Hosting Guest Bloggers: 20 questions about best practices

Butterfly on pink flowerThis past Friday, I hosted my first guest blogger, Sunny Frazier. How did she get the gig? Simple – she sent me an e-mail attachment with an engaging essay titled “Am I A Writer?” I read it, liked it, and voila – my first guest. I’ve heard from other potential guests as well, but Sunny was the first to send me a post that was ready to cut and paste.

All of a sudden, I have more empathy for agents and editors who have to handle queries. I’ve received several e-mails from people saying they’d like to be guests on my blog. Sometimes they include the name of a book they’ve written, sometimes not. This tells me next to nothing. Often they ask what I’d like them to write about. Damned if I know – if I did, I’d write it myself! If they would read my blog, react to it, and then send me something they think would be a good fit, I’d be a lot more likely to invite them as guests. If I have to send them individualized e-mails explaining what to do and offering suggested topics, their odds diminish radically.

Gosh, I’m sounding grouchy – please don’t take it personally, anyone. Today I’d planned to post some guidelines for guest bloggers, but I’ve realized I have more questions than answers. Here are some of them:

How do you decide whom to invite as a guest blogger? How would you rank the following in order of importance?

Reputation and/or quality of their published books?

Quality and/or entertainment value of the writing on their blogs?

Number of stats they get on their blogs?

Relevance of the genre they write in?

Reciprocity – the fact that they’ve been a faithful visitor to your blog?

Personal friendship?

What if someone sends you a post you consider mediocre or worse? Do you publish it anyway? Do you think the quality of your guests will influence people not to revisit your blog?

What if someone sends you a review copy and you really dislike it?

Do you encourage guests to submit posts that consist primarily of promoting their own books?

Are you willing to run posts people have already published elsewhere?

How much do you edit and/or cut your guests’ posts?

How much should you expect them to promote their visit to your blog? Where would you like them to promote it, and when should they start?

What about comments? Should they visit on the day of their posting to reply to peoples’ comments?

For that matter, how important is it for the blog host to reply to comments in general? I know it’s common courtesy, but does anyone really expect those comments about comments? (This is a bit off-topic, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about.)

Is there something else I’ve forgotten that I should be asking about?

 There, that’s 20 questions, more or less. I was going to number them so that people could comment by the number, but that would mess up the formatting, so I won’t be that compulsive. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll respond by commenting on those questions that may strike your fancy, or by contributing new questions of your own. Once I’ve sifted through all the answers, maybe I’ll be ready to write up my guidelines for guest bloggers. Oh, and I still haven’t decided on a guest for Friday. If you send me an essay of 400 to 600 words ASAP, maybe you can be the chosen one! Send them to me by email: julielomoe@nycap.rr.com.

Stay tuned for my next post, when I’ll revert to my 60’s nostalgia thread and talk about my close encounters with Jimi Hendrix and other superstars (SPOILER ALERT: don’t get your hopes up – the encounters weren’t all THAT close!)

15 thoughts on “Hosting Guest Bloggers: 20 questions about best practices

  1. Great questions to consider for guest bloggers. I guess it depends on the direction you want for guest spots. Personally I love the themes and feel of your blog, but I have seen some folks who bring in guest bloggers with totally different writing styles or those who write on totally different themes for something different. I guess it depends on you – how do you want it to mesh? Definitely something to think about.

    Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

    • Hi Nancy, thanks for the compliments about my blog. Yours is great too. And I still owe you that copy of Eldercide for the contest you won – I haven’t forgotten; I’m just lazy about getting to the post office!

  2. Julie–Would this compromise be a workable solution? Since your guidelines were not in place before you put out a call for guest bloggers, why not let those people who already responded go ahead and be guest bloggers, without any selection process or editing on your part? Then, as soon as you have your guidelines in place and post them for everyone to read, you can begin selecting applicants in accordance with those guidelines.

    Also, if you want to give your readers an opportunity to promote their own work, but don’t want the guest blogging slot to be primarily a self-promotion slot, why not set up a regular blog entry (once a week or once a month, for ex.) devoted to promoting new publications? For example, you might decide that the 15th of every month is “Self-Promotion Day” on your blog, a day when any writer can leave a comment informing readers of their new publications, with a link to the publication or order form.

    • Good suggestions, Therese. I especially like the idea of a self-promotion day – I think I’ll try it. As for inviting those who already asked, I may do that – but first I have to go back and find their e-mails! As many bloggers have noted, guest hosting entails quite a bit of work and organization.

  3. Gosh, Julie, I get a headache just thinking about your questions, let alone coming up with answers. I think I would want guidelines in place before hosting a guest blogger on my sight, because anything posted is a reflectionof you. In public relations, perception is everything. I used to work with physicians in private practice and would tell them the receptionist who answers the phone is key because it’s the first exposure a potential patient has to the practice. Your blog is the first exposure someone has to you, if they haven’t read your book already. Sorry, this started to ramble. Hope it helps
    Karen

    • Hi Karen. Good points, especially about first impressions. Your comment gives me a toothache – it reminds me of my dentist’s office, which I really should call. He has an office manager who often handles the phone, and she’s so overbearing and obnoxious that it’s almost worse than the drilling itself. She’s seriously caused me to consider changing dentists!

  4. I like to use guest bloggers to explain a question or offer advice on a topic that I’d like to learn more about. I try to find someone who seems knowlegable on a particular subject and invite them to write a guest blog. I’ve never thought about issuing an ‘open’ invitation, but now I might consider that, too.

  5. I think the quality of the post as well as how well it is written is of primary importance for a guest blog. I have regular guests who do humor and I find that readers usually enjoy that no matter the specific topic. And humor is always a good “stand alone” piece that doesn’t have to connect to a blog’s theme.

    Regarding reviews, I receive lots of books to review for bloggernews.net, and only review those that have merit. If I don’t like the book, I don’t review it.

    I think post should not just be pushing a book. There has to be something in there for the reader other than, “here’s another book for sale.”

    The primary purpose of guest blogging is networking and getting to know people. I have enjoyed following an author on a virtual book tour who talked about all kinds of things in addition to writing — hobbies, trivia related to their books, commentary, humor.

    Gosh, this is almost a whole blog in itself. Maybe I should write an article. 🙂

    • Excellent comment, Maryann. I take it from the smily face than maybe you’ve already written an article about this? I’ll have to go to your blog and find out.

      • Hi again, Maryann. Thought you’d want to know – I just clicked on your name at the top of your comment and WordPress sent me an instant Not Found message saying “Ooops – Where did you get such a link?”

        Never fear, I’ll find you another way.

  6. I think it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that the writer show upon the day the guest blog is posted and respond to comments. What’s the point otherwise? You’re providing a forum, but they have to provide the fun. My pal <a href="http://www.danafredsti.com/blog/"Dana does this fabulously well, creating a party ambiance that keeps people coming back to see what’s happening. The networking should be mutually beneficial, bringing new readers to each of you.

    I don’t have any problem with people reusing previous material, though with luck it’s not the only guest blog piece they have.

  7. Great all around post. I’m doing the groundwork for a BBT and you’ve inspired me to be that much more organized. Do the work ahead of time and let the host blogger know that they won’t be burdened by a guest blogger.

    I’m putting together a list of 15 themes that I will let the host choose from along with a bullet list of items I can fill out the interview with. This will help the host tremendously.

    Developing a BBT should be fun. For example, I’m going to a blogger with a cooking/recipe theme to host me since I spent a lot of time incorporating food as an inanimate, second level character.

    And since the good guys and the villains like good wine and beer (not Bud or Coors), I’ll also look for a wine blog and a beer blog.

    Stephen Tremp
    http://www.stephentremp.blogspot.com/

  8. How do you decide whom to invite as a guest blogger? Good question!

    For me, tone and quality of writing are the most important. It’s hard not to feel like a snob, but I do think the quality of a guest blogger’s writing reflects upon the host. Maybe it’s wrong of me but there it is.

    Content is important too. I like poking fun at the serious subjects in life. Not that every guest would need to be funny, but certain kinds of rants would probably turn my readers off. They expect a light tone from me, and I assume they would expect a similar tone from my guests.

    Reputation isn’t that important to me. I don’t really care who’s doing the writing – as long as I enjoy it. Or maybe I’m not that fond of it, but I think my readers will relate. Friends are welcome but I only have so many and fresh voices are most welcome.

    And now I must come clean. I’ve never actually had guest bloggers on my blog! If I had I might have new material more frequently!

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