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When you're already working hard to grow your blog, the notion of spending time writing posts for another website may seem counterproductive. And yet, in the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, guest posting remains a trusted technique for marketers and bloggers.
So, why is guest posting so effective? And, more to the point, how do you unlock the real power of guest blogging?
In this article (which is a guest post!), we will discover the secrets of successful guest blogging so you can learn how to grow your brand or business with a guest post strategy.
5 Key Benefits of Guest Posting
First things first: why should you bother writing an article for someone else's blog?
You may think that it's best to focus on creating content for your own website rather than wasting time growing someone else's blog, but you can make a much more significant impact by posting on established blogs and see some tremendous benefits:
Here are five huge benefits of embracing this powerful content marketing strategy.
1) Build Relationships in Your Niche
Guest posting will help you build relationships with other relevant bloggers from your niche, which is particularly useful if you're new to the scene. While some bloggers may refuse, there will be others who will gladly accept your posts as they are, without any additional requirements. Why? Because that means they get free content for their blogs, and if they're a one-person site, that is extremely helpful for them. Single Grain has a guest post submission button right on their blog:
Reaching out to inquire about guest posting gives you a unique opportunity to make new connections in your online world. Of course, not all these contacts will prove to be positive. However, by taking a proactive and professional approach to pitching fellow bloggers and brands in your niche, you will start to get your name (and talent for writing) out there, building credibility for you.
2) Boost Rankings and Brand Awareness
Guest posting will help your blog rank better in search engines. In king of blogging Neil Patel's article, he cites many examples of Why Guest Blogging Is The Best Inbound Marketing Strategy, including Jon Cooper, who “embraced guest blogging and reaped significant rewards as a result. For example, a single guest post of his that was published on Moz generated nearly 400 visitors”:
To this end, you need to find relevant bloggers in your niche who will include links to your own blog within the articles you publish on their websites, because the more relevant backlinks you have, the better your blog will rank on search engines. This shouldn't be too difficult, since most websites allow at least one link to your site within the body copy and another link in your author bio.
As you guest post on more sites, you’ll expand your reach to connect with hundreds or thousands of potential new followers. This reach and your overall visibility will increase as your guest posts get shared on social media.
Dive Deeper: The 7 Most Important Ranking Factors
3) Improve Your Writing Skills
Guest posting is an excellent way to help you refine your writing skills. Maybe you think you are the best writer in your niche – you own a personal blog, you have a few followers, and your faithful readers leave positive comments. But over time, you will get into a routine and possibly settle for less in terms of quality of writing and value of delivered information. It's a natural process that occurs when you don't have any real challenges.
On the other hand, when you offer your services as a guest author, you need to deliver content that is both valuable and extremely well written to get past the gates of a professional editor. You will be forced to pay attention to every little detail, including the research, content and grammar, thus improving your writing.
It's simple: The more you write, the better you become at it. By writing for a range of blogs and diverse topics, you will continuously challenge yourself, so you will have to adapt and learn to write in different styles.
As any good writer knows, punctuation saves lives: 😉
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4) Establish Authority
On your own website, you are the chief. However, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to build a blog from scratch and make it a recognized fountain of knowledge and wisdom.
When you produce well-written, properly researched, authoritative guest posts on reputable websites for established brands, you get the chance to offer unique insights in a fresh voice that resonates with their readers. This works wonders for your own reputation. People who enjoy the post will likely click on your author's bio and visit your site, curious to discover more about you and your work.
By getting published on major authority websites in your niche, you'll quickly create an aura around your name and brand, earning the respect of more people in your audience.
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5) Shorten the Sales Cycle
Content marketing is a fickle beast that has the power to drive sales or drain company budgets. When you distribute high-quality content through multiple channels, using popular blogs and established platforms, you nurture trust with your target audience. Furthermore, you also build brand recognition as people become familiar with your content and see you as an expert in the field.
This has a significant impact on your sales funnel:
In effect, the more authority you build, the easier it will be to get prospects to trust your brand, and be more open to your products or services. As such, you effectively shorten the sales cycle.
In other words, instead of waiting for leads to find your site or reaching out to them directly (outbound marketing), you can use guest posting as part of your inbound marketing strategy. Guest posts on trusted sites give you a stage to present your brand message and value propositions, which expedites the customer journey for your products and services.
Common Guest Posting Strategies
Guest posting isn’t just a matter of writing a 500-1,000-word post. You can implement any number of strategies, which should, of course, cater to your needs and the time you have available to create guest posts.
Here are three common strategies you can consider when you want to guest post on other blogs:
- Be personal and direct. Contact the owner of a related blog and ask for permission (and their writers' guidelines) to become a guest writer. Create your posts and publish them as text articles with backlinks to your own blog. This is the most common type of guest posting, and it has already proven to be effective by thousands of bloggers from around the world.
- Create videos. Upload video tutorials and reviews and upload them on YouTube or other video-streaming and -sharing websites. If your videos are really valuable and informative, there’s a good chance that they will be embedded as references by other bloggers from your niche. Some of them will give you backlinks.
- Share downloadable content. Create shareable content for other blogs such as how-to guides, e-books or infographics. People love this kind of content, but it can be expensive or time-consuming to create, so giving it to a blog in exchange for your author bio and backlink is a win-win situation .You can even make a brochure online and embed it in an article just like a video or audio file or publish it individually.
By experimenting with different strategies, you can distribute content on several channels, which maximizes the impact you have.
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What to Do Before Guest Blogging
Imagine that you open a new shop. You hand out flyers that advertise a sale this weekend, but when people show up, you aren’t ready. There’s nothing on the shelves yet, and you’re still working on the paint job. Immediately, people will walk away with a poor first impression – and probably not come back. Why should they? They aren’t sure what your business is about and they find nothing of interest to make them want to return.
Guest posting is a bit like handing out flyers, in that it involves some grassroots hustling. But similar to the flyers, you need to make sure that you’re ready for the attention.
Before you reach out and start creating guest posts, here are a few things that you should do:
- Set up your blog
- Build a network
- Define your guest blogging goals
Let's take a more in-depth look at each of these:
Set Up Your Blog
First, design a personal blog and make it look professional. There are several online website building tools to help you with this part, even if you are not a designer.
Start with a professional logo, the main header, and then your pages. You don't need tons of pages, just a few like a homepage, an “About” page, a portfolio of your work and a “Contact” page.
Optimize your web pages to load fast, and make sure that your site looks great so that you offer a user experience that site visitors will remember. Keep in mind that even a one-second delay in page load time yields:
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversions
Most importantly, define your niche. While you can become an influencer with a general blog, it’s much better to focus on a particular topic. By honing in on a smaller but more targeted audience, you can make yourself the expert there, and engage people at a deeper level.
Build Your Network
Once you have a great-looking site and blog, you'll need to build up a strong presence on social media. This is essential.
According to SEO Tribunal, 95.9% of bloggers promote their blog posts on social media platforms. Since most social platforms have millions of daily active users, your potential for a large number of eyes on your work is huge.
Don't worry about attacking them all. Rather, create detailed profiles with a link to your site on at one or two of the most relevant (for you) platforms. Aside from promoting your posts, you can use these channels to interact with your audience and build connections with fellow bloggers and companies in your market space.
Create an Author Bio
Before you start writing any guest posts, you should create a solid author bio. Put yourself in the readers’ shoes, and think about the light in which you want people to see you. A great bio should be short, sweet and to the point, providing enough information to underline your authority and expertise, and also encouraging people to come and discover more.
Set Up Tracking with Google Analytics
Lastly, it's a good idea to set up tracking on your website so you can gauge the impact that your guest posting has on your regular traffic. This is even more critical when you want to build brand awareness and acquire new leads. Google Analytics tracking will give you the information you need about new site visitors.
The Importance of Setting Goals for Guest Blogging
A common mistake that many bloggers make with guest posting is that they dive in headfirst with no clear sense of what they are trying to achieve. The allure of getting a byline on elite websites is all they see, even if it doesn’t make sense for their bigger business goals.
Before getting started, you must define your goals. With clear targets that make sense for your business and blog, you can maximize your return on investment from guest blogging.
Think about the following goals:
- Getting backlinks from influencers
- Exposing your blog to a new audience and reaching new readers
- Developing relationships with other bloggers from the same or a related/adjacent industry
- Building your brand from scratch
- Gaining influence
You may decide that you wish to hit several goals, which is perfectly fine, so long as you develop your strategy accordingly.
For example, you may have a new e-commerce store that sells electronic gadgets. You could increase brand awareness and generate new leads by doing five guest posts for popular sites that are read by your target audience, even though they are not blogs from the same industry.
However, if you want to improve your SEO and get relevant backlinks, you'll probably need to focus on doing guest posts within the same industry or niche.
For many blogs, the first goal is to get more readers. Later, you can look at growing the reputation and rank of your website or blog. Knowing the difference and when to focus on each of these goals is important. If you don’t clearly define your goals and strategy, you could waste a lot of your time and money.
Consider these stats:
- 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep
- Content marketing gets 3x more leads than paid search advertising
- On average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than those without
- Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get nearly 3.5x more traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly
These are great numbers, and even better when you realize that there are a lot of e-commerce websites out there that are not blogging. Content is the most important thing you can deliver free of cost to your customers.
Dive Deeper: Building Quality Links as a Guest Blogger
5 Essential Aspects of Guest Posts
Guest posting can be a tricky endeavor, as you may find yourself writing for a different audience and possibly in a completely different industry! Whatever you create not only has to be a good representation of your brand and skills, but also of interest to the host's audience.
Here are five crucial components of a quality guest post. Make sure you check all these boxes before sending your post to anyone!
1) Offer Unique Insight
For years there has been a lot of talk about the need for “great content” or “high-quality writing”. But what exactly does that mean?
Quality content boils down to the insight that you offer readers. There are thousands of bloggers online that are using content marketing strategies to build their personal brands, so to have any chance of standing out, you must create something unique, useful and beautifully crafted:
But with all the articles out there, how can you say something new? How can you help the audience as nobody has before? Use the Skyscraper Technique, a term coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko, that can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Find link-worthy content
- Create something better
- Share what you’ve written
Finding popular content is easy with tools like BuzzSumo, a site that lists published content with the highest social shares, perfect for building your skyscraper article from. Then you analyze the top performers to see what is missing or outdated from these posts and figure out how you can improve upon it (not copy it or steal it – improve it).
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2) Create Valuable Content with Actionable Takeaways
Google evaluates the user experience in part by looking at who wrote the web content and assessing whether the writer is an expert content creator. To ensure that your content is high quality, follow the E.A.T. principle: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
You will only achieve your goals if you can deliver valuable content that has actionable takeaways. If you do that, people will enjoy your content enough that they will want to come back for more. Better yet, they'll happily share your content with others. By giving the audience something with every article, you establish trust and credibility.
3) Write SEO-Friendly Articles
Guest posting is a fantastic SEO strategy that can earn your website plenty of link juice.
If the site owners don’t provide keywords, take the initiative to do a little bit of keyword research. By targeting keywords with decent traffic, you have a better chance of reaching a lot of people with your guest post.
As you create lots of SEO-friendly guest posts for authoritative websites, your traffic will grow as your posts become highly visible in search results. Ultimately, it's more important to write for people, but when you take the time to create SEO-friendly posts, it's a big win for both the readers and your brand.
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4) Include Backlinks
Adding backlinks is a crucial SEO aspect of any guest post. If a guest post is your elevator pitch to a potential new customer, the backlinks are the closer that may convince them to buy – or at the very least, become a regular reader of your blog.
You may only be allowed one or two backlinks in total. So, with all that in mind, you should make sure to backlink to your most valuable blog posts that people will love.
5) Use a Strong Call-to-Action (CTA)
Every single post should finish with a strong, clear call-to-action (CTA). It may ask the reader to download an e-book or sign up for your newsletter or upcoming webinar, or it could simply invite them to leave a comment.
Sometimes, people need a little encouragement to get involved. If you can instigate a conversation around your posts, it can stir up more interest in your future content.
Dive Deeper: How to Create CTAs that Actually Cause Action
How to Find Sites that Accept Guest Posts
Now that you've written a fantastic guest post that is just itching to be published on a high-authority site, it’s time to find those sites.
Here are a few methods you can use to find suitable sites that accept guest posts:
Relevant Bloggers in Your Niche
If you've got a good social media game, you'll probably have a bunch of fellow bloggers among your followers. Many of these may have bigger audiences than you, and some may even be at the influencer level. You can get on their radar by sharing their posts and interacting on comment threads with useful insights and contributions to the conversation.
This is a simple method that can yield great results. Try doing a Google search for relevant keywords related to your niche. For example, you could search “guest post e-commerce” or “video marketing guest posts”. You can also search for “write for us”.
Another idea is to search where your favorite bloggers are guest posting. Search for “guest post by [blogger’s name]” to find other websites where they have published work.
You can also try the following search patterns to find the correct page(s) for guest post submissions on specific websites:
- site:domain_name.com “submit guest post”
- site:domain_name.com “guest post by”
- site:domain_name.com “submit your post”
- site:domain_name.com “become a contributor”
- site:domain_name.com “guest author”
And, finally, try punching this into Google: “list of sites that accept guest posts”.
My Blog Guest
Create a free account on My Blog Guest, a site that “unites bloggers who are interested in connecting to other bloggers, journalists and other content creators in any niche and publish their high-quality articles on their blogs.” Once you've created your account, navigate to the “Looking for a guest author” section. Select the category you want to write for, and then you'll get a list of sites that are looking for guest writers.
Now that you've compiled your list of target sites, it’s time to make your pitch. Follow the instructions or guidelines on each site to ensure that you get off on the right foot with your prospect.
Additional Guidelines for Choosing Guest Post Sites
You should focus on finding the right blogs and brands so that they align with your own audience and business goals. They will most likely have some guidelines or rules for guest posting, which you should respect. Nothing gets your email deleted faster than not following a site's guidelines.
Before you reach out, ask yourself the following:
- Do these specific blogs have the audience you need? Is the audience big enough to make a guest post worthwhile?
- Are these blogs compatible with your brand, content or niche? How can you leverage the resulting traffic for marketing purposes?
- Are these bloggers present on social media? Do they share their articles? How many followers do they have?
After pitching ideas to multiple sites, you’re sure to get a mix of responses. Some may say later, some may say never, and some may never reply.
But if you’ve done everything right, then you’re sure to get a few green lights. Once you do, that’s when the real work begins!
Here’s the truth: One or two guest posts won’t transform your traffic. Don’t expect a byline on a couple of big websites to instantly turn you into a millionaire or renowned guru with a 100,000 subscribers.
Guest blogging is a long-term strategy that requires significant time, patience and top-notch writing skills. To succeed, you must approach it with clearly defined goals, unique content ideas and a self-motivated attitude of wanting to offer valuable, actionable content to a wider audience.
Over time, with applied effort and the right strategy, guest posting is a powerful force that will help you build a bigger audience. Ultimately, it enables you to establish your reputation online among your fellow bloggers and your audience. If you're dedicated, it can drive your brand to new heights.