Guest blogging is a great way to get your content in front of another audience, meet some new people, build on your content development strategies, and maybe even make some money along the way. It’s a good SEO strategy, which makes it popular among bloggers.
But if you’re hoping to post on someone else’s site, you’ve got to first understand that there are a few right ways and a whole lot of wrong ways to go about it. From the pitch to the final submission and everything in between, you need to make sure you’re bringing your ‘A’ game when it comes to guest blogging if you hope to be welcome to post again in the future. That’s not to mention other blogs, either. For as solitary an activity as blogging can be, many of us stay connected in a big way through social media. If you get a bad recommendation from one blogger to another, your guest blogging career could be over before it begins.
When you’re pitching bloggers for a guest spot, it’s important that you research the sites you’re emailing. Remember, just because a site is well-known doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best fit for your content. You might find niche blogs that are far better suited to your areas of focus and have more of an audience for your topic. For example, if you pitched a post about holistic healthcare to an SEO blog, they probably wouldn’t give you the time of day because you clearly haven’t done your research.
But research goes beyond just the site topics. Make sure you also check out any posting guidelines that are listed on the site to make sure your content is or will be in line with them. Knowing these guidelines is your responsibility. If you can’t find them, don’t be afraid to ask for them. Your post will be held to those standards, so it’s important to know what they are if you hope to be published, and having them in mind when you send your pitch is a good start.
Much like you would if you were sending a job application, when you’re sending a pitch, see if you can come up with a name to address. You won’t always be able to find it, but if a person’s name is readily available on the site, they’ll probably appreciate a more personal form address than “Dear Sir/Madam,” which, again, implies that you didn’t spend much time actually looking at their site.
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Tailor your pitch!
Yes, it’s faster to have a standard email ready to go, but no one has ever been positively impressed by something like this: “Dear Sir/Madam, I really like your blog. I think your topics are very interesting and would love to write a guest post for you.” Instead, try using some specifics – cite posts that you’ve found to be influential or interesting. Let them know you were familiar with the site prior to ten minutes ago (if you weren’t familiar with it until ten minutes ago, spend some time exploring before you send a pitch). Tell them what kind of content you want to write, and how you think it will tie in with their site themes.
If there are parts of your pitch email that you’re going to copy and paste, take the time to make sure it’s consistent. Nothing screams “50 other people got this email” like a message that is in two or three fonts and sizes on account of lazy copy/pasting.
The most important thing to consider when crafting a post for someone else’s blog is that person’s rules and guidelines. This means that you need to be prepared to check your agenda at the door.
I cannot emphasize this nor say it enough times: If you wouldn’t do it on your own site, don’t do it on someone else’s.
The host site’s reputation isn’t the only thing at stake here. Your personal brand is, as well.
If you wouldn’t write a profanity-laced rant for your own site, don’t send one to someone else. If you wouldn’t write something highly promotional and sales-y for your site, don’t write something like that for someone else.
And the big one: If you wouldn’t engage in black- or gray-hat SEO tactics on your own site, don’t try it on someone else’s. After all, if you don’t want content stuffed full of keywords and promotional, spammy links, you can rest assured that no reputable site will want it either.
Keep in mind that plagiarizing doesn’t just mean copying someone else’s post word-for-word. Plagiarism also occurs when you take the main ideas from someone else and spin the wording a little bit (aka “spun content”).
It happens when you lift all of someone else’s examples and supporting evidence, rearrange them, change the wording, and republish.
It happens when you copy something and change some words here and there.
If you think it’s not that serious of an offense, you’re wrong. Journalists for publications such as The New York Times and other major news outlets have lost their jobs because of plagiarism.
When you guest post for someone, they’re most certainly operating under the assumption that you’re going to be submitting your own original content to them, so give them what you’ve promised, and do it honestly. If you can’t do it honestly, don’t promise it (and, many would argue, don’t pitch it in the first place). Anything worth doing is worth doing the right way.
Avoid promotion and check your SEO agenda.
Unless you have absolute permission to do any kind of promotion in your guest post, don’t do it. It’s in poor form to take advantage of another site to get word out about your products or services. It’s also in poor form to abuse a site’s visibility for your own SEO agenda, so also avoid that. Many blog owners are more than happy to give you a backlink to your site. They’re probably not going to be happy if you include twenty links in a 500 word post that all go back to your product pages. It all comes back to this: if you wouldn’t do it on your own site, don’t do it on someone else’s.
Again, make sure you’ve followed the rules.
When you submit your guest post, double-check to make sure you’ve followed any guidelines you’ve been given, including deadlines and length requirements. If you don’t take the time to look at any guidelines you’ve been given or you blatantly disregard them, you can’t get upset if the host blog decides to forego publication.
After the Post is Submitted
After you’ve submitted your final post, make sure you’re aware of any details. For example, if this was original content, are you allowed to repost it to your own blog? If so, is there a waiting period? How long?
If you’ve posted on a high-traffic blog with a very active community, you’re likely to receive comments on your post. Make sure you check back frequently – especially immediately following publication – to respond to any comments there. Remember: if you make a positive impression on another community, you might find that some of them are willing to be a part of your community, as well. You never know when other guest posting opportunities will naturally come out of this kind of interaction, so be as involved as possible.
Share your post on social media, but make sure you credit the host blog! Even just noting that the link is your guest post on @XYZBLOG’s site is better than not giving credit at all.
We could certainly get into the nitty-gritty details of guest blogging etiquette, but these tips should help you to get started or rebrand yourself as a successful guest blogger. Is this something you struggle with (or have in the past)? What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!