The other month, I faced a difficult decision. I needed to take a break from blogging — for a few reasons:
I was editing a book of stories, and I needed to put some serious time into working on that project.
We were taking a family vacation, and I wanted to enjoy it without spending time thinking about the blog.
There was some more personal writing I wanted to focus on that wasn’t intended for the blog.
Quite honestly, I was feeling like things were getting a bit stale. I wanted to take some time off to refresh a bit.
If you blog, you know letting your site sit idle for a month can be brutal on your audience and traffic.
I knew my core group of readers would stick around, but I didn’t want to lose momentum that was building.
What was I to do?
I decided to open up my blog to the public.
And thus was born Alise’s August-long “Guest Post Extravaganza.” Guest posting is a great opportunity for both the blog host (who gets a break from writing without sacrificing new content) and the guest poster (who expands his or her audience). I was one of Alice’s guests in August, and I was glad for the opportunity to reach more readers through her site. The post I wrote was on a decision my wife and I made a year ago to change our lives for the better:
A year ago today, Julia, Anna, and I were enjoying the dollar ride day at the Lane County Fair. As we stood on the Midway, amidst the crowd of families, deciding where we wanted to go next, Anna caught sight of the roller coaster.
“I want to go on that!”
Anna was only four, but she’s tall for her age. She was tall enough to go on the ride but she needed an adult to go with her.
“I’ll take you,” I said. “I love roller coasters.”
“Yay!” She jumped up and down the whole time we were waiting in line. Finally, we made to the front. Anna climbed into the car and I squeezed in next to her. I sucked in my gut and lowered the bar. Good thing I hadn’t eaten in a few hours.
Every time we hit a turn I thought I would squish Anna, but she didn’t seem to mind. She was having too much fun.
We got off the ride–she was excited and ready for more, while I was just grateful I hadn’t thrown up. We took Anna to more rides–ones she could go on by herself–and I couldn’t help but notice that Julia seemed sad. We talked about it the next day.
“I want to take her on the roller coaster,” she said, “but I can’t. Not like this anyway.”
You see, Julia and I had both let ourselves go over the last several years.
In her post today, Alise lists what she learned by opening up her blog. In turn, I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far through guest posting on three very different sites:
Guest posting expands your readership. So far, I’ve posted at Kurt Willems’ Pangea Blog, Alise Write!, and the Apraxia-KIDS blog. In each case, I’ve reached very different groups of readers and received great responses to my posts.
Guest posting builds relationships between writers. We’re all in the same business, but it’s only when we share work with one another and build an audience together that we truly feel like colleagues.
Guest posting helps out your host. For all the reasons Alice lists in her post—I won’t repeat them here—guest posting is mutually beneficial.
But keep in mind that:
Guest posts require more attention. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my writing. I read and reread the posts on my own sites, and I still miss typos here and there. But when you’re writing for someone else’s blog you need to approach it like you would a submission for a magazine. It needs to be as good as you can make it. Proof it, get a second set of eyes to look it over, and maybe even bring it to a writing group. A guest post needs to represent your best work.
Guest posts must be planned in advance. Sometimes well in advance. If you’re lucky, you can pick a date (like I did with Alise’s blog), but most of the time your post will go into a queue and may sit for weeks or possibly months depending on the popularity of the blog. Unless you know for certain when your submission is scheduled don’t write something time sensitive. Make sure your post will read well whether it runs next week, next month, or next year.
Guest posts are somewhat out of your control. The words are yours, but the layout, the pictures, and the overall look will conform to the blog you’re participating in. Try not to be a control freak.
All that said:
Guest posting is a great opportunity. Be brave. Open the door.