The Ten Steps To Arranging and Writing a Killer Guest Post

Killer guest postTo me, guest posting has been by far the most effective free way to promote a resource (as well as my brand). That wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that everything I have ever achieved in my online career was due to my guest posts. I wouldn’t like anyone to think about guest posting as a link building (or SEO) tool though. There is much more behind the tactic. It builds long-term contacts, exposes your resources to a wide interested audience, promotes your brand and expertise, and many more. But yes, it takes much time and effort and is only effective when taken seriously. So the aim of this post is to actually describe this serious approach to guest blogging step by step – to make sure the tactic works for you.

Step 1: Search for guest posting opportunities

Unless you are about to start guest posting on a weekly basis, spotting a promising guest posting opportunity shouldn’t be a problem for you. Most niches have high-profile blogs that are known for accepting guest posts (and frequently featuring them). For social-media-relates topics this is Mashable, for productivity it’s Lifehack, for copywriting it’s CopyBlogger, etc. Arranging a post at such a busy places is not an easy task, but the outcome is amazing, so you should give it a try. If you need more guest posting opportunities than you are already aware of, go search Google or join my forum My Blog Guest (which unites guest authors with bloggers interested in free quality content).

Step 2: Browse and read the blog

Now you need to get the feeling of what gets published and what gets popular on the blog you plan to guest post for. The first thing to do is to browse the blog, read what you see and drop some smart comments. To see what seems to be most appreciated by the blog audience you may need some simple tools, like: Topsy that shows the most Tweeted posts from any domain. Just type and then click through Relevance:

Topsy popular posts

Delicious URL search will help you understand what users associate the blog with. It shows which tags people use to bookmark the home page. These tags also reflect the readers’ favorite topics as well expectations.

Delicious URL search

Step 3: Brainstorm a killer post idea

Now that you know a bit about what people like to read about at the target blog, you are ready to brainstorm a good post idea. Here is my personal advice for you: Yes, you need to know what goes well on that blog but no, you don’t need to amend your unique style. Blog what you are good at, don’t ever try to appeal too much. Be yourself. Remember that by accepting a guest post, the blog owner hopes to breathe some fresh air into his resource: he looks for your unique voice, not for something he has already (successfully) done on his site.

Step 4: Create a good email pitch

This is a very important step because it actually determines if the guest post is going to be arranged. So don’t screw up. People have various approaches and after some time you’ll be able to work out your own. Here’s what usually works for me:

  • I am always brief and personalized. I always take time to find the blogger’s name before trying to contact him;
  • I mention my post idea and add why I think it will do well on the blog;
  • I link to a couple of my previous posts to show my style;
  • I never include too many links (as the message with lots of URLs may end up in the spam box).

Step 5: Work on the post

This step is the clearest one. Just grab a cup of coffee and write a good post. Make it unique and well, awesome. Remember that the blogger doesn’t asks for anything in return for exposing your brand to his audience and linking to your resource. All he needs is great content. With that in mind, just do as good as you can. And even better.

Step 6: Link to the related posts from the same blog

This is just the way to be polite and show the blogger you read him. This effort will be highly appreciated, trust me. Just take an effort to do some searching to link to previously published articles from within your context.

Step 7: Work on the post images

Most blogs have some long-adopted style of decorating published posts to grab readers’ attention and visualize the article content. Some of them prefer long horizontal images on top of the actual content. Others add a small introductory image aligned to the left or to the right. It is easy to spot the style and adopt it to the post you are working on. Like linking to the previously published posts, this will tell the blogger that you care about his resource and take the guest opportunity seriously – which means better chances that your post gets approved.

Killer guest post: images

Besides, in case you are making any screenshots, make them relevant to the current blog you are writing for.

Step 8: Work on formatting

Good clear formatting means less time required to edit and upload the post – which also means better approval rate and faster publishing. And it won’t take you too much time. What I usually make sure to do:

  • See the blog’s heading style and use it for my post (this usually goes about whether the site uses H2 or H3 tags for subheadings);
  • Create a clean HTML document (that can be easily copy-pasted to WordPress editor unlike the text from Word doc, for example, that usually forces some weird formatting issues);
  • Proof read again and again until I learn the copy by heart.

Step 9: Don’t send the post immediately after writing

It is a wise idea to sleep on it. In the morning, go through it again and only then send it. This fresh look will help you find some mistakes and fine-tune your style.

Step 10: Wait

Most popular blogs have busy schedules, so don’t be offended if your post doesn’t go live at once. I know that after you work hard on the post, you may get overly anxious about the feedback but you may need to wait. I usually wait for the reply no more than 1 week, then I send a notice tp the blog owner saying that if I don’t get a reply in the next couple of days, I will need to publish the post elsewhere.

Extra steps: Get involved

Now that your post actually goes live, there is no reason to think the job is done. Check back often, subscribe to comments and answer every single one posted, tweet and share the post. Remember, the better the post does, the more exposure you get! Happy guest posting! The guest post is by Ann Smarty, who is a strong believer in guest posting. If you love or plan guest blogging, join Ann’s community of guest bloggers: My Blog Guest, which is basically a forum where people meet to exchange post and promote each other’s content. Post image by Llima


  1. says

    Kiesha, it’s very appreciated if guest bloggers do so because it shows that the interest isn’t purely to land some links, but also that the guest blogger recognises guest posting as a valuable opportunity.

    Last but not least it also often is the only thing you get when your content is scraped. And a well placed link will regularly receive more than 10% clicks. :)

  2. says

    Sleeping on your proposed post and looking at it before sending it is really one of the most overlooked steps we fail to do. But it can enable us to make the crucial decision as to whether we indeed find our own work effective and interesting or we have to improve it some more.

  3. says

    Would there be any point in inviting people to guest blog? I think that ‘social media’ as a whole is about educating and informing. As a result I don’t see any reason not to accept a guest blog, even if it does come with an outgoing link. The result is a richer and more diverse blog which is the ultimate aim anyway.
    Or have I got the bull by the udder on this one?

  4. says

    @Ian, inviting people to guest blog will certainly keep the guest posts rolling, especially if you have a well read blog. Personally though I think that guest posts should be considered as ‘reference posts’ for the guest blogger. Many guest posts are written by less known bloggers and in my opinion only are valuable if of high quality.

    IMHO guest posts aren’t about ‘landing that one link’ but about building your brand, exposing yourself to another audience. Personally I expect ‘resumé quality’ posts from guest bloggers. My blog is like ‘my living room’, if I let someone else gig in my living room they have to be high quality. Of course a majority of guest posts I receive I do not publish because of the poor quality submitted (or because they are not unique articles and have already been published elsewhere).
    I can think of several blogs with more than 20k subscribers where a ‘standard/meh’ guest post won’t bring you more than 10 clicks and serves merely as free content. But imagine the value you could get out of the same opportunity if you write killer content. Added value for both the host and guest blogger.

  5. says

    # Kiesha – I don’t believe ya! lol

    P.S. I would skip step 4 and email bloggers who I know, that’s why my aim is to make friends first. Then email my quest post offer.

  6. says

    @Codrut, depending on the size/popularity of the blog you want to guest post, a good pitch will make the difference between ‘Hey look, that’s a nice idea and some reputable sites this person has guestposted on already/great entries already published‘ and ‘Another one who thinks I really don’t have anything else to do than chase them‘.

  7. says

    Codrut, even if you know the blogger, you may want to be as detailed as you as to what you are going to write about and why you think this would be a great fit for his blog. This way you will at least save time on sending emails back and forth.

  8. says

    Some damn, nice tips here.
    Although I follow most of them, number 4 really widened my horizon:

    Step 4: Create a good email pitch

    I used to be really sloppy with that one, but thanks to you, my next guest post
    will kick triple ass !

  9. says

    Great guest posting tips! I love that you suggest linking to other posts on the blog, and also including an image. Little things like this really do help a lot. Thanks.

  10. says

    Hi Ann,
    Another excellent post from you on the subject of guest posting. I’m especially keen on #6 and #10. Internal linking to previous posts is very flattering! It means you’ve spent some time on the site. It shows that you’re speaking to the site owner’s audience. It means that you’ve encouraged readers to dig deeper to find out more on the topic and to spend more time on the blog. Really good!

    #10 wait to hear feedback and wait to be published. Sometimes it happens straight away and sometimes we have to wait. Just the nature of the game.

    You’ve introduced two new tools to me: Topsy and Delicious URL search. I’ll be adding those in to my To Do list for today :D

    For anyone interested in guest posting, I love publishing posts from other bloggers on my site! Ann Smarty (author of this post) recently published one of her informative posts about guest blogging on where I serve as a featured editor.

    If you’d like to guest post for me on my blog or on BlogCatalog, hit me up. I’m always looking to meet new bloggers.

  11. says

    Great guide for guest bloggers and yes the point about linking to previous posts is a killer one, kinda makes it hard for the blog owner to refuse! Thanks for the Topsy tip too, now I really must get myself over to My Blog Guest…

  12. says

    This post seems to recieve a large ammount of visitors. How do you get traffic to it? It offers a nice unique spin on things. I guess having something authentic or substantial to talk about is the most important thing.

  13. says

    Very useful tips. I join guest post several days but don’t know how to start. Read this via email subscribe. I like this step by step tips for spreading the word around…

  14. says

    Thanks for a very informative post, Ann. Very helpful to someone like me who has yet to ‘dip a toe in the water’ when it comes to guest blogging. I have identified a local company, done the research, written, polished, sweated over two guest blog pieces and was wondering about the next step. A tiny part of me fears the rejection but I guess sometimes we have to believe in our own work. Off to work on steps 4,5 and 7. Many thanks. Sara

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