What’s the fastest way to build your platform?
Use someone else’s.
Bloggers have already spent time and energy building a loyal following. Guest blog posts allow you to speak to that following in one fell swoop.
When you write a guest post, you don’t just have that blogger’s implicit stamp of approval. You also have the opportunity to leverage their audience to grow your own.
But influencers don’t share their platforms out of the kindness of their hearts.
The best way to get opportunities as a guest blogger—and then knock those guest posts out of the park—is to understand what the blogger wants to get out of your guest posts.
This article will cover what a guest post is, why it’s beneficial to Authors to write them, how to write a high-quality guest post, and how to find guest blogging opportunities.
What Is a Guest Post?
A guest post is when an Author writes a piece of content under their own name for someone else’s blog.
Writing guest posts is an easy way to gain a lot of exposure quickly.
But guest posts are also hard work. They require a lot more than just throwing a post up on a random page.
Blogs with large followings have RSS feeds, which means that each post is actively sent out to a lot of people. With that many eyes on your words, you want to make sure you’re sending the right message.
Your guest posts should establish you as an authority in your field and give readers a reason to seek you out. You don’t just want them to enjoy your content. You want them to follow up on it—and you.
In order to make that happen, you have to produce actionable, high-quality content. It can’t be too self-promotional. The best guest posts are editorial, not advertorial.
In the same way you wrote your book with your target audience in mind, you should write every guest blog post with the blog’s target audience in mind.
Your target audience doesn’t have to be identical, but they should at least overlap. Otherwise, there’s no point in writing a guest post for that blog. It won’t serve your needs or the blogger’s.
Any guest posts you write should also focus on what the blogger needs.
All successful blogs must provide continuous, high-quality content to their readers. That’s a tall order for any individual blogger to fulfill.
Thus, most bloggers are on the lookout for great content to help keep their reputation going. And ideally, it’s content they don’t have to lift a finger for.
When you write a successful guest blog post, it’s a win-win. You’re helping the blogger fulfill their content needs, and you’re getting the chance to piggyback on their platform.
But high-profile bloggers have tons of guest post offers to choose from. That means they’ll take the ones that provide the most value to the audience with the least effort on their part.
When you’re looking for guest posting opportunities, always keep that in mind. Bloggers are more likely to hand over the reins to their sites when you can show them how your needs, their needs, and their audience’s needs align.
Guest Blogging Outreach
The best way to land guest post opportunities is by showing bloggers that you’ll provide a ton of value to their audience (and them)—and better yet, you’ll hand it all over on a silver platter.
The magic outreach formula has 3 main parts.
1. I Love Your Blog
The first part of your outreach should establish that you’re a fan of the blog (or are at least familiar with it).
Never start your blogger outreach with a statement like, “I see that you have a blog on X.” You’ll fail straight out of the gate. It makes you sound like you don’t know their blog or audience.
Think of this from the blogger’s perspective. Blogging is hard work. Why would a blogger who’s spent years cultivating a loyal following want to give airtime to someone who can’t even spend 15 minutes reading the blog?
When you’re looking for marketing opportunities, don’t be mercenary. Try to build lasting relationships with bloggers you genuinely respect, admire, or enjoy.
Instead of leading with a boilerplate statement, show them you’re impressed by their content and that you’ve been following them for a while.
You can reference specific posts throughout your email or say things like:
- I’ve been a fan of your blog ever since I read your post on X.
- Your insights on X changed the way we train our sales team.
- I look forward to your posts every Sunday, and I love your recent series on X.
Whatever you do, make sure it sounds sincere. Outreach is about building high-quality connections, not about seeing how vigorously you can stroke someone’s ego.
Be tactful. Be graceful. Be real.
Before you reach out to a blogger, read through their site to see if there are other guest posts. If you contact them seeking an opportunity, and they aren’t even accepting guest posts, it signals right off the bat that you don’t follow their site regularly.
2. I’m an Expert
Bloggers want high-authority guest posters, so your outreach should establish your expertise.
Why should they allow you to post on the site? Why should their readers listen to what you have to say?
You don’t have to literally say, “I’m an expert in X,” although you could. There are plenty of alternative ways to establish your expertise. For example:
- I’m the author of What’s Your Answer?, an Amazon bestseller about problem-solving.
- I help companies do X by Y.
- Over the last 2 decades, I have built and sold 3 startup companies, so I know the ins-and-outs of what entrepreneurs go through.
- I have helped more than 1,500 clients rediscover their joy.
If it’s relevant to the content you’re proposing, you can also provide a sample of things you’ve written in the past or a pdf copy of your book.
But be careful. Don’t overwhelm them with material.
Remember, this is a pitch, not an entire conversation. Give them just enough to realize that you have the chops to write useful content for their readers.
3. I Can Provide Value to You and Your Audience
This is the part of outreach that really convinces the blogger that your guest post is going to be the perfect fit for their site.
Focus on the value you provide to the blogger and the value you’ll provide to their audience. Both aspects are crucial.
Most importantly, give them something specific to latch onto. Show them exactly what you plan to write about and what value it provides.
This might be information like, “These 3 tips have raised my clients’ bottom line by an average of 78 percent over the past 18 months.”
Or, it might be something more tangible, like a pdf, a template, or a digital version of your book—something to showcase what kinds of high-quality content you plan to share.
Whatever it is, make sure you’re focusing on their audience.
If you wrote a book about marketing, it might appeal to any number of people. But if the blog in question only targets business owners who want to improve their marketing ROI, that’s who you should talk about in your outreach. Align your audience with the blog’s.
Here are some extra things you can include to show bloggers how your value aligns with their existing marketing strategy:
- Focus on any possible Search Engine Optimization (SEO) opportunities your collaboration could provide. For example, “I notice there’s an opportunity for a better SEO rank on this topic. My article could help you grow that side of your content even more.”
- Offer to link back to their blog from your own blog or Author website. This can help with link building, which aims to increase the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage. Ultimately, it can help boost their SEO rankings and drive more organic traffic to their site.
- Offer to share their blog (and your guest post) with your own audience. If you go this route, be clear about the extent of your own network. Do you have thousands of followers on social media? Does your newsletter reach 500 subscribers monthly? Do you have specific high-value LinkedIn contacts you can connect them with? What kind of exposure can you offer them in return?
- Offer to include internal links (links to posts within their own site). For example, “My guest post would tie in well with your ideas in these existing posts on X, Y, and Z.”
In essence, your goal is two-fold: show that you can produce great content and that your great content will boost their site even more.
10 Tips for Guest Posting Success
Once you get the gig, here are 10 tips that will help you write an awesome guest post that will get you invited back.
1. Write for Their Audience
I said this before, but it’s important enough for me to say again: know who the blogger’s target audience is and write directly to them.
Every successful book speaks directly to readers’ pains, problems, and needs. The same goes for every successful blog post.
You’re not writing into the void. If you were, you might as well just write in a diary.
You’re writing for a specific group of people, and you’re battling with a million other things for their attention and time.
When your content provides value to the blog owner’s audience, they will give you their attention (and your content will resonate much more powerfully).
2. Align with Their Brand
Every Author has a brand. Your brand tells readers, “Here’s what I have to offer, and here’s how it can help you.”
In order to create the strongest brand possible, you need to know who your audience is, what your message is, and what you have expertise in—all the things that went into your outreach message!
Just like every Author has a brand, so does every blogger. They have a specific audience, message, and expertise. They have a certain tone, angle, and way of approaching ideas.
The best guest posts are the ones that align the Author’s brand with the blogger’s brand. In other words, your content should help them expand their message.
Your post should fit the tone of the blog. If the site is written from a light-hearted, humorous perspective, don’t jump into the conversation with a dense academic post.
All of us have multiple sides. We can be funny at times and somber at others. You would never go to a funeral and start cracking jokes (or at least, most people wouldn’t). You would behave in a way suitable to the context.
When you write guest blog posts, think about the context. What’s your best foot to put forward on that particular site?
You should always be yourself. But being yourself doesn’t exempt you from also being intentional about how you align with the blog’s brand.
3. Align with Their Blog Format
Any guest post you write should align with the blog’s typical format.
In some cases, the site owners will give you explicit guest posting guidelines. Break your post into 3 sections. Keep your post under 1,000 words. Include 5 internal links. Here’s how to enter the information into WordPress.
Whatever they tell you, follow it.
Your objective as a guest poster is to fulfill everyone’s needs: yours, the blogger’s, and the audience’s. That means you should listen when the blogger—who is an expert in their audience—tells you what to do and not to do.
You should also be aware of any unspoken norms. For example, every blog has a characteristic writing style. You don’t have to mimic it, but don’t stand out like a sore thumb.
Or, if the blogger doesn’t give you a word limit, don’t take it as an opportunity to write a 5,000-word essay. Match their average post size.
Try to be consistent and respectful with your contributions. That’s the best way to build a lasting relationship with a blogger and get invited back!
4. Provide Actionable Content
Don’t just give readers the 10,000-foot view of your topic. Give them something that’s actually tangible and actionable. Give them something they can walk away from the article with and do.
What’s more likely to stick in your mind? Some large idea you encountered? Or a brilliant nugget of wisdom that you use on a daily basis?
The more practical value your readers can take away from your article, the more frequently they’ll think of you. Every time they use your tactics to hook a new client, write an effective email, or whatever else you’re teaching them, you’ll be top of mind.
They’re much more likely to seek you out and follow you if you can give them a concrete reminder of how your knowledge can change their lives.
5. It’s Not About You
It’s great that you’ve published a book, but your post should never be about your book.
You’re not there to say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and this is my book. Buy it.” You’re not even there to necessarily mention your book. You’re there to provide content that is so educational, interesting, or meaningful that readers immediately want to click through to your website and learn more about you.
Then you can sell your book, online course, products, or whatever else you want to sell.
Guest posts are one of the best examples of content marketing.
Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves creating online materials like articles, blog posts, social media posts, etc. that don’t explicitly promote a brand but still spark a person’s interest in your products or services.
The key to great content marketing is that it shouldn’t feel like marketing. It should feel like useful, actionable content.
Yes, you’re writing guest posts for publicity, but remember that providing value to readers is the best form of publicity you can get. The more value you provide, the more readers will want to connect with you.
No one wants to read articles that sound spammy or self-promotional. An overt sales pitch is always a turn-off.
Remember: lead with value, and follow up with your byline. I’m the author of this book, and you can learn more at my website.
6. Include a Killer Byline
Now it’s about you!
You’re going to get one opportunity to say what you’re about and give people a call to action (CTA), so make sure you get it right. Spend time coming up with a great byline.
Your byline includes 2 components:
- the choicest tidbit about who you are
- where readers can find out more (your CTA)
Your tidbit is not necessarily your most prestigious achievement, although it may be.
Consider the audience and think, What’s going to make this specific group of people want to click through? Will they be impressed by your graduate degree? The value of your company? How many people you’ve helped through your consulting work? The names of other publications you’ve written for? Your status as a public speaker?
Whatever you choose, make sure it speaks directly to your audience.
If you’re stuck, I recommend looking back at your Author bio and narrowing it down to the best pieces.
Your CTA should be the best place readers can reach you.
Ask yourself, Assuming I’ve nailed the first impression, what do I want my second impression to be? That’s where your CTA link should lead. Are you on Twitter all the time? Link there. Do you have a great website? Link there. Do you have your own blog? Link there.
You should also make sure that you have a great Author photo. It should be a high-quality, professional photo that conveys the tone of your guest content.
If you’re speaking to entrepreneurs, you might choose a more formal Author photo. If you’re speaking to aspiring comedians, you might choose something more light-hearted.
Your photo should fit your Author brand.
7. Consider a Landing Page
Instead of sending readers directly to your homepage, consider sending them to a landing page on your website with a specific offer. That way, you can immediately provide them even more value and get them into your sales funnel.
For example, your landing page could offer a free PDF of your book or a free chapter in exchange for a visitor’s email address.
Or, you could emphasize that subscribers to your newsletter receive actionable tips on a monthly basis.
Or, you could offer a free mini-course that, eventually, might persuade visitors to purchase your full digital course.
The more value you can provide to readers, the more likely they are to keep following you. Your guest post should be an appetizer, and whatever you serve next should keep people at the dinner table wanting more.
8. Include Internal SEO Links
Bloggers will love you even more if you can help them improve their SEO. One way to do that is to include internal links to content that’s already on the site.
Internal links not only connect the content on the site but also give search engines an idea of the site’s structure. That helps establish a hierarchy, giving the most important posts more link value.
When you include internal links, it also invites visitors to go on a deep dive into the blog. That inevitably improves the blog’s metrics.
Think of it this way. One of your Twitter followers has never heard of the blog you’re guest posting for. They click your link to read your content, and along the way, they find a link to another interesting idea.
So, they click it. Then, in that post, they see another internal link they find interesting.
Now they’re deep in that blog’s ecosystem, and they’re much more likely to subscribe. This is pure gold for a blogger since they’re also always looking to build their following.
Backlinks (when a link takes you to another website) can be helpful for SEO, too, but chances are, if you’re a guest poster, you don’t know which sites will benefit the blogger the most.
Including internal links is a simple but effective way to provide value for the site owner.
9. Provide All the Images the Blogger Needs
When bloggers provide you with a guest blogging spot, don’t make them do extra work. Give them a ready-made post with everything they need.
That includes images.
Your images should be high-quality, professional images; no low-quality screenshots, off-kilter iPhone photos, or blurry, low-resolution photographs.
It’s even better if you can avoid stock images. No blogger wants to feature the same image that’s appeared on thousands of other websites. They want their content to stand out.
Your images should also be appropriately sized and compressed. You need a high-quality photo, but you also need a photo that will load quickly. If you don’t know what the ideal resolution or size is, check with the blogger.
Finally, create an appropriate name for the file. Don’t give it a generic title like “myphoto.jpg” or “maninsuit.jpg.”
Think about how the name of the image can impact the site’s SEO. For example, if your post is about how to create an effective meeting agenda, and your photo features people in a conference room, you’ll probably want the word “meeting” in the photo’s title.
10. Be Yourself
You want to fit in with the style, tone, and content of the blog you’re writing for. That’s the key to keeping any influencer or blogger happy.
But you also want to stand out. You want to make an impression on readers that encourages them to seek you out. The best way to do that is to be your authentic self.
Be mindful and respectful of the blog’s norms and conventions. But don’t drown yourself out.
You’re a guest poster, not a ghostwriter. The reason the blogger chose you over all the other possible guest posters is that you have a unique solution, expertise, or story to share.
Fit in but make sure you don’t lose yourself in the process. Authenticity will go a long way when it comes to creating effective guest posts.