In the last issue of Therapy Marketing Monthly, we discussed how blogging can help you build your reputation and authority in your industry and get prospective clients coming to your website. And then get them coming back again and again on a regular basis, so you can build your relationship with them and turn them into actual, paying clients.
In that same “To Blog or Not to Blog, Is That the Question?” article, I said that if your only marketing goal is to gain more visibility for your practice and get the phone ringing, there are a lot of other options that are less time-consuming and more efficient than starting a blog.
Today, we’re going to look at how you can get many of blogging’s benefits without actually having a blog… by getting and making the most out of guest blogging.
What Is Guest Blogging?
Building up a sizable audience of actively engaged blog readers and followers takes a lot of work.
The basic goal with guest blogging is to find an established blog that’s already done the work of building an audience of your prospective clients and referral sources – whether that’s based on their geography, demographics, psychographics, or, ideally, all of the above – and then creating a compelling piece of content for that blog that establishes your authority, directs that blog’s readers to your website for more information, and increases your own site’s rankings in the search engine results.
In other words, instead of building up an audience from scratch, with guest blogging you’re going to where your ideal audience is already congregated and basically piggybacking on the work another blog has done to build that audience. This makes guest blogging a great way to quickly get in front of prospective clients and referral sources and build your online presence and authority.
However, just because guest blogging doesn’t require you build an audience from scratch and write blog posts on a routine basis, this doesn’t mean you can simply write a few posts, submit them to other blogs, and then sit back and watch the clients roll in.
Just as you need to be working toward concrete goals in order to make your own blog a success, the same is equally true when it comes to guest blogging…
Determining Your Guest Blogging Goals
As with any marketing endeavor, you need to know your goals and plan for your success before you get started.
When it comes to guest blogging, there are typically three main goals:
- Positioning you and/or your brand as an authority
- Generating traffic to your website
- Building links to your website in order to increase your own site’s search engine rankings
Before you start guest blogging – in fact, before you even decide whether or not guest blogging is right for you – your first task is to decide which of these goals, if any, is most important to you.
Obviously, if none of these goals is on your priority list, you can save yourself some time and stop reading the rest of this article…
But, if you’re a business owner and you have a website for your business, I’m going to assume at least one of these goals is important to your overall marketing plan… Right?
Knowing your goals before you get started is the key to determining not only the types of blogs you’ll want to submit content to and the types of content you’ll submit, but also how successful your guest blogging endeavors will be.
For example, if your main goal is to establish and build your expertise in your industry or niche or generate traffic for your website, you’ll want to focus your efforts on blogs that have a sizable and actively engaged audience made up of your potential clients and referral sources.
If you’re simply trying to increase your own site’s search engine rankings, then you’ll have more options, as most blogs with a lot of authority will help you achieve that goal – whether or not their audiences are actively engaged or comprised of your ideal clients.
When it comes to creating content for others’ blogs, if your main goal is to establish your expertise and authority, you’ll want to create content that’s as thorough and helpful as possible. If your main goal is to get visitors to your site, the content you post on others’ sites may be slightly more “teaser-oriented” or “incomplete,” as you’ll want to lead people back to your site for more information.
Now, to be clear, these three guest blogging goals are by no means mutually exclusive. By putting the right content on the right blogs, you can easily achieve all three.
Notice I said “the right” content…
When it comes to blogging, there’s no reason to keep your best content to yourself. Regardless of the type of content you create for another blog, you want it to rock! Your guest blog posts need to generate comments, social shares, and traffic for the blog owner. This is how you get invited back to write additional blog posts as well as get guest blogging opportunities on other blogs.
Accordingly, the content you create for others’ blogs should be at least as good, if not better, than what you create for your own.
Guest Blogging, Step By Step
Once you’ve determined your guest blogging goals, it’s time to get started. And the first step is…
1. Locate Potential Blogs
When it comes to guest blogging, the first thing you need to do is locate blogs that are relevant to your industry or niche that you can post content to. Depending on your goals, you’ll be looking for blogs with:
- Content that is tailored to your industry or niche
- A sizable audience
- Actively engaged readers (posts on the blog are regularly commented on and shared socially)
- An active social media presence (you want to know the blog owners will promote your posts to their audiences)
The following are a few techniques I use to find guest blogging opportunities:
- Google – Searching Google with the following search phrases can help you find relevant blogs that welcome guest contributors (be sure to replace keyword with one or more keywords that are relevant to your industry or niche):
- keyword “submit a guest post”
- keyword “guest post”
- keyword “guest post guidelines”
- keyword “guest post by”
- keyword “accepting guest posts”
The results for these and similar searches should take you to various blogs’ guest blogging submission guidelines or actual posts written by guest authors.
- Social Searches – Most blogs, and the people who write guest posts for them, share their posts on a variety of social networks. Because Twitter, to my mind, is the easiest social network to search, I recommend going to Twitter and searching for keyword “guest post” (again, be sure to replace keyword with one or more keywords that are relevant to your industry or niche). This should help you find Tweets about guest blog posts in your industry or niche and you can then just follow the links to find the blogs that are accepting guest posts.
- Known Guest Bloggers in Your Industry – If you follow enough blogs in your industry or niche (which I recommend you do), you will see some writers appear over and over again on numerous sites. If you search Google for these writers’ names plus the phrase “guest post by” (e.g. Jane Smith, MFT, guest post by), you’ll get back a list of the sites they’ve posted content on. Any and all of these sites are good places to start your search. Even better is if you actually know someone in your industry or niche who will introduce you to the managers or owners of one or more of the blogs they have written guest posts on.
- MyBlogGuest – MyBlogGuest offers a searchable website of blogs that accept guest posts. Better still, MyBlogGuest allows you to create and publish a profile on their site so blog owners who are looking for writers can find and contact you!
2. Find the Blog’s Guest Posting Policy
Most blogs that publish content from guest contributors have some sort of page that describes their blog submission guidelines. If you can’t find it quickly using the site’s navigation or search fields, Google site:domain.com guest post (replace domain.com with the site’s domain name). Assuming the blog states its guest posting criteria, make note of their submission guidelines and, when the time comes, be sure to follow them.
3. Build a Relationship with the Blog Owner(s)
You may think that once you’ve located a blog you want to write for and have located their guest posting policies and procedures you’re all set to submit your first post. Think again!
There are several more things you need to do in order to make sure your guest posts get accepted and are as effective and successful as possible…
The first is to get recognized by the owner or manager of the blog.
How do you start building a relationship with a blog owner if you’ve never met them and don’t know anyone who can introduce you?
The best way is to take a week or two and write some valuable, thought-provoking comments on some of the blog’s most recent posts. This will help add to the discussion the blog owner is trying to create with their posts as well as demonstrate your writing skills and expertise.
You’ll get bonus points for following a blog’s Facebook and Twitter pages, liking and commenting on their posts on Facebook, and sharing the posts on which you commented on Facebook and Twitter (be sure to include the blog’s or blog owner’s Twitter username when you share their posts on Twitter).
If you do this for a couple of weeks before sending them your first guest blog submission, you won’t be making a pitch to a complete stranger!
4. Research Before You Write
While you can write a blog post and then tailor it to a specific blog once it’s written, it’s usually far more time-efficient and effective to know what blog and audience you’re writing for BEFORE you start writing.
Remember to always know and target your market!
Now, to be sure, once you’ve started following, engaging with, and sharing a blog’s content, you’ll get a sense for the type of content that particular blog publishes. But, you want more than just a good “sense” for a particular blog.
Specifically, you need to know:
- The type of audience the blog has (Is the blog geared towards industry professionals or consumers?)
- The level of their audience (Are they beginners, intermediate, or advanced?)
- The type and style of content they publish (Is it, by and large, general or specific in nature? Do they use a lot of list-style posts or are their posts more akin to mini-tutorials?)
I also recommend subscribing to each blog you’d like to write for and following how well each post does. Posts that receive more comments and Facebook likes, Tweets, etc. indicate the types of content that do well on that site.
Similarly, notice whether or not posts by guest contributors do well. If a blog’s audience is only paying attention to the owner’s posts, it may be wise to look elsewhere for guest posting opportunities.
Does the blog seem to favor guest posts by specific types of contributors? Review the biographies of at least a few of the blog’s guest contributors… Are the majority of guest posts written by fellow bloggers, published authors, business owners, or consultants? If so, this information may come in handy when you submit your first guest post.
5. Make Your Pitch
Before you get ready to contact the blog owner about submitting a guest post for their site, remember their submission guidelines… And adhere to them!
Do they want you to pitch an idea or submit a complete post? Do they specify a particular format? Do they want you to contact them by e-mail or via some type of form on their website? These are all things you should know in advance.
Now, write a personalized message to the blog manager or owner. And find and use that person’s actual name! Do not address them as simply Dear Webmaster, Dear Sir or Madam, etc. Let them know you’re enjoying their blog (which they can see from your comments and social sharing) and would like to contribute to their site.
Remember that some blog owners are finicky about their guest authors’ professional status. If most of the blog’s guest bloggers seem to be business owners, consultants, published authors, or bloggers themselves, then refer to yourself in such a manner, if possible.
If the post submission guidelines request that you submit an idea, then (based on your previous research of successful posts on that blog) pitch three to four different ideas for them to choose from. If they request you submit a complete post, do so (see the next step below).
Lastly, be sure to clearly state WHY they should choose YOU as a guest blogger.
Include some links to the best content you’ve published. It’s better if you link to content you’ve published on others’ sites, but you can link to content on your own site if that’s all you have.
6. Create an Incredible Post
Once the blog manager or owner has approved you as a guest contributor – or if you’re asked to submit a complete post prior to approval – your next job is to create an amazing post.
Make sure your post adheres to their requirements and that it’s consistent with the overall tone and feel of the blog you’re submitting to… Do they use lots of lists or sub-heads, bold or italicized text, quotes, images, or other formatting? If so, make sure your post contains similar elements that match other posts on the site. If the blog has nothing but posts of between 300 and 500 words with an image or two, then make sure your post follows suit. If the blog has nothing but 1,000+ word posts with lots of screenshots, do the same.
You should also demonstrate to the blog owner that you’re doing this for their and their audience’s benefit and not just trying to promote yourself.
How? By including several relevant links in your blog post – not to your own products, services, and website, but “internal” links that reference other posts on the blog for which you’re writing. And, if you do reference any external articles, books, etc., then link to those as well (as long as they’re not self-promotional).
Always remember that a guest blog post is not about you or your business. Your guest posts need to provide valuable, information-rich content… They should not be advertisements! Information about your products, services, business, or you should be reserved for your “About the Author” biography.
And be sure to include a call to action for reader comments at the end of your post. The more engagement your post generates from the blog’s audience, the better… for the blog owner and for you!
6. Write Your Author Biography
When it comes to achieving your guest blogging goals, your author biography is arguably the most important part of your post.
Your bio is your chance to say who you are, what you do and, most importantly, how you can help the blog’s readers and where to contact you and get more information.
What you include in your author bio will depend on your goals:
- If you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, you’ll definitely want to send readers of your guest post to a custom landing page or lead magnet that directly relates to the topic of your guest post and the audience reading it.
- If your goal is to grow your audience on one or more social media sites, then add a line to your bio that says, “Follow me on [insert Twitter link, Facebook link, etc. here].”
- If your goal is simply to build links to your site to increase your own site’s search engine rankings, just make sure your bio includes a link back to your website and you’re all set.
Again, be sure to follow the blog’s guidelines and review other guest blogger bios when deciding what to say and how to format your bio. And, remember, it’s ultimately up to the blog owner to edit your bio if they feel it’s necessary.
7. Support Your Guest Posts
Congratulations! Your first guest post has been accepted and published!
But, you’re not done yet…
Once your guest post is live, be sure to share it with your own audience on your social media properties and with any e-mail list you have. Not only do blog owners love it when guest bloggers send new readers their way, but the more successful your guest post is, the more likely you’ll be invited back to post again on that same blog and the easier it will be to get other blogs to accept your posts.
Also, be sure to check your guest posts periodically and reply to any comments. Doing so will not only build your reputation and authority with readers, but may well start one or more lasting relationships with potential clients and/or referral sources.
8. Track Your Results
How will you know whether or not your guest blogging efforts are paying off?
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to measure the immediate effects of guest blogging when it comes to the search engine optimization (SEO) value of building links to your site. However, there are backlink-tracking tools available that will let you see the links you’re building and, if you’re posting regularly enough to enough different blogs, you should see your own site rise in the search engine results over the course of 6-12 months.
Measuring the effectiveness of your branding and authority-building efforts is even trickier. But, if your posts are generating a lot of comments and social shares, you’re on the right track.
Thankfully, if your goal is to drive visitors to your site, the effectiveness of your guest blogging can be easily measured using Google Analytics.
Simply follow our Mastering Google Analytics training and create one or more “segments” in Google Analytics using the domains that you’ve guest blogged for as the “source dimension.” This will give you a relatively precise idea of the number of people that are coming to your site from your guest posts. And Google Analytics allows you to track up to 20 different guest blogging sites at a time.
A couple of quick things to remember when it comes to guest blogging…
- Taking the time to know, understand, and write guests posts for a blog that gets only 5-10 visitors a day is the wrong way to go about guest blogging. Guest posting on a blog that gets 100’s or 1,000’s of visitors a day should be your goal. One well-placed post with a link back to your site on a blog with a large audience is a world more valuable than 1,000 guest posts on blogs that few people read.
- As you publish guest posts on others’ sites, be sure to save the links to those posts for future reference. Then, when you approach new blogs you’d like to write for, include those links as examples of your successful guest posts elsewhere. If you can convince a blog owner that your posts will be a good fit for their audience and will drive significant traffic and engagement, the blog owner will have a hard time resisting.
Getting Guest Bloggers for Your Own Blog
Finally, it’s important to note that guest blogging is often most effective when it’s a two-way street. And this is especially true if the goal of your guest blogging is to drive readers back to your website…
What happens when visitors from your guest posts on others’ sites don’t take any action the first time they visit your own site? How do you get them back again? Well, the easy answer is by having blog of your own that engages them and entices them to return.
However, if you’re already running your own blog, you know how difficult it can be to come up with new content on a routine basis. If you’re also regularly writing guest posts for other people’s blogs, good luck keeping up!
By allowing guest bloggers to post content on your site, you’ll not only free up some of your own valuable time but you’ll also have a chance to grow your audience as your guest bloggers send their followers to their posts on your blog.
So, while writing guest posts for others’ blogs can be an effective marketing technique in and of itself, you should also make sure you’re consistently building your own properties and establishing your own authority by publishing the works of others.
Guest blogging, when done right – especially when it’s a two-way street – is truly a win-win situation!
What do you think? Are you currently writing and submitting any guest posts? Do you have a blog on your site and, if so, do you accept posts from others? What else are you doing to increase the effectiveness of your online marketing? Be sure to share your questions, thoughts, and results below.