This week on the podcast we hand things over to Christina to talk about the do’s and don’ts of guest blogging for your business. This is an information packed episode with some great tips, so grab a pen and jot down some notes.
Special thanks to Christina for this edition of the podcast. Want to connect with Christina and learn more?
- Follow Christina on Twitter as @christinalemmey
- Check out her articles here at VA Helper
- Visit Christina’s blog at Multi Media VA
Loretta: Hello. Welcome to the VAHelper.com podcast for virtual assistants. I’m your host, Loretta Oliver. For today’s episode, we have something a little bit different. Christina has some very good guest blogging tips that she would like to share with you today so I’m going to hand things over to her and I’m going to take a break from the microphone for a while. Enjoy….
Christina: Hi, this is Christina Lemmey from MultimediaVA.com and I just wanted to share some thoughts with you about guest blogging. It’s become quite the popular topic of conversation lately and there are some right ways to go about guest blogging as well as some wrong ways. I wanted to approach it from two different viewpoints: the first being the blogger, and the second as the blog owner.
As a guest blogger, it’s a great idea to submit a guest blog post to someone else’s blog or website because it could be a complementary blog in your niche, this could be someone who has been in business longer so they have much more of a following.
Basically, it’s a great way for the guest author to increase their reach, to reach more people in their target market. That’s fabulous. It’s a very inexpensive way to do some extra marketing.
However, this needs to be a win-win situation for the blog owner as well. If you approach a blog owner, presumably it’s someone who’s been in business for a while, who has a really great following, large numbers on their list. If you approach them saying, “Hey, I want to submit an article,” and you’re thinking strictly that it’s going to get your name out there and if they allow a link back to your site, it’s good for SEO—that’s really not thinking through the whole process.
The blog owner, who has already put in all of this work to grow their leadership and to grow their list, they need to know what they’re going to get out of it, as well. Depending on who the blog owner is, there are certainly some real bigwigs out there who may not want to just give up pricey real estate on their website for someone who’s going to blow in, throw up a blog post, and then disappear into the night. That is the wrong way to approach it.
If you want to guest blog, I suggest that you do your research and you find the complementary blogs and blog owners who really fit your niche.
If you blog about snowboarding, chances are someone who runs a blog about sightseeing in Hawaii is going to have absolutely no interest in your snowboarding article. But if you don’t do your research and you send them a very basic, generic, non-targeted email, that’s not professional.
If the big blogger in Hawaii does remember your name in a future encounter, that’s leaving a bad taste in their mouth about how you approached them. Always do your research and find blogs where it would make sense for you to post. Let’s face it, you don’t want to waste your time writing a blog post if it’s going to get lost or it has no relevance whatsoever to this blog owner.
Also, when you decide to contact the blog owner, actually go to their website and see if they have a contact page. Some people have preferred methods of how they want to be contacted. Most often, it will be an email, which could go directly to them or it may get filtered through a virtual assistant. You never know.
Some people welcome phone calls. If you do decide to call someone, always make sure you know what time zone they’re in. There’s nothing worse than being on the east coast and calling someone early in the morning when they’re not even out of bed yet on the west coast. Always keep that in mind but really respect the blog owner’s forms of contact.
Again, if you decide to call them and you’ve done some mystery digging to find their phone number that was not listed on their website, again, could be perceived as very unprofessional and pushy.
If their preferred method of contact is by email, they should have their email address on there. Really make sure that you proofread your email and don’t just write a generic email. I’ve seen some emails from guest bloggers come across my desk, and I swear, someone out there somewhere has a product showing people how to write a proposal to be a guest blogger because all of these emails look and sound exactly the same.
It’s kind of the old rule from when you were submitting resumes to get a first job out of college. You have a ten second window of opportunity to make either the blog owner or their virtual assistant notice your email and get the gist of what you want. If they all look the same, one is going to blend right into the other. There is nothing that’s going to make your email stand out.
Along those lines, always proofread your email. I had one guest blogger approach me and they had put a completely different and incorrect website in the body of the email. That led me to think, “You don’t even know who you’re writing to, so why would I contact you back to write a guest article when you haven’t done your research?” That’s how it came across.
I’ve also had plenty of emails from authors who use bad grammar and bad punctuation, and that’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Again, it goes to appearance. If you are going to be writing an article for my website, your proposal email had better be written very well. If you’re missing words, you’re misspelling words and you’re talking slang in your email, then how am I supposed to trust that you’re actually going to give me an article that’s well written, that makes sense, that is going to be useful to my audience? There’s no way to know.
If you have met the blog owner in the past, either via social media or in a conference, or if you attended a webinar that they did, for instance, it’s perfectly okay to write that in your email. It’s always easier to say or to hear, “Yes, I was at your list-building webinar back in October. You did a really great job. Here’s why I think my article would be a good fit for your audience.”
It’s certainly okay to bring up these meetings or even to drop a name if you want to. If you’re friends with John Smith, say, “Oh, hey, Johnny says hi. He mentioned that this was your business and that maybe I could talk to you.” That breaks the ice a little bit more than just reaching out of the blue when the blog owner doesn’t have any idea of who you are.
When it comes to submitting your guest blog article, always follow the rules and regulations of the blog owner. If they want a certain word count, be respectful and submit that word count. If they want it formatted in a particular way or if the article should be sent to a virtual assistant, just go through the rules and follow them.
Again, it’s about appearances. If you can show the blog owner that you’re being respectful and you’re following the rules, then they may ask you back again. This could become something of a good relationship again. You want to think win-win for both you and the blog owner.
Once your guest article is published, if they have a WordPress blog then you most likely will be listed as the author and you may be notified if there are comments or questions left at the end of your article. If there are comments or questions, again, be polite and go back and answer those as the writer of the article.
In my experience, I have had people who have sent me the article, they’ve gotten the link, and then they’re never to be heard from again. If I think that you’re just using my web space for a back link, why would I invite you back to submit another article? Doesn’t make sense.
If you truly want to form a relationship with the blog owner, contribute toward the conversation. It’s perfectly okay for you to be the first commenter, to say, “Hey, gang? What do you think about this article? What are your thoughts? What’s been your experience?” Maybe try to stir up some conversation that way.
If someone leaves a comment, even just going back and saying, “You have a really good point. Thanks for commenting.” It means the world. Not only does it get your name in front of these readers’ eyes once again, it shows that you’re interested in engaging readers, and the blog owner will take notice of that. There’s really no point in having a blog if you’re just going to put up posts and you’re not going to engage the readers.
This is especially true if your readers have a question. If they’re asking what the best piece of software is, or the next step they should take, you don’t want to leave them hanging. They’ve come to the blog for a reason, they’ve taken their five seconds of time to write the question, don’t leave them hanging. It will mean the world to the reader to see that someone cared enough to come back and answer their question.
One more thing you can do when your guest blog article is published: Get the link and start promoting it. Not only is it good exposure for you to be featured as a guest author on someone else’s blog, especially if that someone else is a much bigger name than you are, but it’s beneficial and it’s good mojo, good karma, if you will, to help promote that article.
Certainly, don’t be afraid of using guest blogging as a way to market your VA business.
You can certainly find either other virtual assistants or other people. Just remember to think about who you’re trying to reach and what you can tell them about, what you can teach them, what tidbit would they find useful? This is not just for your clients but you can use it for your own virtual assistant business as well.
Now, let’s switch gears for just a minute and think about it from the blog owner’s point of view. I did mention a few things but I just wanted to touch on them again because it could be likely that you’ll have a client who wants to open up their blog, the website, to guest authors. Maybe they’re having a real hard time keeping up with posting content, or they just want some new perspective or some new names.
Maybe they’re even going on vacation. Some people want guest bloggers for a one or two week period strictly so that they can go on vacation and not worry about posting. That’s certainly a reasonable request. As a VA who has done this for a client, I just have a few tips for you to try to make your life a lot easier.
If your client has never had open submissions for guest articles before, definitely write down some rules and regulations, some guidelines if you will. Consider how long you want the articles. My client wanted nothing less than 500 words. He felt the longer, the better.
Do you want the writer to submit a photo? How many backlinks are you willing to accept in the article? Some people are happy with just one backlink in the author’s byline. Others try to insert six, seven, or eight links. Many of them are reference links referring to research that they read about or survey results, or that type of thing.
A few research links can be fine, but if you find that there’s a link in every single paragraph, there’s the potential for it to look really spammy. Decide with your client, prior to accepting anything, how many links you’re willing to accept.
Something else to consider is, I’ve had some guest authors come to me and say, “I want to write an article for one of my clients.” It’s not actually the person who is coming to you who’s going to be answering the questions and fielding comments. It’s a little harder when there’s a third person involved. I always say, “This is one of our guidelines and requirements, that you participate in the conversation if there is one after people leave comments,” and they’re usually okay.
Again, you always want to check the links that are being supplied. You know, generally people want family-friendly links. Some people also try to slip in an affiliate link into the body or the author’s byline section. It’s really up to you and your client to decide whether or not affiliate links should be allowed.
When you accept guest articles from people, especially people that you don’t know, if you have a WordPress blog, you can set them up as a user. Just make sure that the user setting is set on “Contributor.” Anything more than Contributor will allow them to write their article inside of WordPress and publish it whenever they want to publish.
This is giving up some control over either your website or your client’s website. Especially for someone that you don’t know, if you’ve never read this person’s writing before, you’re really taking a chance that they’re giving you correct and valuable information. If you give up the proofreading part of it or the editing part prior to publishing, it could hurt the credibility of your or your client’s website, if you just let anybody off the street start publishing.
I suggest you set them up as a user or you have them email their articles directly to you, without them going into WordPress at all. That way you really have total control and you can also take your time with formatting and finding a photograph if you need one. You really get to work on your own time, as opposed to them getting into WordPress and having the settings incorrect, and they just get to post whenever they want to.
When you get the articles, always double check them to be sure that they’re original. Maybe some people don’t care whether the article has been published before or not. My client only wanted original material and it really makes sense, because if you wanted to reprint someone’s article, you could just go to E-Zine Articles and grab and article and pop it on your site.
There certainly is good reason for doing that, however, if your client is a bigger name in whatever industry, they don’t want to just throw anyone’s article onto their website. They need to be providing value to their readers. That’s why they’ve built up such a large readership. It’s because they provide value.
When you get an article, what I do as I’m editing is I’ll copy a few sentences and I’ll go to Google, and I’ll put those couple of sentences into the search box with quotation marks. That way, Google is looking for those exact sentences, those exact words, in that same order. It’s called an exact match and you can do that with keyword research as well.
When the quotes are around it, if that sentence has been used or published online anywhere else, those will show up in the results. There have been plenty of times where I’ve done that and I’ll find out that a particular article has been submitted to a dozen other online websites. If it’s already out there a dozen times, it’s not going to do us any good. My client specifically wanted original content, so before you even start editing, take a couple of sentences.
Some people can mix original work, maybe they’ll rewrite the first sentence and the rest of the article could be rewritten from something else. Always take a couple of sentences, either from each paragraph, or start at the beginning and just select a few other random sentences throughout the article and double check it that way just to make sure it’s original.
After the article is published, again, watch to see if your authors are interacting with your readers. Keep track of the ones who are, or keep track of those guest articles that have the most comments. That means that that’s the type of content your readers want. Especially if you’re trying to get your readers more active, and more engaged, by leaving comments, then pay attention to the content that is getting those comments.
You can either ask other people to contribute similar types of content, or you can go back to that guest author and say, “Hey, you had an amazing article. It got a lot of great responses. How would you like to make this a monthly or a weekly column?” Obviously people are busy, but again, as the blog owner, this has to be a win-win situation.
As the blog owner, it’s very nice to have someone else contribute some content so you can maybe have a day off, but if they’re getting the conversation rolling, that’s a plus for you. Those people are going to spread the word that you’ve got really great writers and that it’s worth coming over to read, or they’ll share the article on social media and draw in some more traffic that way.
Just like the guest authors should be very careful and respectful of the blog owner’s readership, the blog owners should be respectful too and be willing to reward a writer who really puts in the effort and gets the conversation going with their readers.
All right. That’s guest blogging in a nutshell. I hope this was useful to you, either as you market your own business or as you offer this service to your clients. I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave your comments in the comments section of this post and I will be back soon to check.
Again, my name is Christina Lemmey and I’m from MulitmediaVA.com
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