11 Tips to Getting Your Guest Blog Right from the Start
Guest blogging is one of the most established pillars of online marketing and can be a reliable source of organic traffic. So it’s only natural that once your guest blog gets published, you will expect a steady stream of visitors to make their way to your website.
Unfortunately, many guest bloggers quickly sink into disappointment when they realize their guest post on an otherwise credible, high traffic site doesn’t deliver anywhere near the visitor volume and lead conversions they expected. The majority of guest posts published on the Internet do not deliver the positive results their author expected.
While there’s no denying the element of luck involved in guest blog posts that do go viral, your guest blogging is more likely to be a success if you adhere to the following steps.
1. Define the Purpose
There is a myriad of reasons why you would want to guest blog. Perhaps you want to establish yourself as a credible authority in your industry. Maybe you’d like to drive traffic to your site via backlinks. Or it just could be you are looking to establish long term strategic partnerships with noncompeting persons and websites. It could even be a combination of all these reasons and more since they aren’t mutually exclusive.
Additionally, while you may have an overarching purpose for your guest blogging, the main reason for a post may vary from one guest post to the next. So before you do anything else, evaluate the principal reason for writing. Even when you have multiple reasons, think about which reason has the highest priority. By defining the purpose from the start, you will begin on the right footing and increase your odds of guest blogging success.
2. Develop a List of Relevant Blogs to Write For
When you are starting off, it’s probably okay to guest blog on any website that allows you to. However, as you go along, gain confidence, and want a better return on your efforts, you must set higher standards.
A great place to kick off your search for credible, authoritative sites to write for is taking a look at the people and organizations you follow on your website’s social media profiles (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). It’s not accidental that you follow these individuals and organizations. Many of them will have some form of relevance to your product or cause.
You could also run a Google search for the keywords related to the subject matter you are interested in writing on. At this early stage, you want to create a comprehensive list. Remember that just because you are interested in writing for these sites doesn’t mean they too are interested in your writing for them. This guest blogging guide from OutreachMama lists more than 700 sites that allow guest posting.
3. Read the Guest Posting Guidelines
Every reputable website that allows guest blogging will have guidelines. The idea is to ensure each post is consistent with the web site’s theme, voice, and tone. For example, when visitors land on GrayCell Technologies blog via a Google search or when previous visitors return, they have certain expectations on what content they’ll read.
The most successful blogs are those that have established a predictable authority and expertise in their given area of specialization. As a prospective guest blogger, you should visit the guidelines page on each of the websites you listed as viable to write for, find out whether the site accepts guest posts, and see what the terms and guidelines for guest blogging are.
Never write to a website enquiring about guest blogging for them if you haven’t yet read their published guidelines. It will look lazy and incompetent if you ask questions that they have already responded to.
4. Narrow Down Your List
In a previous point, we talked about how you should go all out in developing your preliminary list of websites you want to guest post for. Chances are that this initial list will have dozens of sites and quite possibly a hundred or more. It’s unlikely that you’ll have the time and resources to write for so many sites. It’s also improbable that every website on this list will be interested in accepting your guest posts—the guidelines may not be compatible with your guest blogging goals.
So from your huge list, you have to develop a short list comprising blogs that are the best fit for your objectives. The shortlist should have the target blogs ordered in descending priority. Guest blogging on Forbes.com is at a completely different level when compared to writing for a much lower profile site. That being said, be realistic. The higher profile a website is, the harder it’s going to be to get an opportunity to guest blog.
5. Research the Blog
Guest blogging is driven by selfish interest. Ultimately, you want a guest post that’s going to benefit your website or business. However, the blog you are writing for also has its own interest and expects that each guest post will further this objective. The key is, therefore, finding common ground where your interest and that of the target blog overlap. For that to happen, you have to understand who you are writing for and what they want.
So once you have your blog shortlist, take time to read the about page of each blog. Understand their history, vision, organization, achievements, and strengths. Even if you think you are already familiar with them, read up on them anyway as some of these things may have changed with time. You want to especially take note of the topics they are most passionate about and (for personal blogs) what annoys them.
6. Initiate the Connection
You now know quite a bit about the blog you want to write for. On the other hand, the blog likely doesn’t know who you are or whether you even exist. You have to introduce yourself. Up until this point, all the progress you’ve made in creating the groundwork for blogging success has depended on your actions. Initiating the connection with the target blog is where your blog’s success now starts to depend on another party’s decision. It’s where the difficult work of guest blogging truly begins.
The blogs you considered highest priority are also in the crosshairs of other websites out there looking for guest blogging opportunities. The most popular blogs will receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions per day. To increase your odds of getting that much sought after slot, you have to find ways of making your message stand out.
You could for instance kick off contact by alluding to the huge impact their product or book has had on you. Don’t mention guest blogging in this initial mail. Follow their social media accounts, comment on their posts, and retweet their updates. Get them comfortable enough with you as a fan so that when you do eventually present your proposal, you don’t come across as just another random stranger sending out the same email to dozens of blogs out there.
7. Identify their Most Popular Posts
The most popular posts on a website are a fairly good reflection of what most of its visitors want to see. These could provide inspiration when you are developing the killer ideas you are going to present to the blog owner. Some blogs will have a prominent section that lists the most popular posts on their site in terms of views, comments, and/or shares. In which case, your task of identifying post popularity becomes quite easy.
Other blogs are more discreet and don’t provide such ranking since they think it could draw visitor attention away from other equally good blogs but that doesn’t have as much traffic yet. If there’s no way to see popularity ranking on the site, your next best bet is to visit the blog’s social media pages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Scroll through their feed to see which social media updates were most popular. Chances are that the most popular updates also happened to be their more popular blog posts.
8. Choose Your Specific Topic
You have created some form of connection or rapport with the blog and you also have a list of the blog’s most popular articles. Next, craft a writing idea that’s so compelling that the blog will have a hard time saying no to. Choose a topic that adds value to their audience but is also relevant to the goals your own website is in pursuit of.
Whereas you want to write on a topic that’s most ideal for your site, you must prioritize the host blog’s needs by mainly seeing the value proposition from their perspective. If your idea or blog post is perfect but does nothing for the host blog, then there’s very little chance of you getting the go-ahead.
When you do eventually submit your idea in your pitch (as we discuss below) make it clear that you are flexible to any changes to the proposed topic that the host blog may suggest. Their request for changes often means they are okay with the topic but want the headline or angle altered to be consistent with their website’s theme.
9. Craft Your Pitch
In your pitch, personalization goes a long way. Referring to the recipient by name substantially increases the odds of your post receiving the attention it needs from the get-go. You want to avoid as much as possible generic salutations like “Dear Sir or Madam”. For a personal blog, this is easy to do since the blogger’s name is apparent. For organization blogs, the name of the person who will receive your initial correspondence isn’t always clear. That is of course unless you picked up a name during the rapport creating step.
The subject of your email pitch should capture briefly the gist of what you want to write on. Something such as ‘Guest Post Idea: A Deeper Look at the “OK Boomer!” Phenomenon’. Keep the body of your email pitch concise and coherent. Let the blogger know why your topic is relevant and how their audience will benefit. Give a 3 or 4 bullet snapshot of what you’ll cover to give them a hint of what direction the content will take.
10. Demonstrate Credibility
When a blog invites guest posts, it places its own credibility on the line. While the guest bloggers may be third parties, what they write on reflects on the competence, judgment, and reputation of the host blog. Therefore, you must show in your pitch that you have the knowledge and experience to write on the topic you propose. The last thing any blog needs is to be caught up in ridicule because an assertion made in one of its blog posts was obviously incorrect.
If you have posts you’ve written before on your website or elsewhere, this is the point where you provide links to them. Even if you’ve never blogged before, list your credentials such as work experience, education, certifications, and awards.
11. Green Light? Put Your Best Foot Forward
If you get a positive response and are asked to proceed with writing a guest post, give it your best shot. Clearly, the host blog was impressed enough by your credentials, past articles, and the topic idea, to want you to write on it. You must strive to live up to or exceed this first impression by creating a guest blog that’s a masterpiece.
When you think about your guest post being successful, don’t be overly fixated on making it go viral. Going viral is as much about luck as it is about content. Instead, always imagine how your post would be perceived in front of industry-leading experts. So spend as much time as you need (within reason of course) to create a high-quality article.
To make sure, contract a copy editor to go through the work and confirm that there aren’t any spelling and grammar errors. If you want to really open up opportunities for future guest blogging, you must think of each post as the resume for your next pitch. Make it count.
When it comes to guest blogging success, there are certain things that are beyond your control. For example, while you could promote the post on your own site and social media profiles, its visibility on the host blog is ultimately at the discretion of the host blog. There are however things you can do to improve the odds of success and the above tips are a great place to start.
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