For those interested in expanding beyond the bounds of their own blogs, writing guests posts is an excellent way to build a reputation within your industry. The “why” of guest blogging is pretty straightforward—unlike emails or newsletter postcard campaigns that only build rapport with clients, guest blogging builds your expertise and connections within your industry, not to mention links to your site that can help with search engine rankings. But this can also be a fun, profitable way to build your own site while helping someone else.
Getting started in this arena can be a bit tough, confusing, and just plain awkward if you don’t know what you’re doing. So use the following checklist as you get started in this exciting venture.
Most blog owners who want guest bloggers to write for them have some kind of guidelines page for how to submit content to them. Look for a “Write for Us” page on the blog that you want to write for and read carefully through their submission guidelines.
This is the most important step in the process. If your first contact with a blog owner isn’t in line with their posted guidelines, it shows you’re either inexperienced or didn’t care to read their instructions. So try to track down their submission guidelines first. If they don’t have submission standards, go to the next step before reaching out to the blog owner for instructions.
Content Blogs Need
Before anything else, take some time to familiarize yourself with the content already on the blog. As a blog owner, it’s annoying to get an article submission that nearly mirrors content you already have, or worse, when the content has nothing to do with the blog’s current content. Also, avoid blatant self-promotion. It’s mostly about writing quality content that the other blog can use while you get credit in the form of links in the article or an author bio section, for example.
The point here is to develop a strong understanding of what would absolutely thrill the blog owner. Don’t waste their time with mediocre or irrelevant content.
Once you see the kinds of posts already on the site and come up with some original, relevant ideas of your own, it’s time to pitch your ideas. Some blogs require that you submit a complete article to them as your pitch. If that’s the case, keep the article as general (non-site specific) as possible in case they reject it. That way you can at least submit it somewhere else with minimal effort.
If you can submit ideas/topics only, send 3-4 ideas and let them choose. These are usually the title of the blog post you propose and possibly an outline or brief summary of the content you’d include. Submission guidelines will hopefully give you an idea of what they expect in the form of a pitch for a post.
If the site does not provide a process for pitching ideas, then the best approach is to send a few article ideas with a high-level outline. For example, here’s one topic:
Title: How to Write a WordPress Blog Post
Description: A beginner’s guide to posting content on WordPress, covering the difference between posts and pages, plus basic formatting.
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This gives the blog owner a clean understanding of what you’re proposing and makes it easy for them to add or omit elements according to their needs.
For the above example, the blog owner might respond with an email request such as:
“Thanks for the “How to Write a WordPress Blog Post” article concept. Could you include some content about how to schedule a post for publication?”
This is a very common situation that I see quite a bit, so don’t be surprised if you have to banter back and forth until you finalize exactly what the blog owner needs. Sometimes you’ll get an outright rejection of the offer while others may accept your pitch as is.
Once you’ve written the post, it’s time to make sure that you’ve formatted your content per the submission guidelines. Some blog owners want a Word document, others need HTML, and others will give you a WordPress/Joomla login and ask you to write the content right into their blog.
The goal here is to provide them with exactly what they ask for. Some site owners will send you an article back and tell you to reformat it per their standards, which is a rough way to start off the relationship. But those writers who submit quality content that is formatted properly get special treatment after a while because the owner has so little extra effort involved.
Before hitting the “Send” or “Publish” button, always step back and proofread your work. You may want to review the submission standards one more time just to get away from your post a little while and come back with a fresh perspective.
You may even want to get another set of eyes on your piece before submission. This is especially true for the first few times you contact the blog owner. First impressions are critical, so get it right. Nothing is more embarrassing than clicking “send” or “publish” to find you made a glaring mistake that you may not be able to change.
Contacting Blog Owners
Again, the submission guidelines should give you an idea of how the owner wants to be contacted. Even if there are not specific instructions, this is an important step. I always include my credentials in short form so they know I’m an established writer. If you don’t have a resume or references, don’t worry about it! Be honest and give it your best shot.
Some sites have a contact form while others will provide their email address so you can get a hold of them directly. Still others want a good ol’ fashioned phone call before they’ll accept your work or provide an email address.
You first point of contact with a blog owner is obviously very important, so take the time to review their submission standards and at a minimum familiarize yourself with their site. You’re sure to thrill them when you can talk about their current blog posts and offer your own ideas. Be open to feedback and careful with your criticisms of their content. Remember, this first contact is like a first date, so ease into the relationship until you know what they’re comfortable hearing about.
Guest blogging can be a very fun, profitable, and beneficial way to build your reputation. But it takes a lot of work. Remember that other blog owners care deeply about their sites and are going to be picky about who they let write for them and what content makes it onto their site.
So be patient and don’t be afraid to take some risks. You’re going to get some rejection letters—we all do. But it won’t be long before you get your first acceptance correspondence and then you’ll be well on your way. Good luck!
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