Guest blogging done right can be a great way to increase brand awareness, earn endorsements, and get quality backlinks to your website to improve your Google search results. Done wrong, your brand reputation could be harmed if you’re viewed as desperate and needy, begging to blog for outlets with no interest in you.
Here are top tips from our experts on blogging as a good guest and not as an irritating interloper.
1. Build Relationships
Before asking a publication to guest blog, build a relationship with it. Follow it on social media and like and share its content. Comment on posts you find interesting. Participate in forums and chats. Over time, look for opportunities to contribute content by guest blogging. It will feel more organic and natural and less like a transaction.
2. Figure Out Your Reason for Guest Blogging
Before pitching a guest article, figure out your goal for writing it. Why do you and your company want to create content for another website? Some common reasons include:
Reaching and connecting with a new audience.
Building credibility in your area of expertise.
Affiliating your brand with another reputable brand.
Becoming known as a useful source of information.
Earning quality backlinks to improve your site’s authority.
Attracting new social media followers.
Driving traffic to your website.
Increasing your audience.
Once you know your goals for guest blogging, you can identify sites that could help you achieve these goals. For example, if you want to improve your site's authority, only guest blog for top-tier online publications.
Tip: Get creative when it comes to achieving your guest blogging goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase your owned audience, but the site you want to blog for doesn’t allow you to include a call to action, include a relevant link to a page on your site in your article, and add a subscriber sign-up form on that page.
3. Audit Blogs and Websites
As you consider publishing options, make sure the sites have an audience you’re interested in reaching, that you cover meaningful topics, and that those are relevant to your brand and industry. Track your research on a spreadsheet so you can compare and contrast your options.
How do you find possible guest blogging sites?
You probably know some in your industry. They’re an excellent place to start. You can also:
Ask employees and customers what sites they regularly check out.
Search for your keywords or industry topics on Google to see which sites come up on top of the results.
See what the blogs you’re interested in link to.
Once you have a list of sites where you’d want your content published, learn about their blogging programs and policies. Check to see if they have guest blogging guidelines. If they do, follow them to connect with the editor or other person in charge of guest blogging.
If you can’t find guest blogging guidelines, check out articles on the site. See if any are presented as a blog from a guest writer or partner organization. Look at bylines to see if any are written by someone who isn’t affiliated with the brand. If you are unable to figure out if guest blogs are accepted, contact the person who’s in charge of the blog.
Once you know a site accepts guest articles, go deep into the type of content it publishes.
Who is the content targeting?
What topics are covered by the blog’s writers and guest authors?
What content formats are represented on the blog (written, infographic, video, podcast, etc.)?
Is content shared and promoted on social media and through newsletters?
What content gaps does the site have?
Tip: This content search and auditing process could be a valuable exercise for an intern or entry-level employee. They could learn a lot about blogging and content marketing from it.
Develop a Pitch That Stands Out
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you develop a guest blog pitch that will get noticed.
Make it clear you understand the blog you’re pitching. Reference things you see on the site that you like, what connects your brand to the blog, and explain why you want to create content for it.
If you know the blog editor’s name, use it. It’s an excellent way to personalize your pitch by showing that you’ve done your due diligence.
Make the pitch relevant to the blog and its audience. Mention why your brand and the content you want to develop for the blog are a good fit.
Write a compelling subject line. It’s likely the blog editor gets a lot of pitches every day. Make sure your email subject line stands out.
Get to the point. Blog editors are busy. Use bullet points to make it easy to scan your pitch and get to the point in a page or less.
Include a meta description. It will help demonstrate SEO value.
Explain why you should develop the content. Make it clear why you are the person and brand to write about a topic.
Don’t overhype. Editors will see through too much puffery and self-promotion.
After you’ve submitted a pitch, take some time before you follow up on it. You don’t want to be viewed as a pest. It could shut down your current opportunity and all future ones. Plan to send a follow-up email in about two to three weeks after submitting a pitch. Include your original email with any attachments. Never force the recipient to locate the original submission.
If your pitch is rejected, check to see if you can revise the concept or submit another idea. It helps to build a relationship with an editor. If you don’t get constructive feedback, don’t ask a second time. Editors may have too many submissions to be able to offer feedback on all of them.
If the pitch is accepted, ask for all the information you need to develop a good piece of content, including length, format, and brand and style preferences. Request a deadline and stick to it.
Create Content That Will Leave Editors Wanting More
The easier you make it for a blog owner to edit and publish your content, the more they will want to work with you in the future. Make sure you write one hundred percent accurate and compelling content for the blog’s audience, the blog, and their brand. Also, make sure it represents your brand well.
Follow blogging best practices:
Write an attention-grabbing headline and intro that explains the value of reading, viewing, or listening to the piece.
Create an SEO-centric meta description that fits the 156-character limit.
Include proper attribution, including links to sources.
Check that all information is the most current (no data or studies older than three years).
Disclose relationships you have with sources.
Only include a few links to related and relevant content on your site. Don’t overdo it!
Include at least one internal link from the blog.
Don’t let your copy become too promotional.
Taking these steps will help ensure you have a long relationship with the publisher.
Promote Your Content
Once your content is posted, promote it through your social media channels. Make sure you tag the publisher so they are aware that you’re introducing a new audience to their blog and brand. Make sure you encourage likes, comments, and shares. The more social activity you generate — and the more eyes you bring to their site — the more they’ll want to build a mutually beneficial blogging relationship with you and your brand.