It was just another day.
Woke up without an alarm and went straight to the bathroom. I hung out for a little bit in the living room and then went back to check my email from my laptop.. I didn’t have a smartphone back then. Well I did, but it was the Palm Pixi, and that phone was not very smart.
The amount of emails was unbelievable. Over a thousand in one morning. All from WordPress.com.
My post on Awkwardlist.com was displayed on the WordPress homepage. Not sure why they picked it up, it wasn’t very good, but it did manage to show me the power of getting displayed in front of a high traffic website.
The thing is, you can achieve this type of attention whenever you want just by posting on other websites. Every once in a while I get a message asking if I accept blog posts, and I almost always say no.
I never realized how much of a jerk I would be online when not too long ago I was out there asking the same questions. But I’m not a jerk and let me show you why I usually say no.
I don’t know who the guest poster is, what their writing style is, and I’m very protective of the content that gets released on this blog. I want readers to get only the best content out there so they keep coming back for more.
The Power of Guest Posting and Why You Have it Backwards
Some people try to accept as many guest posts to their own blog in order to get free content. Having people asking you to let them be a guest on your website feels great, and you’d let them post on your site as it feels like you got free stuff.
Stop doing that right now.
The point of guest posting isn’t to have as many guests as possible. This isn’t some type of house party. You want to be the guest.
Let me explain.
Think of one of the top blogs in your niche or topic. A site that you wish you owned. For travelers, it might be Nomadic Matt’s Travel Website. For people in the marketing world, it might be Moz.com.
Now think of some second level websites. Maybe a website very popular in your niche that gets many visitors a day but isn’t exactly the Google or Amazon of that industry. It might be one of the top bloggers in the fly fishing industry, or a forum owner who gets around 20k visitors every month to one of her blogs.
Make a list of these and get ready to work. Your goal will be to land a post on one of their websites.
Why? Because they have the audience. You want the audience in your niche to notice you and that’s why you should do your best to get as many eyes to read your content as much as possible, even if your best work ends up landing on someone else’s website.
Sure, blogging at someone else’s website with the same level of audience as you is great for building a relationship, but in order to truly push yourself and your writing ability, you have to aim for the top level bloggers. The don’t accept just any post because they have a reputation to keep, so you want to display your absolute best work.
This is why there used to be bidding wars for billboard ads on freeways, to get in front of people’s eyes. They don’t want people advertising on their own shop… they want to be the advertisers.
How do you do that? Keep reading.
How To Land the Guest Post
1. Identify the bloggers
Who do you want to become the proud owner of your work? Write their blog site name down and try to find their contact information (email address preferably). Now find two more for a total of three bloggers you want to target.
Read their most popular posts, look at what they like to write about. For example, around here I talk about growing revenue from online businesses, so here are some of the high-quality posts that I’d accept:
“How I Make 50k in Revenue From Shopify”
“Getting Paid to Blog: My Experience as a Crappy Blogger”
Or even a post like:
“How Amazon Ruined My Life”
(Given that I am also selling on Amazon).
2. Analyze their posts
Look at what has gotten the most shares, the most comments. What does this blogger enjoy writing about, or what does she like to learn about? Can you offer an update to one of their existing posts with even more information or updated resources?
A good example of a guest post is on Smart Passive Income blog, a post by Brian Dean where he talks about the importance of backlinks for search engine optimization. His strategy was simple:
- Identify the blogger and audience (Pat Flynn with an audience of people interested in online income)
- Find one of his most popular posts (THE Backlinking Strategy That Works)
- Offer an updated version of it and make it better (THE Backlinking Strategy That Works: 2014 and Beyond Edition)
- Pitch it via email (to pat @ smartpassiveincome.com)
- Get it posted.
Though the strategy is repeatable and works a lot of the time, the work is not so easy to accomplish and it takes a lot of planning and to execute.
3. Do the work
This is the part where everyone skips out on.
Offering the “Hey do you accept blog posts?” question. Don’t ask if they accept blog posts.
If you’ve been following their blog you can figure out that yourself. Have you ever seen a post from someone else on their blog? Then yes, they accept blog posts –just not from everyone.
I see many websites out there that offer their guest post submission guidelines, and I understand them. They survive on content and their focus is different than mine. I want to become an authority in my niche and want to offer many things to those who stumble on my work without asking for anything in return. Those blogs that are constantly accepting blog posts are in need of content that they can get for free. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Their audience likes new articles.
For me, I want other blogs to link to my website. I want to offer good stuff to the readers of other blogs so that they can find out who I am and that I have something to offer them. So I seek out those other bloggers that already have an audience and ask for a share in return for a high value (or in your case, also a: funny, interesting, engaging, motivating, inspirational…) blog post.
Identify the blogger Find one of the popular posts
- Offer a better or new version
Pitch it Get it posted
Write up a post for THEIR audience. Get it right, fix it, edit it again. Expand it. Shorten it. Make it some of your best work. Easier said than done, I know.
But you can do it.
Now format it using the same style that your target blogger uses. Do they use a lot of H1 or H2 tags? Do that. Do they write more like an essay? Format it that way. Do you have any images? Upload them somewhere and use them in your post so that all the blogger has to do is cut and paste.
To get the format of your current blog post (if you’re using WordPress), head to the top of your post editor and find this thing:
Then with some HTML magic, copy the whole thing (if it includes the line breaks “<br>”), if not, view the draft of the page, copy the blog portion code, and paste it into a plain text document (.txt) and save it. That’s your post on a txt file in HTML.
It makes it easier on the blogger to just cut and paste.
Once you have the post ready, you’re going to feel the need to get it out in the world.
Maybe you’ll feel a little nervous, and that’s great.
It’s almost time for the pitch.
4. Pitch it
Find their email. Get their first name. If you can’t find it in their About page, but they have a Twitter handle, reach out to them that way with a:
“Hey ___, I’ve been reading your work since ___ and I’ve come up with a blog post titled ____ that I’m sure will provide a lot of value to your audience, mind if I send it to you to look at? No hard feelings if you feel it isn’t a great fit. Please let me know. Your fan, ___.”
That’s right, ask for permission first. Engage with them, don’t just throw your post out there and hope someone catches it.
Let me say it again: Ask for permission first before you send your post.
It is too easy to ignore or reject a post. It’s easier to get a yes once you engage with someone first.
If they don’t respond or say no, it’s fine. You have a great article and you can try again with another blogger by just modifying the formatting. Every once in a while, you’ll get a response asking you to make a few changes to the post, and this is a great sign because it means you’re basically in once you make those changes.
Check out this awesome pitch similar to one that worked for me:
I’ve read your content since July 2012 and have been a subscriber for a long time! I still remember your post about reaching out to book publishers, I even got a gig from there. Awesome stuff.
I wrote a post the other day called “Ten Ways to Get Published in a Weird Genre” and before I publish it, I felt that it would have a greater impact with your audience, as it is a better fit for your blog. Your readers have generally shared your content with lists and are avid publishing seekers (as I am one of them myself), so I think they’d get a kick out of this one.
You can check out how I write over at my blog, and here are a couple of links to my best work:
What do you think? Should I send it over? Thank you for time and I look forward to hearing from you!
5. Get it posted
Be sure to include one link toward your blog (getting that link juice), if relevant. Otherwise, be sure there’s a link to your blog under your author information (a two or three sentence paragraph about you and your blog).
How I’ve Done This
There was an infographic that I found a long time ago called “200+ Ways to Make Money Online” and I tried some of the things on there only to find out that many of the resources listed were outdated.
Some companies didn’t even exist anymore.
I found it on Lifehack, here.
Then I went to work, I tried every link on there and got rid of the ones that didn’t work. I searched for articles and directories for more resources that I could check out and add to the list.
Then I got another infographic made. The whole process took about two months.
I finally published Over 300 Ways to Earn Money Online, an Infographic that has been shared over and over again.
It was a lot of work, and I had a tough time submitting it as a guest post because people just wanted the infographic, so I published it to my site and offer it for free to anyone who is willing to link back to me.
Getting More Guests Posts
I will be testing out this strategy even more, from zero and showing you how I do it. I’ll be adding the links to my own case studies right here for you to find them easily.
Now, get out there and give this strategy a try!