How to Guest Post (And Mistakes to Avoid)

Written on
August 13, 2018
by
Becky Boland
in
Content Marketing
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There was a time when guest blogging was a taboo phrase.

After  a surge of short, spammy posts created purely for getting even  spammy-er links in the mid-2000's, the practice picked up a bad name for  itself.

But guest posting right can lead to some serious benefits. Take the social media tool Buffer, for example, who used guest blogging to attract 100,000 customers.

These  days, guest blogging gets your brand in front of people who might  otherwise have never found you, particularly for businesses just  starting out that want to pack a punch.

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) even goes so far as to say that guest blogging is an essential part of a marketing funnel.  

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In this post, we’re going to show you how to successfully guest post, as well as the biggest mistakes to avoid.

But first, let’s start with the good stuff.

The Benefits of Guest Posting

When  guest posting is done right, it can reap huge benefits that businesses  can bask in the glow of for years after hitting the publish button.

  • Builds brand awareness: having your content on highly-reputed sites in your industry automatically boosts your standing in the field
  • Builds trust: the more times people see you sharing expert content about a specific subject matter, the more they are going to trust you
  • Improves lead generation: guest posting exposes your brand to new audiences who may well be interested in what you’re offering
  • Boosts SEO rankings: link  backs to your site are one of the key ways Google figures out whether  your content is good enough to rank higher. Having blog posts on  high-ranking sites linking back to yours can only be a good thing

So now you know why guest posting is important, let’s dig into how you can get started and do it right.

How to Guest Post the Right Way

1. Hunt Down Relevant Sites

The  first step is finding sites in your field that accept guest posts and,  secondly, are worth the time and effort it takes to create an amazing  blog post.

To begin with, try a simple Google search using the equation:

[your industry] + “write for us” (“guest posts”)

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When  you’ve got a list of results, it’s time to filter those into columns of  definites, maybes, and no’s. Ideally, the sites you should be focusing  on will have:

  • A large following
  • An audience that will be interested in your brand and what you offer
  • Are well-known in your industry
  • Have content that’s similar to the kind of blog post you want to publish

2. Create a Connection with the Site

If  you’re trying to target a big brand in your industry, the chances are  they get a lot of guest post pitches every week. It can be difficult to  stand out, so give yourself a fighting chance by making a connection  with the site owner before you send your pitch.

You can do this by  following them on Twitter and having a short conversation with them  there, connecting on LinkedIn, or sharing some of their posts on social  media.

Alternatively, you can send them a pre-pitch email where  you introduce yourself and comment on something relevant about their  site.

3. Pick Your Powerful Topic

Now it’s time to decide what you’re going to write about.

Here, you want to consider three key things:

  • What kind of audience are you writing for and how can you write something engaging for them?
  • What kind of content has the site already published and what posts have performed the best?
  • How will you guide readers back to your own site?
  • What keywords do you want to focus on?

The first point here is incredibly important.

If  you write a piece that misses the mark with the kind of people who will  be reading it, you’ll turn off new potential customers and, in most  cases, won’t get your post accepted by the site in the first place.

Remember: blogs are all about their audiences and serving them content they want, so as long as you tap into that you can’t go wrong.

The  easiest way to do this is to browse past posts on the site and see  which pieces have had the most shares, likes, and comments, and see if  you can weave your own expertise into a similar piece.

Once you’ve  done that, you can carry out keyword research to see what phrases are  performing the best in that area. This will help boost your post’s SEO  ranking (and, therefore, get more people back to your own site).

4. Send Your Pitch

Now that you have your topic and have made a quick connection with the site owner, it’s time to send your pitch to them.

The  key here is to keep things short and sweet. Site owners are busy and  don’t have time to read paragraphs of text about why your post is the  best thing since sliced bread.

If you want to have the most success, try the following formula:

  1. Introduce yourself and your business and mention the connection you’ve already made with the site owner
  2. State 2-3 potential titles and give a brief overview of what they will be about
  3. Show you know the audience by adding why your piece will be beneficial to readers

If  there are specific guest posting guidelines, make sure you follow them  to a T so you don’t put yourself out of the running at the first hurdle.

5. Make Your Post Amazing

This goes without saying, right?

You  want your guest posts to be just as good - if not better - than the  posts you publish on your own site. This is an opportunity for you to  attract new readers and potential customers, so it’s vital that you put  your best foot forward.

When the post has been published, make  sure you respond to comments, share it with your network, and generally  carry out good aftercare (basically, don’t publish it and then  disappear).

Key Mistakes to Avoid

Sounds simple, right?

Guest  posting is pretty easy once you know what you’re doing, but there are  still a few mistakes that guest posters keep making. Here’s what not to  do:

  • DON’T write for irrelevant sites: this  won’t do your business any good. Readers won’t click through to your  site (or, if they do, they’ll be disappointed), and it will do nothing  for your own SEO rankings
  • DON’T ignore SEO: it  might not be your own site, but SEO is still important. The higher you  can get your guest post ranking on Google, the more viewers it will get,  giving you more potential for new customers
  • DON’T overly promote your business: readers  can smell an ad a mile off, and you want to avoid turning them off  straight away by talking about your business too much. Sure, you can  mention it, but don’t make your whole piece about your brand

Guest Posting Gets Results

We are inclined to agree with the CMI, in that guest posting should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

Yes,  it can seem like hard work, but landing a guest post on a top site in  your industry can consistently get you new subscribers and customers for  years afterwards.

Simply effective marketing.