Guest Post Hosting Guidelines:
I've hosted guest posters several times on my genealogy/technology blog 4YourFamilyStory.com, and each time things went pretty smoothly. However, in retrospect there are some things I would have done differently. Therefore, I've created a list of guest posting guidelines for the the blog host based on what I've learned. Basically, these are my guidelines for myself whenever I decide to host another guest poster on my site. While I don't host guest posters at this time on this blog, I do host them on 4YourFamilyStory.com.
Guest Post Hosting Guidelines:
The Concept ~ Hosting Guest Posters
I know. It's scary to think of inviting someone on your site ~ your platform ~ to talk to your carefully-cultivated readers.
I mean, what are they going to say? How are they going to say it? And why would you invite them in the first place to talk on your blog?
There are many reasons to host a guest poster on your site ~ no matter what type of genealogy blogger you are.
The general reasons for asking someone to guest post on your blog can be:
"Buy from me? Nah. Buy from them."
But I have no problem revealing it to you.
A typical blogging business model is to find a niche, slap a bunch of related affiliate ads all over a blog, learn just enough about your blogging niche, create content [Notice I didn't say quality content.] like crazy that's been optimized for search engines so it can be found by everyone looking for information based on those keywords, and then market it like crazy. It depends heavily on high [and I mean high] traffic to your blog or website.
So why do I think affiliate advertising isn't the way to go for blogging genealogy?
I totally don't look like this when I'm working.
Thomas MacEntee has been hosting a series called Genea-Opportunities - 2012 Update on his blog Geneabloggers.com. Yesterday's and today's topics were Genealogy - What do you mean it's not free? and How do you make money in Genealogy?
[And? Seeing those 2 blog post topics together says a lot, no?] Okay. Today I'm rolling 2 days' worth of blog posts into one because I think they're too related for me to separate.
This is the second post for my participation in Thomas MacEntee's series on genealogy, blogging and money that he's hosting this week on his blog Geneabloggers.com. Today's topic is What do you do for a living?
And that's a good question. What DO I do for a living? Like Thomas, I don't have a simple title. When one works online and owns their own business, one rarely has just one job title. It's much like being a stay-at-home mom, which I once was. Now? I'm a work-at-home mom. [Which means I went from working to, um, working some more.]
Those outside the genealogy and family history industry would say...
Thanks to Thomas MacEntee, founder of Geneabloggers.com for resurrecting last year's popular topic concerning genealogy, blogging, and [Gasp!] money.
As this is central to BloggingGenealogy.com and covers many of the topics that we have covered and will cover, I will be participating every day this week with my thoughts on the daily topic.
Thomas kicked off today's topic, Genealogy Blogging - For fun or profit? So here's what I think. [Here goes nothing and everything.]
In a nutshell? Yes. <grin> You should do it for fun, or you should do it for fun and profit. But no matter what, blog with passion. I've talked about passion here on BloggingGenealogy.com, and I firmly believe that our writing - no matter the platform - is so much better when it's passionate. When we are passionate about something, it most definitely comes out in our writing, and that's imperative in order to make a connection with our readers.
And that's fun for most of us. For others? Not so much. I agree with Michael Hait in his blog post on this very same topic, Genealogy Blogging for Fun and Profit, you should be passionate about blogging. My goal with BloggingGenealogy.com is to not encourage every single genealogist, family historian, genealogical society, or genealogy-related business to start blogging. I encourage those who want to do it, but need some help. But, you see, a person, society, or business must first want to blog.
Because I've done extensive research on the subject, I would call a commercial blog any type of blog that is trying to generate any level of income through contests, reviews, affiliate advertising, and regular advertising of other people's products and services as well as their own types of products and services.
The reason I would call them all commercial blogs is because legally they are, and I'm not talking tax-wise, but I am talking other legalities. For example, at one time, I tried monetizing my personal family history blog, Family Stories, with affiliate ads. However, I also dabble in digital scrapbooking, and some scrapbooking companies' terms of service would classify my blog as a commercial blog even if all I do are reviews or if I have one affiliate ad on my blog. And they don't care if I never make any money off of either one. To them, they still classify that as a commercial blog. Therefore, if I do any digital scrapping over there, I have to purchase their commercial licensed products which are 3 times the price of a non-commercial product. They classify it as commercial, and thus I classify it as commercial. [Although, I've stopped doing anymore monetization over there, but I have past posts that have a few reviews so my disclosure statement is still posted over there for the FTC, which is another legality.]
Despite what I wrote about not everyone should write a blog if they don't feel passionate about doing so, I think those who do, should be able to have whatever kind of blog they want to - commercial or otherwise. I certainly have different opinions about what has and hasn't worked for me in terms of types of blogs and types of advertising. I think the genealogy community has a pretty firm hold over the online genealogy blog community in that it is extremely hard for an individual or company to come in and try to make genealogy their niche in the professional blogging world if they aren't already a genealogist or family historian of some sort.
In most other online industries, it's willy-nilly. People will decide to make money on the internet, find a niche, and setup shop, so to speak, with the hopes of making a lot of money. And with Google's recent algorithm changes [such as the Panda and Penguin updates], this is getting harder and harder to do because it's changing the game for those types of bloggers and forcing them down in search results if they had poor content with the goal to increase traffic so that people will click on their well-placed ads. Honestly? I don't think we have to worry about these types of blogs because they seem to weed themselves out because they have so much competition from the rest of us.
I think that genealogy bloggers are unique like writers or authors in that [with a few exceptions] they naturally write good content because they are writing with purpose. Content is really a non-issue with us. The delivery may need fine-tuning or optimizing, but the content is not a problem. [And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that fine-tuning or optimizing genealogy blogs is a part of what we're doing here on BloggingGenealogy.com. The other part is how to use all the other types of social media that can help our blogs and online platforms.]
Yes, I advertise my services on my blogs. Yes, I'm blogging in order to attract business, but even if a reader never buys my services or products, they still leave my blog with something because I'm all about content marketing [which is not a new marketing concept].
I'm trying to develop communities that are open and beneficial for all. I want to help people, and I do so with no hidden agenda, because I firmly believe if in the future, you have a need for my paid services and it fits within your budget, that you'll remember me. It's about transparency.
I write and share my knowledge with the community. Readers comment and share their knowledge with the community. Everyone walks away with something. That's one transaction. And if in the future, you need social media services for your genealogy-related business, I hope you remember me. The second transaction may or may not happen, but the first one always will.
It's how my Big Paw Paw conducted his brick and mortar business.
It's how my Dad conducted his brick and mortar business.
It's how my Mom conducted her brick and mortar business.
It's how my husband conducts his brick and mortar business.
And it's how I conduct my business. It's just not brick and mortar.
So, what do you think? Genealogy Blogging - For fun or profit? Let everyone know in the comments below, or on your own blog. =)
The Concept ~ Blog Post & Story Endings
You're tempted to write this at times because you have nothing left. Creativity escapes you at the moment.
You're there. At the end. Finally. You're tired. You're bleary-eyed and just want for this post or story to be over.
You've poured your all into the body of your blog post just as you've poured those 10 cups of coffee into your body.
And you're really tempted to just sign your name at the bottom and click "Publish." Or cop out and write, "The End" or "In conclusion..."
However, the ending is way too important for such a brush off. Save it and go take a nap, or pour yourself another cup of coffee.
Human beings love stories. They make them up. They read them. They tell them. They hear them. And they're very familiar with how a story is organized whether or not they consciously realize it. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you've set your reader up with a beginning and middle, they naturally will be looking for an end of some kind.
And you most definitely do not want to disappoint them. Disappointed readers tend not to come back for more disappointment. They can get that anywhere.
You have to wrap things up, reiterate your case, and make the reader happy all in one fell swoop so they'll come back again and again. And I would argue with a good beginning and end, they might forgive a not-so-good middle. [Maybe not all the time, but still...]
And you're probably thinking, "Oh no, Caroline, I hate - absolutely hate - writing endings. They always sound so awkward and contrived. I'm no good at writing endings."
My response? Yes, you are. If you can write a beginning, you can most certainly write an ending. The ending, or conclusion, is not a separate part of your blog post or story, but a well-integrated and very important aspect of it. It is the last thing your reader will read before leaving your site, or moving onto another site.
And you might be thinking that since I gave 12 suggestions on how to begin a blog post or story, that there must be at least 12 ways to end one, right?
Wrong. There's only one way to end a blog post, or story. That's right. One.
You end it as you began it.
If you started with a question, you reiterate the question and then you explicitly answer it in the conclusion with your "middle" part as your support. Start with a definition? Same thing.
Start with an analogy? You should revisit the same analogy.
And even if your story or blog post is not at its natural end, which is the case for many of us who are writing our family's stories especially in blog posts, you still have to make an attempt to refer back to your beginning and wrap things up.
The same goes for those blogging for genealogical societies, for professional genealogists, and for genealogy-related businesses.
Your goal in blogging is to get a potential cousin to contact you. Therefore, you end your blog post in the same way you began and issue your call to action (i.e., to contact you).
You have to end that blog post the same way you began it and you have to issue a call to action (i.e., become a member, renew their membership, buy copies of videotaped sessions, make them put your conference on their calendar for next year, for the readers who attended make a comment on your blog post about what an awesome time they had at the conference, etc.)
Professional Genealogists and Genealogy-Related Businesses
The endings to blog posts for you are very similar to genealogical societies. You must end it the same way you began it, and you must have a call to action like asking them to sign up for your email newsletter subscription or perhaps if you have a 2-part blog post invite them to read the next part.
The ending is a key part to your blog post. Your readers intrinsically expect it to be there, and you must deliver it. And you must deliver it in the same way you delivered the beginning. The beginning dictates...
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