Guest Blogging: Why You Must

By Sarah Pinneo

In the endless debate over whether or not maintaining a personal blog is worthwhile, the answer is (as usual) "it depends." An author who loves to blog and finds inspiration in doing so is on the right track. But less willing authors should take a pass. It's just as much work to drive viewers to your blog as to your book. A half-hearted blog sells no books.

But guest blogging is different.

The month your book comes out, you want to guest blog as many places possible. A guest blog opportunity is a fair exchange: you're providing content, for free, which enriches the blogger's offerings. In exchange, you're renting that blogger's traffic.

A month of guest blogging works best when the blogs you're writing for are dissimilar. If every blog is a book review site, you'll have to work harder to make your contributions original. The more widespread your efforts, the easier it will feel.

While I was writing a tall stack of guest posts for the launch of Julia's Child, it was very stressful to try to be original. One thing I had going for me is that there were recipes in the book, and contributing a recipe was therefore work that was already done. Of course, I ran through the book's five recipes in a hurry, and then began contributing recipes that had nothing to do with the book, but were otherwise applicable. Here's an example of the breadth I was shooting for:

  • For Apartment Therapy, I wrote a post about which kitchen equipment allows children to help out.
  • For Bermuda Onion I wrote a post about my grandmother's pendant, and why I wear it to bookstore events.
  • For Scary Mommy, I wrote a comic post about the downside of children who will eat anything.
  • For Penguin USA's blog, I wrote 5 Things Never to Ask a Mom in the Organic Foods Aisle.
  • For a chick lit book blog, I wrote a valentine's day recipe which tints icing pink with cranberry concentrate instead of artificial food coloring. (That's something Julia would do.)

The variation in topics isn't just interesting, it's easier. You don't want to end up trying to explain your writing process three times, because you'll be repeating yourself very quickly. And don't feel bad if you end up feeling like an idea whore. By the time it was over, I couldn't even make myself a cup of coffee without wondering whether there was a blog post in it.

Soon after Julia's Child came out, one reader commented on a guest blog with: "I'm seeing you everywhere this week!"

And that's the whole point, isn't it? Mission accomplished.