You’ve got a blog, you publish frequently, and you’re meeting your content goals every month.
You’re living the good life as a fancy, badass entrepreneur.
But are you living your blogging life to the fullest?
While you’ve been growing the content on your own blog, reaching the loyal audience who’s come to know and love your content, you come across a guest post on Fancy Small Business Blog written by one of your competitors. (You know which one I’m talking about.)
It’s an article about successful marketing strategies in a niche market, and it’s something you feel like you could’ve written yourself.
Sure, you might grumble a little bit (“How did they even land an article there?”), but that’s not going to help you get published on successful blogs.
Writing a guest post for another publication or website is an excellent way to gain exposure and have a bigger reach — your next major client could be hiding in the audience of another blog in your industry.
Especially if you have expertise in a niche area — like using a specific type of programming, or running an e-commerce clothing shop — you can use guest posting as a marketing strategy to establish yourself as an expert in the field. Content marketing gurus like Neil Patel encourage guest posting as a major way to increase your blog or business’s revenue, especially over time.
By taking a moment to flesh out a strategy for pitching guest posts to other blogs or online publications, you can build up your backlinks, draw in a bigger potential client base with more leads, and potentially even find new markets for yourself.
To create a strong, actionable strategy to build your business’s audience and connections, you’ll need to keep in mind a few of these tips before you send your brilliant ideas out into the wild world of the internet.
Take it from our editors, there’s nothing worse than receiving a bad pitch, yet it’s something Managing Editors (aka the people in charge of the blog) have to deal with on a daily basis.
When you’re starting to create a strategy for your guest post pitches, the first thing you should do is research blogs that are currently accepting, or are always accepting, pitches for guest posts. Are they within your niche, or is there a way to fit your niche into the topics covered by a popular website?
Try to also think about what you could add to that blog and whether this blog’s audience is full of potential clients. Is your blog or business something that readers of this other blog would be interested in? Does your own website respond to the needs of this other blog’s audience?
If the answer to both of these questions is “Yes!,” then you better get your butt in gear — here’s a new potential market waiting for you!
But before you get too excited, you’ll need to write up a pitch for your guest post, so you’ll have to pause for a moment and research the guest posting guidelines — something that many blogs have in some form or another.
For example, let’s say you have a blog all about marketing niche blogs. Since your business is growing, and you’re excited to connect with other entrepreneurs like yourself, you could shoot for the stars and pitch to Entrepreneur. But before you send that pitch, first find their Guest Post Guidelines (which you can also find with a little help from Google). Once you locate that page, read over what they require for guest posts.
One of Entrepreneur’s bolded points instructs budding contributors to write something with “Actionable Advice” for readers to put into action right away. If you don’t plan on writing something with actionable advice, you might just want to leave this publication off your list.
But hey, maybe you were planning on including actionable advice anyway! Perfect.
Now, start perusing Entrepreneur and its many columns. Not every blog is going to have this many subtopics, but with so many to choose from on Entrepreneur, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll figure out a good way to match your content to their audience.
It’s also a good idea to keep in mind the tone of the articles; is this publication on par with your type of writing? Your humor? Your use of (or lack of) witty pop culture references?
If you’re feeling comfortable about pitching to a blog but they don’t have guest posting guidelines, one strategy is to reach out to the blog owner directly. Introduce yourself and explain how you’d love to write a guest post for their blog about XYZ topic, and how you want to learn a little more about their guest posting process. You might not get a response (because their inbox is likely inundated with emails) — but hey, there’s no harm in showing your enthusiasm!
Doing your research, especially on guest posting guidelines, will ensure you spend your time wisely while crafting a pitch. Nothing’s worse than thinking you’re sending a brilliantly written pitch to a blog or publication, only to realize you’ve completely missed the mark on what that publication is all about.
When you’re creating a strategy for places to pitch to, think about places and topic ideas that you would be excited or proud to share all over social media.
This comes down to a little bit of Writing 101: if you pick a blog and a topic you care about, at least at some level, you’ll care more about the piece of writing you’re producing and thus produce better writing.
Keeping this in mind can help you weed out blogs that won’t truly help funnel new leads to your website. If you’re passionate about the topic, you’ll have a much stronger piece that people will enjoy reading. And with quality writing comes quality traffic — someone who likes your guest post piece will be more likely to check out the rest of your website.
By strategizing which topic will best exhibit who your brand is and what you have to share, you’ll also be able to establish yourself and your brand as more of an authority in the industry. See the guest post as an opportunity to show a new audience your brand image in a more personable, human way. When readers start seeing your name across different blogs, it shows them that others in the industry support what you have to say, making you appear even more credible.
To pick a topic that you love and that the guest blog’s audience cares about, you’ll need to dive a little deeper into your research on a particular blog. Scroll through a few pages of their past posts to get a sense of the types of subjects they cover and think about how your ideas could relate to this. (This is why it’s important to pick blogs in your niche!)
Another way to gauge if their audience loves a topic is to look at social media shares. Has one of their posts gone viral? Which ones get the most comments? Does their audience love the ever-popular listicle, or do they like long, thoughtful pieces?
If you can find a topic that intersects with something their audience will love, your pitch is more likely to be accepted by the editor.
For example, maybe you have some ideas you’d love to share about social media, since your business focuses on marketing and niche blogs. Maybe you’ve figured out a great way that niche blogs can reach their audience through Instagram, and you want to share these strategies.
Do a search on the blog you’re pitching to and see if social media and niche marketing have been talked about before. How did their audience engage with this topic? Are they commenting on posts about this? Sharing it? Try and figure out what you can say differently or how you can build from one of the points in the article.
It can be tricky to build off of a topic that the blog’s already covered, though, especially if they’ve covered it recently. If you do want to take an alternative look at a previously written-about topic, pick something that their community was super engaged with; that way, you can explain to the editor that you have something original to add to this hot topic that you think their audience will enjoy.
When choosing a topic that hasn’t been written about on the blog before, the key will be to communicate to the editor why this new topic will be valuable for their audience.
Picking a topic can be hard, and often, you won’t really know if a topic is perfect for the blog until you’ve sent in your pitch. The main thing to avoid writing on, at least in an explicit way, is your own products or services. Keep in mind, too, that if you link back to your own posts, it’s best to weave links into the content rather than have them stick out like a sore thumb. It’s stronger to write about topics that are tangentially related to what you offer; otherwise, the post may come off as an advertisement rather than a thought piece on a topic.
It’s easy to see a guest post as a chance to simply spread your ideas out on the internet in the hopes that it will boost traffic to your blog, and therefore possibly boost your revenue.
Heck, if there’s an untapped market of people on the other side of a post, who wouldn’t want to write a guest post?
But writing for other people’s blogs is also a great way to form connections with others in your industry, and these partnerships can be mutually beneficial.
This doesn’t only have to take place inside your specific niche: think about what audiences you feel like you aren’t connecting with yet. Maybe they’re part of a neighboring niche and it would be invaluable to connect with professionals to gain access to that audience. Once you do a bit of research into blogs or publications in that neighboring niche, you can discover what that audience cares about and connect it to something you could potentially offer them.
If you care about connecting with another blog’s audience, and the editors see that your posts are resonating with their audience, they’ll invite you to keep submitting posts.
More guest posts = more backlinks = more traffic = … well, you see where I’m going.
Besides the money, creating these professional relationships also lends you more credibility, which is why it’s important to be selective with the places you want to submit pitches to. Consider people that you’d love to have as a guest poster on your own blog — you could consider doing a guest post swap. When other entrepreneurs can bring their audience to your blog, and you can bring a new audience to theirs, it’s as if both of you are vouching for each other, saying, “Yeah, I love working with XYZ; they’re awesome!”
There could also be more business opportunities, even more leads, or potential partnerships that can come out of guest posting, too — and who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Once you’ve published a guest post, you can advertise it your own blog or social media, which broadens the audience even more. You can bet the other blog will be sharing it on theirs, too!
Writing a guest post can also help you build SEO connections through high-quality backlinks, as long as you research the website and choose well. If your pitch gets accepted at a place that’s relevant to your industry, this will help improve the quality of the links back to your own website. While Google can’t always tell the difference between quality and spam content, it can detect if links are trustworthy. So be discerning, because if your website starts getting associated with poor websites, then this could affect how searchable your own website is.
And making those connections doesn’t end there — be a good guest poster by checking in on your post, sticking around to chat with people in the comments section, and sharing it on your own social media. (Plus, a thank you note to the editor is definitely a classy touch.)
Forging new connections in the vastness of the Interwebs might take some effort, but once you start seeing a jump in traffic or a boost in business, you’ll be glad you did it.
You can come up with the best strategy in the world, but if you blow the execution of it — the pitch itself — then your strategy won’t do much good. Regardless of where you’re pitching, you’ll want to keep in mind these key points:
By targeting specific blogs, and tailoring your pitch to that blog, you’ll have more success with landing that pitch at a place where you can find a larger audience and potentially grow your business.
If the pitch doesn’t land the first time, take that opportunity to reach out to the editor and see if they have any feedback. You could also try pitching a similar idea to a different blog and see if it lands there — just make sure to go through the steps of researching their guest post guidelines!
Entrepreneurs are busy people, and busy people don’t always have the time to tack one more thing onto their schedule. But if you’ve already established your own blog and you’re still looking to reach more people (who isn’t?), then guest posting is definitely something to aim for.
And you can make it fun! Brainstorm topics that you haven’t had a chance to write about, or maybe even topics you have written about but you could angle the content toward a new audience.
So don’t be afraid to dive in headfirst into the world of guest posting — just make sure you’ve got a strategy!
Julia Hess graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Master of Arts degree in English. She has worked as a college writing tutor and instructor, a contractor at a major tech company, and a freelance editor and writer. An avid podcast listener, Julia provides editorial feedback, consultation, and detailed show notes for CYC’s podcast, Writers Rough Drafts.