If you were to ask me (and you're here, so I'm assuming you would want to) what is the most under-used platform building opportunity among authors, I would have to say guest blogging. As much as we keep hearing about how blogging is dead, there are still tons of them out there and they are still driving a lot of traffic, especially in the book community.
Unfortunately, authors seem to see guest blogging as some sort of Bermuda Triangle that they can't navigate. But it doesn't need to be. If you have the opportunity to guest blog for someone else, you can expand your reach to a new platform. If you have a guest blogger, you can provide your current readers with some fresh voice and a new perspective. Plus, with two people promoting the same post, each to their respective networks, you get double the visibility. It's a win-win.
I get asked to guest blog fairly often, so I've developed a bit of a list that I wish everyone would use.
1. Be specific in your request
Most people will be flattered if you ask them to guest post. But panic seeps in if you don't give them some guidance. On several occasions I've been asked to guest post for a blog I'm not familiar with. When asked what topic I should write on, the answer is all too often "whatever you want to do". The problem with this is that a guest blogger doesn't know your audience. They don't know what topics you've covered in the past or if your readers have expressed interest in a specific topic.
I love it when a blogger gives me a list of two or three topics they'd be open to. That way I have some direction and flexibility to talk about something I feel qualified to discuss.
2. Give a deadline
I'll be honest here, there are guest posts that I've been asked to do that have never happened. All because there was never any time frame. It's not that I don't want to do them, but if a task doesn't have a deadline, it is going to keep falling to the bottom of my priority list until it's the only item on the list (which will never happen).
I imagine some bloggers are concerned that setting a deadline creates unneeded stress on your guest, but the exact opposite is true. If this bothers you, just ask your guest how a specific date sounds. If that's not enough time, they'll let you know.
3. Specify format
Every blog is set up a bit different. Some bloggers want only certain links, some need photos to be black and white. Certain bloggers like check lists and others prefer bolded sub-headings. Don't expect your guest to do all the guess work. If you have particular formats you'd like all your blog posts to be in, go ahead and tell me. Plus, if you tell me exactly how you want a post formatted, I can go ahead and give you the HTML so all you need to do is copy and paste.
4. Don't be afraid to edit
I always read through, double check and spell check my guest posts. But I'm human and I'm not hiring an editor for my blog posts. That means mistakes might happen and an error might sneak in there. If you see it, please go ahead and fix it. There have been times when I've gone to check on a blog post and cringed at seeing a missed error. Trust me, when I say I will not be offended if you correct my typo before posting my words on the internet, to live forever.
5. Just ask
The biggest issue holding bloggers back from having more guest posts if their fear of asking. If you ask someone to guest post, the absolute worst thing that can happen is they say no. That's it. Your potential guest is not going to run to the internet and start spewing venom about how you dared to ask them to guest post. Whatever monstrous outcome you've imagined is not going to happen. In fact, the much more likely response will be "I'd love to. Thanks for asking."
So go out there and take advantage of this great way to grow your platform, readership and influence in the book world. And if you need a guest blogger, you know where to find me.