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How to Create Your Guest Blogging Strategy [with a 5 step template]

Posted By Guest Blogger 18th of February 2015 General, Writing Content 64

This is a guest contribution from Toby JenkinsScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.08.01 amMy business partner Adam Franklin attended the ProBlogger Event on the Gold Coast in 2014, and returned fired up and with a whole heap of take-homes.  At the ProBlogger Event, Darren spoke of success being a matter of doing the ordinary things. Specifically, to start, put readers first, be useful, find your rhythm, create meaning, and persist!

This has inspired me to share this recent guest blogging story.

We’re not talking about guest blogging that Google frowns upon, but high-value blogging via influencer outreach. Guest blogging is a hot topic we’ve been asked a ton of questions about lately and with good reason.

If creating great content is the first step, then promoting your content is the crucial second step. Guest blogging is a powerful way to do just that as you get to write for a whole new audience!

As well as helping you dodge some of the key mistakes, planning your guest blogging strategy will help you find, evaluate and target the best blogging opportunities.

When I blogged for fellow Aussie blogger Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas was ranked #11 on Forbes list of “Social Media Power Influencers” and he accepted my post called 6 Critical Types of Social Media You Must Plan For. Here are some of the exciting results:

> Record Month

This post helped us hit a record month in website traffic.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.08.34 am

> Landing page visits skyrocketed

I had a call to action in the article and linked to our Negative Comments Response Template (for Social Media) landing page. Visits to this page skyrocketed and so too did email opt-ins.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.09.10 am

> 4000+ Social Shares

Jeff’s huge social media community, and particularly his Twitter following, meant that the post received a ton of social shares too:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.09.37 am

> 50 National Media Mentions

It caught the attention of Fairfax Media.  Finally, when we sent this post to our Bluewire News subscribers, a journalist replied and asked if I was interested in writing an op-ed piece for Fairfax Media (one of the largest media companies in Australia). Of course I agreed! 

So I wrote a more concise op-ed piece called “He’s been questioned by police” and it was published on the Sydney Morning Herald homepage two days later, and syndicated across all 50 online Fairfax publications and three blogs:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.10.20 am Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.10.37 am

For the SEO geeks, these 50 backlinks were from news websites with domain authorities ranging from DA38 to DA92 and I was fortunate to have a follow backlink in my bio.

Building backlinks, watching traffic spike and getting qualified subscribers are all exciting outcomes. I was genuinely surprised (and stoked of course!) that this article had struck a chord. 

You can see why guest blogging can be a powerful tool.

Why did we approach Jeff Bullas? 

Aside from being a Forbes Social Media Power Influencer, there were a number of strategic reasons why we asked Jeff.

In short, he has a hugely popular social media marketing blog, followers in excess of 250,000 and we had built a strong relationship with him over the years. We also knew he accepted high quality guest posts. 

I’d aspired to write for Jeff’s blog for a long time so I’ll use it as an example as we go.

How to create your Guest Blogging Strategy 

For the rest of this post I’m going to take you step by step through the Guest Blogging Strategy Template.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.26 am

(If you’re really keen you might like to download our free Guest Blogging Strategy Template and fill it out as you work your way through this post – if not, then just read on!). 

1. Brainstorm Your Targets

This doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. Take 15 minutes to brainstorm and list some of the blogs you’d like to write for. An easy way is to simply google blogs in your niche; for example “social media blogs” or “gardening blogs”.

Large or small, seemingly impossible or really easy, just get them down. Sometimes this can feel like you have waaay too many options. That’s ok – the next steps will help you prioritise your target blogs.

2. Research Your Numbers

> Domain Authority:

One of the fastest free ways to check domain authority is to use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool:Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.58 am

Jeffbullas.com has a Domain Authority of 71/100 which is really strong. To put this in context, Google.com is 100/100, Forbes.com is 97/100, and Bluewiremedia.com.au is currently 46/100. From an SEO standpoint alone, a backlink from Jeff’s website would be really valuable to us.

The Mozbar plugin makes this step really easy by showing the Open Site Explorer info on any blog you visit:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.12.43 am> Traffic Rank:

For this use Alexa’s free traffic rank analytics tool:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.06 am

Result:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.45 am

Jeff’s website gets a ton of traffic which means that the article would be seen by lots of relevant people.

> Number of email subscribers in their list:

Jeff doesn’t actually publish his email subscriber numbers, but many others do:

Problogger: [or just look to right hand side of your screen :-) ]

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.14.26 am

BufferApp:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.14.53 am

Convince and Convert:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.15.28 am

Email lists are a great indicator that the time you spend writing your content will be rewarded when it is seen by a large relevant audience.

> Blog subscribers:

Searching through Feedly will allow you to get blog subscriber numbers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.15.17 pm

> Twitter Followers:

Twitter followers are easy to find for Jeff. He has 246,000!

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.16.46 pm

> Facebook fans:

Facebook fan numbers are easy to find too:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.17.32 pm

As you can see getting these numbers isn’t a long process. In fact it could be a piece of research that you ask an assistant to help you with.

3. People and outreach

As a part of your research, find out the contact person for each blog and their email address.

> Strength of relationship

Jeff has built an incredible audience, following and reputation. We’ve deliberately got to know him over the last few years by interviewing him in person and on our podcast, following his work on social media and inviting him to speak at our Social Media Down Under conference.

Because we’ve known him for a long time and nurtured a relationship, Jeff was much more likely to trust our content and therefore to post it and share it with his audience.

> Outreach

Then it’s outreach time.  I wrote him a short email:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.18.22 pm

He accepted it, tweaked the title and posted it the next day.
The point worth emphasising here is that Jeff is a high-value, power blogger so without our long ‘getting to know you’ process our chances of acceptance would’ve been much slimmer. You’ll see it took years of proactively getting to know Jeff and this email was the final stage of following a deliberate process.  I’ve outlined all the steps in our Blogger Outreach Email Template. 

If you do get knocked back, don’t let it get you down, just read How to Handle Guest Post Rejection and get back on the horse. You can tweak the post and try again or submit it to a new blog.

4. Content and SEO

> How interesting is your content going to be to their audience?

Once you’ve determined that it’s definitely an audience you’d like to reach, then it’s crucial that you tailor your content for them. 

I thought my article on handling social media comments had a very good chance of being interesting to Jeff’s audience.

Please note: Ultimately making your content interesting to their audience is the single biggest factor in the success of your guest blogging. Understanding the different angles of your story that will enable you to tell it to different audiences is a deal maker and breaker. 

There are lots of ways you can craft your experiences and stories to fit different audiences.

For example, I wrote for a cloud accounting software business called Saasu and aligned our marketing content with financial reviews to make it more relevant:

How To Use Your Financial Reviews To Improve Your Marketing.

And another one I wrote for outsourcing giant oDesk discussed managing remote marketing projects: 10 Minutes Can Transform Your Remote Projects.

In order to make sure the post would be interesting to Jeff’s audience, I also reviewed what other articles had been written on comment handling on his blog to make sure it would add to their points and not just rehash them. I found an earlier post and linked to it in my article to demonstrate that I had done my homework. 

I also reviewed other guest blog posts to make sure my article would match the style.

> SEO

From an SEO standpoint, I made sure I had my bio linking back to our website, specifically where people can download our 33 free marketing templates and I had a call to action to download the Negative Comments Response Template.  I’d decided to target the keyword phrase ‘negative comments handling’ using the free Keyword Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.19.09 pm

5. Activity

Then it’s a matter of getting in, writing the article, hitting your deadlines and making sure you give yourself the best chance of success.

Hopefully this Guest Blogging Strategy Template can help you focus on the opportunities that will get you the best results, fastest. The little bit of research upfront will really prepare and help you to make the most of the effort you put into the guest blog post itself.

Comments?

What else do you look for when assessing guest blog opportunities? I’ll see you in the comments and the most informative commenter wins a copy of my book!

Toby Jenkins is an Olympic Water Polo player and co-author of Web Marketing That Works. You can download his 33 free marketing templates.

About Guest Blogger
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Comments
  1. Great share although it a great post it self.
    very inspiring and educational.
    Thanks

  2. I completely agree that choosing the right targets, developing a relationship, and writing a quality article for their audience cannot be underestimated. It gets your foot in the door.

    The numbers and seo definitely contribute to making it worthwhile but being in the right place and engaging readers with the right thing even if they are smaller in numbers is still a worthwhile pursuit.

    • Thanks for your comment Meg. I completely agree with you! Quality and relevance of the audience has got to be one of the most important factors in guest blogging. They far outweigh pure volume that’s for sure. A small and extremely active audience will often trump a huge and only somewhat interested one.

  3. Hey Toby,

    Nice article mate. Guest blogging is a tactic I love… But all the bells and whistles like traffic and users offer a short term vanity buzz. The real value for me (as you mentioned) comes from the relationships guest blogging helps develop over time.

    Add value to someone’s audience, create engagement, promote their stuff to your network and boom… You’ve made yourself a pretty influential group of friends.

    Thanks for writing this article Toby.

    Cheers,

    Will

  4. Moz is really a great tool for finding backlinks and checking domain autority of a site you want to write guest posts. And outreaching with influencers is the KEY to get your guest posts accepted. Don’t try to be a link-begger instead focus on relationship building. That’s the point of guest blogging after all!

    Great share btw!

  5. Pretty well summed up. I am also looking to do some guest posts these days. It is a good way to build an audience as well as get quality backlinks.

    I have a question. If I could get a single backlink, where do you think I should refer my audience to:

    home page/custom landing page/social profiles

    Currently I am directing to home page as I am looking for SEO benefits.

    • Hey Neil, it’s Adam (Toby’s biz partner here)… I hope it’s ok jump in here. My preference is to link to a landing page that is most closely related to what the guest post is about. That way the readers can ‘go deeper’ and find out more about that topic. Plus if they like what you are offering you may attract another email subscriber. I also feel there is just as much (if not more) SEO benefit to linking deep into your site rather than the home page. Cheers!

      • Hi Adam
        Thanks for the reply. The idea of a landing page sounds right, especially for getting email subscribers. Actually my blog is new. So, I thought that directing links to homepage may be better in the initial days. I will try landing pages. Cheers.

  6. it’s not metter how many visitors comes in your website but it’s important how to build statergy and how you did plan Thanks bro

    Thanks For sharring

    Regard

    Kunal SHah

  7. Guest posting on high DA sites is very helpful in website SEO. Through guest posting you can boost you traffic and rank both..

    Nice article Darren.

  8. Really good article for guest post benefit ,today I get new info
    Thanks for sharing with us
    Have good day

  9. Great article. I agree with the power of socials media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, it bring bunch of visitor.

  10. Hi Toby,

    #3 is where guest blogging is at!

    I receive quite a few emails from folks wanting to guest post; I don’t accept guest posts as is but wouldn’t work with these folks anyway because most use generic pleas. Please, no pleas lol. Get to know me. Use my name. Research my blog. We worked hard to build up thriving, growing, supportive communities and I put in quite a bit of time and energy publishing one, thorough, 7,000 word post weekly, so to inspire me to break my No Guest Posting rule, you’ll want to knock my socks off in the relationship-building department.

    Thanks for the inspired share!

    Ryan

    • Haha! Couldn’t agree with you more there Ryan! Not only don’t you get the post, but you actually damage the relationship before it’s started. Generic approach = instant “mark as spam” :-)

  11. Good lesson about how to build good relationship with top influencers for getting more traffic freely (with guest blogging).

  12. Great post, thank you. I was really looking for some deep information about guest blogging and how to get it right. I am definitely going to use this guide. Thanks a lot!

  13. Thanks for this article Toby. Being an acquaintance of a high level blogger is really a good thing. But what about those who are just starting out?

    • Hey Rowena – great question. My advice would be (as Ryan said higher up in the comments) to focus on relationships. How can you meet these people? What conferences are they attending? Who do you know that might give you an invite? We’ve always tried to follow Seth Godin’s advice which is that you should start to build the relationships you’re going to need years before you actually need them. Check out books like “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi for great advice for building strategic relationships.

      • Thanks for your insight Toby. I’m a fan of Seth as well and I truly believe that networking is one of the best ways to gain relationships. I’ll check out the book :)

  14. I haven’t really given guest blogging much thought and consideration because I am focusing on generating more traffic through other means but after reading this post and getting inspired by it, I will definitely look into it and have a plan ASAP. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips! They are very helpful indeed.

  15. Guest blogging information very help full for me because I am going to start create website and want to start guest blogging service but I have some question?

    1) what if some one copy post article on my website?
    2) should I give direct access of my website?
    3) what should criteria to post article?

    I hope you will answer my question, thanks in advance.

    • Hi there,
      1) If you, or anyone else, is reproducing an article, then it’s important to link to the original post.
      2) We might give a guest blogger direct access to post on our blog once we’ve built a strong and trusting working relationship with them. Otherwise we post it ourselves.
      3) To post an article you need to make sure it’s highly relevant to your audience and a quality that you’re proud to have your name associated with. Ultimately it reflects on you AND the guest blogger.

      Thanks for the questions!

  16. Guest blogging is not easy to published your article or blog at any good site. They always demand money for publishing but your post help us to publish our content at any good site. Thanks,

  17. Very informative article. i was searching fo this kind of guest blogging strategy.
    Thanks forr this post.

  18. A very helpful article. I am just putting together a guest blogging strategy, and there are some ideas on here that I had never thought of.

  19. Thank you very much for the helpful information. Btw how much can i increase the success of my blog by using essential keywords?

  20. Excellent post Toby!

    I think one area that cannot be underestimated is establishing relationships with those who you want to work with. And I’m talking about MUTUALLY beneficial relationships, not just for yourself! You’ll definitely have a much better shot at getting your guest post published and also with working with the high authority blogger in the future.

    • Thanks Daryl!

      Completely agree. Adding value to the particular community or blog or individual is the first step of building the relationship. It has to work for both of you or it won’t be much of a relationship at all :-).

  21. This is a great guide for me, I’ve had my site running now for nearly 6 months, and I want to be guest posting monthly. I wasn’t aware of the amount of tools available to check out other sites, I just need to decide how high I set my sights :)

  22. Very informative article mate, but i wanna to ask few questions because i have confusion about guest blogging.
    First of all matt cutts says stop doing guest blogging, you can read here http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2324561/matt-cutts-says-stop-guest-blogging-for-seo-heres-everything-you-need-to-know
    But still i am doing guest blogging and getting outstanding result. So what you will say, is matt cutts in wrong ?

    • Thanks for your question Waqas. It’s a good one. I’ve seen that article too.

      My thoughts: Even if Google removed all search engine benefit, then there’s still huge value in getting your best content in front of a new, interested, relevant audience. And that, to me, is worth the time and effort of guest posting.

  23. Hi Toby –

    This article is really helpful – thanks for breaking down each step. Do you have any recommendations for a new blogger? Do you think guest blogging at lesser known sites is positive because it will build a portfolio?

    Thanks,
    Laura

    • I do Laura. Definitely. High quality guest posts on any blog can be a great credibility point for your writing.

      Thanks fro your question!

  24. Austin says: 02/24/2015 at 3:02 am

    Thanks Thanks Thanks for this piece. Well written and delivered!

  25. Thank you Toby for including how to outreach (a crucial step for success!). Using Alexa to help identify potential guest blogs is a research tip I hadn’t thought of. Super!

  26. Resourceful guide for guest blogging. Thanks a lot, I’m impressed with “Research Your Numbers” point. Instead of publishing guest posts on random blogs we should do good research before publishing guest post.

    Cheers,
    Ryan

    • Thanks Ryan. Those numbers are a very quick way of applying the old 80/20 rule to where you should invest your time. I find it really useful, particularly when I’ve already written a post and am deciding who to approach first.

  27. Awesome Article….
    Guest posting on high Domain authority sites is very helpful in website SEO. And through guest posting you can boost you traffic, link and rank..

    Wonderful article Darren.

  28. Hey Toby

    Thank you for being so transparent about your efforts. I have never been good at reaching out to influencers strategically, but am slowly realizing its importance to further my brand in the future!

    Thanks again :D

    Kitto

    • My pleasure Kitto. It’s something that takes a bit of practice – this definitely wasn’t my first attempt and my posts have been knocked back more times than accepted so keep at it! Good luck :-)

  29. Great advice there. I have not yet tried it out but i believe guest posting is so helpful in providing backlinks to my blog. I am looking forward to try it.
    But i just have one quick question; can you post the same article on different blogs, maybe if i applied for guest posting on different blogs hoping only one will accept?

    • Thanks Josey. I’d strongly recommend trying one blog at a time. I know it’s slower but if two different blogs ended up posting the same article, you might end up damaging the relationship with the bloggers and your reputation as a guest blogger. Thanks for the question!

  30. Guest blogging is smart but finding guest posting opportunities is not as easy as it sounds. That’s why most beginner bloggers give up on the idea of guest blogging.

    • Agreed Robert. That’s definitely where building relationships is essential to developing the right kinds of opportunities.

      • I agree with Robert, could you suggest anywhere good for us to start, I am a beginner and have no idea where to look to add guest blogging to our seo forumla, many thanks for the post as well.

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