To 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 site:domain.com and then click through Relevance:
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.
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.
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