The most comments I have ever seen on a blog post was on Jon Morrow’s “Why I Quit Blogging (and What to Do If You’re Struggling)” post. There were so many comments, in fact, that almost every day new ones kept coming to my inbox. I had commented, you see, and that subscribed me to comments. Unfortunately there was no “unsubscribe” link that I could find – or, it didn’t work. I forget which, but the only reason why I don’t see those comments anymore is because I no longer use that email address. (No, I wasn’t running away from The Attack of the Killer Comments – it was a company email and I switched jobs.)
Why were there so many comments? You’re welcome to check it out for yourself – worth a read – but I’ll tip you off to save you some time.
The subject was guest blogging. And the author of the post volunteered to give personalized tips about where and how any commenter should direct his efforts when it comes to guest blogging. If you’d like his tips, feel free to go and comment there too (just be forewarned about inbox onslaught, although maybe it’s calmed down by now). Here we’re going to take you step by step through a guest blogging strategy.
First of all, to make sure we’re all on the same page: what is guest blogging?
The Unofficial Virtual Assistant Israel Heritage Dictionary defines guest blogging as:
n. the act of writing original posts for blogs not your own, usually to increase your exposure to potential readership or clientele and/or to generate links back to your site
If you can achieve both those goals with one guest post, that’s fantastic. Sometimes you’ll have to pick one or the other.
Increase Exposure to Potential Readership
Let’s focus first on guest blogging to increase your exposure to potential readership or clientele. You may be an amazing writer and expert in your niche, but haven’t yet managed to draw more than a trickle of readers to your blog. How do you show your potential readership that you’re worth a read – maybe even a subscribe? Find the blogs your target audience already frequents and offer to write a free guest post. (Your potential clients are already all gathered in one place – why not stop by and attempt a temporary spotlight?)
How do you find those blogs?
If you’re in the niche, you might already know what they are. If you don’t, or want to get more ideas, try the following searches in Google:
1) Search for your niche “guest post”. An example:
We searched for gardening “guest post”. These may not be the most popular and established blogs in the gardening niche, but at least you know they have accepted guest posts in the past, an encouraging sign that you’re not wasting your time pitching them on your potential guest spot.
2) Search for your niche blog.
We searched for gardening blog. These ARE the established, linked-to blogs in your niche – but they may or may not be interested in what you have to offer.
Peruse the blogs and the contributing writers. First get a feeling for how established they are and how many sites link to them using the Moz toolbar (those are those red and blue bars in the above screenshots). It’ll give you link metrics underneath every result on the Google results pages. If you’re a Pro member, you get more detailed numbers for how many incoming links and domains each result has, but even if you’re not, the overall metric gives you an idea of the site’s and posts’ strength.
Then go into the blogs one by one. Check for the following factors:
1) number of subscribers (if listed)
2) number of comments on posts (this will show you how active the community is)
The first factor will tell you the quantity of the readership, the second factor the quality and engagement of the readership.
If both are high – great target! Many readers will likely see your guest post, they’ll hopefully interact with you on-site and follow you back to your own site. If they do follow you back to yours, they’re likely to be engaged readers.
If there are many subscribers but few comments, either they’re avid fans and just don’t have anything to add – OR many of those subscribers simply aren’t reading the posts (kind of like when all those comments showed up in my inbox – I just started ignoring the emails). You’re not going to know which one, so if you don’t have better options where both are high, it might be worthwhile proposing a guest post to a blog like this.
If there are few subscribers but many comments, either the readership are all active and engaged with the blog (good sign) – or they get a lot of traffic from search engines and referring sites, and the visitors comment, but aren’t into subscribing (clogged inboxes?) Either way, this type of site is still a good bet if you’re looking for people who are going to be interested in and engaged by your content.
If there are few subscribers and few comments – bad news. You still might want to offer a guest post for the second purpose – getting links back to your site. Don’t bank on garnering readers, although you may be surprised.
You have now compiled a list of potential blog targets.
How do you offer a guest post?
1) Find the contact information of the blog owner. This is often on the contact page, either as a form or as an email address. If there is no contact info listed, you could click the Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn icons you see on the blog, and they will lead you to the person running it.
2) Come up with 2-3 potential titles of blog posts you could write – these must be topics of interest, real content, appropriate to the readership.
3) Write a note that is PERSONALIZED. Prove that you have actually read something on their blog besides the contact page. You know what you do when someone sends you an obvious form letter, right? Mention one or two things that you appreciate about their blog. Then offer to contribute to their readership, and tell them the topics you were thinking about. (For a great example of this process, and of guest blogging in general, read Danny Iny’s post about his experiences guest blogging.)
It may help to keep a spreadsheet with the blogs you’ve contacted, the contact info, the date you contacted them, and any follow-up.
Increase Links to Your Site
If this is your goal, the process isn’t all that different than that described above though your focus may be a little different. The strength of the target blog’s incoming links will be more important; actual readership and engagement will be less so. You might also look for blogs in related niches where the readership isn’t necessarily the same, but you can have some expertise on the subject, and it won’t look incongruous to have your bio and background at the end. To use the above example, if you have a gardening blog, you may target food sites and write something about using home-grown produce.
If you want links back to your site, you may be tempted to stick a bunch into the body of your post. Cool it. That’s a good way to get your post rejected (obnoxious! Self serving!) even if they initially wanted it. Put your links in your bio at the end – and not too many. Three (max) is a good rule of thumb.
While not an official goal of guest blogging, oftentimes guest blogging can lead to fruitful relationships with other bloggers and site managers. I once was identifying guest blog spots for a client, and one of the blogs I tried emailed me back saying they would be interested, but they’d like to write for us as well (trading guest posts.) That was the beginning of a nice exchange with the marketer for their website, who was in the same general niche as ours, but not a direct competitor.
Readership, links, relationships… may they be fruitful and multiply! Go out and guest blog!