Guesting and Hosting

Craig here again, and we’re back to blogging once more. I’m comfortable with blogging, and it’s always a decent place for me to land when I need a post.

Today the topic is Guesting and Hosting. As an author, you’re constantly trying to increase your footprint online. This applies to blogging along with all the other forms of social media. Being a guest is one way to increase that footprint.

In previous posts we discussed the difference between regulars and empty followers. To revisit for a moment, regulars are likely readers or fellow authors. Regulars talk online all the time, share tips, successes, and failures. (I’ve been talking behind the scenes with mine about home improvement projects, they become close friends.) Empty followers are Anderson Windows, Joe’s Plumbing, and Bobbie Sue’s Avon business. Obviously, we’re trying to expand the number of regulars.

Small caveat: Plumber Joe, could be a super-fan. Because he never interacts, you have no idea. It’s hard to focus on guys like Joe, so you have to focus on building up your regulars. In most cases, the empty followers are just what they sound like.

When bloggers visit other blogs, we have the opportunity to reach the host’s regulars. The dream is to convert some of them into our regulars. Let’s talk about being a guest first.

As an author, most bloggers are going to be a guest before they become a host. Your mileage may vary, but this is how I’m approaching it today. You’ve been invited to post something elsewhere, or you’ve spotted a blogger that’s looking for guests.

I’ve learned more about being a guest by being a host. I’m going to share some tips. Blogging has the advantage of not being like live television. You have time to edit and rethink what you’re putting out there. I admit it isn’t as tight as something you might charge money for, and even the occasional typo is pretty forgivable. Still, give it the once over before you send it to the host.

At this point, your job is to not alienate anyone. You’re an author, and we write some outrageous things in our fiction. One story might feature a vegetarian animal lover, but a future story might have one that buys vintage fur coats on eBay. Look it over and see if you can cast a wide net.

Your host is going to want some things from you. Try to give the host what they ask for. I’ve had guests send me all kinds of things I never asked for, and expect me to interpolate what I needed from that. Make life easy for your host – maybe they’ll ask you back because you were so popular. If they want your graphics in individual jpg files, send them that way. They aren’t a contractor, and you aren’t paying them.

On the day of your post, show up. This is kind of my biggest pet peeve with guests. My spots are a bit different, because they amount to creation of some co-authored new fiction. In most cases, I have hours into them. When the post goes up, I share across no less than seven social media outlets. I monitor the comments for days, and participate in them. It’s kind of disheartening to not even have the guest make an appearance.

Bonus points to Vashti Q. Vega. She was a recent guest who did everything right. My stats from her post confirm this. I recently had one who never even managed to like his own post, not a single comment. A lot of effort went into that post to flush the goodwill away.

You’ll get comments, even if they’re from the host’s inner circle. Thank them, respond to them, visit their blog. Never fail to visit a blog if one of them reblogs your post. It may not be a site to add to your Reader, but at least thank them on their site. It shows you appreciate the effort they put into you. I have a personal rule you may want to adopt: I return and check comments for three days. You can also follow the comments if that’s more your style.

I also try to share any tweets I find about my posts.

Never engage in fights in the host’s comments. You’re trying to look like the good guy here. If someone says something off-color, let other readers figure that out for themselves. It’s usually best to say, “Thanks for your comments,” and move on.

I’ve been doing this for a while, and I have four guest posts I need to get to right now. This is the kind of action you’re trying to build up to. It spreads the word about my books.

(Okay, when you search Pixabay for images about “Host,” apparently it also searches for “Hostess.” This is the picture it suggested. I’m using it because it amuses me.)

After a few guest posts, you may want to try hosting other authors on your site. One of the things that surprised me is how many of my regulars will follow me to another site. By hosting, you want to take advantage of your guest’s regulars visiting your site.

I have a few tips for this too. First, give yourself more time than you think you need. Some guests need time to get the post just right. Asking for something “tomorrow” isn’t a good idea. Telling someone Thursday, fifteen days out, should work well. Then it’s your job to stick to your guns.

Assemble the post and schedule it ahead of time. That way, you can preview it and fix any formatting errors and other things that will occur. For example, I like to have my posts go live shortly after midnight. WordPress doesn’t seem to understand Daylight Savings Time, so in some cases, it gets off by a day. I have to go in and edit after I schedule the posts. First the date, then 00:10 o’clock.

I also grab the advance link and email it to my guest, along with a confirmation of exactly when it will post. I mention Mountain Daylight time, it’s their job to figure it out from there.

Try to pick good categories and tags for your guest. If you aren’t certain, ask the guest for some suggestions. They have a dog in this fight, and should be willing to help. Helping the search engines find the post ultimately helps the host too. It’s your site they will be visiting.

I suggest making sure all links open a new page. This is self serving, but I’d kind of like visitors to check out my site while they can. If my window closes, they probably won’t return.

Don’t make this post all about you. Be a gracious host. People will sense something wrong if your introduction includes a blurb and purchase link for your most recent book before the guest even steps into the spotlight.

As a host, you need to walk the walk. If you promised something, deliver it. You said it would go to Facebook, make sure it does. If you don’t let WordPress auto feed it, make sure you do it manually. That kind of thing.

There is tremendous value in hosting and guesting. An exchange of regulars happens, and those are your highest quality of followers. Maybe your footprint will be larger when your next book drops. Maybe you’ll have invitations that help you spread your word.

C. S. Boyack

52 thoughts on “Guesting and Hosting

  1. Great tips about blogging, Craig. I totally agree with you about the pet peeve. If you are hosting someone and promoting them, they need to show up and interact with the comments. Hope you don’t mind if I refer to this post as part of my Marketing 2.0 presentation at the RRBC Writers Conference and Book Expo.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great tips, Craig, as always. I’ve learned so much about blogging this year and have met so many amazingly talented, supportive authors/readers along the way. The networking potential is golden, and often leads to incredible learning opportunities. Engagement is essential, and your post nails it! Thanks again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

  5. Hello Craig! Wonderful post with great tips. Thank you for the mention. To me it’s always been common sense to visit the post that’s been dedicated to you and to reply to comments aimed at you. I’m honestly hurt if a guest on my blog doesn’t think enough about it to visit the post or reply to my readers and I’m also embarrassed for them, because in my opinion, it shows a lack of manners. I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel. For the most part, the guests I’ve had on my blog have been great, including you, Craig. Once in a while though I’m surprised and disappointed. Maybe your post will serve as a reminder to future guests. ❤ xx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A great post, Craig, with good points. You get your blogging right because you have lovely followers and it’s always fun to visit and an honour to get hosted. It is my pet peeve too when the guest can’t even be bothered to show on the day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Craig! Reminds me that my next fun first is to host a guest blogger, since I’ve already provided guest posts to others (I hope I didn’t cause my hosts any troubles). I follow my regular reads to other blogs when they guest, and sometimes they go back and forth with a common story (Diana’s latest post about her muse for hire, for example. Great fun!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. An excellent post, Craig!
    Like Mae, I feel a bit hurt when my guests don’t bother to reply to those people who took some of their time to read and leave comments. It’s a matter of etiquette, I think.
    Perhaps some such guests don’t know this is a thing to do, but I doubt seasoned authors with several books under their belt aren’ aware of it.
    I am always happy to help fellow authors with promoting thier books and feel grateful to all those who did the same for me. Even if I am away now, for medical reasons, I can post on my blog if any of you need it.
    I made great, magnificent friends via blogging, no matter I will never meet them face to face.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well put, Craig! Instead of the 3-day rule, I subscribe via email to be notified of responses to that post. Like you, I’m shocked by how few of my guest posters actually visit their posts to interact with responses, even after I remind them by email! Talk about a missed opportunity…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. P.S…..I forgot to mention that when I host someone, and they don’t reply to the comments my followers leave, it’s always upsetting. I tend to take it personally, feeling badly for my followers. I’ve since realized that sometimes, especially with newer bloggers, they don’t realize they should comment. I now make a habit of explaining that whenever I host anyone for the first time (i.e, it’s helpful and good etiquette to respond to the comments left on the post).

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I loved your post. And as Staci said, you are an excellent host and your followers are a great group. I’ve made many blogging friends by being both guest and host. Lately, I haven’t been a guest that often simply for lack of time, but I am so grateful for all the bloggers who volunteer to host me when they know I have a new book ready to drop. My blog is always open in return. Sharing that networking experience definitely creates goodwill among authors. As a plus, you make amazing friends along the way!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Nice post. Never thought about the three day rule. I usually only go for two and then maybe wandering back after a small break. Wonder if leaving a link in search engine toolbar would help there.

    The ‘no fighting’ rule is one I never thought I would have to announce. Happened once long ago, which makes me think it’s an experience that all hosts need to go through. I really learned how to maintain control of my own space there. Then again, it was frustrating, so maybe it’s more like a side experience that you don’t have to deal with.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We try our best to do what we can for our readers, usually following the lead of bloggers like yourself, Craig. It makes a lot of sense to help other people, as the returns can be more than you ever dreamed of on your own…

    Liked by 2 people

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