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The Dos and Don'ts of Guest Blogging

By Cedric Jackson, January 23, 2018
The Dos and Don'ts of Guest Blogging

Recently, I posted a blog about why it's often good practice to credit the people who contribute to your blog. Today, I want to focus more on the types of practices that make guest blogging on your site successful. There is a fine balance between showcasing outside talent that knows your business well and looking as though you're farming out your entire blog to outsiders and I want to try to help you find it.

The easiest thing to do once your guest blogs start getting positive feedback and interaction is to simply let someone else handle the task of populating your blog full time. This is not necessarily a bad idea, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. In short, not all ghostwritten content needs (or deserves) guest blogger status. Your audience needs to hear from you, too, whether directly or by way of a trusted ghostwriter who understands the ins and outs of your business.

With all this in mind, let's have a look at several ways you can enhance your blog with guest posts and also identify some of the traps many marketers and business owners fall into that you can (and should) avoid.

#1 – Do Read Other Industry Blogs Regularly

This serves several specific purposes: First, it allows you to keep current on what your competition and other thought leaders in your industry think matters to your customers and prospects. It also helps you stay current on relevant market trends. Most importantly, it can help you discover ideas for topics to cover in your own blog.

If you discover a specific blog that you believe really has its finger on the pulse of your industry, note if its authors are credited. If so, you might want to reach out and request some guest material.

I recommend doing this only in instances where you aren't directly soliciting competing blogs or companies. There are plenty of blogs out there that are not tied to a specific business that are using content marketing simply to reach a specific niche. These are the ones you want to scout for guest blogging talent.

As a final thought on this topic, please do not troll other blogs for content you can simply rewrite. You want your voice to be one that speaks clearly and honestly and delivers a message that is unique to your brand. It's fine to borrow ideas, but don't attempt to emulate the same content on your blog. You might wind up getting a brand of attention that you neither want nor need.

#2 – Do Solicit and Showcase Work from Competent Guest Bloggers

Once you make a few contacts with competent guest bloggers, work collaboratively with them. This will help ensure that what they write for you reflects the style and message already present in your blog. If you are starting your blog from scratch, you need to have a clear direction for it and communicate clearly what your objectives are to any contributing writer.

This is where detailed briefs and style guides come into play. If you aren't developing either, expect your blog to be very disjointed to the average reader. If you plan to work predominantly with guest bloggers, freelancers, or a specific copywriting company, this step is mandatory. Do not expect a seasoned and experienced blogger to either work or create satisfactory work without them.

#3 – Do Aggressively Promote Posts Shared by Prominent Guest Bloggers

Always acknowledge the work of an experienced guest blogger by promoting their posts aggressively both through your email and social media marketing campaigns. If you have a headshot of the author, include it in his or her posts and in all advertising you generate to promote them.

Remember, an experienced, well-known guest blogger is doing far more than average to elevate your brand, so be sure to return the favor and give that writer as much positive exposure as possible. It will help perpetuate the writer's reputation as an authority and the association with your brand will only serve to grow your own following, especially across social channels. Promote their content well and you can bet they will do the same for you on their own social channels and email lists.

#4 – Don't Let Guest Bloggers Steal the Show

As I mentioned earlier, your audience needs to hear from you once in a while, too. While it's great to demonstrate that you are of like mind with thought leaders in your industry, your own thoughts and perspectives matter too.

Be sure that you are offering some of your own content, whether you write it yourself or hire copywriters to do it for you. There is nothing wrong or unethical about claiming someone else's work as yours as long as it is understood before writing commences that the content will be ghostwritten and credited to someone other than the author. The vast majority of copywriters are used to this arrangement and have no problem taking a backseat to help you promote your business.

#5 – Don't Get on the Bad Side of a Guest Blogger

Before you ever approach a blogger for content, you need to be comfortable with his or her style of writing and predetermine that it is a good fit for your blog. Your style guide is a recipe for what goes into the content, but the writer's own style and personality will always shine through, regardless of how rigid you try to make the mold.
Guest bloggers are not the same as other copywriters in that they are not bound by your content creation paradigms. Remember, please, that you approached them and subsequently need to be comfortable with that decision from the start. Blast a guest blogger's work and you might find the backlash a bit much for your brand to bear (and that is putting it lightly).

Final Takeaway

The best blogs are those that offer the reader a variety of perspectives and topics while always delivering a single, central message to the reader. Decide what approach you want to take with your blog and assemble writers you know to be able to meet your objectives. Be smart in how you choose and manage guest bloggers and make sure the content that comes from you (or a trusted ghostwriter) reflects the same tone, style, and ideas brought to the table by your other contributors.

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