Guest posting on successful blogs offers small businesses outstanding opportunities to raise awareness for their brand and improve their SEO. With so much upside to gain from the links and attention your guest posts receive, it’s no wonder many blogs get flooded with requests for guest posts.
But what separates effective guest posters from the rest of the folks? What makes your post stand out and makes it easy for the blogger to say “yes” to your request?
Here are 8 tips to point you in the right direction:
- Read the blog that you’re offering a guest post to. Take a look at the content and comments on the site to see what interests the reader and the writer. Most blogs look to add content similar to their current mix, rather than going in a completely different direction. Knowing your audience (and the editor’s preferences) goes a long way towards building a healthy relationship between you and the blogger you’re working with. I know this one seems obvious. But you’d be amazed the number of guest post requests I get where it seems the writer has never visited the blog before (to be fair, I get loads of great requests, too). In particular, check out some of the other guest posts on the blog to see what’s worked well in the past (for instance, you can see some of our best guest posts here, here, here and here).
- Suggest relevant topics. Once you’ve got a feel for what the blog is about, offer the site several related topics you feel comfortable covering. Surprisingly, most blogs that accept guest posts aren’t looking for something radically different than their current content. Instead, offer a fresh take or alternative viewpoint on their most frequently covered topics. ProBlogger blogs about blogging. Can you write about how you’ve successfully used your blog to grow business? SEOmoz covers SEO. Can you reveal how you’re dealing with an SEO challenge? We look at internet marketing and e-commerce. Can you suggest internet marketing tips that worked for you?
- Provide samples of your (relevant) writing. I get lots of requests that either fail to offer topic suggestions, fail to offer relevant topic suggestions, or fail to provide any samples. Any of those three make it harder to determine whether the guest post will work or not. All three together are the kiss of death. If you’ve written posts in the past related to the blog’s content, make sure to include links for review. It makes the it easier to figure out whether your writing works for the blog and increases the likelihood you’ll get a positive response. And if you’ve never written anything about the topic before—or have never written a guest post before—don’t worry. Just be upfront about it and emphasize why you’re able to put a fresh spin on the topic instead. Most of us would rather have quality content from a fresh writer than irrelevant retreads from someone “experienced.”
- Offer quality. Your job as a guest poster is to make the blog you’re writing for look good (which, by extension, makes you look good). Write the best post you can, give it a thorough edit and rewrite if necessary before submitting it for posting. If you wouldn’t put the post on your site, don’t put it on someone else’s.
- Figure out formats. Find out from the blog editor you’re working with what format works best and provide your posts in that format if you can. For instance, I prefer a simple text file with some basic HTML formatting over anything else. It makes publishing much easier when I can just take a writer’s formatted content and copy/paste it into my site. Even knowing just a few HTML tags (bold/strong, italic/emphasis, lists and links) goes a long way to speeding the publishing process. Other sites may prefer Word or text files. But take the time to find out what works for the site you’re interested in and they’ll be much more interested in you.
- Link to other relevant posts on the blog. Most blogs link internally to highlight relevant content covering the same topic and draw readers deeper into the site. Reference other content on the blog with a link to increase page views and demonstrate your commitment to the community around the blog. I’m even open to guest posters linking to older posts to argue against the original content so long as it’s done respectfully and provides an alternative perspective not previously considered (y’know, something more than “this guy’s an idiot“).
- Promote the post. You’ve likely spent some time building up your network of friends, fans and followers. Point them to your guest post to help build audience for the blog as well as for yourself. Ideally, both you and the blog you’re writing for gain equally from the guest posting experience. You can even promote your guest posts on your own blog (and, you do have a blog, right?) Contribute to the overall success of the blog and you can expect greater success of your own.
- When in doubt, follow Wheaton’s Law. Pardon the French, but Wil Wheaton summed up my thoughts on working with others more succinctly than I can. Guest posting is one part of building a relationship, ideally one that will benefit both you and the blog for some time to come. Be honest and straightforward. If you’re looking for a link to promote your site, don’t be shy. Say so. As long as you’re providing value to the blog they’ll usually be happy to help you meet your goals. By contrast, if you’re only looking for a “one night stand,” you’re likely only going to appeal to people who care about their needs more than yours (that’s true for most things in life, actually). Focusing on shared benefits and working as a partner can lead to an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship with the blog, even if you only write one post. After all, you thought the blog was valuable enough to merit a guest post in the first place. Why not treat them as a valuable partner going forward? You’ll get lots of upside for very little cost.
Providing guest posts can increase your business’s visibility and gain valuable links from blogs in your space. But you can’t just focus on building links. You’re building relationships. And building your business, too. Think in terms of the long-term wins for everyone involved and you’ll be amazed how welcome a guest you will be.
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