By Kevin RR Williams
Over time you develop your own style and personality.
Your Writing Experience
You have been writing since preschool. Admittedly, at first it was just ABCs. Later you were proud to sign your name to artwork elevated to a position behind refrigerator magnets. Such a creative kid you were.
Remember those book reports? Perhaps you discovered a knack for it and took elective creative writing or journalism classes. Perhaps not. The point is that even a basic education trains you to read and write.
Now you either want to launch a writing career or get more eyes on your website. This requires writing—lots of it. But the articles must be desirable to read and relevant to other content on the website.
Readers are critical of what you say. A rehash of of old information? Thumbs down. Too difficult to understand? Thumbs down. Filled with grammatical errors? Expect citations from the grammar police. Realtime feedback is available in the form of a comment section or inferred by the lack of reader participation.
If you are not used to writing, begin your new career by reading as much as possible. Over time you develop your own style and personality. Until then, you might cut your teeth with guest article submissions.
Each website has different guidelines. Some require many supportive references. Others prohibit any. Some encourage a casual grammar style, while others only publish well-articulated professional content. So you are likely to get more traction writing articles that match published requirements than submitting the same article to multiple websites.
What is Blogging
When a major news outlet or online magazine publishes content it is called an article or opinion piece. When you or a small company do so, it is called a blog. The word blog, to many people, connotes a diary or personal journal.
As an abbreviation for the 1990s “weblog,” one dictionary defines blog as: “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” My preference is to say I write “articles.”
A vlog is a video blog. In essence, you record yourself talking about a subject or demonstrating the use of products. Many publishers find this most effective for product reviews or showing viewers how to apply cosmetics. With many viewers and followers, you might receive product samples and advertising revenue. A podcast is a regularly scheduled audio recording of a relevant topic.
Writing daily articles is a full-time job. Begin by establishing a goal of one or two per week. Many blogging platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Shopify allow you to queue up pending articles. This way they can be published according to a regular schedule that readers can follow like every Tuesday and Thursday.
Reasons For Blogging
Some bloggers write in a personal journal manner. Often this is seen among patients with chronic illness. Artists and photographers sometimes publish a picture per day. Cooks document new recipes. When submitting guest posts, you may need to align better with the publisher, even if it tangentially marches your personal motivation.
Writer or Author?
If you have a website, a blog is a good way to get more traffic. Frequently publishing fresh content on a website ranks it higher within public search results. More recent articles appear closer to the top. Blog articles have the advantage of including dates. Websites to which you submit guest posts are similarly incentivized to accept well-written articles.
Pick a Relevant Topic
Your goal is to write about something that others enjoy reading so much that they themselves will return for more. Hopefully, they also tell others to come along. This begins with your topic selection. Some bloggers begin with the title and build from there. Others write about a general topic and craft an appropriate title afterwards.
To prevent yourself from babbling on about too many tangent subjects, it is advantageous to have at least a temporary working title and some key subheadings. When you are done, you will discover that wordsmithing an appropriate title is a task in itself.
A way to determine what topics might be a good fit for a particular website is to subscribe to the blog mailing list. At the very least, read several articles and examine the list of published articles. Inquire about submission guidelines.
Some websites have multiple blogs to better target different audiences. Of the five blogs on ClinicalPosters, A Bit More Healthy is most appropriate for guest posts:
- A Bit More Healthy: Health blog for medical professionals and patients.
- News: Product announcements, sales, fulfillment, and website updates.
- Insights: Programming, writing, and marketing articles.
- Novellas: Fictional clinical mystery miniseries.
- Feature: Special offers and landing pages.
Health articles relate to topics of medical posters sold on the ClinicalPosters website. News about this website is most appropriate for ClinicalPosters customers. Articles within the Insights blog are primarily helpful for fellow writers and Shopify merchants. Since the Feature articles section is primarily for landing pages, navigation and content creation is limited.
If you plan to submit articles for consideration on the ClinicalPosters website, additional assistance is available. Each article has specific tags used throughout the site to help readers focus on their interests. As a guest author, identify the tag that matches your area of expertise. You can click on this tag to see what articles have been written on the subject. Then write one that fills a void. Select from one of these tags:
Gracefully Handling Rejection
Do not wear your heart on your sleeve. Some requests for publication are rejected. In your mind, you are thinking, “How dare you! I spent hours writing this piece.” Becoming defensive and argumentative does not engender yourself to editors. Ask them for ways to improve the content or go back and read the submission guidelines.
If appropriate, include rejected articles (perhaps with some improvements) on your personal blog to chart your progress. They can also serve as examples of your diverse writing style. Eventually, you will cross a threshold where nearly everything you submit is acceptable. Editors may even reach out to you for content.