Guest posting is here to stay. It’s a great overall strategy, and an integral part of multiple marketing angles, including content marketing, personal branding, social media marketing, and even SEO. If you post on a diverse range of sources with great content pointing back to your site, you’ll earn direct referral traffic, more social media followers, a better personal brand image, and an increase in your search ranks.
The problem is that you can’t just post content wherever and whenever you feel like. The sites with the highest authority on the web got to where they are because they only allowed great content to be posted. Getting past the gatekeepers can be tricky, and establishing a great long-term relationship is even harder.
Thankfully, there’s a relatively solid system you can use to build up a store of guest posting sources. Follow these five steps, and you should have little trouble establishing a relationship with a relevant source:
Step One: Identify Your Prospect.
Your first job is to identify a source worth establishing a relationship with. For this, you’ll need to consider three main factors:
The source’s level of authority. How recognizable is their name? How high do they rank in searches? The more authoritative the site the better.
The source’s relevance to your industry. The closer the fit, the better. Avoid any source that serves a niche outside your own, but general-purpose sources are okay provided they offer a high enough authority.
The source’s appropriateness to your experience level. When you’re first starting out, the highest authority and most relevant sources aren’t going to take you. You have to start small and work your way up.
Finding possible sources is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can use a blog aggregator or simple Google searches to find relevant publishers in your industry, or follow personal brands you want to emulate and see where they post. Once you’ve identified a perfect source, your job is to find the contact information for the person in charge of publishing. You can sometimes find this on the site itself, but you might have to send a query via a contact form.
Step Two: Reach Out With a Pitch.
Once you have a source in mind, you have to reach out with a pitch—this is a brief outline of a post you intend to write for the source. Keep your pitch in line with other material you know the site has posted in the past; for example, you could reference a previously popular post and offer a more detailed follow-up or a rebuttal. You could also cover a topic you know has never been covered before by this particular source.
The key here is to offer value to your source. Make a bold impression by suggesting content the editor or publisher will be excited to incorporate on site. This is easier said than done, of course, but if you can find appropriate, exciting content to pitch, you’re a shoo-in as a new guest poster.
Step Three: Deliver Great Content.
If your pitch isn’t accepted, you must submit a new pitch or move on to a different source. If and when a pitch is accepted, it’s your job to deliver on your promise. That means creating great content that will actively add value to your selected source. The definition of “great” will vary from source to source, but a few things you’ll have to keep in mind:
Follow any and all rules specific to your source. There may be length or formatting requirements.
Never directly pitch your own brand or products. Your goal is to provide information.
Back up your claims with external sources or evidence. The more thoroughly you research your topic, the better.
Proofread, proofread, proofread. Don’t let a simple error compromise your future relationship with the publisher.
In addition, make sure to use a unique, recognizable brand voice across all your platforms and publishing sources. It will help your readers grow loyal and familiar with you.
Step Four: Follow Up With an Offer of Value.
Once your post has been accepted and published on your target source, it’s your job to follow up at a later date and offer something of value. That something of value is subjective and variable—it could be another pitch for a different piece (and this is probably your best option). It could be an interview. It could be a syndication opportunity for the publisher. The key is to make yourself useful again.
Step Five: Establish a System of Regular Exchange.
Once your target source gets to know you, and learns that you’re a valuable and reliable resource, the doors are open. As long as you feel a mutual trust and respect, feel free to ask for a system of regular exchange. For example, you might offer to provide a new post every week, or every month, in exchange for being listed as a regular contributor. Start with a small ask—there’s always room to grow. The more posts you submit and the longer you work together, the more likely you’ll be to earn more opportunities in the future.
I should also mention that step one and two are almost impossible to get past unless you have some kind of established authority on the web. For example, if you send a potential source a pitch with no onsite blog posts, no social media following, and no real offsite web presence whatsoever, you’re likely to get rejected. In contrast, as you start building more relationships with more online sources, steps one and two get easier—you might even find outside sources coming to you with a request for new content!
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International.
He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.