I read with interest Jane’s recent post Blogging Versus Email Newsletter: Which Is Better for Writers? I’ve never really thought of these two things as an either/or choice, but as Jane accurately points out, while an email newsletter can be more effective for sales and marketing, it can be difficult to build an email list. Without doing other forms of marketing, your beautifully crafted emails won’t reach new readers.
A blog, on the other hand, can attract new readers, but you will still need to put in some leg work to promote your new blog posts and let potential readers know they’re there. For a blog to truly be effective, you will need to keep up with it consistently and often.
Internet marketing guru Neil Patel said in 2017, “If you have the time to blog 3 to 5 times a week, you should blog on your own blog. On the flip side, if you only have time to blog once a week, you shouldn’t even create a blog. You should guest blog.”
I can almost hear the thud as authors everywhere faint with horror at the thought of blogging 3-5 times a week, every week. Even creating weekly content is a big ask for many authors. And when you’re starting out and no one knows you exist, it can be hard to keep going if no one is reading your blog posts.
That’s where I am in total agreement with Neil Patel that guest blogging can be a far better option.
What is guest blogging?
Guest blogging is when you write a blog post for someone else’s blog. What you’re reading right now is a guest blog post. A guest blog allows you to leverage someone else’s existing audience as a way to reach new readers and grow your own audience.
Guest blogging allows you to increase your exposure and grow your author brand. You can use guest blogging as a way to promote your reader magnet and grow your email list.
If you enjoy writing blog posts but are fed up of them going unread on your own website, and if you want to grow your email list but are finding it painfully slow going, guest blogging could be the perfect solution for you.
To be clear, the odd guest post here and there won’t do much to grow your email list. It is something you need to commit to doing regularly, at least until your audience is big enough to support your own blog. But guest blogging is something you can pick up and put down if life gets in the way, or when you need to focus fully on writing your next book. Often, when authors stop posting to their own blog for a while, it can be hard to get going again. Guest blogging can be far more flexible and forgiving.
Your goal with guest blogging
When you write a guest post, you are unlikely to get paid. Your payment for a guest post is the link back to your own website. You can include this in the bio that will appear at the top or bottom of your guest post. Very occasionally you can also include a link to your own blog or books in the guest post itself, but only if it is relevant.
As you may only get one link, you should use it wisely. I recommend linking to a landing page for your reader magnet. This is so that you can capture new email subscribers. If you send them to your website’s home page they may get distracted and not sign up to your list and they may never return to your site.
If you send them to your books, either on Amazon or a books page on your website, they may not buy your book because they don’t know you well enough yet and aren’t convinced your book is right for them. If you have them on your email list, though, you can nurture them towards a purchase. Even if they do buy a book right away, you have no way of keeping in touch with them to tell them about future books. So I always, always recommend linking to your reader magnet.
How to find sites to guest post for
It’s usually straightforward for nonfiction authors to find relevant blogs to guest post for. If you’re a nonfiction author, you’ll simply look for other blogs that talk about your topic, or a related topic. For example, if you write about mindset for professional athletes, you may look for blogs that cover other topics of interest to competitive athletes.
But what about fiction authors? Well, you can look for nonfiction blogs too. You don’t only need to look for blogs that talk about your type of fiction. Remember that fiction readers are everywhere and they don’t just read fiction. They’re also parents. They’re also people that care about their health. And they’re also people with jobs that care about productivity or climbing the career ladder. So your readers may also be reading fitness blogs, parenting blogs, or productivity blogs.
So how do you go about finding blogs to write for? The first thing to do is run a Google search. You can simply type in [your topic idea] + blog.
So you could search for productivity blog or blogs for moms.
Your search will show up some popular blogs, but you will also often find curated lists or round up posts of some of the top recommended sites. These are useful for discovering several blogs very quickly.
You want to be sure you’re finding blogs that accept guest contributors, so also try searching for [Your topic] + write for us or [Your topic] + contributors.
What to guest blog about
Once you have found some blogs to guest post for, you’ll need to come up with some story ideas to pitch.
First, consider what you might feel confident writing about. You don’t need to be an expert on the topic, but keep in mind things you have some interest in or knowledge or experience of.
For instance, you could pitch fitness blogs with a post about how to fit in exercise when you write all day, or how to avoid wrist pain when you type a lot. You could pitch time management or productivity blogs, personal development blogs or business blogs that want to know how you fit an author business around a day job or what you look for in a virtual assistant.
Or perhaps you have another passion besides writing. One of my private clients loves dogs and even writes fiction through the eyes of dogs and wolves. Her readers are also dog lovers so are likely to be reading blogs aimed at dog owners, and as she is also a dog trainer she pitches guest blogs about dog training.
If you’re a fiction author and can’t think of any nonfiction topics to write about beyond writing, be wary of guest posting for writing blogs. Although other writers do read a lot, you may find that you attract people more interested in your writing tips than your fiction.
Instead, you could try guest blogging for lifestyle blogs that feature posts aimed squarely at book lovers and readers, such as “25 romance novels to read before you die” or “Only a true YA reader can get 7/7 on this trivia quiz.” Try searching the keyword “books” at Buzzfeed for inspiration.
How to pitch a guest post
Once you have found some blogs that you think could be a good fit, you’ll want to double check whether they accept guest posts and if they have submission guidelines.
If the blog you want to pitch does have submission guidelines, be sure to follow them. Some may ask for a full post, others just an outline. If you fail to follow these instructions, you risk being overlooked regardless of how good your idea is. Bloggers and blog editors are busy, and it’s your aim to make their lives easier. That starts with following the submission guidelines to the letter. If there are no submission guidelines, you can send an email pitch instead. This can be daunting, so to make things easier, I have a free pitch template you can download.
Your guest post pitch template
As you can see, guest blogging can be an activity that supports your email list growth and gets you in front of new audiences, but isn’t something you need to do every week. If you’d like to give it a try, download my free pitch template and start pitching!
Here’s to your guest blogging success!