Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Want More Eyes on Your Book? Try Guest Posting!

If you're a regular reader here on The Literary Mercenary, then I'd like to inform you you're a member of a rather exclusive club. Which is my way of saying that I don't get anywhere near as much traffic on this blog as I'd like. Even so, just last week I got an email from the folks over at NFReads. They'd come across my blog, saw me talk about my novel Crier's Knife, and they invited me to write a guest post on their platform promoting it.

Which I did, and you can check out the article Pulp Fantasy: The Land We All Forgot if you're interested.

And that's our segue into today's topic...
For folks not in the know, writing an article like that for someone else's platform is called guest posting, and it is often the cornerstone of making sure you get a lot of eyes on your book, blog, or other writing project.

How Does Guest Posting Work?

Guest posting is, at its core, pretty simple. You find a website (or in a truly fortunate case, a website finds you), and you write a post for them. The post needs to fit with the site's themes and subject matter, but that post should also mention who you are, provide a link back to your site, and ensure that folks who read said post find out about you, and what you do.

But why would you post on someone ELSE'S page instead of your own?
There are a lot of reasons you should invest in guest posting, but the biggest ones are that they give you bonuses in the numbers game that is selling books. For example, when a search engine indexes your blog, or even your book's sales page, it examines how many reputable websites have links back to it. These off-page links are important in boosting your visibility, and the bigger or more important the site your guest blog appears on, the more heavily weighted the links on that page are going to be.

It's the same reason I mentioned my book as well as My Amazon Author Page when I wrote the post 3 Reasons "Bloat" is a Made-Up Problem for the RPG website High Level Games. Because the more reputable websites I have pointing back to my books and my blogs, the more likely I am to turn up on the first page of related search results.

In addition to jacking up your numbers, though, guest posts also allow you to tap into that other website's audience. For example, John Hartness is a writer and publisher who gets way more traffic than I do, even on my best days. So when he asked me to write a guest post to help boost the signal for the anthology The Big Bad II (a super fun collection where the bad guys are the protagonists), I wrote up the post Evolution of Evil to talk about the themes I was getting at with my modern fantasy story Little Gods.

While my post wasn't a viral sensation, it put my name and my story in front of a lot of people. Far more than the number of folks who would have found out about it if I'd put that same post here on my own blog. And while a lot of folks probably skimmed right past my information, even if they read the post itself, some folks may have clicked on my information. That would have brought them straight to my site, and given me a chance to suck them more permanently into my orbit.

Is that all it does?
Those are the two, major benefits of guest posting. However, providing guest posts can also endear you to the person(s) who run the website you're providing the content for, it can establish you as an expert in your field, and just generally make your name a lot more visible. If you're the sort of reader who prefers itemized lists, then 8 Reasons Why Guest Posting is an Advantage by Branding Personality lays it all out by the numbers.

Keep Your ROI in Mind

When I started this blog, one of my first posts was Professional Rule Number One: Never Work For Free. And I stand by the points I made in that post; if you are taking the time and effort to create something, then you need to be sure you're getting a return on the effort you're putting into that project.

Where my dividends at?
The thing I cautioned about then, and which I'd like to remind folks about now, is that returns can take a number of different forms. In their most basic form, it's you getting paid in some fashion. Maybe the individual agrees to pay you a fee, or to do a profit-share model with all the traffic your post produces. On the other hand, the site you're posting on might be so prestigious that the sheer amount of run-off traffic your post generates is worthwhile in and of itself. Alternatively, you might be writing your guest post as a kind of quid-pro-quo to improve (or even establish) your professional relationship with the site owner.

All of these are potential returns. Some of them might be in your hand as soon as the article goes up, others will take time to start paying dividends. But it's important to remember that just because something doesn't have a dollar sign attached to it, that doesn't mean you're working for nothing. Just take a minute to evaluate, and to see what benefits you get from this endeavor to make sure it's worth your while.

That's all for this Business of Writing installment. Hopefully it gives folks out there something to chew over! For more of my work, check out my Vocal archive, and make sure to stop by My Amazon Author Page.

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