You have been asked to write a guest blog. It’s a great opportunity for you and your company but you haven’t got a clue where to start. In his guide for guest bloggers, Chris Callander from G and C Media offers some advice on how to approach the task, to get great results from your blog and to increase the likelihood of being asked to do it again.
In any content creating task, there are three key areas you need to consider; the audience, your objectives and the channel.
The audience should be the first area you look at. Try and find out as much as you can about the individuals you are writing for. You need to try and establish what challenges and pain points they face. See if you can discover what their areas of interest are. Also, try and work out what tone of voice or writing style they are most likely to respond to.
This will help you decide what you write about, and how you write it. In nearly every blogging situation you need to add value to the reader. Your content must solve problems, share useful knowledge or give advice.
This is the most important point I will make. If you want your post to be read, and the time you spend writing it to be worthwhile, then you do need to write for the audience. It doesn’t matter how well written a piece is, if it’s not relevant to the audience it will not have any impact.
There are a number of objectives you can aim for. You may want to demonstrate knowledge and thought leadership to build your organisation’s reputation as subject experts. As part of your brand strategy, you may be looking to gain the audience’s’ appreciation by sharing helpful information. You may decide you want to build trust and demonstrate transparency.
With the understanding you have of your audience and an objective in mind you can then start to shape the framework of your piece.
But whatever you do, never write a sales pitch even though there will be a strong temptation to do so. However, I guarantee it will do you more harm than good. There is every chance your piece will be rejected — especially if you’re writing for a reputable blog. But even if you do get published, engagement with your content will be low and your chances of being read in the future will be diminished.
More technical considerations are needed here. This is about making sure what you supply fits where it is being published.
In the case of blogs, there are some factors which are universal and there may be specifics to the blog you are writing for.
You should always ask the blog owner what they want in terms of style, format and length. If they are not specific, a good starting point is to look at other pieces on the blog for guidance.
Find out if you need to supply images to support your copy. Don’t send cheesy headshots unless they are in keeping with the blog’s style. And don’t just grab any image you fancy from the internet — it’s a sure-fire way to fall foul of copyright laws There are plenty of places you can access images that are copyright free such as Unsplash or Pexels.
Regardless of which blog you are writing for there are some key points to remember, mainly because they affect search engine optimisation (SEO).
If you get no guidance on the blog length make sure you write at least 350 words. Less than this and you will not rank well in search engine results which assume content less than this can’t be long enough to add value. There is no maximum word count to aim for and current research suggests longer posts perform better. So aim for 1000 words as a minimum if you can.
Finally, take the time to write an original piece. Do not try and pass off a blog you have already published elsewhere. Google’s algorithms assume you are trying to trick the system and can penalise sites which run duplicate content. So a reputable blog editor is unlikely to accept it and will be less than happy if they find out after the piece has been published. If they do publish your copy it will be flagged to tell Google not to index it — meaning neither you or the blog SEO benefit from the content.
Putting pen to paper — where on earth do you start?
When it comes to the writing, somethines the hardest part is getting going. A good starting point is a working headline. It will probably change as your blog develops, but get one down on paper (or screen), and you have achieved something — which is a great motivator. You need to catch the reader’s attention so consider the benefits you are trying to get across and the challenge or opportunity they meet. Then reflect that in your headline in a way that leaves the reader intrigued: “Your staff don’t need to be unhappy”, “There’s an hour in your day you didn’t know you had.”
Next, draft an introduction designed to reel in the reader by summarising what you will be covering. It should let readers see, very clearly, what they will gain from taking the time to read the rest of your blog.
Then draft a conclusion that succinctly reiterates your key points and reminds readers of the value you have given them.
To develop the main content, start by breaking it down into a series points that cover what you want to get across. This will help to organise your piece. You can then expand on each point, and the blog will develop from there.
Once you have your main content, review your headline, intro and conclusion. They may need to be tweaked slightly. But that is fine.
Give your blog a last read through. You need to check for any errors of course and if you can, ask someone who hasn’t seen it before to do this too. You also need to make sure you haven’t used jargon or acronyms that might confuse the reader. Just because you know what you mean, it doesn’t mean the person reading it will.
Then finally, stop working on it. It’s easy to keep making changes to a perfectly good piece of content and never calling it done. Call time, send it off and congratulate yourself on a job well done.