So you want to know about guest blogging.
Maybe you’ve Googled it already, only to come up with a daunting number of ultimate guides.
You don’t want to read an entire book on the subject. First, you want to know whether guest blogging is even worth it. And if it is, you want to know how to do it — minus the fluff.
I get it. I’m a busy writer too.
And that’s why I’m going to tell you all you need to know about guest blogging … without a ton of unnecessary detail.
What is Guest Blogging?
Before we get rolling, let’s get clarity about what guest blogging actually is.
Guest blogging means writing blog posts for other people’s sites.
Each guest post will have a “bio” where you can include information about you and your business, products, or services. The best guest post opportunities allow you to include a link in your bio to your website.
How Do You Become a Guest Blogger?
Lots of newer bloggers hesitate to guest blog because they’re worried that their site isn’t big enough yet.
The truth is that your target blog won’t care how big your readership is. They just care how well you can write.
Becoming a guest blogger is much more straightforward than you might think. You simply need to write a great post and have it accepted by someone else’s blog.
You can start writing guest content from day one of your own blog. Heck, you can guest blog without any blog or website of your own, though you’ll miss out on some of the benefits.
Guest Blogging Benefits
Does guest blogging work?
And like any type of content marketing, it works in multiple different ways.
From the marketer’s perspective, being a guest author is just another way to build out your backlink profile.
Many blogs will let you include relevant links in your post itself, not just in your bio.
And let’s be honest: backlinks are awesome and necessary! Getting a link to your site from a big, reputable blog can help boost your SEO rankings and improve your site’s organic traffic.
But guest blogging isn’t just about link building. It has all these other benefits too:
- You can build relationships with busy bloggers fast. If you’ve ever tried to get on a big-name blog owner’s radar, you’ll know how tough it can be. Writing a fantastic guest post for them is a great shortcut to getting their attention.
- You can reach more of your target audience. Some of these readers will click the link in your author bio to find out more about you. They may end up becoming long-term readers or customers.
- You get to write for a large audience. If writing for your own blog feels like shouting into the wind, then writing for a site that has an active, engaged community could be hugely rewarding.
- You might even get paid. Not all sites pay for guest posts, but a significant number do. Paid guest posting could become a valuable income stream or the start of a freelance writing career.
Some of the biggest benefits of guest blogging kick in when you’re writing for multiple sites.
- Your name will be everywhere in your corner of the blogging world. People will see your posts being retweeted, they’ll read your work on their favorite blogs, and they’ll notice and remember you. You’ll start to establish a reputation as an expert.
- People may reach out to you for guest posts, or to hire you as a paid writer. My very first freelancing writing jobs came directly from sites that I’d guest posted for.
A Simple Strategy for Guest Blogging
So how do you get started?
Here’s a simple guest blogging strategy you can follow for success.
Know Your Goals
First, get clear about what you most want to achieve from guest blogging.
Looking for impressive writing clips for your portfolio? Target a small number of well-established blogs.
Want to build backlinks to boost your SEO? Look for lots of opportunities across a wide range of blogs.
How to Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Not all blogs accept guest posts. To find guest blogging opportunities, start with the blogs you already read and enjoy.
- Guest posting guidelines on the blog. You might find these in the sidebar, on the About page, or on the Contact page. Alternatively, search the site for phrases like guest post guidelines, submission guidelines or write for us.
- Authors with guest bios. If you read a new post that begins “This is a guest post by …” then that’s a good sign the site owner accepts guest posts, at least some of the time.
- Information on the blog’s Twitter account or Facebook page. You might see the blog mention that they’re looking for guest posters, for instance, if you glance through their recent posts.
What if you can’t find many good options? Another great trick for finding guest posting opportunities is to see what other bloggers in your niche are doing.
Pick a blogger in your niche who writes guest posts, then search on Google for their name plus the words “guest post.” You’ll likely find blogs that they’ve written for.
You can also try guest blogging sites (which list sites that want guest authors), though it pays to be choosy here. Some of these sites they list may have low-quality content and may not offer you many benefits.
Your Guest Post Pitching Primer
Guest blogging outreach can be almost as nerve-wracking as pitching for freelance work.
Maybe you’re worried that if you pitch badly, you’ll have blown your big chance. Or you think you’ll look like an idiot.
You won’t. Honestly, the absolute worst that could happen is that a busy blogger glances at your pitch, decide it’s not for them, and deletes your email.
Don’t spend ages agonizing over your pitch. Just keep it short and straightforward.
Here’s a simple template you can use:
Subject line: Guest post idea: <title of blog post>
Hi <blogger name>,
I’m <your name> and I blog about <topic> at <URL of your site>. I’d love to write a guest post for <blog name> about <title of guest post>.
This would cover <a few key points you plan to cover in your post>.
If that doesn’t sound quite right for you, another couple of ideas I could write about are:
- <guest post title>
- <another guest post title>
If you think any of those could work for you, I’d be delighted to send you a full draft. (Of course, no hard feeling at all if you take a look at it and decide it isn’t right for <name of blog>.)
Thanks so much,
If you’ve already had some guest posting experience, add a sentence that name-drops some key blogs you’ve written for. You could also include links to some posts you’re particularly proud of.
When you’re pitching:
- Follow any pitching guidelines that the blog has. For instance, if you’re asked to use the phrase “Guest Post Submission” in your subject line, make sure you do so. Otherwise, your email might never get seen.
- Give the blogger or editor time to reply. Large blogs receive a huge number of guest post pitches, and it may take them a week or two to get back to you. If you follow up before that, the easiest answer for the blogger to give is “no”.
- Only include relevant and valuable information. For example, if you’re a nutritionist pitching a dieting blog, only mention your degree, work experiences, or personal life, if those are truly relevant.
- Suggest more than one blog post idea. It usually makes sense to focus on a single idea then offer one or two alternatives.
- Tailor your ideas to the blog that you’re pitching, so you can come up with topics and titles that are super-relevant to them.
Preparing Your Perfect Post
They’re interested in the post. Now you just have to write it.
This can be a daunting moment. You want to do a great job and impress your host blog … but you’re worried about blowing it.
Here’s how to write the perfect post:
Outline Your Post Before You Write It
Create a detailed outline for your post. That way, you’ll be able to give it a strong structure.
If it’s going to be a long piece, an outline makes it easier to break down the writing across several sessions, too.
Follow Any Guest Post Guidelines
If you’ve been given guest post guidelines, follow them. You may even want to print them out and work through, point by point, checking off everything you’ve done.
If the guidelines are brief or non-existent, take a look at existing posts on the blog to figure out things like:
- How long are the posts, typically?
- How are subheadings and sub-subheadings used?
- Do guest authors typically talk about their own experiences or is the focus more on the reader?
Don’t Submit Your First Draft
Maybe you’ve been instructed to submit a “draft” of your post. This does not mean your first draft. You want to submit a polished, edited post that you’d be delighted to see published.
The draft that you send should be your very best effort. Even so, the host blogger may ask for changes before they publish it — so be prepared.
Get Someone Else to Read Your Post Before You Send It
Do you have a blogger friend who could read through your post? Ask them to take a look and give you feedback.
Is everything you’ve written clear to them? Are there any sentences that need tweaking or any typos that you need to fix?
Offer Headline Alternatives
Coming up with the very best headline for your post can be tough, if not impossible. It’s often a good idea to offer a couple of alternative headline possibilities to give the host blogger some options to choose from.
Include Links to the Host Blog
While many blog owners and editors will add internal links to your post, you can help them out by including these yourself. Try to add at least three links to other posts on the host blog.
Include Links to Other Blogger’s Sites
If you want to really make someone’s day, link to their site from your guest post. But only do this if the link is relevant and the piece of content you’re linking to is truly high-quality.
How to Build Your Best Bio
Your post will include a bio where you get to talk about yourself and what you do. Make the most of this to get the full benefits from all your hard work.
If you’re a freelance writer, this sort of bio won’t do much for you:
John Doe lives with his wife and kids in California. He loves surfing. He blogs at www.johndoewriter.com.
Instead, include relevant details and a call to action, like this:
John Doe is a kick-ass content writer specializing in high-converting blog content for B2C brands. Check out his top tips for creating compelling content here.
Notice the use of powerful words like kick-ass, specializing, and high-converting.
Your bio should include:
- Your full name.
- A brief description of what you do (or what your website offers).
- At least one link. If possible, link to a specific resource: readers will be more likely to click through.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up!
If you don’t hear anything back about your pitch, you can follow up once a couple of weeks have gone by. If you still don’t hear anything, move on to other guest posting opportunities.
Once your pitch is accepted, you still need to follow up.
Send the full post promptly, along with anything else the blogger has asked for (such as your bio and/or headshot).
Once your post is published, you can continue to follow up by:
- Sharing the post on your social media accounts and/or on your own blog. Even if you don’t have many followers, this is a nice gesture.
- Checking for and answering comments on your post. This is a great way to connect with readers and potentially win new fans and customers.
- Sending another guest post pitch after a few weeks. This helps you build up more of a relationship with the audience as well as with the host blogger.
Record Your Results
It can be difficult to figure out whether guest posting is a good time investment, especially as some results may not be immediately obvious.
Get into the habit of recording key information, such as:
- How much traffic your blog got on the day of a guest post (particularly referral traffic). Maybe the guest post sent 100 new visitors to your site when you normally only get 50 visitors a day. That’s an impressive jump.
- How many new email subscribers you got during the week after a guest post went up.
- How many new client inquiries you received after a guest post was published — and how many converted into paying clients.
- How many sales of your ebook or product you made. Keep in mind these may take time to come in.
If you’re linking to a specific resource from your guest post bio, or from the body of your guest post, track the content’s Google ranking. You may find that after a few guest posts, it begins to rank more highly.
Start Guest Blogging This Week
Guest blogging is a simple and incredibly powerful way to grow your blog.
So what are you waiting for?
Create a list of target blogs, this week.
Think about the blogs you read and the sites you hear other people mention. Which would be a good fit for the topics you specialize in? Where would you love to have your work published?
Once you’ve chosen 5 blogs, start pitching.
Write a simple and polite email, pitching a well-targeted idea (plus a couple of extras). Repeat the process until you get a “yes.”
Then get ready to write that post!