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How to write a guest blog post

2:24 pm on Jul 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I went looking for links. Some sites I approached do not take any sort of links or commercial cross pollination. What I ended up with instead is a 3 part series of guest blog posts on a national celebrity's blog and a 2 part series on another high traffic, grassroots and more technical blog.

So now the work starts. To paraphrase eminime, this is my one shot - these two blogs are going to gain me large exposure and portray me as an expert in the field.

I've got to make these posts over the top, professional level. I already know enough to make the posts educational and nonpromotional. The challenge is to make them interesting and readable.

Seeking advice on how to properly structure the posts, in terms of outline, design, even grammar - anything on how a pro would do this.

What does one need to do to make the very best guest blog post one can?
7:38 pm on July 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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thought I'd throw this up
copywriting 101 [copyblogger.com ]
7:28 am on July 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Here's what I've gleaned from the blogs and copywriting sites I've looked at.

1) make the title a hook
- a question?
- 'ten things you didn't know about x' (people like lists)
- a challenge to a popular assumption (controversy)
- linked to something topical (even better if niche-related)
2) make the first paragraph build on the hook - short, snappy, sums up the entire article i.e. if the article is a 'revelation' then put the relevation in the first paragraph, all the rest of the article does is flesh in the detail. Don't make people wait until the end to find out what it's about. If they like what you've just told them, they'll read on to find out the WHY.
3) short sentences and paragraphs
4) plenty of stop points on the page (headers, lists, quotes)
5) personality - keep it light. Is humour appropriate?
6) conversational tone
7) final paragraph echoes the first but adds some extra insight/impact based on the detail that the body of the article provided. In the case of a series of articles, needs to provide a hook / call to action to keep people reading.

If the article won't be accompanied by a mini-bio (or even if it is) consider dropping in some 'status' indicators about yourself - name drop, mention how long you've been doing this i.e. 'when I started out...' (anchored to time or an event that everyone will remember e.g. from an SEO point of view Florida, Google on Yahoo, or even Alta Vista). You need to be very subtle here because this isn't a press release, but if done right people will not just realise that you're savvy, but wise and sage-like also :)

Look at blogs and magazines in your niche and analyse HOW the articles are written.

Revise; try different versions. Can you say what you just said in less words? Can you make it more understandable? Does it flow from one point to the next? Where are you taking the reader? Get friends and colleagues to read and comment.

Write for a 12 year old. Small words, less syllables. Avoid jargon unless you're sure that everyone will understand, or explain it simply and concisely. If you can, use metaphors that everyone will understand and make these part of the story.

On the tech blog, whilst you still want to bear all of this in mind, I think you might want to go for a slightly older readership. The challenge here I would have thought would be not to bore those with more knowledge, whilst not puzzling those with less.

My tuppence worth.
9:41 am on July 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You do your best... or you hire a pro (recommended, if this is 'make or break' operation. There are no shortcuts, nor guarantees, that the output product will get attention, much less legs. Above by franticfish is a pretty good checklist, but---sans cross-pollination links dragging any kind of traffic is a tough row to hoe.
10:21 pm on July 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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+1 to the above.

My suggestion is to find a local college level English professor. Pay or barter in kind for their time to go over the article. Have this person review at several phases as the editing progresses.

My concept of the ideal secondary review person is someone who isn't familiar with the topic. I did this when I as a tech writer as a final check. Watch their reactions based on where in the article they're reading. That might identify spots needing a bit more tweaking (or is insider jargon heavy).
12:05 am on July 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Great advice above. I'd also add:

1) Bring personality to the post. When the personality shows through, readers can't resist seeking more. To do this, use a personality "voice."

Use gentle, inoffensive humor if you're good at it. Or use another voice with a likeable personality. The voice should be appropriate to your industry. And don't be too heavy-handed with it.

(And don't use a voice at all if you're not confident in it.)

So for example, instead of:

"I always recommend green-blue widgets over the other two types." (dry, no personality)


"Green-blue widgets are the way to go. I've never seen an exception." (the voice of solid authority)


"Green-blue widgets are in. Everything else is out." (cool authority)


"The truth? Green-blue widgets. I daily referee fights in my family over those things." (everyman authority)


"Here's the thing. I like green-blue widgets. I use them. Green-blue widgets, in a sense, have made me what I am today. And I know I'm not alone." (casual authority.)


"Don't like green-blue widgets? Well, they probably don't like you, either. Get over yourself and run for cover. The green-blue widgets are coming!" (brash-mouthed authority)

2) The other thing is, be obsessive about clarity. Besides doing what FranticFish and Hoople suggested, have a general policy to err on the side of being too clear. If you're lost as to how to do this, then try writing your first draft sort of insultingly simple, like this:

Blue widgets can be bought at Store A. They go with any decor scheme. They come in three colors. One color is green-blue. One color is light blue. One color is purple-blue. I like green-blue best.

Eventually rework it to keep the clarity, minus the patronizing note:

I prefer green-blue widgets over the other two colors available at Store A. Whether you choose green-blue, light blue or purple-blue, you'll find they match any decor scheme.

But either of those is better than the more commonly-seen type of wording which raises lots of questions but doesn't offer real expertise:

I use these turquoise colored widgets from Store A. They're simply the best and they go with my furniture.