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How to Guest Post to Promote Your Blog

Are you guest posting to grow your blog? In this guest post, Josh Klein shares some insights on guest posting and the 5 steps to make it work for you. I (Darren) have added a few comments throughout this post also to add to the conversation. I’ll highlight/introduce these comments with a ‘From Darren:’ and in italics.

You’ve heard the blogger cliché “content is king”. It’s a lot like the real estate industry’s “location, location, location.” It turns out blogging and real estate have something in common: for both, you need content and location.

When it comes to pro blogging, thinking about location matters. There is no “build it and they will come”, and only 20% of your work is publishing posts.

By making strategic partnerships with other bloggers, you can produce content and put it in a great location, or you can get great content for the location you own, depending on which side of the partnership you are on.

Strategic partnerships can take a lot of different forms, but guest posting is the most obvious because it’s a one-off deal. There isn’t a need for a complex relationship or terms and conditions of the partnership.

In December, I wrote a guest post here at Problogger about how you need a blog strategy. Darren got a piece of unique content without having to write it (not to mention a post that now hovers between the #1 and #2 rank in Google for “blog strategy”), and I got the authority of having shared my insights, high quality links to my blog, and 200 new subscribers in a day. My earlier guest post about Digg had a similar effect.

The purpose of today’s guest post is to help you grow your blog, add to the Problogger content library, and continue to build my blog’s audience. To work, guest posting has to be beneficial for everybody involved.

From Darren: I can’t emphasize this enough. Many guest post submissions that I receive (and reject) are little more than self promotion of the guest poster filled with links to their own blog and little actual value to readers. These give me little motivation to use them and so end up in the ‘sorry I can’t use this’ basket.

The best way to make a guest post pay off for YOU is to make it pay off for the reader. Write something that makes readers think – ‘I really want to read more from this person’ and they’ll check you out in droves.

You see the value in guest posting, but how do you make it all happen? It takes 5 steps:

1) Be a reader

It’s important you be familiar with the blog you approach for a guest post. At the basic level, you need to know what the blogger writes about and what kind of guest posts usually get published. More importantly, you need to look at the most successful posts of that blog, looking for hints.

I look at the format other guest posters use and which has attracted the most comments. For Problogger, the “Best of Problogger” widget on the front page gave me some key insights.

I noticed that “how to” posts dominated the all time list and list of Darren’s favorites. After a search for “how to guest post” on Problogger and Google, the topic of this guest post began to form in my head.

I visited the Guest Blogging 101 section and read Darren’s How to be a Good Guest Blogger. I saw a different angle to approach from — namely, guest posting in order to promote your blog.

I also saw something useful about a guest post about guest posting describing the self-aware process of being published. Woah, that was a mouthful.

The point is: if I wasn’t familiar with the Problogger style and audience, I wouldn’t have been able to write this post.

From Darren: The main thing I’d add to this is to consider whether the topic that you’re writing about has been covered before – or at least covered recently. This is another reason that I often reject guest posts – simply because the topic would be repeating advice given in the recent memory of readers.

I personally don’t mind topics being repeated as long as they have fresh ideas and a new perspective – but too much on the one topic can frustrate readers. To be honest when I first saw this post from Josh I almost said no for this reason as this is a topic we’ve covered a few times before – however he has covered the topic a with some fresh ideas which won me over.

2) Write the guest post

I won’t belabor the point, but it should go without saying that your guest post be worth caring about. Duh.

The interesting part about this step is where in the process it comes; before you contact the blogger.

For most of you — assuming you take the “pro” part of blogging to heart — the places you want to guest post treat their blogs as businesses. You can reach out to these blogs pitching an idea, but that just gives them an opportunity to reject you.

When you really wanted something as a kid, did you ask your parents for permission or forgiveness?

If you contact a blogger in order to guest post, send your post with the email. Don’t ask for permission, just do it. If they don’t want to publish it, you can make some modifications and send it to another blog (or publish at your own).

I finished writing this post before Darren even knew it existed.

From Darren: This is one point I differ on a little from Josh. While I do publish quality posts that are submitted before I know they’re being written – a guest poster will have an increased likelihood of success if they contact me BEFORE writing the post.

The reason for this is partly connect with point #2 above – that being that if you’re going to write a post I want it to be on a topic that has not been covered recently and that is covering a topic in a new way. My preference is to know what topics you’re working on so that I can help shape those topics to make them more useful – and also so I’m aware of how many guest posts are coming in. Quite often when someone submits a topic I’ll brainstorm with a guest poster and together we make the topic more useful, engaging and helpful to readers.

This isn’t to say that I won’t publish posts that come to me complete – however it’s not my preference.

Lastly – one of the things that many good guest posters do is to cross link within a post to previous posts on the blog you’re writing for. For example you’ll see in the section ‘be a reader’ above that Josh links to a couple of previous posts on ProBlogger. This shows he’s familiar with previously written posts on this site, adds value to the post and helps promote previously written work from this site. Some bloggers only link to their own previously written work in a post – this can be valuable to readers if on topic but more often than not a blog that you’re writing for will have great posts in its own archives that can add depth to your post.

3) Send the guest post to the blogger

Your guest post is going to be enough of a headache to read, so don’t bother writing an essay introducing yourself. The biggest concern I have with allowing guest posters for my own blog is not how nice they are, but whether or not their post is going to be kick ass. There’s only one way to find that out.

The first time I contacted Problogger I said the following:

“Hi Darren. I’d like to publish this guest post on Problogger, because I think I have a message that is both valuable to your readers and different than what they’ve been hearing elsewhere:”

Then came the guest post. Darren wrote back to say when he was publishing, and that was that. And the next guest post?

“Hi Darren – thought I’d send another guest post your way since the last one went so well. I think your readers should get something out of this one.”

Networking can be important, but don’t be shy about letting your guest post do the talking. How did I set up this one?

“Hi Darren – Here comes another guest post. You should get a kick out of this one :) Could be interesting for readers if you added your own comments, or even wrote a post from the other side of the conversation.”

A new twist; let’s see what happens.

From Darren: The idea that I add some comments was actually one that I’ve taken up and is a new twist on guest posts here at ProBlogger. I have actually considered doing it in previous posts but never did – I’d be interested to hear people’s reflections – do you like me chiming in like this?

One extra tidbit that I’ll throw in here on the topic of sending guest posts in. It can be really worthwhile asking the blogger what format that they’d like a post to be submitted in.

Josh sent this post to me in the body of an email with the post formatted with headings and links. This is good as it shows me how he’d intended the post to be seen. However an even more helpful way is to send me a text file with the html already set out in it so that I simply need to copy and paste the post into the backend of my blog. This saves me 5-10 minutes of reformatting the post.

Different bloggers will have different preferences with this.

Also – another bonus for me is when I get a guest post with an image in it. I love visuals and do try to add them to many guest posts that come my way but this can be time consuming. Adding an image of your own or finding a high quality Creative Commons image on Flickr and giving the link as a suggested image can really help to lift a guest post to the next level.

4) Promote the guest post

You didn’t think your job was done, did you? One of the great things about guest posts is the cross-promotion gained by leveraging both bloggers’ social networks.

The last thing you want is your guest post to be a flop, especially if it’s the first time you’ve written for the blog. Anyway, guest posting is a perfect opportunity to promote someone else and demonstrate your willingness to leave your blogging bubble. You can’t go wrong with good karma.

It bears mentioning that spam is not welcome! Promote your guest post with the same care and thoughtfulness that you would your own blog. Whenever I guest post, I make sure to tell my “regulars” through Twitter, because I know they’ll want to hear about it.

From Darren: This is an area that many guest posters don’t even think to do but which can pay off big time for both the blog you’re submitting to but also to you.

I have had a few guest posters on ProBlogger who have done some amazing things with promoting their own content. They’ve done so on sites like StumbleUpon and Digg as well as by Tweeting it, by emailing other blogs to tell them about it etc.

The beauty of doing this is that if you’re writing a guest post on a larger blog than your own that it can many times be easier to get a post to go viral on that blog as they already have social media credibility. For example here on ProBlogger most of my posts get 5-10 stumbles on StumbleUpon simply because of the numbers of readers of this site. However as a guest poster you promote the post more this number could tip the post into being promoted to the popular section of SU. This of course has a flow on effect for you as the guest poster as more and more people will be eyeballing your writing.

Of course if your post does well and the blogger you’re submitting to sees you promote your own work they’re more likely to want more content from you!

5) Stalk the comment section

Just as you should promote your guest post the way you would a post on your own blog, treat every comment on the guest post as if it were on your blog.

Every commenter took the time to read your post, and is a potential subscriber for you to win over. Respond directly and personally to the thoughtful posts, and as early and often as you can. The bigger and faster the comment section grows, the happier the blogger.

When a commenter is particularly insightful and engaging with your content, shoot him or her an email with a detailed response (or rebuttal).

As usual, put yourself in a reader’s shoes. What would most impress you in a guest poster? Now go do that.

I’ll see you in the comments below.

From Darren: Another great sign of a quality guest poster is that they’ll engage readers. On DPS we see a lot of our guest posters really engage readers by doing this and it brings the blog alive.

What do you think of guest posting?

Have you had success guest blogging? What’s your biggest concern about it? Share your best guest posting story in the comments, whether it’s an impressive chance you got at a big blog or a horror story of ruined opportunity.

From Darren: Looking forward to reading your comments also. Do also let me know about this idea of me adding to posts – does it disrupt the flow too much or add to the depth of the post by getting a 2nd perspective?

Josh Klein advises Fortune 500 companies on their web strategies and writes a web strategy blog about making websites that matter to human beings.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Josh, well done. You’ve brilliantly demonstrated how to position yourself as someone whose achieved what your teaching.

    Darren, your interjections are a neat feature, and definitely add to the quality of the post but there are a couple drawbacks that I see. First, I find that the blog owner who comments can easily come off as the superior of the two (not you specifically, but many others I’ve read), especially on ‘how to’ types of blogs. I think that it’s a delicate thing not to undermine the credibility of the guest poster. The point is to have two different perspectives on a given topic; two people reiterating one another’s points is redundant.

    Second, I think that long winded retorts are insightful, but can make the post excessively long. I don’t personally have a problem with this, but I know that some people might.

  2. Frank says:

    @Josh: Thanks for the post! Really enjoyed it. :-)

    @Darren: To me your comments do make this article much more useful. Why? Just because the single main prob I have with guest posts here and everywhere else is that I normally read non-newsy blogs because of the blogger owning that blog and because I appreciate his opionions.

    Now while I “guess” that you won’t publish utter nonsense I always ask myself if you (or any other blogger accepting guest posts) does indeed agree with all details in a post.

    So my opinion in short:
    I love this format!

    Cheers to Downunder,
    Frank

  3. Gennaro says:

    If you understand the blogger and his readers (thru the comment section), it’s possible to write a strong guest post. Sometimes it’s more important to know the comment section that the author of the blog. Then you know how to generate a post based of discussion patterns

  4. JR Griggs says:

    It would also seem that the comments from Darren actually help the guest poster as well. I notice that sometimes a reader may not have fully understood that it was a guest post and that the blog’s editor had written it.

    Also it helps to clarify what Darren agrees or may not agree with.

  5. LoneWolf says:

    First, I like the comments from Darren within the post. It gives the authority of Darren to support Josh and is a unique style as well. As with everything, don’t over use it though.

    I have one question about guest posting. If I get a guest post on someone else’s blog, how should I handle it on my own blog? Should I just post an entry linking to the the post on the other blog? Should I copy the post to my own (with the appropriate credits of course)? Or should I just let the other social media outlets cover it?

    If I’m putting together a collection of posts in a category that people can search it would be nice to have the post on my site.

    Once again, thanks for all the wonderful information and encouragement on Problogger!

  6. our posts are representing the quality of our personal and thought. If we made a good post as guest blogger, the visitor will be curious to find out more

  7. arshad says:

    I have just done a single guest post till today and am looking forward to do more.It took a long time for me to understand the importance of guest posts .

  8. Hey Darren.

    Have you read this post on an RSS feed? Whenever you made a comment with two paragraphs or more, only the first comment was italicized. It looked confusing: two voices with a normal text.

    The formatting on this post is also messy. Are all italics tags properly closed?

    Cheers, D.

  9. Samar says:

    Your input in guests posts like these is great. Your opinion is adding value to the post. But on every guest post… nah.

    Reasons: Your input will drown out the guest poster’s voice. You’re an authority. People will read and concetrate more on your words than that of the guest poster.

    And you also might (though I know it wont be much of an issue for problogger) turn off potential guest posters because they won’t be establishing themselves as an authority through their guest post if you give feedback within the guest post.

  10. Aaron says:

    Darren,

    Regarding adding your own comments within a guest post:

    The problem with adding your own comments within a post is that if you do not agree with the author than it will feel as though you’re (1) usurping their supposed expertise (2) undermining your own judgment regarding choosing quality guest posts.

    I think the only way to really add your own comments effectively is when you agree (but then what’s the point) or if you add a personal anecdote that emphasizes the guest author’s writing.

    I enjoyed this article.

    Chairs,
    Aaron

  11. Very true. I’ve been guilty of not promoting my posts via guest posts. Now, with the help of your post, I’m seriously considering giving it a try.

  12. Fantastic information! I have just begun testing Guest Blogging on my newest blog. In addition to posting the content I have downloaded the Alinks Plug-in which allows me to link to keywords in the posting. This is an excellent way to minimize the effect of any self-promotion by the Guest Blogger.

  13. Carol says:

    I wrote a guest post that was published Friday on a popular mom blog. I had no clue what I was doing, but the blog owner was a friend so it worked out well. Wish I’d had these tips beforehand and am glad to have them now as I look for other guest post opportunities.

    I did go one step further than Josh suggests. Because of the highly emotional topic – Alzheimer’s Disease – I contacted all commenters who had experience with Alzheimer’s, either via email or comment on their blog, to thank them for their comment and offer a word of encouragement.

    Thanks for this post, Josh.

  14. Jaehun Lim says:

    Thank you for your tips. I am still creating a new blog, but I need to more understand what I need to do. These tips must help me a lot! Thanks again.

  15. Manish says:

    Amazing article….really helpful stuff to be kept in mind

  16. Mike Masters says:

    Very helpful but at the same time frustrating. I have been looking nonstop a bit to find other blogs to write for. I am thinking that maybe my relationship niche and style is too narrow? I am growing by 20% a week though so clearly my niche is expandable? I tried blog carnivals with no success and am about to branch out into larger niches to try to find more popular blogs. What do you suggest???
    Thanks again for the extra ideas and Darren good call on breaking in like that, felt like I was getting two for one expert advice. I would like to see more of that in the future.
    Thanks! -Mikethemasterdater

  17. Great tips! Guest posting has been my number one subscriber builder. And I’ve now turned it around and started to offer a guest post slot on my own blog.

  18. krissy knox says:

    Your guest posters do not disrupt the flow, and add an enjoyable second perspective. New fresh perspectives are good, as one can’t always think of everything from every perspective. That goes for all of us! Someone can give you something fresh, and you can guest for somebody else and give them something else fresh! Now I’m going to say somethng I think many have thought of, but most will not let themselves be vulnerable enough to say: What stops others from allowing guest posters on their blogs? I’d say fear that their readers will leave their blog for the guest poster’s blog! They may have a small readership and not have enough confidence yet in their blog and themselves. They may feel that if readers like the guest poster better, they’ll hop on over, and switch blogs. There is not time to read EVERY blog out there in the blogosphere. So I guess my question is this. At what point do you start guest posting? Trust yourself and your blog right away, knowing that you’ve got something to offer others, or weight until you’ve grown a loyal readership first?

    krissy knox :)
    my main blog: Sometimes I Think
    Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  19. I had always wondered how there were so many guest posts on problogger and how i should apply. Thanks for this fantastic post, very well covered all the points and nice inputs there Darren.

  20. rhodie jodie says:

    I really enjoyed this post, for someone just starting out in the blogging world. Your style (Josh) with the inserted comments (Darren) created an easy to understand dialogue. peace…

  21. Josh,I love the flow between you and Darren. In addition, I love when guest posters interact through comments. A commenter feels like they have been heard.

    One of the reasons I read some people’s blogs is they take the time to interact with their readers. This is really important.

    Could you explain the part about promoting your post. Would you stumble or digg it yourself? Thanks for the twitter idea!

    Darren, on a side note, will you consider bringing back analyzing people’s websites? I really enjoyed reading the comments and it gave me great insight on my own website.

  22. Book Chook says:

    I enjoyed the interpolation of Darren’s comments – it didn’t distract me, but gave me another perspective on the ramifications of guest blogging. It was as if I overheard a discussion between two people who maybe didn’t totally agree but totally respected each other’s opinions.

    My blog is new. Your conversation gave me the chance to look at the issue of guest blogging from both sides, so I’ll have some ideas when I am ready to invite someone else to post on my Book Chook blog. Quality writing is a priority for me, so I like Josh’s idea of subbing something in the initial email to give the blog owner an idea of your writing ability.

    What about building a buzz before the guest poster arrives on the blog? Is it important for the blog owner to let readers know the guest is coming, something about them and their background or topic?

  23. pet snakes says:

    Good post, but to be honest I’m not sold on the idea of adding comments to the post, Darren. I think maybe if you broke it up a bit and made the comments stand out with a blockquote and a slightly different color background it might look better.

  24. Wonderfully informative post. I had been wondering how to get involved with guest posting, and now I know. One of the early comments mentioned that you should only seek to guest post on blogs you read and comment on regularly. I agree with that completely. You should seek to add to a conversation that you are already involved in, rather than barge in on one and seek to dominate it with your thoughts, whether or not they are on topic.

  25. Kat says:

    That was one of the most helpful and interesting articles I’ve read on guest posting/building relationships with other bloggers. I LOVED the combination of you (Darren) chiming in with Josh. Great practical advice which I plan to soon employ. Thank-you!

  26. Karrie says:

    Never guest posted but as we have a wedding industry business blog I’m starting to get brides to post a guest blog a year after the wedding ,,, must chase up some more but here’s an example:

    http://www.electraweddingfilms.co.uk/blog/read/2008/10/01/david-diana-one-year-after-the-wedding

    Very kindly (and unprompted) the bride gave our services a great write-up!

  27. Rajbir D says:

    Useful article. Only if there was something that I could guest post about.

  28. Ah, its good that Darren added his views as well. Because, when he normally puts up a guest post on ProBlogger, it is directly assumed that he endorses all the views put forward by the guest blogger. I liked how he begged to differ on point no. 2 and suggested improvements in the rest. This really completes the post.

    And you have enough authority in the blogging world to comment on anyone’s guest post, so please continue doing this. It adds that much more value to the post.

  29. Joe says:

    Too bad my blog can’t use guest posting…. It’s a different type of blog that’s why

  30. shea says:

    Darren,
    Did you see and hear about the disasterous ice storm that hit Kentucky, and part s of other surrounding states in the USA?

  31. Ron says:

    Does this guest posting really help with the traffic?

  32. Rich says:

    Darren, your comments in the post were great. I loved them as a reader.

    I wonder what your guest posters would think about them? Would it discourage guest posts? Encourage a certain style of post or “class” of poster?

  33. Josh Klein says:

    @krissy – That is such an interesting question (for everybody else: she asked if having guest posters meant your readers might leave you for other blogs, and about when to allow guest posters).

    There is no such thing as a captive audience when it comes to the blogosphere, so I wouldn’t worry about this for a second. Your readers are loyal only as long as you continue to give them something they value. If your only value added service was getting guest posters who they liked, they would be readers — so combine that with your own smart and original content, and you have a winning formula.

    The only effect you can get as the host of another’s valuable guest post is positive. Do not blog in a walled garden!

    @Book – Doesn’t seem to me that you need to warn your readers before the post comes out, but I like to see something about it being a guest post at the very top, to avoid any confusion. The italicized introduction of the author seems to be a standard.

    @Bradford – Love how you put that: “barging in” to “dominate”. That’s exactly what to avoid… nice point!

    @Kat – Thanks! I’m not sure I think it was THAT good, but I’m glad you do :)

    @Rich – I found it encouraging as a guest poster to have those comments.

  34. Hi Darren,
    It was refreshing to see that you didn’t always agree with your guest (Josh). Chiming in occasionally with your own prospective was very effective. Not to mention, it helps readers know that you guys aren’t colluding for the sake of fluidity. By using this posting style, you were able to share 2 different points of view, which in essence provides your readers with more variety… After all, nothing is ever set in stone and sharing varying prospectives helps us understand that there are different ways of approaching things, which ultimately still work out successfully (i.e. Josh wrote this post before contacting you, but you prefer if guests contact you first).

  35. darya says:

    I like when you interject your opinion Darren, I often wonder how much you agree with guest bloggers. However, consistent formatting would be very helpful. I recommend keeping your entire commentary in Italics. I think you only used it in the first paragraph, and it wasn’t clear if you were still writing of if Josh was back. Got confusing.

    Josh, this is really helpful, thanks! I am just thinking about guest posting and hope to try it out in the near future. I’ll definitely be back to read this post again.

  36. Darren, I think throwing your opinions inside Josh’s post is a great idea. For me it’s better that way than to see your commentary at the end of the posting or in a completely different article. It’s like you two having a conversation.

    Josh, a great piece. Yet I’m not sure if Darren will be happy as number of guest article submissions will skyrocket now and he’ll have a heck of work answering all these people.

  37. maxwell says:

    hi Darren! you still didnt tell me how i can guestblog. thank you

  38. Lilly says:

    No. I have never ‘guest posted’ on anyone’s blog. Not sure I am up to that yet.

    However, does anyone want to take pity on a poor try hard blogger who is trying to make it in the big blogging world and do one for me? I know I have a personal blog which covers everything and that is problematic. I will send you cookies and I do get a few readers! I thought this post was really easy reading and made a hell of a lot of sense! Thanks!

  39. Shane Hudson says:

    This is a very good post, I have asked Darren if I can do a guest post because of this post… thank you for writing it! I really like the way you have a conversation with the reader and Darren as well.

  40. Great tips, I am getting ready to write a guest post and I will use these wisely, thanks!

  41. babu says:

    Thanks lots for this valuable advise here is Blog which I had prepared to Earn Money by Blogging . Will you be kind enough to see it and give some advise too.

  42. wavetribe says:

    I like the format of commenting on the guest blogger but for me the commenting was more powerful when you kept your responses shorter—in some of the longer responses I felt there was too much back-and-forth and the readability was much easier with the shorter response commenting from Darren.

  43. I found the chiming in to be a little confusing. Since I am not a frequent visitor here, I was confused at the introduction. I think it would be helpful to set off your comments not just in italics but in a different color. I also felt that in a couple of cases Darren was commenting for the purposes of commenting but it didn’t bring value added – was just repetitive.

    One of the main reasons that I have turned down guestbloggers on my blog is that I felt that their writing was not very engaging or they did not have good images. I personally would much rather see the finished product than agreeing to a post beforehand.

  44. Darren, you rule. Your tips are simple and effective. I juste implemented them and I already begin to see increases in my readership.

    Thanks! again.

    Etienne

  45. If you’re going to have guest bloggers it’s a good idea to tweak the layout so the new blogger’s name appears near the top of the post. Otherwise it can be bewildering to read a completely different “voice”.

  46. Excellent article, found it through feedly´s twitter.

    thanks

  47. Ron says:

    Yeah but I agree with keeping the new guest comments a little shorter.

  48. HeddaTan.com says:

    We are new to blogging and this concept of guest blogging is very interesting. However, can new sites attract guest bloggers? Or is this just for sites that have a huge following or visits per day. Thanks!

  49. I was not totally aware of the guest post. I find this article very interesting and useful. I cam to your blog though someone who was claiming that you are getting some 400000 visitors per day. I can’t believe. Is it true?

  50. Josh Klein says:

    Thanks again for all the comments guys and gals!

    A few of you have said the italics didn’t do enough to differentiate between who was talking — me or Darren. I agree, another color or some sort of indentation / boxing would make it a lot more fluid.

    But I still think the comments added to the experience, especially as the guest poster. I got more out of it than if Darren just hit publish!