Writing for Blogs Not Your Own

I dream of someday making a living from my fiction. This blog is about that dream and how I’m going to reach it. Unfortunately, there are a hundred writers for every fiction market, and so far, my fiction hasn’t seen the light of day. Instead, I’ve found my early successes in the realm of non-fiction: from September to December I worked as a youth blogger for Now Hear This, I’ve written articles and interviewed authors for Penumbra during my internship, and just this Friday I had my first real guest post(as in the first one I queried myself) published at My Name is Not Bob.

All of these non-fiction experiences have been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned something from each of them. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I do have what it takes to write for other people. I might not have found someone who loves my fiction yet, but each non-fiction sale boosts my confidence. Each non-fiction sale tells me that I write well, that I have a place in the writing world, and that someday, people will read my fiction, too.

So how do you find these same opportunities? Well, think of the places where you like to get your information from. Who are your favourite bloggers? Do they accept guest posts? Do you have something to contribute to their conversation?

My Name is Not Bob is the blog of Robert Brewer, editor of Writer’s Market and a fiction writer on the side. His blog includes inspiring life stories, personal anecdotes and advice for writers. I enjoy his conversational tone and easy-to-read blog layout. So when I discovered that he was accepting guest posts, I decided I’d love to work with him.

But what did I have to contribute to the conversation? I had some pretty awesome advice for writers: How Writers Can Benefit from Publishing Internships, and how writers can get–and keep–those internships.

So, while my Now Hear This job sort of fell into my lap and my articles for Penumbra are all a part of the internship, I decided to query Robert with my ideas. Familiarity with the blog and with Robert’s tone helped a lot. From his posts he seemed friendly, so I wasn’t too nervous sending him a polite email asking if he would be interested in a couple guest posts about internships.

He said he’d be thrilled to have them, so I wrote up my two guest posts, edited them a little here and there, and sent them off. Of course, even with him already showing interest, I was still a little nervous when I sent them off. Thanks to Penumbra, I’ve sat on both ends of this thing–and I’ve had to tell authors who I invited to post on the blog that their post wasn’t approved. Let me tell you, it really does feel bad on both sides.

If you’re working on a guest post for somebody, make sure you’re familiar with their tone. Your voice should still stand out as different, but you want a similar tone. If the blog is PG-13, even if you’re an erotica writer by trade, follow that PG-13 guideline. If the blog tends to use very simple or sophisticated language, alter your own style to be just a little closer to theirs. Generally, the better your post fits with everything else on the site, the more likely it is to actually get posted.

Remember to be polite when dealing with anyone you want to work with and to follow their guidelines. Some bloggers have very loose guidelines for guest posts and others are very specific. If they want you to query, query first. If they just want you to send them a post, send them a post. Send it in the format they want it in. If you know what kind of coding they use, try to code it so it’s already formatted for maximum convenience.

Basically, when you’re sending another blogger your work, you want to make sure that it’s something they’ll find interesting and actually want to put on their blog, that you give them your best work, that it fits with their blogging topic, and that you’re polite. It may sound like a lot, but really, it’s easy–and I’m saying this from the perspective of someone who used to be afraid to query blogs I liked.

Odds are–and this is the best part–that if you really like a blogger and their work, and you present yourself well, they’ll really like you too. I mean, you already know you have one thing in common, right?

If you’d like to see the guest post that inspired this post, click here.

Have you tried writing for somebody else’s blog before?