One of the best ways to promote a new blog is to do guest posts. Guest posts are articles that you write and give to another blogger to publish on their blog. Usually there will be some kind of introduction with a link to your site along with a couple of links in the guest post itself. If the guest post is successful it should be able to drive some traffic to your site and hopefully you can gain a few new readers.
Another big benefit of guest posts is to get more links to your blog. This will give you some SEO benefit which might help certain posts rank higher with the search engines.
This post is mainly focused on how to write a guest post to gain new readers.
There are a number of different criteria to measure the “success” of a guest post. Having it accepted and published is one criteria. The amount of traffic it creates is another. New readers as measured by RSS count is another one. Comments on the guest post could be another.
Here are a whole pile of suggestions on how to have a successful guest post:
Quality – Make it top quality – It has to stand out or nobody will check out your site. Try to make it interesting and a bit controversial if possible. You don’t need to hit it out of the park but don’t submit your “B” material. In most cases the host blog will allow you to reprint the post after a certain period of time (ie 30-90 days). This is a great feature because if you can use the post as part of your regular schedule then it won’t be any extra work.
Topic – Make sure the topic fits the host blog. Submitting your “Mixed Martial Arts/Ultimate Fighting” post to a “Mommy” blog is a complete waste of time. The post topic has to fit your blog as well. There is nothing wrong with adapting your style a bit to fit a potential host blog but there has to be a connection between the host blog and your blog. If you do a debt reduction post on a debt reduction blog but your blog is a stock trading blog then you are not likely to get any new readers no matter how much the readers like your guest post. Here is a post which covers How to write guest posts which generate traffic.
One of the keys to getting your guest posts accepted is to make the post as close as possible to a finished post on the host blog in order to cut down the time necessary for the host blog owner to publish your post. If the blog normally has a picture then find a picture and include the link and attribution info.
The idea is to reduce the amount of work necessary for the host author to publish. If someone provides a guest post where the host has to:
- Find a picture.
- Write an intro with links to your blog.
- Edit the post.
That’s a lot of work and might not be any easier than just writing the post themselves. If some other blogger has provided a well prepared guest post that requires no extra work then it will be an easy choice as to which post will get published.
The less work the host blogger has to do, the more likely they are to accept and quickly publish your guest post. Make it easy for them.
Keep in mind that most blogs have some sort of rules regarding intros, outros, links within the post, so try to find out what those rules are and obey them. If there are no rules then I suggest including all of the following:
Having a sentence before the post which contains a brief description of your blog, a link to your blog and a call to action to subscribe along with your feed link. Here is an example of an introduction. A little bit of investment knowledge goes a long way.
Links in post
Make sure you put at least 2 links to your blog inside the post (assuming the host blog allows). Getting link juice to your blog is part of the benefit and exposing the readers of your guest post to different articles will increase the odds that they will check out your site. Make sure these links are relevant and don’t be shy about putting more links rather than less. But don’t stuff the post with links. I would say don’t use more than 1 link per 250 words as a very general rule of thumb.
Another benefit of links is that they will draw the readers to relevant posts which might be buried deep in your blog. Just sending them to the front page might not work so well if your last post is a contest update or some other announcement.
Try to put any relevant keywords in the hypertext of the links to your blog ie rather than have “See my post on budgeting <link>here</link>” it should have the main topic in the link hypertext. “See my post on <link>budgeting</link>.”
Another subscription call at the end
I always duplicate the introduction at the end of the post. This will often get removed by the host blog, but lots of times it doesn’t. I figure having a subscription call at the end of the post is a great way to get people who have actually read your whole post and might be interested in subscribing or visiting your site.
If the host blog normally include photos, then you have to find one and provide it to them in the same size they normally use. Either give them the file or link plus the attribution info.
Take the time to reread your post for errors. Get someone else to read it too – a second set of eyes will ALWAYS find another typo. A post that needs too much editing will not get published. Sometimes a host will barely read the guest post and won’t correct any errors. This doesn’t help you since now you have a guest post that has a lot of spelling/grammatical errors which reduces the effectiveness of the guest post.
Every guest post you do is a one time shot – Do it as perfectly as you can or don’t do it at all.
This is highly dependent on the topic and the host blog. Look at some typical posts on the host blog and count the words – I copy and paste the article into Word and then do a word count (tools/word count). If you don’t have any direction as to the proper length then as a general guideline I would suggest not submitting a post less than 400 words or more than 1000 words. This also has to fit your blog style as well. If you write a nice concise 550 word guest post and then the new readers find out that most of your regular posts are 3,000 words then they probably won’t come back.
If you have a guest post on a big blog then it might be worthwhile to create a welcome post on your own site. This will say something like “Welcome XYZ readers” and give a brief outline of your blog – some links to popular posts and a call to action with a subscribe button. Once you create this post you can change it and republish for different guest posts so it doesn’t just have to be for mega-blog posts! I don’t often do the “welcome post” – usually just for the biggest blogs and big media mentions.
How to choose a host blog
I’d say go as big as possible. The more exposure you can get, the better off you will be. However size isn’t the only factor. Here are some other considerations:
- Style/topics have to match your blog
- Lots of comments – typically a host blog that has an active community will be a good choice for a guest post.
- RSS can be misleading. If the blog has been around for a long time then the RSS number might be far higher than the number of active readers.
- Frequency of publishing. Ideally you want a blog that only publishes once a day or less. Some blogs publish 2-3 times per day and your post will not get as much exposure as you might think.
- Publish during the week – Tues – thurs are the best days. Weekends are awful. Unless the site is really big then I would ask for the post back if they are going to publish on the weekend. Try to negotiate this – don’t forget in most cases you are doing the host blog a favor!
- Don’t submit guest posts when the host blog author is going on holiday and is asking for guest posts. This might be a seemingly easy way to get published on a big blog but if the author is not publishing for a week or 2 then most regular readers will just tune out for that period of time. You are much better off if you can get a day where most of the readers are expecting the regular author to be publishing. Don’t be fooled by stats – some hosts will tell you how many unique visitors they get a day. This number means nothing to you since most of those visitors will be search engine visitors to older posts.
Read the blog for a while (or go back and read the last few weeks worth of posts). This will help you determine if the site is a good fit and perhaps give you ideas for topics. Commenting on the blog is a great way to get to know the author if you don’t already know them.
This can also give you clues as to when would be a good time to pitch an article – if they mention they are moving next week or are on a business trip then they will probably be thrilled to get a good guest post to help them out. This will also give you more leverage in terms of getting it published during the week (Tues-Thurs). Several times I have submitted a post on Sunday or Monday to someone who I knew was short of material. This helped ensure that it was published mid-week which will maximize results.
How to pitch
I’ve had a very high success rate with my guest posts. In fact only one blog has ever turned me down out of about 30 guest posts that I’ve done. My suggestion is to email the post to the potential host blogger and ask him/her if they will consider your post as a guest post. It helps a lot if you know the blogger – maybe you have emailed in the past or commented on their blog or Twittered with them. But if you haven’t – no big deal – just send the email and see what happens.
It should be said that some bloggers prefer if the potential guest poster ask them for topics or approval of a topic before it gets written. This is fine but I have yet to have anyone turn down any of my topics. The worst case scenario if a blogger asks for a different topic is that you just use the other one on your own blog or as a guest post on a different site.
If you have good success with guest posting on a certain blog then try to repeat the experience. After a few months or even a year – try submitting another guest post to the same blog.
Some blogs will accept your post but won’t publish for a long time. There is nothing wrong with asking them for an update but don’t worry about the timing. Once the post is submitted then monitor to make sure it eventually gets published but otherwise just get going on the next guest post.
Guest posts just for link juice
If you are doing it for link juice only then the rules are very different. The goal here is to do the minimum work/quality necessary to get the link(s). A short and simple post is better for your purposes. Pick a topic you are very familiar with so that you don’t have to do any research. Perhaps take an existing post and do a rewrite of it. Don’t go overboard – I get lots of crappy guest post requests that are just offered to get a permanent free link. If they are too short, too basic, too obvious then they are useless and I just ignore them. Try to do something more specific that might help it be more unique and interesting.
Again – the bigger the blog the better but it’s not as critical.
Checklist before submitting your guest post
- Find out the first name of the blogger you are submitting to.
- Proof read the post.
- Get someone else to proof read.
- Create an intro.
- Put links in post – make sure they work.
- Create an outro (can be same as intro)
- Find a pic (if applicable) and attribute link. Resize if necessary.
- Make sure your blog is ok (ie up and running).