How to Guest Blog: The Complete Step-by-Step Blueprint for Success
Want to learn how to guest blog?
I mean really guest blog, from getting started to scaling your efforts in order to earn high quality links and be featured on the top authority websites in your industry?
If so, then get ready to learn how to guest blog the correct way.
I’m going to teach you how to reap the benefits of guest blogging, the same way I have.
Learn How to Guest Blog from an Expert
I have published more than 300 guest posts, and I was 100 percent self-taught.
I’ve published guest posts on smaller marketing blogs, as well as some of the biggest media outlets, like Business Insider:
As well as Entrepreneur:
I’ve published guest blogs on HuffPost also:
Inc.com is one of the top business websites, which is another place I have guest blogged:
Also, I’ve guest blogged on Forbes:
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I’ve also landed guest blogs on Fox Business, NBC News, HubSpot, USA Today, Search Engine Journal, Mashable, Wall Street Journal, MarketingProfs, ADWEEK, Elite Daily, Fortune, Time, Infusionsoft, Success, Fox News, Salesforce, Business.com, The Next Web, and many more.
Through guest blogging I was able to drive more traffic to my website and earn powerful authority links, which greatly benefited my SEO.
Those guest posts generated thousands of targeted visitors to my site and helped increase organic traffic from Google.
So, I’m not just talking in theory — I’ve done it, personally.
And I’m going to show you how to guest blog also, step-by-step.
Step 1: Identify Guest Blogging Opportunities
The very first thing you need to do is identify guest blogging opportunities.
And let me clarify — relevant guest blogging opportunities.
If you own a law firm and you are looking to guest blog for personal branding as well as SEO benefits, then you need to focus on legal and attorney-themes websites and blogs.
Just because you find a blog that accepts guest posts doesn’t automatically qualify it as an opportunity. I see so many people wasting their time pitching blogs that are completely irrelevant. It’s a waste of time.
Let’s dive into a few simple strategies to identify relevant guest blogging opportunities.
Create a List of Guest Blogging Targets from Competitor Link Audits
By digging into competitors’ link profiles you can identify backlinks they acquired through guest blogging.
You can not only find opportunities, but they are opportunities that will help you acquire links that will have a positive impact on your SEO.
Use an SEO tool like SpyFu to easily uncover competitors’ backlinks. All you have to do is enter the website’s URL:
And you will quickly see all of the links for the particular URL:
LinkMiner is another great tool you can use to uncover competitors’ backlinks:
Once you have the links, it’s going to require a little manual labor. You see, not every link they built or acquired will be from guest blogging.
But, if you are willing to do a little digging you can uncover some great opportunities that you can replicate.
This is also a great strategy to find guest blogging opportunities that are not publicly advertised. Not every blog is going to have a “Write For Us” page in plain sight.
If a competitor secured a guest blog post there is no reason you can’t do the same.
Use ‘Guest Blog’ Search Strings on Google
Google is a great place to quickly find websites that accept guest blog posts. There are a few search strings that are pretty standard and will help you find the most common guest posting opportunities in your niche.
Search String: Keyword (copy and paste from the text box below)
Search String: Keyword inurl: (copy and paste from the text box below)
Google Reverse Image Search Blogger Headshots in Your Niche
This is one of the easiest and most effective ways discover the best guest blogging opportunities.
There is more than likely someone in your niche that absolutely crushes it. Someone that knows how to guest blog like a champ. They appear to be everywhere.
When I first started guest blogging I was following Neil Patel. He was everywhere. Here’s his author bio from Inc.com:
Now, you will want to save the headshot to your desktop. You can do this by right-clicking on the image and selecting the “Save Image As” option.
Then, visit Google Images and click on the little camera icon to bring up the search options:
Click on the “Upload an image” tab and then the “Choose File” button to select the headshot image you just previously saved to your desktop.
This is what the search returned in this example, just on the first page:
Repeat this strategy for all of the top guest bloggers in your industry and dig deep through the search results and watch your list of opportunities grow quickly.
Step 2: Research and Plan for Each Guest Blog Target
Ok, so after you complete the first step above you now have a list of guest blog targets, but they aren’t all going to be a good fit, and that is to be expected.
It’s important that you identify those opportunities that you have a chance of securing, as well as those guest blog opportunities that are actually going to be worth your time.
Writing a guest post takes time. You have to do the initial research, pitch, go back and forth via email and then actually write the content.
If the target link acquisition provides little to no SEO value or the blog’s traffic and metrics are low you are unlikely to generate a lot of referral visits.
Understand How to Guest Blog Intelligently
Now, if you are just starting out then your best approach is to target those lesser-know websites and blogs first. This will help you master and fine-tune your entire process, from research to pitch and then finally content writing.
If you go after the large publications like Mashable, Entrepreneur and Forbes out of the gate, with little to no experience, you are going to blow the opportunity.
In the very beginning, smaller blogs are more likely to reply to your initial outreach and then, if you do everything correctly, publish your guest blog.
The more smaller guest blogs you publish, the better chance you have at securing guest posts on websites on the next tier, in terms of popularity.
The higher-tier blogs have much stricter publishing guidelines in terms of content quality and guest author authority.
Over time your writing skills will improve and you will develop your own unique voice. The more examples of published work you can show as examples, the better chance you have at securing guest blog posts on higher-tier websites.
Who is going to look more authoritative in the eyes of an editor at a major media outlet? Someone with a few guest blog examples or someone that has 25+ recent examples? Volume and diversity is major leverage when targeting the larger websites.
Ideal Guest Blog Targets:
- Are relevant and niche-related
- Have strong SEO metrics (Domain Authority (DA), Domain Rank (DR), Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) to name a few)
- Have strict editorial guidelines
- Receive a lot of comments and social shares on their blog content
- Allow their guest bloggers to include a bio with a link
- Will drive targeted referral traffic to your website
If your target has an idea of who you are BEFORE they receive your pitch it will help you close a much higher percentage of your guest blog targets.
So, how do you accomplish that? It’s actually much easier than you might imagine.
Interact, Share and Tag on Social Media
One of the easiest ways to get on someone’s radar is simply by interacting with them on social media. Twitter is a great option. If your target posts something helpful or informative, let them know.
If they publish and share a great piece of content, share it and make sure to tag them as well so they receive a notification. This will require a little effort and some consistency.
But, if you interact with a target for a solid three to four weeks prior to pitching them there is a good chance that the name familiarity will help get your foot in the door.
Often times this can be the difference of having your pitch completely ignored and sent to the trash, or having them actually read it.
Create an Account on Their Blog and Comment on Content
This serves the same purpose as the social media interaction mentioned above. You want them to become familiar with you and your expertise, prior to receiving your pitch.
If their blog posts accept comment, sign up for their website or the comment platform they use. Create a professional profile, with your bio and professional headshot.
This will help you stand out, and if you are consistent it can greatly benefit your initial outreach. If you do this, make sure to mention it in your first contact.
Something like, “I’ve really noticed your content over the past month and I’ve actually been fairly active on your blog, engaging in the comments section.”
Brainstorm an Irresistible Topic for Your Guest Blog Pitch
It’s important to remember that most blogs — the desirable ones at least — receive guest blog pitches every single day. They are inundated with them.
To stand out, you really need to grab their interest right away with an irresistible topic. Never pitch saying that you would love to guest blog and then ask for a preferred topic. That’s too much work on their end.
Blow their socks off with a topic that they will have a hard time saying no to, by doing these things:
Look at Their Top Content & Previous Guest Posts
It’s always a good idea to look at recent guest blog posts on the sites you are about to target. This gives you a good idea of the writing style they prefer and also what kind of topic pitches they have accepted.
Most blogs will have a “Popular Posts” or “Popular Content” widget on their sidebar or somewhere on their main blog index page. For example, here is Entrepreneur.com’s “Most Popular” section:
This gives you a good indication of what topics and style posts (listicles, how-to posts, etc.) perform the best on a particular website.
Review and Understand Their Publishing Guidelines
This is very important. Take a few minutes to identify and read their publishing guidelines. Some smaller blogs will only have a word-count requirement, but larger media sites will have very in-depth guidelines.
The more familiar you are with these before you pitch, the better. For example, if they only accept content that’s between 650 and 800 words then you don’t want to pitch them a complex 3,000 word tutorial or guide.
Find Top Performing Content Topics in Your Niche
BuzzSumo is a great tool that can help you find the most popular posts online related to any keyword or domain in terms of social shares by network and total engagements received.
When you are able to find the most-shared content and you have an understanding of what performs best on a particular website it allows you to really narrow down your pitch topic to something that has a very high probability of not only being accepted, but also perform very well.
Step 3: Send a Well Thought-Out Pitch to Each Guest Blog Target
What do you think the last thing a blog owner or editor wants to do?
If you said, “Read a long-winded spammy guest blog pitch” then you are correct!
They have much more important things to do than read through 10s or 100s of pitches flooding their inbox.
If a pitch is too long or one of the spammy template pitches they have seen a thousand times they will delete the email without even giving your pitch a read. If that happens you wasted a lot of time.
It’s important that you respect their time (keeping the pitch SHORT and to the point) while also not insulting their intelligence by sending a copy/paste generic pitch.
Let’s look at an example of a very direct and effective pitch template to use as a starting point.
Example Guest Blog Pitch Template
Hey there [First Name],
I’ve been reading and engaging with your website’s content for a while now, and I’d love to contribute a guest blog.
I’ve actually put a lot of thought into a post that I have already outlined:
[Your Pitch Title]
It’s a fresh take and unique. I’m confident it will perform well. I know your time is valuable, so here are some examples of content I have recently published:
I’m more than happy to send it to you as soon as I fish it later this week. It would be exclusive to your website and not republished anywhere else.
Want me to send it over?
[Your First Name]
Why is This Guest Blog Pitch Template Effective?
Remember, this is JUST a starting point. You should never fire off a copy/paste template to every target. You need to customize each pitch specifically for its intended target.
This guest blog template is an effective starting point because:
- It’s short and sweet (showing them you respect their time).
- There is no fluff or ass kissing (the “Oh wow, your content is THE BEST! I absolutely loved [insert blog post title] found here: [insert blog post URL]!”).
- It shows that you have spent time thinking of a piece of content specifically for their website since you give them your best topic idea in the pitch.
- It’s totally informal and doesn’t make you sound like a robot (human element is key to relationship building).
Guest blog pitching is a numbers game. The more pitches you get out there, the more “yes” replies you will receive. Don’t take it personal if you don’t hear back or if they simply tell you they are not interested.
Over time you will learn what works and what doesn’t. You have to jump in and get your hands dirty. As your pitch improves, your acceptance ratio will increase.
Once you get a bite, it’s time to write the content.
Step 4: Write Your Guest Blog Posts
The research, outreach and pitch are the easy steps of this process. When you get a pitch accepted you have to actually write the content.
Yeah. Don’t forget that. That’s why it’s very important to plan and move at a speed that allows you to comfortably write the content as it’s needed.
Writing comes easy and natural for some, and for other people, writing requires a lot of time and dedication. You’ll quickly know what category you fall into when you get started writing your first guest blog post.
When you are starting out, you are going to target pretty much any publication that will accept your guest post. As you improve your content and build up your authority as an expert, you will want to be more selective and understand ahead of time what kind of value each target can potentially return.
Guest Blogging Tips When Just Starting Out
You have to start somewhere, and that often means on blogs with lower authority, less attractive SEO metrics and a smaller audience.
That’s fine. This is where you are going to master the research and pitch game, as well as become a better writer.
Remember, when you are doing your research, there are going to be some targets you identify that might not pack the biggest SEO punch or have the most referral traffic potential, but there might be another reason to secure a guest blog on a particular website. (Attempting to duplicate competitors’ link profiles, build a relationship with an industry influencer, etc.)
You want to always write quality content, but you don’t need to spend days researching, writing and editing when the goal can be achieved (guest post published, link acquired, etc.) with an article that takes you 20 minutes to write.
Save your time and the majority of your effort for authority guest blogs.
Authority Guest Blogging Tips
Everyone wants to land guest blog placements on authority websites, but they often forget one important piece of information — these websites are considered authorities because they only publish top-tier content.
Simply getting your pitch accepted doesn’t guarantee they will publish your blog. You need to impress them with high quality content. Aim to blow the recipient’s mind every single time.
There are three things you need to include in any content you write for an authority website.
Write Based on Experience (Not Theory)
Your expertise and knowledge is what is responsible for securing guest blogging opportunities for you, so remember that when it comes time to write content.
Highlight your expertise and write based on experience, not theory. Take this blog post for example. While not a guest post, it’s a good example of writing based on your experience and not general information.
I have personally had more than 300 guest blogs published, and I am explaining the process and strategy I personally used — not what I think would work.
Include Internal and External Links
It’s good SEO practice to link out to authoritative references used or cited within a blog post, as well as link to relevant posts within the same blog.
Interlinking helps to keep visitors on the blog longer and lowering bounce rate — both of which are great for SEO. Taking initiative and interlinking prior to submitting your guest post shows that you are knowledgable and that you care about the health and well-being of the blog.
Interlinking is very good for SEO. Here are a few of this blog’s interlinking stats:
Write Long-Form Content
Some blogs will have very specific word-count requirements. Some might just have a minimum set, while some might have a minimum as well as a maximum word-count.
In the event they do have a cap on word-count try to write content that comes in just below that number. You never want to do the bare minimum.
Now, if they don’t have a limit on the word-count, always strive to write long-form content that is at least 1,500 words. But, if you see that the majority of guest blog posts on a particular site are 2,500 words, for example, you will want to meet or exceed that.
Going above and beyond will always help. The days of 500-word blog posts are long gone. Take this blog for example. I don’t publish anything that is less than 3,000 words, and most posts come in way over that minimum.
Step 5: Maximize Each Guest Blog Post’s Impact
Once one of your guest blog posts is published your work isn’t done. Sure, you can let it sit idle and move onto the next one, but there are a few things you can do to maximize the impact of each guest blog.
This is a simple three-step process to consider applying to every published guest blog post you land (it requires very little effort):
1. Promote Each Post on Social Media
Share each post on social media — personal and business — and make sure you tag the publication. This will drive traffic to their post, which they will love, and it can also help attract additional shares and exposure from your network.
2. Proactively Reply to All Comments
Reply to all of the comments, even if it’s just a simple, “Hey, thanks for reading” type of reply. This is an easy way to make valuable connections, which can result in social media followers, referral traffic, leads, email list subscribers, clients, customers, etc.
Also, don’t be afraid to drop the first comment on a post, welcoming engagement. In fact, I do it on this blog after publishing a new post:
3. Follow-Up with Your Contact
Always send a follow-up email to your contact at the publication. This is common sense ‘Relationship Building 101’ yet so many guest bloggers don’t do this. It’s a great way to keep that door open for another guest blog post in the future.
Actionable Bonus Item 1: Create a Lead Magnet Content Asset
Most have link building and referral traffic in mind when guest blogging — the two primary goals of all guest posting.
But there is something you can do that will help you build your email list, users, customers, etc. as you scale your guest blogging efforts, and that is creating a piece of content that you can link to within your guest posts.
In order for this to work it needs to be something epic. Not a standard blog post. It needs to grab attention and trigger the person interacting with it to want to share it on social media.
When done right, this little ‘hack’ can produce amazing results, helping you drive more referral traffic and earn more links.
Lead Magnet Content Asset Example
This needs to be something related to your business and something wide enough, topic-wise, that you will be able to link to it from several different guest blog posts.
Examples: a highly detailed case study, a definitive how-to guide, a video, an infographic, etc.
Take a look at this Kylie Jenner infographic I created. It’s about how she used her personal brand to build her billion-dollar net worth, so it’s on-topic, as it’s business and entrepreneurship related.
Also, it’s an animated infographic so it goes above and beyond a traditional static infographic. This results in more social shares, more engagement and ultimately, more signups on my forum for entrepreneurs.
It’s a content asset that I can link to in my guest blogs, and the topic is wide enough that I can find ways to make it work on guest posts related to all things business and entrepreneurship.
Also, when you nail a great topic, you will see other blogs and website re-publish it, as long as you make it as easy as possible. If you look before the infographic you will see share code that can be copied and pasted.
It includes a link back to the original source, with the original animated infographic is hosted on this blog. There is also language that explains the share code cannot be altered or modified in any way.
Simply put, if another website wants to publish that infographic they are going to link back to my website. This “extra” link earning and referral traffic is a by-product of your guest blogging when you have a great content asset to include.
Actionable Bonus Item 2: How to Get the Biggest SEO Return from Guest Blogging
Earning links that help improve your SEO is a major reason for guest blogging. There are a few things you can do that will ultimately help you get the biggest return SEO-wise from your guest posting efforts.
Pay Attention to Social Shares & Comments
I cannot stress how important it is to look at social shares and comments when you are doing your initial research for guest blogging opportunities.
Sure, the big sites are appealing, but often times more niche-focused blogs will provide much more value.
A guest post on a lesser-known blog that is going to drive thousands of visitors and put your name and business in front of a new highly targeted audience is much more beneficial than landing a guest blog on a major website that will receive little to no attention and engagement.
The more social shares your posts receive, the more eyeballs it draws. This engagement leads to even more social sharing (think viral) and possible link earning.
More social shares and engagement = more potential value.
Focus on Building Contextual Links
An author bio link is great, like my Entrepreneur.com bio example below. It can help drive referral traffic, but in terms of SEO, Google has mentioned that it puts less weight on bio links than contextual links.
You want to attempt to land at least one contextual link — a link within the body of content surrounded by relevant content — per guest blog post. Now, a homepage link is going to be very difficult, as it fitting naturally is very unlikely.
Either link to a blog post or create a blog post that is relevant to the guest blog and link to it. Sometimes you have to go this route to secure a link from a particular blog.
Link building is not easy, and it requires work. If the thought of having to write a blog post for your own website just to secure a contextual link from a guest post scares you then guest blogging might not be for you.
Use Infographics for Guaranteed Internal Links
One of the most effective ways to almost guarantee a link is via infographics. You have two options.
Publish an infographic on your own website and then write relevant content for your guest blog, referencing data from and linking to the infographic in the post.
Or, republish an infographic as part of your guest post, linking to the original source of the infographic, which happens to be on your website.
Also, if you are having trouble getting a particular blog to accept a guest post pitch offer to create an exclusive infographic for them. I have secured several awesome guest posts by using this strategy.
The website loves it because they receive a free infographic that is exclusive to them, and you win through co-branding the infographic and receiving a credit link.
The co-branding can be highly beneficial, especially if it lands on large website that receives a lot of shares and engagement. Every time it is republished creates an opportunity to earn another link.
Congratulations, You Now Know How to Guest Blog
There you have it. A complete step-by-step explanation of how to guest blog.
No fluff. No nonsense. Just actionable tips that I have personally used to publish more than 300 guest posts on some of the biggest authority websites.
Does the process above work? Yes, very well.
Is it easy? It’s going to require work, but like anything, you get out what you put in.
Are you going to take action and start guest blogging?
What are some of the websites you are going to try to guest blog on?
Let me know in the comments below!