Last week I ventured out of town. I took a real life vacation and signed off the Internet in order to regroup and come back stronger. As small business owners, we need that every so often. But as I mentioned (in a scheduled post) last week, bloggers often need to find a way to entertain readers when they’re not there. Since I was already pre-writing my posts for SmallBizTrends, I decided to gather up some guest bloggers for 7 days of posting over at my main SEO blog, Outspoken Media. Now that I’m back to work, I thought it may be worthwhile to look at some lessons learned.
Here are 6 lessons from 6 days of guest posting.
Provide detailed posting guidelines: Before I left for vacation I sent each one of my guest bloggers two rounds of emails. The first email was to notify them of their scheduled date, provide them their username and password, and cover all information they may need to write and publish their post. The second email came a few weeks later reminding them of their scheduled date, give them the email addresses they need if they encountered trouble and went over the same posting information as the previous email. The guidelines I sent helped to proactively answer every question they could have before I left for vacation. This really helped things to go smoothly. It easer their nerves about posting and my nerves about leaving my blog. I even received emails from folks thanking me for providing such detailed instructions. It helped make sure that everything went smoothly and that guest bloggers knew who to contact should they did discover an issue. It also meant that posts were properly formatted before they were released into the wild. A win all around.
Choose people smarter than you: I’m really lucky to have some incredibly smart friends. My guest bloggers included the in-house SEO for the Wall Street Journal, the director of technology of Third Door Media (and beyond), and SEOs with dozens of years of experience. The result of guest blogging week meant that my readers were given access to information and resources that I never could have given them on my own. And that’s really what you want to offer. The more helpful you can be to readers, the better impression you’re going to leave them with and the more they’ll grow to trust your brand. I think Outspoken Media earned a lot last week when we opened our doors to six incredible bloggers who were able to impart their own hard earned words of advice.
Trust is key, both in your guest bloggers and yourself!: Every person who was extended an invitation to post last week had my complete trust. I did my homework, found the folks I thought could represent us, and then gave them full control of their work. They got to pick their topic, choose their images, link wherever, etc. And they did so without me ever reading their post before it went live. I think that added to the creativity of the week. We may have had one post that got a mixed reaction, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. People perform better when you let them run with what their passionate about. Do your research to find people you trust but once you do, try not to restrain them too much. We got some truly great (and out of the box) content this way.
People sometimes forget: Despite my emails, we had one blogger forget that they were due to post. Just totally forget to show up and do it. Oops! If you are going to go away, make sure you have someone checking in daily with the person responsible for posting. Naturally, the one day we didn’t have anyone checking was the one day someone forgot to post. Of course.
New voices add more spice: You know that tiny circle of bloggers that you see posting everywhere in your niche? Yeah? Don’t ask those people to blog for you. I’m sure they’re all great and smart, but try and bring in some new voices. This is where I think our week of guest blogging really succeeded. We were able to incorporate people with years of experience in the industry, but who were relatively new to the world of blogging. The result were some very smart, very honest posts that our audience really responded to.
Fresh voices = New readers: When you bring new voices to your blog, you also attract their natural audience. An audience who may not necessarily know that you existed. Well, now they do. And by giving them a friendly face to introduce them to your blog, you help make your blog appear trusted and familiar right out of the gate. We received a number of new RSS subscribers while I was sitting on the beach completely ignoring my blog responsibilities. What’s better than that?
Guest blogging isn’t just a great way to increase your own exposure, it’s also a way to find new readers and help give exposure to others. Our week of guests helped readers find new tips on SEO, social media, and running their business. However, it also really helped us to grow our audience with new readers. That, perhaps, was the biggest lesson of all.