The blogging world is changing, especially when it comes to SEO and building traffic to your site. One of the key measures that guides how successful your site will be is backlinks (i.e. the links that point to your website). And one of the best strategies to not only build backlinks, but also to get your website out there in front of new audiences, was to write guest posts.
And this used to be fairly simple: contact a blogger you know and follow, see if they know who you are and would be willing to accept a post from you, then you write meaty content and get some massive traffic boost. However, do you see the disconnect? This is pretty one-sided. You get massive traffic. You get your name and brand in front of other bloggers. And now, Google has a warning for spammy guest posting.
So, is guest posting still the way to go? And how do you get out there?
Guest Posting is Amazing for your Online Business
The bottom line is that guest posting is still an amazing strategy for growing your business. Yes, I said amazing! Not only does it give you the magical backlinks, but it also gets your website in front of a new audience, which can potentially become your audience if you do it right.
Plus, guest posting is effectively an endorsement by the host blogger. Think of it this way. My blog is my store. If I allow you to setup your products in my store, I’m effectively giving you the nod that these products are along the same level of quality as my products. That includes the links and the mentions in the blog post.
So, not only do you get backlinks and traffic, but you also get the sudo-endorsement of another blogger. All great things!
Then, think of Pat Flynn’s Be Everywhere strategy. By being is multiple locations, you just start being recognized as a platform of your own.
The bottom line: guest posting is amazing.
Guest Posting Can Still Be Done..If You Do This Step
Don’t worry, not all is lost on the Internet when it comes to guest posting. It can still be done and a lot of blogs will accept guest posts. However, there is something very key that you have to do: add value.
You see, guest posting can’t just be a one-way street. If you read the article from Kikolani from above, you’ll see the top reasons why she decided to stop accepting guest posts:
- Too many spammy or low quality posts
- Some people were re-using posts
- People were submitting posts that required editing
- The topics bounced around too much since every guest poster had their own topic
If you read Darren Rowse’s thoughts on guest posting from Problogger, you’ll find a very similar argument for discontinuing them as well.
So, how do you take advantage of guest posting?
- Build Relationships
- Write Great Content
- Understand Your Target Audience
The first thing you need to do is build relationships. Don’t come to my website and expect me to allow you to guest post if you’ve never left a comment before. Do you actually follow me on Twitter and Facebook? Are you subscribed to my email newsletter?
These are common things that people look for when deciding whether to accept guest posts. Do you have a relationship with the site and the community for which you want to post on. If you don’t – you odds of being accepted (or even getting your email responded to) are very low.
Then, stop the rookie mistakes. Understand your audience and write a post that will match what they’re talking about. Make sure the content is top notch, and follow-up to comments. Promote the post. Guest posting isn’t just about you getting traffic and exposure – the host site also wants traffic and exposure. So promote your article.
The bottom line is guest posting is about relationships – and relationships matter in online business.
My Strategies for Getting Guest Posts Accepted
So, how do you get your guest posts accepted around the web? Here’s my strategy that has been working very well.
First, I committed to myself that I would try to guest post on a major site at least once a quarter. I’ve been sticking to that, and it has been working very well. However, I’m also putting together a launch campaign for my new website, Beat the Nine to Five. For this launch, I want to have a guest post campaign coordinate with my launch week, and I want to “be everywhere”. As such, I’ve been reaching out to bloggers to host a guest post from me.
Here’s what’s been working for me:
For my quarterly guest posts, I only reach out to bloggers that I know. These are people that I’ve built relationships with, either by always commenting on their websites, or through the Yakezie Network. For my launch posts, I’m applying the same logic. However, I’m also looking to get on much bigger websites, and I’ve had to stretch it a little.
With that being said, I always make sure that I do the following, especially when looking to guest post on big sites:
- Comment, Comment, Comment – Comment on all their articles, and show that you are a part of the community. Many big bloggers still read their comments everyday, and recognize regular posters.
- Engage on social media – Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and re-tweet or share their content. Just like comments, many are active on their social media accounts.
- Subscribe to their newsletters – I use Rapportive (and I know many bloggers do too), and it tells me if you’re subscribed to my newsletters. Newsletter = Engaged Reader = Makes Blog Owner Happy.
Once you’ve established a relationship, you still have to pitch your topic. This is still the toughest part, because rejection sucks.
I’ve found that a strategy of flattery works very well. Everyone likes to know how they’ve made an impact, and second, it shows that you actually follow the website.
For example, I would start the email by introducing myself, then saying how long I’ve read the site. I’d mention that I regularly comment, follow on social media, and subscribe to their newsletter. If possible, I try to mention how a specific tactic or article I read really helped me. People love knowing how they’ve helped others.
Then, I highlight my pitch. I’m totally transparent about what I’m trying to accomplish. For my quarterly guest posts, I say, “I try to guest post on a major blog quarterly, and I’d appreciate the opportunity”. Or, for my launch, I say, “I’m launching a new blog and trying to get exposure. I think it’s very relative to your audience and think it will add a lot of value to the community”.
Next, I showcase my post idea. I only give one idea, but I make sure that it is a killer idea specifically for the website I’m wanting to post on. Some people give 2-3 ideas, but that doesn’t look personal to me, it looks like you’re fishing. I usually give a bullet-point list of three sub-points I’m going to make with the article, and highlight specifically why I think the article will be a good fit for their audience.
For example, if I’m wanting to guest post on a travel blog, I might write about money saving travel hacks for college students. Or, if I’m writing for a mom-blog, I might post on why parents needs to save for their children’s education. Whatever the post, make it very specific to the host blog.
Don’t be shocked if you don’t hear anything or get rejected. It’s like dating. You’re not always going to be compatible with the site owner, and you may not be able to make things work out. But if you have a good relationship, and they trust you, you have a good shot at being accepted.
If you’re not accepted, still keep their email address and keep them informed about relevant issues. For example, if you write a post and link to their website, you may want to call it out. This can help you build the relationship for the future, when other opportunities may arise.
Over-Deliver Your Guest Post
Finally, if you got the green light from the site owner, you have to over-deliver. Remember, they are taking a leap of faith with you, and so you need to come through for them.
Write your best content, tailor it to their site, include links to their past articles (just like they would). It shows that you are engaged with their business, not just your own.
Then, include relevant examples and pictures. I love it when guest posters provide their own pictures, and not just stock photos. It really gives the personal, real touch to the article. Include charts and graphs if needed. Make a video! Just stand out.
One of the best guest posts I’ve ever received was Roth IRA Misconceptions. What made it so great? Kevin from Thousandaire made a video for my site! That’s pretty cool! It really added value and was personalized.
And if you fail to deliver, or only give mediocre content, guess what – you can actually do more harm than good. If the post never goes live, that is your best bet, but it is embarrassing that you tarnished your reputation with the other blogger. If the post does go live and it’s terrible, that audience that you wanted to get in front of will now think you’re a terrible blogger. It’s a two way street. Keep that in mind at all costs.
Are you writing guest posts? What strategy do you use?