The Benefits of Guest Blogging: Your Guide to Finding Success
If you’re a newbie blogger that wants to build your brand and reputation online, guest blogging is a helpful way to not only get more followers, but also to help you build credibility (and perceived expertise).
That said, some people think that guest blogging is dead. In fact, that’s exactly what Google’s Matt Cutts was trying to get across in his own article aptly titled “The decay and fall of guest blogging”.
To be fair, Matt Cutts’ article focuses on pointing fingers at those who go about guest blogging in a black hat SEO/spammy way. He warns against those who focus on gaining a quantity of backlinks without providing quality in terms of the resulting content.
But by following white hat SEO best practices, there are still many benefits of guest blogging.
Here are just a few reasons to consider guest blogging:
- Top marketer and SEO guru Neil Patel calls guest blogging his best inbound marketing strategy.
- Social media company Buffer was able to get 100,000 customers by writing and placing 50+ guest posts.
- Blogger Gregory Ciotti was able to gain 30k subscribers to his email list, from guest blogging alone.
Done right, guest blogging can be one of the most effective ways to promote yourself and your business.
The Benefits of Guest Blogging
Assuming that you go about it the right way (and we’ll go over how to do that shortly!), the benefits of guest blogging are numerous:
- More website traffic. If you’re guest blogging for a website with a high domain authority that also shares their blog content on social media, then it’s fair to conclude that guest blogging will result in more organic website traffic.
- Grow your following. Writing a guest post for a high authority website is like the website’s endorsement that you’re someone worth following. Some blogs accepting guest posts allow you to customize your author bio with links back to your website and social media handles—encouraging readers to click through to learn more.
- Exposure to a relevant, targeted audience. When you guest blog on high authority websites in your niche, you get exposed to new people who are part of a relevant audience.
- Generate leads. By exposing yourself to new members of your target audience, you’re also able to connect with like-minded individuals that will be interested in what you have to offer, which can help you convert readers to sales.
- Exposure to new audience. It’s not enough to just post content, your content creation should consume 20% of your efforts with the remaining 80% focused on promoting that content. Don’t limit yourself to guest blogging only for websites in your niche; you can create content for other niches as long as they have a clear relation to your topic of expertise. For example, if your niche is finance, you can contribute to a blog about freelancing with a topic about how to manage your finances as a freelancer. Finding these related opportunities is ideal for expanding your audience!
- Meeting new and like-minded individuals. Blogging is a great way to meet like-minded people, and guest blogging is no exception. Whether it’s your fellow guest bloggers (some websites that accept guest posts support contributors with access to an online community), or new readers, it’s always great to meet like-minded individuals. Since you have the same interests, you might solicit their feedback on the topics you write about.
- Build yourself as an online authority. Guest blogging is a form of online marketing, and to get others to trust your brand, you have to prove yourself to be a credible source of information. How do you do that? Get your byline on several trustworthy guest blogs—and follow through with informative content that demonstrates your niche expertise.
- Good source for backlinks. Another one of the major benefits of guest blogging is how it can help with SEO, via the backlinks that will point to your website when your articles are published. Building links is a major SEO ranking factor and backlinks from high authority websites are especially important; they can improve your website’s position on related SERPs. Note that if this is your main purpose for guest blogging, you’ll want to find out if the websites you’re submitting posts to allow dofollow links (FYI: A nofollow tag to links on your website means that you won’t get any SEO benefits from your backlink efforts).
Planning your Next Guest Post
Every successful endeavor starts with a plan. Perhaps you already have a basic process for writing blog content—outlining, drafting, editing, and so on. When it comes to guest blogging, you have to add in at least one additional step—following the publication’s own set of guidelines.
Here’s some additional guidance for planning your guest post:
Answer the Question: Why Am I Focusing on Guest Blogging?
To start off your guest blogging game plan, you have to know why you’re guest blogging and what you want out of it. Consider the list of reasons above and determine which aspects are most important to you. This will help you to understand what guest blogging opportunities are worth it—and what’s going to be a strain on your already limited time, without reward.
What Topics Should I Write About for a Guest Blogging Opportunity?
Once you know your why, your next step is to figure out what topics to write about.
Ideally, you’ll have some tool or process to capture and manage ideas, so you don’t have to come up with them on the spot. WPMU DEV (as well as many other high authority blogs) use Trello for editorial planning.
When it comes to formulating the type of ideas that have the best chance of being accepted on the guest blog of your dreams, consider:
- Old blog posts you can repurpose or update, from either your own blog or the website you’re eyeing. Note that most places that accept guest blogs want 100% original content—but that doesn’t mean you can’t use old ideas for inspiration.
- Other guest posts on the website. If you’re really stuck, look through the blog archives where you want to guest post. More than likely, you’ll notice a topic that could benefit from a different angle, or a complete gap that needs to be filled. Buzzsumo is helpful in finding a website’s most popular content. Just input the site URL or a specific topic in the search box.
For more industry-agnostic tactics, read our article about finding blog ideas.
Where Do I Want My Guest Post to be Published?
When planning your guest blogging strategy, you’ll want to create a list of blogs to pitch.
Here are a few tactics to find guest blogging opportunities in your niche:
- Google search strings. To kick things off, do a Google search of websites that accept guest blogging opportunities. To narrow it down, you can search using your “target keyword” + “search value parameter”. For example, if you’re interested in writing posts about content marketing, you can search for queries such as:
- “Content marketing” + “write for us”
- “Content marketing” + “guest post opportunities”
- “Content marketing” + “contributor guidelines”
- “Content marketing” + “submit a guest post”
- “Content marketing” + “be a guest blogger”
- “Content marketing” + “be a contributor”
- Use social media. You can use social media networks like Twitter to search for guest blogging opportunities as well, as many will promote their content here after publication. Try executing a Twitter search for the term ‘guest blog’ (and its variations, like ‘guest blogging’ or #guestblog). The results will include tweets from contributors sharing their published guest blogs. Click on the links to visit the websites to see if these are a good fit for you.
- Look to your competitors. You can also look at where your competitors are guest posting for ideas. If you use an SEO tool like SEMRush, you can look at their backlinks. You can also apply Google search strings like “author name” + “guest post”.
Once you start to gather ideas, keep a list of all these websites in one place, for easy reference (like a spreadsheet). Later on, you’ll be going through these to find the best guest posting opportunities—and to keep track of your pitches!
Researching Guest Blogging Opportunities
After creating a list of websites that accept guest posts, you have to vet which ones fit in with your goals; whether it’s looking for a website that focuses on the same niche (and provides exposure to new members of your target audience) or one that has a high domain authority (and can help with your SEO efforts).
Visit Alexa to check key website traffic metrics, including the number of monthly visitors, where they’re from, engagement rates, and more. All you need to do is type the URL into the search box.
To check the domain authority, use Moz’s Link Explorer. Domain authority gives you an idea of how well a website will rank in relevant search. The higher the number, the better—gaining domain authority becomes exponentially harder as you go from 1 to 100.
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While Moz keeps mum about what a good value for domain authority is, SmartInsights compiled a list of the average domain authorities for different industries.
Although Google killed PageRank as their overall authority-measuring tool, it is still one of the best tools to use to determine a page’s authority on a topic and Google admits that it still uses this factor as part of their algorithm.
For PageRank, Google assigns a number from 1-10 to determine which websites are most credible on a topic. As with domain authority, the higher the number, the more trustworthy and authoritative the website is.
Besides looking at metrics related to SEO, don’t forget to consider other measures of engagement. Check the website’s email subscriber count, as well as their social media sites follower count. Don’t forget to cross-check their social media pages to see if they are active and if their followers actually interact with their social media posts.
A few additional things to consider when considering the benefits of guest blogging and evaluating places to guest post:
- Overall quality of blog content
- Niche fit
Pitching Your Guest Post
Building a Relationship with the Blog Editor
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to your top 10 or so outlets to start with, you’ll want to start reaching out and building relationships with blog editors before actually pitching your guest blog ideas.
According to GrowthRocks, since guest blogging has been determined as an effective way to bring in leads, some websites get hundreds of pitches per month, but can only accommodate a few posts per month. For these websites, it’s easiest to work with people that they’ve already published content from in the past—much of their incoming pitches are poorly written and hint at an even worse final piece.
This is why it is important to try to build relationships with blog editors before attempting to pitch them.
These tips can help you find success with your initial guest blogging outreach efforts:
- If you already are a fan/follower of the website, you won’t need to do a lot of research to get up to speed. For everyone else: get to know the website, blog editor, and their audience—what topics they post about and what matters to them and their audience.
- Leave genuine comments on their blog and/or reach out to them on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn are great for starting conversations). But don’t overdo it to the point of being annoying, where you suddenly spam them with comments and compliments. This won’t go over well.
- Send an email showing your genuine appreciation for something they published (but only if you mean it). Do this at least a week or two before pitching your guest post idea.
How to Pitch Your Guest Post
Once you’ve done some research and have started to engage with your target guest blogs, go back to your list of topics and determine which ones might be a good fit for their websites.
It’s time to write your pitch email.
Some tips to remember when writing a pitch email:
- Keep your pitch short, sweet, and to the point. We’re all busy, so work on being succinct without losing meaning.
- Have a professional subject line. Include the post title: you can use it as the email subject line and reiterate it in the body of the email. Don’t go for gimmicky subject lines such as “Looking for a guest blogger? Hire me!”—this screams “unprofessional”.
- Show the blog editor your familiarity with their blog and audience’s needs. If you’ve been engaging with their content via comments or social media, you can refer to this in your pitch.
- Introduce yourself. Treat it like applying for a job. Tell them why you’re the best person to write about your chosen topic. To prove it, share links to some of your best content.
- Describe the post/s or topics you’re proposing, and how these topics will help their readers.
- Use a professional email address. If you don’t have one, there’s no time like the present to establish one!
- Use the blog editor’s name. Many people forget this basic courtesy and it does a lot to help you stand out and create a connection. Use LinkedIn search with terms like [company name] + [content] or [blog] to determine the blog editor’s name if it’s not obvious on the website.
- Read their guest posting guidelines. Some websites have established guidelines for guest posting. Not following these guidelines shows disrespect and can ruin your chances of guest blogging if ignored. Even if you haven’t written the blog yet, there may be some direction regarding pitching in these guidelines—don’t wait to read them over!
If you don’t get a reply from your initial pitch, be sure to follow up within a few days of sending the email. Don’t assume that you’ve been rejected until someone tells you so.
Writing the Guest Post
Once the blog editor accepts your pitch, the pressure’s on to write a stellar blog post. Remember, this is your chance to make a good first impression to a whole new audience, so make it count
Here are a few tips for making it worthwhile:
- Find relevant keywords. Most guest posters focus on taking traffic but what if you could also give it to the blog you’re writing or? Do some keyword research then implement your chosen keyword alongside other onsite SEO best practices and you’re likely to be asked back again in the future.
- Write a good headline. As with email subject lines, the blog title is the make or break factor for people deciding to read your content.
- Add images. Many blogs with contributors have set guidelines for using and sourcing images, so make sure to read their guidelines to determine how to proceed.
- Links are a great way to boost SEO efforts and your post should have a good mix of internal and external links. Again, there will likely be guidelines regarding the nature of internal/external linking provided to you by the blog where you’ll be guest posting.
- The blog where you guest post may have specific direction for how to format content as part of their style guide/general guidelines.
If making sales or finding new subscribers are some of your guest posting goals, read our article about writing blog posts that convert.
Writing Your Guest Bio
After writing your guest post, consider the author bio as the reward/payoff for all your hard work. Make it count because this may be your only chance to link back to your website and convince people to check you out!
According to OptinMonster, some of the most common options for guest bios include:
- A single link to your home page
- A link to any page/resource on your site
- A link to your site plus a social media link
- A couple of web and social media links
Here’s how to decide what links to include if you’re limited to just one or two:
- If you want to get quality backlinks, link to your website.
- If you want leads, link to a custom landing page or product page.
- If you want to increase social media followers, link to your social media accounts.
Consider including UTM parameters on your links to track the effectiveness of your guest posting strategy.
A few more tips for writing a good author bio:
- Write in the third person
- Establish credibility
- Include a CTA related to your link
What to Do After your Guest Blog is Published
Once you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s and the guest post is published—you’re still not done.
Be a good guest blogger by:
- Sharing your blog on social media. The website you’re guest posting for may be sharing your post on their social media outlets but if you want more people to read it, share it with your audience, who are already fans of your work to begin with. The more successful your post is, the more likely you are to be invited to guest post or contribute to the website again.
- Be responsive to comments and mentions, not just because it’s a common courtesy but also because it’s a way for you to create connections with this new audience.
Final Thoughts: The Benefits of Guest Blogging: Your Guide to Finding Success
You have all the tools necessary for capitalizing on the benefits of guest blogging—now it’s time to do the work!