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Remember back in grade school, when you weren’t one of the cool kids? You’d do anything to sit at their table—even give away your pudding for free. To some, guest posting seems like a similarly desperate attempt to get noticed.
Instead of working hard to build up your brand’s visibility, you’re providing valuable content to a bigger brand for free. Even worse—there’s no guarantee that it will get published on your target site.
But here’s where guest posting is different from grade school. As an adult, giving away your pudding for free actually works. Guest posting on high traffic sites is one of the most powerful and turnkey ways to gain new visitors, generate new leads, strengthen SEO, and lift your brand out of obscurity.
Why? Because you get to sit at the cool kids’ table. You’re borrowing their traffic.
Target high-profile sites to gain exposure
What’s that? You want an affordable way to drive more visitors to your website? Well, why didn’t you just say so?
Step 1: Find the most popular websites for your target buyers
And we do mean the most popular. Don’t settle for less. If your website traffic is nonexistent, you need as much help as you can get. Do some research and find out which sites your buyers are visiting—not which sites you like the most.
And remember, not all blogs are created equal. Some blog receive hundreds of views each month, while others get millions.
Step 2: Write a post for that website’s blog, with their style and tone of voice in mind
Take a look at their blog. Chances are, they already accept guest contributors. Read recent posts, paying special attention to the ones that are shared the most. Determine what those writers are doing, and why their pieces were the most engaging. Pay attention to headlines.
Then start brainstorming. What makes their readers tick, and how can you offer something even better? Don’t focus on your brand or service—that’s what the byline is for. Instead, ask yourself how you can help solve their problems. Once you have the right angle, start writing.
Step 3: Find out who the editor is and pitch your piece
When you have a polished draft, head over to the contact page. Typically, big websites will list editors by email or have a contact form.
If you can, email your piece directly. Let them know you wrote it with their readers in mind. If you only have a contact form, just give them the standard pitch instead of the entire draft.
Then be patient. These are the cool kids, after all, so it might take them a while to get back to you. If your writing is good, and your message suited to their readers, they will respond. Once you’re in, you’re in.
Worst-case scenario: they don’t like your piece. You can always shop it around to publications with a similar readership. Or you could put it on your own blog—it’ll probably be better than the last few posts anyway.
Build credibility with great content and great links
Finding the right publications to contribute to is important, but posting the proper content is just as essential.
Make sure you’re positioning yourself as an authority on your topic of choice. Do more research than you need to. Write more drafts than you normally would. Every sentence must ooze credibility. Otherwise, you’ll be torn apart in the comments. No one will take you seriously.
First impressions, as I’m sure you know, are extremely important. The last thing you want is for 100,000 readers who have no idea who you are to read your debut post and write you off as a fraud.
A good rule of thumb for beginner contributors is to always rely on content better than your own. Link to a lot of great content on high-traffic sites. These supporting pieces verify the information you provide and please Google Penguin (which loves good, relevant links).
Track your results, please
We guarantee you’ll be surprised by the amount of engagement you receive. Clients of ours have reported up to 1,000x more engagement from guest posts than their native blog posts.
Of course, if you aren’t tracking the performance of your guest posts, you wouldn’t know that. Shares tend to accumulate over a period of months. Some of the best, most-shared content we’ve written still gets shared years later.
Always make sure you are tracking engagement. Google Analytics will help you measure everything from views to sources to click-through rates, but simpler tools like Buzzsumo and even SharedCount are fine if you just want to take a pulse.
Which topics scored the most shares? What posts gave you the most visitors overall? How does the length of the post affect readership and click-through rates? All very important things to think about.
Don’t forget why you guest-posted in the first place
Headlines are incredibly important. David Ogilvy once said that, based on his research, 5x more people read headlines than body copy. Once you’ve decided on the headline, you’ve already spent 80 cents of your marketing dollar.
When it comes to guest posts, headlines are still the most important element of your piece—but bylines are just as important. The little blurb at the bottom that explains who you are and what you do is the real reason you’re guest posting in the first place.
You want as many of your readers to click on your website or landing page as possible. So if you haven’t put enough thought into your byline, you might as well stop while you’re ahead. Polish those few lines of autobiography until they’re squeaky clean.
Once you tap into the secret power of guest posting, there’s nothing stopping you from getting the kind of traffic you always wanted. So give away your pudding more often. Enjoy the perks of sitting at the cool kids’ table.