There's no doubt about that guest blogging can bring you very targeted traffic to your website and you can form great relationships with other people in your niche. But how do you actually do this the right way?
For this article, I reached out to 32 experts, and ask them to share their best guest blogging tips and strategies. And I must admit, I'm more than happy with all the answers that came in. So before we dig into it, thanks for all the fantastic contributions, you guys rock!
What are your best tips and strategies for successful guest blogging?
So without further ado, here are their answers!
So many people are selfish about their guest posts. It's all about them and how they can get traffic/links/authority/etc. But guest posts are actually really easy to turn into Multiple Win Scenarios. The “win-win-win” kinda thing where EVERYONE comes out ahead.
Here's an example.
Two years back I interviewed experts like Ramit Sethi, Ana Hoffman, and Pamela Wilson.
I recorded these interviews, noted them up, and turned the ideas into guest posts on popular sites.
There were wins all over the place.
Win #1: the host site got unique (and good) content for their readers.
Win #2: the interviewee was featured both on my site and the host site — traffic, links, authority, etc.
Win #3: I got those same benefits.
Win #4: I built relationships with both the experts and the host sites.
Win #5: one post led to $30,000+ in profit for my business.
You can do this too.
First, reach out to a popular site in your niche. “If I interview EXPERT and write an article about it, will you post it on your site?”
When you have confirmation, reach out to that expert with this email:
Can I interview you on January 3, 2014 at 1 p.m EST via Skype video?
You are great at ##, and I'd like to ask about ##.
I'll feature the interview on ## (WHERE THE GUEST POST WILL GO) and ## (YOUR SITE).
Key takeaway: don't be just another selfish guest-poster, instead create Multiple Win Scenarios.
~ Michael Alexis is a very successful writer and lawyer from Canada. You can get your hands on some of his awesome interviews with experts like Ramit Sethi here.
Guest posting has been, by far, the most effective way I've grown my site. And I've become much more sophisticated at this over time. Here are three tips for implementing a successful guest post strategy:
- Target the right audience. People love to talk about frugality. “How to save 35 cents per year by making your own laundry detergent”. I'd rather talk about the bigs wins, like negotiating a $5,000 raise or earning your first $1,000 with a side business. I could write guest posts on those other sites, but there's no point in writing for an audience of even a million people that just aren’t like you.
- Focus on providing value to the host site. With your first guest post, make self promotion secondary to providing extraordinary value. In many cases I spend 12 to 18 hours writing a single post. Make it more comprehensive than even the other articles on the host site, and they will welcome you back any time.
- Use a Catcher's Mitt. When you link to your own site in the post, you can actually do a lot better than just a generic landing page. For example, when I write a guest post on LifeHacker, I create a page specifically for that post that says, “Hello LifeHacker readers” and include a giveaway that is relevant to that audience.
Guest posting is a strategy that you can use repeatedly to quickly build a large and engaged audience for your content. Read more about my system for guest posting.
~ Ramit Sethi is Author of the New York Times bestseller, I Will Teach You To Be Rich and the founder of the blog under the same name.
What's the fastest way to get your guest post to stand out? Providing useful content is not enough (anyone can do that) — it's about connecting with people on a deeply emotional level. Write something that gets people to stop, think about things differently, and even alters the course of their day. One way you can do that is by being vulnerable. Two of my most popular articles were the ones I was most afraid to publish. “Confessions of a Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur” talked about my struggles in the workplace and feeling like I was different from everyone else. “Why I'm Not Afraid to Cry at Work” was about how I broke down in tears in front of my interns when I was rejected by a big client I really wanted to work for. Sharing your struggles humanizes you and allows people to relate to you on a deeper level.
~ Selena Soo is the founder of S2-Groupe.
My best guest blogging tip is to just do it. Start before you're ready. When I wrote my first guest post, I was terrified. But the more I did it, the better I got, and the more my blog grew.
There's no magic formula. Yes, there are guidelines, but ultimately, you have to find your own way. You have to find what works for you, and in order to do that, you have to start. Do your best and see where it takes you, because that's all you can do. If you dwell on what could go wrong, you waste energy that you could use in the present moment to take action.
When you get your attitude and mindset straight, the rest falls into place. At least that is how it has been for me.
~ Henri Junttila is the founder of the very successful blog Wake Up Cloud, where he teaches you how to build a thriving lifestyle business around your passion.
Don't pitch a guest post that only serves your needs. – Often, when we are launching something or trying to build reputation we try to get our work on as many sites (especially high-profile sites) as possible. We write a lot of canned pitches and cookie cutter guest posts, and then wonder why they don't get picked up or the converting traffic from the sites is minimal. The answer is simple: You served your own needs, you didn't serve the needs of others. Take time to carefully select the places you want to guest post. Write a thought-filled and thoughtful email to the owner explaining why you chose them, what you'd like to write (include a sample if you have it), and why this piece is a great fit for their site and their audience. Sure, it's a bit more work. But so is cooking an entire pot of spaghetti and throwing it at the wall, hoping something will stick.
Guest blogging is one of the most powerful strategies you can incorporate into your overall marketing plan, not just because it allows you to mine another person's audience, but because of the sheer SEO punch it packs.
However, in order to take advantage of this you need to know how to find the sites who will be of the biggest benefit to you. And no, it's not just the sites you would like to write for. You need to run yourself a Smart Search.
All you have to do is:
- Create a list of synonyms for your particular niche – so if you have a weight loss site you could use terms such as: losing weight, weight loss, weight loss tips, workout tips, healthy eating, natural weight loss, working out, fitness, bodyweight workouts, healthy recipes, organic living, how to lose weight etc..
- Once you have your list of synonyms, create a list of search phrases such as: write for us, submit a post, guest post, contribute etc..
- From there run your search by combining one of your synonyms with one of your search phrases so that your search looks like this: weight loss tips “write for us”
- It's essential that your synonym is not in quotes, whereas your search phrase is in quotes
This will then bring up only websites that have to do with your synonym AND have the words “write for us” (or whichever phrase you use) written on that page, usually in the form of a link.
The beauty of this system is you will uncover more sites than you ever knew existed in your niche, and best of all, they accept guest posts!
We have used this exact process to write for over 200 websites which has allowed us to rank for our most profitable keywords.
- Create unique content that other blogs don't have.
- Add inspiring or creative images to capture the attention of your readers, and focus on the feeling you want people to have when they read your posts.
- Also, write a headline that you'd want to read if you saw it on Twitter or Facebook in your feed.
If you want to guest blog, then you have to find blogs that relate to your expertise so that you have something to say and you can add to the discussion that's already taking place there. Instead of emailing the blog author initially, you should actively read their blog and comment on posts. This way, the blog author will be familiar with your name, face and contributions. After a few weeks, reach out to them directly with a summary of the guest blog entry you would like to write. Repeat this process until you get opportunities to write posts and for every published post, use that to secure future opportunities by including writing samples like any journalist would.
~ Dan Schawbel, New York Times best-selling author of Promote Yourself
The first time you send in a guest blog submission to a new site, make sure you knock their socks off. Really produce something that is polished and top quality. Read over their guidelines if they have them. Read over other guest blog posts and do your best to mimmic their style.
Over time, after you've submitted 2 or 3 or 4 guest submissions to a site, then it gets easier. But the first new submission to a new site is the hardest because generally, they don't know you. Over time, you get to know their style so the writing gets easier, and they are more likely to accept your posts because they get to know you and you have a track record.
John Lee Dumas
Dive DEEP into one topic, and really focus on an epic post. Tim Urban over at waitbutwhy.com has really inspired me on the power of 1 killer post as opposed 7 ok ones. He spends 30+ hours on each weekly post, it shows, and now he has been featured on the Huffington Post. The days, unless the content is mind-blowing, you are not going to get any credibility or traction as there is way to much B grade content flying around. 1 “A” a month beats 10 “Bs” EVERY time.
~ John Lee Dumas is the founder and host of the top ranked business podcast EntrepreneurOnFire and creator of Podcasters' Paradise.
I believe there are 4 major requirements that have to be met before you can hit “send” on a request to guest post on someone else's blog. They are:
1) Be familiar with the blog you're requesting to guest post on. That includes knowing the type of content they provide, the format in which they provide it, who their readers are, and what their readers are looking for.
2) Include in your request who you are and why you want to guest post on their blog.
3) You should have at least 2 or 3 sample titles with short summaries or bullet points of what you are proposing to write about.
4) You must be absolutely certain that the content you're providing is going to be of true value to their readers.
A bonus would be that you've already started building a relationship with this blogger by way of genuinely interacting and engaging on their blog prior to reaching out with your request. Being a familiar name/face will put you a step ahead when you hit that send button!
~ Kate Erickson is the Content Creator and Community Manager for EntrepreneurOnFire. If you enjoyed her guest blogging tips, be sure to reach out to Kate on Twitter.
Build a relationship before you pitch. Big bloggers can get dozens of pitches a month, most of which they'll never look at. However if one comes from someone they are friends with, or someone who has provided value to them in the past, they'll be much more open to hosting you.
~ Sean Ogle is the founder of the extremely successful blog, Location 180 and he also has an awesome online course and community, Location Rebel.
Guest blogging doesn't have to be time consuming and it is possible to outsource. However, 99% of the emails we all get asking for guest posts are doing it all wrong. If you want to outsource guest posting there are a few musts! The person doing the outreach on your behalf has to speak perfect English – that means overseas VA's are out! The person doing the outreach must understand the fellow bloggers by blog commenting/interacting first. Finally, the outreach has to be short, to the point and natural.
If you want to outsource the time consuming guest posting outreach process it is not easy but it is possible if you are willing to pay for the right person to help!
~ Jon Haver is the founder of Authority Website Income.
If you're starting a blog & want to get into guest blogging, take time to actually dig in & research the target audiences of the blogs you want to pitch. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten absolutely terrible guest post pitches from people who had obviously never spent 5 minutes looking at the site.
~ Joel Runyon is founder of the blog and community Impossible HQ.
- Publish on sites with a large readership and/or audiences that are likely to be interested in your blog.
- Write your very best content for those sites.
- Link back to a landing page (here's an example of one of mine: http://healthyenough.net/
newsletter/) from your byline.
- Measure your results. Do less of what doesn't work and more of what does.
Step 1: Remember to do your research first and establish 5-10 sites you would love to see your article published on. Sites that have a decent readership and an audience that you want to get in front of that makes good business sense.
Step 2: Hang out in their community for some time before you approach them. Share their articles, commenting and getting to know how they write, what guest posts they accept and what resonates most with their readers.
Step 3: Contact them with your request to post and make it impossible for them to refuse by looking at all the elements you need in a great pitch email.
Step 4: Thank them once the article has gone live, share it far and wide and continue to keep in touch with them and be part of their community. You never know when you may get another opportunity to post for them, or return the favour.
You can find more of Natalie's fantastic guest blogging tips here.
Focus on writing more guest posts when you want to grow your blog than writing for your own site. Click to tweet!
My best guest blogging tip:
Make friends! It's easy to ask for guest posts when you have made friends in person at a conference. Also make sure to start small, then go BIG. I would get one or two small ones under your belt, and then shoot for big ones. Usually the time is worth WAY more for the bigger sites. It's the same process, but bigger results.
Go for quality over quantity, but don't expect miracles! Your time is better spent writing one perfect guest post for a big site with a following that lines up with your message than writing 20 guest posts for sites that don't have the right audience. I spent two months on my first guest post for the right site that and it added nearly 1000 subscribers in three days…and then a few weeks later ended up on a number of GIANT blogs that barely sent any traffic. Be selective, spend time researching which audiences are really active and engaged and want to find new sites to read (hint: it's probably not the giant “how to blog” websites), and then build relationships with those bloggers.
~ Steve Kamb is the founder of the extremely successful blog and community, Nerd Fitness.
My biggest tip for guest blogging is to actually get to know the blog owner as much as possible. If you're looking to guest post for a site, you should already be familiar with their content, their audience and the normal writing style required. It's better to take it a step further and engage with the blog owner and get to know them prior to your guest post submission.
What this does is it enables you to start developing a genuine, lasting relationship and then getting your submission accepted will be much more of a walk in the park. It also enables you to more easily discuss the kind of content that would be suitable for a guest post. The other massive advantage of actually getting to know the blog owner is that it can lead to further partnerships down the track, such as affiliate partnerships or other business building partnerships.
~ Brendan Baker is the founder of the fast growing personal development blog, Start of Happiness.
When you write for a guest blog or being offered a guest posting opportunity, focus on quality, effort and expectation. In terms of quality, always give your 200% instead of 100%. Guest blogging is a great way to build influence and with proper techniques, you are going to build influence real fast.
I make it a point to ask webmasters what they have in mind such as any specific topic, the tone and even the number links to be shared. Guest blogging is a two way traffic for me and always focus in a win-win situation for both parties. Lastly, make sure you share your guest posts on social media too. I schedule them from time to time using Buffer and this would actually increase your guest blogging ‘value'.
Recommended: Guest posting checklist.
Guest blogging is a great way to expand your audience and have a bit more presence on different platforms on this internet thing. Having a long-term view is important. Approaching a popular blog with a cold email may not always be the smartest thing. A great way to build relationships with other blog founders that share your audience is to ask to interview them first. Get to know them a bit, learn about their story and their blog and share it with your audience on your blog.
With an interview under your belt, you not only have some great content to share but you have now started a relationship with the blog founder. Later down the road you can approach them to guest post on their blog. They’ll know who you are, what you do and what you’re capable of. They can trust that your guest post will add value to their blog and not just be a self-promting rant.
~ Omar Zenhom the founder of $100 MBA and WebinarNinja.
Guest blogging is about two things:
- Relationships: build a trusted relationship with a blogger and he or she will let you guest blog. It's not just about being friends though; it's about demonstrating value and the ability to share this value with an audience. Great bloggers care about their audience. Show that you can bring the audience value and you'll get the opportunity to guest blog
- Persistence: bloggers are busy. Often you'll send an email and never hear back; it's not that the blogger doesn't think you're value; instead, it may be that the blogger just forgot to email you back. Send one email per week until you get a response. Utilize Yesware or Boomerang to get automatically notified in a week if the blogger doesn't respond to you
~ Jun Loayza is the creator of Drop Ship Domination and he has another site called eFinanceHub as well.
Every established blogger knows that guest blogging is a transactional process. A lot of rookie guest bloggers will try to sweep that fact under the rug, emailing big blogs out of the blue about how they'd “absolutely love to contribute a post because I just love this site so much”.
This approach will get you nowhere. The key to successful guest blogging is to A) make the transaction worth it for the blogger and B) make is not feel purely transactional.
Make no mistake – as a guest blogger, you are not automatically doing the established blog a favor by contributing content. Unless it's a blog that openly accepts guest posts (the type with banners calling for guest bloggers), the blog's owner is taking a risk when deciding to hear out your guest post request. By allowing a guest post on their site, they're publishing content that's not in line with their writing voice. They might be worried how it will resonate with their audience. Even if that's not an issue, they might have to spend a lot of time editing it. At the end of the day, what makes your content any better than something they could write themselves?
If you're going to pitch a guest post, it needs to be great. Make it something the blogger couldn't do themselves – or something that would take them a really long time. They should be really excited to get your content, and it should add a lot of value for their audience. Paul Jarvis' recent guest post on The Sparkline is a great example – he probably knows a lot more about self-publishing books than the founders do, and their audience wants to know about that topic. Accepting this guest post was probably a no-brainer.
Now, onto making the process not feel so transactional. Basically, as a blogger, I'd rather accept content from a good friend than from someone I don't know. It feels less like they're just trying to get a link and exposure from my site. So try to build a relationship with the blogger first. I've always gone with the “fan-first” model: first become a fan and a champion for a blogger – share their stuff and show your appreciation. Then reach out and build a relationship. Then pitch your guest post if it's relevant.
One last note – if you want a chance to guest post on a site, show the owners that guest posts are worth it. If someone has guest posted previously, get in the comments and thank them for what they taught you. It'll show the site owner that the guest post really contributed value, and make them more likely to accept new ones in the future (maybe yours!).
~ Thomas Frank is the founder and blogger behind College Info Geek.
I get 25 guest blog pitches a day. So you have to stand out. If you don't address me by my name then I assume you will not have a pitch tailored to my blog, so I don't read any further. Most guest posts on my blog get at least 100 comments. The reason for this is that I only publish posts that have a fresh opinion, a personal angle, a way for people to improve their lives, and a clear relationship to my blog topic. It's really hard to do all that in a post, but the guest posts on my site are always great.
I've found that using Twitter and commenting on blogs that I want to write for are two of the most effective ways to get noticed as a potential guest blogger. Share the blog's content and tag them with an @mention so they see your name. Add insightful comments that create value for their readers and they'll remember and be thankful for you. Do this several times a day and you'll be their best friend. It shows you actually enjoy their content, you're trying to help them, and they won't think twice about having you on as a guest because suddenly you're not just a name out of thousands but instead a name they recognize and look forward to seeing.
~ Vincent Nguyen is the founder of the personal development blog Self Stairway.
Don't send junk, mediocre or even average writing. Guest post with nothing but your best.
Some people send me guest blog posts where it is clear that they rushed it because they're just looking for a free link back. And yes, IF I published (which I never would), they would gain a link back….but let's take a moment to think about what they're losing.
If someone guest posts on my blog, that means tens of thousands of NEW PEOPLE will see their writing.
So if that was YOU posting on my blog….would you want those people to read your writing, think to themselves “Eh, that's just ok” – and move on? OR…would you rather have all those people see your absolute BEST and love your writing…and go become a loyal subscriber of youts?
To me the answer is obvious. When I've posted on Lifehack, Marc and Angel, ZenHabits, ProBlogger (to name just a few) I ALWAYS use my best work – and it pays off in so many ways. Not only the link back, but positive exposure to a new audience, grateful traffic – and the friendships I've formed with those bloggers because they know I've respected their blog.
You are better than average – only send your best.
~ Sid Savara, personal development and lifehacking fanatic.
When you're pitching a guest post, do your homework. Read at least 5 recent articles from the blog you're pitching. Get a sense of their style, and their audience. The more specific you are about who you're talking to, and what kind of articles that audience likes to read, the more successful your blog post will be.
That said, stay true to your voice and your message. You want the people who click through to become future sharers and loyal readers, not just another blogger's audience who thinks you're the same kind of writer.
~ Amy Clover is the founder of the blog and community Strong Inside Out.
An incredibly simple tactic I use for guest blogging is to close my articles in order to avoid “byline blindness.” It consists of 3 elements:
- Closing subheading: Let people know that the article is done and it’s their turn to do something. I typically use “Over to You” or “It’s Your Turn.”
- Ask a question: Creating two bullet points, you should use the first one to ask a simple question that relates to what you wrote about.
- Place a small CTA: In the second bullet point, offer the readers a way to “get more” with a simple CTA, such as a download from your site.
To see it in action, you can check out this Copyblogger post of mine, and look out for the end of the article.
The best things to do is get as personal as you can. If you want the best results, find large, single-author blogs and get to know the blogger on a personal level. The easiest way to do that is social media, but you can also leave comments on their blog, offer help that's specific, etc. Just pay attention. Then pitch a post you know is relevant to their audience but they haven't covered yet. Do you research! Make sure you follow their tone of voice and their personal brand. Once you get accepted, make sure you track how well the post does so you can decide if you want to post their again, and don't forget to follow up with the blog owner and engage with their audience!
Approach guest blogging by being prepared to give away your very best work and delivering the most value to the target blog. Also, don't put the blogger on a pedestal and treat them like some celebrity. Instead, do your homework by following the blog, reading the comments and contributing to the community and to social media sharing before pitching your blog post. And never send the pre-written blog post draft, only send compelling headlines and ask the blogger which they would like for you to contribute.
~ Farnoosh Brock is the founder of Prolific Living.
My best guest blogging strategies are to provide the most value, while also giving clear instruction and tutorials on how a task can be completed. This means, no matter what type of blog or topic you are writing for, make sure there is an end value. There are so many blogs and bloggers out there that just keep rehashing the same content, which is really all generic information. For more tips, be sure to check out this big post I wrote on the topic.
From a single guest post, I’ve gained, as of today (probably more now!), 1070 subscribers—and the numbers show no signs of stopping. Based on a conservative valuation of $1/subscriber/month, this post will gross $12,840/year in pure profit.
Below are the exact steps I took to make this happen:
- Find a blog where you can write a guest post.
- Write a compelling headline and introduction story (slippery slope) to your meaty, actionable, useful guest post.
- End your post with a Call to Action that leads people to your landing page.
- Build a landing page on your site specifically for incoming readers. (Here is a landing page just for Think Traffic Readers)
- On the landing page, give away some incredibly useful extras in exchange for the email address.
If you want to read the full post where Maneesh share his best guest blogging tips and strategies, be sure to check out his guest post over at the Think Traffic archive.
~ Maneesh Sethi is the founder and chief experimenter over at Hack The System.
If you made it thus far, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this article! I hope you really got some great insights and very useful guest blogging tips you can implement from this comprehensive post.
Again, if you're one of the featured ‘experts' above, thanks so much for your awesome contributions! I really enjoyed putting this together 🙂
If you can take one or two of all the amazing tips from this post and go out there and apply to your own guest blogging strategies, what would it be? Share in the comments please!
Also, if you happen to be a frequent guest blogger already, I would love if you can share your best tips and strategies for successful guest blogging in the comments section below and continue the conversation there.
Until next time…stay inspired!