5 questions you should ask before guest blogging

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Photo: Tableatny (CC)

Guest blogging provides a terrific opportunity for two brands to share ideas and audiences. It also provides its own set of pitfalls, but most of them are easily avoided.

The host blogger and guest blogger should confer to create a plan that gives both clear direction and clear expectations. It’s not about free labor and donated content: It’s about two savvy marketers/storytellers combining efforts and resources to make one awesome post.

To get started, ask these five questions.

1. Who is your audience? I want to know as much as I can about your blog’s readership before I pitch ideas and start writing. What’s their level of expertise? Do they keep coming back because of the bloggers or the content (or both)? What have been their favorite posts of all time?

Guest bloggers who scope out the crowd ahead of time make it more likely to connect with this strange new group as quickly as possible.

2. What would help your audience the most? If they could pick my brain for an hour, what would they ask me? If they needed to fix one problem in their marketing, what would it be?

Let’s make this post count. Let’s help them with the most critical problem on their plate, the one that keeps them up at night. I’m not here to sell, nor to hijack readers to my site. I’m here to provide meaningful solutions.

3. What can your readers get from me that they can’t get from you? You and I have different backgrounds and experiences. You and I have different approaches to the exact same problem. You and I have different skills and insights.

If I write a post that echoes your posts, we’ve missed the point of guest blogging. The best thing I can do is shake things up, not show you up. Give me a sense of how you normally do things, and then let me do my thing. Your audience will admire your confidence in letting a stranger take the reins for a little while.

4. How should we collaborate on promotion? I’m pretty good at promoting my own posts. I like showing off my work, but I really like showing off others. I hope you’ll extend the same courtesy.

The best way to ensure mutual satisfaction is to outline several specific tactics on promoting the post before and after publication. It could mean teasers in blog posts, a special edition of the email newsletter, a chat on Facebook Live, mentions at the next corporate-sponsored workshop and social ads. Let’s make it a memorable event.

5. Can I proof it before publication? As an editor, I want to see my work on your site with zero errors. One typo not only makes me look sloppy, but you as well.

No matter how many times I’ve emailed my completed articles with notes and instructions on posting, they often end up with a few new errors. I’d rather spot them before publication than after your readers have seen them. The best way to do so is to let me see it ahead of time, either with sign-in access or a password-protected version. (I’ve always offered a preview version to guest bloggers on my sites — and it’s helped a lot.)

Make the most of your partnership. The guest blogger has her words and her wisdom reach a bigger audience, and the host blogger has a fresh viewpoint to enrich the site.

And hammer out the details in advance to maximize your shared success.

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y’all Connect. See his full bio.