For anyone looking to break into an industry’s thought community and begin building a reputation as a reliable and authoritative voice, guest blogging is a great way to reach a target audience and build relationships among industry peers.
Guest blogging is when you publish posts on another company’s website. Also called guest posting, guest blogging helps bring traffic to your site, attention to your brand, and credibility to your content.
3 Reasons to Start Guest Blogging
1. Drive traffic to your website.
If done well, guest blogging is a boon to your website and brand. Publishing content on popular websites creates great opportunities to insert backlinks to your own domain. This will help organically grow traffic to your website.
2. Build your reputation.
When trusted and authoritative sources in your industry host your content, they effectively help establish your company as a credible voice. In this way, guest blogging helps boost your reputation and build your brand authority.
3. Cultivate relationships.
While it’s important to build brand relationships and cultivate trust between you and your audience, it’s arguably just as important to form and maintain industry connections. The trust and professional relationships you foster with other content creators or influencers in your industry will be invaluable to the success of your business and your content.
All of this may seem intimidating, especially if you’ve never guest blogged before. However, once you get started and put in some legwork, guest blogging will become a valuable part of your company’s brand and normal operation. We’re here to help you get started. With 8 simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a guest blogging expert.
1. Make sure your own website is in order.
If this seems obvious, that’s because it is.
- Make your web page user-friendly, visually appealing, and professional.
- Your website is your resume. Valuable content creators in your industry will thoroughly vet your website, especially your blog, when you pitch them ideas.
- Be sure to output fresh content, clear all dead links, and clean up any clutter.
- Prospective clients will appreciate a well-written and comprehensive "About" page, where you can lay out everything about your expertise and prior experience.
2. Do your research.
If you’ve been in the blogging game for a while, then you realize the necessity and value of thorough research skills.
Once you’ve decided to guest post, you have to be able to search for where to guest blog. Here are some best practices on how to find blogs for guest posting:
- Pitch to modest, starter blogs if you’re just starting out. These initial projects will help you build a solid resume.
- Find specialized blogs that relate to your industry, expertise, and brand. Folks are more likely to welcome guest post submissions from burgeoning guest bloggers in their own blogging niche.
- Look up catalogs that list websites that accept guest blogging contributions.
Google and other search engines are excellent places to start when looking for guest posting opportunities. Just type in the topic you’re interested in writing about and then enter the associated keywords. For instance:
- topic keyword guest blog
- topic keyword guest article
- topic keyword guest post
- topic keyword become a contributor
- topic keyword write for us
Specialized Blog Searching Tools
Often times, basic search engines won’t cut it and you’ll need more specialized search tools such as Best of the Web Blogs. Best of the Web Blogs is a no-frills blog search engine that provides an exhaustive list of specialized sites in various industries that you may not easily find on Google.
Figuring out whether a site you find is legitimate or worth your time is tricky business and takes some experience, but there are a few signs to watch out for.
- Dig through the website content to gauge its quality. Answer the question, "Is this a blog I want my name associated with?"
- Look at comment sections. Are they active? Do comments push the conversation forward? If the site's posts have a dead or irrelevant comment section, the website might not be worth your time.
- Is the site active on social media? Check whether the site has an active Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account. Also investigate how often the site's content is shared on social media. If people regularly share posts from the site, that's a sign that the website is worth guest posting for.
Do not limit yourself to blog websites. In the digital world, email reigns supreme, and email newsletters are a great platform to get your content out there.
3. Have some content ready in the bank.
Once you’ve found some promising guest posting opportunities, it’s time to think of a pitch. Pitching content generally goes two ways:
- Find a website that publishes content relevant to your niche and then pitch ideas or teasers to their content editors. This pitching strategy provides flexibility and lets you collaborate with editors on an idea for a piece of content that will fit both of your needs.
- Have publish-ready content before you search for guest blogging or email newsletter opportunities. Once you discover a website that feels right, you can pitch them an already fleshed out article. This is helpful because: (1) companies are often more willing to commit if they see a fully fleshed out, tangible piece of content, and (2) your content is original and represents an accurate picture of what you’ll bring to the table.
Both pitch strategies work. Oftentimes, though, content creators favor the second approach. After all, guest blogging is a chance for hosting sites to expand their thought community; sometimes, the more original the work, the better chance you have of being published and becoming a memorable name.
Garrett Mehrguth, CEO and co-founder of Directive, a marketing company, began building a name for himself in the marketing world using guest blog posts. Mehrguth secured his first guest blogging spot by sending an editor some pre-prepared, unpublished content. The editor loved the content and featured it in a newsletter, which sparked Mehrguth’s rise to becoming a thought leader in the marketing world.
4. Craft your pitch.
Creating a compelling pitch is grueling work. But it’s a crucial step.
Companies, websites, and editors get a ton of emails each day—how will you make yours stand out? The pitch is your first impression. And you only get one.
- Remember that guest blogging is a two-way street. You must explain what your goals are and also describe how your pitch will benefit the blog you seek to write for.
- Don’t just introduce your idea. Explain why it’s timely, relevant, and valuable to discuss.
- Believe in the value you provide. You have to take yourself and your content seriously, otherwise no one else will.
- Find your target audience. Tailor your pitch to the people you’re trying to reach.
- Be concise and to the point. The more substantive your pitch, the more value it will have.
HubSpot's manager of content marketing strategy, Ginny Mineo, tells a helpful story about the best cold pitch she's ever received. The pitch came from Videofruit founder Bryan Harris, who kept his message direct, short, and sweet:
- Harris offered pre-prepared content, a strategy we outlined in Step 3. By not only proving himself to be a fan of the website, but also providing teasers of what he could do for HubSpot, he offered immense value and made a convincing case for himself.
- As Mineo outlines in her post, Harris used a specific technique in this email. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, calls it “jab, jab, jab, right hook,” or "give, give, give—and then ask."
- As we outlined in this step, believe in the value of your content and make sure the host site understands it clearly, otherwise, you will see more rejections.
5. Cast a wide net—but not too wide.
Quality will always reign supreme when trying to build trust. However, when you’re working to land your first guest blogging gig, quantity is valuable as well.
Reach out to as many websites as possible with your content pitch. The more seeds you plant, the more likely you'll have crops to reap.
Cast a wide net, but only as wide a net as your expertise allows. You do not want to sacrifice quality for quantity; if you’re an expert in political consulting, don’t pitch content to a sports blog.
The most effective guest bloggers work hard to find a niche and own it. You'll speak with much greater authority if you blog as an expert about a specific subject. Doing so will help you build a loyal following and make your content and brand more valuable.
Be sure to keep things organized when casting a wide net. It’s a good idea to keep a detailed spreadsheet so that you can keep track of:
- Who you’ve pitched to
- What ideas you’ve already pitched
- When you reached out to prospects
- Content deadlines
- Follow-up messages
- Contact information of other content creators or industry peers
Keeping details about your progress will also help you stay motivated and allow you to measure your outreach methods’ effectiveness.
6. Follow up consistently.
The average American worker receives 126 emails every day. We’re all drowning in emails, and it’s easy for a single message to get lost in an inbox or even sent to spam. That’s why you need to consistently follow up.
You want to strike the right balance between persistence and annoyance. People across the industry interpret this balance differently. Some say wait 2-3 days before your first follow up; others say wait a week.
Data from Mailshake, a sales engagement platform, reveals that people most consistently open and reply—if they ever do reply—to emails on the day they receive them.
Of course, you don’t always have to rely on emails. Other ways you can reach out to or follow up with prospective blogs are to:
- Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even LinkedIn
- Hop on the phone and contact them the old-fashioned way
Regardless of how you choose to go about following up, keep two crucial steps in mind:
- Use the spreadsheet from earlier or a similar method to keep track of your correspondence with prospects. You don’t want to forget to follow up.
- Do not skip step 4. Carefully think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
7. Prepare for rejection at the beginning.
Rejection is just part of the guest blogging game. Some folks won’t get back to you, others just might not want your content. Regardless, it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize—building relationships in the industry while growing your brand. A single success or new business relationship is worth one hundred rejections.
8. One you net that first victory, use it.
Each successful blog post is not just a valuable piece of content, but also a notch on your resume.
- Build a content portfolio and offer sample content to prove your expertise to blogs.
- Provide links to your guest posts in pitches to build trust and add authority to your brand.
- Ask for references or testimonials from guest blogs to increase your credibility and maintain healthy professional relationships with industry peers.
A proven track record of success will help you land more guest blog posting opportunities, build your brand awareness, and ultimately establish yourself as a serious and reliable contributor in your field.
Guest blogging is a smart way to break into a community’s thought circle, form crucial relationships, and build your brand authority. With guest blog posts, you grow your own brand while providing value to other content creators or businesses in your industry.
If you’re just getting started in your field or have hit a plateau in growth, consider posting for another organization. Doing so will help you grow an extensive list of industry connections, boost your brand awareness, better understand the guest posting process, and ultimately bring your business to new heights.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Christopher Neely.