This year I’ve written three guest blogs, and contributed a small section to a fourth one. I thought it would be useful to reflect on the process and consider what value, if any, came from writing these pieces. The posts were all based on my coastal walking adventures, but covered a number of different topics:
- Wales: as seen through the eyes of a “foreigner”.
- Solo walking: why more women don’t do it, and why they should.
- Challenges: setting your own.
- Footpaths: their importance and why I value them.
1. Blogging about Wales
In February 2017, I wrote a post for Janet Givens, an American writer interested in cross-cultural insights.
I met Janet on the Women Writers, Women’s Books group on Facebook, when she was looking for guest bloggers. I pitched the idea to her of using my experiences walking the Wales Coast Path to discuss my preconceived ideas of Wales as a country, and how my prejudices were challenged.
The blog post was a success for Janet, in that it generated the most comments so far on any single post. It also generated one hateful Tweet for me – but that wasn’t Janet’s fault!
Did it lead to any sales of my book, Walking the English Coast? I don’t think so. But my guest post was about Wales, not England! However, I enjoyed writing it. One day, I plan to write a book about my experiences on the Wales Coast Path, and the piece I wrote for Janet may well feature in the book.
2. Blogging about solo walking
I enjoy visiting blogs written by women walkers, and that’s how I found Emily (via a Twitter retweet). Emily was looking for guest bloggers, and I pitched a piece to her. Since her blog was all about female adventurers, I suggested a blog on solo walking.
The post was published in July 2017. We both tweeted about the post, and it was shared on Facebook. I’m sure we must have attracted several readers, but sadly the post didn’t generate any comments.
Did I sell any more books? No. But it was great to organise my thoughts and write a piece with a feminist slant. I believe I could adapt and submit a similar article to a paying magazine.
3. Blogging about hiking and running challenges
I was emailed by someone putting together a blog post for Trespass. She wanted a few quotes about my self-imposed hiking challenge, including tips for beginners. I sent her a few lines, and the post was published in July. I appear at the bottom of a long article.
Although the post generated no comments, and my book wasn’t mentioned, I think I gained a few new followers for my coastal walking blog. Was it worth it? Yes. It only took me 10 minutes to put together the quotes.
4. Blogging about footpaths
In January 2017, the Ramblers approached me via Twitter, and asked for a guest blog on the importance of footpaths. Months went by, and I heard nothing. In the end, the Ramblers published the piece on the 1st August, to coincide with a month devoted to coastal walking.
This blog post took me longer to write than any of the others. The short word count, and the pre-defined focus, meant I had to be rigorous with my editing.
Was it worth it? Yes. They provided both a mention of my book and a link to my coastal walking blog at www.coastalwalker.co.uk. I’ve seen a little upsurge in sales and a larger upsurge in followers on my blog.
Are guest blogs worth the effort?
Yes, and no. It depends how you define their value. Each piece (with the exception of the Trespass one) took many hours to write.
I reckon each one took several hours of thinking-time. And then at least a day to put the text together, to find suitable photographs, and to edit the narrative into something that was crisp and screen-friendly.
If the aim was to generate more sales of my book, Walking the English Coast, then only the Ramblers’ post was worth doing. This had a much larger reading audience than the others, and also targeted an audience specifically interested in walking.
If the aim was to ensure engagement and discussion, then my article about Wales on Janet Given’s blog was the most successful. This was partly due to Janet’s pre-posting organisation. She told me I must turn up to engage in the discussion, and kicked the whole thing off by posing questions and adding her own comments.
If the aim was exposure with minimum effort, then the small section at the end of the Trespass piece was the only one worth doing.
But, if the aim was to hone my writing skills, then all of the blog posts were worth writing. Writing to a theme, writing to a prescribed word count, writing a post somebody else could reject – these are all valuable constraints and focus the mind.
I would be interested to hear other people’s experience of guest blogging. What were your aims? Did you achieve them? What did you learn?