Guest blogging has been around for a long time, but it’s a hot topic now with businesses using it to connect to niche influencers and potential customers. An increasing emphasis on quality content means that webmasters are more interested than ever in finding suppliers of good content to supplement their own efforts and provide more unique material to set them apart from the competition.
Being a guest blogger is not necessarily as simple and straightforward as it sounds. For mutual benefit, the guest blogger and the host site should approach the task with a method and process. Misconceptions abound regarding what differentiates a guest blog post from a regular post. In this article we will discuss what guest blogging is —and perhaps even more significantly, what it isn’t— as well as offer a number of best practices.
What Is A Guest Post?
A guest post is a unique piece of content that the original author agrees to publish at no charge on another blogger’s site. A guest post’s lifecycle often follows this simple pattern:
1. An author reaches out to a blog owner, offering to write a guest post.
2. The blog owner reviews the pitch, if he is interested in accepting guest posts.
3. The author writes a unique article with the target blog readership in mind.
4. The author submits the article, including a short bio (the byline).
5. If the blog owner likes the article (and it meets the site’s quality standards), the blog owner publishes the article and byline.
The result? The blog owner receives free, high-quality content attracting more search engine and social media traffic, and the author puts his expertise in front of an already-formed audience and receives links and recognition.
What Are The Benefits Of Guest Blogging?
While the main reason most engage in guest blogging is to procure backlinks, link building should not be the only objective. Anyone who thinks guest posting is only good for link-building — and who subsequently measures success by the number of links — completely misses the concept. The most important benefit of guest blogging is building influence. It’s a long-term asset almost impossible to measure, but is absolutely priceless. Link building means forcing links to come and working to receive each link. Building influence means having links come on their own. Once you have built influence, you needn’t care about links at all. Your followers, and followers of your followers, will link to and share your content eagerly without you ever having to ask them to.
Guest blogging also benefits by its focus on building the community. No one has time to do everything themselves. Guest blogging lets you build following and have your brand advocates spread your word, share feedback about your service, and stand your ground in any arguments.
The Guest Blogging Process
Since guest blogging involves interaction with others, certain rules of etiquette and customary practice are involved. Keep these three fundamental rules top of mind:
- Provide unique content only. No republishing or “spinning” is allowed. Target each specific post to each specific blog.
- Keep building connections as your priority (which helps in choosing the right strategy).
- Avoid explicit self-promotion. Your content quality should speak for itself.
Step 1: Search for guest posting opportunities
If you are active online and read a lot, finding promising guest posting opportunities should be easy. Most niches have high-profile blogs that not only accept guest posts, but may feature them prominently. Examples include Mashable (for social media and technology trend items), Copyblogger (for posts on writing), and Lifehacker (for personal growth and productivity). Success in submitting a guest post at such a popular blog is not easy, but the outcome is totally worth the effort.
Start with sites obviously looking for guest contributions, which makes for a targeted offer and increases your chances for a successful deal. Pay attention to obvious signs, such as:
- A separate tag or category called “Guest Posts,” “Guest Authors,” “Guest Blogging,” etc.
- A “Write for Us” page outlining the process and rules
- Frequent guest posts published on the blog
Arrange to contribute to blogs you read regularly. You already know their style and can predict what will appeal to their readers.
Pay attention to bloggers who have stopped blogging as often as they used to (may be a sign of illness, vacation, traveling, or engaging in other projects). Seek those who need help maintaining their blogs and keeping readers interested.
If you can’t locate enough opportunities on your own, consider joining a community such as MyBlogGuest.com, which unites guest authors with bloggers interested in free quality content. Authors can publish unique content in the Artists Gallery for others to compete for, letting you choose the best offer.
Step 2: Research the target blog and brainstorm an article idea
Your post idea is very important. It should get the blogger interested, prompting him to get back to you to discuss the details. Remember that by accepting a guest post, the blog owner hopes to breathe some fresh air into his resource. He is looking for a unique voice and opinion, but also looking for content that is relevant to his blog’s topic and readership.
Search Google for [site:blogdomain.com guest post OR guest posts]. The search results will include all guest posts previously published at the site, so you can see what previous guest authors blogged about, what they did to grab the reader’s attention, and how their content was received (commented, liked, tweeted, etc).
Keep it relevant, but don’t change your unique style. Write about what you are good at. Be yourself.
Step 3: Contact the blog owner
Make the most of each email you send with an offer to guest blog by:
- Starting the email with the blogger’s name. Check the About Us/Contact Us pages on the site for names.
- Including a couple of links to previous posts as samples.
- Not overdoing it with links. Too many linked URLs in the message body may get your email filtered as spam.
- Keeping the message short and to-the-point. Bloggers are busy and likely to scan just a couple of sentences of each email message they receive.
- Following up on Twitter to ensure they received your email. But don’t overdo it. Avoid being intrusive.
Step 4: Write a great guest post and be appreciated
To increase your chances of being approved for inclusion, make the blogger appreciate your effort. Besides the obvious (writing a truly great article), be sure to thoroughly learn the blog’s guest posting policy/rules and follow each point religiously. Show that you have written this article expressly for this blog by:
- Including properly attributed images, and copy the target blog’s style of using media. For example, align images in the way the blog usually does.
- Personalize screenshots. If you are making screenshots, use the target blog for your visuals.
- Link to older articles previously published at the target blog.
Step 5: Get involved
Once your post goes live, your job is still not done. Share your guest article with your followers, subscribe to the comments, and reply to each one. Guest blogging is about networking and fostering a community spirit. It’s about connecting to your target audience for them to build trust in your and your business.
Step 6: Get organized
Once you start guest blogging, you’ll find that the most difficult part is not about finding homes for your articles or even writing great content. The hardest thing is to get organized, especially since guest blogging is an optional activity. It can be difficult to find time to write something destined to live elsewhere. More often than not, guest posts are not scheduled, and you can write them whenever, which means you keep moving them down your to-do list again and again.
The only way to succeed in guest blogging is to be consistent, making organization crucial. Set up a separate day of the week for guest blogging. Thursday may be the easiest day of the week for this, since fewer work distractions typically wait to be completed for the week. Send your pitches and write your guest posts on this day. Having a schedule is very powerful.
Make promises. Promising to write a guest post by a specific date is a great way to force yourself to get organized. When someone is waiting for a post, you can’t let that person down and still expect to be taken seriously in this business. Whenever someone expresses interest in a guest post from you, email back with the exact date you will send the completed article, and put it on your schedule.
No matter what stories you may hear about guest blogging, one basic truth is that quality wins. Guest blogging is all about mutual benefit — the blogger will only publish a good post, and the author will only be featured if the post goes live. No matter how often you choose to guest blog, what field you blog about, how busy the rest of your business life is, focus on quality. It will take time for guest blogging to yield results. But if you aim higher to succeed, the rewards from guest blogging will follow.