If you can prove to your prospective clients that you have the best information that’s useful to their business they are more likely to trust in your company and use your service. It’s been said time and time again, to have any influence in your industry you need to own it. And in the digital world, ‘owning’ equals knowledge.
Guest blogging is not a new trend, it has been around ever since blogging started. In the last few years companies and individuals have been focusing their efforts on this strategy as a way to:
- Become an authority/leader in a niche industry
- Increasing traffic to the site
- Create discussions about your field
- Increase backlinks to drive up SEO
If these are areas you want to improve then guest posting might just be what you need.
Obviously this strategy is not for everyone, and you need to consider the man power and time it takes to actually write guest posts for top sites. If you are already struggling for content on your site, its best to focus there first and to guest post when you scale in the future.
First Steps In Guest Blogging
So you decided this is the right time to start guest posting. I don’t blame you, there are many companies that are already doing this and succeeding.
If you are want to increase traffic to your site you will need to aim for blogs that have a large, engaged audience. Building backlinks calls for a different method, where you need to guest post on sites with a strong domain authority. Check out the sites before submitting a post and determine if they can facilitate your goals. I use SEOmoz toolbar as a way to find out important SEO metrics of sites that I browse. And it does more than you think:
An important part of choosing where to guest blog is if it fits in your industry. It doesn’t matter how great the blog is, how high it ranks on Alexa or how engaged the audience is. If the audience is not interested in your field of expertise it is unlikely that you will be accepted or get much in return for your hard work. Best do your homework first before jumping in.
Find The Right Guest Blog Prospects
This is the hard part. You will need to invest some time to scope out the right blogs to guest post on and here are 4 things you should look out for:
- Do they accept guest posts?
The first thing you should do is to find out if the blog you’re interested in actually accepts guest posts. Look out for ‘contribute’ or ‘write for us’ pages which will give you guidance on what those sites expect from their guest bloggers. Some high profile bloggers are very picky about who they have writing on their site, and this will mean you need to put in more effort to engage with them. Don’t be put off if they don’t immediately agree, you need to build a relationship with them by raising discussions on their posts, social media and mentioning them in some of your other writings.
Make sure that the site you want to guest post on is high quality, both in the content they produce and the general audience. Most of the time this comes hand in hand, but it’s good to check out previous posts for content quality and also to see if they are getting high engagement (which should include social shares and comments). Doing this research will also allow you to understand what quality your writing should be at when approaching them with a guest post idea.
A great way to get a guest post on an influential site is through your connections. Have a look at people in your network and see where they have guest posted. If you have a good enough rapport with them you can ask them to make an introduction between yourself and the blogs main editor. This way you are already bypassing the mass emails that are often ignored.
- Your Angle
It’s important that you look for content that has done well in the past as a guest post and take your own angle. Even subjects that were spoken about in the past can be written about as an update of what has changed or what could be changed, as an example. When you have a niche industry and come as an expert, many sites will appreciate your input on a popular topic, however be sure that your prospective site is open to different opinions. Bringing your angle in a natural way will also help endorse your company without appearing self-promotional.
Pitch Your Idea
OK, so you’ve chosen the site you want to write for and you think you have the perfect post that will work well with their audience. Now you have to get someone to pay attention to you. Here is a template example you can use and modify when approaching people about your guest post:
If you’re interested in pitching a news story, you might want to check out Iris Shoor’s article that gives great advice on cold emails (I hate dislike that term) and can also be used when pitching a guest post.
When your post gets accepted, make sure you deliver on it. That means don’t just send out emails without first having the content. This way when you are accepted you will be able to do a final revision and then send it within a few days. In your bio leave a link to your site and encourage people to reach out to you on social media. You can even say hi to me on @ShiProjects.
When Your Post Is Published
Congratulations! Your post has been published! This doesn’t mean you can stop investing in it. Now you need to start getting the message out to all of your colleagues, friends and family to share it. Don’t forget to add it to your content sharing calendar as well, even in two months’ time you can still be sharing it.
You should expect your post to start developing discussions, this is a great opportunity for you to start engaging with your audience and answer any questions or comments they have. Keep an eye out over time to see who has commented, if they are engaging they must be interested in your industry and could be potential contacts/business leads.
3 Brands Who use Guest Blogging as a Strategy
The guest blogging trend has been growing more rapidly over the years and even some of our favorite brands are jumping on the bandwagon to increase engagement with their readers. Not only are brands able to connect with their audience through guest posting, they can also tap into the social media turbo which drive traffic to their site.
I personally love Salesforce and their attitude towards guest blogging. Encouraging both on site and external guest blogging on major news publishers like TechCrunch, this brand has understood the power and influence of this strategy in their industry.
The company actually encourages its employees to be individual in their guest blogging approach so that they can reach a wider audience with their unified message about Salesforce. They invite guest bloggers to feature on their blog, so it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for new opportunities for your own guest blog posts.
Key takeaway: Get your whole content team involved in guest posting and build motivation as well as brand awareness.
When Xbox was faced with a backlash from its users regarding unfair console suspensions, Stephen Toulouse, head of Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement, stood up to the media wrath by guest posting on a colleagues personal blog.
The article itself helped Xbox reach out to its community and create an open discussion to resolve any issues that their fans had regarding the reports. I mean from the comments alone you can see how successful this guest post was in achieving its aim of diffusing a situation.
Key takeaway: By guest posting on an industry specific blog you can reach a specific segment of your audience that you want to address for a particular issue.
If you are into analytics and statistics you would’ve heard about Forrester Research somewhere. Many of their senior experts guest blog on other sites (such as Mashable) and share interesting insights from different research they publish. By adding that extra statistical factor into their posts, their credibility increases greatly.
Key takeaway: When you have experts working in your team, let them stand out and be the brand ambassadors for your company. People will trust and admire them, and in turn will believe in your company.
The Future for Publishers
The future of guest posting is bright for publishers. Gone are the days where you had to be super protective about what goes on your site. Granted you should have some control, but the more collaboration and integration of knowledge, expertise and viewpoints, the more we are going to see new strategies and approaches developing.
VentureBeat is taking the concept of guest blogging to a whole new level. The Insights branch is now looking for analysts and experts to actually submit their own reports, using a free data service to build on research questions.
In my opinion this is the ultimate guest post you can strive for; pioneering in your field and supported by exclusive research, you are bound to make some ripples in your industry by taking part. I see the future of guest posting going to another level, a place where more quality and more information backed by research is needed in order to reach higher level audiences.
P.S I just published a guest post on Jeff Bullas about tools that bring you more traffic, you can check it out here!