What I Learned From Writing 42
Guest Posts in 7 Weeks

image of man sleeping at his laptop

Before you get too impressed, hear this: I did it all in self-defense.

Let me give you some quick background.

I have extreme Tourette’s Syndrome, as Sonia noticed recently. Tourette’s makes people move or vocalize involuntarily and occasionally results in unspeakable awesomeness. My motor tics range from eye blinking to punching myself in the face to even stranger things. My phonic tics range from clearing my throat to hooting and yowling and snarling and slobbering and screaming like the Tasmanian Devil.

Did I mention that I work in a quiet library?

There are only a couple of things that help when it gets bad. Guitar, kettlebells, talking, and writing — they are all forms of distraction that force the itch out of my brain for a while.

But sometimes none of them work. In September I was having a horrible time and couldn’t shake it. I needed a project to focus on. A big fat distraction.

Enter the guest post ultra marathon.

Come one, come all!

I wanted everyone to know they could ask for a guest post, but I still got a lot of “My blog’s probably too small, but . . .” I have a lot of readers with big blogs, and a lot of readers with tiny, new blogs that are still swaddled in onesies. All were fair game.

The criteria

I asked everyone who wanted a post to provide:

  • A URL and blog title
  • A topic
  • A word count
  • An interesting angle to approach it from

I said I wouldn’t write about anything I felt was unethical, morally reprehensible, or obvious spam. I didn’t want this bio floating around the web:

About the author: Josh Hanagarne is the author of Cialis Rules! He enjoys popping a few Vicodin in the morning and a dozen Viagra for lunch. His hobbies include MAKE CRA-Z MONEY FROM HOME! and topless tell-all webcam romps.

Luckily, I didn’t get any of those solicitations. Well — not many of those.

The response

Uh oh.

I published my post, subtitled “Let’s Get Stupid,” at about seven in the morning in the United States. By one o’clock my teeth were chattering with fear as I looked at my inbox: over 70 submissions.

Refresh. 75.

Refresh. 80.

Uh oh.

Who were these people? I was going to be writing guest posts for blogs about stock options, personal development, computer programmers, home schooling, study skills mentoring, blogging, advice for women, fussy academics, chemists, Capoeria buffs, kettlebell nuts, corporations in the process of building websites and trying to make everyone get along, and so on . . . .

A smarter man, a man whose brain was less of an apocalypse, might have scaled things down or extended the deadline. But this was exactly what I needed.

To work, then.

The first week and onward

I wrote 15 guest posts in week one. They all published within a few days. When the dust cleared, RSS numbers had jumped by 200 during those seven days.

The remaining six weeks were similar. Sometimes I wrote more. Sometimes less. Sometimes I wrote guest posts that I never saw again. My posts appeared with different titles, different pictures, different fonts, and the traffic just kept coming.

After about 10 days, my tics had subsided, but I was committed to the project. I was having a blast.

Lessons learned, surprises, and observations for anyone who wants to try this

By November 1 I had written over 50 posts. 42 of them had aired on other blogs. Here is what I learned:

  • A lot of bloggers seem to have a fear of guest posting. Get over it or be happy with your current rate of growth.
  • You will meet awesome people.
  • Those people will act like you are doing them a favor by borrowing their traffic.
  • You are doing them a favor, provided you give them something they can use. I love to have guests!
  • This marathon approach is not for everyone. Do not try to write more than you are capable of. Test yourself but don’t flame out. I have a masochist work capacity and I still wound up with more than I could handle. I thought I would get the 80+ posts written before November 1. Life, sleep, the flu, a book proposal, and kettlebells all conspired against me.
  • Don’t commit to anything that will prevent you from taking care of business at home(page). There’s nothing more pointless than writing a killer guest post and having all those new visitors land on a dancing Hello Kitty graphic that’s a year old.
  • Don’t pretend you know things you don’t. If you can’t talk about stocks, either find another approach or turn it down. Don’t be a poser.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no when people pitch ideas to you. You made the rules, right?

I don’t regret doing the marathon, but I won’t do it again if I don’t have to. I still have nearly 40 posts to get through before I’ve knocked out that initial batch. I’m going to honor them all. In the meantime, if you’d like to be added to the queue, you know where to find me.

I can handle it.

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne is the twitchy giant behind World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog about living with Tourette’s Syndrome, kettlebells, book recommendations, buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates to stay in touch.

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Comments

  1. Nice! That’s a serious undertaking, Josh. Kudos for the accomplishments thus far and those still left!

  2. Craig, thanks. It’s going to take a while to pump the rest out. Life has intervened in the weeks since, but it was a great experience.

  3. Josh, congrats for your achievements. Looking forward to read more of your articles.

  4. That is ambitious my friend. You might also be the world’s tallest librarian as well. Love the humour and your transparency.

  5. Case and point, you’re posting here and I am going to start reading your other content, because that was a hilarious and helpful post.

    Guest posts are an amazing resource for any blogger. It’s how I got my job!

    How did you manage to write guest posts on such a wide range of topics though? I’m assuming you aren’t savvy in all of those topics. Did you have to do a lot of research?

    David
    Scribnia.com

  6. Great tips Josh. I am new to guest posting as I carried the Guest Post fear that you speak of for quite a while. I’ve done a few and it’s not so bad…..Bloggers usually don’t bite ;)

    I also wanted to commend you on using your situation to your advantage. Reminds me of a former college and NBA player with Tourette’s named Chris Jackson. He was the best scoring guard I ever saw in college, and it was due to his maniacal jump shooting sessions of THOUSANDS of jumpers a day. He wouldn’t leave the gym until he made a hundred in a row without hitting the rim. Seriously. He’d be there all day but it make him an unreal talent.

    Thought that you’d appreciate and relate to his story. All The Best!

  7. Thanks a lot Josh. It is unbelievable that you managed to get a lot of guest post till November.

    Whatever it is. Thanks for your post. It really motivates me to take action in becoming guest post in top bloggers blog. :)

  8. Hey gang. This is perfect timing. My blog is currently in the middle of a Thesis upgrade that has gone awry, so if you try to visit and can’t get through, please try again later. Of all the days for this, huh?

  9. Hi Josh, thank you for writing a guest post for my blog…I am amazed that you have been able to get through as many as you do and STILL post every day on your own blog. I have no excuse to complain about writing 2 or 3 posts per week at my blog. I feel more open to having more guest bloggers and doing more guest posts of my own. In any case, it was good to learn that this project helped your Tourette’s and that you learned a lot from the experience.

  10. @Tim: you definitely learn things about writing when you’re trying to make something fit someone else’s style–and sometimes fit it into their business. I can’t recommend the guesting thing highly enough, if that isn’t obvious:)

  11. I haven’t’ completed my first guest post let alone 50. Keep up the great job.

  12. That is a fantastic idea- potentially with a few tweaks, as you mentioned. I’m working on something similar for the launch of my blog, and a reverse of that, too (so if anyone would like to write for me or like me to write for them, let me know). That could be a great blogger challenge to build the community and reader base.

  13. Great post Josh. Interesting learnings from this endeavor, do you think you would ever try it again or was this more than enough of the social experimental treatment of your condition?

  14. Hey Josh. Very nice to meet you! Just stumbled upon your blog through @mattchevy. WOW. You have definitely inspired me through your challenge and perseverance. One of the first things that came to mind while I was reading this is “Why didn’t I think of doing this?!” So, great job!

  15. Congrats on enduring the marathon. You’re almost done!

    Too bad I missed the opportunity on this one.

  16. @Jeff: I might try a scaled down version. Interestingly enough, this project generated a lot of opportunities that have me busier than ever, working on projects away from the blog.

  17. You are a brave man Josh.

    I love guest posting and I would probably do it even if I didn’t have a blog to send traffic to. What I like most is the ability to work on my writing and get feedback from a variety of different communities.

    I think it builds skill and aside from the obvious traffic benefit, it also builds authority.

  18. I’ll note also that this fits nicely with Brian’s advice about how to become a better writer.

  19. First of all, a big Thanks!

    I have been thinking of doing something like this but always feared if I could do it or not. You just inspired me to start.

  20. Hey Josh,

    A guest post is a win-win scenario: you win from the traffic and authority building, and the site owner wins from free (hopefully remarkable) value that they get for their blog.

    A large quantity of quality guest posts can effectively build your name and reputation in a short amount of time.

    But even if you can’t do a marathon, the more you provide remarkable value in more relevant places, the greater your authority is built (like Nathan mentioned above in the comments).

    Congrats on your feat. But I expect nothing less from the World’s STRONGEST Librarian :)

    Best,
    Oleg

  21. One thing I should mention: there were days during the marathon when traffic exceeded 4000 visits a day. Two of those guest posts were on all top, and I had a guest post written for me about Where The Wild Things Are, the day the movie came out.

    Traffic has receded greatly since I quit having 5-9 guest posts a week come out. But! A lot of that traffic stuck. Having 100 loyal, shrill new advocates who say nice things about you wherever they go has been just as nice as those days of heavy, but disinterested, non-sticky traffic.

  22. Josh,

    Not only am I a scared “would be guest poster”, I really find the daily blogging model quite challenging. I almost find it easier to come up with content ideas for my clients than for myself.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. Awesome Josh, and very inspiring. I don’t think I can do 80 guest posts but then, neither did you think that too and there you are. Here I am thinking I’m grand for doing five posts a week; shame on me. I’ll be guest posting as soon as I get rid of Hello Kitty, as well as tear through the next batch of phonebooks. Congratulations and keep up the great work. You’re almost almost done… :)

  24. That was a great read! Love it.

    I would like to venture more into the “how to find guestpost opportunities” — but in a way you answered that by developing your reputation and then going from there.

    I have enjoyed the few guest posts that I have done — and when I went on vacation, I hosted guest posts and maintained my traffic, which was nice.

  25. Hi Josh,

    I’ve got MS & Tourette’s. I gasp and sort of hiccup and scare young children. Anyway, I was just prescribed marisol? (medicinal mj) for my MS muscle spasms and my doc told me that it worked wonders for a patient of his with Tourettes’. Have you tried it? Will let you know if it influences me…. Enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks!

  26. @Stephanie: I have tried Marisol. Unfortunately, I reacted badly to it. not only did it not work for me, I had terrible side effects and my tics actually worsened. But that’s why TS is so hard to treat. Since cases don’t necessarily resemble each other, what works in one patient might do nothing for another, or worse–it makes the situation even less agreeable. Yes, please let me know how it goes.

    My sister has severe MS and we’re always looking for ideas.

  27. Wow, quite a feat. That’s a lot of writing especially with the added pressure of doing it for others.

    I know some Tourettes folks and you don’t know how happy I am that you have so many healthy activities you’ve identified to help deal with outbreaks. That level of self-awareness isn’t universal.

    On the topic of guest posts, I’ve written a couple, literally two, and am batting .500 on them. One was posted with ease and was a great experience overall, the other I wrote, sent off and never heard anything about. It’s really cool that you’re so philosophical about the ones you write by request that aren’t posted – I don’t think I’m quite that Zen.

  28. I GOT to say. I don’t think I have read such a good post in a LONG time. Congrats. Borrow their traffic, they don’t mind. Shoot if you provide a good post, they will be so glad they will ask you to write again. you win, they win… I mean the worst thing they can say is NO :)

  29. I’m with you Josh, guest posting is great for getting your blog out there (trust you to take it to the nth degree though!). I’ve also found it a lot of fun and as you said, a great way to connect with other bloggers. Some of my closest blogging buddies came about through guest posting. Congrats Josh, it’s a mighty achievement.

  30. Thanks for sharing your experiences Josh. I had the pleasure of getting one of the first guest posts you wrote and it was great. It was the first post written to my post, and I was happy it was you. Also your craziness with the guest post marathon helped me get over my fears (and writer’s block) and I started writing guest posts myself.

    It’s one of those things you wish you’ve done earlier when you do it the first time. So go ahead and get someone to write a guest post to your blog and write a guest post yourself, and do it today! It’s the best blogging decision you can make (and you’ll go back for more).

  31. Josh,
    I find it so inspiring you wrote that many posts in so little time. I struggle to balance my 3 posts a week, plus a couple of guest posts a month, plus work on other projects (oh yeah, and then I guess I have to take care of my family at some point during the day, too). Once I have this baby in a couple of weeks, I’m planning to get a few more posts out to different sites, but we’ll see. Thanks for showing us all what’s possible when you put your mind to it! :)

  32. Impressive work! It already shows that you really like writing and giving to others. Your experience is indeed interesting!

  33. Hmmmm, a guest post writing marathon. The idea definitely has merit. I’ve never done any guest posts before, or had them on my blog, but it is something that I want to do. I guess you’re right when you say that a lot of people are scared to do it. Now you’ve got me wondering if I’m procrastinating on it because I’m scared, or some other reason.

    I also find it interesting that immersing yourself in work like this would help with Tourettes. I never knew that it worked like that.

  34. Interesting, inspiring and fun idea.

    I might have to try this for a variety of reasons, including that it sounds like a great writing workout, and a great way to get to know other bloggers and blogs that are related to your own (at the moment, I’m eyebrow deep in National Novel Writing Month, a 50,000-word annual writing workout each November. I got FAR behind this year and just came out of an 8000-word weekend. Will crest early this week).

    Thanks for sharing the idea, your experience with it, and your personal story, as well.

  35. I have done very few guest posts so far. Been wanting to do a marathon but not had time for my own blog let alone everyone elses! However if anybody (perhaps even you Josh? Or Brian?) would like a guest post let me know!

  36. Impressive! And you’re contributing to our exploration of this medium and how we connect as humans. Kudos.

  37. @Shane: I love to have guests. Contact me through my blog and we’ll talk.

  38. Wow Josh; this is the best post I’ve read for weeks and weeks!

    Novel, searingly honest, fascinating, helpful abnd tightly written. You’ve really got me thinking. Many thanks indeed! :)

  39. Oh, forgot to say. When I do a guest post (grand total to date: 3) I put the logo of the blog on my website.

    This makes for a good blogging ‘resume’. It also generates a bit of traffic for the sites hosting my guest posts. See what you reckon. P. :)

    PPS: Thanks for your blindingly fast response to my guest post proposal. You impress across the board! :)

  40. I just don’t feel like I’m prolific enough to accomplish something like that.

  41. Good show, Josh! The cool thing is that all your posts were quality, well-though-out posts. I could imaging crumbling over all the promises I made.

    Thanks for posting at my site and allowing me to reciprocate at your site, too. To be honest, I admire you so much that I think I wrote my most popular post ever over at WSL. You do that to us, Josh, you bring out our best.

    Thanks, Josh, and congratulations for your successes.

  42. Hi, Josh. What a big accomplishment! I’m one of the bloggers that was further down on your guest post list – though I confess I didn’t realize how long your list was. :)

    Writing for other people is a great way to see your expertise from a different angle and work your mental muscles. Did you feel like you got a new perspective on things?

    I can’t wait to read what you have in store for the Married with Luggage readers (though there is no rush…really, get some sleep!)

  43. @Betsy: I got a new perspective on lots of thing: eye strain, creativity, good posture, and just how many cool people are out there.

    One of the most satisfying things for me was the breadth of subjects the readers requested. It gave me a great snapshot of how eclectic my own readership is.

    And yes–I’m getting to your post, I swear!

  44. As someone who spends a bulk of my day writing, I must say cranking out 15 posts is a handful. I have done hundreds, but if someone told me that I need to do 70, regardless of the time period, I would probably reply with oh crud. Your crazy to do that many guest posts!

  45. Great stuff here Josh. I’ve done a ton to nurture community within the walls of my own blog – it’s time I start breaking out and getting involved in other communities more often. The proof is in the pudding, eh?

  46. Haha! Crazy man :)
    OK well! Mmmm you want a challenge be a guest post on MY blog Bra Queen
    That will test you :)

  47. Wow you must have some great time management skills and you obviously love writing… I have trouble with keeping up with posting on 1 quality blog.

  48. The Power of Guest posts!!!!

  49. @Bra Queen: Oh please. that would be easy. But you’ll have to play by the rules and follow the format. Send me a word count, prompt, and get ready for a bra-tastic article.

  50. Easy? Maybe we’ll see :) I just emailed you word count and a prompt. I’m ready for a bra-tastic article HA!

  51. I’m envious of people who have a work ethic like yours, my dad has a work ethic like that.

  52. You have inspired me to get out there and write for some other blogs. Thanks!

  53. This is a great post, thanks Josh. I admire your dedication and within this post there is a definite message to all those that have read it. I think it’s great you has such a range to write about rather than the same article topic and I agree with Jeff…you must have great time management skills!

  54. I would love to ask you to write a guest post for my blog, but then again, I think you should sleep. :)
    And just in case I change my mind, I do know where to reach you. ;)

  55. You are amazing – what can I say? I only wish I had the stamina to write as many posts as this for our own blog in a similar length of time.

    Pest control is a niche market – but once people start reading they realise that actually it affects them as much as a pest control professional. Maybe I should challenge myself to do something similar?

  56. Wow that is awesome Josh!

    To be able to research new topics you may know little about and write a post that people respond to remarkable. To write two a day is simply inspiring.

  57. Thank u for this post, it was very informative :)

  58. Awesome effort Josh.
    I guess its the ultimate in distributed content as a way of getting a message out across a number of different places all at once.
    I admire your work effort though to get all this done in such a short time

  59. Everyone, thank you for all the encouragement. This has been a great thread. Sounds like it got the wheels turning for a lot of you. There’s no downside to giving some good stuff away. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to talk about anything that we haven’t been able to address in the comments.

    I’m really, really happy about the show of support. CB has a wonderful community.

  60. I don’t know how you did it. I have a hard enough time coming up with posts for my own blog. I commend you.

    Jenn

  61. Kudos for so many guest posts! You’re my hero! I can’t even get 3 done in a week, you are definitely on the ball. By the way– my husband has a MILD form of Tourette’s. He twitches all over his face.. and does the throat clearing thing constantly! It used to bother me but doesn’t anymore, because I know he can’t help it. He doesn’t do anything verbal.. He says he never feels comfortable in his skin so he constantly tries to rearrange it. I’ll never understand..

  62. Josh,

    Loved reading this post for your own blog. My to do list has been to do some guest posts for different blogs. You certainly inspire me – thank you!

    Jo Guerra

  63. What can I say, Josh? I can’t thank you enough for your book review on The Cheese Monkeys. I don’t know how you did all of those posts – You’re an inspiration.

  64. Josh,

    What an amazing blog post. I read it three times and shared it with my staff. Your humanity shines in every word.

  65. Mad props Josh. That’s the definition of hustle…

    When it comes to writing guest posts, my problem is just finding blogs to write for. Any tips on where to find some good blogs? I realize I may not be able to write for a top blog but I know there’s plenty of other smaller blogs to contribute to.

    Thanks and try not to kill yourself with the guest posting man :-)

  66. Josh,
    Perhaps this is a bit too much to ask, since you already have so many requests… but I would love to ask for a guest post as well. Would love to have a blog post similar to above, about what you did and why. To break my reluctance to do radio shows, I hosted a 12 hour Ustream show, 11 interviews. ~ MJ

  67. @MJ: I’d be happy to do it. Would you please contact me through my blog via the email and give me the breakdown of what you’d like? It will help me stay organized. Might be mid-January before I got to you, but happy to do it.

  68. Good job Josh.

    Wow, posting 42 guest post in 7 weks is not a easy task, especially with all the content and ideas you needed to come up with.

    But look on the bright side, you got 42 valuable back links and you will get some good traffic.

    Good job.

  69. Congrats Josh! Amazing what you are doing! I started my blog a few months ago and am in the swing of things now, but have noticed resistance to doing guest posts…feels like another layer to peel away of being nervous of what people will think of me! Anyhow’s just arranged to do my first this week, so bring it on! Your story is spurring me on even more! Jen x

  70. Holy crap that is an insane amount of Guest Posts. Red Bull on the ready right.

  71. Hi Josh, This sounds like it’s been a successful project! Thanks for offering insights for other bloggers who want to try this. Did you post the offer on other sites besides your blog? What advice would you give if you had a new blog or low readership blog about getting the word out, i.e. would you email bloggers directly, use Twitter, etc.?

  72. @Sandra: I didn’t post about this on other blogs, but when I remembered, I did ask the bloggers who received guest posts to mention the marathon in their intros to my guest posts.

    Email and Twitter are certainly great options, and if I hadn’t already had a base to draw from, I would have started with those and Facebook.

    What you’re calling a low readership might actually give you a chance to ease into the project if you try it. If you only get a couple of responses to begin with, you’ll be able to test it out before you’re committed to something you wish you’d never started (potentially:)

  73. Josh, thanks for the tips. You may be on to something — it would be good to ease into it. Maybe a like a 5K or half marathon instead of a marathon. ;)

  74. Hi Josh, thanks for a great post. I’m a newbie and love to hear all the creative ways to connect with other bloggers. Again thank you for sharing.

  75. It was a nice post and i enjoyed reading what happened and the outcome of your guest posts. As of now, I have only written one guest post and would like to write more, but my time is limited. That’s not a good excuse, but without time, there is little I can do.

  76. Hey Josh,

    That is a hell of alot of guest posting. I ‘m guessing my blog was probably one of those that benefited from your writing. I’m kind of going through my own guest posting bllitz right now so, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how it all turns out, but I agree that it’s a key component to growth. Sometimes you see spike come a few days after your post is published.

  77. That was a very entertaining and helpful post. I have not read anything like that in weeks. Very inspiring. Thank You.

  78. Marisol didn’t help with spascitiy and just made me High. Not unpleasant but not desirable and quite embarrassing. Threw them away. I have two teenagers and with my MS, Tics, and all the other stuff that makes me special – I don’t think they need to be embarrassed by a stoned Mom. Right now, I’m doing really well – knock on wood. Sending directed well wishes to your MSer sister.