How to Guest Post (And Mistakes to Avoid)

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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.