Guest posting builds relationships with your fellow bloggers, and makes you more notable to both readers and search engines: it increases your authority and credibility to your audience while extending your reach to new people, and it builds your reputation online through authoritative backlinks. It’s five times as valuable as original content, because of those banklinks.
Which of those benefits do you need?
- a “natural” promotion of your blog, building your personal brand as an authority?
- more traffic and more subscribers?
- more backlinks?
Identify your goals. If you do it right, you can accomplish all three of the above. If you need the first and second, you need to schmooze and submit to blogs with an established and huge readership. If you only want the third, submit to blogs with a good root domain authority (higher than yours! To check this, use tools like Majestic).
You MUST have goals. Knowing your goal helps you strategize on what to include in the guest post and where to submit.
How to find blogs where you can submit a guest post
Guest blogging opportunities could be right under your nose. They don’t always have to be the big ones who can be intimidating and very hard to break through because of the volume of submissions.
Go to blogs in your niche and take note of who writes the posts. Sometimes there are clear invitations and guidelines for submissions, and sometimes you have to wing it and go direct and personal. We’ll get to this in a bit.
To start you off, try good ol’ Google search. The keyword is your niche, of course.
- keyword “guest post submissions”
- keyword “submit a guest post”
- keyword “guest post by”
- keyword “accepting guest posts”
- keyword “guest post guidelines”
- keyword “guest post” OR “guest blog”
And then examine the results according to the following criteria. A good guest post opportunity means:
- The blog’s content is in your niche/industry
- The readers WOULD benefit from what you can contribute.
- The blogger is active on social media (so you know your guest post will be promoted, not just posted and left alone)
- The blog has an active readership. Posts are commented on and shared.
How to pitch a guest post
Before making your pitch out of the blue, make yourself known to the blogger. Be visible and active. Spend one to two weeks being their best friend on social media, and contributing comments on their blog posts. For those with submission forms, submit through there. But that doesn’t mean you can write as if you’re talking to a robot. It’s so easy to forget it’s a person who’ll end up reading those forms. Be personable!
- Be personal. And by personal, it means getting to know the blogger so that when you make contact, you know what buttons to push for positive response. Read the About page, the lead magnets, the current activities. E.g., a blogger promoting a talk or a boot camp would be busy– so your guest post might go toward a similar topic, or would simply be helpful to tide things over with meaty content while the blogger is away/occupied.
- Be confident– not arrogant. Be charming and show off your sense of humor. You don’t want to sound like you’re expecting a rejection, but you shouldn’t sound as if the guest post is already in the bag. Find a happy medium between humility and integrity.
- Schmooze. Be sincerely flattering— show the blogger you’re a reader, or that you’ve made yourself familiar with the blog. What’s your favorite post? Perhaps your guest post could link to a previous post, or was inspired by one?
When submitting to newspapers and magazines, they always advise you to read the magazine. Same with blogs!
Look at these two examples of guest post cover letters:
Mary: I’ve written an awesome post that your readers at Blogelina will love.
Martha: Hi Tanya, I know you’re busy these days with the Blogging Boot Camp– I thought I could help you with a post about lead magnets.
Who do you think gets the guest post? Martha, of course. She showed me she reads the blog (knows I haven’t written about lead magnets yet) and knows what I’m up to (the Boot Camp), and she proposed something to help. It’s charming.
Of course, Mary could have hooked me with her next sentences, too, but best to start off like Martha did, especially if you email directly, and the email preview shows your first sentence only!
- ASK. Don’t be shy. Sometimes all you need to do is ask and be charmingly audacious about it. If it’s not clear whether or not the blogger takes guest posts, ask.
- Think: What can I do to help? What’s in it for the blogger and for the blog’s readers? Be specific. It doesn’t always pertain to a guest post submission either. Say, a blogger could share that she’s deep in a project– offer to help!
- Sell your post as if you’re selling it to readers. The blogger IS your first reader. Give a magnetic headline and outline the points to be covered. In the above example, Martha goes on to outline her post about lead magnets.
- What’s in it for the readers? “I’ve read and participated in [this post’s] comments and I think they’d love that I’ve curated and written a comprehensive guide to their questions.”
- After you’ve successfully done all the above (charmed the blogger and made your pitch irresistible), the blogger would be intrigued enough to wonder who you are. So introduce yourself–briefly…
- …and let your past writing sell you as an author. The blogger would wonder if you’re as good as your email/submission form. Give proof that you can be trusted to deliver.
- Name-drop. Show the blogger he’d be in good company, that you’d been published here and here, or had taken a boot camp with so and so.
Writing a guest post
Same as writing your own posts, except with a higher quality, that’s how! Every guest post is a lead magnet. It has to wow readers and lead them to you. Your post should be complete, comprehensive, well-written and edited to perfection, with apt stock images or custom graphics thrown in.
- Adapt the tone and style of the blog. You’re not at home. You’re a guest. You should follow the house rules. You shouldn’t submit to blogs where you don’t feel at home anyway!
- Make it easy for the blogger to publish your post. It should be copy and paste, bam, done. Include meta-tags, meta-description, etc. If you’re not sure, ask right away in your pitch what HTML you need to include, both for the text and the images, if any. You’d need dimensions for the images, too.
- Be careful about links. Make each and every one work for you and the blogger. I’ve seen guest post submissions peppered with links back to the guest writer’s blog and posts. This self-serving, spamming behavior wouldn’t serve you at all: the blogger would delete them, or simply reject your submission. Link to your blog, the blog you’re guesting in, AND other blogs. Internal and source links. It’s like planting seeds of good will. Everyone happy and appreciative!
Planning for links makes it apparent why you needed a goal or outcome for your guest post in the first place:
- Want more readers and engagement? Link to pertinent posts in the article itself. You also get to pick what you pitch, so that you don’t sound ridiculous when you segue to the posts you wanted to promote. Everything should be relevant and related.
- Need to build your list? You should already have created a lead magnet, and you could link readers to the download page of your giveaway in your bio.
How to promote and be a good guest
- Link to the post from your blog. Don’t repost what you’ve just submitted, but talk about it and link to it! Your host blogger will love it if you also lead new readers their way. Guest posting is give and take, but aim to give and give!
- Post and share it on Twitter and Facebook (not just once!), and be sure to tag the blogger’s page/account.
- Thank the blogger. Yes, you already did when you were in contact, but thanking your host in public is a requisite.
- Be sure to check in and respond to comments on the post. Don’t just submit and disappear!
Your guest post bio
Keep it short– don’t list so many credentials, but do list the one most relevant to what you’d just written.
Hark back to your goals and use your 1-2 links wisely. Accordingly, link to a lead magnet landing/download page, or your homepage, or a specific blog post.
Don’t forget to include your social, if the default format of the bio doesn’t include it yet. Like in your article itself, finish with a CTA in your bio! “Follow me” or “Visit me” or “Get my free ebook…”
How to be on the other side: when you host guest posts
Aside from showing your audience that you’ve become an authority enough to be the gathering place for other bloggers in the same niche, you get backlinks too, when you’re the host! And you get to have great content without spending the time and effort in creating them. What’s not to love, right?
BONUS: Knowing these criteria for picking guest bloggers also gives you insight on how to BE a great guest blogger.
- The guest author should be an author… They should already have published their work online. What have they written? Is it great content?
- … And an active blogger. Do they follow through, actively sharing about their posts on social media and responding to comments? That’s a preview of what you’re likely to get!
- How’s their linking? Looking at their previous write-ups, do they link with a purpose? A minimum of 1-2 links in the bio, and 4 and up on the article itself. That shows you the author is knowledgeable and a wide reader in their niche, aware of what’s already out there.
- Is the pitch unique and well-done? With thousands of articles getting written everyday, what new and irresistible thing does your guest blogger offer?
Have you done a guest post yet?
Share your own tips for success! And if you’re planning to guest post or you host guest posts, let me know about your strategy and screening process in the comments!