The Do's and Don'ts of Guest Blogging: Get the Leads You Want

guest blogging, guest blogging tips, how to guest blog

September 26, 2014 by

Guest blogging is a tried and true way to reach new audiences, and, if you’re good, get them back to your site for some fresh leads. In my last post, I discussed the benefits of guest blogging, and how to get started by finding sites that are a good fit for your content. Now, onto the nitty-gritty: how to really get your guest posts on sites, and how to make sure those posts bring you plenty of new leads.

Blogs with Open Submission for Guest Posts

Many blogs are happy to accept guest posts at any time, from just about anyone. But whether they will use your post – that’s another story. Some do’s and don’ts to improve your chances:

DO follow their guidelines to a T. Often the bigger and better the blog, the pickier the guidelines. If you don’t meet every specification, you can be quite sure your guest post will never see the light of day on their site. Guidelines can specify things like a 7-10 word title, paragraph length, at least 3 subheadings, 2 images, hyperlinks to certain sites, a call to action, no call to action, etc. Play nice so your content will be considered.

DO read their blog for voice and content. Some blogs are funny and playful; others are deadly serious in tone. Match your submission to the voice you find most often in their accepted posts. Pay careful attention to first- and second-person references to see if they prefer abstract posts or direct address to readers. Content should be obvious – don’t pick a topic that they’ve just covered in a post, and don’t write something that won’t fit in with what they’re posting about.

DON’T leave off your byline. In a highly controlled guest post, regulated by strict guidelines, it’s very likely that your byline will be the only space to mention yourself and your business. This is your chance to guide readers back to your blog, so don’t miss it. Check their specs for bylines or bios (word count, one or two sentences, etc.) and fit in as much as you can to tempt readers. And make sure to link back to your site!

DON’T republish your guest post on your own blog. This is generally just bad practice for SEO (duplicate content will mean a penalty from Google), but it’s also a good way to create bad blood! Your responsibility as the guest blogger is to share and link to the post on the host site – so you’re sending them traffic. They’ll be promoting it as well and thus sending you some traffic too.

Related Class: Fundamentals of Business Blogging

Blogs that Don’t Solicit Guest Posts

This is the majority of blogs – they’re plugging away, providing good content to readers and minding their own business. You’re going to need to convince them of your value, and create that win-win situation that marketers like to see.

DO approach them with a great pitch. If you’ve done your research, you should know the type of content their readers like, and what fits with their goals. You should serve them a thoughtful pitch – not a completed post – that will tempt them. Also be sure to send links to your writing elsewhere, and your own blog, so they can get a taste for your style, and your readership.

DO offer a trade, if it makes sense. You want to write them a guest blog to get new leads. That’s probably something they’re looking for too, so why not a trade? Many content marketers swap guest blogs to breathe new life into their blogs from time to time, assuming that there is a strongly relevant connection between the two blogs.

DON’T forget to iron out all the details in advance. Make sure you know what you’re getting: What kind of byline or bio will they give you? Are they going to link to your site? Will they be adding you to their blogroll? Will they be promoting your post on their social media platforms? Also be sure that you know what they expect of you: How are you going to promote the post? How many words should it be? Do they have specific formatting requirements? Are you supplying images or are they?

DON’T be a risk for them. Think of your own blog: you have spent countless hours laboring over it, creating the right feel and content, and cultivating a readership you really, really want to keep and keep happy. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that most blogs are protective of their space and would generally rather play it safe. You are a new and unknown commodity, so prove yourself to be professional, knowledgeable and easy to communicate with. Of course, the proof will really be in that pudding (blog) you send them!

Guest blogging isn’t a costly undertaking, but it will require your time and effort to get right. It’s not as easy as spinning your old content for a new market; you’ll need to spend time establishing the rules, crafting content that fits them, and then writing posts that make for great reading as well. Playing by the rules will help you get your guest blog in front of fresh eyes, but it’s also up to you to create a post that is insightful, or creative, or funny, or helpful – whatever it takes to pull those leads to your own site.

Want to expand your content marketing efforts? Watch this class on blogging for business for more info on guest blogging, and the value of a business blog!

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