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Business Strategy

What is Guest Blogging (& How Does it Work)?

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority in your field.

Not only that, but guest posting can increase qualified traffic to your website, help you gain higher search engine rankings, and allow you to reach a wider audience.

And when you guest post for sites that are relevant to your business, you’re able to build mutually beneficial relationships with other business owners.

In short, guest blogging is a fantastic investment of your time and resources.

And perhaps best of all? You don’t need any special skills or experience — just some basic writing and editing know-how.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • The best way to get started with guest blogging;
  • How to find the ideal sites for your guest posts;
  • Pro tips for guest blogging;
  • And much more!

Let’s learn how to guest post. We’ll start with a quick definition…

What is Guest Blogging?

Guest blogging is writing an original blog post and publishing that post on someone else’s website — usually someone with a larger audience than your own.

It’s a technique for getting in front of new audiences. It also generates traffic to your site, raises brand awareness for your business, builds relationships with others and creates backlinks to your website.

What Are the Benefits of Guest Blogging?

There are several benefits to guest blogging… I share four below! 

1. Building relationships with other businesses

Creating quality content is time-consuming. When you guest post for someone else, you’re helping a fellow business owner by giving them a high-quality piece of content they can publish on their website.

In return, they’re helping you by introducing you to their audience.

If all goes well, this hopefully leads to a long-lasting relationship between you and the site owner.

Those relationships can make a big difference in your business success.

Connections you make via guest blogging can lead to opportunities like referral business, recommendations for speaking engagements or introductions to other leaders in your niche.

2. Building Your Brand

Guest blogging is a great way to build your brand, especially if you can publish different posts on multiple sites over the span of a few days or a few weeks.

Suddenly, people see your name popping up everywhere. 

If you’re appearing in so many places, you must be good. Readers believe you have a lot of authority and value to offer.

3. Driving traffic to your website

If you’re guest posting in front of the right audience, creating relevant, useful content for the reader, guest posting can be a great way to drive traffic to your website or landing page.

Once the reader is on your website, offering a valuable lead magnet can entice them to sign for your email list.

4.  Backlinks and DA

Domain Authority is a search engine score created by Moz that measures how authoritative and trustworthy your website is.

Backlinks are inbound links from other websites to your site.

There are two kinds of backlinks.

Dofollow backlinks tell Google to pass the “link juice” from one site to the next.

Nofollow links tell Google to not give the link any additional value.

When a website with a high DA links to your site with a dofollow link, your site gets a boost from Google.

A nofollow link doesn’t offer that boost.

Having numerous dofollow backlinks to your website signals to Google that your site offers valuable, relevant content. This increases your domain authority. Higher domain authority is one of the many ranking factors Google considers when returning search engine results to viewers.

Guest posting used to be a way to get a lot of dofollow backlinks to your website, increasing your domain authority.

But users began abusing the practice of guest posting for link building.

They would write low-value guest posts and insert links to their own websites simply to get a dofollow link from a high authority website. This ended up creating a terrible experience for the reader, so Google cracked down on the practice. 

In 2020, Google’s John Mueller said that all guest posts need to have the nofollow tag. He also said that even if the post has a dofollow tag, Google sees those links as having “zero value.”

That being said, the benefits of making connections, building your brand and reaching new audiences mean there is still plenty of value in guest posting.

How Do I Start Guest Blogging?

So, you’ve decided to try your hand at guest posting.

How do you get started with your guest blogging strategy?

1. Research Target Blogs

You want to start by looking for relevant sites that accept guest posts.

You don’t want to write for a competitor. 

Instead, seek websites in adjacent spaces that are complementary to what you do and where you can provide real value to the reader.

Look for reputable sites. Don’t guest post on spammy sites and don’t post for a site that wants to charge you for backlinks. That goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines

To find sites that accept guest posts, search Google for terms like:

  • “Your niche” + guest post
  • “Your niche” + write for us
  • “Your niche” + guest post guidelines
  • “Your niche” + submissions
  • “Your niche” + guest posting opportunity
  • “Your niche” + guest blogging opportunities

Or any other search terms.

Find the site’s submission guidelines and read them carefully.

Make it easy for them to say yes by following their guidelines.

If you don’t, the chances of your post being accepted are nil.

If the site doesn’t have any guidelines, here’s what you should do next.

Brainstorm Topic Ideas

When you’ve compiled your list of guest posting opportunities, begin by brainstorming some topic ideas.

Some sites will have suggested topics in their submission guidelines. If so, follow those.

If not, look at the site’s recent blog posts. What are their most popular topics? Where do you see gaps in their content? Is there a new angle or argument you can write about?

Be sure your topic ideas match the target audience’s interests

Come up with 10, 15, 25 ideas. The more you have, the better. 

When you’re done, narrow it down to the best 2 or 3 ideas.

Start Your Guest Blogging Outreach

If your target site has guest posting guidelines, you’ll probably find contact information there.

If you want to guest post for a site that doesn’t have specific submission guidelines, find the name of the content editor.

The easiest place to find that information is LinkedIn.

Look at the website’s LinkedIn page and search for employees with the title of Content Editor, Content Manager, Blog Editor, Editor, Head of Content, or other similar terms.

That’s the person you want to email with your guest post idea pitch.

The business may have none of those positions. In that case, reach out to the site owner.

Send the editor or owner a brief email with your best 2 to 3 topic suggestions.

Don’t send them a post or outline in the first email, unless their submission guidelines require it.

Keep the initial contact short and sweet. You’ll follow up with more information if they are interested. 

Here’s a sample email you could customize and use.

Dear {name of editor},

{Name of site or blog} is one of my favorite sites to visit. Your recent article on {subject of recent article they’ve published} was very interesting. {Insert here one or two short points that show you’ve actually read the article in question.}

Have you considered an article on {your topic idea}? I think it would benefit your readers {why their readers would find it helpful}.

I’d love the opportunity to write this article for you as a guest post. Or if {topic idea} is not a good fit, what about {second topic idea}?

Let me know what you think either way.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

{Your Name}

Alternatively, follow their submission guidelines exactly.

Write Your Guest Post

Once the editor has gotten back to you and agreed to you writing a guest post for their site, you can start on your post.

Write the very best post you can.

You want a post that you would be proud to publish on your own website.

Create content that is valuable to the reader. Include relevant tips and information and best practices around your topic. Make the post useful and actionable.

Set up internal links to other relevant content on the host site to add additional value to your blog post. These internal links are valuable for SEO and including those is helpful for the blog editor.

You can link to your own content if it’s truly relevant and useful.

But remember, your host site will need to follow Google guidelines and make those links nofollow. You won’t get a direct SEO boost from the links, so be tasteful and use them only where it’s truly beneficial to the reader.

When your post is complete and you’ve edited it with software like Grammarly, you’re ready to submit it to the blog editor. Follow their directions for further editing.

Pro Tips for Guest Blogging

Here are some pro suggestions to help you get the most from your guest posting experience.

1. Craft an Amazing Author Bio

Your author bio gives you the opportunity to show readers what you can offer them. 

This is also where you can direct readers to your website, landing page or social media, depending on your goals.

Follow your host’s guidelines for crafting your bio. Generally, they are two to three sentences and you want to keep it short and tight.

You’ll also want to write your bio in the third person. Write, “Jane Smith is the founder of…,” not “I am the founder of…”

If you can include links in your bio, use them wisely.

If you want to grow your email list, linking to the landing page for your email opt-in would be better than linking to a generic blog post on your website.

To learn more about writing a killer bio that gets you great traffic, check out this article on author bios

2. Enthusiastically Promote Your Post

When your post is published, do your part to promote it. You can do so by:

  • Linking to the post from your own blog. (But don’t publish the same post on your site! That creates duplicate content and Google does not like that. Instead, publish a summary or short excerpt directing your readers to read the full article on the host site.)
  • Sharing the post on your social media channels.
  • Telling your friends and family.
  • Reaching out to the brands, businesses and influencers you mentioned in the article. Tell them about the article and share the link. They might share the post with their networks.

3. Be the Ideal Guest They Want Back

Follow the host site’s guidelines

I cannot stress this enough. You want the experience to be amazing for them. They should be telling everyone how great it is to work with you.

If they ask you for a 1500 word piece, don’t give them 800 words or 3000 words. Give them 1500 words. 

If they contact you with questions or edits, be prompt in your responses. 

They have deadlines to meet and if you don’t get back to them in a timely manner, you may miss out on having your post published.

Be open to editorial changes

As Stephen King advises in his book On Writing, be willing to kill your darlings. 

While you may love a certain phrase or example, you are publishing on someone else’s site for someone else’s audience.

And you may be working with an editor who has more experience and a better understanding of internet writing. Be open to their feedback.

Be grateful

Thank your blog hosts for the opportunity. They gave you space in front of the audience they built. They didn’t have to do that.

4. Don’t Ghost Their Readers

Have you ever read a blog post with lots of unanswered questions in the comment section? 

And have you also visited a site where every comment has a response from the author or site owner?

Which leaves you with a better impression?

Gary Vaynerchuk once said that if you can’t reply to the people who are already following you, you don’t deserve more followers.

That doesn’t just apply to social media marketing.

If people read your work and leave comments, do them the courtesy of responding. It’s a simple way to build a relationship with readers.

Stick around and respond to the comments that readers leave.

Answer questions they have.

Respond if they tweet at you on Twitter or tag you on other social media.

5. Consider a Ghostwriter

As I mentioned earlier, creating great content takes a lot of time.

If you want to make the most of your guest posting opportunities and publish on multiple sites in a short time frame, consider hiring a ghostwriter to write some of your posts — there are many talented freelancers looking for writing jobs.

Ghostwriters usually work from an outline that you provide them. 

They’ll do the bulk of the work crafting your blog post and then send you a final draft.

At that point, you can edit the piece, adding personal stories and touches.

Are You Ready to Write Your First Guest Post?

When guest blogging is done right, it’s a great opportunity to get in front of new people and build brand awareness.

Now that you’ve read this post, you know everything you need to know to get started with guest posting.

You’ve learned how to find guest posting opportunities.

You’ve learned how to identify potential topics for each site.

You’ve learned how to find and pitch the editor.

And you’ve learned the best practices for using this amazing opportunity.

So what are you waiting for? Get going! 

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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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