An interview with Cathy Stucker
As an editor/manager of numerous blogs, I’m always looking for great guest bloggers who will contribute great content. What are some keys or indicators that I’ve found a great guest blogger or contributor?
Great guest bloggers are not only able to write (that is a bare-minimum requirement), they take the time to look at what you have published in the past in order to suggest a topic that fits your blog. They ask about your requirements and they are upfront about what they require, such as how many links they expect and to what site(s). They ask how to submit the post: Should it be in the body of an email? Text? HTML? A Word doc? How should links be formatted?
Most importantly, they deliver as they promised. The post is on time, it is on the agreed-upon topic, it is well-written and it is ready to publish. They make it easy to work with them.
Some bloggers like to get an image or two with a guest post, but I don’t. Even a well-meaning guest poster can send me an image to which they do not have the rights, and that can cause major headaches and expense for me down the road. I prefer to know exactly where the images on my sites come from so that I am able to document that I have the right to use them.
Where great guest bloggers really shine is AFTER the post is published. They promote the post via social media, and they engage with readers by responding to comments left on their post.
Yes, now that is the kind of contributor I want to come back again and again to publish their content. Are there some tips to keep them coming back to publish again?
Did your Mom teach you the Golden Rule? ;o) Treat your guest bloggers as you would like to be treated. Don’t assume that they know what you want. Tell them how many words should be in the post, your policies about outbound links, and any other requirements you have. Get back to them quickly when they submit a post–let them know when it will be published, or when you will be able to give them a publication date. Communication is important on both sides of the relationship. And saying thank you is always a good idea.
When you publish the post, promote it. Give your guest blogger as much visibility as you can. Make your blog a great place to be published by providing an audience to the people who give you content. Both you and your guest bloggers will benefit.
Ok that’s twice now that you’ve mentioned promoting a guest post. Where and how should promotion be done?
Anywhere you can! The obvious places are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and other social media and bookmarking sites. Guest bloggers can also promote the post on their own blogs.
Promotion can start as soon as the post is live, and you can also do another wave of promotion over the next few days. Remember that you have different audiences on social media at different times of the day. That means that if you tweet about your guest post at 8 a.m. and then a day or two later at 3 p.m., you will probably reach a very different group of your followers.
One of the ways I measure the success of a guest post is time on page. When I see an average time on page of 4-7 minutes, I know the author did a great job. What tips do you have for guest bloggers to maximize time on page?
The best way to keep readers on the page is to write great content that holds their attention. Draw them in with an opening that promises benefits, then deliver what you promised. Don’t add words just to make the post longer, but make it as long as it has to be (within the guidelines of the host blog) to present the ideas you want to present.
Something else that is important is to match your content to the audience. That is why I mentioned a great guest blogger will read the blog and learn about the content they usually offer. Their subscribers expect that kind of content, in both subject matter and quality. Meet and exceed their expectations to keep them interested.
From a guest blogger’s point of view what are some key indicators that you’ve found a great blog to contribute your article?
Everyone seems to have their own unique criteria, but some things to consider would be:
- Appearance: Does the blog look professional and nicely designed? Or is it filled with a lot of junk ads and garish colors. Hello, 1995 called and they want their website back.
- Focus: Does the blog have a clear focus, and is that focus compatible with yours?
- Post Quality: Are the posts on the site well-written, or is there a lot of spun garbage or bad PLR?
- Post Quantity: Is the site established, with quite a few posts, or brand new? That isn’t a deal breaker, but it is something to consider. Chances are a brand new blog doesn’t have many readers.
- Rankings: Use a toolbar or online service to see things such as PageRank, Alexa ranking, Domain Authority or other scores. These are not perfect indicators, and some can be faked, but they will usually give you some idea of how well the site is doing. Also look at the number of links coming in to the site. I use the WebRank Toolbar https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/webrank-toolbar-pagerank-alexa/, among other tools.
- Engagement: How many people subscribe to the blog? Aweber, Feedburner and some other subscription services have chiclets available to display subscriber numbers. Are there comments or other indications that people read and interact with the blog?
There are other things that some bloggers look for, but these are a good start.
So let’s say you find a blog that meets most of your criteria and you send them a great article that fits their blog but get no response, then what?
Start by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Emails get lost and blocked, and they may not have received your submission. Send a follow-up email or use the contact form at their blog to ask if they received your post. You might even try one more follow-up if you still don’t hear from them, but it is certainly not required.
Once you have followed up and allowed a reasonable time for them to respond, send another email letting them know that you are withdrawing your submission.
Sometimes you won’t get a response because the blogger doesn’t want to use your post, but they don’t want to reject it. It can be awkward to tell someone that you can not publish their work. By the way, it isn’t necessarily a comment on the quality of your work. It may be that something about it doesn’t work for them. You can reduce the chances of that by querying them with the topic idea before you write the post, but even that doesn’t guarantee that the post will fit their blog. Don’t take it personally! You might ask if there are modifications that would make the post work for them, or just find another blog that can use the post.
After getting one article published, does it make sense to contribute multiple posts to the same blog?
That is one of those questions where the answer is, “It depends.” One perspective is that you have already gotten in front of that audience and your time would be better spent guest posting on other blogs where the readers have not yet seen you. But there are reasons to guest post at the same blog more than once.
Contributing multiple posts to a blog helps you to build a relationship with the blogger. Having a relationship with a popular blogger in your market can be important in growing your own blog, building your reputation, creating and launching products, etc. And if their audience is growing, each time you post there you will reach new people who were not reading the blog the last time you guest posted.
I would not limit my guest posts to just one or two blogs, but contributing multiple posts to one or more blogs while also seeking out new blogs seems to be a good guest posting strategy.
Thanks for the interview Cathy, tell us about your business.
Most people know me as the Idea Lady. My business model is, “Learn it, do it, teach it,” and since 1994 I have been helping others find creative paths to success as authors, consultants and content producers by sharing my experience with them. When I decided I wanted to get more involved in guest blogging, I went looking for an easy way to find other bloggers interested in sharing content. There wasn’t one at that time, so I started Blogger LinkUp. Every week we help hundreds of bloggers connect to offer or request guest posts, offer products for review, announce contests and more. Anyone interested in guest posting should become a part of our community