Guest Blogging. Is it a complete waste of time or a powerful strategy to drive your online business forwards?
If you're not sure (or if you ARE sure and you just want to get started already!) then you're in the right place. In this beginners guide to guest blogging, I'm going to give you all the tools you need to decide if it's the right strategy for you and how to succeed in the sometimes confusing and often competitive world of guest posts. Oh, and there's also a free gift for you if you make it to the end!
What is Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging (aka guest posting) is when you write a blog post for someone else's blog or when someone else writes a post for yours.
But why would I bother doing that, Colette? I already struggle to find time to create my own content, let alone writing content for someone else!
Ah, I'm glad you asked! Actually, there are some very compelling reasons why guest posting can be an extremely valuable use of your time - especially so, when you're just getting started with your business...
How Guest Blogging Helps Your Online Business
There are 3 main benefits of guest blogging:
It's a good idea to get clear on which of these goals are important to you before you start because this will help you to narrow down which sites to pitch to. It may be that you hope to achieve more than one (or all of them!) and that's fine too.
If you want to set yourself up as an expert then you should aim to guest post for sites which already have authority and are well respected in your niche.
Often seen as the key purpose of guest blogging, but in reality, most guest posts you write will drive very little traffic to your site directly.
In order to see any significant growth in traffic directly from a guest post, you'll need to target sites which receive a huge amount of traffic themselves.
Looking for more ways to drive traffic? These posts will help:
For me, this is the most important benefit of guest blogging. THIS is where you'll see meaningful and long lasting results in terms of growing your traffic and audience.
Each backlink you receive from a credible site will give your own domain authority a small boost and in turn, improve your authority (and so rankings) in search.
You don't necessarily need to target enormous websites for this tactic to work - just ones with a decent domain authority themselves. You can see the domain authority of any site by downloading the MozBar from Moz.
How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
Ok Colette, I'm in! Let's DO this!
Yes! Loving that enthusiasm!
So first things first, you need to find some sites to pitch to. Now you'll be pleased to know that this part is actually really easy. There are tons of ways to find sites but I'm going to tell you the one that I've found to be most effective (and it happens to be the fastest and easiest too - so really, it's a no-brainer...)
You're going to do a Google search.
Wait, what?? That's not exactly a cool 'hack' - is that really it?
Yep! Although there is a specific way you're going to do your search that's going to give you much better results than just a standard 'who does guest posts' type question...
Using Search Strings to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
Did you know that if you put quotation marks around your search terms, Google will only give you responses which contain those specific terms? This helps you to really refine your results and it's how you're going to find a big list of potential guest posting sites in just minutes!
First, come up with around 5 phrases that you would expect to appear on a site who accepts guest posts. These might be:
"Write for us"
"Accept guest posts"
"Guest Posting Guidelines"
Secondly, you'll need to refine your search further so you're just seeing results which relate to your niche. Think of some key words which relate to your business and then add these to your search. Let's look at an example for a wedding photographer....
"Write for us" wedding photography
"Guest post" weddings
"Guest post guidelines" brides
Get the idea? Here's how your search will appear
How to Refine Your Search Further
Once you've created a list of potential sites, you'll want to go back to your original goals and work out which of the sites are best suited to help you achieve them. To do this, you'll want to check the sites' domain authority (DA) using Moz and you'll also check their traffic using a site called Similar Web. Just add the URL for the site you want to check (as below) and you'll be given a huge amount of insight into their traffic so that you can assess if they're a big enough fish for you to be guest posting for!
How to Manage Your Guests Posts
Now you might be wondering what on earth there is to 'manage' in this whole process. Surely you just find a site, send them a pitch and then write them a post?
Well, yes - BUT to really see an impact from guest posting, you're going to want to pitch a whole lot more than one site (after all, you just created a fantastic list of sites - why waste them!)
Without a bit of gentle management, you'll soon forget who you've pitched, who has replied, and what on earth you're doing. Believe me, I've been there!
There are tools such as BuzzStream that you can use to help you with this, but I have always found a simple spread sheet works best for me (plus, it's free!) Yours might look something like this:
How to Write the Perfect Pitch
Now for the scary part! It's time to contact your chosen sites and let them know why they should accept your guest post. Here are a few do's and don'ts to help you to be pitch perfect.
Guest blogging pitches: DO'S
Guest blogging pitches: DON'TS
That's it! You're ready. There's nothing more for me to do other than wish you good luck!
Should I Pay for Guest Blogging Opportunities?
It seems that a number of sites have picked up on the fact that guest posting is popular strategy and have decided to monetise. This often isn't mentioned on the site's guidelines and only comes up once you have pitched.
I've been given reasons such as:
We charge for sponsored posts
...to cover admin costs
...for the time that we will have to spend maintaining the article online, promoting it etc...
Yeah... no thanks.
The fact is, you're being charged for backlinks and this is against Google's policies.
Sites being found charging for links risk a loss of reputation - and therefore the value of those links become pretty much worthless. Equally, if you're caught paying for links you may also be penalised.
At the end of the day, genuine guest posting is all about an exchange. The host site gets high quality, free content and the guest poster gets a boost in exposure, credibility and a nice little backlink.
Writing the Perfect Guest Post
The same rules apply here as they do with writing any blog post. And as it happens, I've created a handy checklist which reminds you of each step you need to consider to plan, create and promote an awesome blog post. Get yours now and let your guest posting fun begin!
Should I Accept Guest Blogs on My Site?
It would be remiss of me to write a guide on guest blogging and not to include any information about accepting guest posts on your own site. There's no right or wrong here, it's more a case of deciding whether it's a strategy that fits with your brand and business.
To help you to make that decision, here are a few advantages and disadvantages to consider:
Accepting Guest Posts - Advantages
Accepting Guest Posts - Disadvantages
Guest posting takes some work but if you can stick with it, then it'll be so worth it for your business.
You've got this. xx