This is the first contributor post to For Bloggers by Bloggers. It stemmed from this comment, and I thought it was so good it deserved to be a post in its own right. I reached out to Patrick and he kindly agreed. Enjoy. DB.
If you run a blog and want it to grow by hundreds and thousands of readers, you’re eventually going to want to guest blog. It’s not only an excellent way, but pretty much the only way to get quality inbound links and build an audience, much like being the opening act on stage for a major band.
So the next logical question many new bloggers have, is what, exactly does it take to guest post, given that top sites like CopyBlogger routinely receive hundreds of pitches.
The good news is, with the proliferation of blogs, it’s far easier than you think to secure one of those guest posts. Even bloggers with thousands of readers have a tough time finding guest bloggers who write good, helpful content.
Here’s how you impress them.
Forget the official channels
1. Read the blogs you want to guest post for, and add something useful to the conversation at least a couple times a week. I’ll typically comment on something I liked about the post itself to prove I read and understood it. Many comments show the reader hardly skimmed the article, and missed the point.
Here’s an example, from a post on the popular Convince and Convert blog.
Often the writer will respond, and that gives you an opening to begin building a relationship with that blogger, which routinely leads to a guest post opportunity if you ask, either privately or publically. Here’s the exchange that came after my original comment.
This often is a better strategy than just going through the “official channel” for large blogs, where you don’t stand out at all from the hundreds of other submissions. I’ve known several bloggers who used this approach, and quickly received guest posting opportunities on ProBlogger and CopyBlogger, two of the largest blogs around.
2. If you guest post often, you’ll eventually run out of big blogs in your niche. To reach other audiences in other niches, simply mix your core expertise with a blog that appeals to a different audience. If you write about landscaping, do a guest post on a blog that talks about realty. Just focus your post around how to landscape a home to maximize the home’s sale price, for example.
3. I’d recommend not just making your guest posts good, but offering your best posts to other blogs, and use your second best blog posts for your own blog, at least when starting out. Initially you want to convince potential new readers you’re worth reading, so they’ve got to be impressed right out of the gate. A mediocre post nets fewer clicks over to your blog.
4. Observe the amount of comments on various posts, and you’ll quickly see which blog posts generate the most interest on a particular blog. That way you know the kind of post on that blog that will get you the most mileage. Copyblogger posts that specifically deal with writing for example, receive the most comments. Why should you care how much traffic your particular post gets, considering it’s not your blog? If you provide a post that generates far more than the typical amount of guest blogger traffic, the blog owner is naturally going to invite you back. And that should be your real goal, not to be a one-hit wonder, but to come back periodically to the same big blogs, for routine exposure.
5. Really excellent blog posts take between two and 10 hours for most people I know. So don’t expect your guest posts to be fantastic in just half an hour. Excellence takes time. Keep in mind that one polished guest post can generate you ten times your typical amount of readers, had you posted it on your own blog, so the extra time can pay off handsomely.
6. Decide what the keywords are you’re trying to rank for, and use them in your anchor text of your bio, if the blog you’re guest posting on allows it. In other words, instead of your name being the clickable link, if you write about green cleaning products and want to rank for that phrase in search engines, make “green cleaning products” link to your blog.
7. Before you try and pitch a post, search through the archives for an old post that mirrors the kind of post you’re writing, whether it’s a tips post, or a personal story. Then use that layout as a template. If it starts with a short sentence, make yours short. If it has a subhead every three paragraphs, make sure yours has one every three paragraphs. If it runs pictures, go ahead and submit one from istockPhoto.com, or flickr.com/creativecommons. The less your post has to be edited to get it into the shape and style of the blog you’re guest posting on, the more likely you are to have your guest post accepted.
What’s worked for you when it comes to guest blogging? Please add to my ideas, or ask additional questions. The comments are all yours, and I’m all ears.