If you’ve run a blog for any amount of time, surely you’ve heard of the all-important traffic-generation tactic of “guest posting.” While it’s a great way to build a massive following—sometimes very quickly—it’s also a strategy that can prove difficult to implement.
I’ve been building blogs for a few years, but only within the past year have I been able to wrap my mind around the best way to go about launching a great guest posting campaign. These are just a few (actually, ten) of the tactics I’m currently using for my guest-posting strategy. Currently, I’m using guest posts to help build a platform online since I’m an author. However, it doesn’t matter what niche you find yourself in—I believe that you can succeed online in any avenue by launching a killer guest-posting campaign (and you’re welcome to follow along with me as I give it a shot!).
There are some absolutely wonderful resources right on this site you really should check out if you’re interested in generating traffic and how to make it as a blogger through guest posting—I’ll outline some of the tactics here, then point you in the direction of some other great writers. So, below I’ve listed out the best tactics that have worked for me, and some that I’m currently using:
- Start small. Pitching a post here at Blogreneurs, ProBlogger, DailyBlogTips, or Zen Habits might be a dream, but it’s also something that can quickly dash your hopes if they turn you down. Instead, start pitching smaller blogs in your niche, then work your way up to the mid-listers, and finally—shoot for the big guns: the industry leaders in your chosen niche. I like to focus on finding the sites that are slightly larger than mine, then read their content to get an idea for what they’ll accept. A good rule of thumb is to pitch to blogs that are about 10 times your size—meaning if you have 100 daily visitors, pitch to sites that have around 1,000. Why? In my experience these “midsize” blogs are more likely to accept your post—they’re not inundated with thousands of blog posts every week.
- Don’t limit yourself to blogs that have posted guidelines. Lots of blogs have a page dedicated to explaining their guest posting guidelines. Obviously, follow them exactly if they’re present. If the site does have guest posts, but doesn’t have a list of guidelines, don’t let it discourage you from sending an email or tweet, asking them if they’d entertain your post. See below for my “standard” query email.
- Send them a query first. I don’t want to waste other peoples’ time by sending a fully-written post without even knowing if they’ll accept (unless they specifically say otherwise). I like to send a quick email like this: “Hey [blogger], thanks for everything you do. I was wondering if you’d be open to running a guest post of mine. I have something that I know would be a great fit for you titled: “[post title]” Let me know if there are any changes you’d like me to make!” They’ll usually tell you what changes, if any, they’re going to make, but it’s nice to be open and forgiving about their edits from the beginning. And don’t treat bloggers like they’re robots—tell them why you like their site, and be specific. Be genuine, yet to-the-point. They’re people, but they’re busy people.
- Have a plan for capturing readers. Once someone comes along, sees your great post, and wants to check out what else you’ve written, have a plan in place for getting them to become repeat readers. I send people who read my guest posts to a specific landing page on my own blog. Usually they’ll find similar content, an RSS subscription option, and a call-to-action that urges them to sign up for my mailing list. You don’t want to write a post, have readers click through to your site, and get lost in all the “stuff” going on there—make it easy to get them through your funnel.*
- Have a great plan. I used to write and send my guest posts individually (meaning I’d write, send, wait, and start over). There’s a much better way, though: plan out your “blog tour” using a spreadsheet or document. List the site, the post title, and where in the process the post is (“To-Do,” “Sent,” or “Accepted”). Then, I like to include the anchor text and link that I’ve used in the post’s byline. Doing all of this helps me track and manage the campaign, so I can be sure to be around on the host sites when my posts go live.
- Don’t give up. If your posts get rejected, don’t worry—they still belong to you. You can re-pitch the post to another blog, or just post them on your own site. Either way, you haven’t lost anything. I’ve had posts accepted at blogs that had rejected me previously. They’re not rejecting you, just the post—rework it, rewrite it, or pitch something different altogether. The first guest post I ever pitched was accepted at one of the largest blogging sites on the net. I thought I’d hit the “big times” and went on to write and send off two or three more posts. Every single one of them was rejected. I pretty much gave up, threw in the towel, and didn’t blog for almost six months. Don’t let that be you—accept the fact that bloggers usually have a full schedule of guest posts already (another reason is that your writing really isn’t ready for the world to see… spend some time on that first).
- Stick around. If your post does go live, be sure you give your readers—and the blog’s host—the benefit of sticking around to respond to comments. Remember, while you’re aiming for a backlink and exposure, your blog host is aiming for building a great comment stream and attention from the post. That’s why I add the go-live date to that spreadsheet when the post is scheduled to go live (usually bloggers will let you know what day it’ll be; if not, ask.). I want to be able to connect, engage, and start a dialogue with my readers–whether they’re on my own blog or someone else’s. Plus, it seems pretty stuck-up to write a great post, have it published, then ditch the grateful host who’s posted it on their site. Consider the “sticking around part” part of the guest-posting process.
- Help them promote the post. Since I usually know days or weeks in advance that I’m going to a guest post go live, I can use an automation service to schedule a few Tweets about it. Also, I’ll prepare a blog post of my own, linking to the guest post and the host’s website, to run a couple of days after. Finally, I add the links to my newsletters, and help add the sites to social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.
- Follow up. Thank the blogger for running your post. I send a quick thank-you email (they’re busy people, remember?) or reach out to them on Twitter. This just seals the deal a bit more, and helps to build a great relationship with them.
- Build relationships. Every blogger I’ve worked with has become more approachable to me. I feel like I could send them an email, shout-out on Twitter, or even pick up the phone and call them. You should strive to have a long-term relationship with each of these hosts, and help them build their own followings. It is reciprocal, and it will pay off down the road.
*Bonus: When they are on your landing pages, it’s probably best to not have a ton of outbound links (links to other websites). While Google loves outbound links (sharing is caring!) on your site, you don’t want people to find you, click something interesting, and leave.
As always, don’t forget to add value. Adding value through social media, comments, and emails, and it will pay you back in the long run, and it will make everything you do online much more fun!
I’ve written quite a bit about what I think are great ideas and tactics for launching a killer guest-posting campaign. I know that many of you have done this before as well, or at least considering writing a few posts (let me know! I’d be happy to have you!) That said, what are some other ideas you have for launching a great guest-posting strategy? Sound off in the comments!