Guest blogging has been very popular in recent years, as it offers bloggers endless benefits, such as the opportunity to build a positive reputation, get their brand in front of a new audience, earn hundreds or thousands of new loyal readers, and augment their SEO metrics. I don’t think I need to sell you on the advantages of guest blogging. Chances are, you’re already doing some version of it.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to find high-quality guest blogging opportunities. And even when you do find worthy ones, your approach and outreach can make or break your chances of successfully publishing your work.
Below, we will discuss the important factors of guest blogging, the different strategies to uncovering blogs accepting guest submissions, and finally, a step-by-step approach to pitching your contribution.
Important Things to Consider When Guest Blogging
1. Have a niche-related blog
Before you can submit guest posts, it is important to create a blog with a professional design and rich content. Your site should topically fit the niche of the website you are approaching.
After all, popular blogs that accept guest posts receive multiple pitches a day, and the first thing the content editors will do is check out the quality of your blog. More specifically, they want to know who you are, what your credentials are, if your writing style is a fit for their audience, and what unique knowledge or insights you may have to offer.
For this reason, the content on your blog should always be of the highest quality. You just never know who is reading and judging you.
2. Have social profiles
Most site editors will check out your social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn when deciding whether to accept your pitch. I personally do this to weed out SEO agencies, because someone with empty social profiles and 10,000 fake followers is going to send you low-quality work he/she probably bought off Elance.
Make sure that your social media profiles have properly filled out bios and a link to your site. Also, avoid using the default profile image (in the case of Twitter, the white egg). And don’t worry if you only have a few followers. What matters more is that your profiles are authentic and solid: quality over quantity.
Find Relevant Sites Accepting Guest Posts in Your Niche
Most serious bloggers will start by identifying the thought leaders in their niche, and strive to regularly interact with them on social media. Establishing a relationship with other successful bloggers helps you bypass some of the red tape during the process. Otherwise, you will need to develop a methodical ways of reaching out and introducing yourself to these entrepreneurs.
1. Make a list of all blogs in your niche.
The first step to creating a list of authority blogs in your niche is to search Google for keyword phrases describing your niche and add the unique, high quality sites that show up in the first 200 results.
For example, if you want to build a blog about shaving, some keywords to focus on would be “how to shave”, “how to shave your head”, and “shaving tips”. After ignoring the sponsored ads section, add all the unique sites you see in the search results to your list. Do this for multiple keywords. At this point, we are not qualifying sites but building a comprehensive list.
Another method is to find a high-profile blogger from a competing blog and search “Guest post by [insert name]”.
The purpose of this is to find all the blogs this competing blogger has guest written for because, essentially, you want all the same links they do.
2. Determine if the sites on your list accepts guest posts.
You should start with the obvious places: look at the “Contact Us” and “About Us” pages to see if they mention anything about guest posting guidelines. Some sites will have pages labeled “Guest Posting” or “Write For Us”. Take note that these links may not be displayed prominently – near the header, for example – so make it a point to scan the sidebar and the footer for details.
If that’s proving difficult, you can use the following queries to determine if the blog even has any published guest posts.
- site:domain.com “submit a guest post”
- site:domain.com “guest post by”
- site:domain.com “contribute an article”
- site:domain.com “want to write”
- site:domain.com “submit your post”
- site:domain.com “become a contributor”
- site:domain.com “accepting guest posts”
If none of these queries turn up any results, the blog likely doesn’t accept guest submissions so delete it off your list.
3. Vet the blog.
While there are many benefits to guest blogging, including growing your audience and building a reputation, you also want to focus on blogs that will offer you an SEO benefit. This doesn’t mean linking back from 100 guest posts with the keyword “how to shave”, but taking the opportunity to conservatively diversify your link profile and nudge Google into realizing what other queries you offer insight on.
Here are some ways you can assess if a blog is worth your time.
- Check if the in-content outbound links are “dofollow”. If they are “nofollow”, then scratch the blog off your list.
- Check the Domain Authority. This is a measure of the ranking strength of the domain. It’s not tied into Google’s algorithm because it is offered by Moz, so take this number with a grain of salt, but it still helps. If the site’s score is below 30, scratch it off your list.
- Finally, click on about 10 recently published posts from the site. Have the posts been shared on multiple platforms? Social shares indicate engagement and a living community around a blog. Anyone can buy thousands of fake Twitter followers or even FB likes through promoted posts, but most blogs who pay for advertising won’t have consistent sharing for all articles through multiple social platforms.
At this point, you’ll have a shorter list but with the highest quality sites, and that’s all that really matters.
4. Prepare your pitch.
Now that you’ve identified the list of blogs you want to submit guest posts to, it’s time to work on your pitch.
- Research whether these sites have writing guidelines. If you discover pages about guest blogging, you will often find the guidelines linked or described there as well. Review the site’s guest posting guidelines for pieces of information required in your pitch. Some editors require the inclusion of writing samples and topic ideas.
- Don’t ever submit an article without reading and respecting the guest post guidelines. This may not only result in rejection of your contribution, but may also result in damaged credibility. Popular sites receive dozens of submissions every day, and articles that don’t adhere to the guidelines are a perfect opportunity for editors to minimize the time spent wading through submissions – by deleting pitches mercilessly.
- Always personalize your pitch. Make sure to spell the blogger’s and editor’s name correctly and be careful to find the right email address. I’m tired of being addressed as “Hi”, “Hey”, “Dear Webmaster”, or “To Whom It May Concern” and reading flattering words about my site, only to find hints that the email is a generic marketer’s email. Again, this is a high quality site you are reaching out to, and you should really feel privileged to guest post there FOR FREE. Take the time to make it count.
- Introduce yourself. A quick introduction covering your background, experience, and topics you write about can help you stand out. Keep it short and modest, but powerful.
- State, briefly, why you should be allowed to guest post. Mention and link to titles of popular articles you have written on your own blog and elsewhere. This is why quality writing is very important – it establishes certain expectations, minimizing the receiving blogger’s hesitation. And if a popular authority blog accepts and publishes your post, the subsequent pitches become significantly easier.
- Mention your article idea. Finally, pitch 3 to 5 article titles and give the editor the right to choose which he/she wants to review. If the blog’s guidelines have more specific directions, such as pitching a few ideas along with detailed outlines of points and arguments, be sure to do so.
Once you get the go-head to submit a contribution for review, always make sure to deliver. Don’t make the editor or blogger regret giving you a chance or wasting their time corresponding with you. Write a killer piece of content with an amazing, catchy title.
Furthermore, send along images, graphs, and charts to be added. Make sure to re-size them in advance. Do everything you can to facilitate the publication of your post.
Guest blogging is not dead, no matter what the naysayers are touting. Just always remember, the purpose of guest submissions isn’t linkbacks. Obviously links are a side benefit, but if you approach guest blogging as a means of building relationships and making friends, you’ll never run the risk of spamming or submitting low quality work. Because what kind of friend would do that?
So keep in mind the following:
- Find the most appropriate sites to pitch your articles – consider the niche, keywords, and authority of the sites.
- Follow submission/pitch guidelines exactly as stated. Don’t give anyone an excuse to toss out your email or pitch.
- Make sure that you make them an offer they can’t refuse, like great quality content that’s free.
If you follow all the steps discussed above, your guest blogging efforts will result in bloggers asking you to guest blog, instead of the other way around.