When I got into this thing called blogging six months ago, I quickly realized that the best thing I had going for me was an experienced mentor who was willing to tolerate my inane questions
I knew absolutely nothing. And I had a million questions. The first of which was, how do I grow my new website?
One of the first things he told me with regard to growing my new baby blog was that if I wrote it well enough, other bloggers might invite me to appear on their sites as a guest blogger. And that of all the strategies for attracting readers and new subscribers, this would be the most productive.
Having tried all the strategies by now, I have to conclude he was right.
A Comment on Commenting
I’d done my share of commenting on other sites – the blue collar growth strategy of blogging – and it works to some slow extent if you offer edgy and value-adding content.
Here’s what I didn’t expect, though, based on his prognostications. My inbox wasn’t exactly deluged with invitations to post articles on the sites of others. Only one, actually, and from one of the biggest writing sites on the internet.
Made my mentor look like a genius.
But the others – and there have been well over 30 guest appearances thus far, a pace of well over one per week – I had to make happen on my own.
Scoring a guest gig is like selling a magazine article.
First you write a query letter, you submit samples (that’s easy in our game, we simply provide our URL), you pitch an interesting angle for content their readers will appreciate, and you take your chances.
Having sold a big fat bundle articles in my day, I knew how to play that game.
Very quickly, though, I realized how different things are here in Blogland. Because while magazines aren’t really interested at all in who you are, those who host guest posts actually care about that stuff.
Why? Because the central theme of blogging is community. Hosting site owners are as interested in you as they are in what you’d like to write about. Provided, of course, it delivers value to their readers.
The Central Strategy of Guest Blogging
Here’s the most empowering thing I’ve learned about guest posting thus far.
Don’t be afraid to write a core article about the most fundamental essence of your blogging brand.
A guest blog is like being introduced to an auditorium full of people who accept you because the host has already endorsed you. This is your chance – perhaps your only chance – to make an impression.
So do you talk about what your host is up to, or what you’re up to?
The answer might surprise you.
The best strategy – one that serves you and your host – is to deliver your core message, rather than trying to shape content that seems to fit with the host’s brand, or worse, is something anybody could put out there.
How To Be Somebody
The objective is to evolve from nobody to somebody, without going anywhere near being perceived as just anybody.
I recently had a post on Problogger.net, thanks in no small part to mentioning the host by name right here on Bloggingtips.com, prompting the fellow who runs that site to get in touch and throw open the door.
So did I write about what Darren is doing there? Not exactly. He didn’t need me – and didn’t ask me – for that purpose.
Instead, I wrote about my thing, which is called The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling, a developmental model for fiction writers.
Why would Darren allow me on his site for that?
Because I found a way to make it relevant to his readers. And in doing so, presented a clear picture of what my site is all about.
That’s the secret to successful guest blogging. Don’t try to become your host, remain true to yourself and your brand and write about that.
If you can show how your core message adapts to and benefits the host’s readers, they’ll not only accept your self-invited guest post, they’ll have you back.
Larry Brooks is the creator of Storyfix.com, an instructional website for novelists and screenwriters. He is the author of Story Structure – Demystified, which is one of two ebooks on writing available through his site.