This one’s for those of you who know you should start writing blog posts but don’t want the responsibility of hosting your own blog.
Okay – and maybe also for those of you who’ve been creating content for your website but haven’t quite been getting the reach that you want to.
I have a solution that will help you increase your domain authority and make it more likely to show up in search results: guest posting.
what is guest posting?
Guest posting or guest blogging is writing a blog and putting it on another website in order to expand your reach and your profile. The idea is that you’re creating content that someone else is publishing on your behalf.
what are the benefits of guest posting?
One of the main reasons I love guest posting is that it can tremendously improve your SEO. How? Keep on reading to find out!
Almost all guest blogging opportunities have an author bio attached to them. So you’re able to include information about what it is that you do and who you do it for, and often you’re able to include a link back to your website.
People who are reading the publication or blog that you wrote will then see your name and your work, travel to your website, become referral traffic, and then maybe they’ll subscribe to your newsletter or book a call with you!
So it’s like a free little shameless plug.
Add to your “as seen on…” section
Depending on how prestigious the blog or publication is that you’re guest blogging on, you may be able to include one of those “as seen on” logos on your website.
When people visit your website and they see that your work has been validated by Forbes or The Huffington Post, this gives you that added level of credibility and authority (which is always a good SEO booster).
Getting a backlink from a site that has high domain authority to your website can:
- Help your SEO to flourish
- Boost your domain authority
When I say “domain authority”, I basically mean that by having somebody else (who has a better online reputation than you) send you a link and vouch for you, your website will have a higher chance of ranking in search results.
If you’re writing for Entrepreneur.com, they probably have a higher domain authority than you – and that’s okay because by guest blogging for them, your domain authority is likely going to rise as a result.
Build new relationships in your industry
Lastly, guest blogging can be a great way to build relationships with influencers in your space!
Whether you’re reaching out to a journalist (who can use you in the future as a source) or a blogger (who might become a referral source for your clients), you’re developing a relationship with them and positioning yourself as an expert on whatever topic you’re pitching.
how to find guest blogging opportunities
You may already know the industry publications that you want to get featured in – and the more specific you can get about this, the easier it will be for you to get that placement.
One of my students just got a pitch accepted to a publication specifically for packaging for manufacturing facilities which was pretty easy to get because she already had relationships in that industry from having worked in it for so long as a designer.
If you don’t already know what publications you want to get featured in, the following two resources are super helpful in order to do so:
What keywords to use for guest posting outlets
One of the best ways to find guest blogging opportunities is to head to Google and search for your industry along with the little “+” sign and one of the following:
- + write for us
- + contributor guidelines
- + submission requests
So if you’re in the digital marketing space looking for guest blogging opportunities, you would search something like this:
Publications that accept guest posts typically have some sort of contributor guidelines on their website that they ask you to follow. In those contributor guidelines, you can usually find:
- the topics that they’re looking for
- how long they want the post to be
- what format they should be in
- whether you need to pitch it before you write it
For example, The Huffington Post has a bunch of info under their contributor guidelines including how to write the blog post, what they won’t publish, what you can’t blog about, info on cross-posting and hyperlinking, etc.
And by scanning through the various opportunities that are out there, you can get an idea of what’s expected within your industry when people are looking to work with you.
By using a tool like Moz Link Explorer or Ubersuggest, you can take a look at other sites in your industry to see who has linked back to them and what those publications are looking for in the submissions that they accept. You can even go ahead and read their guest posts!
is this publication worth my time?
Once you’ve identified a few opportunities, whether that’s by comparing backlinks or doing your own Google search, how do you assess if it’s worth your time to submit the pitch, write the post and maybe even promote it on behalf of that publication? Will your post get to the correct audience?
There are a few criteria to think about here:
If you’re looking into a smaller publication that’s very specific to your niche, you could go with the domain authority down in the 20s or 30s. But if you’re looking at something bigger, I would suggest that something with at least 50 or 60 would be more worth your time.
You can also check out Alexa.com to see approximately how many followers they have, how much traffic they’re expected to get or where they rank overall within the industry.
If the publication is accepting guest publications, they’re likely going to share and distribute them – so checking out how many followers they have on social media can help you get an idea of how many people you’re going to get in front of.
And if they do have a good social presence, do their contributor guidelines include that they’ll tag you when they promote the post on their channels? If you’re getting that link on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook, how much do you think that could help your business?
Check their previous blog posts
Take a look at what they’ve already published to get a good idea of the quality and type of posts that they publish. Are they similar to what you’d want to write? Is it something that your audience would want to read?
Other pieces to consider within those contributor guidelines:
- Can you repurpose something you’ve already written or does the content have to be new?
- Can you link in the blog post or just in the author bio?
- How many links can you include?
The idea is that we want there to be some sort of SEO benefit to you – not just referral traffic, but a backlink that transfers some of that domain authority from their website to yours.
now I have some leads, what are the next steps?
Once you’ve found a handful of good opportunities that you want to pursue, the next step is choosing topics that they would be interested in.
Choose a topic(s) that matches their content
Remember that the editors of these publications or the owners of these sites will get pitches all the time – so you want to find something that they’d be interested in, that they don’t already have a ton of content written around.
And if possible, make sure it’s seasonally appropriate. So if you know that Mother’s Day is coming up and you want to pitch something related to Mother’s Day, send it in January (not in June) because you don’t want them to have to wait a whole year to publish it.
Get to know them before you send your pitch
Before you send your pitch, it could be a good idea to get to know the people who are in charge of the publication.
Follow them on social media, comment on their posts, subscribe to their newsletter, reply to their emails; Find out what it is they’re already doing, and get your name in front of them as a follower before you start pitching them.
Why does this matter?
It’s important for them to see that you care and that you know who they are – before you start pitching them with what they can do to help you.
See if you’re a good fit
To see if you’re a good fit for the publication, you could use a tool like BuzzSumo to tell you exactly what the most popular posts are on any given site and how many shares it has on social media. This will help you figure out if what you’re pitching fits in with what’s working for them and their audience.
If we use inc.com as an example, we can see the most popular content regarding its social engagement, number of likes, and evergreen score.
tips for writing your pitch
Okay – now that you’ve done the research and figured out which publication(s) you’d like to write for, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of writing the pitch. I have a couple of tips to help make sure your pitch is A-OK.
Keep it short and to the point
This is not the time to fangirl over the fact that you’ve been reading this publication for 50 years and you’ve read every single article; this is the time to make the case for what’s in it for their readers.
Your pitch should have the following:
- A brief introduction (1-2 sentences) – something that creates a personal connection
- Your pitch – What is your topic? How does it benefit the readers?
- Your credentials (other places you’ve been featured, your degrees, how many clients you’ve worked with, etc.)
- Short & sweet closing
Now, if you’re sending this as an email, include something fun and compelling in the email subject line. Don’t have the subject line be:
“a pitch for _________”
Instead, give a brief glimpse into what they would expect from the pitch.
If your post gets accepted, you’re going to be coming up with a title for it. So come up with the title before you actually write the post and put it in the subject heading that way the person opening it has an idea of where you’re going with the pitch.
An email subject line is a great way to get that open rate – and if they open it, then there’s a much higher chance that they’re going to respond to it
Follow the directions!
A lot of times those contributor guidelines just have forms instead of an email to contact, so instead of actually emailing a person, you’re filling out specific answers.
The key here is to follow the directions. If you decide to go rogue and just completely ignore what they’re asking for, there’s a really good chance that your pitch is going to get declined before they even take a look at it.
There’s a reason they have these systems in place – and it’s so that they can make it easy to screen and reply to people who are answering the questions.
After you’ve sent in your pitch, wait a couple of days, and if you don’t hear back, it’s important to follow up. Their inboxes can get really full and submissions can get lost in these processes – so make sure that if this is something that you really care about, follow up with 1-3 emails.
There was a study done a couple of years ago by Backlinko that stated about 90% of pitches aren’t responded to the first time – but you can increase your response rate by about 60% if you follow up.
So write a quick email – be short, sweet & polite. Express your understanding that they may be overwhelmed, give a really quick synopsis of what your pitch was, offer additional advice or support of something they’ve written that you really liked, and then close it up – no indignation.
Sometimes when I don’t get back to people quickly, they’ll be like, “how dare you not reply?!”
I’m going to be more likely to reply to people who are kind, compassionate, and patient with me than somebody who thinks that they’re entitled to a space on my website.
optimize your post for SEO
If your pitch is accepted, then you need to think about optimizing this post just as much as you would a post on your own site.
Some things you always want to keep in mind:
- write a compelling headline
- do keyword research about what people would search for
- come up with relevant internal and external links
There are two other things you wanna think about:
Follow the contributor guidelines
If the contributor guidelines say that you can include a link to your homepage and social media and a lead magnet, go for it. But if they only want one link in the entire blog post, think really strongly about which link you want to put in.
Think about if you want to send people to your homepage or specifically to some sort of offer that you have.
Make sure that you’re following the rules and doing something that will work long-term for your business.
Promote it to your audience
Once the post goes live, promote it to your audience.
If they see a surge of traffic from your audience and those people sign up for their email list, they’re going to be much more likely to invite you for other future guest posting opportunities.
This can help you start to build a long-term relationship instead of this being just a one-off deal.
And make sure to make the most of those guest posts that you have; Include them on a media page on your website and add them to your media kit. If it’s within the contributor guidelines, you can even republish them on your site with a canonical link so people on your site and their site can read it.
In conclusion, guest blogging can be a great way to establish new relationships, get featured in great publications, get new people to find you, and get high-quality backlinks coming into your site