I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Kate Meyers, Content Specialist at Straight North, a Chicago based internet marketing firm. She coordinates the guest post offerings as well as offsite content for this forward thinking firm. I’m incredibly grateful that she had the time to share some of her insights on guest posting with us. Just like any other type of promotion, guest posting takes strategy and forethought to get the most out of it.
Kate isn’t just your run of the mill content marketer. She cut her teeth working as an intern with some pretty impressive firms before landing at Straight North. She also hails from UW-Madison, so she brings both experience and academics to the field of content marketing.
Today, she’s opening her bag of tricks and showing us all an inside look of how Straight North does such a stellar job with guest posting – both for them and their clients!
Here’s the interview:
Amie: I think by now our audience is sold on guest posting. It’s such a powerful way to increase backlinks and authority. Of course, a lot of people worry about linking to competitors or bad sites. What sort of filter or philosophy do you have about guest posts on the Straight North blog?
Kate: We are pretty open when it comes to linking on the Straight North blog, since we understand the value of SEO and we include links in our articles, as well. We obviously will not link to competitors or any sites that are inappropriate for our blog and/or readers. That is pretty much just a judgment call – anything that would hurt the reputation of our blog, our company, or our guest contributors will not be accepted. I think it really comes down to the motive of the guest poster – is this blogger submitting an article simply for link value, or are they interested in providing us with solid content (with the links just being added benefit)? We only accept the latter.
Amie: I’ll confess that we rarely accept guest posting – in fact I think we’ve only taken stuff so far from Straight North. Of course, with our business model our blog is a living portfolio. But let’s talk about how your company got on our blog in the first place. You sent an email and mentioned you saw us via Twitter. Tell me about that. Do you have a Twitter strategy for guest posting specifically or is it for networking in general?
Kate: One of the things I have learned from this process is that it is much easier to reach out to a new site, or accept a guest post from a blogger when you have already established a relationship with the person. In my experience people are much more likely to accept a guest post from us if they recognize one of our writers or our company. My favorite response is “I know Brad! We’d love to have a guest post from him.” I do my best to stick to a contact list we have created based on our writers’ Twitter following and Straight North’s Twitter following. I would say our Twitter strategy is for networking in general, but it definitely helps with our guest posting process.
Amie: Any tips on your pitch email?
Kate: I like to keep my pitch email brief – that is my top priority. I think it is important to state the purpose of your pitch in the first or second sentence. Most publishers have a firm stance on whether or not they accept guest posts on their site. Let them know right off the bat what you are asking. I will typically say something along the lines of “We like how you cover these topics on your site and we are interested in submitting a post to you.” If they do not accept guest posts then they can stop reading here, and you have not wasted their time.
I also find it effective to provide recent examples of your work to establish your credibility. Let the site publisher know that you know what you are talking about and are familiar with the guest posting process. To wrap up my emails I always include a link to the Straight North guest posting guidelines and an offer to contribute to our site. I’ve received a lot of affirmative replies stating that the publisher would be happy to swap guest posts. This worked out well for us with you, Amie!
Amie: Thanks! Yes, short and sweet is great. Things are moving so fast these days that people appreciate it when you get right to it!
Let’s talk about how you integrate guest posting (both inside and outside the Straight North blog) within your editorial calendar. Are you like me with a literal calendar on the wall with certain days marked for guest posts? Or, do you have a more flexible protocol?
Kate: We are definitely flexible when it comes to an editorial calendar. We like to keep a backlog of posts on our site so we can publish a post at anytime. When it comes to publishing guest posts we do our best to stay on the schedule we worked out with the guest blogger. We know how frustrating it can be to wait weeks or months for a site to publish our post …
Amie: I hear ya! Sometimes it can seem like forever before posts go live.
There is one thing that your guest posts accomplish that I was incredibly impressed by. I see that usually there is a perfect opportunity (or two) within the post to mention pretty much anything. I can only imagine that the off the wall items are anchor texts for your clients? You don’t have to give us all your secrets, but is that a component of your guest posting strategy? If so, that’s a very creative way to leverage your authority to help your clients build powerful backlinks.
Kate: I have to give credit to the writers here. We do have some off the wall items for anchor texts which can make the linking process difficult at times. We do everything we can to make the links as relevant as we can, either in the body of the post or in the bio.
As I mentioned before, our primary goal for guest posts is to provide the site we are publishing on with quality content to share with their readers. The client backlinks that we include help make the post beneficial to us in return. We are always looking for sites that understand the value of links, and those are the sites we are most motivated to write for, and provide our best, most highly researched posts for.
Amie: Thank you so much for going out of your way to do this quick interview! Is there something on the horizon for Straight North our audience should know about?
Kate: We see online marketing as being in the midst of tremendous change right now. In particular, SEO and social media are undergoing rapid transformation. Another big change that’s looming is mobile: think of how that will affect web design and web marketing. Right now we are focused on learning and staying up with everything that is changing. We are adapting our programs on a monthly basis or even more often. We definitely have our eyes and ears open!
Amie: Awesome! I know that my whole team loves keeping track of what you guys have been up to. Thanks again :)
For more info about the awesome stuff happening at Straight North check out their site at www.StraightNorth.com!