Guest posting is one of the popular tactics for driving targeted traffic and building authority. It helps grow your personal brand and if done right can boost your search engine rankings. This post will guide you through the guest posting process. You will learn everything you need to know about creating a strategy that will give you the biggest benefits, identifying sites to post on, and making a successful outreach pitch. Let’s get started.
Why you should be guest blogging
Some bloggers are skeptical about giving away their content to others. They believe the best use of their time is to create content for their own sites. I agree with them. Working on your own site is the priority. You want your best content to live on your own site as that will give you the biggest benefits in the long run. It will earn you all the traffic, links and authority. You will not need to share it with anyone else like you do when guest posting.
It is still worth doing guest posting, especially in the early days of your site or if you’re trying to reach a new and different audience. Let’s look at the benefits:
- You build your authority and influence
- You get exposure in front of a targeted audience
- You get more traffic
- You get comments and feedback on your work
- You get new followers to your social media profiles
- You get a link from a relevant site that can help you rank better
- You can get even more links if your content gets spread
- You build relationship with other writers
How you should NOT be doing it
Thanks to the benefits of guest posting, there is a growing trend of posts no longer being written by authentic bloggers wanting to promote their sites, but written by outsourced freelancers getting paid to include links to different companies and products within the content. You also have to be aware of this trend when accepting guest writers on your own site.
Google and other search engines react to this trend by giving less value to these links and by making them ineffective for search engine optimization. You don’t want to be put in that box. Make sure not to do these things in order not to be negatively affected in search rankings when guest blogging:
- Don’t do it for the links only
- Don’t scale it to a large numbers of posts
- Don’t post on any site that will accept you
- Don’t automate the whole process
- Don’t use teams of outsourced writers
- Don’t use spammy anchor text on links
In other words keep the quality control standards at a high level. Think carefully when guest posting. Don’t post only to acquire links that may help you rank better. Factors like branding, traffic and influence should matter more than links.
10 step process to identify a site and make a pitch
Now that you are clear on the benefits of guest posting, and on what you should not be doing, let us take the look at how you can identify sites you want to contribute to and how you pitch a guest post:
- Research the site you want to post on. You need to find the right site. Look through the about section and the content. Find out what type of content they post, what topics they cover and what seems to get a lot of social media shares and comments. Think how does this fit with the audience you are trying to reach.
- Look for quality sites only. Sites that have quality content. Sites that are authoritative in their fields. Sites that have regular contributors that publish great articles. Sites that don’t rely on guest posts. Many sites have become content farms for low quality guest posts from companies selling a lot of dubious products. You should stay away from those sites.
- Look for sites with a large audience. Sites that have very active comment areas. Sites that have many social media followers and shares on their posts. After all you do want to spread the word about yourself to a larger audience.
- Does the site accept guest posts? Look in the about or contact section. Sometimes they have a “Write for us” tab on the navigation. Sometimes you will see posts written by different people. You have a higher chance of succeeding if the site already accepts submissions from other authors.
- Build a rapport to make yourself noticed. Don’t just contact the site out of the blue. You are more likely to get your post accepted if the blogger already knows you and has a relationship with you. Become a part of the community. Comment on posts. Reference the site in your own content. Get in touch on Twitter. Tweet their link with your own comment and add @mention. These actions are appreciated and remembered.
- Find your angle. Think of a relevant topic to something you have read on the site. It can be an article that goes in depth and answers some questions from visitors or can be a follow up to something they have already posted about. Have something important, useful, valuable and original to say in your article. No one will feature your article if they do not believe that your article creates value to their audience.
- Make the pitch. You did your research. You built the relationship with the blogger. You have a good idea that you think fits perfectly for the site. Contact the blogger and “sell” your article and the idea of it being featured. Explain why you think your article should be featured, why it is a great fit and how it will help their audience. Keep it brief. Show that you respect their time.
- Pitch email example. This is an email I successfully used when posting on one of the biggest sites in my field. Note how I submitted my post directly within the pitch. You don’t necessary have to do this, but can pitch the idea only and only upon acceptance work on creating the article.
I have written an article which can be used as a continuation of the video tip at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/11/11/how-to-find-advertisers-for-your-blog/.
When reaching out to potential advertisers, it is very useful to prepare kind of a media kit of your own blog, to be able to easier sell your blog to the advertiser. The full article is below.
Let me know if you are interested in having this article in your blog as a guest blogger article. I can easily amend/add to the article if you needed me to incorporate your earlier tip into it.
- If you don’t hear anything, follow up in about a week. Gently ask them if they had a chance to have a look at your email.
- If the response is negative, there is nothing you can do. Your guest posting road will be full of rejections so be comfortable with them. Don’t take it personal. You tried, you did your best but it was not the right time. In any case, you have nothing to lose by asking, so keep trying with other sites. Gone with The Wind was rejected by 38 publishers AND won a Pulitzer. I’m not saying that you should be blind to the flaws in your own work because rejections do tell you something. If they do have time to give you constructive feedback, take it with both hands and examine it with the cold efficiency you don’t really possess to see what you’re going to absorb into the development of your work. Realise that your writing isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Some bloggers will feature you over and over because they connect with your way of storytelling or dig your content, and others won’t because it doesn’t speak to them.
6 things to do after your pitch gets accepted
Your post pitch has been accepted? That’s great news, congratulations! But what do you do now?
- Deliver on your pitch. If you do get through and get your pitch accepted you have done a great job. Now it is about delivering on your pitch and providing a quality article. Approach the article creation the same way you approach creating great content for your own site. Presentation is key. Make sure that you create a great headline.
- Follow the familiar format and structure. Look at the format they normally post and the structure of posts they use. You will be able to get the feel of how the posts are actually written. Every audience is different; some audience loves personal posts, some like education resources. Use the most appropriate format of the post.
- Make sure your post is unique. All articles submitted as guest posts have to be unique, and written exclusively for the site in question. Never try to reuse and recycle some content that has already been published somewhere else. Bloggers want unique and original content, so does Google. In some cases Google may penalize blogs that post duplicate content.
- Provide quality content. Submit a thrilling piece of content that has great potential in getting spread in social media. Provide value to the audience you are writing for.
- Create an attractive signature with your name and a link back to your site to be placed at the end of your post. Mention what your site is about and state a good reason for visiting it. Keep it brief and be direct. Include a link to one of your relevant and catchy posts that you’d like them to read next. Consider including a link to your Twitter profile or Google+ profile when relevant.
- Include another link in the content itself. Make it a very relevant link. This is good as it could give you more clicks and another strong link your search engine rankings. Many sites won’t accept links within the content but it is worth a try if it helps tell a better story.
4 things to do after your post gets published
So after all this hard work your post has finally been published on another site. You already start seeing the visitor coming in. Here’s what you need to do in order to get the most out of your post:
- Promote the post through your own social media channels in order to raise awareness of you being featured. Tag or @mention the author that featured you where possible.
- Respond to comments. Your post will receive comments and social media shares. Do take some time to respond to each and every comment, so the blogger can see that you are participating in the development of the conversation in his community. This will help drive even more traffic to your site as people will notice you responding to their comment and will be inclined to visit you.
- Welcome the new visitors. Make sure that your site features good content and good presentation to keep the new visitors interested enough to browse around, read some of your other articles and subscribe or follow you in social media. Use a plugin like Referrer Detector to place targeted welcome messages on top of your content to specific visitors.
- Track the data and analyze the performance. Identify how many people found you through the guest post. What did they do on your site. Which of the links within your guest post did they click on the most. Analyzing data will help you make better decisions when submitting future guest posts.