Sometimes there are various thoughts that go through our head when we think of guest blogging, like: “Guest blogging doesn’t work anymore,” “Guest blogging is a huge waste of time,” “I tried publishing on other blogs before but I never got a response,” “I guest posted on a leading blog but it resulted in only a handful of subscribers,” “Guest posting? I don’t even know where to publish or even get started. It all seems so complicated.” Do any of these statements resonate with you?
Do you feel like you could have said at least one of these things? If so, you are not alone. Many bloggers – new and old alike – struggle with guest blogging. Either, they give it a half-hearted attempt or made a ton of rookie mistakes. These are the mistakes I’ll help you identify – and rectify – today in this blog post.
Let’s jump in.
Mistake #1 Your purpose is not clear
It always surprises people when I tell them to get clear on their guest blogging goals.
“What do you mean, get clear on the goals?” They always ask me with much surprise. They believe that you only guest blog to drive traffic to your own site and build your email list. Not true.
There are actually three main reasons why you guest blog. For credibility, for connections, and for lead generation. Most people only do it for the last one. When you get clear on what you want to achieve from your guest blogging efforts, you can decide whether it has been successful or not.
For example, some magazine style blogs like Forbes or Entrepreneur are huge for credibility building. If you get published on these sites, people will pay attention. However, you might not get a ton of subscribers straightway after getting published on such sites. But if you think about raising your profile, the ability to say ‘As seen on Forbes’ on your website, that is a fantastic return on investment.
Similarly, bloggers with huge following. You may or may not get a massive ROI in terms of leads but if you leverage these connections, they will pay off in the future.
- Your mistake: Not knowing why you are guest blogging in the first place.
- The cure: Carefully select blogs to guest post on and define your goal accordingly.
Mistake #2 You don’t write for the right blog
Are you posting on a blog that has a readership of few hundred people? Are you posting on your best friend or a colleague’s blog?
You have got to be strategic with your guest posting. If you guest post on a blog with the purpose of increasing your subscriber base and they have a very small audience, you will only get a few subscribers. If you do it on a blog with a seemingly huge audience but very little reader engagement, you will face the same result.
Here’s how you can increase your chances of building your email list with guest blogging. Be very picky with the blogs you choose for this goal.
Here are three ways to pick the right blog:
- You can go to Alltop.com and search for blogs by category. Start at the top because that’s where you will find the popular blogs and start making your list. Not every blog will be suitable for your purpose. Not all of them will accept guest posts so make as big list as you can.
- You can do Google searches for phrases like ‘Top 50 ……. Blogs’, or Best …… blogs’ (Insert your industry name in the blank) and you are good to go.
- Don’t forget your RSS reader. You should already be familiar with a number of blogs in your industry that may or may not turn up in the two lists above. Make a third list for that.
This is just the preliminary homework every aspiring guest blogger should do. If not, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot even before you get started.
Mistake #3 You don’t take the time to research the blog
You send out fully completed quest posts or pitches without doing any homework. Now it’s time to get serious. Start going through those lists and click on each blog’s URL, one by one.
This step may seem tedious and time consuming, but if you do this right, there is no way you can mess your guest blogging strategy so stick with it.
Firstly, you want to establish the size of the audience a blog has. They may tell you that on the blog so take a look around. If they don’t, look at their social shares and the number of comments people leave on their content. This should give you a rough idea.
You want to pick blogs with at least a few thousand readers. This is especially useful if you are new to this process. As you gain experience and proficiency, you can pitch to really popular blogs.
Secondly, you want to look at their guest blogging guidelines. You want to make sure they accept guest posts in the first place. Sometimes it is fairly obvious when you see guest posts published on the home page.
And lastly, you want to check if they accept completed blog posts or ideas. Now these are fairly basic research points, but you need to go even deeper.
You need to find out the blogger or editor’s name. And you need to start developing a relationship with the blogger in question. You don’t have to become best buddies but the goal is when you write your pitch, you aren’t writing as a stranger. Bloggers read all the comments they get (even if they don’t reply to them all), so there is a good chance they will recognize your name as a reader who leaves thoughtful comments and this will earn you some serious brownie points.
Mistake #4 You don’t come up with the right idea
You send a mediocre idea and it gets rejected.
What do I mean by a mediocre idea? A mediocre idea is something that doesn’t catch the attention of the blogger. It doesn’t stand out or, if it gets accepted and published, it doesn’t bring you any closer to your goals of adding more people to your list.
This happens when you don’t spend going through blog’s content before you make your idea pitch (or the completed post for that matter).
You need to actually read at least 3-4 recent blog posts to get an idea of the blogger’s style, the kind of topics they like to cover and also the comments they respond to. You also need to figure out the most popular content on that site. Often times, you will find this information listed on the sidebar. Look for Popular Posts, Reader Favourites or similar category of links.
Now utilize this information when you pitch an idea. You can pitch something if this particular topic hasn’t been covered in a long time. You can pitch an idea if the topic was something that was requested by a reader in the comments section, or you can propose to write on a topic that would add to a post written by the blogger recently.
Always pitch something that will add value to this blog’s community. Keep their audience in mind while coming up with your ideas. But, don’t forget the end result you want to achieve. You want this blog’s readers to come and check out your stuff, too. And if you choose something that is highly valuable to this audience but has no relevance to your own blog topic, nobody will subscribe.
A winning idea combines the topic of the blog you are aiming to write for with the topic of your own blog. This way, when their audience comes over, they will also be interested in what you have to say on your own site.
Mistake #5 You don’t pitch in the right manner
You send out a generic pitch and it gets rejected. There is an art to pitching an idea that results in a ‘yes’ from the publisher. It’s not rocket science.
Firstly, when you take the time to develop a relationship with the publisher in question, you start off on the right foot. Secondly, when you do your homework thoroughly, research the blog and take your time coming up with great ideas, your success is pretty much guaranteed, provided you don’t mess up the pitching process.
This is how I recommend you do it.
First of all, generic, mass emails will not do. You have got to take the time to personalise your pitch. You have to start off by addressing them (this is why you find out their name first). No generic salutations such as ‘dear sir or madam, dear webmaster’, etc.
Secondly, I want you to let the blogger know that you are pitching a guest post idea. In the subject line, say something like ‘Guest post submission: The idea’. If you are writing to a popular blogger, they might receive hundreds of pitches but not everyone will highlight it using the subject line. Even when they do, they have not put in effort to develop a relationship so you will be better off than most bloggers pitching.
Start your email by introducing yourself briefly and say something nice about the blog. Tell them whether you are a long time follower or a recent one but loving it. Tell them a post you recently enjoyed reading.
Tell them you have an idea that will really help their audience and briefly describe it. You can send in a finished post if that’s what they said so in the guest post guidelines.
Tell them about the work you published recently and link to some of your best work so they can check it out. It’s better to link to posts published on someone else’s blog, if you can, rather than on your own.
Lastly ask them whether they’d be interested so that you can send them the finished post. You can also refer to it as a draft. Tell them, you’ll follow up in about a week’s time if they don’t get around to seeing it.
End on a positive note. Don’t gush, treat them as a peer rather than putting them on a pedestal. And follow up if you don’t hear from them. Don’t be a flake.
Mistake #6 You don’t deliver in terms of content quality
You submit a post that you spend 30 minutes working on – and it shows.
Once you get the green light from the blogger, you can go ahead and write that post. Remember to make it your best one.
Make sure you tick all the boxes when it comes to screen friendliness. Add sub-headings, bulleted lists, images, quotes, and images. It’s great to send them the post already formatted in html as well as in a word document. You want to make it as easy as you can for them so they look forward to working with you again.
Spend some time mastering the headline but let them know you’re open to them changing it. Open your post with a bang. Make a statement, ask a question, share a startling statistic or tell a story. Cover the post from a new angle. Write it in a fresh manner.
Pay attention to the sentence structure. Use small sentences and paragraphs. Get rid of all the unnecessary information. Get to the point quickly. Make sure your post flows. Edit and proofread your post. Ask someone else to do it if it’s not your strong point.
Mistake #7 You don’t make use of your byline
You put so much work into your guest posting strategy but you don’t optimize your byline or author bio. This is what I mean: Most bloggers when they write for another site, link to their homepage in their byline. This is a big mistake.
A link to your homepage is a generic link. It doesn’t really entice the reader into clicking it. You want to take this opportunity and say something that will arouse their curiosity and make them want to check out what is it that you do and head over to your website.
If you picked the right idea, the person reading your post should also have some interest in what you talk about over at your blog. You need to give them some incentive to follow you there. The easiest way to do this is to link to your squeeze page.
A squeeze page is just a page with your opt-in box and some details about your freebie incentive. It usually has a headline, a few bullet points and then the sign-up box. If you link to your squeeze page, you maximize conversions.
Your homepage is not the best place to lead a visitor to. If it is a store front, they might not be in a buying mood. If it’s a blog style page, the stuff at the top might not be the best one, or, relevant to this new visitor. The squeeze page is.
So there you have it.
If your guest posting efforts are not paying off, I bet that you are making at least a few of these mistakes. Which ones are they? Fix them and you will see a real return on investment for your guest blogging strategy.