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A Quick and Dirty Guide to Your First Guest Post

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

You can’t really turn anywhere these days and not hear somebody telling you that in order to grow your blog, you need to guest post.

I know you’ve heard that before, but have you actually done it?

Or are you looking for somebody to tell you how to actually go about creating a guest post content strategy, finding the right blogs to guest post for, approaching that blogger and actually writing that post? If so, then you’ve come to the right place.

Develop your guest writing strategy

Your first step is to create a content strategy. There are a couple of decisions you need to make. Listen: guest posting is not easy work. If you have a full schedule and your own blog to keep up with, you now need to find the time to write posts in addition to your regular guest posts.

There are two common approaches:

  1. Slow and methodical: This is very strategic and targets one, maybe two blogs and dishes out guest posts for them at least once a month. This is a really great way to ease into the habit of guest posting. You’ll stay sane with this method, but results will build up more slowly over time.
  2. Fast and furious: The other method is simply to write as many guest blog posts as you possibly can in a short period of time. The way to make this happen is to blast an announcement to your social media sphere announcing that you’d like to write a guest post for anyone who signs up. You’ll be surprised how many takers you’ll get. People are desperate for content. Next, set aside large chunks of time … like every night of the week from 6pm to 10pm, or devote your entire weekend to it. Then write non-stop. This was The World’s Strongest Librarian’s approach when he wrote 42 blog posts in a seven-week period. It’s one that may make you go nuts, so don’t over commit.

Which approach you choose will determine the quantity and quality of your guest posts, so choose wisely.

Brainstorm for fresh, relevant guest posts

It doesn’t matter which approach you chose above, the following brainstorming ideas will help you come up with ideas for your guest posts.

  • Mind mapping: Mind mapping is the concept of starting with a central idea and then branching out from there into subsets. FreeMind is an open source program that will help you do that. It even allows you to add images and hyperlinks so you can track all your ideas.
  • Time machine: Another creative way to brainstorm unique ideas is to pretend you step into a time machine. From there imagine how someone from the 70’s might solve a particular problem. Or look to the future and make a prediction about how particular problems could be solved.
  • Push the envelope: One of the reasons I like to guest post is because it forces me to push my boundaries of thinking. It’s a great way to see how far you can go with an idea. When you think you found an idea’s limits, take it farther.
  • Role play: You can do this either alone or with a partner. Alone, all you need to do is just put yourself into someone else’s shoes, like a child or client, and try to imagine how they would approach a particular problem. If you have a creative partner, ask him or her to play the devil’s advocate and have a conversation about your topic idea. Take note of all the ideas that pop up.
  • Hot potato: This is a great one to use when you are hanging out with a bunch of friends. This brainstorming technique basically involves someone starting an idea … and then passing it on to the next person. Use a timer and some kind of object to pass around so you can keep track of whose turn it is. This technique is great for getting everyone to pitch an idea.

Build a social media presence

If you choose to go the slow and methodical way, then when it comes to guest posting, it’s helpful if you build your reputation with the blogger you hope to write for before you ask to guest post. The best way to do this is to start following him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and interact with him. Here are some other things you must do:

  • Comments: Start to leave thoughtful comments where you are asking questions and engaging with the blogger on his site. But don’t ignore everyone else. Answer questions that other readers leave. Busy bloggers love it when someone comes along and starts answering questions that allows him to not to worry about following up on every comment.
  • Join forums: If there is a forum to join, join that. Subscribe to his email newsletter if he provides one, too. Occasionally it’s a great idea to reply to his or her email newsletter. Do it from your inbox so he or she will see your email signature, which should have your blog address on it. Hopefully they’ll take the time to look at it. I’ve had a few bloggers invite me to write guest posts for them after exchanging emails.
  • Email: At some point you should directly email the blogger. It doesn’t have to be about guest blogging. It could be just to ask a legitimate question. For example, you could compliment them on their writing and then ask where they learned how to write. You want to build that relationship.

Of course, some blogs like problogger.net have guest posting guidelines that you can follow and skip the above process, but most don’t. And don’t think of this as a waste of time just to get the guest posting opportunity. This is really about building long-term relationships, so it helps to do it whether they have a policy or not.

Master the components of a guest post

Is a guest post different than a post you’d publish on your own blog? The answer is yes. See, when you are posting on somebody else’s blog, you need to put your best foot forward. Your hope is that the guest post will generate some subscribers to your own blog, so you better be on top of your game.

Here’s what you need to think about:

  • Links: Bloggers like it when you write a post that has links in it, both internal links and external links. When you create a blog post that links to the blogger’s own content, it shows that you’ve done your homework. And he or she appreciates the external links because that builds his credibility with those bloggers.
  • Advanced blog posts: The jury is still out about whether you share your best stuff or not on guest blogs, but my view is that you write a damn good post no matter what. This means give the host blogger something unique to his sight. This won’t work if you’ve decided to write fast and furiously, because advanced blog posts take time.
  • Create a conversation the audience: Your post must answer some question relevant to the host blogger’s audience … not yours.
  • Demonstrate you are an authority: Don’t be afraid to casually mention the reasons why the audience should listen to you. You won’t be bragging if it’s true and part of the conversation.
  • Hook headlines: Although there is a good chance the host blogger may change your headline, give him or her the best one. Yet, give them three to choose from. And remember, a great headline is unique, useful, ultra-specific and urgent. They’re the four Us. Use them!

Conclusion

That’s it. If you follow those steps, you should be on your way to your first guest post gig in no time. All you have to do is start pitching bloggers.

When pitching bloggers make sure you play the numbers game, as everyone won’t say “yes.” What other tips do you have for guest posting?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

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Comments

  1. aprillins says:

    Just like yours here :lol: The most valuable thing when you’ve posted a guest post at problogger.net that your post automatically posted to Mr. Rowse’s Twitter account, so the social media presence building, in this case, became free.

    The most interesting part in this post is when you mention “he wrote 42 blog posts in a seven-week period”.. It really makes me feel interested..

    Good job then.

    Regards,
    Aprillins

  2. Ivy Solis says:

    Guest blogging is an amazing way to generate inbound links from other relevant sources!

    Some people feel like they may not want to promote a competitors blog but the truth is that it helps the business extend their reach beyond their immediate audience.

    Being social is all about being a “team player” even if that includes your competition.

    Share the love people!!!

  3. Jo Harrison says:

    Some great advice, I for one haven’t branched out into guest blogging just yet as I have my own blog to concentrate on but useful to come back to your post when I do start, thanks!!

  4. Prada says:

    I always try to give my target an incentive to post my guest post. I provide him or her with a list of social media sites where the guest post will be reposted. I also try to register in a forum related to his niche and promise to get him/her a do follow back link from there.

    It is a win / win for everyone. I get a back link from his site and he gets back links from social media sites and one forum.

  5. Jamie Harrop says:

    I especially like the first part of this post, Neil, discussing the two varied guest posting strategies. I’ve always said that guest posting is similar in effect to radio adverts… the company (author) gathers little attention or results when played (read) once, but played multiple times to the same audience across the same or multiple stations (blogs), the result is huge.

    While one guest post at ProBlogger will get you a little short-term attention, 10 guest posts over 10 weeks at ProBlogger, or 10 guest posts over one week at multiple blogs in the same niche, will bring you so much more attention and brand awareness.

    Of course, as you state, time investment is the biggest hurdle to overcome when trying to make an impact through this form of marketing.

    Jamie

  6. Another method I like to use is inviting bloggers to guest post on my blog when I find interesting content that they’ve written. This usually results in a mutual exchange and brings high quality content to my blog from a different perspective, which gives my readers an even better experience.
    Michael

  7. Sanjeev says:

    Guest posting scheduling is really important. I do prefer Slow and methodical but it does provide results slowly which can be increased if you just target 2-3 blogs. Repeated posts on blogs does help in getting good exposure and trust of the readers, in a single post you can’t win the readers.

  8. This is definitely a good guide. Guest posting is surely something that can bring you good targeted traffic with building links and networking side by side

  9. Rakesh kumar says:

    Neil, You may be a really crazy man? How do you get all these ideas to write such articles. I was trying to write my first perfect article for guest post and suddenly you came with this maverick article on guest post. Thanks a tons. One more quotation ” I Love to hate you” for your writing skills. :)

  10. Vishnu says:

    @Neil Patel Nice article , It makes my mind to say – “it is time to Guest post.” :-)

  11. Were you sending mind-reading vibes across the internets, sir? Because I was just now working on a guest post for a blog and saw this link on Twitter. Hmmmm……. :-)

    Very very helpful! Thanks!

  12. In my opinion this is an excellent guide that gives us a vision but very detailed COMPREHENSIVE which means the writing and publication strategies that generate results that are truly good and effective, thanks.

  13. This is a good article because it focuses you to work hard to get that first guest post under your belt. I have just begun the process, and will be developing some strong content to share with interested bloggers in the personal finance/lifestyle design arena.

    Thanks for the tips.

  14. Hey Neil!,

    I’ve guest posted over 25 times now for top blogs around the world. It’s the most effective way to build solid links and relationships with successful business owners.

    All the best for the new year!,

    David Edwards

  15. Hooker says:

    I’ve been researching the art of guest blogging for about a month after hearing what a good strategy it is supposed to be for growing your blog. I love to write so that is no problem, but learning how to go about finding blogs to write for is turning out to be the challenge. My blog is a place I just try to rant and make people chuckle, so I don’t really have a niche and I haven’t found any blogs like mine that are really successful.

    I am continuing my search. I do appreciate the tips and encouragement.

  16. A good checklist broken down into bits and pieces to make the process whole lot easier. When announcing to social media spheres about wanting to guest post, and there are many takers, which takers should be taken first in your opinion?

  17. Thank you for the tips Neil. I’m about to venture into the guest posting world and was, honestly, a little nervous about it. I needed to read something like this to get me pointed in the right direction. Happy New Year!

  18. Great guide to guest posting. These strategies are definitely useful in getting advance with guest posting.

    I would only add the challenge of pitching for a guest post and how to handle it. I found that writing a specific and good elevator pitch is important especially if you´re trying to get an approval from a well-established blog. I found pitching for a blog post on blogs related to my niche, which is fashion, is a little hard since most fashion blogs are personal style and not editorial contents.

    But again, a great article and good elevator pitch make guest posting more effective.

  19. Richard Ng says:

    Hi Neil,

    Very nice and informative guide on guest posting. I’ve personally tried the method of social media connection (facebook to be specific), starting with guest posts and now I am part of the blogger team of the blog.

    I so think that guest post is still an important channel to get exposure and traffics.

    Cheers!

  20. Doing your homework is a big key as you have to know the “flavor” of your hosts site in order to create content that flows with what is already posted. When in doubt, write about a niche you are well versed on.

  21. Great post. This is somehow a good compliment of my recent post which looked at ‘How To Achieve Maximum Returns From Guest Posting’…After all the above have been adhered to, what is next? You will still need to keep your home intact in order to see the full benefits of guest posting…

    For instance, can you imagine the sort of intellectual dishonesty you will do to your blog after giving away the best of your content for guest posting and when readers follow a link to check your blog, they meet sub-standard content? This is part of what I looked at in my post-keeping your home intact before guest posting…

    Also, what will be the blogging sense in guest posting when you have not prepared a good place for these guests to sleep on your blog when they fall for your bait and honour your invitation? I mean, before you go into guest posting, you must have finished setting up places to obtain maximum returns from the visitors the guest posts will bring…

    I think the above article must be looked side by side with my post on putting your home in order before even guest posting if you really want to achieve the maximum benefits of guest posting…

  22. rakesh kumar says:

    This is a great tutorial for guest posting. Thanks Neil for this wonderful tips.

  23. Philos Mudis says:

    This one post makes me want to start writing guest posts actively…and getting my thoughts and opinions spread beyond the borders of my blog.

    I liked the part where you say, ‘Master the components of a guest post.’

    Appreciate the tips. Happy blogging.

  24. Julia Agnes says:

    Thanks for different brainstorming techniques- it is very useful for me. But I do not understand how to choose blogs for guest posting…

  25. SYM says:

    Awesome post to read. Great job Neil. I’m still new to digital marketing world. I am trying to learn how to engage users with social marketing.

  26. Josh Sarz says:

    Great tips on writing a guest post. I’ll keep that in mind. One of the biggest problems with pitching to other bloggers is that if you’re still starting, no one’s really going to read your email. The big blogs either require you to take a course that you can’t afford (financially) or to have a certain amount of influential friends to back you up.

    How do you get around that obstacle? Well, aside from forming relationships with the big bloggers, which is quite a challenge since no one reads your pitches. :)

  27. Aakash says:

    Super Great Tuts !! :-)

  28. Sushil says:

    Good to come across such a guiding post for the blogger.
    How can one decide the time for guest blogging?,if he/she is not an established blogger or is a novice blogger.
    Does the person want to do a guest post must own a blog on self hosted domain?

  29. Drewry says:

    it’s always a wonderful thing in terms of meaningful relationship building online with the blogger and the web community to guest post often, cousin shows others you are “trustworthy” and [credible].as a late bloomer, I’m now aware of how powerful [forum networking] can be, when connecting with others meaningfully on the World Wide Web.in addition, I’ve also learned in humility that “brainstorming on the fly” does good for more traffic, when blogging. That’s why it’s always good to be creative on the Internet :-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZESEDOd8y6w

  30. rahul says:

    I’m about to submit my first guest post i was working very hard it would be better if this post came earlier yet it helps alot, thanks

  31. Will Kwan says:

    Thank you Neil! Do you think the “slow and methodical” approach has any other advantages besides keeping you sane? I’m considering investing a good chunk of my time writing guest posts but I don’t want my efforts to be wasted.

  32. Guest posting is very time consuming but, a very important part of driving new people to your blog. But doing a guest blog is not something I am ready for quite yet. I find it hard enough creating blogs for my company Carpet Cleaning Orange County that my potential clients will even read. Thanks for all the hints though.

  33. Ling says:

    Let’s not forget crafting an informative author box.

  34. Bonnie says:

    This is great. I want to write a guest post but didn’t know where to start. This article gave me a clear action list of how to go about contacting other bloggers and getting in front of them. Thank you!

  35. Cindy says:

    I really enjoyed this post, and I try to roundabout promote my own self in guest posting. Sometimes the blog will allow links, but I was curious if you feel that it’s worth guest posting if they tell you that your links are no-follows. To date I’ve been weighing the benefits. If it’s a niche website that can help me I don’t care if the links are do follow or no follow because people will use them to find me since I am writing in my niche. But I’ve been known to decline guest posting on sites that won’t allow me to put follow links. I feel like if they are not in my target market or niche market I won’t be gaining anything on the long haul. Am I looking at this the wrong way? What do you suggest?

  36. omar says:

    Where do you guest post. What’s your process in selecting blogs to guest post on?