I’m a designer who has worked in web design for years but only recently decided to venture into the world of blogging. I must admit, it’s been a bit terrifying as I’ve never considered myself much of a writer. I kept searching for blogs that focused on mom creatives and kindling mom’s own creativity but my searches only came back with arts and crafts type websites. Finally, I decided to co-found Mommikin with my friend and fellow mommy creative, Lina. It didn’t seem like a difficult task — after all, we’d both worked in interactive design for years, right? Famous last words. The last 6 months have been a steep learning curve of a million things I never thought I’d need to know.
One of the things I kept reading was that, if I was ever going to build an audience for my site, I should start guest blogging. I felt a bit of despair every time I read these words — I wasn’t sure where to start or even exactly what that meant. When I came across Beyond Your Blog, I felt a rescue ship had just pulled up — I immediately sent Susan a “help me, please!” email.
Thankfully she took me under her wing, patiently guided me through the process, came up with a list of blogs I could pitch to, how to approach them, ideas for new articles I could write, and very kindly replied to my (many) confused and flustered emails. Previously submission forms had looked daunting and reeked of rejection, but with a little hand holding and positive feedback, I felt braver. And then poof, one article got featured on BlogHer. With a bit more confidence, I started applying elsewhere. And poof, one got picked up on Pick the Brain’s homepage, and just as I was coming off that high, I got another email from BlogHer that our new article would be featured. I was hooked!
How to Use Guest Posting as a Creative Challenge:
- Explore different approaches to the same idea – I often come up with a brilliant idea for a post, only to stop at the halfway point and find it not really so genius after all. Sometimes I realize that it’s because I’m trying to stuff the idea into the wrong format. I was recently working on what I hoped would be a funny how-to list post for our site, but it was stalled. The longer I worked on it, the more I realized it was a lot more emotionally weighted topic than I originally realized — and probably not the best fit for our site. When I finally allowed it to become a personal essay, it flowed again and I was done that afternoon. There’s so many ways to write about a single idea, guest posting allows you to be more creative and try an approach that might not fit your site but be perfect elsewhere.
- Get outside of your niche – Before I discovered guest posting, I brainstormed topics and just discarded any ideas that fell outside the realm of our blog. Since I started to view guest posting as another creative outlet, I pick out the good ideas, nurture them and keep an eye out for places to find them a happy home. When I read a blog, I try to look for the tone of the site, the type of articles they feature, and their major themes. Each blog has their own style and point of view and the beauty of it is, we each probably have a story, list or how-to lurking inside of us that could fit any of them.
- Express your different voices – While we all want to be genuine and use our authentic voice, I do think we each have more than one voice or style of writing in us. When I read Scary Mommy, it brings out the rambunctious, over-the-top side of me, while Motherlode makes me more thoughtful and introspective. Janelle of Renegade Mothering usually cracks me up with her blunt humor but when I saw her speech at BlogHer, I teared up. And that’s all just within the mommy blog universe! We all have so many stories to share, exploring your different voices will allow new sides of your creativity to blossom.
- Revive a languishing passion – I’ve also found guest blogging allows me to be creative by exploring other areas of interest. My blog lives at the intersection of motherhood and creativity so I write a lot on those topics, however my interests don’t always fall conveniently into those two areas. I almost majored in psychology and have a secret love of dry psychological studies which finally proved itself useful in my Pick The Brain article. I’ve read so many long, dull academic papers over the years, I’d love to use them and write more short, reader-friendly articles that would take academic findings and make them useful and actionable. Everyone has a side interest that doesn’t fit directly into their blog but which they’re knowledgeable and passionate about. With a little creativity, you can turn your languishing passion into a guest post and connect with others who feel the same.
I hope these tips help you turn guest posting from a daunting task into your own personal creative challenge. Have you done a post that was a stretch from what you normally write about? Considering writing on a topic you haven’t tried before? I’d love to hear your comments!