Guest Posting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing Guest Blogging Right

Image of Stephen Altrogge
Stephen Altrogge
Published: Aug 27, 2021

Guest posting has been around as long as blogs have existed.

This far down the road, there's a fair amount of debate regarding the value of guest posting. Some people feel like it's not worth the time they invest.

They don't know what they're missing.

In this guide, we're going to walk through why you should still embrace guest posting, as well as how to do it really effectively.

What Is A Guest Post?

This may be obvious, but let's make sure we're all on the same page. A guest post is a blog post written by a guest contributor, which is then posted on the host blog.

The idea behind it is simple: you are quality creating content that will be viewed by your target audience and has the potential to expand your influence and reach.

A guest post is really no different from a bylined article or contributed article. The difference is simply that the latter terms are more closely associated with traditional media, whereas the term "guest post" emerged with the growth of blogs in the early 2000s.

As a result, PR practitioners tend to call them "bylined articles" and SEO professionals prefer the term "guest posts." But the best practices for both are—or should be—essentially the same.

What Are the Benefits of Guest Blogging?

You may be wondering, Does guest posting still work?

Yes it does. There are many reasons why you should consider doing guest posts; here are three big ones:

  • First, it helps you establish your expertise and authority within your niche or industry. When you write a high-quality post that is brimming with value, people will notice. They'll want more content from you, whether that's blog posts on your own site, a podcast, a book, or social media posts. 
  • Second, guest posting can connect you with a new audience that you wouldn't have otherwise had access to. If your content is well-done, it will resonate with the audience, and some of those people will want to be part of your audience as well. If you want to increase your visibility and influence, guest blogging is a great way to do it. 
  • And third, guest blogging is great for your SEO. Most websites will let you put one backlink in a guest post back to your own site, which helps diversify your backlink profile and raise your site in the search results. And, when Google sees your name appearing in different high-authority websites around the internet, it signals to them that they should start paying more attention to you. The more positive off-page signals Google detects, the more important you become in their eyes. 

7 Steps To Successful Guest Posting

Now that you know the benefits of guest posting, let's talk about what you need to do to actually make it happen for your business.

Step 1: Determine your guest posting strategy and goals

Before you start cranking out guest posts, you need to have both goals and a strategy for achieving those goals. Knowing your goals and guest posting strategy beforehand will help to determine what sites you're going to target for guest posts.

Are you trying to establish yourself as a thought leader and industry expert? Then you'll want to target well-respected sites that your target audience regularly reads and that allow bylined articles.

Are you trying to build your email list or get more social media followers? Then you'll want to target blogs that have a very large audience, even if that audience isn't 100% related to your particular niche. You'll also want to make sure that these sites allow you to link to your social profiles or an email capture landing page.

If you're trying to increase the domain authority (DA) of your website, you'll primarily want to guest post on sites that already have a relatively high DA and allow at least one dofollow backlink to your site.

Before you begin working in earnest, take some time to think through what you ultimately want to achieve and the guest posting strategy that will best allow you to achieve those goals.

Step 2: Find guest posting target websites

Your next step is to find websites that welcome guest posts and align with your goals. As you do your research, you want to look for sites that check the following boxes:

  • The content is a good fit for your expertise and niche.
  • You are confident that you'll be able to add value through your guest post
  • The site has an active audience of readers that are relevant to you and your brand
  • The owner of the site regularly promotes guest post articles on social media

There are a number of ways you can find sites that match these criteria.

  • Technique #1: Google [topic] + "guest posting" or [topic] + "write for us". For example, if you're an expert in human resources, you could Google "human resources" + "write for us" and you would get any sites that were tied to human resources and also accepted guest posts.
  • Technique #2: Study those in your industry who guest post a lot. Once you find sites that accept guest posts, take a closer look at the contributing authors. If you Google their names or look at their social media feeds, you'll probably discover other places they've published guest posts, which provides you with even more potential guest blogging sites.
  • Technique #3: Analyze backlinks to your competitor's websites. Using a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush, look at the backlinks to your competitor's websites to see whether any of them are from guest posts. If they are, there's a good chance that they'll accept a post from you as well.
  • Technique #4: Use a prospecting and outreach tool like Pitchbox or Ninja Outreach to automate some of the process. These tools can quickly help you find guest blogging opportunities and send outreach emails to the site owners.

One important caveat: if you are guest posting in order to get backlinks to your website and raise your domain authority, it's important to look at the domain authority of the site you're hoping to be published on.

When it comes to backlinks, the higher the DA the better. Yes, these sites tend to be much more strict about the quality of the content and your writing ability, but you'll be much more likely to improve your domain authority with dofollow links from high DA sites compared to lower DA ones.

Step 3: Create A List Of Potential Topics

Once you've identified potential websites for guest posting, come up with potential topics that you could pitch to the owners of the sites.

If you're building your personal brand, focus on topics that reflect your expertise and help establish you as a leader in the industry. This isn't about promotion; it's about helping people get to know who you are beyond your social media profile or email signature line.

If your goal is backlinks, make sure the topics are suitable for the natural inclusion of whatever you are linking back to.

Above all, the topics need to be relevant to the site and add value to the readers. If the topic doesn't add value, then there's a pretty good chance that your pitch will get rejected by the site owner.

If you're struggling to come up with topic ideas, try using HubSpot's blog ideas generator. You put in a noun and it spits out a ton of different ideas that you can use. (Full disclosure: Idea Grove is HubSpot consulting partner.)

Step 4: Send Your Pitch

Now it's time to send your guest post pitch, which is really just another form of media pitching.

Pitching is very important and can be what determines whether your pitch is accepted. Popular websites receive hundreds of guest post pitches and you want to stand out from the crowd.

Before you send a pitch, make sure to read any guidelines the site has regarding submissions. If your pitch doesn't follow the rules, it may be rejected before it's even read.

So, with that said, here are some best practices for sending a pitch:

  • If possible, find the name of the editor or owner of the site and address them personally
  • Keep it short and concise. A pitch shouldn't exceed 500 words.
  • Briefly introduce yourself and establish your credibility by explaining why you are qualified to write about this topic.
  • Suggest a few topics you could write about or offer to write about a topic that the site owner/editor wants.
  • Close with a soft call to action like, "Would any of these topics work for you?"

Here's an example of what a guest post pitch might look like:

Subject: Guest post for your marketing blog

Hi Kevin,

My name is Matt Smith and I'm the owner of SuperCoolMarketing, a marketing blog that has been read by over 500,000 readers in the past year. I also run my own marketing agency and love the opportunity to connect with other marketers.

I came across your site and really liked what I saw. I especially loved your post about unconventional email marketing tactics. I'm hoping to use a few of those myself.

Would you be open to a guest blog post? A few topics I thought might be a good fit are:

  • The 5 types of marketing you should be using in 2021
  • A guide on how to write blog post titles that get more clicks
  • The best time to post on social media
  • Or any other topic you would prefer!

If any of these topics work for you, please let me know.

Thanks so much for your time and consideration!

Sincerely,

Matt Smith

Owner, SuperCoolMarketing

Step 5: Write A Really Great Post

Once you've had a pitch accepted, it's time to write an awesome post that absolutely knocks it out of the park. If you want to establish your expertise and open up more doors for guest posting, your post needs to be of the highest quality. No fluff, no filler, just jam packed with value.

Your post also needs to be trustworthy. If you make an assertion, back it up with data. Only make recommendations that you truly believe in. If your post is heavily biased or flat out promotes a product, it will come across as spammy and the editor may reject it before posting.

Here are some tips to help you write an awesome post:

  • Research the topic thoroughly - Before writing anything, dig into the topic and become an expert. You want to be able to answer any questions that the readers may have.
  • Use data to back up assertions - People are more likely to believe your recommendations if they see numbers and statistics backing them up. Anecdotes are okay occasionally, but only if they are in support of a larger, data-backed point.
  • Make your text skimmable - Bullet points, subheadings, and numbered lists are great ways to make your post more dynamic and easier for readers to digest.
  • Write for humans - Keep your tone personal and friendly. Talk directly to the reader instead of passively describing things.

Once you've written your first draft, go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure every sentence is clear, concise, and supports your main points. Use a tool like Grammarly to ensure your spelling and grammar are solid. You may even want to have a friend or colleague read it and get their feedback as well.

When your confident that your post is top quality, value-packed, and trustworthy, you can submit it to the editor for review.

Step 6: Follow Up

Once you've submitted your post, sit tight and wait for the response. Most editors will get back to you within a few days or within a week at most. If you don't hear from them after that time frame, send a follow up email checking to see if they received the post and offering to make any edits.

If they don't have any edit requests, you're good to go! If they do have requests, try to accommodate them as much as possible. If you push back, it can leave a sour taste in their mouth and they may not want to publish your post.

Step 7: Measure Your Results

The final step in your guest posting strategy is measuring your results. How you measure your results depends on your guest blogging goals. If your goal was to get backlinks to your website, that's pretty easy to measure. Just use a tool like Ahrefs and look at how many backlinks you've acquired through guest posting.

If your goal is growing your brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader, you'll need to look at slightly less concrete metrics, like your social media following, opportunities present at conferences, increased inbound leads, etc.

If you find that you're not getting the results you hoped for, take some time to reevaluate your strategy. Determine what worked and what didn't, and then double down on the things that worked best.

Final Thoughts

It's true that developing and executing an effective guest posting strategy takes a lot of work. But if you're willing to put in the effort, guest blogging can be a powerful way to promote your business or brand.

The key is finding a few good outlets that have an engaged audience and are relevant for your niche. From there, consistently contribute valuable content that meets their guidelines and becomes an integral part of their community. With time, patience, and persistence, you'll reap the benefits of a guest blogging campaign.

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