Guest posting can be a great content marketing strategy for many reasons, most of which I covered in a very recent post called Guest blogging and why it’s an important part of content marketing.
After receiving a large number of comments and requests for this post, I realized it needed a follow-up to explain more about how to approach guest blogging, and to discuss with you some handy tips and guidelines to help you create great content and successfully pitch your guest posts to target blogs and websites.
First, consider where you want your guest content to be published.
Start with your own business and blog, know what it stands for, what it’s about. Then look at your guest blogging opportunities and select a well-thought list of partners with similar interests and demographic targets that you can contact for guest posting. Pitch only to sites that are relevant to your industry and that speak to your target audience.
For SEO reasons, you want your backlinks to come from reputable authority websites, so do consider the traffic and subscriptions data of the guest-posting partners of your interest, whether they provide you with an author bio with a ‘do follow’ link, or if they will help you promote your content once it’s published.
There are many techniques you can use to find guest blogging opportunities for your blog. Here’s a few:
Social Media: Contact groups or communities on different platforms, or simply publish on your social profiles that you’re interested in guest blogging opportunities.
Google: You can quickly find popular blogs in your niche by searching for “your niche + blogs” and see if anyone offers to contribute to their site. You can also search for keywords relevant to your niche and add phrases such as “become a guest writer” – “submit guest post” – “contribute to our site” etc.
Blogger directories: Directories such as Alltop and Technorati can help you find the most trafficked blogs in your niche and give you an idea of what websites might be interested in guest posts on your topics of expertise.
There’s also a great guide for this on Moz called 15 smart ways to find guest posting opportunities.
Study the website and content.
Go to the About page of the site, check the site owner’s bio, go through the content, read the posts they’ve published, and try as much as you can to understand the subject and the unique voice of the website or blog.
Look through the topics already covered on the site and think what you can add that’s new and relevant, or gives an interesting twist.
If you happen to know someone who has already guest-posted on that same site, ask this person for some tips.
Understand and follow the guest posting guidelines of the blog you pitch.
Almost every website and blog that accepts guest posts has a list of guidelines that needs to be followed when pitching them with guest content. Especially the established ones you want your website to be linked to.
These rules and instructions give answers to most of your questions regarding writing and posts editing, introduce you to the specific do’s and don’ts; so make sure to read and carefully follow the guidelines to be able to produce quality content that speaks great about your business.
Write your best post, holding up to your usual high standards.
It’s maybe hard to fight the temptation of keeping your top content for yourself; but still you must look at guest posting as one of your best marketing tools available, and never submit anything less than perfect.
Do your homework, research the facts you’ve included, provide links and footnotes that back up your statements, apply the same quality control and everything else that you usually do with your own content. Double-check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and find someone to additionally proofread your writing.
Don’t forget to include a byline and link to your website when sending your ready-to-publish guest post.
The end result might end up looking somewhat like my guest post on youngupstarts.com
Make the guest post interesting and informative.
Just like when creating your own content, you should consider the needs and interests of the audience, – site owner and regular readers alike, – and let them guide you through everything from deciding the title of the post to the very end conclusion.
Get creative with your topic, even if you feel it’s a little bit dull and mundane; try to find some new angle to fit it into a relevant current subject. Instead of writing an article full of financial terms and boring facts, share tips that help readers save time and money in their everyday tasks. If you’re selling clothes, tell your new audience on which parties and events they can wear it etc.
They may feel generic, but the fact is that “How-To” and “Top-Ten” lists and guides are some of the most popular types of guest posts out there. It’s because they provide relevant and practical information that readers can immediately apply in their everyday lives.
Stay relevant and tell readers what they don’t already know.
To pitch a successful guest post you must have something genuinely new to say that hasn’t already been covered about the topic. Any referencing of other people’s work can only be used as a background material for your own point of view. As an expert in your industry, you can introduce the new audience to a different side of a story that they might not considered otherwise, or just share your thoughts and opinions on the subject matter to at least create a buzz.
Email the blogger or site editor with your best pitch.
The trickiest part of all is getting your guest post accepted. This makes pitching one of the most crucial steps to landing a gig. Here’s how to write the perfect pitch for your guest content:
1. Be short and to the point. If the pitch is too long busy bloggers and editors may not even read it. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary flattery. Keep your tone polite and professional.
2. Shortly introduce yourself at the beginning, giving your name, professional background and interests in one sentence. That’s often more than enough for a solid first impression.
3. Explain why you like their website and why you want to write for it. To fortify this you can even add a link to a recent post that you particularly like and continue from there.
4. Be clear about the benefits from your guest post and how it relates to the regular audience interests. Maybe you’ve noticed some comments where readers share questions and concerns about your topic, or even better, you have an attractive subject that hasn’t been covered yet. Tell that.
5. Send the title and bulleted outline of your proposed guest post to assure the people you pitch that they can trust your skills and content. Don’t forget to underline if the post has not been published yet.
6.Include a link or two to relevant posts of your own that you are proud of to assure the site owner and editor that you deserve their attention. Also subtly mention and link to previous guest posts on other relevant, or possibly, bigger blogs and websites.
7. Make it easy! In today’s busy world no one gladly accepts additional responsibilities. So make sure you’ve made everything easier for the decision maker to say yes. Ask if you can include few recommended images together with the proposal, or if they want the content in a fully formatted html version for example.
8. End with a call to action. Tell the person you are pitching to what to do next. Try to get their minds to the next ‘yes’. Ask if they’ll like to take a look at your proposed guest post, should you send it over, and make sure to attach the proposal if it’s required with the site guidelines.
Follow up after sending your pitch.
Be persistent, but do not annoy the blogger or website editor. Consider the amount of emails, tweets and instant messages these people receive on a regular basis before you rush in with your follow-up. Send your first follow up email regarding the status of your guest post if you don’t get a response in five to seven days, or after the time set in the guidelines. Keep the tone elegant and positive. If you still get no answer, move on to another blog or website, and inform the contact person that you will be using the content elsewhere.
Promote your guest post and engage the audience.
Thank the site owner if your guest blog gets published. Leave space for future collaboration. Then, start treating your guest post same as any other content of your own – share it, tweet it, pin it, email it… Social media marketing is a must today for absolutely every business.
You can also publish a short introduction to the post on your own blog and add a link to the whole piece for those who want to find out more.
Be there to engage with readers who respond to your guest content and interact with them in the comments. It is a great and natural way to connect with your audience and build strong relationships and trust.
Repeat it over and over again.
As with everything else in life, it’s important to not give up when writing and pitching guest content. It takes time for it to become an effective strategy for your business’ promotion; and we also get better with repetition and learning from the mistakes that we do.
Don’t get discouraged or complain if your guest post gets rejected. Even the best writers have been rejected at some point in their careers. Ask for constructive feedback and suggestions on how to improve, or offer another post on a different topic. Be consistent, and do it again, and again.
What about you? Do you have experience with guest posting someplace? Tell us your thoughts and personal tips or share a particular pitch that you like. Please drop your comments below.