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Guest Blogging Guide from Idea to Publish

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Photo of Lisa MasonA great way to increase your blog viewership and also boost your search engine ranking is to begin guest blogging on other websites and blogs. When a good writer submits a high quality post to a popular blog, it’s a win-win situation. However, since guest blogging is one of the only ways to guarantee backlinks, the guest blogging community (like many other SEO and content marketing methods) is overflowing with spammers.

 

This is why your guest blogging strategy must be more precise than ever before if you want to see results. While it may seem intimidating at first, there is a system of steps you can take to ensure you get the most from your efforts, deliver great content, get published on the right sites for you and build an all-around excellent guest blogging marketing campaign.

 

If you’re willing to invest the time and effort to do it correctly, you will reap the benefits for some time to come. The exact details and processes of a guest blogging marketing campaign will vary, based on the industry and the website you are trying to market. There is no cookie-cutter process.

 

Initial Guidelines for Guest Blogging

First, know what blogs/websites you are going to target. You should look for sites that have a similar target audience as yours. Your content will be relevant, the readers will enjoy it and they are much more likely to click through the link to your website when you stay in the same niche. So, if your site sells dog clothing and accessories, you want to try to get your guest posts on other sites about dogs, pets and pet care. The readers are most likely already dog owners and have a higher chance of being interested in what you offer on your site.

 

Do some research and compile a list of websites and blogs in your niche, but be selective and adhere to any criteria you set before searching. You want to do some background research: look into their rankings, readership and how they perform in search engine results. The most popular websites with the most stringent guest blogging guidelines are usually the best. The standard for measuring the potential link building value of a guest post is Google’s Post Rank. It is a good idea to vary your link profile however. Remember, it’s much easier to generate links on PR 3 sites organically, so try and target websites with a higher ranking if possible.

 

Finding Sites to Publish Your Guest Posts

Getting links from the really good sites can be difficult. It’s worth the effort to try if you have outstanding content to approach them with but even if you cannot land the cream of the crop sites at the start, you can still find quality, beneficial sites to post on. The more high quality posts you get published, the higher your chances of getting on your top choice blogs.

 

So first, you must begin the research phase. This is always the most time-consuming step in the process for me, although now that I have been doing this for a very long time, I have a database of blogs for many common niches. As you begin your research, make a list of websites and rank them for easy sorting. Look at it like a Rolodex for guest posting opportunities.

 

If you are just getting started, you need to look for blogs and websites in your industry as well as news sites and online magazines that publish content from guest contributors. You can do this manually by visiting the sites and then searching to see if they have a page about guest posts/contributions. Another way of short cutting the process is to Google your niche with key phrases such as “Submit articles” and “Submission guidelines”. Here are some examples:

Google: [Target Keyword] “submit article”

Google: [Target Keyword] “submission guidelines”

Google: [Target Keyword] “write for us”

 

I use Excel spreadsheets to track the sites, their stats and the link to their page of guidelines (if they have one). I also include contact name and email and any other notes about the site that I may need to know in the future.

 

Guest Blogging Services

Most guest blogging services are set up to help multi-author blogs attract guest bloggers to their site.  Each service has different guidelines for both guests and the blogs that can bid on posts. Blogger Link Up is free for both guests and blog owners, and they work hard to keep users that violate their terms from accessing their lists. My Blog Guest is another popular option.

Some additional options for Guest Blogger Outreach are:

  • Post Joint
  • Guestr
  • Guest BlogIt
  • Group High
  • Guest Blog Genius
  • Blog Synergy
  • Blog Dash
  • Content BLVD

 

Post Joint Response

The staff at Post Joint are quick to respond, and receptive to criticism. Other guest blogging services outsource their support, but the people that own Post Joint are the ones that answer your questions.

 

 

Prospect Evaluation

Once you’ve found some potential sites to pitch to, then you need to evaluate them to see if they are actually worth the trouble. Ask yourself “Will it benefit me/my brand to be published on this site?”

 

Some guidelines to look for to tell you if it’s worth it include:

  • The site posts regular content
  • The site posts high quality , unique content
  • The site has social media accounts/feeds- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, RSS, etc.
  • The site features other guests
  • The site has easy-to-find contact info
  • The site gets a lot of comments from readers
  • The site has been around for some time (the older the site, the more authority it will have)

 

One of the most important things to check is the quality of other guests. Since so many SEO firms are diluting the web with low-quality link building guest posts, Google has begun to target websites that accept posts for SEO purposes. When several shady websites have backlinks from the same bunch of multi-author blogs, those blogs become identified as link farms. It’s important for blogs to be selective when choosing guests, and it’s just as important for guests to be selective when choosing blogs. Social Media Sun has cut back on the number of guest posts we accept to keep the value high for the high quality guests we do allow to post.

 

When a site passes all the checks for being worth your time, you’re ready to start pitching ideas.

 

Pitching the Site Owner/Editor

When pitching articles or ideas to a site owner or editor, I think back to the old school days of snail mail queries to magazine editors. While you don’t necessarily need the same formality (depending on the website), the process is much the same. You want to be professional and polite but you also want to get to the point as quickly as possible and let them know right away what you want. They get tons of emails daily and if you want them to do more than toss yours in the trash pile, you need to compile it carefully.

 

Before you pitch an idea, familiarize yourself with the past content, the tone and voice of the site and the most popular posts. This will help you determine if you can contribute something that will be an asset to the site, and that you’re not pitching an idea they just recently published.

 

First, introduce yourself and explain what you want. Always find out the name of the person you are contacting when sending an email. Don’t say “Dear sirs” or “To whom it may concern” or you sound like a spammer.

 

Tell them right away what site you are representing and give them the link. State the goal and purpose of your email clearly and concisely from the start. Display a genuine interest in the site and make a couple of comments about it, if appropriate. For example, you might comment on a recent post or study they did that interested you.

 

Then you want to give them a few great article ideas for their site. If you research their site properly first, you should be able to pitch 3-4 great ideas. Avoid general titles like “5 Tips to ___” and “10 Ways to ___” unless they are truly unique and you can tell this from the title alone. You want the blog owner to read the titles with your pitch and get excited about having that content on their site so here is where you really need to shine.

 

However, don’t get stuck on your ideas alone. Let them know that you’re open to other ideas or assignments, should they have different needs in mind. Be polite, thank them for considering your offer and invite them to reach out to you at any time, even if they don’t need your content right now. You want to make that connection and leave them with a positive impression of you in mind.

 

Finally, remember that your subject line is very important or you might end up in the trash bin before they even open the email. So choose a subject line that says very specifically what you want. Avoid generic lines like “Accepting guest bloggers?” or “I want to guest blog” because these are commonly used by spammers who mass-mail sites trying to get their content published for backlinks.

 

Tracking Your Pitches

Each time you send a new pitch, be sure to record who you sent it to, the date and the topic ideas you pitched. Again, I use spreadsheets for this data. If I don’t hear back in a week, I send a follow-up email. If I still don’t hear back within a week after that, I pitch the same ideas to a different site and just make a note in my spreadsheet that I did not get a response.

 

If the pitch is accepted, I send over the full article as quickly as possible so as to give a  good impression and once it is published,  I plug the live link into my tracking spreadsheet and I also share the post across all of my networks. If your guest post gets a lot of traffic and comments, you are more likely to be invited back to do another post.

 

The Writing Begins

Once you have found your site and pitched your idea, it’s time for the writing phase. When I am working a guest blog marketing campaign, I don’t wait for an answer to begin writing. In the odd chance that the idea I pitched is denied or the site is just not currently in need of anymore content, I can always pitch the idea to the next site on my list and it speeds up the process if the article is already written. Even if it needs some edits and tweaking to fit the new publication, the main ideas will already be in place.

 

While the writing process is different for everyone, I begin with a free-writing phase. I don’t look at any other articles or notes and I just type from my head without worrying about spelling or grammar or other editing. Just put down as many thoughts and ideas as you can about your topic as if you were chatting with a friend. Then, put it away for awhile and rest your mind.

 

When you come back to edit and clean it up, make sure you find sources to back up your facts. It’s good to have one or two non-self-serving links in your guest post as well so using these to support your ideas is good.

 

Make use of subheadings and bullets or lists to organize the information and make it easier to read. Cut out any ideas that are too general and well-known. Make sure your ideas are fresh and unique. If it doesn’t bring up a new point or idea, cut it out.

 

Make sure you compare your post with the guidelines for the site you are writing for. Don’t make exceptions. If they say no longer than 1,000 words, don’t send them a 1,200-word post. You might see it as “making an exception” but they will see it as ignoring their guidelines.

 

If you doubt your ability to proofread for yourself, have someone else do it or even hire an editor to go over your guest posts before sending them out. Spelling and grammar errors can get your post declined and even cost you the ability to ever post on that site again.

 

Benefits of Guest Blogging

Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of guest blogging:

  • You see increased traffic to your site: When you get your content placed on high traffic sites, you will have a great opportunity to spread your brand to new audiences and bring in new readers to your own site.
  • You can build a better portfolio: You will also build your credibility with a better portfolio of published content. You can showcase that your writing skills are in high demand and that you are an expert in your niche. This will also help increase your profile and make you a highly sought-after guest poster.
  • Increase brand awareness and exposure: Regardless of how much increase in traffic you see after each guest post, you are still increasing brand awareness and exposure. You are reaching new audiences who may not have heard of your company before. Additionally, if they continue to see your brand attached to high quality, interesting articles, it will build a positive impression of your brand in their memory.
  • Build authority: The more you write on a specific topic, the more authority you build on that particular subject. Having your content published on other sites, in addition to your own, helps build your authority as well. When a website publishes your content, it is like they are vouching for you and what you have to say.

Are you making use of guest blogging for your site today? Do you have any questions about your own guest blogging marketing campaign?

Guest Article Requests: Free Edited Content for Your Blog

Lisa Mason

Lisa Mason is a Social Media Consultant and writer with more than 12 years experience. She helps brands connect with their target audience online. You can see Lisa's work at Social Media Satisfied and book your own special media solutions, or contact her on Twitter.

My Blog Guest

4 comments

    • writerlisamason /

      Thanks Anthony. That sounds interesting. I will have to check it out. I deal with so many guest blogs in a month, it’s important to stay organized. Appreciate you reading, and your feedback. 

  1. Wonderful Guest Blogging Guide Lisa. I hope that people can easily publish their post as a guest with the help of your provided guideline.

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