Thursday, July 20

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, July 20, 2017 8 comments
Being a guest on someone's blog can be a wonderful way to expand audience. But you won't get much traction with your posts if you can't give the visits proper attention.

I've had lots of guest bloggers here, some of whom did extraordinarily well in terms of page views and gaining new fans, and others who got little attention or engagement.

I've also been on the other side of the table, writing posts for others' blogs, in one-off visits, tours I organized for myself, and in a tour someone else organized. I could definitely see a difference in the experience based on how I behaved as a guest more than how the host did or didn't strive to drive traffic to my post.

Make no mistake, getting a post on a high-traffic blog can be very helpful in expanding your reach. However, "landing the gig" is only the first step. Additional follow up will make the difference in whether blog readers connect with or ignore you.

So how do you make the most of guest posting? Here are some helpful pointers:

1. Create value-added content. Clearly you want to excite potential readers about your new book. But if they only wanted to see a book description, they could simply go to Goodreads or a e-retailer.

So consider how you can share something of value to readers that will also entice them to read your story. Perhaps you tried out a new method of research that was really fruitful for understanding your characters' world. Perhaps you twisted a common trope or created a spectacular mash-up of genres. Share the lessons learned and insights gained, Share best practices, or simply something weird or funny, like how a personal life experience led to a particular plot element or choice of setting.

Give readers the story behind the story and they'll become naturally more invested in continuing to learn more about your work.

2. Think "evergreen" with your content. That is, share information that will be as useful to someone who finds it three years from now as those who find it today. Evergreen posts can be part of your long-term social media strategy--a way to continue delivering good content even when you don't have a new release, provided you re-share and revisit them over time. This method capitalizes on "the long tail" of sales, in which readership grows slowly over time.

OR think trendy, and strive to tap into a controversy-of-the-moment. This method is useful if your goal is to make immediate movement in the sales charts. You will need to do more work up front to keep the post alive within its news cycle, before the content becomes dated.

Either strategy will bring more readers to the blog post. You can probably see varying advantages to each approach.

3. Do your part to drive traffic. You need to be a team player with your host, rather than expecting them to automatically deliver readers. After all, you're an unknown quantity to your host's readers. So make sure you're sharing everywhere that you have great content that your existing connections will want to see.

  • Write a short post with a link on your own blog.
  • Create a series of tweets to post throughout the day, with a graphic if possible
  • Retweet your host's tweets about it
  • Share a link on your Facebook page
  • Share links in any Facebook group you're in that might be interested in your content
  • Include links in your newsletter
  • Visit some of your blogging buddies, and they'll likely return the visit

4. Be available. Don't just post and run, or post, tweet and run. Come back and comment.

Be sure to thank your host for hosting you, not only for the sake of your host, but because it shows blog readers that you value the opportunity of being there. Don't let shyness cause you to gain a reputation of seeming standoffish or even entitled. Not sure what to say? Try: "Thanks so much for having me, Host!" It's really that simple.

Interact with everyone who comments. This may be more difficult that you expect, because not all visitors will be lovely and easy to converse with. Some might throw you for a loop with an odd comment you aren't sure how to respond to.

Some will be itching for a fight, so tread carefully, especially if you chose to tap into a controversy. A helpful maxim from St. Paul: "as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18). Try to acknowledge their point of view, thank them for their time, even if they seem nutty. If they personally attack you, don't retaliate in kind. Try to be calm and de-escalate the situation. A helpful post on de-escalating arguments; 5 ways to stop an argument. If your de-escalation doesn't work, stop interacting with that individual. Others might more successfully defend you, but take care that you don't inspire or encourage a mean spirited pile-on. Our world needs good examples of how to have adult disagreements that don't devolve into character assassination. As far as it depends on you, be a peacemaker.

5. Remember that your ultimate goal is building new connections. If you happen to sell some books along the way, great. If not, that's okay because you've done something strategic--become a known quantity where you used to be anonymous. In a glutted marketplace, this is essential.

Seek to connect with those who comment well--follow and comment on their blogs, connect on Twitter and elsewhere. Send a brief message in any of these venues along the lines of "it was great to meet you through [host's] blog." Remember the currency of the Internet is attention. Letting visitors know you see them, that you appreciate their attention and plan to repay it, goes a long way in building goodwill for your author brand.

Those connections can also lead to further guest posting opportunities. If a commenter seems like they are part of your target audience and have a blog, too, it makes sense to reach out. Be sure to offer content that is similar in quality to the post they liked, but customized for them.

6. Don't burn bridges. If someone hosted you on their blog and no one commented at all, or worse, it was a troll-a-thon, don't give in to the temptation to cut ties with the blogger. Some or all of these problems may have been entirely out of their control. Emergencies can keep a blogger from being able to help you drive traffic; trollish behavior can be hard to rein in once it takes hold on a site. It's possible that this blogger can be helpful to your journey with a different book, perhaps if you choose a non-controversial topic to write about, their followers will be more receptive.

Learn what you can from the experience and use that knowledge to approach future guest posting opportunities differently.

Any other tips? What have your guest post experiences been, either as a host, guest, or visitor?


  1. Great tips! I definitely think the most important thing is to have original content that'll make an impression and make the reader want to know more. Especially on a blog tour, because people don't want to see the same basic info again and again.

    1. Absolutely. I know some tour companies don't encourage the unique-at-each-stop approach, assuming a tour hits different populations, but that's often not really the case.

  2. Excellent tips. I think it helps to spend a little time reading posts on the blog that's hosting you as well, to get a sense of tone, length, and general theme to play to.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

    1. Excellent idea. It really helps you know your audience better to see which other posts on a site garnered interaction.

  3. Great tips, but I've never really explored HOW to set up guest posts. Generally, I'll have content from other authors, but I've never really thought of how to branch blogs like that. :/

    1. The big benefit of guest blogging for both the guest and the host is reaching new audiences; provided both commit to doing their share of the outreach.

  4. Hello, Laurel! This is my first time here, so I've followed your blog and connected with you on social media. I learned about your blog from Jennifer Hubbard.
    I agree with everyone here. These are great tips. Thanks for sharing them with your followers. All the best to you.

    1. Nice to meet you Victoria! Glad you find the information useful, and great to connect through Jenn.