Is Guest Writing a Waste of Time?

November 6, 2012

In the late 80s, with the popularity of chat shows on the rise, television producers would always have ‘go to’ standby guests in case somebody pulled out at the last minute. After a while it seemed that any time this happened it would be Christopher Biggins who filled in… I guess because he was always available (aww)! Biggins swiftly became known on the circuit as a ‘professional guest’, and needless to say, was a bit of a running joke.

When I heard this story this week, I immediately started thinking about guest blogging and whether it’s a good thing to be so readily available all the time…

Write for the right blog

Writing attractive guest posts can be hard work and you really need to make sure you’re pitching the right content to the right blog. It’s imperative that the blog you’re being featured on has a large and engaged audience, but more than that, attracts a similar niche of reader to the one you want to. There can be great benefits to getting a solid guest post featured, but it is important to be strategic about what you write and where it’s published.

You really only want to be writing for another blog that has a larger audience than your own and who’s readers regularly engage and respond to guest posters. Some blogs survive with the majority of their content being guest submitted, whereas for others it’s a rarity. If you’re pitching to the latter, I would imagine this to be a less successful strategy as the readers won’t be used to engaging with writers who are not the owner of the blog.

Guest posts are a great way to promote your product or services to a brand new audience but you need to be clever about how you pitch yourself and not come across as over salesy or spammy. That’s a sure-fire way to put people off. Think about what you’re going to write about but also who you’re writing for.

Don’t over-commit

However tempting or flattering, signing up for a regular column without testing the water first is a bad idea. Never over-commit yourself (especially if you’re not getting paid – which you rarely will). There’s nothing worse than having a column that your dreading writing because it never gets you anything in return. Yes, I strongly believe that regular and consistent presence somewhere is the best way to convert casual readers into loyal fans, but before you commit to anything long-term, dip your toes in the water.

If you’re asked to regularly contribute to a blog, no matter how big their following or prestigious their name, my advice would be tried it first, maybe with two or three articles before committing further. Writing for the Huffington Post might sound amazing, but if your articles don’t resonate with their already established readership, you’ll be wasting your time getting published there.

Have a gameplan

The most popular blog posts, whatever the niche of the blog, are ones that help other people, where the writer has a strong voice and something different to say.

Teach. Be helpful. Be inspiring. Be emotional. Be honest. Be funny.

These are the kinds of posts that will resonate with people, which in turn, will make them want to follow you for more. It’s not about over-selling yourself, it’s about being so damn amazing that they are sold without realising it!

Before you sit down and write a guest post ask yourself, “What am I saying that is helpful?”, “What am I saying that is different?” and “How am I writing this so people remember me?”

They’re not gonna want to buy the whole friggin’ ice cream truck when you’re handing out the popsicles for free

(Why yes I did steal that line from Never Been Kissed!)

Although you want your posts to be well received, my advice would be to not give all your secrets away in the first one. This is a marathon not a sprint. With guest posts you want to drive people to your own blog to get to the really juicy stuff. After all if they do click through and all you have on your own site is the dregs, they’re going to leave pretty sharpish! Use your guest posts to titillate and intrigue potential new readers, and make them want to find out more – on your own blog!

SEO – forget it!

If your reason for wanting to guest post is for SEO link backs and crap like that then forget it! Seriously now, any half decent blog won’t accept obvious keyword-laden-SEO-rubbish-copy. Ever. High profile and successful bloggers want content that helps their readers not content that is written to attract Googlebots.

PS You can read more about why SEO is utter nonsense right here.

Have goals

Set yourself some tangible and realistic goals. Be specific about what you want to get out of your guest posts and write them down! Do you want to get more followers? Do you want people to be more aware of your brand? Do you want to sell more products? Great, but you need to be more definitive than that.

Ensure that your goals are measurable so you can keep track of how you’re getting on. So instead of just thinking “I’d like get more followers”, say “After writing three guest posts I would like to have seen 500 more visitors to my blog” or “I want to have got 50 new twitter followers by December 1st.” This way you can measure your success or re-evaluate if you don’t feel like it’s working out.

Don’t be afraid to cut your losses

In a nutshell, if it’s not working out and you’re not getting the results you expected then stop wasting everyone’s time! I’m certainly not saying you should expect to become internet famous after one guest post – be realistic – but if after a good go at it you’re not seeing any results, then don’t be afraid to stop.

Email the blog, be thankful and grateful for the opportunity but be honest about the fact that you’re getting very busy/your not getting the results you hoped for/you’ve decided to move on. They’ll appreciate your honestly.

You may also come to a point where you need to really decide if your efforts are more beneficial to you or to the blog you’re writing for. Are you getting something back from the features or are you just providing them with great free content whilst ignoring your own business? If your content is really strong but you aren’t hitting any of your goals, maybe the posts would be better placed on your own site – after all the main reason for guest posting is to build our own brands!

So I ask you, have you ever guest written for another blog or had guest writers on yours? What was your experience and what did you learn from it? Do you think guest writing is a waste of time?

And as a side note, is that not the most hilarious jumping shot you’ve ever seen!? It’s the gift that keeps giving. Look at our faces – HAHAHA!

All Photography Credit: Devlin Photos

77 comments

  1. Gracious

    Just want to give you a massive hug for this article!! Really needed to read some honesty about starting out on your todd! It’s hard but will be patient and keep learning!! Thank you!! Xxx

  2. i’m soaking in all the words written here …very timely to remind me to keep going no matter where i stand now in my business…slowly but still enjoying what i love doing while joggling with motherhood! 🙂 always thankful to you Kat! xo

  3. This is a great article. I hope you do this again. I found great advice from all the participants but Gala Darling and Shauna Haider hit the nail on the head. Most of the participants admit to trying lots of things that didn’t work. Fail fast and keep moving!

  4. Kat, this is a fabulous, insightful article, and I am so glad you wrote about it. As a young consultant whose mind is always full of ideas, it is great to read realistic advice from real girls. Keep it up 🙂

  5. Stacey B

    This was an extremely honest, personal, and great post to read 🙂 Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with us! As a small business owner myself I am always looking for blogs that I can relate to and learn from. I don’t have a degree in business and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t have dived into something so time consuming and financially draining. However, I do love what I do which pushes me forward. I recently read an eye opening book about running and growing small business called “Liber8 Your Business” (http://liber8yourbusiness.com) by multi-award winning entrepreneur and author Laura Humphreys. Laura started as a secretary and since has grown and sold multiple businesses, so you know she knows her stuff! The book primarily works on a backwards approach to business strategy, encouraging you to look at the end goal and build your business from there. It makes sense because too often we get caught up in the day to day routines of running a business and become complacent. By taking a backwards first look at our business plan, we can then successfully plan and execute the steps necessary to reach our goals and get the business to where we want it to be. Very professionally and intelligently written, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get ahead of the game when it comes to growing a business. Wishing you all the success! Hope you will give it a read 🙂

  6. Hi Kat,

    I’m glad I knew absolutely zilch about blogging before I started. If I had known how hard it can be sometimes I really don’t know if I’d have started out of pure fear!

    I can only describe my blog now though as my baby, a child I gave birth too and like any mother I’m super proud of any achievements and would fight to the death for it.

    One thing I never knew is how much my blog would become a massive part of my identity and self esteem, I never want to let that go :)) XxX thanks for sharing this post!

  7. Brilliant advice! However missed the important advice that is to set aside time to read blogs, so you don’t sit reading said blogs for 2 hours (because they’re so flaming good!) when you actually need to do some work! 🙂 Tx

  8. Oh wow! This was such a useful post!
    I am just starting to launch my business, and its very daunting! This post has been incredibly helpful and the advice of the contributors really helps! Especially the time frames.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to gather this 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for this, I have been trying to get advice, I’d trawl fb and Web for photographers that I liked the look of and messaged them for tips and advice non replied, I felt I’d hit a patch and these nuggets have really helped, I have bee a bit scared of pushing people to book me (or asking lol) and I’m Def guilty of waiting for people to come to me, I’m approaching my 3rd wedding season and this has just filled me with hope and motivation! Bring it on x

  10. Some great advice in here loved reading it and plenty to take on board, feel a little lost right now with my business but after reading this excited to take a step forward. Thanks!

  11. Wow Kat this is great! I love hearing the message ‘it takes time!’ over and over loud and clear from so many talented women.

    Being a freelance crafter is all consuming and sometimes it feels like I’m a swan (things look good above water, but below I’m kicking ferouciously to stay afloat!) and of course by ‘sometimes’ I mean all the time hahaa

    Thanks so much for linking us up to these fab girls!

    Big love,

    Kerry
    Be Brave Creations
    http://www.bebravecreations.co.uk

  12. This article is INCREDIBLE! So much truly helpful information and advice. It’s also really inspiring to read about all these fabulous success stories!

  13. This article could not have crossed my path at a better time. Having just been in the business 1 year, I found myself surrounded in self doubt this weekend after making (in retrospect) minor errors. Mistakes are a given and the more uncomfortable I feel when I make them, the more I will grow and be better as a result. Sometimes I forget that and it takes words of encouragement and little nuggets of genius like this article to remind me. That you for the little kick up the arse! 🙂

  14. Hi Kat, Another awesome Blog post. Thank you, so much helpful information that is so relevant to us right now!

    We launched our little Business {The Boutique Wedding Co.} Just two months ago, it’s still very much work in progress and at times we think ‘Can we really make this work?’ reading your article gives us hope and confidence that it is possible!

    Thanks for the burst of positivity!

    Lucy and Jesus
    http://www.boutiqueweddingsinspain.com

  15. Hi I just wanted to say what a massive help I’ve found this article! My friend and I set up our business last July and have been finding our way ever since. We’ve had some ups and downs but things are beginning to pick up and it’s just about hanging on on there and remembering after all the long hours it will be totally worth it 🙂

  16. Hi Kat!
    I just wanted to say thanks so much to you and your wonderful industry friends for sharing your experience and advice. I set up a wedding blog back in 2009, and have followed your blog (and lots of other fantastic wedding bloggers) ever since. My problem was that I was too perfectionist. I had a very clear vision of my blog, but for every thought I had I found a reason why it wouldn’t be as perfect as I’d envisaged it. Suddenly, after just 2 blog posts, I found myself utterly hampered by own thoughts. I stopped. The blog is still “under construction”.

    However, since then, I’ve learnt that life isn’t perfect. Two years ago I got cancer.

    Suddenly, I found a totally different reason to blog. I had “fought” my rare stage 4 Primary Peritoneal Cancer and won. Thanks to incredible medial team, the amazing staff at the Macmillan Centre, healthy eating, exercise, and endless baking, copious Star Wars-related fun (YEP – I’m a geek and it makes me happy!!) plus the love and support of my amazingly positive and caring husband, family, friends, colleagues, fellow patients, neighbours and even strangers I did it. I beat cancer in May 2012.

    However, following this amazing news I found myself in the wilderness. A sort of post-cancer limbo. My “fighting spirit” and Positive Mental Attitude, which had been my strength throughout my 17 weeks of chemo and surgery, suddenly seemed to have vanish completely. All that was left of my usual bubbly, ultra-positive social self was a shell of a person with severe anxiety and reactive depression. Try as I might I couldn’t “shake it”.

    Thanks to help from my amazing psychologist, provided by Macmillan Cancer Support, I managed to identify all the things that helped me stay positive throughout my treatment. To help myself feel better I started doing all those things again and recorded them in my own personal Positive Mental Attitude blog (LouiseWisson.com)

    Just by sheer virtue of changing my behaviour and capturing all my happy moments on my blog, I actually felt better.

    I so also delighted to learn the blog helped others around me too; both to understand my cancer journey and to help boost their Positive Mental Attitude.

    I must say I am so inspired by people like you and Gala Darling for sharing your passion and your positivity in the world.

    Thank you so much for helping spread happiness and being my #pmatoday.

    Best Wishes,
    Louise

  17. I loved reading this so much. I read a section just before I went asleep for the past week and had sweet dreams about the hopeful future success of my wedding photography business which while only in its second year I hope Itll be reaching milestones soon
    … Also while I’m here chatting away I though I should tell ye how much I love rock n roll bride! Hands down my favourite wedding photography blog and it gives me so much inspiration and enthusiasm daily 🙂 so thanks for that!! And for all the great words written in this article

  18. Wel… consider yourself added to my blogroll. I have like six other blogs I read on a weekly basis, guess that number just increased to seven! Keep writing!

  19. I am really happy to say it’s an interesting article to read. Very honest and practical, I feel much more motivated after reading this. Thanks Kat for all this positive advice.

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *