Skip to content

How to have great guest posts on a blog

I have another blog that I’ve been running for a few years, called Letters to a New Developer.

It is full of advice I wish I had had at the beginning of my software development career. I even turned it into a book.

One thing I’ve done the entire time I’ve been writing this is to ask for guest posts. No advice is generic; it’s all based on where and who you are. By asking for guests to share their experiences, I expose my readers to a wider variety of viewpoints. This leads to better understanding of the wide world of software.

After all, if you want to work for a FAANG, it’s better if you hear from someone who prepped, interviewed and was hired for such a company, rather than me, who will never work for such a company. Or if you are looking to understand what it’s like to work in open source, hearing from someone who has made it their career. Have imposter syndrome? Others have struggled with it too. Also works for techniques; it’s great to hear from someone who is a methodical journaler, for example.

I bet you get the point. There’s no way I could have written any of those articles.

Guest posting also helps spread the word about my blog, since a guest poster usually shares their writing with their friends and network.

For the right kind of blog, guest posts can be great. Here’s my criteria:

  • Does the blog have decent traffic? If not, folks probably won’t want to guest post. I’d say at least 25 visits a day.
  • Have you done this for a while? A years worth of regular posting shows you’re serious.
  • Does the blog present a variety of viewpoints? I wouldn’t want a guest post for this blog, because it’s all me, all the time.
  • Is the blog non-corporate? If it is a company blog, guest posts should be paid for with money, or be part of a co-marketing project.

If you want to have great guest posters, here’s my recipe for finding them and fostering them:

  • Don’t accept inbounds, unless you know the person or can vet what else they’ve written.
  • Don’t accept any content that is off-topic.
  • Set a target guest. For me, it is someone who is or was a developer with different viewpoint and perspective. I was especially interested in highlighting voices of people who were not white men.
  • Keep an eye out for interesting posts or interviews. Reach out to the authors and see if they might be game to guest post.
  • Be okay with a cross post. I’d say about 60% of my guest posts are original content, but more recently authors want to post the content on their blog first. Offer a link back.
  • Be okay with a repost, especially if the author is prominent. Review existing content and find one or two articles that fit with your blog’s theme. Ask if you can re-publish. Offer a link back.
  • Some folks will say no. They can do so for a variety of reasons (don’t want to write, don’t syndicate their content, etc), and you have to be okay with it.
  • If someone says “I can’t right now, sorry.” reply with something like “Totally get it. I’ll follow up in 6 months, unless you’d rather I didn’t.” Then, follow up. Sometimes they’ll ignore you, sometimes they’ll have more time.
  • If they are writing original content for you, offer to edit it. Find out how much editing they want. I’ve over-edited a few times and that’s a bad thing if someone is volunteering their time and knowledge.
  • If they ask about topics, advise them to focus. Lots of people want to write about “5 things you need to do” but in my experience, articles with focus on one topic are better received.
  • Write up guidelines so you can easily share. This can include audience, benefits, formatting, delivery mechanism, word count, topic ideas, and more.

Hope this helps. Happy guest blogging!