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How to create a guest blogging strategy that works

By Alexandra Gavril - October 15, 2018

You want authority, qualified traffic, relevant links, motivated leads and sales in your business. Well, guest blogging can give you all of that and so much more. That is if you have a strategy in place and don’t expect amazing results overnight.

In other words, contributing to a blog or media outlet once or twice a year doesn’t mean you’ll then get to sit back, relax and watch as heaps of visitors flood your website. That (almost) never happens.

It’s like going to a single networking event and being disappointed that not everyone adds you on Twitter or LinkedIn afterwards. If you want the best results, you need to first put in the work to earn it.

So if you want to raise awareness, establish yourself as an expert in the industry and drive measurable results for your business, then you need a clear guest blogging strategy that works.

Why (and when) guest blogging works

Guest blogging works because the demand for valuable, actionable, interesting content is insatiable. If you take a look at authority media sites like Entrepreneur, The New York Times, Inc., Huffington Post, you’ll notice that they all use guest contributors to grow their monthly readerships into millions and to entice people to come back for more.

They’re constantly looking to share new ideas, knowledge and insights with their readers. They want to publish fresh content coming from people who are deep in the trenches of their industries and specific niches their readers care most about. And they need to do that on a regular basis to keep their readers engaged and loyal.

How do they do that? They have outside experts who regularly contribute to their platforms with high-quality, action-packed content. This means that if you want to get more from guest blogging, you need to consistently contribute valuable content to a variety of authoritative blogs.

In other words, the only way guest blogging will yield results for your small business is if you invest in it time and again. This means taking the time to identify blogs, talk to editors about what their readers want to see and then create engaging content that informs, educates and delights that readership. It’s the only way to build your reputation online and generate qualified traffic and leads.

How to develop the right guest blogging strategy

If you’re going to use guest posting as a strategy, you have to do it right. So next we’ll look at the steps you need to follow for effective guest blogging.

1. Determine your goals

Before you begin, you need to determine what goal you’re trying to achieve with guest blogging. This first step is very important as having a goal will help you to decide which blogs to publish on and what type of content to write in order to get results.

Here are some of the most common goals:

  • Build awareness of your business, products or services
  • Drive traffic to your site or a specific page on your site to get more leads and sales
  • Increase email subscribers or social media followers
  • Position yourself as an expert in your industry
  • Improve search engine optimisation (SEO) by attracting inbound links, which can help your site to rank higher in the search results for specific search terms.

You can’t and shouldn’t get started without first setting a goal that matters to you. Even the way you present yourself in your bio depends on your main goal and what you’re looking to achieve.

So, before you start guest blogging, decide on a goal and make it as specific as possible. This goal can be to:

  • Get 500 new visitors to your website
  • Add 50 new subscribers to your mailing list
  • Increase your Twitter following by 15%
  • Get 50 people to download your whitepaper, case study or report

Being specific with your target goals means you’ll be able to analyse the results and determine if your campaign was a success or if you should change course and write other types of content or publish on different blogs.

2. Put together a list of relevant blogs to write for

The next thing you will want to do is to find blogs that you can contribute to. Now, if there’s one important thing you need to keep in mind when looking for blogs to guest post on, it’s that each one needs to be relevant to your niche or industry.

Don’t waste time guest posting on blogs that are very popular but have nothing or little to do with your business. Sure, being that they’re popular, lots of people may read your article. But that’s worth nothing if no one takes action afterwards, if no one clicks on your links, visits your blog or follows you on Twitter.

So, for example, if you sell furniture, you will want to find home improvement and DIY blogs with an engaged audience. If you sell personalised t-shirts, you should find fashion blogs.

Apart from being relevant to your business, you should also look for blogs that fit the following criteria:

  • The blog has high-quality content
  • The blog gets a good amount of traffic
  • The blog’s audience will be interested in your industry and business
  • The blog has an engaged readership. This means that lots of readers comment upon and share the posts on their social media accounts
  • The blog owner is also active on social media and has an engaged following
  • The blog has a good email subscriber list

In some cases these numbers are made public when the list or fanbase is big enough as it’s also an effective way to get more visitors to subscribe or to connect on social media.

Here’s an example from the Hand Luggage Only travel blog:

There are lots of ways to find guest blogging opportunities. Here are the most effective and commonly used techniques.

Google search

Google is the best place to start your search. You can use any of the following sample search queries to find blogs that accept guest posts:

  • [your topic keyword] + “write for us”
  • [your topic keyword] + “become a contributor”
  • [your topic keyword] + “accepting guest posts”
  • [your topic keyword] + “contribute to this site”
  • [your topic keyword] + “guest post guidelines”

Social searches

You can also run a search on Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites to find guest blogging opportunities. Since the easiest one to search on is Twitter, type a similar query or even a simple one like “guest post” into the search box and see what shows up.

Some results will include already published guest posts while others will be invitations to guest post. Browse through the posts and make a list with relevant blogs that accept contributors.

Competitor backlinks

If you’ve ever performed a competitor analysis, you probably also got some insight into how and where your competitors are building their backlinks.

If you haven’t already, start now. You can use our 123 Reg Search Engine Optimiser tool to do a competitor analysis and find the sites and blogs that are linking to your competitors’ sites or blogs. Go through the sites and blogs that your main competitors have written for and add the best ones to your guest blogging list.

Prolific guest bloggers

If you often read blogs in your industry (and you should), you’re likely to see a few names over and over writing content for others. Write them down, then go to Google and run a search for each name plus “guest post by”.

The results should include places where these guest bloggers have published content, which means they could work for you as well. Go through the results and add the relevant ones to your guest blogging list.

3. Before you pitch your guest post

Now that you have a list of relevant blogs that accept guest posts, hold off on contacting the blog owners, otherwise your cold pitch will be just another one sent to the bin or marked as spam.

There is one vital thing that you should do before you make a pitch to a blog that you’ve just found. That is to build a relationship with the blog owner.

Why is this so important? Because by the time you make your pitch, you’ll be a familiar face which means they’ll be more likely to pay attention to your pitch and, hopefully, to accept your guest post.

So take a week or two to connect with the blog owners. Subscribe to their email newsletters, follow them on social media, read their blogs, share and comment on their posts.

When you share their content on your social media accounts, make sure to tag them and also to include a comment so it’s not just a plain link.

Here’s the thing: since this isn’t a secret strategy and since other site owners are using it too, don’t fake it or go overboard with sharing their content or tagging them obsessively. You can be sure those blog owners will figure it out, which means they might end up ignoring you and your pitch.

4. Research the blog

Another step you should take is to get to know the content on the blog you’re planning to pitch your idea to. What topics does the blog like to cover? Does it feature long-form pieces, short listicles, how-to guides? What level of audience are they writing for – beginners, intermediate, advanced?

Once you get a feel for the content, also try to find and review their publication guidelines.  Some blogs prefer the Oxford comma, while other get picky about their first-person language and titles.

The more you know about how to write for the targeted blog, the better your odds of the blog owner accepting your pitch and then your blog post.

5. Choose your winning topic

Now that you have a good understanding of your target blog and blog owner, it’s time to find that great idea that you want to pitch.

Browse through the previous posts to find out what’s already been covered and which are the most popular posts by number of shares on social media and comments. Then either find a different angle for an existing yet popular topic or come up with a new topic that’s likely to be popular with their audience.

In this post you can find some very useful content research tools like BuzzSumo and Portent’s Content Idea Generator that you can use to find interesting topics and ideas to write about.

6. Master the pitch

Stay far away from generic guest posting pitches and templates as they’ll only end up hurting you and all the hard work you’ve put in so far into building a relationship with the blog owner.

First off, start the email using their name and not “Dear Sir or Madam”, “Dear Webmaster”, “To the owner of blogname.com”.

Next, keep the pitch short and to the point. Remind them who you are and why you’d like to contribute to their blog. Pitch your post title and describe what you’d like to cover in a few bullet points or sentences. Finally, tell them how this piece will benefit their readers.

7. Write a valuable guest post

If your pitch is accepted, start writing. Make sure to stick to the topic and to always write with the audience in mind.

Try to steer clear of outright promotion but, at the same time, don’t shy away from including internal and external links in the guest post to back up your claims or to provide extra resources and information.

Also, don’t forget to edit and revise your post before sending it in. After all the hard work you put in to get your pitch accepted, you don’t want spelling errors and grammar issues to be the reason your guest post gets rejected.

8. Work that bio

The bio is one of the most important parts of guest blogging. That’s because it’s usually the only place you should include self-promotion links back to your site, blog, ebook, product, service, etc.

The way you present yourself in your bio depends on your guest blogging goals. So, if your goal is to:

  • Get traffic back to website, then make sure you think about where you want those visitors to go. Depending on the topic of your guest post and the blog’s specific audience, you might want to send traffic to a custom landing page created for this specific purpose, or to a page about a specific product or service that’s relevant to the topic you’ve covered in your guest post.
  • Get people to sign up to your mailing list, then you should send them to a dedicated page where they can read all about you, why they should sign up and what kind of content and resources they can expect to receive from you.
  • Increase your social media following, then add a line to the end of your bio that says something like “Follow me on…” or “Let’s connect on…”.

The number of links you’re allowed to add in your bio can vary from one blog to another so choose them wisely.

Here are a few examples:

Also, feel free to change your bio anytime depending on your goals and the blog you’re writing on.

For more awesome tips and advice, read this post from CrazyEgg to learn what mistakes to avoid when writing your author bio and how to optimise it to help you achieve your goals.

8. Share your guest post with everyone

You want your post to reach as many people as possible so make sure that once it’s published you also take part in promoting it.

So share it on every channel where you have a presence – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. Send an email to your subscribers to let them know about this great post you’ve published as they might find it useful as well.

In fact, use every platform available to you to share the content so it reaches as many people as possible. The stronger the response and engagement, the more likely that blog owner will reach out to you to guest post again.

Refine and repeat

Your guest posting strategy depends on consistent publication. In others words, publishing a single guest post is not enough. You need to keep going for it to work. This means finding other relevant blogs to guest post on and following all the steps to get your article in front of your target audience.

Hopefully, by following these steps and tips, you can develop a guest blogging strategy that helps you to achieve your goals.