10 Tips for Being a Gracious Guest

lanyard with Guest in nametag pouch

Guest posting has been a popular topic in the blogosphere during the past few weeks. Chris Garrett (Authority Blogger) just released an eBook, Guest Posting — for Quality Links and Targeted Traffic ($10), and Jade Craven recently published The Guest Post Mini Guide ($20). Since we host guests at On Blogging Well, plus I periodically write guest posts, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss on this Wednesday is Friends Day, especially since guest posting is a great way to connect and make friends with fellow bloggers.

Note that I’m still learning here, and yes, I’ve broken some of these “rules” in the past, but I just bought both of the abovementioned reports and hope to do better the next time I write a guest post. This list of tips will provide a good overview, but Chris and Jade go into detail about how to contact bloggers you wish to post for, working out the arrangements, how to leverage your guest post, etc. (Note to the FTC: I’m a customer of these two bloggers, not an affiliate.)

Tip #1 — Use original content:

Writing one generic guest post to circulate among a group of blogs isn’t just bad public relations, it’s bad manners. I learned this the hard way and, like the time my Uncle Charlie stuck a lit firecracker in his ear, won’t ever do that again.

Tip #2 — Use fresh content:

Read the blog’s recent posts before pitching your idea. Again, I learned this lesson through experience. I had a great idea for a magazine article. In fact, it was so great, the editor who rejected it put a note referring me to a series of articles they had just published on the topic.

Tip #3 — Write well.

Although some large blogs have staff who edit guest posts, most don’t. Even if you know the blogger has an in-house editor, it’s the writer’s job to submit copy that is as clean and polished as possible. My friend Kathy Ide is a freelance editor who teaches a class called “Polishing the PUGS” (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling) to help writers remember what to revise during the self-editing process. Her site offers some good pointers, and she’s written a book on this topic, too. (Again, I’m not an affiliate.)

Tip #4 — Provide helpful information.

While guest posting offers many benefits to the guest, the post itself should be written to benefit the blog’s audience. Give them a reason to think you’re host is a great guy for hosting you. Offer useful information in your post. Think of this post not as your time to shine, but your time to share. And if you do that, yes, you will shine.

Tip #5 — Avoid shameless self-promotion.

When celebrities or A-list authors release a new book, they often hit the talk show circuit on a promotional tour. Bloggers do that, too. New eBooks, products, webinars, etc., are often promoted on a number of blogs as they are released. There’s nothing wrong with that — it’s part of networking. But, if the purpose of your guest post is to promote a product or service, keep your post focused on the benefits to the reader is a good marketing tactic. “Look at me and see what I’ve done” is not. The old attracting bees with honey instead of vinegar trick works well in marketing, too.

Tip #6 — Be relevant to the blog’s topic.

This should be pretty obvious, but it usually never hurts to state the obvious. This point means don’t submit a list of bowling tips to a blog about golf. (Well, unless of course you can adapt principles that apply to both sports, which might give your post a unique slant, but that wasn’t exactly what I was trying to get at here.) If you have any doubt, contact the blog owner. An ounce of communication can prevent a pound of frustration.

Tip #7 — Familiarize yourself with the blog.

Read through enough posts on the blog you’re pitching to that you understand the blogger’s philosophy, style, and tone. The purpose of guest posting isn’t to mimick the blog owner, but to be a compliment to her. Peanut butter and jelly are totally different substances, but they go well together. Think what your sandwich would taste like if you threw in mustard instead of peanut butter, though. Be unique, but be united.

Tip #8 — Avoid confrontational topics.

A generation or two ago, the big three taboo table topics were politics, sex, and religion. Today, almost no subject is avoided in conversation, but when you’re a guest, it’s best not to bring up what we in the South call “sore subjects.” Don’t purposefully submit content to a blog will knowingly upset your host. This is not the time and place to prove a point you want to make, especially if you know the blog owner differs from your opinion. For instance, I have discussed my opinion about blogging platforms on my own blog, but no way would I mention the differences in blogging platforms or my preference if I were writing a guest post for someone who is hosted by TypePad or Blogger.

Tip #9 — Don’t be a diva.

You’re probably thinking, “Huh?” But, yes, I’ve read of instances where a guest blogger produced a list of “demands” to the host blogger. Blogging offers a lot to the blogger himself, but in a general sense, blogging is a service, and bloggers who blog with the benefits of others in mind are the ones who succeed. The blogosphere is a community that works together. There are no private dressing rooms.

Tip #10 — Follow through.

Say what you’ll do, then do what you said. Blogs run on a production schedule just like any other periodical. Give your host plenty of time to read through your post and set it up in the format they use. Ask how long they need, and make sure your post is ready ahead of time. Submit any other requested items along with your post, such as a mini-bio or image(s). Once the post is published, be prepared to interact with the readers who comment on your piece. Thank the host for allowing you to be his or her guest, and continue to build the relationship by continuing to visit their blog after your post.

Hopefully this list will help you as a guest blogger and/or host blogger. Some blogs that frequently host guests have a page (not included in the main navigation system) where they list their guest post submission guidelines. If you host guests often on your blog, this may be a helpful thing so you just send out a link to this page to your guests instead of retyping (or finding, copying & pasting) the instructions in an email every time you have a guest.

Happy Blogging!


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#1 Daria on 01.13.10 at 1:24 pm

I have yet to have the privilege of being a guest blogger, or having one on my blog, but I’m going to take this list to heart. It has some good tips, and I’m sure that even in my own posts, I am guilty of one faux pas or another…

#2 Jessy Troy on 01.14.10 at 2:48 pm

As far as guest blogging is concerned, here’s a great site I’ve had much luck with: http://myblogguest.com/ That’s a community of guest bloggers. You can find plenty of great blogs there accepting guest posts as well as authors willing to guest post.

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