What if I told you that there was a way to get traffic to your blog, grow your audience, position yourself as an authority in your niche and gain backlinks to help your blog rank better in Google and other search engines.
Oh, and did I mention that it won’t cost you a penny – just your time. Would this be something that would interest you? I am sure it would!
Well, there is a way, and it’s called guest blogging.
Guest blogging is a marketing strategy where you publish posts on other people's blogs – ones that are more popular than yours – and at the bottom of each post, you place a link which directs readers back to your blog.
Although it might sound simple (and it is), it's a powerful strategy. And, it’s a strategy that many successful bloggers such as Neil Patel and John Morrow and platforms like Buffer have used to great effect to grow their audiences by tens of thousands.
However, it’s not just the big guys that can harness the power and benefits of guest blogging; you can too, and I will teach you how in this post.
Step 1 – Know What to Look for
Later in this post, I am going to show you how to find blogs that accept guest contributors, but first, you must know what to look for in the blogs that you target.
There are five main things to consider:
The Niche: The blogs you target should be in a niche where the audience is aligned with the niche and topic of your blog.
Similar Web will not show the traffic volumes for websites that are below a certain traffic threshold. If you don't get stats when analyzing a site with Similar Web, then check it in Sem Rush.
Both Similar Web and Sem Rush have free basic plans, but Sem Rush is limited to 10 searches per day, so use Similar Web first.
Domain Authority: Domain Authority (DA) is a measure of the SEO strength and authority of a website. The higher the domain authority, the better SEO value you get from links that point back to your blog from your guest post.
You can see the DA of a blog with the free ‘MOZ Toolbar’ add-on for the Chrome browser.
Active Social Media Profiles: When you publish a guest post you will ask the blog owner to share it on their social channels to help you gain more reach and exposure, so it's important that they have active social media profiles.
Engagement: Engagement is comments and shares on blogs posts which tells you that the audience is interacting with the content. This is a good sign as it means that they will share and comment on your post too.
Compile the info in an Excel:
When you find a potential guest post target, record each of the metrics in an Excel file. You will use it later when prioritising the blogs that you will contact.
Here is an example of what the Excel will look like:
Step 2 – Determine Your Goals
Typically, there are three primary goals – which I touched on at the start of the post – for guest blogging.
- To grow your audience and your email list
- To build your authority in a niche (branding)
- For SEO, to gain backlinks
Most guest posts can potentially deliver on all three of these goals, but the degree to which they contribute to each depends on the blog where you publish content.
If your goal is to grow your audience and build authority in your niche, then the main things to look at are audience alignment and traffic, followed by active social profiles and engagement.
If your goal is to gain links to improve your SEO, then the domain authority is the most important metric – I would set a benchmark of a DA of 35 and over. The audience doesn't need to be directly aligned with yours, but it should still be relevant to your blog niche.
Having a clear goal for each guest post will help you prioritise your guest blog targets according to their metrics – relevancy, traffic, DA, etc.
Step 3 – Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Now that you know what to look for, the next step is to find blogs that accept guest contributors. There are many ways to find guest post opportunities – the three below are my favourite.
During this discovery stage, add all blogs that you come across to your Excel list – no matter how big or small – as long as they are relevant to your niche and have more traffic than yours. Aim for at least 30.
To find sites that accept guest bloggers, you can use search string variations like the ones below. Just replace “keyword” with your topic or niche.
During your search don’t just look at the page one results. I often go as far as page ten in Google to find opportunities.
- Keyword + guest posts
- Keyword blogs + guest contributors
- Keyword + submit a guest post
- Keyword sites that accept guest posts
- Keyword blogs that accept guest writers
- Keyword + guest writers
- Keyword + submit a post
Guest Posts Lists
As you search, you will find posts where other bloggers have done the heavy lifting and compiled lists of sites that accept guest bloggers; you will see posts such as “100 Blogs that Accept Guest Posts.”
You can also search for these types of posts directly, again using search string variations such as.
- Guest post lists
- List of sites that accept guest posts
- List of blogs that accept guest post
- Guest posting sites list 2018
The above searches will return general results with big lists; you can then comb through these lists to find relevant sites.
You can also narrow down the scope of your search by using niche specific searches like.
- Keyword + guest posting list
- Keyword + guest post list
- keyword + ultimate guest post list
This method requires a tool like 'Ahrefs' that enables you to analyse backlinks.
When using this method check the backlink profiles of blogs that share a similar audience as yours, you can then visit the sites that link to them to see if they offer guest posting opportunities.
If they don't openly advertise that they accept guest posts, check if guest authors write posts for them, if so, you can assume they might let you become a contributor too.
Step 4 – Prioritise Your Initial Out-Reach
After you have compiled a list of potential blogs, prioritise which of them you will contact first. Now, some blogs on your list are going to be much bigger and way more popular than yours, so, you need to be realistic with your targets.
If you have a small blog of only 20 posts, then you probably won’t land a guest post on the Huffington Post, but you can work towards it.
To start, aim for blogs with traffic ranges that are a few levels above yours.
If you get 500 monthly visitors, then look to blogs that have 5 to 10k visitors per month. Once you get a few of these under your belt, you can then begin targeting blogs at the next level and so on.
Of those targets that are within the traffic range (for example 5 to 10k monthly visitors) use your Excel chart to decide which you will contact first.
Remember, if your primary goal is to build your audience then audience alignment, traffic, active social profiles and engagement are the main things to look at – then the Domain Authority.
If gaining backlinks is your goal the DA is the most important aspect followed by audience relevancy and traffic.
Below is an example of how you might prioritise your list:
For your initial outreach identify a maximum of 10 targets and a minimum of 5. The reason that you don't want to contact more is that in the "unlikely" event that you get positive replies from all blog owners you don't want to be overextended with commitments to write guest posts.
Also, you will be pitching unique topics (which take time to come up with) for each blog that you contact, and if you don't get responses, you might be able to use those topics when you approach other blogs on your list.
Step 5 – Come-up With Topic Ideas
After you have identified the first 5 or 10 blogs that you want to contact, the next step is performing content research to get topics ideas which you will pitch in your outreach email.
The reason you do this is three-fold:
- It shows the blog owner that you know their blog content and by extension their audience.
- By pitching good topics, you have a much higher chance of being accepted as a guest contributor.
- The piece of content you create will be relevant and of value to the audience
The idea here is not to re-invent the wheel but to go with what already works.
When researching content, you want to identify the topics, and the post types (listicles, how-to posts, opinion pieces etc.) that perform best, and are also related to your blog niche and audience.
So how do you find popular posts?
- Top Posts: Many blogs have a "Top Posts" or "Popular Posts" section on the sidebar, you can use these for guidance. However, sometimes you can only view the top 10 posts, and ideally, you want to look at 30 to 40.
- Manual Review: More than likely you will have to roll up your sleeves and manually review 30 to 40 posts to see which ones are getting the most shares and comments. If there are not a lot of comments and shares, look to see what topics are most written about.
Once you have identified the topics and post types that resonate with the host audience and that are also in-line with your audience, then it’s time to come up with your own topics based on these.
Of course, you don’t want to just re-hash popular topics, you need to add extra value.
There are a number of ways to approach this:
- Add More Depth: You can add more depth, for example, if there are lots of overview type posts on a topic, you could create a detailed how-to post, or you could drill down into a specific aspect of the topic.
- Add a Different Point of View: It’s ok to go against the grain by adding a different point of view or take on popular topics.
- Go Large: If you see that list type posts like “10 Tips for XYZ” or 15 Ways to XYZ” perform well, you can create a big list post “35 Ways to XYZ” for a popular topic that has not been covered by a list.
- Fill Content Gaps: Look for content gaps. If you see that certain aspects of popular topics have not been covered, you can create a post that addresses this gap.
For each topic idea that you come up with, spend time creating a catchy headline for it, this will make your outreach email more powerful.
Step 6 – Contact Your Guest Blog Targets
Once you have your targets set, and your topic headlines created its time to contact blog owners. There are two ways to approach this.
You can either cold email or warm-up your target.
If the target blog is small, under 5k monthly visitors, then you can probably get away with just cold emailing the owner.
However, if it's a popular blog with lots of traffic, comments and shares, then you should get yourself on the owner's radar, before enquiring about guest post opportunities.
You can do this by actively commenting on their blog posts, following them on social media, re-tweeting their content etc. After, a few weeks of engaging you can then reach out to them about guest posting.
Regardless of which approach you take, cold email or warm-up. The email you send is a critical part of the process.
There are a few things you want to do in your email:
- Convey to the owner that you are familiar with their content
- Pitch your topics ideas – and why you are pitching them
- Leave a link to your blog so that they can check out your content
Below is a copy of an email that I use – take it and run with it for your outreach.
But, don’t press send just yet!
Before sending your email read the guest post submission guidelines. Most blogs that accept guest posts will have them.
These guidelines can range from how posts should be formatted, to how many words a post should have, to the type of topics accepted.
Some blog owners prefer that you send them finished posts for review, personally, unless it's a big site that I really want to publish on, then I don't do this. But, that's a call you have to make.
The main thing though is to take time to read the submission guidelines before contacting the blog owner, you don't want to waste your time or theirs.
Be Patient and Don't Lose Heart!
When you send out your first batch of emails, it can take a few days to get responses. If you don't hear anything back after three to five days, then move on to your next targets. But don't lose heart! For every 20 emails that you send you might only get 2 or 3 positive responses.
For those that don't respond, you can circle back after a few weeks and contact them again with a follow-up email asking if they received the first mail.
Step 7 – Create a Killer Post
Although this might seem obvious, it's important that you create a quality guest post that delivers on the topic you pitched in your contact email. If not, the blog owner might reject it.
But, more than that, if your post is not of value, then it won’t deliver the desired results – traffic, email subscribers, etc. – because people won’t read it to the end and take further action.
Beyond the quality:
- Your post should be in-line with the knowledge level of the audience of the host blog. If they are beginners, writing an advanced piece will be over their head and won't garner the desired result you want, and the same is true vice versa.
- Your post should follow the same formats of other popular posts – if they have sub-headings, short paragraphs, bullet points, yours should too.
- You should use images, charts or other visuals such as GIFs to make the content pop.
- You should proof and edit your post before sending. Blog owners don't have time to clean up your work, and they will reject posts outright (regardless of the quality of information) if strewn with spelling, structural and grammar errors.
Now, that you have a killer piece of content written, it's time to put the icing on the cake with a compelling author bio.
Step 8 – Write a Compelling Bio
The author bio is where the magic happens this is what you have been working towards. After delivering a killer post, this is the place where you get to put a link or links back to your blog.
Many guest bloggers use the bio to link to their homepage, which is cool, but, you could also be more strategic.
Depending on your goal you can:
- Link to a post on your blog that expands and provides further information on the guest post topic – this better entices readers to click on your link to learn more.
- Include a link to an eBook download this enables you to gain subscribers to your email list.
- Link to a specific post on your blog that you want to rank better in search engines.
Here are two examples of what your bio might look like:
Say you are a fitness coach and your guest post is “10 Tips for Burning Belly Fat”, and the primary goal of the guest post is to build your email list. Your bio could go something like this – within the brackets are links to your blog.
If you have a blog about SEO and your guest post is “How to Prepare a Backlink Campaign,” and the goal of the guest post is to get traffic to your blog. Your Bio could be something like this.
Your author bio does not have to be the same for every guest post. You can tailor it for different results depending on the goal and desired action you want the reader to take. Regardless of your goals, the main thing is to write a persuasive bio that encourages people to take further action and click on that link(s).
Step 8 – Encourage Commentary and Social Sharing
At the end of your post, make sure you encourage readers to comment on the piece and share it on their social media channels.
The more people that share and leave comments the better, this will keep the site owner happy, which increases your chances of been asked to contribute more posts, but more importantly, it will help you get more clicks back to your blog.
You can say something like this:
“What are your thoughts on XYZ? Let me know in the comments section. If you have any questions also leave them below, I will try to answer as many as possible. Also feel free to share this post on your social channels.”
Once published, make sure that you chime in on the conversation, thank people for leaving comments, and answer any questions that readers might have.
And That’s a Wrap…
Guest blogging is not rocket science anyone can do it, and you should definitely add it to your marketing toolbox. For a little bit of time and energy, you get a lot of return.
If you are new to blogging (and you don’t have articles published on other sites), I recommend building up a base of content (at least 20 posts) on your blog before you start reaching out to people. Your blog will act as your C.V; host bloggers will want to review some of your work before they give you an opportunity to publish.
So, that’s it, take the above steps and start planning your guest blogging attack plan.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to add anything to this conversation, please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts.