13 Ways You Can Be a Successful Guest Post Author

13 Ways You Can Be a Successful Guest Post Author — Follow these tips to help you rise to the top of the pile when approaching successful blogs with your guest post ideas.

Writing guest posts for other blogs is a great way to expand your reach and increase the audience for your own blog. Ideally, you want to write guest posts for successful blogs with large audiences but you can almost guarantee that these blogs aldready receive many offers of guest posts from other people so here are some tips to help you rise to the top of the pile.

  1. Be specific when presenting your article idea

    If the host blog is successful, odds are good that the blog host is also very busy and doesn’t want to spend weeks going back and forth with you about what you should write about. Figure this out before you approach them. Provide details. Provide potential headlines.

  2. Don’t waste time by suggesting an article outside of the blog’s content niche

    Just don’t do it. Familiarize yourself with the topics of the articles on the blog and if you can’t offer something that falls in line with the established subject matter, go elsewhere. If you are determined to write the article, find a blog where the topic fits and approach that blog.

    For example, don’t offer an article about baking cookies to a blog that talks about car repairs. Even IF the blog host agreed to run your article, which is highly unlikely, the audience for the host blog isn’t likely to follow you back to your blog.

  3. Ask for the guest author guidelines

    Most successful blogs will have guest author guidelines. If they aren’t offered, ask for them, and read them. They’re in place for a reason and although they’re called “guidelines” which implies flexibility, consider them to be the rules for guest post authors.

    Guidelines will probably address matters such as:

    • Exclusivity
    • Article length
    • Restrictions on backlinks
  4. Don’t offer an article that reads like an advertisement for your book, product or service

    It’s reasonable to expect a backlink or two somewhere in the article or byline in exchange for your article, after all, why else would you be writing the article, right? But, flogging your wares on someone else’s site is not good form and your offer is likely to be rejected.

    An exception to this might be if the blog host had signed up for an affiliate program you were offering for your product or service and could potentially gain some sales because of your guest post.

  5. Follow the established tone and style of the host blog

    For example, if the host blog uses a lot of headings, bullet points and lists, use a lot of headings, bullet points and lists in your article if at all possible. Likewise if the tone of the blog is warm and personable, the existing audience may not welcome something structured and stilted.

  6. Format your blog post in HTML

    Make it as easy as possible for the blog host to use your article. Ideally you want them to be able to copy and paste your article into a post in their blog.

    Tip: If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, right mouse click on a commonly used heading style in an existing post on the host blog, then select “Inspect Element.”

    Inspect Element menu

    A new browser tab containing the HTML code for the site will be opened and the heading you right mouse clicked on will be highlighted. See below.

    Inspect element

    In this case, the heading style is h3. If you do this for images, you can learn the typical dimensions for images used on the blog also.

  7. Provide or suggest appropriate visuals to go with your post

    If your article requires screenshots, provide neatly cropped images of the right size and dpi (dots per inch) and in the file format most commonly used by the host blog.

    If you know of royalty free images that would work with your post, suggest them, but remember that the decision is ultimately that of the blog host.

    If you have an idea of what would work well subject-wise for the post image, suggest it, but again, remember that the decision is ultimately that of the blog host.

  8. Proofread, proofread, proofread

  9. Suggest which tags and categories used by the host blog are likely to work best with your article

  10. Provide a headshot and bio

    Take note of the size of the headshots used by other guest post authors for that blog. Where possible, offer the same sized image so that it doesn’t need to be resized. Although it doesn’t really take all that long to resize an image, every little thing you can do to make it easier for a blogger to publish your guest post, will increase the odds that they’ll want you to come back again.

    Try to make your bio interesting. It is what will draw people back to your own blog and remember to include those back links.

  11. Enthusiastically promote your guest post if it is published

    Spread the word with a link to your guest post on all of your social media channels and on your own blog, too. Remember, you have a vested interested in seeing that post succeed.

  12. Promptly respond to comments if your guest post is published

    If your blog host wants you to respond to comments generated by your article, make yourself available and interact with the readers who leave comments.

  13. Gracefully accept rejection

    If you’ve made your pitch to a blog host with a specific on-topic idea, followed the guest author guidelines to the letter, formatted the blog post in HTML to perfectly fit in with the style of the host blog, and they still aren’t interested, even if they don’t offer an explanation, accept the decision and walk away quietly.

    Don’t keep asking “why?” Don’t barrage the blog host with more ideas and articles unless you’ve been invited to do so. Move on to another blog—for the time being and go back with another idea after a few months have passed.

So there you have it, my 13 points to being a dream guest post author. Do you agree with my list? Is there anything that you think should be added? Let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

What Do You Do When Life Gets Too Busy to Blog?

What Do You Do When Life Gets Too Busy to Blog? explores options for when you’re too busy to maintain your usual blog posting schedule.

As part of your author platform it’s recommended that you create and maintain a blog and publish posts on a regular schedule. Many experts believe you need to publish posts at least twice a week.

But life is busy, isn’t it? And, there’re other aspects of your author platform to maintain as well like your social media, and if you’re working, have a family or other responsibilities that take your time, that doesn’t always leave you a lot of time to blog, not to mention actually write the books you’re trying to promote with your blog and social media, does it?

I get it. I really do. For months now I’ve been blogging three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I was really proud of my efforts and that I’d been able to maintain this schedule. But these past few weeks for a variety of reasons, I’ve struggled to maintain this schedule.

So, what do you do if you can’t maintain your blogging schedule?

  • Reduce the number of posts you publish every week. If, for example, you normally publish three times a week, maybe publish posts only once or twice a week.
  • Use guest posts. Other bloggers in your social network might be willing to write for you when you’re too busy to do so in exchange for you writing guest posts for them another time when they’re too busy. There are also many freelance writers looking for opportunities to write for established blogs.

    This solution may not be ideal because it involves you having to write articles in exchange, or create guest author guidelines, and you will still have to find time to format the blog post and schedule it to run on your blog. And, depending on the guest post author, it can sometimes take longer to edit and format a post written by someone else than it does to write your own post in the first place.

  • Write extra posts when you have time to do so and save them for when you don’t have the time to write other posts. Unless you’ve had the time to write a lot of blog posts this is most likely a short term solution but depending on your circumstances that might be all that you need.
  • Try to recruit regular contributors to routinely write for your blog. You can maintain the control over your blog but create a schedule for when each regular writer contributes a post and decide what subject areas each regular writer will cover. You will have more success with enticing other writers to invest in your blog if you already have a large following, but as with guest posts, this option still involves a fair bit of work on your behalf if you have to edit and format their blog posts for publication.
  • Collaborate with other authors to form a new blog and share the responsibilities for writing the posts instead of each writer struggling to maintain their own blogs.
  • Hire help. Virtual assistants can take on a lot of the work associated with maintaining a blog. If writing the posts isn’t the part that takes the majority of your time, but researching the topic and editing and formatting the post is, a virtual assistant can help with that and free up a lot of your time. A virtual assistant can also take on the responsibility of editing and formatting your guest authors’ or contributing writers’ articles.
  • Take a blogcation. I’d suggest that this option be a last resort. The internet is full of many blogs that have gone on hiatus, have never been revived, and if you go this route you run the risk that you will lose the audience that you have worked so hard to attract. But, if you feel that you have no other option, explain to your readers what you are doing and define a time line for your return and stick to that if at all possible.

As you may have guessed there is a reason I decided to blog on this topic tonight. I need to take a bit of a break from my three times a week blogging schedule, at least through the summer. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now with personal and professional responsibilities and I also want to open an Etsy shop for vintage children’s storybooks and pattern books for knitting, crocheting and numerous other crafts. It’s also been many years since I’ve had a proper holiday and while that’s not on the horizon for me just yet (it’s very difficult to get away for an offline holiday when you’re self-employed and have a zoo full of cats and dogs like I do), I would like to lighten my load where possible, just a bit this summer in lieu of a vacation so that I can sit on my patio and read a book or something frivolous like that periodically. Life is short and it’s important to take some time out to smell those roses.

So, starting today, I plan to blog only once a week on Fridays. I hope you’ll bear with me and that I’ve give you some ideas for how to manage your own blog should you ever need a bit of a break, too, for whatever reason.

Photo credit: Pixabay

WordPress Themes: Assessing the Options

Wordpress Themes: Assessing the Options explains where a blogger can find themes for Wordpress.org and what information is available for each theme.

I’m searching for a new blog theme compatible with my self-hosted WordPress blog.

I’ve just begun my search. I’m currently using Thesis, a theme developed by DIY Themes and I might consider the updated version of that. As you may have noticed this blog as it stands now, isn’t particularly user-friendly on a mobile device, particularly something with a small screen like a phone so that will definitely be part of the criteria for a new theme. Thesis is a commercial theme that I bought a licence for.

Free WordPress.org Themes

Did you know that WordPress.org has a massive directory of free themes?

You can search for these themes by:

  • Featured which currently lists 15 themes
  • Popular which lists all of the 1777 free themes available on this site according to popularity which is determined by the number of downloads.
  • Latest which lists the free themes from newest to oldest.

You can create a filter to search for particular features in a theme if you’ve got something specific in mind.

Filtering options include:

  • Colors – Black, Blue, Brown, Gray, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Silver, Tan, White, Yellow, Dark and Light
  • Layout – Fixed Layout, Fluid Layout, Responsive Layout, One Column, Two Columns, Three Columns, Four Columns, Left Sidebar and Right Sidebar
  • Features – Accessibility ready, Blavatar, BuddyPress, Custom Background, Custom Colors, Custom Header, Custom Menu, Editor Style, Featured Image Header, Featured Images, Flexible Header, Front Page Posting, Full Width Template, Microformats, Post Formats, RTL Language Support, Sticky Post, Theme Options, Threaded Comments and Translation Ready
  • Subject – Holiday, Photoblogging and Seasonal

If you place your cursor over the sample pictures for a theme you can click on the “More Info” button that appears and go to a detailed description for that particular theme. On the right panel of the pages describing the individual themes, you can:

  • opt to preview or download the theme
  • see the ratings for that particular theme given out of a potential of 5 stars
  • see date of the last updates to the theme
  • access the link to the support forum for that theme
  • see the list of tags for that theme that correspond to the Features Filter
  • see the number of downloads per day and overall number of downloads for that theme

For example, on the Homepage of the Twenty Twelve theme, we can see that:

  • it was last updated on December 17, 2014.
  • it has a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating with a total of 119 reviews
  • there have been 1,732,253 downloads of this theme overall

WordPress.org Commercial Themes

WordPress.org also offers a directory of commercial themes. These themes are not free but may offer features and stability that some of the free themes may not offer.

I need to compile a list of my criteria for a new theme and then check out the possibilities and make some decisions.

What do you think? What features do you think are important for a writer’s blog? Is there a particular theme that you like or can recommend? Tell me in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

5 Things to Know about Working with a Virtual Assistant

5 Things to Know about Working with a Virtual Assistant shares some information about working with virtual assistants.

I wear a lot of hats in life as do many of you and one of mine is being a virtual assistant. So, if I’m at my desk and I’m not blogging or writing, I’m usually working for my clients.

I’ve been a virtual assistant now for about eight years and I thought I’d share some information about working with virtual assistants that you might find helpful.

Five Things about Virtual Assistants

  1. Find a virtual assistant that you feel comfortable with. I recommend this to people all the time. In the absence of face-to-face communication, it’s important that you have a good feeling about the person you work with. Referrals from someone you trust definitely help. Interview your virtual assistant on the phone or on Skype to get a sense of who they are. Most virtual assistants are happy to discuss your needs with you initially without charge.
  2. You will need to give your virtual assistant your passwords for sites you need help creating or maintaining. Before you send this information to your virtual assistant, make sure that it works. If you can log into your accounts successfully with the login information, she should be able to as well. (There can be exceptions to this if the site logs IP address as part of their security measures.) Sending the wrong login info causes confusion and wastes time that you have to pay for.
     
    If you are uncomfortable sending the information through email there are a few ways to do this that minimize the likelihood of it being intercepted.

    • Print the document, scan it and send the image file with your password as an email attachment.
    • Tell your virtual assistant that you are sending the password over several emails without noting what the password is for. For example if you’ve told her you’re sending her your password for your blog, you could send it with the subject line of Email #1 and the body of the email could show the first three characters of the password, say “ABC”, then subject line “Email #2” with the body showing the next three characters, and so on. The information would appear as random characters and it is unlikely that anyone other than you and your virtual assistant would know what the password was for if it was intercepted.
    • You could verbally give your password and login information to your virtual assistant over the phone or on Skype but if it’s a particularly complicated password with a lot of special characters, this may be difficult.
  3. Different virtual assistants have different skills and experience. Some virtual assistants help writers maintain their blogs or market their books and are experts on using social media or building websites, some virtual assistants work with lawyers, some work with real estate agents, etc.
     
    And, even though a virtual assistant might be an expert on using social media, it doesn’t mean that she’s completely up to speed on every single social media platform and utility that works with that social media platform. She might be, don’t get me wrong, but things change quickly on the internet. New sites crop up overnight.

    It’s also been my experience that as much as I might like to learn something new, it isn’t always possible because there are only so many hours in a day.

  4. Just because a virtual assistant works from home doesn’t mean she’s available for business 24 x 7. We all have personal lives, too, and as we’re all learning more and more, it’s important and healthy to switch off and disconnect from the internet sometimes.
     
    The borderless nature of the internet means that we often work in different time zones than our clients. Some of us choose to work on off hours that better suit our family lives, but some of us work 9 to 5 hours, or something close to that. Know what time zone your virtual assistant is in so that you don’t call her too early in the morning or too late at night. And, realize that if you email on a weekend, you might not get an answer until Monday.

    If you have questions or concerns about this, ask your virtual assistant what she sees as being reasonable work hours when you can contact her.

  5. Being a virtual assistant is great! I like my job. I like to help my clients and working from home works for me and my family.

Is there anything you’d like to know about virtual assistants? Ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

Photo credit: 30.365 via photopin (license)

Use Blog Carnivals to Grow Your Audience

Blog carnivals are a great way to grow the audience for your own blog. The premise is simple: submit links to your best blog posts on a particular topic to a blog carnival hosted on another blog and your posts will, in theory, be read along with all of the other submissions made to that particular blog carnival. If readers like what you’ve written they’ll keep coming back to your blog.

Blog carnivals used to be much more common and it’s too bad that there aren’t more of them running now. Below I have listed information about two blog carnivals that are still in operation. I’d encourage you to not only submit to them but also to take the time to read an issue or two.

AME Blog Carnival

  • This carnival runs weekly and is published on Mondays.
  • Submissions made by Friday will be included in the carnival the following Monday.
  • Submission categories include: Book Marketing, Book Publicity, Social Media, Writing, Book Sales, Self-Publishing, and Getting Published.

Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies

  • This carnival runs once a month and is published on the last Sunday of the month.
  • The submission deadline is the 15th of the month.
  • Submission categories include: Indie Author, Writing Tools & Tips, Book Design & Production, Marketing & Selling Your Books, EBooks and EBook Readers, and Self-Publishing Success.

Do you know of any other self-publishing or writing related blog carnivals that I could add to this list? If so, let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Write a Blog Post in 70 Minutes or Less?

Write a Blog Post in 70 Minutes or Less? shares a link to a podcast by Michael Hyatt detailing his routine for writing a blog post in 70 minutes or less.

Can’t believe it’s Friday again! This week has been a blur!

Found another good video to share with you this week. Blogging is something that we, as writers trying to build our author platforms, are advised to do, yet this is intimidating for many of us. Michael Hyatt has been blogging for years and in this video (audio also available) he shares how he writes a blog post in just 70 minutes.

HOW TO WRITE A BLOG POST IN 70 MINUTES OR LESS [PODCAST]

You may have other ideas, or already do it a bit differently, but it’s hard to argue with success!

Enjoy!

Photo credit: clsturgeon / Flickr

Hundreds of Blog Post Ideas for Writers

Hundreds of Blog Post Ideas for Writers offers an extensive list of blog posts full of blog post ideas, and inspiration, for writers who blog.

I’m frequently asked by writers and authors what they should blog about. Regularly writing for your blog does seem like an overwhelming task and if you’re new to it, it is likely to take a while until you get your sea legs (yes, another idiom!) and feel comfortable and confident doing so, but it definitely helps to have some inspiration.

Being a firm believer in not re-inventing the wheel, I thought it would just make sense to share some of the many existing articles on this topic with you. There is bound to be some overlap with ideas suggested in these articles, but combined I’m sure there are literally hundreds of ideas in this list. Enjoy!

So, without further adieu, and in no particular order, here’s a list of posts filled with hundreds of ideas, and inspiration, to get you writing those blog posts:

Do you know of another article that I should be adding to the list? Let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

WordPress: To WYSIWYG or Not to WYSIWYG?

Wordpress: To WYSIWYG or Not to WYSIWYG? explains some basic HTML tags that can be used in the Text editor of a Wordpress post or page and why it is better to use HTML than to rely on the Visual (WYSIWYG) editor option.

Whenever you create a new post or page in WordPress you have the option of using the Visual editor or the Text editor.

Visual and Text tabs

The Visual editor is a WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) editor. WYSIWYG stands for What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get, only in WordPress, what you see in the WYSIWYG editor and what you see when you hit that big old Publish button, are very often two different things. The Visual editor is also prone to popping in extra code that serves no purpose other than cause confusion and frustraton in my opinion. For these reasons, I never use the Visual editor and instead use HTML code in the Text editor.

Using HTML to format a blog post or page is actually quite simple and today I thought I’d give you a crash course in some of the basic HTML tags that are used to format posts and pages in WordPress.

  • Opening and closing tags: There are a few exceptions but practically every HTML tag needs an opening tag and a closing tag. Opening tags look like this: < > and closing tags look like </ >. The opening and closing tags enclose the text that they are formatting. So for example, a heading opening tag will go directly in front of text that is designated to be a heading and the heading closing tag will go directly after the text designated to be a heading as you will see in the examples below.
  • Headings: There are six heading tags. Opening tags look like this: <h1> and closing tags look like </h1>. The exact size of the headings is determined by your theme in the CSS (Cascading Style Sheet). Some themes allow you to make changes to the CSS but we’re just newbies at this, right? So, we’ll worry about that another time.
     
    So here’s what the HTML will look like for the six different headings:

    Heading HTML

    And, here’s what the actual headings look like:

    Heading Visual

  • Bold and Italics: There are a couple of options with this. You can use <b> or <strong> to make the font bold, and you can use <i> or <em> to make the font italicised.
     
    This is what HTML looks like for bold and strong:

    Bold and strong html

    This is what the actual font looks like for bold and strong:

    bold and strong visual

    This is what HTML looks like for italics and emphasized text:

    Italics and emphasized

    This is what the actual font looks like for italics and emphasized text:

    Italics and emphasized visual

    Whether you use <b> or <strong> to make the font bold, or <i> or <em> to make the font italicised is a matter of choice. I have clients who use both. I tend to use <strong> and <em>.

  • Lists: There are primarily two kinds of lists – ordered and unordered. Opening tags for an ordered list look like this: <ol> and closing tags look like </ol>.
     

    • Ordered Lists

      This is what the HTML will look like for an ordered list:

      Order list HTML

      And, here’s what the actual ordered list looks like:

      Ordered List Visual

      Order lists can also be alphabetical, use Roman numerals, etc. To learn more about these options, click here.

    • Unordered Lists

      Opening tags for an unordered list look like this: <ul> and closing tags look like </ul>.

      This is what the HTML will look like for an unordered list:

      Unordered list HTML

      And, here’s what the actual unordered list looks like:

      Unordered list Visual

    You may not believe me, but you can go a very long way with formatting blog posts or pages knowing only that much HTML. Next time, I’ll explain hyperlinking, paragraphs and images.

    If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.

    Photo credit: Pixabay

What Scares You About Blogging and Using Social Media?

What Scares You About Blogging and Using Social Media? by Shelley Sturgeon addresses common concerns people have when they start blogging and using social media.

Authors are advised to create an author platform, an online presence which includes blogging and using social media, to help them to network with others and build an audience for their books. But, many find themselves suffering from paralysis by analysis when they think about starting out online. So, I’ve attempted to list a few of the worries and concerns I’ve heard and attempted to put things in perspective.

You’ll make a mistake and EVERYONE will see it!

Newsflash! EVERYONE makes mistakes so of course you’re going to make mistakes! Even seasoned bloggers and social media experts screw up from time to time. I’ve received numerous emails that were missing attachments or links. I’ve clicked on links that go nowhere or go to the wrong place. I even once accidentally clicked on the Publish button on a blog post instead of the Save Draft button. This of course meant that a half finished post was suddenly out there for the world to see! That was a big oopsie that required some pretty quick back peddling to fix it. But nothing ventured, nothing gained!

You don’t know what you’re doing.

We’ve all had to learn the ropes and at first we don’t know what we’re doing. Research and read. Create an account and observe what others are doing. Take baby steps but do take them. Before too long you’ll be confident and will have it mastered.

No one will see your efforts and you’ll be wasting your time.

It takes time to build an audience or following with any social media platform. Be patient. Offer quality information. Share your sparkling personality with the world. Learn how to attract people to your blog, find followers on Twitter, etc. It will happen if you work for it and research how to find your audience. Don’t just shrug your shoulders after a week and walk away because no one is acknowledging that you’re there.

You won’t know what to blog about, tweet about, comment on, etc.

Do research on the social media platform for ideas, observe what others with big followings are doing, promote others and share their information, don’t try to sell your product or service, at least not until you have a significant following and have built trust with those followers. Sign up for my newsletter for more ideas.

Your work won’t look polished enough.

Sometimes we are too critical of our own work because we want it to be perfect. Relax. Do your best. Your blogging and social media efforts don’t have to be as polished as published books. Books need to be professionally edited. Blogs are more like newspapers, often with a very short time between idea to publication. In time, you will be more at ease, more confident and your efforts will reflect that.

It’ll take too much time to maintain.

Yep, blogging and social media can take a bit of time. Won’t sugar coat that. But, if you’re marketing a book or business you most likely need the exposure that they provide, and for the most part these platforms are free. It’s always an option to hire some help. Virtual assistants can build you a mean WordPress site, format and schedule your blog posts, schedule your tweets, etc.

It keeps changing and you can’t keep up with it.

Yeah, this scares me about blogging and social media, too! LOL We don’t like change, do we? And, yes, there seems to be continual change in functionality within social media sites sometimes it seems just for the sake of change without apparent benefit, new social media sites, old ones falling out of favour, and so on. The more you learn, the more fluent and comfortable you are with blogging and using social media, the less this will bother you. Sure, you might still grumble about it (I do!) but you won’t be shaking in your shoes. It’ll be more of an annoyance than something that will keep you up at night – promise!

Agree or disagree with me? Did I leave any of your worries off the list? Let me know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici | Freedigitalphotos.net