If you want to improve your own blog following, then one way is to learn how to win with guest blogging. It can be a great way to introduce yourself to a new audience, increase a following and generate more traffic back to your website or blog.
You do this by writing an article for a carefully selected blog, where you appear as their guest (hence the name). As well as exposure to a new audience, you can also use the post to build natural backlinks back to your own blog, which will help with your SEO.
As beneficial as it is when it’s done well, it can be a lot of work for zero rewards if you do not approach and plan it right.
There are several steps to keep in mind you want to win with your guest blogs, so read on to learn more.
1. You need to find your guest blog spots!
Guest blogging opportunities will not come to you – you need to go out and find them.
(Actually, one clarification; if you blog a lot and have a good following, you may occasionally get an invitation – but more often than now this will be from a site that is not doing so well and is trying to do what you are doing here – increasing your traffic. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but be extremely selective, as it’s your reputation).
The sites you are going to be approaching will be selective as well, for the same reason.
One word of advice – don’t Google ‘blogs that are open to guest posts’ as you will end up with a ton of low quality ‘opportunities’; better to have one or two high-quality openings instead of 30-40 poor ones, which won’t gain you anything.
Look for sites that, firstly, you’ll be proud to be attached to – your name is going to be up in lights on their blog for a long time, so the quality of target is vitally important.
Also – check that they do accept guest posts (either because they say so on the site, or they have ‘guest blogger guidelines’ or even posts that are introduced as guest posts).
They must also allow clickable links back you your page.
Start with blogs that you have some sort of connection with already – maybe it’s someone you have communicated with before (even on another medium, such as a social site such as Twitter or Facebook) or maybe you have commented on a post of theirs (or even they on yours).
Any kind of connection is a great starting point when you approach them.
You are also looking for blogs that it makes sense for you to write on; if your blog is about photography, writing on a site that specialises in cheese may not attract the audience that you are hoping to. It must be relevant.
On a practical SEO note – check if the target blog post links in articles and attach a ‘nofollow’ attribute; although they may bring people to your site, the backlink will not help your SEO at all, and you’d be better off posting elsewhere. Right-click on a link and select ‘Inspect’ to examine the HTML code for the link (see image below).
In this example, taken from the Splento blog, the link we are inspecting is highlighted in the blue box on the left pane.
After the right-click and Inspect, the pane on the right will open; this is the website HTML. The same box is highlighted here in right, and you are looking for the phrase ‘nofollow’. If it doesn’t (as in this example), then all is fine.
When a website does have guest blog guidelines, make sure that you follow them to the letter when you submit ideas or posts to them.
Make a list of sites – not just one – aim for 20-50. This is time-consuming, but you want success here, don’t you?
2. Generate ideas for your post
When you have a list of potential blog sites that you want to submit to, each will usually want a few suggestions for themes
Take time to create a list of perfectly matching ideas for each site; don’t create a generic list of topics that you submit to each one, but hone separate lists for each target.
You want to send each site a list they consider perfect for them. Try for five ideas for each.
Look at their existing blog posts, get a feel for their overall style; look at the categories posts are made in and either fill a niche in one of those or perhaps on or two ideas that will complement what is there but is not yet covered.
3. Pitch your ideas to the blog site
When you come to pitch to the site, either use the form they provide or contact them by email, but it is important that you follow any guidelines they give.
If it’s an email, be personal and specific to that site. Approach politely and suggest your best title, together with a short bullet list of the areas you see it covering.
Offer a couple of alternatives, in case they view those as a better match to their blog. Briefly explain a little about yourself, where you can be found online and any relevant experience.
Keep it brief and to the point. If they are interested and want more detail, they will ask.
4. If successful, write an amazing post
To summarise this – write the best article you ever have written. You can find more guidance on this in how to write the best website content if you need it.
Make it valuable to the reader and your host.
Unless not allowed by the host (and in which case, what are you even doing here?), it is perfectly fine to sprinkle some links in your post back to your blog.
There’s no magic number, but a few links will be OK as long as they are not detracting from the host’s own business, they are following back to equally high-quality material and they are natural to the text (no-one appreciates a clunky link shoe-horned in without care or relevance).
As with many blog posts, link to a few other reputable sites as well – not just your own.
5. Write yourself a perfect bio
You author bio is your introduction which will be added to the post and is the place that it is realistically safe to add links to (almost) anywhere you like.
Keep it short, 100 words if there is no limit in the host guidelines, write in the third person and include your full name. Include a link back to your homepage or blog, but make it sound attractive – use this space to sell yourself and perhaps mention a post that the readers would love to read! Also, throw in a social media contact as well.
It’s your 100-word opportunity to sell yourself to the host’s audience, so really make it count.
6. Promote your post
Once your post is sent off (adjustments made if the editor requires) and it’s published, your hard work doesn’t end there.
You need to successfully promote your blog content once you know it is live.
Share on your social media platforms and make sure you tag your host as well. Not only is it a polite gesture, and demonstrating that you are ‘doing you bit’ to help their traffic, but at the very least, they will probably retweet/share your comment and generate interest for both of you.
Also, make sure you are around to answer any comments that readers leave; this may well be a part of the guest post agreement anyway, but if not, still take the time to do it. Remember that in this case, you are representing the host, so be on your best behaviour! Contact them with any issues.
Finally, remember to thank you host! A short email a few days after publication which says thank you and (if you think it went well) a brief pitch for another post. Don’t bother with an outline at this point – just a short enquiry as to whether they would appreciate another contribution on ‘XYZ’ topic.
After all this is done, you can finally sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour – unless the host takes you up on your offer of a second post, of course!
The work can be hard, especially to begin with, but with some time and effort, and perhaps a knock-back or two, you will be winning at your guest blogging in no time.
This post is one of a series of articles published in support of Splento’s Ready for Work (R4W) programme. This was initially a successful four-week programme run in July 2020.
As of September 2020, R4W v2.0 – a six-month full training and work experience programme – has been created and submitted to the UK DWP for approval to be a part of the UK Government Kickstart Scheme. Further announcements will follow once approval has been granted. For more details, read The ultimate guide to the UK Kickstart Scheme.
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