You don’t remember when the last time you got a full night’s sleep was, but you did it – you launched your blog. Congratulations!
I don’t want to be a negative Nancy here, but the hard part is yet to come. Starting your business will feel like a breeze when compared to the struggle of getting people’s attention and making them care about your products or services.
You’re new to the market and, to make things worse, you don’t have a platform where you can communicate your message, engage with prospects, and ultimately grow.
That needs to change. Fast!
Enter guest blogging.
Guest blogging, the practice of leveraging someone else’s popularity to promote your business/blog, is controversial, to say the least. Some say guest blogging is dead and you should completely forget about it while others claim the effort is just not worth it. The truth of the matter is that guest posting is still one of the most effective link building strategies.
Unfortunately, a lot of small business owners shy away from it, afraid that they don’t have the right tools to create guest posts that will attract the attention of popular webmasters.
In this article, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know for a successful guest posting campaign. Sure, it will take some time to learn the ropes, and you’ll probably make some mistakes along the way, but with perseverance and practice, you will manage to master the art of guest posting.
Determine Your Goals
The first thing you need to determine is what you want to achieve from your guest posting campaign. Embarking on this road without a clear goal in mind is a surefire way to waste a lot of time and energy.
Some of the most common guest blogging goals include:
- Getting Traffic to Your Site: If you’re new to the market and your audience is practically zero, guest blogging can be an excellent way to increase your exposure and put your name on the map.
- Positioning Yourself as an Expert: If your platform is not big enough, you can leverage some else’s popularity to showcase your expertise in your industry. In this day and age, when people are bombarded with information, establishing yourself as a thought leader can help you stand out.
- Build Backlinks to Your Site: A few years back, Matt Cutts from Google serenaded the death of guest posting. After creating an uproar among marketers and SEO professionals, he later said that he was referring to guest blogging as an aggressive link building technique. So, what’s the truth? The truth is that guest posting can help you with your SEO efforts as long as you get backlinks only from high-authority sites in your niche. So, be very careful when searching for guest blogging sites.
That brings us to…
Find Guest Posting Opportunities
This is probably one of the most difficult parts: deciding which blogs to target. To make the most of your efforts, take your goals into account.
Blogs within your industry are an excellent way to establish yourself as an authority in the niche, but they’re not very effective if you’re trying to get your brand’s name out there.
Blogs in related niches, however, will give you access to a larger audience pool, meaning that they are perfect for driving traffic to your website and building your email list.
Here are the steps you should follow if you want to find the right guest posting opportunities:
- Do a Google Search
Google can be one of the best places to look for guest posting opportunities – if you know how to use it. By using certain Google query commands, you can ensure that the search engine only returns relevant results.
One trick is to use the inanchor command to find blogs and websites that use your keyword as the anchor text for links. To ensure that the results you’re getting allow for guest posting, add keyphrases, such as “guest post,” “contributed by,” or “article written by” after the inanchor command.
Example: inanchor:”keyword” “guest post.”
Just replace “keyword” with actual keywords from your industry.
Example: inanchor:web design accepting guest post
- Reach Out to Prolific Guest Bloggers
If you are reading blogs related to your industry, which I’m sure you do, then you already know who has a large audience and can help you grow your startup. For example, in the online marketing space, the list includes names like Neil Patel, Gregory Ciotti or Jeff Bullas.
If you don’t know for sure who the most prolific bloggers in your niche are, then you can do a Google search with the name of your industry followed by the key phrase “guest posts by. “
- Study Your Competitors’ Backlinks
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a backlink analysis of your competitors you can, once again, turn to Google for help. All you have to do is go to the homepage and do a search for link:domain.com –domain.com guest post, where you replace “domain.com” with your competitor’s domain. This trick should reveal the sites your competitor has written for in the past.
If you want to make this part easier, you can just purchase a few great tools that can help you find potential target blogs:
Come Up with a Fresh, Creative Guest Post Idea
You’ve narrowed down the list of websites that can help you accomplish your goals. The hard work isn’t over yet.
Prolific bloggers get tons of guest posting requests every day. To maximize your chances of getting your post published, you need to pitch an idea that is creative, original and adds value to their audience. Simply rehashing the same boring topics that people have already read about a million times won’t help you make the cut.
Use tools like BuzzSumo to look for the most shared posts for each of your target blogs. Ask yourself, can you approach these top stories from a different angle and improve the original story? Can you provide new insights that can add value to an old post?
Before you put effort into creating your post, make sure that your idea is truly unique. You want your blog post to say something new about the topic and help the audience find a solution to a problem they’re having.
Prepare Your Pitch
There are a few things you should do before you reach out to bloggers and pitch your ideas. First of all, you need to get yourself familiarized with your target blog’s content. Of course, you know the blog is related to your niche, but you need to ask yourself what level their audience is (beginners, intermediate, advanced,) what type of audience are they writing for (B2B or B2C,) and what type of content do they usually publish?
Then, you need to take a look at past guest posts and see how they performed. Did they get as many shares and comments as regular posts? Does the audience seem interested in this type of content?
Lastly, you need to become a familiar face in the blog community before reaching out and pitching your ideas. The blog owner will be more likely to accept your guest post if you’ve been an active user on their site and social media channels. Take the time to read and comment on their latest post and engage with them on social media. That way, when you pitch your guest post idea, you won’t be a complete stranger.
You should also make sure that you spend enough time crafting your guest blogging proposal. Here are a few best practices you should keep in mind.
- Read the Guidelines
The first thing you need to do before sending your proposal is to read the guidelines (if applicable, of course,) and follow them closely. As I mentioned before, prolific bloggers receive a lot of requests, so if you can’t even bother to read and follow these basic guidelines, they will assume that you’re not a professional, and they’ll ignore your pitch.
- Write a Professional Subject Line
The email subject line can determine whether your email will get opened and read or sent directly to spammy. clickbait subject lines, such as “Check My Amazing Blog Post!” or “I am a successful blogger. HIRE ME!” will make you look unprofessional.
Instead, you should write a subject line that is clear and straightforward.
Example: Guest Post Submission: 10 Creative Ways to Use Snapchat for Business
- Personalize Your Email
As someone who has made a career from guest blogging, I can tell you that nothing annoys a blogger more than receiving a generic email that starts with “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Find the recipient’s name and use it. Write your email in a professional yet friendly tone, and don’t waste too much of their time with irrelevant details.
- Tell Them Who You Are and Why They Should Care
Start your email by presenting yourself. You can also add a link to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter account or other social media networks to prove that you are, in fact, a real person.
Be sure to explain why they should consider you as a guest blogger. Provide a few links to posts you’ve published in the past (including your blog) and tell them about your current project. Don’t be modest. Even if you are not a big deal yet, try to sound like one.
You’ve managed to score a few guest posts on important blogs in your niche. Now, it’s time to kick back and relax.
Not so fast!
You still have some work to do.
The next step you need to take to ensure a prolific guest posting campaign is to promote your article both on your blog and social media channels.
In the end, don’t forget to measure the results of your campaign:
- How much traffic each guest post sends to your website?
- Check the number of comments and shares each post receives.
- Are your guest blog posts generating any leads?
Look at all these metrics to determine how effective your guest posts were and what you can do in the future to improve them.
I’m not going to lie: Guest posting takes a lot of time, hard work, and trials and errors. It’s not a once-and-done tactic, but one that takes the effort to implement and generate results. But, the efforts are well worth it in the long run.
Kostas Chiotis is the founder of IrisSignals.com and a content marketing and blogger outreach specialist. When he’s not working with different businesses to help them increase their sales and traffic, he loves to read about entrepreneurship.Connect with him on Linkedin, Twitter @IrisSignals, and Facebook