The thought of guest blogging brings up two distinct sets of emotions in people. One, it sounds super exciting. Seriously, what could be more motivating than seeing your name on the leading blogs in your industry? You get inspired by it. You know you’ll be putting your names in front of hundreds and thousands of people and make a far bigger impact than you can on your own. When can you get started?
On the other hand, the thought of guest blogging might stress you out. Firstly, you don’t have the time to take one more thing on board. Especially when it is this time consuming. Secondly you don’t even think you are a good writer to begin with. Why even bother reaching out to someone when you know you are most probably going to be rejected.
If you fall in the first camp then yay! Continue reading and I’ll tell you my process of making this thing easy peasy. If you fall in the second category then know this thing: There is no such thing as free traffic. You either pay for it with money or time.
So, if you have more money then go with ads. You’ll see results faster. Guest posting can still work but might have to hire someone to do most of the work for you. You just write the first draft of the post yourself. But what if you are building your business and are short of cash at the same time? Well, that’s just what the first category looks like, and honestly, you just have to make time.
So let’s look how you can make this process as painless as possible:
#1 Know your purpose
You can guest blog for a whole bunch of reasons. You can do it to build credibility so you can show off ‘as seen on’ logos on your website. You can do it to bring traffic to your website or you can do it to form strategic partnerships with the influencers in your industry. Or, it can be a mix of all three.
I recommend that you approach each guest blogging task individually. When you choose a blog to approach, think about what goal is most important. For example, you might want to get published on Forbes for building credibility but on a smaller, industry-specific blog for traffic and list building.
#2 Make a list of the blogs
When you are a beginner it is fine to write for a friend’s blog. But consider this as a practise run. As you gain confidence you need to set high targets. You may already have a list of blogs that you follow yourself and this is a great place to start.
Other places to look for are sites like Alltop.com where you can search for a particular category and come up with new options. You can even Google top blogs in a particular niche.
#3 Read the guidelines
As you begin identifying blogs to write for, start doing a very basic search to see if these blogs qualify. Not all blogs accept guest posts so that’s the first thing you need to find out. Don’t write to a blogger asking if they accept guest posts. It just makes you look lazy and incompetent.
At this stage your goal is just to remove the blogs from your list that don’t accept guest post submissions.
This step is crucial. Many people get it wrong and then when they don’t see any results, they get discouraged and blame guest blogging as a strategy.
From the big list that you have now, I want you to list blogs in order of priority. I also want you to be realistic. If you are pitching to Entrepreneur magazine and unless you offer a stellar track record, they are not going to take you seriously.
Choose blogs that are a great fit for topics you talk about on your own blog. Or, think about blogs whose blog posts have topics in common with your topics. Start there.
#5 Research the blogger
The next step is to read about the blogger.
Read their about page. Read their story. What made them start this blog? Even if you are familiar with them, do it anyway as they might have updated the information or added something that they weren’t comfortable sharing before.
You want to pay attention to things they care deeply about and also the things they annoy them to no end. If they wrote a book, it is good idea to get familiar with the topic and the premise (ideally read the book).
#6 Begin connection phase
This is the pre-phase of guest blogging. Your work starts here. These popular bloggers receive hundreds of pitches and unsolicited submissions every day. Your job is to do the opposite.
Firstly, I want you to make sure there is a point of reference for your email. You could leave a thoughtful comment or two and hope for a response. You could email them about something they said having a great impact on your life. If they have a book, you might want to tell them how much you loved it and what change you intend to make.
The goal is to not come across as stranger when you pitch.
#7 Follow them on social media
Follow them on social media and pay attention. Retweet their updates. Connect on Facebook. Like their Instagram feed. Ideally you want them to remember who you are when you pitch. Even if your name seems familiar, this outcome is far better than not knowing who you are.
#8 Choose the topic
After you create some sort of rapport with the blogger, your next job is to pitch an idea they can’t say no to. Check their guidelines first to make sure they need an idea first. Some sites ask for the completed blog post and some don’t, so check those out first.
Now choose a topic that helps their audience but is related to what you talk about. If you choose something that is irrelevant to their audience, there is no hope of getting your idea accepted. But if you choose something that is not related to your business, what’s the point? The audience that will be coming over won’t find your website useful for their needs.
#9 Look at their most popular posts
Once you have narrowed down your topics, come up with a killer idea. Look to their popular posts for inspiration. This gives you clues about what their audience finds compelling and what resonates with their readers.
You can also read some of their latest blog posts to see if you can write a post to fill any gaps. Maybe they wrote a post and you can offer a great follow up. Maybe they wrote a post and mentioned something you can elaborate on.
#10 Craft your pitch
Address the blogger their name. Don’t start with Dear Sir or Madam or worse – webmaster. Keeping in mind that these people are generally busy, you want to get their attention from the get go. Craft a subject line that shows you are pitching a guest post idea and a snippet of the idea itself.
Something like ‘Guest post idea: Snippet’ works really well.
#11 Show what’s in it for them
First and foremost, the blogger wants to know why they should care. So tell them. Tell them (briefly) why you chose this idea and how it’s going to help their audience.
Give the headline and then give them 3-4 bullet points of how you will elaborate and what’s going to be covered so they can understand. Sell them on your idea, if you don’t they might misinterpret or not truly get it.
#12 Build credibility
Many people write and ask to be published. Even if they have no prior experience of covering that topic or having expertise in that area. Your job is to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Briefly build your credibility by stating what is it that you do, your experience and credentials and leave a link to a few posts you published that showcase your best work.
#13 Show you are open to changes
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you state clearly that you are open to any changes they make. Refer to your blog post as a draft.
Most bloggers like to edit the post, the headline or even write a new one. Don’t take it personally. If they like a particular style of writing headlines, try to match it, if they change it, be okay with it. It is not worth hassling over.
#14 Make it easy for them
Make it really easy for them to say yes. Offer to send the post both as a word document and in an html format. Source images they might find useful.
Link to articles from their website (written by them and not by another guest blogger). Show that you are truly interested in making this a fun experience for everyone involved.
Tell them this is an original piece you have written for their audience and hasn’t been published before.
#15 Follow up
Remember to do a follow-up after your email if you hear crickets. When you send your pitch, let them know you will follow up in 15 days then do that if you haven’t heard from them. Commiserate the fact that you know how busy they are and how much it takes to run a popular blog then ask if they had a chance to look at your pitch yet. If you don’t hear back then let it go – for now. Come back to it with a fresh idea later.
#16 Do the best job you can
Got the green signal? Yay! Congratulations. You certainly deserve it. Now write the best post you can, seriously I mean it. I would go as far as to say that you should get your best ideas published on a guest blog. Why? So you give your masterpiece the best chance of going viral.
Even if it doesn’t go viral, it will do really well in front of big and new audiences. So take as much time as you can. Get somebody like a copyeditor proof reader to look it over so you can blow their socks off.
#17 Make the best use of your byline
The best part about guest blogging is the chance to show off in your author bio. Most blogs won’t allow guest authors to link to their own stuff in the body of post itself so don’t do that. The place for linking to website and/or social media profiles is on your byline.
I strongly suggest you link to your opt-in offer instead of your home page. This is one the biggest mistakes people make while guest blogging and then they act all surprised when they don’t see any new subscribers.
This will get the biggest bang for your buck.
#18 Create a squeeze page
If you are debuting on a blog that is a big deal – a really big deal – I would recommend creating a new lead capture page for this blog audience. If you are expecting a big spike in traffic, go ahead and create a new freebie for this crowd. There is no harm in pulling out the big guns.
#19 Promote the post on social media
When the post is published, give yourself a big pat on the back. Then send a thank-you email and say you look forward to it doing well. Then promote the post everywhere. On every social media platform, to your email list and among your networks.
If the post has done remarkably well, you won’t even have to pitch another idea again. They will approach you.
#20 Continue the relationship
Wait about a week or two and touch base with the blogger again. Let them know that you really enjoyed writing for them and ask if you can write for them again. If you have done everything right and checked off every task on this then the answer would be a big yes.
Follow through the same process.
In my opinion, the traffic you get from your guest blogging efforts can be far superior to the traffic that comes from clicking your ads or from social media.
These people are coming to you because they have read your content and they love it. They want to know more about you and learn from you. They are coming to check you out, to see what else you have on offer. This is the warmest traffic you can get so be sure you do the work and are ready to receive this traffic (I wrote a blog post about that here.)
Go on try it if you haven’t already. And if you have tried it before but didn’t see the results you were hoping for, now you know how to fix that. Share your experiences in the comments below!