It actually started as a weekly feature on my personal blog (which I have now shut down) back in 2012. I really wanted to offer some informative and motivating content for my readers on a regular basis. I had reached a point where I was unable to produce this myself so frequently. I wanted to keep publishing on my blog on a regular basis, so I thought it would be a good idea to solicit posts from others.
It didn’t take long for it to really take off, and my readers loved the content. When I decided to shut down my personal blog, I knew that there was no way I was going to deprive the writers and artists of this world of these fabulous posts, so I started a separate website for it at the end of last year. All the old posts from my personal blog are in the process of being transferred over, so by the end of summer, over three years worth of amazingly informative and inspiring content will be available in the same place.
2) What are the guidelines for authors who would like to feature?
All posts must be inspiring and/or motivating, and encourage discussion. I am after articles with rich and informative content. I will not just post your book blurb, cover, and purchase links. One, because you are more likely to attract attention to your work if you have something interesting to say. And two, because I would like this website to offer useful and interesting information for my readers, not blatant advertisements.
I will tweet and Facebook your posts several times during the week to get it as much exposure as possible. Highest unique views on a single post within one day = 1000+. If you want to reach that 1000 views mark it means you need to provide interesting content and make an effort in sharing the post on various platforms as much as I do. This is a collaborative effort.
Here is what I need from you:
- The post in a Word Document. Word count: 700-1500.
- A title (you'd be surprised how many people forget!)
- A call to action at the end (A question related to your post to ask readers, which will make it easier for them to leave a comment.)
- A head shot (JPEG please, do NOT embed it into your Word Doc, I need it as a separate attachment).
- A 3rd person bio 50-100 words including all your web links.
The posts that get the most hits are those written by authors who are not afraid to admit their flaws and the challenges they face within their field. They are written with passion and raw honesty. This helps readers find something to identify with. It’s a bit like when you read a novel. If you can’t relate to the characters at all, it’s common to get bored and put the book down, or stop reading it altogether.
Following on from this revelation of flaws, are often ways the author of the post overcame their said challenges and obstacles. If you can give readers some handy advice to walk away with, they are likely to share it with their friends who they think will benefit.
And any post with “How to” or “Tips on” in the title, is always guaranteed a good readership. I’m pretty sure this is because it’s often what people type in Google when they need information.
4) You have a new guest post every Wednesday, presumably for Writers' Wednesday—how important is the regularity of the slot for building readership?
Just like people anticipate the next episode of their favourite TV show, they anticipate content from a blog they are keen to keep up with. I think having a regular schedule is important because it means it’s less work for your readers to keep up. They don’t have to continuously check your blog, or their feed, to see if you have a new post or not. My readers just know, when they get up on Wednesday morning, they can read The Artist Unleashed with their morning coffee. On another note, make sure you offer an email sign up should there be any readers who’d like to be notified every time a new post goes live.
5) The series requires you to do a lot of work, largely for the benefit of others to promote their work—how does being the host benefit you?
It is a lot of work, which is why I am now lucky to have an assistant to do the grunt work for me. The lovely Rasana Atreya liaises with the authors via email. She then emails me to get approval of suggested topics. When articles are submitted, she proofreads them and then drafts them up in the blog. Then I give them one last look-over before I hit publish on Wednesday mornings.
To be honest, I’m really not sure to what extent it benefits me. But I do get a lot of satisfaction running this blog. I think it’s important to provide advice to writers and artists, to create a sense of community and support. I seem to be known as being very generous. That gives me a really nice warm and fuzzy feeling (sorry to be clichéd!). Perhaps this blog is one of the reasons people see me that way. I’m sure there are people who like to check out my bio too, to see what credentials I have. (I’d do that if I was going to write an article for someone as I want to be associated with likeminded people.) Which I’m sure, in turn, takes them to my website. You never know. Maybe I’ve even made book sales as a result!
6) What advice would you give to other authors who are thinking of setting up a guest post slot like this?
- Don’t just post “anything”. You want people to trust that they will get good quality content. Always.
- Don’t let people post blatant promotion/advertising. No-one ever reads that stuff unless it’s something groundbreaking (rare in this day and age!)
- When you receive guest post requests, check out the authors’ own blog and website. You do not want to be spending hours copyediting their posts because they can’t write.
- Set clear guidelines and have a clear link they can follow to read them. You don’t want to be typing the same thing into an email every time you get a request.
- Don’t just wait for people to come to you. Solicit articles from people you respect and admire as well! You never know, you might score someone with a huge following, which will draw attention to your blog on a scale you never would have imagined.
- Don’t just post the articles and then forget about them. Help promote them on social media. Otherwise it’s useless having them there at all, both for your guest and for yourself, not to mention the bad reputation you will eventually get.
- Treat everyone with respect. If a post isn’t right for you, please don’t tell the author how horrible it is, or even worse, ignore them. Email them and offer them the opportunity to write something better with constructive feedback. This will mean you will need to spend a bit of time checking out their website so it is relevant to them. But it’s worth it for a great post. This is a group effort. You’re not doing this for an easy ride.
- Don’t be impatient. It takes time to build a following. Just keep posting interesting content and your readership will grow in time.