When you are self-publishing for the first time you need to create an audience that will expect your book, be excited about it. The most popular way of achieving that is by blogging. But to secure your reputation, guest blogging is your greatest tool.
Of course, running a blog is a completely different thing from writing a book, but to audience it doesn’t necessarily make a difference. You show off your writing skills one way or another and if you can prove to be a good, interesting blogger, your audience will expect you to be a good, interesting novelist.
But running a blog isn’t easy, it takes hard work and a lot of time. Building a readership is even harder and takes even more time. So, unless you were born knowing what you are going to do and started blogging from your crib, you’ll need a little boost.
I’ve discussed marketing techniques that you can use but I failed to mention this one – partly because it deserves a full article.
Guest blogging is the way for you to grow your targeted audience and become a recognizable name within the writing community.
In this article I’ll go over a few major points:
- Finding channels/target audience for guest blogging
- Deciding on a goal
- Writing high-quality posts when guest blogging
- SEO and back-linking
With no further waste of time, let’s dive in!
Finding Channels/Target Audience For Guest Blogging
First things first, target audience is a term used to describe a specific group of people who you are planning to promote your book to. If you don’t have a description of your target audience, go and make one, then come back.
Here are questions that will help you determine your target audience:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- Which subculture are they a part of?
- What is their problem that I can solve?
- What are their common interests?
Once you answer these five questions (with the exception of the 4th – that one doesn’t apply to your novel, only your guest post) you’re all set to build your marketing strategy.
Ben Sailer wrote an in-depth article on determining your target audience that I found useful, I recommend you read it – it’s a good read and very practical one.
With your audience in mind, you can now choose blogs to pitch your post to. Keep in mind, your blog should be related to those blogs by your choice of topics. Don’t pitch a post about personal finances to that sort of blogs if your blog is about creative writing.
There are many lists of blogs that accept guest posting and I’ll be doing an exhaustive list related to creative writing blogs tomorrow. Be sure to carefully study blogs you plan to pitch to, read their content, see if your post fits.
Deciding On A Goal
It’s should be of major importance for you to decide what you want to achieve by your post. This is just a matter of simple questioning – what do you want to be the effect of your post? Who will the post help? How will it help you? These questions will define your post in more ways than you currently expect.
There are three major goals for guest bloggers:
- Exposure via a prominent site
- Getting recognized as an authority in your (blogging) industry
- Getting back-links to your blog
With high-quality content you are able to achieve all three mentioned goals.
Writing High Quality Posts When Guest Blogging
Hana Abaza gives nine ingredients for high quality content but the one thing that will always be needed online is originality.
Do your research before writing a post you plan to submit, but that should apply to your own blog as well – after all, the readers who like your guest post will likely want to check out your blog, so don’t disappoint them.
Achieving originality online might seem hard, but there are three key aspects to it:
- Provide your perspective
- Collect all the useful pieces of information available
- Make it understandable, useful and easy to apply
- Conduct an empirical research (optional)
If you do all this your post will be original. Don’t offer your readers something they can read online, offer them an in-depth guide on a small topic.
The exception here are 101 blogs such as this one, where the blogger attempts to present the available information in an original way for beginners. Although, I do plan to move to advanced courses in the future.
SEO And Back-Linking
This is a topic that needs its own post since there are whole websites on the topic. But the bottom line is this: guest posting will bring you traffic through the links you put in the post/bio.
You must read through the guidelines for guest bloggers to see if you can put links to your site in the post itself or only in your bio. I allow as many back-links to your site as you need – as long as it’s not getting in the way of the quality of your post.
As for the SEO, I found this incredibly useful article that explains SEO in depth. It essentially means that you must help help search engines to recognize what your post is about so the search engine can rank your posts by relevance.
If you help search engines recognize your post and you help the administrators of the site you’re submitting your post to, your authority within the community will grow quickly.
To do this, you must research which keywords are getting a lot of organic traffic (through search engines) and incorporate the keywords in your post (title, slugline, meta description, photo descriptions, the post itself), but be sure not to use those black hat methods such as adding keywords that aren’t relevant to your post – search engines give penalties for that and you loose the rank.
I use Google’s keyword planner to search for the most commonly searched terms and I try to put them somewhere where they fit.
When I searched for ‘writing tips’, it had 1 to 10 thousand searches per month. But ‘story writing’ was a more popular term with 10 and 100 thousand searches a month.
As for the competition, you shouldn’t worry about it. It only shows how many people buy the rank for those keywords. That is – how many people advertise through Google. If you’re not buying ads for yourself, ignore the right part of the chart.
Experiment with different terms and keywords and don’t overdo them.
Now that you know everything about guest posting, be sure to try it out. Blogs that accept guest posts usually have a special page where you can submit your articles or pitch an idea. Some only leave an e-mail address so you can contact them. Read the guidelines and you can’t go wrong.
Author: Mladen Reljanović
Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.