Guest posting lessons

Guest Blogging: 9 Lessons For Effective Outreach

Guest blogging (also referred to as “guest posting”) is the process of content production for a third-party source for the sake of receiving brand recognition, a backlink, or a different PR-related benefit.

Publishing content to external sources has been around since forever. Websites like Huffington Post or Business 2 Community largely grew and survived primarily thanks to loyal contributors associated with their brands.

Guest blogging is one of the most viable concepts to build authority and recognition for your own work, tap into an existing community, improve your content writing skills by working with professional editors, and build a diverse content portfolio.

The benefits of publishing your content to digital magazines are plenty, but following the right process and understanding the paradigms is often hard to nail down from the get-go.

And while guest blogging services may seem truly lucrative, finding a quality team with enough skills and experience submitting content to authority sites in your niche is extremely tough (not to mention expensive).

guest posting comics

In this guide, I’ll be answering the most frequent questions entrepreneurs and business owners ask before we discuss PR initiatives and marketing campaigns involving guest posting.

Guest Blogging 101 – Statistics

First, here are some interesting statistics on guest posting from OptinMonster.

  • 60% of blogs write and produce 1-5 guest posts a month while 3% of blogs write over 100 guest posts per month.
  • There are only 6% of bloggers who use the greater number of their original content as guest posts.
  • 62.96% of readers think that blogs with several authors are more credible.
  • 79% of editors find content of guest posts too promotional.
  • There is a higher demand for guest content in the months of June, July, and August.

These statistics should provide us with more insights as we delve deeper into the topic of guest posting by answering the following 9 most frequently asked questions on guest posting with corresponding lessons for effective outreach.

  • What parties are involved in guest posting?
  • How do you find guest blogging opportunities?
  • What do editors care about?
  • How do individual brands approach guest posting?
  • What are the practical benefits of guest posting for writers?
  • How can publishers/sites benefit from guest posts?
  • How do guest posts send traffic your way?
  • What are the problems associated with guest posting?
  • How do you handle guest post requests?
FAQs on Guest Posting

Let’s dive in and reveal how to be a guest writer for authority sources.

1. What Parties Are Involved in Guest Posting?

Writers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, freelancers, PR companies are often the asking party when it comes to looking for guest post opportunities.

The writer would research prospective venues carefully (or target one or two high-profile ones), submit a pitch, and go through the corresponding process.

(Of course, the process is a lot more complicated than that of a larger website.)

Publishers (or high Domain Authority websites) receive numerous pitches by writers and arrange the process if that seems like a good fit.

2. How Do You Find Guest Blogging Opportunities?

Guest posting opportunities

Listed below are 7 of the many ways you can find opportunities to blog or guest post.

Google

Search your industry and append related terms that show in guest posting pages on blogs and magazines.  Examples: marketing + “write for us”, “guest authors”, “contribute content”, etc.

If you don’t have any guest blogging experience and you feel unsure in your pitching skills, look for opportunities appearing on the second or even the third page. There, you could find some existing site to write for, build a portfolio, and most importantly, you’ll gain confidence for future guest blogging partnerships with more notable publishers.

Twitter

Bloggers and magazines often have Twitter profiles and publish content regularly. You can use the Twitter search engine to look for the right opportunities as well. Such opportunities will consequently widen your network which may eventually end up with even more guest blogging opportunities

Site Lists

Some bloggers have compiled blogs that accept guest posts. They rank well and receive a lot of traffic so you should be able to look up “top blogs to contribute for in marketing” or something else that would yield a long list of options.  Keep this list for your convenience the next time you look for blogging opportunities.

Personal Contacts

Turn to your personal network and ask around. It’s likely that some of your peers may own a site (or why not more)  that may also need fresh content. But be aware of the challenges that may arise from working with someone you know.  

Slack Communities

Some Slack communities like Online Geniuses gather tens of thousands of marketers and site owners who may be interested in guest posting opportunities. Online communities like this are also available on other messaging applications so find time to check around.

Direct Writer Outreach

Touch base with writers or editors directly and ask if they accept guest submissions. This works better if you’ve already gained some writing credibility, though starter sites are always looking for content. Do not hesitate to get in touch with them personally as reaching out yourself can be more effective than just asking your assistant.

Additionally, you can employ a different technique. Work on a guest post or a piece you author for your own blog. Then, employ the established email outreach principles and touch base with the authors of websites you used as references in your own article.

The benefit of this approach lies in the reciprocity of an activity you already performed ahead of time as a favor. You don’t ask for a link directly; instead, you notify editors and kindly ask them to add a link themselves if possible.

Contact Form Submissions 

Almost every website out there has a contact form (or a public email you can write to). Pitch a few headlines or a Google Docs draft of an article you want to contribute. Keep a list of these websites and the link to their contact forms so you can nurture an ongoing partnership with them through guest posting.

3. What Do Editors Care About?

Qualities that matter to editors when guest posting

When you approach a digital magazine for content production reasons, you need to understand the mindset of the editor.

  1. Skills
  2. Credibility
  3. Following

In some cases, you may be able to outline a unique trait of yours that the website lacks from a capacity standpoint or something else that fits the audience — especially minority groups or local members able to cover events.

Skills

This includes both your content style AND the area of work you’re comfortable to write about.

The editor wants to figure out if you’re capable of producing quality content. And what makes you a suitable candidate for writing on a given topic.

A writing portfolio is always a great start since it covers both aspects at once. If you’re pitching a reputable magazine, consider smaller blogs and digital publications first.

Credibility

The content team may inquire about your “hard skills” through other means:

  • Previous job experience
  • Portfolio of clients
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Any product or book you’ve authored
  • Other hooks that spark authority

I’ve received thousands of blogging requests on marketing topics by people who do not appear to be qualified to write about them. For instance, “Instagram tips for 2020” may be a great topic, but does your profile report a hundred thousand followers? Have you presented this topic at an authority conference? Do you manage the Instagram account for a known brand?

guest posts content

Following

Plenty of editors look for alternative opportunities to grow their traffic.

Sure, a good story will eventually pick up, probably get a few shares online, or maybe rank for certain long-tail keywords.

But additional exposure is always helpful. Journalists in some of the leading digital media outlets sometimes get paid based on the amount of traffic or engagement in their stories. This is why they maintain communities across their social media, their blogs, or an email list they’ve been building for a while.

Authors would be inclined to share their stories with their own audience and a larger community would be a compelling asset when discussing content opportunities.

4. How Do Individual Brands Approach Guest Posting?

There are different reasons entrepreneurs and content marketers utilize guest blogging. Some of the popular approaches are:

  • Establishing authority as an industry expert
  • Increasing domain authority for a personal/corporate website
  • Lead some extra traffic to a page
  • Increase conversions or sales

Each reason requires a different mindset when designing your guest posting strategy.

For instance:

Celebrity blogging is sought-after and has a higher chance to be accepted on high-authority websites.

You can even pitch a story about “4 business lessons learned from Kim Kardashian’s perfume campaign”

Here’s how Kim stacks up according to Google Trends now:

Google Trends for Kim Kardashian

Aside from a major peak a few months ago, the interest in Kardashians has been consistently high.

High profile websites may actually yield some decent traffic (thus are willing to accept a similar pitch). They mostly earn through ads so high organic/social traffic can be profitable for them.

But do you want to be associated with celebrities? If your own brand reputation doesn’t match this, you won’t benefit a lot in the long-run.

If you just want to slap a HuffPost logo on your website, this strategy may work well enough.

In my experience, guest blogging on a really popular general audience business website doesn’t generate a ton of leads (if any). Plus, it’s hard to get a do-follow link to your website for domain authority reasons.

Niche websites may work a lot better for sales reasons.

I’ve been authoring content for Publishing Executive and have a few pieces on Forbes or Inc. PubExec’s domain authority is 48 while Forbes ranks at 95 out of 100.

But I get approximately two prospects touching base after publishing an article on PubExec. From a lead generation perspective, it has worked a lot better for me.

5. What Are the Practical Benefits of Guest Blogging for Writers?

Some common perks (not exclusively) are the following:

  • Recognition
  • Reputation
  • Backlinks
  • Organic ranking
  • A way to pitch their services

Occasionally, magazines may feature the story in their newsletter or social media (which results in additional exposure).

6. How Can Publishers/Sites Benefit From Guest Posts?

guest bloggers

High-quality content is hard to source.

Guest writers can produce outstanding content based on their expertise over the years. A different point of view or background can bring a new perspective to the editorial process and spark additional engagement for the readers.

Also, top-notch writers can share submitted content with their audience. This sometimes includes hundreds of thousands of followers (or email subscribers). This recognition could bring additional ad revenue or new subscribers to the publishing business.

And certain writers may offer to contribute a “sponsored post”, which may be some extra revenue for the business. Usually, this is a modest fee between $20 and $100 but hey, it’s free content.

7. How Do Guest Posts Send Traffic Your Way?

Most editors are highly conservative when it comes to link building. Do-follow links are rare to find, too (they are mostly accepted in lower DA sites).

Guest bloggers research link opportunities first – and decide whether a piece will be treated as “earned media” or link acquisition is actually possible.

But for traffic reasons, most of my links are left untouched on Business 2 Community.

B2C’s domain authority is actually 86 which isn’t too far from Forbes, but it’s less-known and most people neglect its value.

While links are generally nofollow, I occasionally get some traffic to my content linked inside which could convert well with the right audience reading the site content.

As a result, guest posting can work, but you can’t “win it all” with a single publication or two. It takes continuous effort for accumulating results. There are millions of entrepreneurs and marketers trying to hack the system and editors’ inboxes are full all the time.

Finding the right mediums to pitch your stories and ensuring your KPIs are correct can help you tailor your headlines and outlines better, and get the job done as expected.

8. What Are the Problems Associated With Guest Blogging?

While Google warned marketers against using guest posting for link building purposes, this is de facto still a great way to build links to your website.

Landing an in-content link on a high page authority page in a reputable journal can bring traffic, credibility, and additional SEO karma to a writer. This means that loads of companies and freelancers try to pitch all the time without producing top content for their audience.

We tend to receive 20–30 guest pitches a week for my agency website (with a blog). I tend to receive at least a few weekly for my own blog as well. The higher the domain authority of the site (as measured by Moz, usually related to domain recognition in SEO), the more frequent are guest post requests by random email addresses.

So the paradox is that top writers don’t have an incentive to write for starting blogs while freelancers and small link building agencies often underestimate the pitching process and aim high for reputable sites (that grew in popularity mostly thanks to their quality content).

9. How Do You Handle Guest Post Requests?

Do you ignore all guest post pitches that hit your inbox?

We get loads of incoming requests and the vast majority of them come through Gmail addresses. My first guess is a higher deliverability rate + easily switching between emails once any of them is flagged.

Our content manager validates some pitches against our standards. Occasionally, a piece or two are decent. Most of the time, they are plagiarised or written with a minimal understanding of business operations.

Some pitches come from authoritative sources every now and then — sites that we all know and read regularly. Those are reviewed thoroughly as we get to discuss strategic partnerships, too.

Guest posting lessons

Do you struggle in creating content? Check out The Guide to Consistently Producing High Quality Content next.

Or maybe you’re looking for ways to optimize your content marketing process? I’ve listed down 17 actionable steps to effectively navigate your content marketing strategy: Beginner’s Guide to Starting as a Freelance Content Writer

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