What Is Guest Blogging and How Do I Get Started?
You’d have had to live under a rock the last few years to not have heard the phrase guest blogging (also known as guest posting). Yet many people don’t understand the value of it really.
It sounds a little counterintuitive in a way. You spending some of your precious time researching, writing and editing content for someone else’s blog. Why would anyone ever agree to do that? In this article, I’ll explain.
What is guest blogging?
Put simply, guest blogging is when you write a blog post or article for another person or brand’s blog or website. Guest blogging has been around for more than a decade, however in the last few years it has become increasingly popular strategy in digital marketing.
Typically, guest blogging means you are not directly financial rewarded for your efforts either. That is, you are not paid for your time or content.
However there are plenty of non-direct benefits from effective guest blogging.
Benefits of guest blogging
Before you roll your eyes and think to yourself ‘what a waste, giving my content and hard work away’, let me explain how guest blogging is such a fantastic digital marketing strategy, for you to consider.
Now that we know what is guest blogging, I want to discuss four main benefits of this approach to blogging. These are;
- Increases your audience;
- Helps build credibility;
- Improves your SEO through backlinks, and;
- Creates personal connections.
Let me explain each of these guest blogging benefits in more detail.
Guest blogging increases your audience
If you choose the right site to guest post on, then you can expect to have a number of people follow links from any writers bio to your website or blog. Assuming you have written an article that is engaging and valuable, of course.
Guest blogging has been proven to be a very effective way for people to build their own personal branding. There are a number of very well known entrepreneurs and thought leaders now, who started by writing guest blogs for a number of outlets, moving from local small blogs, to medium sized, to then getting published on large syndicated media.
Guest blogging builds your credibility
This is an often overlooked benefit of guest blogging. By having a guest post published on a well known website, you can brag about that elsewhere in our marketing materials.
For example, “Sarah Phillips has written for Inc, Entrepreneur and Forbes, as well as her own blog.” This adds credibility to your career and opinions.
It improves SEO through increased backlinks
One of the most popular reasons for guest posting is to increase your backlinks. The value of the backlink depends on the Domain Authority of the site you are guest posting on. However, they all count to some degree and the back link is not the only benefits of guest posting.
It has been proven that over time these backlinks will help to increase your search engine rankings, look up Google’s ranking elements for more information.
Guest blogging creates connections
This is a lesser impact benefit of guest blogging, however for someone who ended up getting a publishing deal from blogging, I believe in the power of networking. Reaching out and writing for blog owners is a good way to meet new contacts and share industry or networking leads.
Who know, you may end up writing a book or getting regular paid writing engagements from this.
B2B marketers who have blogs get 67% more leads than those who don’t. (Source)
How to plan a guest blogging campaign
Now that you know what is guest blogging, you need to have an objective before you spend dozens of hours writing content or approaching site owners.
Think of the guest blogging benefits I listed above. What would you hope to achieve?
If you work out your own objective, then you will be better positioned to secure the ‘right’ guest blogging opportunities.
Is it to purely get improved rankings on Google and search engines, by having more backlinks? Then writing on any blogs with decent SEO metrics will do.
Is it to build a new audience, and position yourself as an expert? You’ll want to write for related topic blogs, that get decent levels of traffic to them.
Is it to build credibility? If so, you need to work hard to get published by brand name publishers and websites, which often means writing your way up to that league, over time.
How to find the right sites to pitch a guest post
Most website and blog owners are acutely aware with what is guest blogging, because depending on their sites, they are likely regularly pitched to.
In order to actually be a published guest blogger, you are going to have to hunt down the right websites and then approach these bloggers with a pitch.
One way to do that is use Google and search phrases like the following.
your topic +“submit article”
your topic +“guest post”
your topic +“writers wanted”
your topic +“guest post guidelines”
your topic +“submit a guest post”
Search social media
Another way to do this is search social media, for example, searching Twitter for hashtags like #guestpost brings up a number of opportunities. You can also try similar search phrases like the above too.
Stalk your competitors
There are various tools, such as Open Site Explorer, that allow you to analyse your competitors backlinks and see where they are coming from.
An alternative method is to perform a Google search for link:domain.com “guest post” (replacing domain.com with your competitor’s url). This should show blogs and websites that your competitors have guest posts published on.
How to find the right topics for a guest post
This goes back to your objectives too. If you are just building backlinks, then you write whatever topic your ideal guest blogging target publishes. If you are building your own audience and positioning yourself as an expert, then you’ll want to write about your topic or business domain.
For example, I am a digital marketer who writes a lot of posts about content marketing and blogging. If I were just building backlinks, then I would write about the latest indoor plants for that interior design blog, or how to ride across Australia for that motorcycle tours blog. I’d then just find a reason to sneak in an anchor text and link back to my website.
However, if I am writing to expand my audience and show I am an expert, I’d want to stick to what I know – so I would write a post about guest blogging for example (see what I did here?).
So, my first step was to find the target sites I want to pitch to, and now I am going to do a little stalking. Let’s say I am going to write about the benefits of sharing your guest posts on social media. I have narrowed down my list of sites to target, who all accept guest blogs that cover similar topics.
This is what I would do next.
Stalking your guest blogging targets
Now that we have a handful of targets I could pitch a guest post to, I want to see what their Domain Authority (Moz) or Domain Rating (Ahrefs) is like.
The reason we do that is these metrics give us a sense of the sites authority, and Google takes authority into account when they measure the effects of any links. You want to see if they are a PBN site as well.
If you don’t have a paid Ahrefs or Moz account, Moz do offer a limited 10 sites a month community edition, or this website will give you a simple metrics results like the below.
I would use a tool such as Ahrefs, to see what are some of their most popular blog posts, by social shares. Here’s an example from Ahrefs, showing the Quuu blog;
I can see they have covered social media and blogging heavily, but there is nothing specific about guest posts on social media, so this may be a perfect place to pitch this topic.
Next, I confirm this, and see what posts do well on Google, by using the search phrase and the site:quuu.co operator.
Now I am going to look at a few of these top posts, and determine what they publish, in as far as style, subheadings, word count length, etc.
To get the word count, I just cut and paste the blog content into a Google sheet, and view the word count.
Best practices for blog publishing in 2017 has 1,865 words.
Content marketing hacks to amplify your blog has 1,310 words.
And finally, Blog traffic can be doubled with 6 proven strategies (on the side) has a whopping 2,756 words.
Working out the mean average word count of these three articles, means the average length is 1,977 words, so I would aim for writing somewhere between 1,500-2,000 words, ideally.
I also take note of a few other style elements. All three of these articles have plenty of images and screen grabs to illustrate the text. I can also see that they like to have lots of sub-headings (in proper heading 2 and heading 3), and they aren’t afraid to use lists and bold, etc.
Perusing the last 10 or so posts that they have published, I can see they prefer blog headlines to be in sentence case, and not in title case. This is important for when I pitch them.
Sentence case: How I guest blogged my way to meeting Eminem
Title case: How I Guest Blogged My Way to Meeting Eminem
This is a small thing, however given the headlines are the first thing people see with an article, it is important that they follow the site standards.
How to pitch a guest post
There are typically two methods of pitching to your guest blogging targets. One is to provide a handful of topics as a list, and ask if they are interested in one of them, and the other method is to pre-write a post that meets their style guide.
The former is obviously far less work, and means that you don’t spend time unnecessarily, however the latter is also a good method, particularly if you are confident that you can end up having it published elsewhere, should your first target not accept it.
I have done both, and received both before, and I feel they are both effective methods.
Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to have a positive ROI on their efforts. (Source)
5 ways to craft a better guest blogging pitch
As someone who has read through perhaps 500 guest blogging pitches for other blogs now, I know a few things that can make it more likely for your pitch to be accepted.
Make it personal
If you can, find the name of the blog editor, or the main contact. It is so much nicer to receive a ‘Hello Miles’ over a canned ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. If you can’t find a name, at least add the day or something personable, like ‘Happy Tuesday! Hope the team at GuestBlogs.net are well?’.
Keep the pitch brief
There’s nothing worse than having 10 email pitches a day to go through, and one of them reads like a mini novel. Just get to the point. I would rather read 4-5 paragraphs summing up why you should write a guest post for my blog, than 5 pages of text.
Explain the topics
Rather than just a handful of dot points, spell them out a little more (being mindful of my last point about being brief). For example;
How I met Eminem through guest blogging
This article will cover how I wrote six articles about him, and then approached his manager. I will provide actionable steps for your readers to start a successful music blogging career.
How I learned to fly a space shuttle
This takes the reader through my six month intensive astronaut training program, and shares 10 tactical tips for them to do the same.
Oh, and just to clarify, I have never flown a space shuttle, nor met Eminem. These are purely fictional topics I know nothing about…
Read their criteria
Many blogs will have a clear guest posting criteria available to read. This will typically spell out a few key points, such as;
- Word count
- Author credit
- …and the like.
It is always great when I receive a pitch where they state they have read and understand our criteria, rather than pitch me topics that we would never normally cover (I have received topic pitches such as home maintenance articles, on human resources blogs, for example).
Spell check! Spell check! Spell check!
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have received barely literate email pitches. It scares me; if you can’t write great English when pitching, what will the guest post look like?
Done well, guest blogging can really move your business or personal branding forwards. It is a cost effective method to get your name or brand out there, and done well with some planning, can really help create positive ranking improvements, and attract new audience and hopefully customers.
Good luck in trying out guest blogging, using the above strategies.