I’ve recently started guest posting on other blogs. So far, I’ve offered content to five websites, and all five have accepted.
But here’s the best part: I didn’t have to spend months reading these blogs or building relationships with their authors. Yes, I enjoy their content and respect the bloggers, but doing that kind of legwork takes huge amounts of time–time that I just don’t have.
Today, I’m here to tell you how I did it.
But before we go too far, let me be clear about one thing: guest posting is not an SEO tactic. If your main focus is generating links back to your website or improving your rankings, you’re wasting your time. There are far more effective ways to go after those easy wins.
What you should be doing is writing for websites that could potentially send relevant traffic to your website. This is the kind of traffic that’s most likely to generate future business for you.
Honestly, if you’re trying to guest post for a website that isn’t likely to generate new business for you, there’s really no point in doing it. For example, there is no benefit in me guest posting on a web design resource blog, even though that’s the easiest place to get my content published, simply because the only kind of people reading design blogs are other designers. And other designers aren’t likely going to be interested in my design services.
Ok, so hopefully we’re clear. Repeat after me:
- We will not guest post for links.
- We will not guest post on blogs that cannot help us generate business.
- We will not use guest posting as an SEO tactic.
Now, on to the strategy.
Step #1 Find a Blog
This is both the easiest and hardest step. There are an infinite number of blogs out there, and you could easily pick one out of a hat, but finding the right blog for your content is a true art.
One of the ways I find new blogs is by perusing “top blog” lists compiled by other people. This is handy because it helps you quickly zero in on the most popular blogs in a certain topic area.
For example, if you wanted to target consumers who like cooking, you could search for “best cooking blogs.” Chances are, this search will lead you to a variety of lists, written by people who have already done your homework for you.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to find the right blogs. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to share my expertise, so I’m hyper aware of potential guest posting outlets and will stumble across them all over the place. For example, one of my guest posting opportunities came from a Facebook Ad targeting small businesses (an audience I am interested in reaching).
Pro tip: Don’t worry about things like PageRank. The only stat I care about is whether the content is being shared and if the blog has the potential to generate business for me.
Step #2 Find the Guidelines
Ok, so you’ve identified a blog that’s a perfect fit for your content. Now, it’s time to do a little research into the blog and to track down their guest posting guidelines, if they exist. If the blog doesn’t have a search bar, you can search via Google by typing: “guest post site:thedomain.com.” Google will search the domain and see if it can locate any content about guest posting.
If the blog offers guidelines, great! If not, skim through their content and see if you can find any posts from guest authors. If so, it tells you that they are at least open to accepting guest posts.
If you can’t find any information on guest posting, try reaching out to the blogger or company on Twitter. Most people will be happy to shoot you a quick answer that way, even if it’s a no.
Pro tip: Check the blog’s contact form. Sometimes, blogs will include a drop-down for suggested subject lines and guest posting will be one of the options. That’s a clear sign that they allow guest posting.
Step #3 Write First
Yes, you read that headline correctly: write the article first. Often, when we pitch our ideas before actually writing the content, we get too caught up in generating ideas that we think will make a blog pick us, rather than ideas that truly reflect our expertise.
When we spend the time to write the content first, we can focus on creating great content, rather than just trying to impress an editor at a blog. If you have your own blog, you can always post the article there if the blog doesn’t end up accepting it, so your effort is never wasted.
Also, when you write the content first, the person on the other end is almost guaranteed to at least read it, unless they don’t accept guest posts or you sound like you’re from India.
Pro tip: Because you’re focused on finding blogs that hit your key audience you should have no troubles writing content that helps them. Write your expertise and focus on what you know.
Step #4 Send it Over
This is the scariest part. I used to spend days contemplating sending over a request to guest post. Now, I do it without hesitation, and so far my success rate is 100%.
So just do it! The worst thing that can happen is they might say no–in which case, you can simply pack up and move on to the next blog.
Here is how I craft my message to blog editors:
- Get to the point. Don’t try to sell your content. Just explain, in simple, straightforward, friendly language, who you are and why you believe your content aligns well with what their readers are looking for.
- Tell them what the post is about. Give a brief summary of the post itself so editors can tell at a glance whether your content is in the right ballpark. Make sure to include the hot angle that makes your take on a topic so unique.
- Mention why you picked their blog. When I write content for other blogs, it’s generally because it suits their audiences better than my own blog’s. For example, not many startup business owners read my blog, but that’s an audience I’d love to work with. If you’re in a similar boat, you can use this to your advantage by saying something along the lines of, “I wrote this blog post about XYZ, but I believe it would be better suited for your blog than mine.”
- Show that you know their audience. Along with explaining what the article is about, you need to explain why that article is perfect for their audience. In doing so, you’re also illustrating that you actually know who their target audience is. No need to go overboard with this–just two or three points is plenty.
- Include a link, not an attachment. I never attach my guest posts to emails. Instead, I put them in Google Drive and send the editors a shared link. This makes it easier for the editors to share the article with their teams, if necessary. They’re also just more likely to click a link than to open an attachment. (I personally rarely open attachments from others.)
Pro tip: Only send your article to one person at a time. Then, wait for a response before sending it to anyone else. I once didn’t hear back from someone in what I thought was a timely manner, and in my impatience, I sent the article along to another blog. They both ended up responding and wanting to post it! Whoops.
Like I said, I’ve just recently started guest posting, and so far, this method has worked for me 100% of the time.
The keys to success, in my experience, are to not worry about SEO, write content that is unique and relevant, and make sure the content suits the blog’s audience.
All any blogger wants is quality content that their readers will like. What they have zero interest in is some promotional piece about your company that’s clearly only meant to increase your rankings.