, strangely enough Those Thinly Disguised Guest Posts & Comments – A Rant.
I got some great comments.

But what if you’ve got a great idea for a guest post for someone’s blog? Is there a way to approach bloggers legitimately?

6 Tips for great guest posting

Read the blog – this should be obvious but apparently it isn’t. This doesn’t mean you have to read everything the blogger has ever written, but it does mean you need to be truly familiar with what the blog is about. From that understanding you should have an idea of what the blogger is trying to accomplish.

free content for writersLook for guest posting guidelines - most professional bloggers do have guidelines about how they want to be approached with a guest post.

Follow those guidelines - It’s amazing how few writers actually read the guidelines. For example, I state clearly in my guidelines that I can’t tell you when your post will appear. I can’t tell you how many potential posters have leaned on me for an exact date. I usually return their article at that point rather than make my calendar work for them.

Your post should make a contribution – While back links to your blog may be your ultimate goal, that will only work if the piece your offering makes a solid contribution to blog you’e guesting for. What do those readers need or want to hear? How can you help them? Those are the questions you need to answer as you write your piece.

Don’t try to hide your affiliation - If you’re blogging for a company, spell it out. Some blogs simply won’t publish guest posts that come from companies figuring their goal is more advertising than anything else. Some will accept such pieces as long as it’s clear what the game is. Hide your affiliation and you’re likely to get a bad reputation, and we bloggers do talk amon ourselves. It’s not worth the risk.

Expect to be edited – Remember you’re writing for someone’s blog. They are likely to have style conventions, like how they handle headlines and subheads. They also may spot what they consider errors in word choice or phrasing. Some blogger will let you know if they are making significant changes, others won’t. Don’t expect to be notified.

Neatness, spelling and politeness count – Your submission should be of high quality, with correct spelling and usage. And for heaven’s sake be polite.

Don’t expect the blogger to rewrite for you – I reject articles that just aren’t up to snuff. Sometimes I’ll suggest the writer read their piece out loud and do some serious editing, but usually I just say something  like “I’m sorry this just isn’t written well enough to qualify.”

Follow these guidelines and you’re likely to be welcomed as a guest poster.

Your turn: What did I leave out of the guidelines? How do you approach guest posting? If you have your own blog, do you accept guest posts? Tell us in comments.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman

 

 

When the Love is Gone

tree heartRemember that wonderful client you had at the beginning of your career? Remember how great you worked together? Still, there was something not quite right – the price. You worked with that client until you couldn’t justify the price. Or wait – are you still working for that client?

We as freelancers tend to get a client and then drive ourselves nuts trying to keep them. That’s great, but the problem then becomes when should we let go? When is it okay to fire clients? Are we getting all we need to out of the relationship?

I’ve fired a few clients. In most cases, it was because the work and stress exceeded the pay. But that’s not the only criteria for parting ways with a client. In fact, sometimes the pay does outpace the hassle, but you’re left to decide if the hassle is minor enough to continue dealing with. It’s not always.

How do you tell if you and your client aren’t working out?

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Ok, So When Should You Write For Free?

write for freeIs there a writer in the world who hasn’t been asked to write for free? I doubt it.

Many of the requests seem thinly disguised efforts to get content for free.

You know the ads I mean. One way or another they ask you to send a sample or three for free so they can see if you’re good enough. These seem to be great opportunities to be ripped off and if you’ve got any writing credits at all you should ignore these entirely.

If you don’t have any credits, get some, maybe by writing a guest post of two for a blog, or writing a couple of samples for your own professional site.

Those with more ideas than money

Then there’s the probably legitimate person who wants and needs help with writing but hasn’t got any money to pay for it. Sometimes these people will break your heart because they’ve got something to say that resonates with you and you’d like to help them. Most of them are more than willing to give you a percentage of whatever is earned.

The problem is if they don’t have any money now they are unlikely to have any when the project is done. Books are hard to sell. You might be able to pitch a paying magazine with their story and get paid, but it’s a true long-shot.

When I run into these folks I urge them to look for a sponsor that can help finance the writing of a book proposal to take to an agent or publish. It’s never worked, but it might.

All this is  pretty obvious, so when, if ever, should you write for free?

Reasons to write for free

It’s really a personal decision. For example, I’ll often do a small (2 pages) sample when considering taking on a book ghostwriting client.  That way we both can tell if we can work together.

free content for writersYou might have to write on spec when breaking into a new magazine. But on spec doesn’t mean for free, it just means there’s no guarantee  If the editor likes the piece they will buy it, if not they will return it to you so you can market it elsewhere.

The writing you do on your own blog or site may be aimed at helping you earn money, but without marketing to back it up, you’re likely to be writing for free.

Writing for a good cause

Making a donation of your writing to a favorite non-profit and/or cause is a wonderful thing to do. It’s good for you, and for the folks you give your writing to.

The only problem with donating your writing is that the non-profit/cause can need so much writing that you find yourself spending way more time at the free writing than you have any business doing. So set some boundaries and learn to say no when you’re asked for more than it makes sense for you to give.

How do you decide when or if to write for free? Let us know in comments. We’d like to hear your perspective.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman

Goal Setting

ShuttleNew year, new month. Remember all those resolutions you made 32 days or so ago? You don’t? Get in line.

We humans are notorious for making and quickly forgetting about resolutions. That psychological fresh start we get every January 1st is a fleeting, fickle high. It’s scary how fast the blush wears off and that new beginning starts to, well, age.

If you’re part of the millions who promised change and then sort of forgot about those promises, fear not. It’s not January 1st that makes the difference. It’s you. So why not make today your new beginning? Make today the day you set an earnings goal. Once you have a goal in mind, you’ll be surprised at how quickly everything else comes into view, like how you’re going to reach that goal.

Here’s how to start:

1. Decide how much money you want to earn. Seriously. Get a number in your head. Write it down. Don’t be shy – this is a goal, even if it’s a six-figure goal.

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