When you start looking at ways to improve your blogging strategy or to bring new traffic to your website, guest blogging is often one of the first topics to be mentioned. Unfortunately, in order to make the most of your efforts, you first have to understand how to do it effectively.
Following these simple steps will help improve your success as a guest blogger, from helping you find the best opportunities to bringing in the type of traffic you want.
Step 1: Identify Your Guest Blogging Goals.
What, exactly, is it that you’re after as a guest blogger? Are you trying to create links back to your website? To help improve the appearance of your authority in the online world? To simply get your name out to as many places as possible, while you establish an impressive writing resume? Are you trying to help increase your rank for a particular search engine term or increase brand recognition?
When you understand why you’re blogging, you’re better able to choose the topics and opportunities that are right for you, rather than working in circles while you try to figure out why your strategy isn’t working. Take the time to write down a list of your guest blogging goals. This will help you develop a guest blogging strategy that will enable you meet them.
Step 2: Find the Right Opportunities.
When you understand why you’re blogging, you can start looking for the opportunities that will help you meet those goals. There are several characteristics that will help you identify the best place for your guest blog posts.
- Determining the site’s authority on the internet is a great way to tell how valuable (or potentially harmful) a particular website will be to your strategy. Moz’s Open Site Explorer is one great tool that will allow you to see where a site standards in the eyes of the internet.
- What are you reading? As an expert in your industry, you surely have places that you go to find clear, accurate information. Chances are, other people are looking there, too.
- Check out the number of comments and who they come from. Does the site have plenty of regular readers who are engaging with the content? If so, they’re probably going to be equally responsive to what you have to say.
- How is the site generally viewed? Do they get a good reception from others in your industry, or are they often treated as a joke? Determining how they are viewed will let you know whether or not this is the site for you.
Step 3: Write the Proposal.
Your proposal is your foot in the door and will, ultimately, determine whether or not your piece actually gets published by another publication. Your proposal should include several key pieces of information.
Take a good, long look at the site before you write your proposal. What topics are hot? What topics have already been covered too many times?
Explain why your topic is different from the posts that have already been published and how it could benefit potential readers.
Why are you the person who should handle this topic, rather than it being dealt with by the site owner or another trusted writer? What unique qualifications do you have to bring to the table? In short, why you?
If possible, address your query directly to the site owner. Use their name, not just “to whom it may concern.” Include information personalized to this site in particular to show that you’re serious about your efforts and that you’ve done your research.
Note that maintaining a professional tone throughout your proposal, from the subject line to the closing, will help your post on its way to success. You don’t want to convince the site manager to turn you down before they even have the chance to learn more about you! Sell yourself professionally and calmly, let your content speak for you, and maintain that professional air even if you’re rejected.
Step 4: Write the Right Post.
You don’t want to write just any post. You want to write a post that will show off your skills, demonstrate your authority, and generally provide value to the reader. In many ways, your guest blogs are even more important than the posts you place on your own website.
Check out the guest blogging guidelines for each specific website and follow them. The worst possible mistake you can make when pitching to a new website is ignoring their guest post requirements. Make sure that your post is targeted for that blog’s audience, not your own. Choose a topic that is interesting, and say something about it that hasn’t already been done a hundred times before. Do your research well before submitting: check out what’s been offered both on the site you’re querying and on other webpages.
Once you’ve finished your post, make sure you polish it to perfection. This is not the time for errors! Look for any imperfections in your post, before you send it off, to make sure it will get the best possible reception. Pay particular attention to your byline and call-to-action, which could be the only access readers have to information about you. Be sure it includes links back to your social media accounts and your personal blog or webpage (depending on what’s relevant), but also keep it clear and concise to avoid overwhelming readers.
Step 5: Leverage It After Posting.
After you’ve posted, you shouldn’t simply forget about the post and hope that results come rolling in. Instead, take the time to look over your post and see how it was received. Interact with the comments section. After all, you took the time to choose a site that had plenty of people commenting! While nearly every thread has its trolls, you can still take positive feedback from the comments and use it to improve future guest blog posts.
Also measure the success of your blog post outside of the post itself. Try creating an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics to help track the traffic created by your post. Keep an eye on new email subscribers or call-to-action metrics by sending the request to a specific email address or by asking for a specific keyword.
Your post’s success matters! Refer back to your guest blogging goals: were they met by this particular post, or did this particular attempt fail in some way? If you didn’t meet your goals, why? Was it the site you chose? The topic you wrote about? Did you provide real industry value, or throw out a low-quality piece that might hurt your chances in the future? Guest blogs that don’t do exactly what you hoped don’t have to be considered failures. They can also be used as a vehicle for improving your blogging skills in the future.
Guest blogging is one of the best ways to increase backlinks, improve communication, and establish yourself as an authority within your industry. As your success grows, you’ll have increased opportunities to make more out of your business and reach an even wider audience. Make the most of every guest post, and before you know it, you’ll see your web traffic grow like never before.