Have you embraced the idea of guest posting to get in front of your target readers? But now finding that getting started is a little more challenging than you expected? If you're struggling to come up with guest post ideas, then this post is for you.
Choose your area of expertise
First up, what do you want to be known for? This goes a little deeper than what you want to write about or could write about, but what topics you can consistently write on.
This is always easier for non-fiction authors, as it makes sense to contribute to blogs that relate to the topic of your book. But I recommend narrowing your focus.
For example, you may have written a book about health and fitness but within that, which topics do you especially want to be known for? Diet or exercise? Maintaining a healthy heart or weight loss? Mental health or physical health?
The list goes on and you may be knowledgeable enough to write about any or all of these topics, but I recommend choosing 3-5 that you want to be known as the expert on. Doing this will make it easier for you to narrow your focus and easier for others to recognize you as the go-to person for that subject.
So what about fiction authors? I can almost hear your distressed cries that guest blogging won’t work for you as you have nothing to blog about.
Fiction writers can exploit their genre
First, you can contribute non-fiction blog posts. If you are an expert on a particular topic, you can blog about that and some of the readers will also be interested in your fiction. One client I worked with was a personal trainer by day and an author the rest of the time. He wrote guest posts for health and fitness blogs and squeezed in a mention of his books where he could. He had to be creative with his reader magnet to attract the blog readers who may be interested in his science fiction novels. Considering the wide readership of health and fitness blogs and the equally wide readership of sci-fi, there was some overlap. But it’s not ideal, and for most this may be more effort than it’s worth.
Instead, you may choose to become an expert in your genre. But rather than write for writing blogs about how to write, which are largely only read by other writers, not your target readers, you could write for lifestyle/consumer blogs that want book reviews or quirky book-related posts.
Blog topics that solve problems
So you’ve chosen your topics, but what stories can you write that come under these headings?
The next step is to brainstorm the problems people have with your chosen topics.
For example, my topic is book marketing, which at a high level is about helping people sell more books, but there are a lot of problems within that. A problem many authors that come to me have is finding their readers. Who are they, where are they, how can I let them know about my books?
For a health and fitness writer, their readers may want to lose weight, but their specific problems include, what to eat when dining out, how to lose weight quickly before surgery, or how to reduce sugar intake without feeling miserable.
If you have chosen to write entertaining posts about books, think about links you can make between books or characters—who would win in an epic battle? Can you do a book comparison? Which minor character should have their own book? Which book locations would you most want to visit and why?
I can guarantee a brainstorming session like this with a group of book-loving friends would be a lot of fun.
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Ask your readers
There’s no better way to come up with great guest post ideas than to ask people what they want to read or learn about.
If you already have any sort of platform, make use of that. Email your list or ask your Facebook Group, for example. If you don’t have either of these, reach out to the Twitterverse. By using relevant hashtags, you can reach people interested in your topic, even if you don’t have a large following of your own.
Also pay attention to the questions people ask you, whether by email or in person. Ask others, such as in your writing group or on social media. If you are replying to a question by email, why not also write up the answer as a blog post so that it can benefit others?
Real questions asked by real readers with real problems are the best source of guest blog post ideas, as you know there is a genuine need for an answer.
Stay in the loop
When you’re stuck for ideas for blog posts, read the news. This could be national newspapers, celebrity gossip magazines or news blogs for your industry or interest. What news stories can you piggyback on?
Again, as a non-fiction writer, this can be straightforward. A new development in your space can give you plenty of blog material. For example, are you for or against the news? What future changes do you anticipate? How does this upset the apple cart? When something changes at Amazon, many of my fellow book marketing experts will be quick to explain the changes in easy-to-understand terms, will reveal any pros or cons, and tell authors what they need to do now.
As a fiction author, you can still use the news for guest blog material. As a sci-fi author, you may have something to say about science news. Did you predict something long ago in one of your books that has now become a reality? As a romance author, maybe you have some advice for the latest celebrity couple to split.
You can also think about seasonal stories. Can you come up with posts that tie into summer or winter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, or other holidays or festivals? Keep in mind that some blogs plan weeks or months in advance.
Another great way to stay in the loop is to sign up for Google Alerts, to be notified of news relating to your industry. Simply go to google.com/alerts, enter a search term to track, complete a few more details and you’ll receive alerts by email.
Do your homework
Reading the blog you want to guest post for can also help you come up with ideas.
Of course, you don’t want to pitch something the blog has already covered, but you can use its existing posts as a jumping-off point. Can you dig deeper into something one post just touches on? Do you have spin-off ideas or an alternative viewpoint?
From reading the blog, what questions do you think the readership may still have, or what stories may they also be interested in? In short, what value can you bring?
Keep an ideas file
If you go through each of the tips in this post and brainstorm around each one, you could quickly come up with a multitude of blog post ideas, which could be used for guest posting, or on your own blog if you prefer.
When brainstorming, write down everything you can think of and follow each idea as far as you can. For example, one idea may be staying healthy while abroad. From there you could come up with a number of other stories, such as how to fit in exercise while on vacation, or conversely, why you should take a break from exercise while on vacation, healthiest vacation meal options, how to avoid getting sick while on vacation, or what to pack in your first aid kit for vacation.
Some of the ideas will be bad, some you just won’t fancy writing, and others you may decide you don’t have the necessary knowledge to do well. Either way, don’t get rid of anything, as one bad idea may later spark five great ones.
So keep all your ideas in a file, either in a physical notebook, in a Word file on your computer, or in a cloud-based note-taking app, such as Evernote. Ideas rarely come to you when you sit down to write—as a writer, you already know that— so add them to your file whenever they come to you.
Follow these tips and you should be able to kick-start your creative juices whenever you need guest post ideas. And with all these awesome ideas, you’re going to want to start pitching.
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