Guest posting is one of the most powerful ways to grow your website / blog / online business. Guest posting helps you:
- Build inbound links to improve your search engine rankings;
- Attract highly targeted traffic; &
- Gain exposure and build your expertise.
As they say, famous bloggers become famous bloggers by blogging on famous blogs.
1. Guest Posting Strategy
Before you start pitching your guest posts, you need to do some preliminary work.
Get in the right mindset
Scared you do not have the credentials to submit guest posts? Don’t be. When I got my first guest post, I had not been published anywhere except on my own site. What matters are not your credentials but the quality of your content. If you have a good piece, pitch it.
If you need to build your confidence, you can start by submitting guest posts to smaller blogs. Their editorial requirements are easier to satisfy. Plus it will give you a taste of the procedure.
In the long run, however, you want to…
Stick to the big blogs
Researching, writing and pitching guest posts takes effort. Best to pitch to blogs that give you a good return on investment.
A guest post on a smaller blog, for example, earned me 10 subscribers. A guest post on ProBlogger, in comparison, earned me 30 subscribers.
Now, multiply this over the long term, say 5 guest posts
Small blog: 5 x 10 subscribers = 50 subscribers.
Big blog: 5x 30 subscribers = 150 subscribers.
Same amount of effort, 3x the return (50 vs. 150 subscribers).
Research your blogs
Create a list of 5-15 blogs you want to target.
Then go and read 5 posts on each of those blogs. Take into account the theme of the blog, the terminology they use, the formality of the language used, typical post length etc.
Also, if they have one, read through the submission guidelines (usually located on the ‘write for us’ page).
Make yourself familiar
As well as knowing what the blog is about, you also want to make the blog owner/editor know what you are about. Why? Because it is a proven fact that familiarity breeds content.
So make yourself known to the blog by commenting on the blog or interacting with them on Twitter or Facebook.
If you still do not believe me then take a look at what Niall Harbison of SimplyZesty.com, a popular online marketing blog, has to say:
“People pitch to us [SimplyZesty.com] all the time and about 90% of the time I turn them down. The problem is not the content but the fact that somebody you don’t know or have ever talked to coming straight out and asking you for something is never a good start to a relationship.
“Once I get to know somebody even over a couple of tweets I am far more likely to at least read their stuff and see if they are any good.”
2. Finding Guest Post Ideas
Now that you know what kind of blogs you want to target, you need to find article / post ideas to pitch to them.
Think angles, not ideas
The quickest way to lose a guest post is to send in the same thing that has been published over and over on the internet.
But that does not mean that you have to come up with an original idea. You just have to come up with an original angle.
Here are two proven ways to find a new angle.
Can you find a story of a famous person or event that contains a lesson relevant to the target blog?
One of my articles on DailyBlogTips.com, for example, was hardly an original idea – hard work leads to success. There were countless posts on hard work on the internet.
By relating it to the story of the world’s greatest salesman, however, I was able to find a fresh angle on an old idea and get my post accepted.
Another way to find a fresh angle is to focus on a specific part of a topic.
When I decided to submit a post on guest posting, for example, I was given the following warning by the editor at ProBlogger:
“We get a lot of articles about guest posting,” explained Georgina Laidlaw, “and I reject most of them because they don’t contain any information that hasn’t been said over and over online.”
But she accepted my post on guest posting. As Georgina explained, it contained, “really valuable information on a specific aspect of guest posting.” That aspect was preparing the pitch (more on that later). Rather than write a generic post on guest posting that everyone was sending in, I wrote a more focused pitch covering just one aspect of guest posting.
And that was the difference between being yet another boring post on guest posting and the one that got picked for publishing.
Can you expand on a particular aspect of a topic?
3. Preparing Your Guest Post Pitch
Next we look at how to write a good guest post pitch.
Pitch more than one piece
Taste is a subjective thing. You cannot guess what an editor will find interesting.
Over and over the articles I least expected to be published were accepted and the ones I thought would be great were not.
Instead of pitching a post and hoping for the best, pitch multiple post ideas. That way you increase your chances of the publisher finding something of interest.
Write post descriptions
Do not simply attach the posts to the email. Write out post outlines. Publishers are busy and do not have the time to read through all your posts. Make their job easier by providing descriptions. Here is a sample description:
The Dream Thief, the Economist and the Art of Planting Ideas
The article is about how to ‘plant ideas’ in your customers minds. It talks about the Endowment Effect and the studies on idea ownership at MIT. It goes on to look at some popular advertising campaigns that were good at planting ideas by triggering the endowment effect.
Use the right terminology
Most blogs have a theme. They target specific keywords. And they like to see these words in the content they publish on their website.
One of the quickest ways to makes you content more appealing is to use the right keywords in your post titles and descriptions.
Pitching to ProBlogger? Use words like ‘post’ and ‘blog’. Pitching to Business Insider? Use words like ‘business’ and ‘entrepreneurship’.
Show social proof
If you have already guest posted on another blog, include link(s) to the guest post in your pitch. It shows that other publications have found you interesting, which makes you more interesting to the blog at hand.
Here are some samples of my writing:
– The Dream Thief, the Economist & the Art of Planting Ideas
If you have not been published elsewhere, include links to your top blog posts. This will help the publisher get a feel for your style.
4. After The Pitch
Next we look at what to do after you have made your guest post pitch to the target blog.
Be patient & follow up
Do not be discouraged if you do not hear back straight away. Editors are busy and take time to respond. Allow 5-7 business days to hear back.
If you have not heard back after 5 days, however, send a follow up message to see if they have come to a decision. It could just be nudge they need to review and accept your post.
Do not give up if a few publications reject your post ideas. Some blogs do not accept guest posts at all. Some are not looking for them right now. Some on the other hand are just not suited to your ideas and style. You have to go through a few to find out which blogs suit you best.
When you do get accepted, the first thing is to be punctual. The number of bloggers who do not deliver after getting the go ahead or take forever to prepare the post is alarming. If you do need time to write the post, let the editor know how much time you need.
5. Preparing Your Guest Post
So the editor is interested in your writing a guest post for their blog. What now?
Put effort into it
Make the post as good as you can make it. Do not skimp on quality. The better the post, the more hits, likes and tweets it will get. This not only means more visitors back to your site but also more chances to guest post at the blog again.
Specifically, things to look out for include…
Avoid shameless promotion
Do not put 20 links in the opening paragraph of the post. Shamelessly promoting yourself is one of the easiest way to ruin a guest post opportunity. Remember, the post is by you not about you. Only talk about yourself if it is necessary to the topic at hand.
Only put a link in if it is necessary and limit it to 1-2 links per post.
Suggest multiple headlines
Suggest multiple titles / headlines for the post. It not only shows effort on your behalf but increases your chances of finding a title that the editor likes, therefore increasing your chances of having the guest post accepted.
Fix spelling and grammar
Fix your spelling and grammar before you submit the post. Run it through spell check. Get someone else to read it to see if you missed something or if a paragraph sounds clumsy.
Spelling and grammar mistakes show carelessness – not how you want the editor to see you.
Subheadings make the post consumable by breaking it into bite size pieces. They also allow readers to skim the post and see if they want to spend more time reading.
I recently read a post without subheadings. This is what someone wrote in the comments section:
“Did anyone read all the way through this?”
Another person added:
Add pictures and bio
If the target blog uses photos on their blog, find a picture to suit your post. Also, do not forget to list the source of the picture.
Add a short bio/by line of what you want included at the bottom of your guest post. This is the place to promote yourself and asking the readers to visit your site.
Be open to change
Let the editor know that you are more than willing to make any changes they want to see.
When they do suggest changes make them quickly. If you are unclear on what they want, ask the editor to clarify their request.
6. After The Guest Post
Getting the guest post is the most important part but it is not the final part of successfully landing a guest posting opportunity.
Promote the post
Once your post has been accepted and published, be a good partner and help promote the post. Like it on Facebook, Tweet it on Twitter, submit it to Digg and Reddit, email it to friends etc.
You do not have to do every single one of those things but do as many as you can.
Respond to comments
Part of being a good partner is to reply to reader comments. This also benefits you. It is a good way to spark conversations with blog readers, leading to more people visiting your blog, not to mention makes the post look more popular by increasing the comment count.
Pitch your next post
Researching a blog and preparing guest posts for submission takes effort. The good news is that if you have been doing all those things advised in this guide (suggesting multiple headlines, being punctual, making necessary changes, finding photos, responding to comments etc.), you would have built a good professional relationship with the editor. Your ability to win another guest post is magnified significantly.
Cash in the hard work and submit your next guest post idea.
Winning guest posts is not black magic. Quality posts pitched properly to the right blogs is the best way to get your guest posts accepted.