Do you often think about sharing your experience of vision loss but lack the resources to blog your own post? Perhaps you have a passion in other areas of your life you know would help others if they only knew what you knew, but coding a web post is not your forte? No problem—consider becoming a guest blogger!
Maribel Steel, who is legally blind, a VisionAware peer advisor, and a Top 100 Freelance Blogger (as listed on Feedspot.com) wants to let you know it’s absolutely possible!
Here are some easy ways to help you get started as a blogger without having to set up your own blog and why it is a great way to "sneak into writing" on the Internet.
Open the Gate to Possibility
I began blogging in 2011 because I wanted to share my perspective of living with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). It seemed there were a whole lot of blogs out there on every topic you could imagine but that didn’t perturb me; who else could say what I had to say? As a freelance writer, I felt a passionate urge to share my life stories and expertise as I stood "At the Gateway to Blindness," which became my first blog.
What I’ve learned on the blogging-journey is that it is important to take notice of other bloggers and to read their posts. Here is the key to open the gate to possibility, you have to imagine where your story, your personal expertise and advice, your passionate voice will fit into their theme and ultimately inspire the editor of that blog and their readers. In short, you can pitch your ideas and be a guest blogger on someone else’s popular site!
Being Blind as an Advantage
There are countless bloggers who are open to receiving a pitch from a guest writer. The main thing a host blogger is looking for is a great story, something to catch attention, a refreshing article that reflects their themes and values. Your visual disability is not a barrier to blogging; in fact, living from your sensory world, you are at a writing advantage. You see, most writers who study the craft of writing are highly encouraged to bring a sensory element into their stories. You are at an advantage here because of the following reasons:
- You can naturally write from your feelings where all the senses inform your story, including a sensory description (like describing what you hear, taste, smell, and touch) that brings images alive for the reader as an evocative piece.
- You can use those moments of frustration that can occur with vision loss and offer your insights or reflections that fire up your writing (once polished as a helpful article, not a rant against the world).
- You have most probably gained skills in other areas of your life and have overcome difficult hurdles and live to tell your tale.
- Use your natural skills to delegate and let your host do the posting!
How Serendipity Gets You Started
In 2012, when my first pitch on using assistive technology for the blind was accepted by a male editor of a popular writer’s blog (I had a feeling he’d like a tech piece), I received an immediate email request to be interviewed on another person’s blog. As serendipity played her part, I was connected to Amy Bovaird’s blog (another writer with a visual disability and now a peer advisor on VisionAware), which led to the next guest post on "Vision Through Words," which led to…. and so on. It dawned on me that I had found a writing niche by offering anecdotes true to my personal experiences of living with blindness. Knowing my field of expertise gave me a boost of confidence and a whole lot of new stories to pitch and polish. My point here is to encourage you to just take that first step, that first well-honed pitch, and yes, leap across Cyberspace with your ideas to land in the inbox of a blogger you admire and feel would benefit from your knowledge.
Before You Send Your Story
First of all, identify what you want to write about. Do you have a flair for cooking, have a hobby, a sport, a travel experience that is memorable in more ways than one? Do you have advice and specific solutions you would like to share with others? What are your insights and passions?
Consider for a moment the topics that could become your writing "niche."
- What are your personal strengths or professional talents?
- What can you share exactly?
- Who would be your type of reader? (This is known as your target audience).
Homework Pays Off
Once you are confident about what you can write, now go on a Google search to find blogs in your passion-topic. This is crucial homework if you want to find the perfect place for your guest posts. It is also a valuable use of your time to discover what is out there on the Internet that will inspire even more creative ideas so do keep your findings in a file to refer to later.
A hint here: VisionAware has a blogroll with a list of over 70 bloggers who post on the topic of blindness. You may like to begin there and investigate if any of the bloggers are open to receiving guest posts.
Checklist for Success
As you look around to find those blog sites who could be interested in your story, keep in mind the following considerations.
- Does the blog you would like to write for actually ask for submissions? Tab around to find out, and if so, what are the categories and guidelines?
- Can you identify a gap where your story could appeal to or entertain their readers? This can be done by taking an in-depth view on a popular topic and then explore that one aspect from your point of view. Spin it around and come up with a refreshing perspective (as I did on the assistive technology post).
- Silence the inner critic who will try to throw you off track.
- Take time to create a quiet writing space to nurture these seed-thoughts to fruition.
- Think of the reader and how you can shape a story that will enhance their lives.
- Write to your best ability, rewrite, edit, check for errors, and have someone else proof read the final draft to catch anything you may have missed.
- Make your pitch short and to the point.
- Re-pitch to another blogger if your first attempts fall short of your target.
- Keep in close communication with your host blogger-editor if they do accept your pitch so they know they can rely on you to deliver the goods. This creates goodwill for future guest posts.
Guest Blogging out on a Limb
When you decide on your "right" pitch and post, it will be like going out on a writer’s limb to propose an article to a person with a successful blog and to deliver on time when it is accepted will push you right out of your comfort zone. The key is to stay true to your expertise, have fun writing to an audience who are waiting to welcome you into their readership and let your creative ideas come alive on another person’s blog.
As a new guest writer, you can relax once your post is accepted because you are free of all website coding, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social media connections, and so many other aspects of maintaining a blog you will never have to do as a guest blogger with low vision—ain’t guest blogging grand!
Maribel’s PDF "Feature Writing: 7 Essential Elements to an Engaging Article"
Self-Publishing: A Pathway to Sharing Your Story
Self-Publishing: Challenges and Rewards