The Best Way to Guest Post, Build an Audience, and Create Authority
Most blogs have one thing in common: that people writing them have something to say. If you’ve just started a blog, then you know how difficult it can be to put yourself out there. To research, write, and edit (and edit, and edit, and edit…). The problem is that building an audience to read what you’ve written is a completely different struggle. Of course, you can always share your posts on Facebook and Twitter, or send out mass emails to your friends with your blog address. However, there is an approach that is a bit more elegant–guest posting.
What is Guest Posting?
Guest posting is when you, a guest writer, request an invitation to write an article for, or publish in, a host blog or site. Guest posting creates a mutually beneficial relationship that provides the host blog an opportunity to share with their readership a new view or a personal experience that may strike a chord with a reader, that the host blog writer hadn’t thought of or hasn’t conveyed yet. It provides the host with content (which they love) and allows them to build a relationship with someone new in their niche.
Why Would You Guest Post?
You guest post mainly to grow your general readership and to create authority. By being accepted to post an article on another site, it means that your guest post acts as a referral from that site. With most guest posts, the person whose site your writing for generally allows you to link back to your blog. This way, if what you published was a great read or useful to their readers, they can click through to your site for more articles. By linking to your site you can build your own readership, easily allowing you to create your own email subscriber list and social media following.
As you continue to produce articles within your niche, you grow your presence in the community of bloggers. This community is like any physical one – you make friends and build relationships. As you grow your presence and maintain relationships, you begin to become an authority in your community. People recommend your content verbally. Google starts to rank your content in their search results. Depending on how successful you become, you may be asked to do interviews or speak at events.
Who to Guest Post With?
If you want to just try it out, go and exchange posts with a friend. Otherwise, start by looking for host blogs or sites that allow guest posts within your niche. For someone to allow you to guest post, they need to feel that your content is relevant to their readers. If you are a fashion blogger, you have no business blogging for a site that is about math and physics. The readers of the blog won’t visit your site. Furthermore, Google may see it as a bad link and penalize you for it.
When looking for a site to contribute to, look for a site you can comfortably write for. You want to draw readers who will enjoy your writing and what your site is about. Look for your niche in the potential host sites, or find a way to spin your story so that it has your style and general theme, but still relates to them. If you write a blog about meats and cheeses and you the site you want to write for is about history, at least spin the article so it is relevant to both categories, like The History of Beef, for example.
Preparing to Guest Post
This is where you build a relationship with your host. Like any relationship, let them get to know you first before you ask a favor. First, after you have picked your host site, read the articles on that site. Familiarize yourself with the content and writing style. You don’t want to pitch an article that has already been written, and you don’t want to write a long-form post if their entire site is in listicle form. After you feel as if you have a good sense of the site, initiate a conversation by commenting on posted articles. Make sure it shows that you’ve read and thought about the content on their site. In other words, not just a reactionary “OMG!” and an emoticon :-), leave a comment of substance.
Lastly, but something never to be omitted, read your host’s guidelines on guest posting. Usually they have a post or an article defining what they expect from their guest posters, so read these carefully. After spending so much time familiarizing yourself with the site’s content and building a relationship with the blogger, the last thing you want to do is get rejected because you wrote in the wrong format or didn’t follow basic instructions about images.
Asking to Contribute as a Guest Poster
First, send a request to your host, asking to guest post. Usually, they’ll leave their email address somewhere accessible for that specific purpose or they will have a contact form dedicated for this sole purpose. Send a detailed email, worded as politely as any formal letter, as to why you’d like to contribute to their blog. Remember that this is a favor you are asking for. While you may have the best content in the world, you are asking them to take time out of their busy day to look at giving you an opportunity.
Writing the Guest Post
If you’ve been accepted to write a guest post, congratulations! That is usually the hardest part, but don’t get lazy–you’ve still got a long race ahead of you.
First, plan for a well-written, well-researched article. Don’t promise your article in twenty-four hours if you can’t submit excellent, ten-times-proofread content. Since you have taken note of your host’s format, take time to plan your media as needed. You may be using pictures or charts, or even videos to illustrate your content. Some hosts encourage it, while others give specific image formats and so forth.
First and foremost in guest posting, do not give your host any additional work to do. They already have a full time job and they don’t need to spend any time that necessary to publish your post. If you can already format the post in HTML code and send it that way, do so. In addition, attach any image files that you will use to the email when you send the content, so that at a pinch, they will be able to upload those themselves.
Once the article is posted, make sure to check in frequently and answer comments left by readers. Don’t just leave it for your host to deal with. Lastly, write your own guest bio. Give two or three sentences on yourself and include a link to your personal site.
Clean Guest Posting
Since guest posting increases readership and presence in the overall community of bloggers, unscrupulous bloggers try to use guest posting as a way to send spam to readers through backlinks. Nobody likes going to a dinner party only to find out it’s a ploy for a business pitch, and this is very much the same thing.
For you, the guest poster, avoid the kind of awkwardness that comes with being accused as a spammer, and follow some simple guidelines:
- If you must link, link carefully and only to sources that would help your readers further.
- Don’t link to your personal blog or website anywhere except in your guest bio. If you look like you’re promoting yourself, there’s more of a possibility that your request will be turned down.
- Extend courtesy to your host site. Simply, and as naturally as possible, link back to one or two posts on their site for “further reading” on the subject.
At the End of the Day
The first time you hear of guest posting and its advantages, you might sail in with all enthusiasm, only to be dunked in cold water the first two or three times you request it. Don’t think it reflects on you as a person, or your site as a site. With all the spammers online, you might have accidently been lumped in with them. To lessen the possibility of that happening, take the time to study the possibilities and guidelines of guest posting on each site.
For more on building an audience and creating authority with guest posting, I highly recommend this Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn and special guest Kimanzi Constable.