When we first start blogging, the idea of guest posting sounds insane. Scrambling to keep up with posting on our own blogs, we can’t imagine writing for other blogs too. Yikes!
Fortunately, things have a way of falling into place and that time eventually arrives for most of us. It arrived for me a couple weeks ago. Rather than feeling like something I should do, guest posting suddenly felt like something I wanted to do. Normally when these things happen I lie down until the urge to be productive passes, but because I know guest posting rocks, I followed through and now have some guest posts scheduled for the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, I’ve learned a lot about the process, so today I’m sharing the tips I picked up in the researching process.
Just in case you’re still not sure guest posting is worth your while, here’s a quick run down of some of the benefits:
- Quality traffic. Aiming guest posts towards blogs where your prospective readers hang out and adding a link or two to your bio makes it easy for the right people to find your blog.
- Backlinks. Google smiles at one-way links from quality sites.
- Increased online presence. Right or wrong, readers think high visibility = high credibility. Guest post on multiple, quality sites, and people will think you’re a real smarty pants.
- Professional relationships. Positive guest posting experiences build and strengthen relationships between bloggers and lay a foundation for future joint ventures (insert the smell of money here).
To get the most from guest posting, you’ll need to prepare your blog to convert new visitors into subscribers. Here are some things to consider:
- Content. Most probloggers recommend having at least 10 solid posts on your blog to give visitors a sense of your voice.
- Appearance. Examine your blog through the eyes of a new visitor. Is it easy to navigate? Do you have an appealing header and a clean layout? Is your ‘About’ page well written? Are subscription buttons and opt-in forms easy to find and use?
- Ads and affiliate links. Target and tweak these for your new visitors.
- Internal links. Make sure your fresh posts contain links to older posts to encourage new visitors to explore more of your content.
- Greetings and landing pages. Some bloggers like using the WP Greet Box Plug-In to prepare special messages for visitors from referring sites. Others recommend using a bio link to send visitors to a specific landing page such as a ‘Start Here’ page, product offer, or a popular post.
When you’re ready to get started, you’ll need to find blogs that are a good fit for your guest posts. Here are some options:
- Accept invites. This seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget those folks who once said, “Hey, when you’re ready to start guest posting, let me know.”
- Blogs where you’re an active community member. Most bloggers are open to receiving guest posts from people who support their blogs.
- Your community members. Spread the word in your newsletter, posts, or comments that you’re looking for guest posting opportunities.
- Feed reader and email subscriptions. Chances are, many of the blogs you subscribe to are perfect candidates.
- Search engines. There are a zillion blogs out there, so spend some time Googling and visiting some of them to add to your list of possibilities.
- Join free or paid forums. Many blogging, marketing, and social networking forums have guest posting threads. There are even forums specifically set up for those who write or host guest posts. Again, Google is your friend when it comes to exploring the options here.
Before you start hurling guest posts out left and right, here are some ways to improve your chances for acceptance:
- Scope out the guidelines. Many blogs publish guest posting guidelines on their blogs, making it easy to see if they want a pitch (emailed proposal/outline) first or if they prefer the completed post right away.
- Talk to other guest posters. If there aren’t published guidelines for a blog you’re targeting and you know a blogger who previously guested there, see if they’ll share some tips. Offering them candy might help loosen their lips.
- Wing it. For every blogger who insists on a pitch first, there’s another one who sees pitches as a massively annoying waste of their time. Adding to the confusion, I talked to bloggers who have had completed posts accepted by those who state in their guidelines a pitch must be sent first. And then there are the bloggers who swear they don’t accept guest posts, yet seem to run one every other week. What it all boils down to is that sometimes you’re just going to have to follow your gut. My philosophy is, “When in doubt, send it out!“
When you’re ready to write your post, here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Study your target blog. Take a quick spin through a couple months’ worth of posts to get a feel for their tone and to avoid duplicating recently published content.
- Write for the host blog’s readers. Use your own voice but avoid using ‘inside’ terms used on your own blog (i.e., cake-worthy, ditch-licking weasel).
- Do your best writing. Remember, you’re trying to impress readers with your stunning writing ability and mind-boggling expertise, so write a post that makes readers want more of your sweet stuff.
- Recheck the guidelines. Always double check any guidelines to ensure proper formatting, compliance with image preferences, etc
- Maximize your bio. Write your bio in a style that fits the host blog yet shows off your personality. And, always make the most of those links you’re allowed!
- Stay exclusive. Unless the blogger states otherwise, accepted guest posts are never to be published on your own or other sites.
After the post is published:
- Promote it. Let your community know when and where you have guest posts published and use your normal promotional methods to spread the word.
- Interact with readers. Respond to comments in a friendly respectful tone that adds even more value to your post.
- Write a thank you. Send a short email to the hosting blogger thanking them for the guest posting opportunity. Don’t slobber all over them, but do let them know you hope to work with them again (unless they really were a ditch-licking weasel).
- Evaluate the experience. No matter how things turned out this time, consider how to make things better next time around. Can you maximize your blog to convert more visitors into subscribers? Write a better bio? Put up better targeted ads?
Most professional bloggers continue to guest post throughout their careers, so if you’re in this for the long-haul, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to perfect your technique. As with everything else in blogging, the best way to learn is to just get out there and do it!
Speaking of which, here are Virgin Blogger Note’s guest posting guidelines
Your turn: Have you done any guest posting? Do you recommend it? If you haven’t guest posted, do you plan to?