One of the best ways to keep a fresh angle in blogging is the guest blogger. They can provide good content, take some of the work load off the primary blogger and can bring new perspectives and ideas that the parent blogger can follow up on in later posts as he or she sees fit. Guest blogging also promotes inter-community relations, resulting in shared links and audiences, and can bring together previously unrelated audiences who find they share interests. It may not be for everyone, but those who embrace guest posting have a lot going for them.
So where, exactly, does one find these mysterious guest posters?
Guest #1 — The Ascended Commenter
An active and successful blog should have an equally active comments section. Comments are a great way to gauge the level of interest a group has in the message of a blog. Sometimes a blog post will spawn a series of comments that end up being as or even more enriching than the blog itself, including links to other sites and videos that further expand on the message.
Some commenters are active, regular members of the community and consistently provide very good and insightful material on a number of topics. Those who participate in all the best discussions and are always there to provide discussion on the topics raised are a prime source for good guest-posting material.
If you have such a gem of a commenter, contact them and ask them if they’d be interested in writing up a guest post. Give them all the guidelines and style rules your publication uses, and of course draft-check their work to make sure it fits the needs of the site, but definitely recruit your commenters into your service. This will have the two-fold effect of creating guest posts and improving the quality of commentary in the blog as a whole. As guests see they can be invited to post, they will be encouraged to become more active if they want to do the same.
Guest # 2 — Fellow Bloggers
Many blogs provide cross-links to other blogs who discuss the same or similar issues. Blogs on cooking provide links to other blogs on cooking, or to blogs on cookware and appliances, and so on. Bloggers exercising good blogging judgment also go to their colleagues’ blogs and participate in the comments sections as well.
Just like inviting in a member of the commentary team, calling in a fellow blogger is a great idea. As mentioned, it encourages cross-promotion of both blogs. Even though the audiences of the publications may not overlap 100 percent, each will at least see some benefit as visitors from the other blog come by to have a look. At least some will subscribe, and that’s a big overall goal.
One of the best ways to arrange this is to propose a swap. Both bloggers trade posts for a day, so that both can get the benefit of the exchange. Additionally, try to focus on bloggers with a similar but slightly different focus. The idea is to get new information out there, after all.
Guest #3 — The Celebrity
People like big names; there’s really no getting around it and no shame in it. Experts are good at what they do, and good at it for a reason. If our aforementioned cooking blog is able to get an authority figure with a big name in the community to post, they really should take advantage of the opportunity.
Celebrities are often hard to get ahold of, but not impossible. They are people, too, and they often have interests that they like to follow. Sometimes it requires contacting their agent or handler, but it can be rewarding to a blog to have a star pop on and offer some advice on the topic at hand.
On the other hand, such a post should stick firmly to the message at hand. Making it a chance for the celeb to simply promote his new cause or book might distract from the goal of the blog, and nobody wants that.
Guest #4 — A Polite Opponent
There is a benefit in bringing aboard someone whose views differ from those of the core audience for the blog. The most important mode of discussion for the web today is dialog. People want to talk, they want to learn and be heard. Unfortunately, the largest mode of dialog is argument and flaming, and very little gets accomplished in this circumstance.
On the other hand, if a blog has taken a principled and reasonable stand on a topic, chances are they have an open-minded yet critical commenter or “rival” whose views differ from their own. This is common in philosophy- and politics-oriented publications.
In these cases, consider contacting a rival and asking for an exchange of views. This may seem a bit odd, but it really can make all the difference. It will show both parties that the other side is willing to talk and reason about things. It will give both audiences a sense of pride in their chosen blogger. It will create a greater dialog and benefit the web as a whole and, if handled properly, it will almost always be a hit and generate a great deal of discussion. Take the risk and see if a civil exchange of conflicting ideas is right for your blog.