With all the talk about content marketing these days, guest blogging has become a key driver for link building. If you are new to guest blogging, you are likely struggling to find recipients for your guest posts.
We use a very specific process for engaging with potential takers on our guest post requests. Although no process is perfect for every imaginable situation, we have had good success with the following approach.
Step 1: Identify Potential Guest Post Opportunities
When first starting out, it is very easy to aim too high. Of course, any site that accepts guest posts is a possible suitor for your work. But we have found that it is often better to start small.
Kick off this process by brainstorming a list of sites which you like to read frequently. Then, filter down to sites that are relevant to your industry.
Next, expand the list as much as possible. You want to cast a very wide net here, so this is where you need to get creative with your approach. Some ways to expand the list include:
- Search for a variety of topic-relevant keywords and see what domains come up
- Look at what your contacts are sharing on social media sites
- Analyze where your competitors are contributing guest posts
- Tap your network for ideas (i.e. ask your colleagues in the industry for advice)
Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list. Get creative with it. The key here is to build an extensive list, so don’t prematurely eliminate possible suitors just yet. Focus on building out your guest blogging prospect list.
Step 2: Evaluate Guest Blogging Prospects
Once you have a long list of options, you need to start filtering and prioritizing. Feel free to take your own approach in this step. Here is how we do it:
- Determine which sites are most popular among your target audience – you and your prospects may not read the same materials
- Categorize the sites based on size, using Alexa score / traffic as a proxy
- Prioritize the sites according to the above
- Filter out any websites that do not accept guest post requests
- Check PageRank on all sites and de-prioritize any with a zero PR, just to be safe
- Re-confirm that this site is relevant to your own site’s key topic or theme – very important since Penguin launched!
Like I said, you can layer additional filtering to omit
Step 3: Prioritize Your Efforts to Promote Your Guest Post
After completing the first two steps, you will have a long list of sites with some vetting applied to it. At this point, unless you have a whole team of content creators to generate a litany of posts, you will need to prioritize your efforts.
I always start by weighing the difficulty of the application process against the potential for having my guest post accepted. The more effort required to apply, the more I want to know my materials will be accepted in the end.
Some sites require you to write the whole post and send it in, then just wait. I get it that volumes can be high, but many of these sites never even tell you whether the content is approved or not. While this is very bad form (seriously folks, if you are accepting guest contributions, communicate!), all too many websites do it this way.
I tend to focus more time and effort on the sites that accept abstracts or pitches in advance. With a huge list of conflicting priorities and drags on my time these days, I simply don’t have time to pour into a post that will never be used. Sure, I still approach some of the big sites and even contribute content to a handful of them. But those were chosen carefully and are nurtured in very unique ways.
Step 4: Pitch The Editor or Site Owner
Once you filter through the list to find the best suitors for your content, you will need to approach the decision maker for the website. This process can vary widely across web properties.
If you have done your homework properly, it will be easy to explain why your site is a good place to link. This is why we have multiple checks for relevance in the previous steps.
If you are approaching a larger site that you definitely want to guest post on, and they require a full post at time of submission, roll up your sleeves. Also go in knowing that, as mentioned previously, you are not guaranteed placement. As you write, think about where else you might want to submit the content if they turn it down. Then, write it in a way that will suit both sites. This will give you options if the first site turns it down or, more likely, never responds at all. For more info on writing the post, see Step 5 below.
For sites that want only a topic or an abstract for consideration, the task is much easier. I always prefer to come up with 2-3 topics at a minimum and spec them all out. This gives the decision maker options, which increases your chance of getting to “yes”.
Once your topics (or fully written guest post) are ready to send, create an approach letter to send via email. This should be conversational in tone, but professional.
Explain who you are and what site you represent. Share that you’ve read their work and have seen their guest posting guidelines, if those are posted to the site. Let them know how excited you are about possibly working together.
Then, share what topics you’ve been thinking about for potential posts on the website. Close like you would in a business development or sales letter – tell them when you’re available and when you will follow up. Then mark your calendar and follow through on it.
Many times, you will not get an answer until you ping them as a reminder. We’re all busy, so a friendly nudge never hurt anyone.
Step 5: Write Your Guest Post
After all the prep and pitching, you are finally ready to write a quality guest post.
For guest blogging activities, it is very important that you provide the best possible content. Be sure to work within their guidelines, but do something unique, different, entertaining, or educational.
Rather than repeat a lot of what is already available online, here are some resources to use when deciding on what works best for your own guest blogging efforts.
7 Crucial Tactics for Writing a Wildly Successful Guest Post (from Copyblogger)
How to write a guest post that will dazzle any A-list blogger (from WordTracker, a guest post itself written by Neil Patel of KISS Metrics)
Write a guest post for I Will Teach You To Be Rich (written for posts on his site, but a great guide for doing it on any high traffic site)
If You Choose to Write A Guest Post and Hope…
If you do choose to dive in and write a whole post without knowing it will be posted, do so with a backup plan, as mentioned in “Step 4″ above. Decide up front how long you are willing to wait for them to use it – typically at least a week or 10 days.
Whenever you put in the time and effort required to crank out a quality, engaging guest post, never waste it! Will you submit to another site for consideration? Use it on your own blog? Repurpose it into another format such as an infographic or slideshow? Weave it into an ebook covering the same topic? You get the idea.
Guest blogging has become commonplace, even a requirement, for driving content marketing and SEO results. Hopefully this Guest Post request process helps you better manage your own time and effort. Feel free to share additional tips in the comments. We can all learn from each other.