Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections on Blogging

At the start of the year, I opened my blog to once-a-week guests, and, looking back, as we are wont to do at this time of year, I've learned a few things I think are worth sharing, and things I'll try to do better in 2010.

Suggestions for being a good guest

1. Know what you're getting into. Spend a little time reading the blog where you've requested a guest slot so you know if it's going to serve whatever purpose you have in mind.

2. Does the host provide guidelines? Read them! Follow them! Are there things you shouldn't say? Don't say them. Are there questions to answer? Answer them. Is there a minimum or maximum length? Stick within it.

3. Make a note of the date you're going to be a guest. Set up your own reminders; don't rely on the host. Get your post in early if possible to allow your host time to format in advance.

4. Communicate with the host. Problems arise, especially if you're scheduled months in advance. Give as much warning as possible if there will be problems.

5. Be around on your guest day. Commenters like to be acknowledged. If you can't, for whatever reason—maybe you work full time and can't access the blog during work hours—let everyone know. That way, your host can 'cover' if necessary.

6. Don't recycle posts you've done elsewhere unless your host requests it.

7. Do your own promotion. Part of the idea of guest blogging is to introduce both the guest and the host to new audiences.

8. Does your host want pictures? Head shots? Book covers? Send them. Don't make the host grab them from your site. Other illustrations? Indicate where they should go.

9. Find out how your host likes posts formatted. Word doc? Text file? Preferred font? Provide URL links. The tiny details make getting your words onto whatever blog platform the host uses easier.

10. Proofread your post!

And for hosts

1. Keep track of who's up when. I happen to use an Excel spreadsheet and Google Calendar.

2. Send guidelines before you book a guest so they understand what you're looking for. Make them clear, but don't expect people to read or follow them.

3. Send reminders well in advance of the posting date. Request acknowledgement of receipt of emails.

4. Have 'backup' plans in case things go wrong.

5. If at all possible, be in control of your own blog postings and blog site. Guests are expecting their posts to be up, and relying on a third party can create another layer of potential problems.

6. Read the posts before you publish them; fix minor typos, etc. It's better for both parties. Verify that all links the guest provided actually work.

7. Promote the guest wherever possible. Include a 'heads up' on your blog before the guest's day.

8. Alert the guest when the post is live, with the URL for linking.

9. Check in from time to time, thanking commenters even though it's not 'your' own day. It's still your blog.

10. Thank the guest. Follow up if there are contest winners to announce, etc.

And if you're just a blog visitor, a few 'hints' as well.

Leaving comments makes the poster feel good. It shows you took a few extra moments. It can also draw traffic to your own site, so make sure you say something relevant. On that note, don't turn your comments into self-promotion. Making it "all about me" is an immediate turn-off, so you're doing more harm than good.

If you enjoy a blog post, share it. Many blogs have convenient links so it's one-stop shopping.

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year's Eve


Terry said...

Thanks for these tips. I'm about to activate my blog and have been thinking of asking a few people to guest post on certain topics.

This was very helpful. I just copied it to keep handy as a reference.

Happy New Year to you too!

Tamika: said...

How fun to be a host on someone else's site! I would feel so privileged. I relinquishing your baby to someone else is not an easy choice.

Thanks for the helpful tips.

Terry Odell said...

Terry, glad my experience could be helpful (sounds like I'm talking to myself!)

Tamika - I've met some wonderful people through hosting guests. I think of it as sharing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You're a great host, Terry. I've guested at plenty of blogs and at a couple of them there were MAJOR problems that didn't get quickly resolved (and at blogs that I thought were very professionally handled most of the time.) Yours was a very organized experience.

I think I'll try to host more guests this upcoming year. Thanks for the tips on being a good host!

I'm tweeting...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. You coerced me into Twitter, although I'm still a newbie. We'll see what happens when you tweet this.

Skhye said...

This is an excellent list, Terry. I know. I host authors at my blog--almost a year now--and agree with each number on your lists!!! I've found if you can come up with a unique angle for your guests to approach your subscribers, your guest features are definitely unique in the vast ocean of blogs. There's no better way to increase the traffic to your blog other than blogging every day. Happy New Year! ~Skhye

Debra St. John said...

As always, Terry, great advice. I've been setting up a bit of a blog tour for when my new release comes out in the spring. (One of my stops is with you!...thanks again!) These will be fabulous tips to keep in mind.

Happy New Year!

darkangelauthor said...

Wonderful post, Terry, and your timing is perfect for me! I start out on a virtual book tour on the 11th of January to promote my debut novel and will definitely keep your tips in mind. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

Warmest wishes for 2010,

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice for both hosts and guests! I'll have to bookmark this one :)

Have a wonderful New Year!

Terry Odell said...

Skyhe - I know I like seeing 'new and different' when I blog hop.

Debra - looking forward to your visit!

Linda, good luck with your tour

Jemi - glad you found it worth keeping!

jasouders said...

Great advice, Terry. I just started blogging and with my own book coming out in the spring, I guess I'll have to start thinking about guest blogging and having guest at my own. :) I, too, have copied the list and will be tweeting about it. Thanks!!

Marie Tuhart said...

Thanks for the great advice and for sharing with all of us, Terry.

I'm planning on opening up my blog to guest blogging in a few months, this will really help me stay on track.

Jana Richards said...

Good advice Terry, for hosts and guests. Thanks for the reminders.


Mary Ricksen said...

Great suggestions. I wish you the very best this new years. And I hope you sell a million!
Happy New Year!

Terry Odell said...

JA & Marie - good luck with your books and blogs

Jana, glad I could help.

Mary -- from your lips to the bookbuyer's ear!

Kathy Otten said...

Great advice. Looking forward to more great blogs from you in 2010!

Mona Risk said...


I enjoyed being your guest twice. Happy New Year. Wishing you a continuous successful writing career.

Mariposa Cruz said...


I'm a newbie to the blog world and your tips are very helpful.
Have a wonderful 2010!

Sheila Deeth said...

Happy New Year Terry. And maybe I'll try to be a more regular blogger in 2010.

Terry Odell said...

Kathy, Mona, Mariposa & Sheila - Thanks, and a Happy New Year to you.

GunDiva said...

I loved this blog. I'm querying my first book this year (a measureable goal I set, thank you very much), and one of the requirements set by the publisher is what an author is willing to do to help market his/herself. I hadn't even considered a blog tour, which I would think would be enormously entertaining and fun. Thanks for the tips and giving me something to think over.

Terry Odell said...

GD-- good for you! I've got a few upcoming guest spots myself, but haven't undertaken a serious tour yet.