A beginner’s guide to guest posting for bloggers
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Unsure whether guest posting is worth doing? Wondering how to find guest posting opportunities? Want to know how to get the most out of guest posting? Discover the answers to all your questions in my beginner’s guide to guest posting for bloggers…
Guest posting is quite a divisive subject in the blogging world. Some bloggers say you should be guest posting more often than you post on your own blog, while others say guest posting is a waste of time…
So what exactly is the truth? What are the benefits of guest posting? How do you find guest posting opportunities? How do you pitch successfully? How do you write a guest post? And how do you get the most benefit from guest posting?
We’ll answer all these questions in this beginner’s guide to guest posting for bloggers… But first, let’s clear up some misconceptions… what exactly is guest posting?
What is guest posting?
For many bloggers the term ‘guest posting’ instantly causes the hackles to rise. Perhaps you’re one of them? To you ‘guest posting’ is all about dodgy companies spamming your inbox with endless requests to provide a ‘high quality guest post’ in return for a backlink… usually on a topic that has nothing to do with what you normally blog about… Almost certainly it won’t be ‘high quality’, the link will be to some dodgy company and the fee (if there is one) will be low.
While these scammers might call this practice ‘guest posting’. This is not guest posting. This is the old black hat SEO tactic of paying for links… and that’s not at all what guest posting is all about.
So what exactly is guest posting?
Guest posting is, quite simply, where a blogger writes a blog post for another blogger’s site. This kind of guest posting is totally legitimate and has many positive benefits: to both the guest and the host.
Benefits of guest posting
So what are the benefits of guest posting?
1. A backlink
The first and most obvious benefit to guest posting is you that get a backlink from another site. Backlinks are valuable in the blogging world because they are an important search engine ranking factor. However, it’s slightly more nuanced than that. These days it’s less about the sheer number of backlinks you get and more about the quality and relevancy of backlinks. And guest posting is one of the best ways to get high quality, relevant backlinks.
2. Increased traffic
The second benefit to backlinks is that it enables you to reach new readers and grow your traffic. Unless you guest post on a very big website, it’s unlikely this traffic will be enormous, but if you pick the right kind of site to guest blog on – this traffic is likely to be the ‘right’ kind of traffic: readers who are genuinely interested in what you do and likely to stick around on your site for a while, share your stuff, sign up for your list and come back to your blog again and again.
3. Improved E-A-T
Personally, I consider this the number 1 reason to guest post. E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) is becoming more and more important. E-A-T is high up on Google’s agenda and it’s likely to get more so over the coming years as Google chooses to prioritise high E-A-T sites in its algorithm. Guest posting is a brilliant way of becoming more known and trusted in your niche and growing your E-A-T.
READ MORE >>> 15 easy ways to improve your blog’s E-A-T score
4. Growing your email list
This is another benefit of guest posting, but one that is not talked about as much as it perhaps should be. You see, while the traffic from guest posting is often not enormous, because the traffic from guest posting is usually such good quality, it provides you with a really great opportunity to grow your list with high quality subscribers. All you need to do is make sure you offer some kind of opt-in freebie in your guest post to capitalise on this. (See the Guest Posting Ninja Tips below for more on how to do this.)
READ MORE >>> A beginner’s guide to email marketing for bloggers + free challenge
5. Selling more products
Of course, you can take this strategy up a notch by offering a lead magnet in your guest post. While most host blogs won’t let you actively promote your paid offerings in your guest post, many will be happy for you to promote a free thing… and if that free thing just happens to be a lead magnet, which (by the power of email automation) drops those new subscribers into a sales sequence for one of your paid products… well it doesn’t take a genius to work out that guest posting can be quite lucrative. (Again, check out the Ninja Tips below for details on how to do this.)
6. Greater long-term opportunities
But finally, it’s important to point out that guest posting is not just about that one post… it’s about raising your profile and getting ‘known’ in your niche. The better known you are in your niche, the more likely you are to be offered more opportunities in the future, maybe for more guest posting, but also media opportunities, speaking opportunities, sponsorships and other E-A-T building opportunities. So don’t just see guest posting as a one-time thing… see it as sowing seeds, which you will likely reap the rewards from over time.
How to guest post successfully
Fully convinced of the benefits of guest posting? Great! But how exactly do you go about it?
Step 1: Find blogs which accept guest posts
The first step is to find blogs which are currently accepting guest posts. It’s important to point out here that not all bloggers accept guest posts. So, if you want to guest post, you first need to find out who is accepting them in your niche.
There’s a couple of options here. The first is to Google phrases like
- ‘[Your Niche] guest post guidelines’
- ‘[Your Niche] contributor guidelines’
- ‘[Your Niche] submissions criteria’
- ‘[Your Niche] write for us’
So this might look like this: ‘parenting blog guest post guidelines’ or ‘cycling blog submissions criteria’. This might take a while, but after a bit of sleuthing, you should be able to come up with a nice selection of blogs to contact.
The second option is to identify blogs in your niche which you would like to write for and see if they are currently accepting guest posts. This time google ‘[Blog Name] guest post guidelines / contributor guidelines / submissions criteria / write for us.’ You could also try the internal search facility on the blog you want to write for and/or check in their footer and menu bars.
If you can’t find any guest post guidelines on a blog you’d really like to write for, then a third option is to contact the blog owner directly – either via email or DM. I would not go down this route unless you already know the blogger and have interacted with them several times. The reason for this is that most bloggers get hundreds of spammy guest post requests every week and are very unlikely to respond unless they already know you and can see your request is genuine. So, if you have never interacted with the blogger in question, spend some time getting to know them first before asking about guest posts, for example by commenting on their blog posts / social media and sharing their stuff on your social channels. Once you have built up some rapport THEN you can pitch them your idea for a guest post.
Step 2: Choose which blogs to target
I recommend spending a couple of hours on Step 1. If you do, you should end up with a nice long list of blogs in your niche that are currently accepting guest posts.
The next step is to prioritise which blogs to contact first. (I don’t recommend contacting them all at once – imagine if they all said yes? You could find yourself desperately trying to write dozens of guest posts all at once!)
There are a number of ways to approach this, but I recommend considering 3 things:
- likelihood of being accepted
The first thing to do is look at the relative authority of each blog. Obviously if you are wanting to build up backlinks and improve your E-A-T, the more authoritative the better. A crude way to assess a blog’s authority is to use ‘domain authority’ or DA. While this is not a perfect system, it does give you a very easy metric, which is a good ‘rough and ready’ guide to a blog’s relative authority. Use the MozBar to help you find out a blog’s DA, but also use your common sense – some blogs are very authoritative and influential even though their DA is surprisingly low!
The second thing to focus on relevance. Broadly speaking the more relevant the backlink, the better. So a backlink from another blog in your niche is worth more than a backlink from a blog in a completely different niche (assuming everything else is equal!).
The final thing to think about is the likelihood of being accepted. You might think that big blog in your niche that has a DA of 90 is the best place to start. But there’s a good chance, if they have a DA of 90, they are getting hundreds of pitches a day! You are better off starting off small and building up to more authoritative blogs later, when you have plenty of high-quality guest posts to your name and have become a more established ‘name’ in your niche.
Work through your list scoring each opportunity against these criteria and you should be able to come up with a nice shortlist of blogs to contact now, and a longer list of blogs to contact in the future when you’re a bit more established.
Step 3: Pitch your idea
Now with your newly whittled down shortlist, the next step is to pitch your idea. I really don’t recommend sending in fully written blog posts – that’s a lot of work to go to if they don’t like your idea! (And generally this is against most blogger’s guest post guidelines anyway.)
Instead, start with the first blog on your list and actually READ those guest post guidelines. Each blogger will have different guidelines… so, if you want to maximise your chances of getting accepted, read them very carefully and follow them to the letter.
If a blogger doesn’t have guidelines on their site, then you will have to email them your pitch. Keep it very brief and simply outline a couple of ideas for possible guest post ideas… just titles and a couple of bullet points for each idea. Make it clear, though that you are very open to alternative ideas if it turns out they’d like you to write for them, but they don’t like your ideas. I’d also send them a very brief bio, so they know who you are and why you are qualified to write this blog post.
If a blogger’s guest post guidelines say to send a fully written blog post, I would still email a pitch, just to check if they are OK with the idea before you commit time to writing a full blog post.
BONUS TIP: Be sure to double check your idea hasn’t already been covered on the blog you are pitching to!
Step 4: Write your guest post
So the host blogger has given you the green light? Woohoo! Now make sure you follow their guidelines to the letter, write the best blog post you possibly can, submit it exactly how they’ve asked you to submit it and, above all, get it in by the deadline they’ve given you!
If you are not sure about anything, email and ask. Don’t just assume, or you may get it wrong.
BONUS TIP: Check out previous guest posts which have been accepted by the site you are writing for. This will give you a really good insight into the correct style and tone to use in your guest post.
Step 5: Promote your guest post
Your work does not end when your guest post is submitted. Once your guest post has been published you need to get the maximum mileage out of it by promoting it EVERYWHERE!
Promote it on all your social media channels. Promote it to your email list. Pin it on Pinterest. And promote it anywhere else you can think of.
You should also make sure to thank the host blogger and let them know where you’ve shared the post. The more you can do to make the experience a positive one for the host blogger, the more likely you are to benefit… perhaps with future opportunities or just building up a great relationship with an influential blogger. (And who knows where that could lead in the future…)
READ MORE >> 14 things you should do AFTER you publish a new blog post
BONUS TIP: Don’t forget to check your guest post a few times in the week after it get’s published to reply to any comments you might get.
Guest posting ninja tips
Already mastered the basics of guest posting? Now it’s time to take it up a notch with these 3 guest-posting ninja tips.
1. Create a freebie
Most guest blog hosts will be happy for you to link back to your blog a couple of times within your guest post. But instead of just linking back to your homepage, max out this opportunity by linking to a free opt-in offer / content upgrade. This works two ways, first of all it gives readers of your guest post a much bigger incentive to click over to your website (to get their hands on your free thing!), but secondly it has the potential to turn a one-off curiosity click into a regular reader and fan… if they sign up for your freebie and start getting regular newsletters from you!
READ MORE >>> How to create an opt-in offer that actually works: a step-by-step guide
2. Create a lead magnet
Now to take this strategy up a notch… instead of simply linking to an opt-in freebie, link to a lead magnet. In other words, create a freebie designed to attract your ideal customer and link to that in your guest post. When someone signs up for your freebie, put them into a welcome / sales automation designed, not only to welcome them to your list, but also to turn them from newbie subscriber into an excited potential customer for your products.
3. Write for the media
When we talk about guest posting, we usually mean writing for other blogs. But you don’t need to stop there. Once you have successfully guest posted on other bloggers’ sites, it might be time to turn your attention to posting for the media – for example the websites of national newspapers and magazines.
READ MORE >>> How to get freelance writing work
Over to you!
Have you ever written a guest post? How did you go about it? What advice would you add for other bloggers looking to get into guest posting?
Write for Productive Blogging
If you have expertise in a topic that you think would benefit Productive Blogging readers, why not pitch your guest post idea to me? Check out the guidelines here >>> Productive Blogging Guest Post Guidelines
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This was a fantastic post! I really appreciate your honest and informative way of explaining things!
I will definately be looking into guest posting soon. Is there any problem with guest posting for a site that is smaller than yours? I have a friend I would like to guest post for to practice but her site is smaller than mine.
Hi Jessalynn! So pleased you found this pot helpful 😀 No, there’s no problem with guest posting on a smaller site. It all helps with E-A-T and beginning small is a good way to start, just bear in mind that the more relevant (to your niche / topic) the site, the better. Obviously if you can write a post on a bigger / more authoritative / higher DA site (that’s still closely related to what you blog about) that will have a bigger impact, but starting small and working up to these bigger opportunities is a great way to go! Good luck with it and let me know how you get on 😀
Really useful post Eb excellent tips about keyword search for guest post guidelines
Thanks, Rebecca. So pleased you found it helpful! 😀
I think many bloggers think they will have instant success by guest blogging but it does not work that way. It’s a long-term commitment and takes time to achieve success through steady guest posting. I think it’s important where you guest post to as well as you have mentioned.
Thanks for the tips too!
That’s a really great point, Lisa. Guest posting is very much a long-term strategy. Glad you found the tips helpful! Eb 🙂
Great post as usual. I’m just wondering if you write a guest blog can you also publish on your own site with a different title?
Thanks Caroline! I wouldn’t recommend that. Otherwise that’s duplicate content and you are competing against yourself in search results, and also most guest post hosts don’t accept that, anyway. Some bloggers include a short excerpt from the guest post on their site and then include a link to the host’s site for the full article… that’s one option… I would say this is a slightly old fashioned approach, and doesn’t really reflect how people tend to read blogs these days… (back in the day, when people would read every new blog post a blogger put out, this made sense… but now, when people are most likely to come from Google, it makes much less sense.) What I would do, though, is make sure you tell your email list and social media followers about your guest post. Another alternative is to use all the research you did for the guest post to write a similar, but not identical post on your site… perhaps one which goes into much more depth, or one which takes a slightly different angle. How that helps! Eb 🙂