You know you nailed your pitch because you just opened an email asking you to send over your first draft of your guest post.
You give a little fist pump, take a moment to let the glory of your success sink in, and then take a breath and open a blank word document.
You know what you want to say, but how exactly can you say it so that you can deliver the awesome content you promised in your pitch? Start with these five tips to help you rock your guest post and please the blog owner (and their readers).
1: Stick to the Plan
Imagine you’re planning a spectacular Thanksgiving feast. You’ve prepared the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and apple pie. You asked your friend to bring the cranberry sauce, but when she showed up, she placed an apple pie on the table instead.
Bummer. Now no one gets cranberry sauce and you’ll have leftover pie.
That’s how the blog owner will feel if you change your idea before submitting your first draft. They expect you to bring one thing to the table, but when you change your headline or supporting ideas, you run the risk of disappointing them.
The bottom line: write only about what you and the blog owner agreed upon.
2: Follow the Blog’s Format
The blog you’re guest posting on accepted your pitch because the owner feels it’s right for his or her blog.
To really make it right for the blog and to avoid revisions, follow the blog’s format. This means you’ll have to do research and analyze past posts to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Consider these 5 questions as you research:
- Does the blog use bullet points or numbered lists?
- How long do authors make their paragraphs?
- How are the subheadings formatted?
- Do the authors bold important information?
- Does the blog use indented quotes?
3: Use Examples and Resources
Using examples and resources can help add value to your piece, which means better content overall to please the blog owner and their readers.
A few ideas for adding examples and resources include:
- Telling real-life stories.
- Teaching with case studies or analogies.
- Sharing statistics.
- Linking to content that expands on the topic.
- Using quotations to illustrate your point.
- Inserting screen shots to help readers learn.
Raubi Perilli does a great job of this in her BAFB article “6 Hooks that Make Your Blog Posts Irresistible.” At the end of each section, she shares a link to a BAFB article that illustrates the type of headline hook she’s teaching you about.
4: Show Your Authority and Personality
Readers don’t want to read a post that feels like it came from an article-generating robot. They want to read content coming from a real person with personality. In turn, this will encourage audience participation and increase your (and the blog’s) exposure.
First, show that you’re qualified to talk about the subject. You can do this within the content by telling stories, or you can share your authority in your author bio to make your content more trustworthy.
Second, show off your personality. Don’t be afraid to share a little humor, tell a story from your past, or simply make conversation with your audience.
I love how Sophie Lizard does this every time she writes. In her article “Why You Should Step The F*ck Up and Be a Freelance Blogger,” she’s wildly successful at this by writing conversationally and humorously.
My favorite quote that shows her personality: “Yes, I know, I’ve started cursing again. I do that when I’m overexcited. And wanting you to win makes me bubble over with fighting spirit!”
5: Interact with Readers After It’s Published
Now that your post is published, you’re still not done rocking it. The final step is to interact and engage with readers.
Promote your post. Not only do many bloggers expect this from guest bloggers, but promoting your post can help it succeed while increasing your exposure. Share the link on social media sites, tell your friends (because you should be excited!), and add the link in your writer portfolio.
Leave replies to comments. If your readers are anything like me, they love it when the author responds to their comment. Make them remember you by leaving a meaningful comment. By doing this, it shows the readers you care, helps them recognize you later, and helps boost SEO. Not sure how to respond to comments? Check out this awesome article on how to reply to various types of comments.
Next time you’re preparing your first draft for a guest post, use these tips as a check list.
Win a Mystery Prize!
Today’s prize is a secret surprise for one Be a Freelance Blogger reader.
For your chance to win, leave a comment — if you’re working on a guest post or you plan to guest post in the future, we want to hear about it. Tell us your plans and your biggest guest posting worry.
We’ll choose the winner at the end of January 9th, 2014. Good luck!
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED – but you can still leave a comment! We read them all and do our best to reply to every single one. 🙂