If you have been blogging for a while, chances are you have read a lot about the importance of guest blogging.
You might have been doing it for a while yourself or your feel like you are ready to take the plunge.
But how do you start?
If you haven’t done already, taking the fist step can indeed seem daunting and downright overwhelming.
You have read about the making connections, about perfecting your pitch and also about the horror stories, emerging from both camps. Bloggers complain about the horrendous pitches they receive and guest posters about the lack of response.
If you just follow a simple process, or shall I call, a system, you are sure to get it right.
Before you begin, have your list of blogs ready. It is preferable to start with a blog where you follow the blog and have some sort of a relationship with the blogger already.
By relationship I mean they know who you are. So when you email them, they will recognize your name and feel more inclined to read it.
Step 1. Research the blog
This is the first step that should NEVER, EVER skip over. Look through their blog!
If you haven’t been following them for long, or have only discovered their blog, go to their About Me page and find out their name. See if they accept guest posts. Sometimes they have a ‘Write for Us’ tab on the main navigation so look out for that. Sometimes you will see posts written by others on the homepage if the blog publishes a lot of content on a daily basis such as Problogger.
Other times you may have to dig a bit deeper to find out if the blogger accepts guest posts to avoid embarrassment later. For eg Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living or Derek Halphern of Social Triggers don’t. Some bloggers do publish them but either they are extremely choosey (Penelope trunk) or they do the bulk of writing themselves (Oni at Young prepro). Make wise choices.
Step 2. Go Through the Popular posts on the side
Now that you know the bare essentials about the blog, it’s topic and the blogger themselves, it is time to look at the popular posts that is often displayed on the sidebar.
The purpose of doing this is two fold. You want to be aware of what sort of topics do really well on the blog. For instance, on a blogging blog, is it the writing post or the traffic one? Is it the SEO one or some other? As you go through the list, you will come to see patterns.
Secondly, you want to open a few posts itself to see the format and the structure the posts usually take. Every blog audience is different; some audience loves personal posts, some like education resources. You will be able to get the feel of how the posts are actually written.
This step will also lay the foundation of step 4. But before that, step 3.
Step 3. Comment on at least one post
Now is the time to make yourself noticed, and this will play a huge part in getting your post opened.
As you have read a post or two, leave a thoughtful comment on at least one. If you can do this as part of your overall blog marketing strategy and leave a few in a week’s time, even better. But you don’t have to.
The goal is for you to get noticed as a genuine reader and not as a spammer. Which you will most likely come across, if you each out without doing the homework first.
Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic, and the associate editor at Copyblogger says that most bloggers read their comments obsessively, even if they don’t respond to all of them. When you leave a comment, it will be surely appreciated and remembered in a good way.
Also follow them on Twitter and Retweet at least one post. Be sure to add a little comment and add @mention.
Step 4. Find the perfect angle
Now you are ready to make the pitch. But what will be pitch? There are hundreds of ideas, which ones are suitable and sure to delight the blogger.
Also, think about why you are guest posting. You are after developing connections, traffic and authority. This means you need to select a topic that is useful for that particular blog’s audience but also for yours.
If you are pitching a marketing blog, (and you have a blogging blog), you could talk about using blogs to generate leads. If you are targeting a freelancing blog, you could pitch an idea about making a full time income as a freelance blogger. I have done both.
Step 5. Pitch one idea or completed post
Many people advise you to send multiple ideas to a blogger on the assumption that it will save you time and the blogger might like at least one. I don’t.
What really happens is that the blogger sees you as being indecisive or lazy. It is far better to do your research and pitch a single idea. Add detail on why it is a great fit and how it will help their audience.
Keep it brief. Show that you respect their time.
Refrain from sending generic pitches.
Step 6. Follow Up
If the blogger says yes, thank them and find out the publish date in advance so you can make time to respond to the comments and promote the post on various social media channels.
If they made any edits, accept graciously and say thanks for making your post better.
Publish a similar post on your own blog if possible and set the stage for audience that will be coming by.
If you don’t hear anything, follow up in about two weeks but be anything but accusatory in your email. Gently ask them if they had a chance to have a look at your post. Include the post to be on the safe side. You might say that if you don’t hear anything from them in 10 days, you will re-pitch to another blog, but it is not necessary.
Guest blogging is not a numbers name.
Put yourself in a popular blogger’s shoes for a second. What would you do if you received hundreds of guest post pitches in your inbox on a regular basis?
You won’t randomly pick somebody to do the job, would you? You would like to give this opportunity to somebody who you know or like, who are qualified to do the job and who pitch you an idea you just can’t refuse.
Now step back into your shoes, or heels, or whatever, and see how you can tick all these boxes.
Marya Jan is a proud content creator for Open Colleges. When she is not busy blogging for them, she can be found helping other small business owners revamp their blog content at Writing Happiness. Check it out and grab the free ebook ‘9 NEW RULES OF BLOGGING – Grow your business with little traffic, no connections & limited hours.