The Essential Guide to Guest Blogging

guest blogging

Co-Authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland

So you thought guest blogging was dead? While Matt Cutts initially suggested that, he later clarified that he was talking about guest blogging for SEO link building. Guest blogging for reach and authority is alive and well, but you have to do it right. That means getting a professional to handle your guest blogging campaign. 

The Benefits of Guest Blogging

If you’ve ever been asked to write a guest post or been offered a guest post for your own blog, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Rest assured, there is more to guest blogging than just the exchange of free content. Guest blogging can help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry and get more targeted visitors to your blog or website. This, of course, carries the potential for increased sales. Besides that, however, guest blogging can help you develop relationships that will further your business.

Expand Your Reach

When you write a post on your blog, you reach your audience–your current readers and any new readers who happen to find your latest post, such as through the search engines or sharing. When you guest post on another party’s blog, you reach that blog’s audience. You can write about what you know and tweak it to cater to the blog’s audience, expanding your reach and attracting a whole new set of readers to your own blog. Some of these readers might not have found you on their own.

Boost Traffic

Each guest post you write should translate into increased traffic for your blog. Typically, you’ll have the opportunity to include a link or two back to your own blog, and if the blog has decent traffic and a solid readership, this can mean an upswing in visitors to your website or blog. If you also accept guest posts, you’ll have even more potential for increased traffic. Your guest bloggers will share the links to the content they provide for your blog, and the people who come to read it may stay a while to check out your other content.

Develop Relationships

If you write as a guest blogger, you have the chance to get to know other bloggers and share ideas. The same goes for accepting guest posts on your site. These bloggers may prove willing to spread the word about your business and send referrals your way. They may also share business opportunities and suggest ways to improve your strategies. Some might even become customers or develop an interest in a partnership with you.

Build Your Reputation

Write guest posts that inform or solve problems for the intended audience, and something wonderful will happen. In time, you will develop a reputation as an expert in your industry–a go-to person. This is especially true if you guest post on well-respected, well-written blogs. A better reputation means more business!

Tips for Guest Blogging Success

Take a look at the profiles on your social media accounts.

Make sure they are complete, accurate, and compelling. Editors and website owners will want to check you out online, so you want your profiles to put your best foot forward. Generally, it makes sense to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Include a link to your website/and or blog in each of your social media profiles.

Write several articles related to your industry and post them to your website or blog.

These articles will help show off your writing skills and provide a peek at your writing style. Make sure they are your very best work. If an editor or site owner goes to your website to learn what to expect from you and sees a bunch of spelling mistakes and grammar errors, he is unlikely to want you writing for his blog. Format each article to ensure that it is easy to read, and focus on interesting, helpful topics.

Reach out to the editor or owner of the site for which you want to guest blog.

The blog will usually list the owner or editor’s email address. Some will make it even easier by providing a contact form for you to fill out and submit. Alternatively, you can contact the owner/editor through his or her social media accounts, but try emailing first.

Introduce yourself to the editor/blog owner in a professional and friendly manner.

Explain what type of business you own and share your passion for the industry. Inform the editor/blog owner that you would like to contribute as a guest blogger. Share your goals as well. For example, you might want to guest blog for the purpose of building a reputation as an industry expert. Provide links to your website and your best articles as well as contact information.

Pitch topics about which you are passionate, making sure they are a good fit for the blog on which you will guest post.

Send well-written posts to the editors/blog owners who have accepted you as a blog owner. Include a link back to your site in each post. Also, if possible, link from each post to one of your previously published articles/posts, choosing one that is relevant and provides valuable new information (rather than the same information you included in the current post).

5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Guest Blogging Campaign

Whether you choose a seasoned individual blogger or a marketing agency, you need someone who will avoid tarnishing your company’s reputation with spammy pitches. Believe it or not, people are still sending those out, often on behalf of people and companies who probably know better. Here are some examples of what to avoid so you can vet the people who will be pitching on your behalf.

Poor Greeting and Tone

Sometimes the initial approach is wrong. If you’re going to pitch a guest article, then it’s worth finding out whether the site owner is male or female (not hard to do with Google and social media at your fingertips). I can tell you that I’m not thrilled about being called Mr.

Added to that, if your pitch letter suggests you are doing the site owner a big favor, then unless you’re really an expert in your field, the tone is wrong. An approach that recognizes that both parties get something from guest articles is more likely to get a favorable response.

Poor Spelling, Grammar and Writing

I’ve lost track of the number of guest post pitches I’ve received that read like an SMS message. Heads-up: if the blog owner has to decipher your pitch, it will end up in the trash.

Spelling and grammar errors are another no-no. From the blog owner’s viewpoint, if your pitch is full of mistakes, your article is likely to be just as bad.

If you want to give your guest article the best chance of publication, proofread, proofread and proofread again. Your job is to deliver a post that’s as close to publication-ready as possible. It’s the best way to impress the person who might publish it.

No Thought for the First Reader

Here’s something that I learned from journalism: when you’re pitching an article the person who is reading the pitch is your first reader. You have to make sure that person finds it interesting or your article won’t see the light of day.

People are busy, so you only have a couple of sentences to show that you:

  • can craft a great headline and introductory paragraph
  • know where you’re going with the article
  • can show how it is suitable for the blog’s readers
  • have the writing chops to deliver it

A no-fluff approach is the best way to get your pitch past the first hurdle.

Keyword Stuffing

Yes, people are still keyword stuffing, and still submitting short, badly written, virtually unreadable content.

My message to them: just stop!

It’s more important than ever for guest articles to be in-depth, relevant and useful. Format your post so it reads well on everything from smartphone to desktop screens and is web readable. That means plenty of subheadings, short paragraphs and an easy way to identify key points.

Same Old, Same Old

I get it; sometimes the best way to figure out a winning pitch is to base it on something you already know was successful. But some non-professionals do more than use a proven success as a starting point; they virtually replicate it. That’s just wrong and no-one wants to read me-too content. It’s getting harder to do something different but you can do it by:

  • expanding on a single point in an article
  • responding to an issue raised by someone else (perhaps in a comment or tweet)
  • posting a controlled rant (they always do well) about something important in your niche.

If you want to improve your chances of acceptance, offer something different, like an infographic or Slideshare presentation. It will take longer to produce, but that kind of visual content is widely shared and will do wonders for your online authority.

Whether you’re using guest blogging to build authority or simply for outreach, avoiding the mistakes listed here will make your campaign more successful. If you need some help with strategy or writing, contact the Crackerjack Marketing team.

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Christina Strickland

Vice President at Crackerjack Marketing
As Vice President of Crackerjack Marketing, Christina works closely with clients to develop and execute world-class social media strategies and creative influencer marketing programs. Her mantra is “measure, measure, measure!” because size really does matter - at least when it comes to growing her clients’ social media presences.
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