Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Before you guest post, read this.

So you've been invited to be a guest blogger. This 'virtual op-ed' invitation is often a great opportunity to weigh in under the banner of a reputed news organization or an individual blog, and a great place to gain a little publicity for yourself as well. Keep in mind, what you say within the blog, could be quoted elsewhere and the rules of traditional journalism also apply here within the blogging community. Need a few pointers before you post? Read on.
  1. State your opinion. When writing as a guest blogger, feel free to add commentary to the issue at hand, but stay on task and whatever you do, avoid the temptation to push your book. Book mentions are usually reserved for the byline.
  2. Honor the guidelines. Shoot for approx. 500-700 words to keep from being too verbose and ask for a set of guidelines from the editor so you're clear on the assignment.
  3. Fact check your work. That includes stats, figures, research and especially quotes from other sources. Just like traditional journalism, watch out for statements that could be libelous or slanderous.
  4. Credential yourself. You owe it to the readers to let them know why you are a trustworthy source. Provide the blog editor a one paragraph bio, remembering to highlight significant media attention you may have had in the past. Make sure you have a professional headshot available too, as they often accompany most guest posts.
  5. Welcome edits. When your post hits the chopping block, keep in mind the editor will read for clarity, grammar and spelling, and will likely contact you if significant changes are necessary. Expect a few rounds of edits, and be flexible on the headline.
  6. Research. Catch up on other guest blog posts to get a feel for their tone. Don't forget to clue into the comments, so you're prepared for the kind of response your post may generate.
  7. Respond. Once the post is live, pay attention to reader comments and don't be surprised if a few aren't exactly in your favor. Be personable and engage in the conversation by posting additional points that clarify the argument or answer reader questions. If the conversation becomes hostile, sometimes it's best to remove yourself from the dialogue entirely and allow your publicist to act on your behalf.

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