By Sandra Beckwith
Like so many other bloggers, I welcome relevant guest posts from authors and other experts who have something to say that will interest my readers.
I know that guest posts from authors help sell more of their books because of one simple trick: I use an Amazon Associates link for their book in their bio and in the post.
I don’t do this to earn money – the pennies will barely pay for my beloved tall, extra hot, skinny vanilla latte at Starbucks. I do it so I can see which topics resonate with my readers. When the writer’s book sells well, I know we’ve struck a chord. That tells me I need more content like that.
Why you want to be a guest blogger
There’s no question in my mind that guest blogging helps sell books. But it’s a powerful book marketing tactic for other reasons, too. Here are several of them:
- You will reach more readers than you could on your own. When you contribute information to someone else’s blog, you’re sharing your message with people in your target audience who might not know about you.
- It will help you develop relationships with your host’s readers. You probably know by now that “engagement” is a publishing buzzword, but it’s an important one. Readers love connecting with authors.
- It helps build credibility. If you write nonfiction, guest blogging is an excellent way to demonstrate your subject knowledge. Novelists can use it to showcase their storytelling and writing skills.
- You can add the right readers to you mailing list. Your guest blogger bio or text within your guest post can include an incentive for your host’s readers to add themselves to your email list.
- It will help you create and solidify important relationships that will support your activities over the long run. If you don’t already know your host, the back-and-forth process involved with guest blogging helps you establish a new and important relationship with an influencer.
- It will generate backlinks that improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) so it gets found in searches. Google likes backlinks – a link from one site to another (yours) – between relevant, credible sites. Because any smart guest blogger includes links back to their site – even if it’s just in their “about our guest” bio – this tactic contributes to good SEO.
You get the point, right? Guest blogging is an important online book marketing tactic.
How to make your guest posts work hard for you
If you want to get the most from your guest blogging, be strategic about it. Here are three tips that will help you use guest blogging to reach more readers:
1. Select a topic that serves your host’s readers.
Ask yourself, “How can I contribute something useful or interesting?” Make it about what the site’s readers need, not what you need.
There are two good reasons for this, and the first is the most obvious. If it doesn’t interest your host’s readers, they won’t read it. That doesn’t drive traffic to your site, help you build connections with more readers, or sell your books.
In addition, Google doesn’t like it when content doesn’t make sense for the site. Instead, Google knows when your guest post is relevant to the host site and rewards that accordingly.
2. Provide a top-quality blog post.
Don’t crank out something quickly and send it along without composing thoughtfully, then editing and proofreading. If the post needs heavy editing, the host will reject it. That rejection leaves a hole in the host’s editorial calendar, so you’ve damaged your relationship with them. Nobody likes that kind of disappointment – not your host, and not you.
What’s more, Google values high-quality content. While the evaluation process doesn’t include a roomful of grammarians checking for “your” vs. “you’re,” bad content doesn’t serve (or influence) anyone.
Low-quality content actually hurt you, too. You’re an author, after all, and we expect authors to be writers. If your guest post isn’t well-written, we’ll presume your book isn’t either. Get professional help if you need it.
3. Guest blog only for sites that are appropriate for your goals.
That might seem obvious, but many overlook this key point. They shoot for quantity, not quality. Focus on collaborating with blogs that have a connection to your topic, genre, or audience.
For example, if your book is about how to sell crafts on Etsy, you shouldn’t be guest blogging for the “Eat Clean Now!” blog just because the host is your friend. That won’t help either one of you – and it could hurt your host because Google doesn’t like off-topic content.
Similarly, novelists should be guest blogging on sites their readers read, not on sites hosted by writer friends who serve a different genre.
Do it right, and word will spread
Just as publicity begets publicity, writing great guest posts will help get you invitations to contribute to other sites that reach your audience. It’s the difference between cold calling and accepting an unsolicited invitation.
Plus, being a top-quality guest blogger is like being a good house guest. Do it the right way, and you’ll be invited back.
It’s about more than submitting a relevant, well-written post, though. It’s about the little things that most guest bloggers overlook – requesting and following the site’s guidelines, providing everything the host has asked for, meeting your deadline. (I’m still waiting for a guest post that was due three weeks ago on a deadline the author selected.)
Just do it
Guest blogging is a smart book marketing tactic. In addition to helping you sell books, it can get you the visibility and credibility you need to get clients, contracts, and speaking gigs.
But perhaps the best reason for authors to guest blog is that it helps you connect with more of the people you wrote your book for. It helps you find the right readers.
Give it a try, then watch your sales.
If you provide guest blog posts, what’s your best tip for others who want to start doing it?
If you want to learn how to stand out, be sure to download my free Guest Blogging Cheat Sheet. It offers nine best practices that will make take your guest blog submission from sub-par to superior.
Editor’s note: Here at The Book Designer, we’re always on the lookout for great articles from people who have personal experience with the publishing-related topics they’re writing about. Articles we publish must have a practical takeaway for our readers. We concentrate on publishing tasks that begin when the first draft is finished, i.e. editing, marketing, designing interiors and covers, etc. We do not accept “sponsored” posts, guest posts from SEO or essay writing sites, or articles from people with no connection to independent book publishing. Want to be featured here in front of our thousands of readers? Check out our guest author guidelines then go to our Contact form, suggest some topics, and let us know the site you’re going to link back to in your bio. ”