Guest blogging is one of the topics I’ve constantly received questions about.
I’ve been putting it off, but it’s time I tackle it head on and reveal how I approach bloggers and website owners for a guest post.
If you’re completely new to this, guest posting and guest blogging simply means writing articles for others in exchange for a byline with links back to your website.
It’s a fantastic way to gain exposure, build links, increase web site traffic, and blog subscribers.
What You Will Learn
When you’re done with this guide, and I recommend you whip out the old pen and paper to take notes, you will know exactly how to find guest blogging opportunities, crush your fears, and how to approach website owners without pissing them off.
What you will learn is that guest blogging is surprisingly simple. A common sense approach is the best one, and taking big leaps into the big, dark unknown is not necessary, although it is fun.
When you’re done reading, you will know exactly what to do to utilize guest blogging to its fullest. After that it is up to you to use it to increase your traffic, search engines rankings, exposure, and business.
Before we start, I’d just like to give credit where credit is due and say that I stand on the shoulders of giants. I’ve learned guest blogging from two people: Glen and Chris. They know what they’re doing, so check them out.
Why Guest Post?
There are plenty of benefits when it comes to guest posting; more than I can come up with, but my top 7 are listed below, and if these don’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
1. Links. Writing articles for others is an excellent way to build links to your website and increase your search engine rankings. You really can’t do this wrong. The more links you get, the better, but you can always improve and optimize, which I will go into later in this article.
2. Traffic. Everyone is trying to increase traffic to their website, and the best way to do just that is to guest blog, and do it a lot. Without traffic, your website doesn’t exist. Traffic is what everyone wants, yet there are so few people ready to take action. If there’s a magic bullet to getting more traffic, it’s guest blogging. Okay, maybe PPC, but you know what I mean 😉
3. Connections. Whenever you write a great article for someone, they appreciate it, but this can work the other way, too. If you’re trying to pump out guest posts left and right, and if the quality suffers, so will your relationships. No one appreciates a crappy article.
4. Exposure. The more places you’re seen, the easier it will be to remember you. I used this to my advantage when I first started in December ’09. I started commenting everywhere, and I started guest blogging everywhere. I was obsessed, but I’ve since then cut back, and started focusing on my own website, which is a nice change of pace. I’m sure this will change with time.
5. Practice. When you write guest post after guest post, you’re practicing subtle skills, and as you keep doing it, you’ll get better, fast. It’s similar to growing up. You’re becoming taller, but you aren’t noticing it until you draw those lines on the wall and see that you’ve grown 2” and your clothes no longer fit.
6. Fear. Many ask me how they can overcome the fear of writing for others. Some are afraid of being rejected, while others fear writing for a larger audience. This is something you have to face. Look at the bright side: each time you face your fears, you become stronger, it’s like gathering experience points and leveling up.
7. Money. When you get good enough, or if you find the right opportunities, you can get paid to guest blog. How much you get varies from blog to blog, and also from writer to writer.
How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
Alright, so you’re convinced that you want to make guest blogging happen, but you just don’t know how to find the right websites or blogs.
Don’t worry. It’s as easy as hitting the snooze button when you have to wake up in the morning. I find a lot of my guest blogging opportunities by shooting off an e-mail to blogs I like and already read.
If you want more specificity, here are two simple ways you can find guest blogging opportunities:
1. Google. I recommend you check both the standard Google search and the Blog Search. Let’s say I wanted to guest blog in the blogging niche. I would type in blogging + “write for us”. Remember to use the quotes around “write for us”. You can also exchange “write for us” with “bloggers wanted”, “submit a post”, or “submit an article”.
2. Ask. Most blogs do not have a write for us page, which means you will have to email the owner and ask. In most cases you can see if they accept guest posts, simply go back in their archives and search for any guest posts. If you don’t find any, it’s up to you if you want to ask or not.
How to Make First Contact
Some bloggers will tell you exactly what they are looking for. If you haven’t already, I recommend you read the the guest posting guidelines over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It’s like a small course on how to pitch big bloggers.
When you make contact, remember to keep the email brief and to-the-point. Some prefer to have the post sent to them before they decide, while others want a short pitch so they can decide whether the post fits or not.
My standard is always to first pitch the blogger with potential headlines. If they then want a full post, I’ll do that, but only after they’ve told me so, or if it is clearly stated in their guest post guidelines.
And please do not make it hard for the blogger to say no. If you make them uncomfortable, they will remember, and they will avoid you in the future.
To make things easier, here’s an actual email that I sent to Daniel Scocco from Daily Blog Tips. He prefers to get the full post up-front, so that’s what I did. This was from 2009, so it was one of my earlier guest posts.
What to Do If You Get Rejected
You will get rejected. Don’t take it personally. The reasons for your article not being accepted can be many; anything from your writing style not being a good fit to the blogger being in a bad mood.
Whatever you do, be cool about it, and accept your destiny. I’ve had a few interactions with bloggers who won’t give up. They try to logically force me to say yes. Suffice it to say, they quickly get labeled as irritating, and that label doesn’t come off easily.
You can usually get a quick answer from the blogger for why you got rejected. This is great when you can get it because it allows you to learn and grow.
Remember, getting rejected isn’t the end of the world. I’ve gotten rejected many times myself, and it hurt the first time, but it’s a part of the game. You won’t hit home-runs every time, but you can get better at pitching.
How to Increase Your Chances
If you know someone, your chances can go up, dramatically. It’s not about sugar-coating someone for months, but if you’ve made contact even once or twice before you ask, it helps.
I’m going to skip all the talk about not having an agenda and being cool, because I’m going to assume you already know all about how to behave socially.
Here are a few simple ways to increase your chances:
1. Twitter. Just chatting people up on Twitter for a length of time and having fun can put you on the radar of many bloggers. If you keep talking to someone on Twitter frequently over a period of weeks or even months, you will naturally increase your chances, if you vibe well with the person.
2. Commenting. It helps if you’re an active commenter on the blog you want to guest post for. Most bloggers read all of their comments. I know I certainly do, so if you leave great comments, you will be noticed, and you won’t be a stranger if you contact them.
3. Email. If you like someone’s content, why not shoot them a short email telling them about it? It’s easy to forget how much of an impact a simple email can make. No questions, no requests, just a simple email thanking them for an article they wrote, and why it had an impact on you.
4. Real Life. If you like going to conferences, you will without a doubt bump into a lot of people that have websites and blogs, that is, if you like going to blogging and online business conferences. I don’t know if there’s anything more awesome than shaking someone’s hand in real life and chatting with them for a while.
5. Recommendations. If you know someone who knows the person you want to guest post for, you can always get a recommendation and sneak in through the back-door. This gets a lot easier as you keep blogging and making more and more friends.
How to Leverage Your Byline
The byline is what you get for writing a post for someone else. It is what you see at the end of a guest post. It usually looks something like this.
The two anchors I use for my text links are “Wake Up Cloud” and “passions into an advice-based online business”. I am telling the search engines that I want to be found for these two key phrases.
Now, none of these anchor texts are especially good, because they aren’t high-traffic keywords people use, so what I could do is some keyword research to find better ones, but it’s absolutely necessary.
If you can, try to build links that matter. If you want to rank for blogging tips, use the anchor text blogging tips to link back to your blog.
I could go into a lot more depth on links and link building, but that requires another article. I think you get the gist of it: use anchor text that improves your search engine results while you’re at it.
If you’re not sure what keyword fits your website or blog, you can use the free Google Keyword Tool.
Is Your Website Ready?
Having a clear goal in mind is always better than nothing at all if you intend to go on a guest blogging spree.
- Do you want people to subscribe to your blog?
- Do you just want to build links and improve your search engine rankings?
- Or do you just want to get exposure?
If your goal is to get more subscribers, the best way to go about it is to create a page dedicated to selling the sign-up, and send the traffic from your guest posts to that page. If you want bigger results, make sure you keyword optimize that page and use the proper anchor text when linking back.
If you’re just sending traffic to your homepage, it might work okay, or it might not. I’ve done it a lot, so it’s not like you have to let perfectionism take over.
What to Do After Your Guest Post Goes Live – 3 Tips
You’ve contacted a blogger, written a post for them, and it has gone live. There are still a few things you can do to make everyone happier.
Here are a few tips:
1. Answer comments. It’s always a nice gesture to answer any comments on your article. You don’t have to answer them all, but if someone is asking a question, or if you feel like you can add something, then go ahead.
2. Tell Your Readers. I usually don’t tell my readers about my guest posts. I might post it on my Facebook wall. It is completely up to you whether or not you want to put up a post on your blog and link back to your guest posts.
3. Share. When your guest post goes live, share it in whatever way you can. It is highly appreciated by the website owner. What I usually do is Tweet my own post once or twice, and as I said above, I may post it to my Facebook wall.
Common Sticking Points (FAQ)
We all run into trouble, no matter how well-written a guide we read, so I’ve decided to compile some of the most common questions I have gotten and seen around the web when it comes to guest blogging.
Q: I’m afraid that I’ll get rejected
A: We all are. You will get rejected sooner or later, so prepare for it, but don’t let it affect you too much. Many more opportunities await you!
Q: I’m still not sure which blogs I should contact?
A: It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you do. If you feel uncomfortable with guest blogging, start by contacting a friend, or a smaller blog.
Q: What if my writing isn’t good enough?
A: I can assure you that most writers feel like their writing isn’t good enough. All you can do is your best, so get in touch with someone, and see what happens.
Q: What blogs should I aim for?
A: Whatever you feel comfortable with. If you don’t feel like asking big blogs with hundreds of thousands of readers, then don’t. Writing for smaller blogs can be plenty of fun.
Q: Should I only target blogs in my niche?
A: Well yes. If you have a gardening blog, you probably won’t want to guest post on a blog about window cleaning. Some of them may be interested in gardening, but I think you see my point. Post on relevant blogs, because you’ll get more out of it that way.
Q: Does my blog have to look good in order to guest post?
A: The better your blog looks, the better your chances are, at least they would be with me, because at the end of your post, the blogger will link to you, and if your website sucks, it will reflect badly on them.
Q: Can I include links to my own post or affiliate links?
A: Links to your own posts in the body of your article are fine, if they are highly relevant, and add to the article, but I would generally avoid them. Affiliate links on the other hand I would never put in, unless you’ve gotten permission.
Q: What if I get the green light, write the article, but never hear back from them?
A: Wait a few weeks, and send them a reminder email. If you still don’t hear back, then move on. It could be that they just didn’t like your article and didn’t want to tell you.
Q: How much traffic should I expect?
A: It varies greatly. Sometimes you get 50 visitors from a huge blog, and sometimes you get 500 from a smaller one. If you want to know results, ask other bloggers where they got the most out of their guest post.
Q: If I get one guest post on a huge blog, I will have made it, right?
A: No. Even if you get a guest post on a huge blog, you probably won’t be catapulted into success overnight, although it certainly can help. This is a game of consistency, and having an accurate view of reality always helps. It takes work to grow your website.
Q: Is there a time when it is too early to guest post?
A: If you have a blog that looks good, complete, and has more than 10 blog posts, then you’re good to go. If it says “under construction” all over the place, you may want to wait.
Q: How do I increase my search engine rankings with guest posting?
A: In your byline, simply use the anchor text you want and link to your blog. Instead using your blog name as your anchor text, use a keyword. Some blogs don’t allow this, so make sure before-hand.
Q: Can I send my guest post to more than one blog?
A: In all the guest posting I’ve done, I have never seen a blogger say that it is okay to post the same article to multiple places. There may be blogs out there that are okay with this, but most aren’t, so don’t do it.
Q: What if there aren’t many blogs in my niche?
A: First, I’d seriously consider if you’re in a good niche. Second, I’d think bigger. Let’s say you blog about Chihuahua’s, you could look for blogs or websites about dogs, or even pets.
Q: It takes so much time for me to write an article, how can I justify writing for someone else when it is so hard to write for myself?
A: Because I assume you want to build your website and get more traffic. If you only write for your own blog, the amount of growth you will experience is limited. Marketing and promotion are big pieces of the puzzle.
Let’s Wrap It Up
We’ve blazed through the reasons why, the how-to, and the what if’s. Guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to growing any website or blog.
If you want to grow faster, you will have to put in some time into promoting your website. If you aren’t seeing the kind of results you were expecting; ask yourself why.
You can have whatever you want in life if you only take action, so why not start now? Go through the process, contact a friend or a blogger you know, and start writing your first guest post.
Make it happen!