How to Write the Perfect Guest Post Pitch

Guest posting is one of those things that everybody thinks they probably should be doing more of…but the whole process of putting a guest post pitch together can seem daunting. And the truth is, you can spend a lot of time and energy pitching guest posts that never pan out if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Good news: You can make the process much, much easier if you know how to write a decent cold pitch — and once you do start landing those posts, you can leverage those posts into a serious asset for your business.

It starts with knowing whether you should be pitching at all.

As you may have noticed, the Internet has become a much busier place these past couple of years. Which means that people don’t have a whole hell of a lot of mental bandwidth to spare.

You need to get a really good sense of whether a blog is even accepting pitches and guest posts before you take the time to write your pitch. There’s no particular secret to know here; most places that are accepting posts will have a page explicitly stating that.

If you can’t find it on their site, do a quick Google search along the lines of “[Site you want to guest post for] guest posting” and see if something comes up. Otherwise, check out their archives and social media feeds to see if they have any guest posts featured. If there’s nothing to let you know either way, then go ahead and pitch, if you really think that your idea is a fit. Just go into the process knowing that it’s a toss up.

OK, so you’ve decided it’s a go. Now what?

Now you write an email that gives them just enough information about you to know whether you’re a fit for their audience, piques their interest and shows off your expertise in the topic, and tells them that you’re not going to be a pain to work with.

Start out with a very clear subject line — something along the lines of “Guest post proposal — [your specific topic]”

Then (after you double extra check that you’ve spelled the person’s name right in your greeting), write a short intro paragraph where you talk about who you are and what your business is, as well as your particular reasons for being attracted to their business/blog/this chance to guest post.

Now that you’ve got their attention, add in a very short paragraph about why you’re a good fit for their audience. Here’s where you get to show off how great you are, plus how well you know their business and their audience.

Then introduce your idea. While it’s fine to pitch with just one idea, I usually like to include two or more and let them choose. This ups your chances of getting a yes and lets you highlight a couple different areas of expertise.

End by offering to provide alternative ideas just in case those don’t work, and give them clear next steps.

It’s all about making it as easy as possible for them to say yes.

You’ve got the pieces — now what does that look like, all put together?

Here’s an anonymized example of an email I pitched a while back that landed me a guest post within a few hours:

Subject: Guest post proposal — copy and content

Email:

Hi NAME,

I’m Rachel Allen, and I run the creative agency Bolt from the Blue Copywriting. I’ve had the biggest business crush on BIZ NAME ever since the first round of COOL THING YOU DID — the mix of lifting people up to be their best + the firmly grounded anti-bullshit stance really does it for me.

I write about voice, branding, copy, and content from a similar stance, and was wondering if you’re currently accepting guest posts? If so, I’d love to do one for you.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

A rallying cry for being a better human as you write (that also skewers the whole cottage industry that’s developed around quickie, template-based content).

or

A post about how access to other people’s brainspace is a privilege, with the main focus being on how you’re spam until you prove otherwise.

If neither of those ring your bell, I’m happy to come up with alternative ideas. If one or both does sound good to you, I can also send over outlines (or a completed article) if you want to move forward. I could have the article to you next week or an outline tomorrow.

Let me know what you think, and of course, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

Thanks!
Rachel

So…what do you do if you don’t hear back?

Give it a little time. Like I said, people are busy. If it’s been a week and you haven’t heard a word, then it’s time to follow up. Keep it short and low pressure, just checking in like the responsible guest poster you are. Something along the lines of,

Hi [Name],

Hope you’ve had a great start to your week! I wanted to follow up on my guest post proposal from last week. Did you have any questions or need any more information from me?

Thanks!
[Your Name]

What do you do if you do hear back and it’s a no?

It’s always disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. If you do hear back and it’s a no, it’s totally fine to email back thanking them for their time and either giving a short alternative pitch or asking them if there’s a similar idea they’d like you to post on.

This does not mean that you ask them for feedback on your pitch, get upset and say weird things to them, or badger them to reconsider. Remember, people are busy, and nothing will get you mentally blacklisted faster than coming into this process with a sense of entitlement.

A few final do’s and don’ts:

  • Do triple check that you’re sending it to the right person and you’ve spelled their name right. If they have pitching guidelines posted somewhere, follow them. You’d be amazed at how many people ignore them entirely, so if you can get this simple thing right, you’ll have already made yourself stand out.
  • Don’t use hesitant language — anything along the lines of “just”, “I think”, “sorry”, etc. If you struggle with this, this is the plugin for you. And it goes without saying, but don’t have typos in your pitch, don’t pitch something you can’t follow through on, and don’t be a jerk if the answer is no.

So remember:

When hoping to land a guest post on a dream site, start off by figuring out whether you should be pitching at all. Follow any and all guidelines they give you to the letter. Write a concise, convincing email that makes it as easy as possible for them to say yes. Check in if you need to, and don’t take it personally if the answer’s a no — because it might not be a no forever.

P.S. Did you know that One Woman Shop accepts guest posts? It’s just one of the ways you can be featured on the site.

The Simple Way to Streamline Your Blogging Process

blogging process

blogging process

Blogging can be the bane of a solopreneur’s workday. You know it’s important to share valuable content with your readers, but it kills you to think of spending the majority of your day writing one. single. post.

Luckily, there’s a way to streamline your blogging process, and it all starts with batching. You’ve probably heard of batching: The productivity hack that tells you to spend focused chunks of time on similar tasks instead of cutting up your day with a series of unrelated projects.

You can batch many of your solopreneur tasks, but my favorite is blogging. By nature, blogging requires you to focus on several unrelated tasks: brainstorming, planning, writing, design, formatting, and proofreading. Batching allows you to streamline your blogging process in a way that isn’t possible if you try to take a post from “brainstormed” to “scheduled” all in one day.

It takes time for your brain to move from writing mode to design mode to proofreading mode, but if you batch pieces of your blogging process, you can take advantage of focusing on a single task and shorten the overall time you spend creating content.

All it takes is a little planning ahead and a few smart systems to streamline. I rely on these four systems to shave hours off my blogging process!

1. Capturing and organizing ideas

Ever sit down to write a post and waste an hour on social media because you can’t figure out what to write about? Having a system to capture your blog ideas when they come to you will save tons of time and help you be prepared to write as soon as it’s time to crank out a post.

There are plenty of apps to help you store and organize your blog ideas, including Trello, Asana, and Evernote. Whatever option you choose, be sure your system includes writing down each of these elements when an idea strikes:

  • Possible headline
  • SEO keyword
  • Main ideas for the content
  • A launch, promotion, affiliate offer, or series the post fits into (if applicable)
  • Possible call to action

Just imagine pulling up a note with your latest blog post idea and having all this information already at your fingertips. You’ve practically got a post outline with all the relevant information ready to go!

2. Blog post template

Thanks to the extra details you wrote down when you first had your post idea, you’ve already got the bare bones of your content ready to go. Now you can speed up the writing process by having a blog post template to plug your ideas into.

Most of your posts probably follow a similar pattern, right? It only makes sense to write that pattern out as a copy/paste template for speedy blog writing. You could even streamline further by creating a template for each different type of post you write, such as tutorials, income reports, and lists.

I like to create my templates in Google Docs with full formatting using their built-in headers and subheads. Here’s an example of what a post template might look like for you:

[h1] Headline

Introduction

[Insert blog image]

[h2] Subhead

Main Point 1

Bulleted List

[h2] subhead

Main Point 2

Click-to-Tweet

[h2] subhead

Wrap up

Call to action

3. Blog graphic template

Having a template for your blog images makes it simple to switch out colors or photos, add in your new headline, and have an on-brand graphic ready to go in just a few minutes. Instead of starting from scratch every time, you’ll be able to create consistent, branded images in a snap.

You probably already have a preferred program for creating blog graphics. If not, I’d recommend one that lets you save a template to work from, such as Canva, Pages, or InDesign. Your template will look different depending on which program you use and what your brand looks like. Most brands use a formula to create consistent blog images, such as

stock photo + solid shape overlay + text

or

colored background + border + text

Play around to find the formula that fits your brand and is easy to create with the design template you use. (This resource from the Branded Solopreneur will help if you get stuck, and sometimes, outsourcing the initial template design is easiest.)

4. Social media promotion

One of the most time-consuming parts of blogging happens after a post is published! Unfortunately, it’s not a “write-it-and-they-will-come” scenario, in most cases. Promoting your work on social media is a necessity if you want people to actually read your content, and it doesn’t have to be a huge time-suck.

Creating a system for your social media promotion not only lets you batch-schedule posts in advance, it keeps you from getting lost in your Twitter feed when you should be focused on client work.

Use different scheduling tools for social, to plan out your posts in advance. Here are a few examples:

  • Twitter/Facebook: CoSchedule, Buffer, and Edgar make it easy to schedule posts in advance to several different platforms.
  • Pinterest: Boardbooster and Tailwind are simple options for getting your posts pushed out
  • Later is the perfect way to plan your Instagram posts.

(Bonus tip: Many of these apps work with Zapier and IFTTT to send out automated social media updates each time you publish a new post — you won’t even have to lift a finger!)

Every solopreneur has preferred tools that work the best for them. Spend some time experimenting until you find your favorites, then set aside one block of time to batch-schedule your social media promotion for the upcoming week. Having a system for this step alone has saved me hours per post!

Ready to streamline your blogging process?

A few smart systems and the magic of batching are all it takes to shave hours off the time you spend blogging each week!

What are your favorite tools and systems for keeping blogging time to a minimum?

How + Why to Repurpose Your Content

Here at One Woman Shop, we pride ourselves on being as efficient and effective as possible, so we’re always thinking of ways to reuse what we’ve already done. We also believe that business isn’t one-size-fits-all, which means that the way you absorb information might be very different than the way another solo business owner takes it in. Combine these two facts with the idea that “marketing is 20% creation and 80% promotion” and you’ve got a perfect argument for the value of maximizing your creation time through repurposing your content into other forms.

In addition to maximizing your time, what else can you achieve by repurposing content?

  • Serve your current audience in the ways that work best for them
  • Reach new audiences through other platforms
  • Bring back older, evergreen content

How, exactly? Let’s take a look at the different content you might create — and how you can then repurpose it.

You’ve written an epic blog post.

  • Pull out key facts and figures and turn them into an infographic (here’s a helpful tutorial)
  • Make a YouTube video where you go over the same content (you’ll see more of this from us on our YouTube channel)

You’ve recorded a video with an expert.

  • Provide a transcript of the chat on your blog (for those who prefer to read)
  • Strip the audio and release it as a podcast

You created a super helpful list.

You’ve created an interview series.

Keep in mind that this is a perfect time to update outdated information and maximize the original content (another thing we talk about at-length in our Building Your Online Community e-course).

Ready to free up a few extra hours and serve your audience better? Repurposing that content you poured your expertise into is your next step.

The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Blog Tour

If you have a launch coming up, or simply want to get together with a few of your favorite bloggers to build your community, a blog tour might just be your new favorite way of collaborating.

Having hosted my own blog tour for my personal development site, Becoming Who You Are, and taken part in several as a blogger, I find them to be a win-win way to share my work with a wider audience, plus a super fun way of cross-promoting with other fab bloggers out there.

In this post, I’ll share the basics of what a blog tour is, plus a few best practices you can use to make your blog tour as successful as possible.

How does a blog tour work?

In its simplest form, a blog tour works as follows: you, the host, decide on a theme and time period for your blog tour, and reach out to fellow bloggers asking if they’d like to take part. On a pre-agreed date, they publish a post about that topic on their blog, including a small text snippet about the tour (plus any relevant links), and you share all posts on your site as they’re released.

Tips for hosting a successful blog tour

Blog tours are fairly simple to set up, but they do require organization and planning. Here are a few best practices you can use to ensure your blog tour runs as smoothly as possible:

1. Get clear on the details

There are two questions to ask yourself at the start:

1 – “What is the purpose of this blog tour?”
2 – “What is my metric for success?”

Do you have a product or service you want to promote? Who are your ideal clients for that product or service? What is your ideal outcome for the blog tour, and what metrics will you use to measure that? Your answers to these questions will influence the topic of your tour, who you invite to take part (you’ll want to invite people whose communities will be interested in what you’re offering), the call to action you provide, and where you link to on your website, so it’s important to get clear on these points from the beginning.

Once you have the foundation for your blog tour, it’s time to decide practical details like duration (most blog tours are a week or less, however some big launch-related tours can last as long as a month), how the bloggers will notify you of their posts, and how you’ll go about posting them on your site (individually; in a daily roundup, etc.).

2. Plan in advance

Many bloggers plan and schedule content weeks, sometimes months, in advance and won’t necessarily be able to accommodate an additional post at short notice.

Inviting people at least a month in advance will increase the likelihood that they’ll be able to take part without it being a last-minute stress. It also frees up more time for you to spend on sharing and promotion closer to the event.

3. Make it as easy as possible for participants to contribute and share

With your cadre of bloggers on board, the fun really begins.

As a blog tour host, you want to make it as a easy as possible for your participants to take part and share. This starts with giving them all the relevant information they need from the beginning. This might include:

  • The date you’d like them to publish (or a calendar where they can easily snag a date if they’re exclusive)
  • Any graphics or links you’d like to include (I created a text snippet bloggers could copy and paste, which you can see below)
  • Pre-written tweets they can use to share their post when it’s live

Here is the initial email I sent out to potential participants:

“Hi X,

I hope you’re well! I’ve been a huge fan of your blog for a while and so appreciate all the goodness you’ve been putting out into the world. I run a site called Becoming Who You Are, where I teach people how to be kind to themselves, and I’m reaching out to invite you to take part in a blog tour I’m putting together later this month.

The Thriving Blog Tour will run from 24th to 31st March. The theme of the tour (as you might be able to tell… :)) is thriving. I’d be so honoured if you’d be willing to take part, share your insights around this topic, and help me spread the word about self-kindness as widely as possible.

The Blog Tour will be celebrating the start of my upcoming course, From Coping to Thriving, and, on a broader level, I hope it will get people thinking about where in their lives they might be settling for coping and could use a little more self-care.

I’ll be posting a link to each post on my site and sharing them far and wide on social media. I’ll also be compiling the posts into an ebook at the end of the blog tour (working title: The Little Book of Thriving) and you’ll be free to distribute this to your audience as you wish.

I have some topic suggestions and pre-prepared tweets ready for you to share but I want to be respectful of your time so I’ll keep this as brief as possible for now.

If you’re interested in taking part in the tour, please send me a quick email back, and I’ll get the relevant info to you ASAP. If it’s not a good fit for you right now, no worries at all and thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂

Thank you for all the great work you do!”

Once a blogger responded in the affirmative, I sent them the following info:

“Here is some additional info about the tour:

1. Timing

Would you be willing to post on {insert specific date}? Let me know if this isn’t going to work, otherwise I’ll assume you’re good to go on this date.

2. Topics

Here are some potential topics for you to choose from:

My story of shifting from coping to thriving
My biggest self-care mistake, and how I came back from it
What self-care means to me
How I changed [X] habit (and why I’m happier as a result)
5 lessons I’ve learned about thriving in life

And, of course, if you have a topic in mind, please feel free to go for it! 🙂

3. Decoration

To show you’re part of the Thriving Blog Tour, please add the italicised text below to the top of your post and/or use one of the graphics I’ve attached to this email (feel free to adapt the text to fit your own voice).

From Coping to Thriving is a six-week journey that will teach you how to turn your coping strategies into self-caring behaviours, leaving behind struggle and learning to thrive. This post is part of the Thriving Blog Tour, which is spreading self-kindness to the masses. To learn more and join us, click here.

4. Sharing

As I mentioned in my first email, the aim of this Blog Tour is to spread the word about self-kindness to as many people as possible. Feel free to share your post widely around social media and I’ll do the same.

Here are a few pre-written tweets to get you started:

I’m writing about self-kindness for the Thriving Blog Tour with @becomewhour [http://linktoyourbloghere.com]

Want to learn how to shift from coping to thriving? Check out my post for @becomewhour’s Thriving Blog Tour[http://linktoyourbloghere.com]

Do you have habits you want to change? Read about what helped me in my post for @becomewhour’s Thriving Blog Tour[http://linktoyourbloghere.com]

5. Thank you!

Thanks for participating in the Thriving Blog Tour! I know it’s going to be a ton of fun and a way to spread a valuable message. I am running an affiliate program for the course so let me know if you’d like to join and I’ll send you the details.

Please email the link to your post and your Twitter handle the day your post goes live so I can share it and add it to the Thriving Blog Tour webpage.

If you have any questions about any of the above, or anything else to do with the tour, feel free to get in touch :)”

I also sent a follow-up email a couple of days before their post was due to go live, reminding them to email me a link to their post so I could share it.

4. Provide clear CTAs

Just as you want to make it as easy as possible for the bloggers to take part, you also want to make it as easy as possible for their community to find and follow you, which means you need to create a clear call to action.

When you first started thinking about your blog tour, you’ll have identified your ideal outcome—the action you want people to take as a result of reading a blog tour post. This might be subscribing to your mailing list, signing up to hear more about a particular service or product, or even purchasing the service or product you’re promoting. Provide your bloggers with a snippet of text they can include with their post that asks people to do that as clearly as possible.

For example, when I hosted my blog tour, my aim was to encourage readers to visit the registration page for my course so they could learn more and, if it was a good fit, sign up. As you can see from the email above, I asked bloggers to include a specific snippet of text that encouraged people to do this.

5. Be a gracious host

This goes without saying, but coming out of a whirlwind blog tour and launch, it can fall by the wayside. Say thank you to everyone involved in the tour after it’s over. Share a couple of stats with them, like how many people were spreading the word and educating people about your chosen topic or any positive feedback you received so they can see the impact of the collective project.

6. Accommodate post-tour traffic

Just because the blog tour is officially over doesn’t mean that people aren’t still going to be finding your site through the different tour posts. Even if you were running a time-sensitive launch that ends shortly after your blog tour, include an opt-in form on the page where latecomers can register to hear more the next time you open for registration.

Blog Tours Done Right

As you’ll see from the examples above, blog tours come in all shapes and sizes so don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on your tour! Done right, blog tours are a fabulous way of spreading the word about a new book, course, or event and connecting with similar-minded bloggers and business owners in the process. Although they do take some organization, hosting your own blog tour is a great chance to build relationships, grow your audience and have fun in the process.

Have you run a blog tour, or contributed to one? What are your best practice tips? Leave a comment and let us know. And stay tuned for The Road to Solopreneur Success blog tour, starting Monday, September 14th to promote One Woman Shop’s limited-time Solopreneur Success Bundle!

building your online community e-course

Tonight: March #OWSchat with Regina Anaejionu!

By way of popular request, we’ll be hosting our third official #OWSchat on the ins-and-outs of blogging for your biz. We’re pumped to welcome guest expert and host, Regina Anaejionu of byRegina.com to the party!

If that already isn’t sweet enough, one random participant will be the lucky winner of Regina’s Epic Blog Editorial Planner, so you can put all those insights you gain from tonight’s chat to use immediately.

Join us tonight, Wednesday, March 4 at 9pm EST for a fast-paced hour of all things blogging for your solo business! 

PS – First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to keep things organized.

Tools We Love: Feedly

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!

The online world can be overwhelming. Each day, we discover or are introduced to at least one new blog or website that we vow to keep tabs on, because we know it can serve as a resource for bettering our businesses or personal lives.

So it doesn’t take long to become overloaded, keeping at least 15 tabs open in a Chrome browser at all times, and having 10-15 newsletters flood your inbox per day. Sustainable? Not if you want to stay sane.

RSS feeds to the rescue

There’s an answer to the overwhelm: using an RSS feed reader. Back in the day (okay, just last year), the answer likely would’ve been Google Reader, but once Google nixed that service — to the panic of many-a-solopreneur — a knight in shining armor took its place: Feedly.

What is Feedly?

Feedly, founded in 2008, is a news aggregator application where you can search for the news sites, online magazines, and blogs that you don’t want to miss a beat of.

It’s ridiculously simple to add new content to your Feedly — simply paste the URL of the website or blog and Feedly will locate it, or you can use its search function and find the source by name. Once you’ve loaded your must-follow sites into Feedly, organization is easy. For the Type-A personalities out there (heck, I’m one of them!), being able to organize and sort by categories is a dream come true.

When it comes time to view and read, not only does Feedly easily aggregate updates, but it does so cleanly, with three options for viewing.

Titles View:

Feedly Titles View

Magazine View:

Feedly - Magazine View

Cards View:

Feedly - Cards View

Personally, I use the Titles View most frequently, but each of the views are clean and intuitive, and the options are easy to toggle between.

How to use Feedly

While Feedly provides an in-depth tutorial on the mechanics of using the site, what One Woman Shop solopreneurs really need to know is how it can be used to better their productivity and business. Here are three ways it can do just that:

1. Content marketing + social media: By following news, your favorite blogs, or inspirational resources, your Feedly becomes a goldmine of posts to share via your social outlets and garner ideas from for your own content marketing and blogging. You can even share directly from Feedly, though I don’t often use this option, as I prefer to generate my own bit.ly links for tracking purposes.

2. Create a content library: Use Feedly’s “Save For Later” option to easily bookmark posts that you want to keep track of. This comes especially in handy if you’re a common curator of posts like One Woman Shop’s Weekly Finds.

3. Curate content + resources for clients: As a blogger and ghostwriter for several different companies, I find my Feedly invaluable to aggregating news, trends, and resources for each company I write for. I work with clients to find the best sources, do research on my own, then load them into a new category in Feedly. When it comes time to brainstorm topic ideas or find resources for posts, I have one place to go.

4. Consistent learning + updates: By cataloguing the news and blogs you want to keep track of most, you’re guaranteeing educational reading and consistent updates on your industry. It’s yet another way to satiate the need for perpetual learning, and a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on around your online space.

Feedly on the go

For the on-the-go solopreneur, there’s the free app for both iPhone and Android. And we promise you this — the mobile app is just as good as the desktop version.

Even the Google Reader fanatics agree — Feedly is an amazing tool, with a clean design, and an intuitive app to help you keep up on news and blogs from anywhere. It’s certainly our go-to, and after one day of set up, we’re confident you’ll find it to be yours, too.

One Woman Shop Experiments: Grammarly

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these mini-experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines! This experiment was diligently embarked upon by author, editor, and writing coach Amanda Shofner.

I set out on an experiment with Grammarly, an automated grammar checker. The question I wanted to answer was simple:

Can Grammarly replace the need to have an extra pair of eyes on your blog posts?

As an editor, I know how important it is to have someone else look at your writing — and how awful grammar checkers like Microsoft Word can be.

In the online business world, especially when you’re going it alone, it’d be convenient to have something to catch potentially embarrassing mistakes before you hit publish. If Grammarly could be that thing, I was determined to find out.

Tell us your methodology.

My Grammarly trial lasted three months. Because I was looking specifically at blog posts, I only used the Grammarly app when I was getting ready to schedule posts, which is when I proofread.

Being unfamiliar with Grammarly, I didn’t have specific measurables, but planned to pit Grammarly’s corrections against my own thoughts about editing. For every correction, I asked, “Would I have suggested this?” or “Would I have caught this?”

What were the results of adopting Grammarly into your proofreading process?

Full disclosure: I had mixed feelings.

What worked for me:

  • Each flagged item included an explanation so you can a.) decide for yourself if you want to correct it, and b.) learn from it.
  • The dashboard and app is very intuitive. If you can copy and paste, you can use it.
  • Grammarly picked up tiny mistakes I didn’t catch — e.g., ‘roadblocks’ is one word, not two.
  • It pointed out vague words and suggested alternatives.

What didn’t work for me:

  • The “business” mode is formal, which means it flags contractions, prepositions at the end of sentences, and conjunctions (and, but) at the beginning of sentences as wrong. In blogging, though, if want your personality to shine through, those things are good, not bad. You can use the personal mode for blog posts, but it doesn’t catch as much.
  • The explanations provided were filled with grammatical terms, which only helps those who know them. (It’s unavoidable, I know, but it won’t benefit those unfamiliar with grammatical terms.)
  • Grammarly may be better than MS Word, but it’s still a software program, which means it can’t grasp all the intricacies of grammar — numerous times it told me something was wrong when it wasn’t.

Here’s an example of my last point:

Grammarly Trial - One Woman Shop

“When your binge on writing”? Not exactly. Problem: Grammarly wants me to use binge as a noun. I used it as a verb. Binge can be a noun or verb.

Based on what didn’t work for me, I suspected that Grammarly wouldn’t help proficient writers. You might catch a few minor mistakes here and there, but you’re probably smarter than you give yourself credit for. Read your post out loud — that’ll catch mistakes too.

But I wasn’t ready to give up. I formulated a new question:

Can Grammarly help self-proclaimed ‘less-than-proficient’ writers with their blog posts and online content?

I roped The Stacey Harris into helping me, because she’s talked about not being a fan of writing multiple times. Using the same methodology above, we took one of her sales pages and ran it through Grammarly.

Here were some of our mutual observations:

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’d be great for her son once he hits the point in school when he’ll be required to write papers.
  • Some of the suggestions weren’t helpful. (Stacey would say, “But I liked it the way I wrote it.”)
  • I had to explain what some of the explanations meant, like the one on passive voice, and how to fix it.
  • The cheapest subscription plan was $139.95 for a year (or $11.66 per month). A monthly plan is $29.95 per month.
  • My edits of her sales page (which I did for comparison’s sake) were more in-depth, but that’s because Grammarly is a proofreader, not a copy editor.

Side experiment: a quick run with Grammarly Lite

We discovered that Grammarly has Grammarly Lite, a free version of the browser plugin.

The free version checks contextual spelling, commonly confused words, article use, capitalizations, and comma use in compound sentences. Sounds decent, but the pro version checks for word choice, subject-verb agreement, pronoun use, run-ons, and comma splices, where the majority of people’s troubles lie.

If you want the browser plugin, the pro version will catch more of those embarrassing mistakes.

Conclusions + Summary

In the end, I had two questions to answer. Can Grammarly replace the need to have an extra pair of eyes on your blog posts? and Can Grammarly help self-proclaimed ‘less-than-proficient’ writers with their blog posts and online content?

The answer is yes, but you need to understand what you write and what you want you want.

Grammarly was created for students and corporate businesses, and for those purposes, it’s a great tool. Having Grammarly when I was writing my Master’s thesis would have been awesome.

But because Grammarly is best with formal language, bloggers or brands who pour their personality into their writing may struggle. The business option suggests changes that are too stuffy; the personal post option doesn’t catch enough. A business casual option would go a long way toward easing that struggle.

My final note for you: remember it’s a proofreader, not an editor. An editor digs into who your audience is and what your post needs to accomplish. She’ll rearrange your sentences for clarity or make suggestions to better develop your post. If you’ve got that down and want to focus on surface issues, Grammarly will work for you.

This post contains affiliate links. We only promote products + services that we believe you might find valuable. 

10 Ways to Generate Ideas for Your Blog

If you’ve made a commitment to blog regularly- in order to strengthen your personal brand, attract more clients, or establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, perhaps- but you’re having trouble coming up with things to write about, we have some quick and easy ideas to help you generate blog post topics.

  1. Email friends, family, and current clients and ask them their top questions about your industry
  2. Read a leading industry resource. If you agree with a point, write a post about it. If you disagree, write a post about it
  3. Search a hashtag related to your industry on Twitter and see what questions people are asking
  4. Any time someone emails you a question, turn your email response into a blog post
  5. Search Quora for topics related to your work; write responses to these discussions or questions
  6. Set up Google Alerts for keywords related to your work; use the results you get to guide your blog’s editorial calendar
  7. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find related keywords for your industry; write a post addressing the topics you find
  8. Brainstorm a list of upcoming holidays and tie them back to your business- for example, May Designs might write a post about May Day (because of their name) or Earth Day (because of their environmentally-friendly product
  9. Play off upcoming pop culture events or entertainment events- like the premiere of 24, the finale of Scandal, or the Superbowl)
  10. Look through your old posts and see if there are any points that you missed or could expand on. Consider writing a Part II

How to Make Guest Blogging Work for Your Business: A Primer

Guest blog posting is a popular marketing tactic for increasing awareness of your business.

There is a lot of great things about guest posting, especially if you are in a build stage of your business, as it can help increase site traffic, drive subscribers to your email list and position you as an expert on issues related to your business.

You know you should be doing guest posts, but the question is how to actually make it happen in your business. Let’s face it. Guest posting is only one marketing activity, and marketing is only one part of running your business. As a one woman shop, there is a whole load of things to get done every single day.

Creating a 90-Day Plan for Your Guest Posting

As the saying goes, failure to plan is planning to fail- and guest posting is no exception. Start by creating a 90-day plan for your guest posting program that establishes:

    • The goal for your guest posting program. It could be a certain number of posts or a percentage increase in traffic to your site.
    • Your specific stories and themes for guest posting. Too often people start by deciding on a place to guest post, when they should really take the time to get clear on what stories they should be sharing. What issues in your niche need to be addressed? What things can you take a stand on?
    • The target audience for your guest posting efforts. Get really clear on your audience and where they hang out. This will help you determine targets for guest posting and keep you focused.

Putting these pieces in place will help make a major difference as you get started as you will be able to avoid shiny object syndrome. Consider guest posting in the context of your other marketing/sales activities and how it can support or leverage what you are already planning. For example, if you have a new service you’ll be offering, guest posting on topics related to that would be a great fit.

Creating Systems for Guest Posting 

Once you have a plan, the next step is to operationalize your guest posting. By creating systems to support your efforts, it will help make the most of the time you spend on guest posting.

Specific systems to support guest posting may include:

    • An electronic folder with all of your assets for pitching guest posting including different versions of your two-line bio, your headshot, copies of your pitches and more.
    • A tracking sheet with all of the opportunities you identify and all of your activities such as when you sent pitches, when you followed up, and when your articles are submitted.
    • A pitch template to help you shortcut writing pitches (editor’s note: we love using Gmail’s Canned Responses for this).
    • Email folders or labels to track all correspondences related to guest posting.

Practical Tips for Keeping Guest Posting Going

Guest posting should be a year-round part of your marketing and publicity strategy, not just something you do when you have a launch coming up.

Over time, your enthusiasm for guest posting may wane or other things may start to feel more urgent.  The true power of guest posting does not come from a single article but from you building up a body of work as an expert.

To keep guest posting going, first and foremost, be realistic. Map out a plan to pitch things in waves so you don’t become overwhelmed with writing, editing and submitting posts.

If possible, break down your 90-day plan into monthly and then weekly activities so you can set aside a block of time every week for guest posting. One week you may spend time on research, the next week on writing/sending pitches and the other on writing posts you’ve secured.

Finally, team up with a friend or colleague if you can to share resources and lend each other support. Brainstorming story ideas, researching or proof reading can be much more effective when there is two of you involved.

Guest posting offers a great way to get you and your business in front of new audiences and build your credibility but you need to make a priority in your business. By creating a plan and systems for guest posting, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Editor’s note: You might find our editorial calendar resources useful for your guest blogging efforts too!

How do you make guest blogging work for your business?grow your community online

 

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