I'm not a seasoned blogger, but here are some lessons that I learnt from writing my first guest blog:
- Stuff you only think you know about won't hold up. You've got to really understand the topic if you're going to have a wide audience read about it. You don't want to look like a divvy!
- Related to #1, research properly else you will look like a divvy
- You might learn something. I wrote about about a topic that I thought I knew about, I realised I didn't understand things deeply at all.
- Don't peddle a specific angle if it's not right. When I started writing the article I was particularly keen to push a bit of code that I had written that I was dead proud of. In writing the article I realised that it probably wouldn't be much use to me or others. The code still featured but the direction had to change, because no one would respect an article that wasn't giving good advice.
- Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. I spent DAYS writing 2,000 words. I don't like to think about the lost earnings. While it did take longer because I didn't know the subject area well enough and had a technical error that caused me to lose work, the main reason for the delay was procrastination. Realise that it will never be perfect.
- Get the structure correct before writing anything. The final flow of my article was vastly different and superior. If I could have worked out the flow from the beginning I would have saved myself a lot of time.
- Choose a small discrete topic. I thought my subject matter was simple, but there was no way I could be comprehensive and keep the article to a reasonable length. Ideally I should have broken it into 2 or 3 articles. If you can't write a simple heading, then you've probably got a problem.
- Get a peer review if possible. I asked someone to review my article and even just the process of doing so was really useful, let alone the feedback that they gave.
- Use lots of links to other articles. Giving links to useful background makes the article really useful without bloating it.
- Keep it simple. The rewrites that I had to do were nearly entirely to rectify complex areas that didn't flow. When it's right it will just make sense.
- If you're crap at spelling (like me) then get a proof read from someone who isn't. It's easy to undermine the credibility of your article with a 'there' instead of a 'their'.
- Guest blogging is cool. It's great to know that what you're writing will actually get rid.
I wish I'd read this article, and actually followed the advice, before starting.