Let me just say it — guest blogging is awesome. The list of benefits of guest blogging is virtually endless. Okay, right, I know — you have to be careful with it. But, all in all, I highly recommend guest blogging as an excellent way to build your reputation and improve your SEO.
There’s a big gap between saying “guest blogging rocks” and actually doing the guest blogging. If guest blogging is so great, then how do you guest-blog?
This is important. I’m going to give you the step-by-step approach to finding the best places to guest-blog.
You can Google “places to guest-blog” and find some spammy sites that will compromise your site, ruin your reputation, and cannibalize your content marketing.
I’m not going to do that to you.
Truly effective guest blogging has everything to do with quality sites and not spammy crap that will get you penalized. In the sections below, you’re going to learn exactly how to find top-notch guest blogging sites. And you’re going to love what guest blogging does for your SEO and overall marketing.
Step #1: Do the writing yourself
The most important step in finding the best guest blogging opportunities has almost nothing to do with guest blogging itself. It has to do with your own writing on your own site.
I’ve started with this indispensable step because I believe it’s absolutely crucial. You have to write your own content, and you have to do so with these four qualifications:
- Write content in your niche – let’s say you want eventually to guest-blog for social media sites. Awesome. So, meanwhile, you’re writing content on your own blog about social media. If you’re producing content on some off-subject like yoga, gardening, or health food, that’s not going to help you.
- Write content under your own name – the content that you’re writing in your niche must be published under your name. Nameless or ghost-written content has zero value. Get your byline on the stuff that you write, even if it’s for your company blog or brand.
- Write publicly-accessible content – some people start small. Maybe they’re writing for an internal newsletter or company intranet. The fact that you’re writing is good, but you need to publish content that everyone can find. Nobody can access your company’s internal newsletter that gets stuffed into credenzas every other Friday. But if you have a forward facing company blog with industry news, trends, research, and information, that’s much better. The niche content that you write under your name should be available to the world at large.
- Link to influential writers and sites – when you create content, you want to be interacting with the top players. When you link to the sites of people in your niche, these linkbacks appear on their radars. If they’re savvy about their content marketing, they will take note of linkbacks. This is the way you say, “Hi. I’m in the niche, too. I respect you and just linked to you.”
Why is this so important?
- You can’t expect to be a well-known writer unless you’ve written something before. People need to see what you write, how you write, and how it can help them.
- You can’t expect to be a guest blogger unless you’ve written content within the niche you’re targeting.
- You can’t expect to be a guest blogger unless your name goes with your content.
- You can’t expect to be a guest blogger if people can’t verify the fact that you’re writing by clicking on a link or seeing your linkback.
If you have existing examples of your content, site editors and blog owners will know that you’re legit and that you’re capable of creating readable and shareable content for their sites as well.
You simply must have a written presence somewhere, somehow, someway. If necessary, start by launching your own WordPress site and getting to work.
Step #2: Have a social media presence
The second crucial factor of guest blogging, again, has little to do with the guest blogging process itself. And it’s as important as the first one.
Today, people want to see that you’re a real person. The way they do so is by checking you out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.
You need to be present and accounted for on all the major social media channels.
When you start pitching topics and asking for a guest blog spot, the editor is going to Google your name.
Here’s a quick list of how your social media presence should look when he or she Googles you:
- Your own picture. Not a pet, not a child, not a sport’s team logo. Your face.
- Your key facts. Your job, your company, your hobbies, your career history, etc.
- Your activity. Things you’ve posted, links you’ve shared, people you’ve interacted with. Ideally, you have at least a few people following you already.
The goal is this: Look legit!
You may have an idea of what a probably-fake-account looks like:
Please, don’t look fake.
The bigger your presence on social media is, the better your chances of scoring a great guest blogging opp are. Often, you can sell yourself simply by having a sizeable network. If you share a link, say, among a few thousand followers, this can really benefit the site for which you’re writing.
If you don’t have a killer following yet, that’s okay. Be content with just your loyal followers. A corollary of your guest blogging efforts is an expansion of your social media following.
Step #3: Create a list of influential people and sites in your niche
Okay, we’ve gotten past the boring-but-really-important stuff about you, the writer.
Now, let’s make a list of people and sites in your niche. The operative term here is: in your niche.
My goal in this article is to show you how to find the best places to guest-blog. Here is where I show you how to find “the best.” So, please, don’t skip over this.
Open up a place to write — Google Drive, Word, Evernote, whatever.
First, write down the names and/or sites of people who immediately come to mind. If you’ve been working in the niche for a while, you may have a sense of who’s who. Write down the names of key players. Write down the names of popular and authoritative sites. If no one comes to mind, that’s okay. Go on to step two.
Then Google your target keywords. I assume you have some target keywords.
For example, let’s say that one of your keyword phrases is “social media management tips.” Here’s what you get:
Next, you want to make a list of the blog sites that appear on the first and second pages.
With this list, I’m trying to find reputable blog sites. I immediately discount the paid ads.
The organic sites below the ads are the ones I’m interested in. Go through, and find out which ones look like blog sites where you can write:
This one seems legit — www.socialmediaexaminer.com.
This one seems legit — www.socialmediatoday.com.
This URL (below) is an individual’s Google+ URL, so I won’t record it in my list of sites. I will, however, take note of this name in step four.
This site is www.slideshare.com. It’s not a blog exactly, so I won’t put it on my list.
As you’re creating a list based on your keywords, the more specific and long tail keywords are, the better. I chose a generic one in the example above to show you a few different types of sites that might work and those that might not work for potential guest blogging opportunities.
Work through each of your keywords, and record all the sites that are relevant. It’s likely that you will see the same sites appear in many, if not all, of the SERPs for your keywords.
At this phase, the longer your list is, the better.
Then you want to make a list of the people whose author profiles appear on the first and second pages.
You want to find not only the best sites but also the best people in your niche.
That’s what this step is for. You need a list of influencers.
These are the people who already wield significant sway in your space. By cultivating relationships with these people, you can grow your brand and guest blogging presence as well.
Lastly, you want to Google the names of the top influencers. Find out where they create content.
When you add the names of top influencers to your list, record under each name the list of sites to which that person contributes.
Let’s take this example:
Google the name.
The top sites that appear are the top-ranked sites where Drew Hendricks contributes:
The first page of results for his name shows me some other sites that could be in my niche:
Drew’s social media accounts are also very important because he shares the things he writes. I want to visit his social pages to find more content he’s writing:
When I visit Drew’s Google+ account, I find a few more sites where he’s writing. These sites are in my niche, and I add them to my list:
I also note that Drew has a portfolio, so I want to visit this as well.
From his portfolio, I glean a few more sites that are potential guest blogging sites.
In this step, you are exploring the writing sites of industry influencers. You may come up with a half dozen or more sites for guest blogging.
Personal blogs are okay, but they aren’t easy to crack into for guest blogging. People use their personal blogs as, well, a place for writing their personal content.
Step #4: Find the easy ones, and create a list
In the list you created above, you have a top-rated list of sites that may work for guest blogging.
Now, it’s time to start asking for guest posting opportunities. I encourage you first to target sites that are open to guest blogging. Here’s why:
- You’ll start to build a portfolio of articles outside your own blog.
- You’ll start to gain some recognition and authority in the field.
- You’ll be encouraged by the easy gains.
Here’s how to do it: Google your keyword plus one of the following phrases in quotation marks:
- “submission guidelines”
- “guest post guidelines”
- “accepting guest posts”
- “contribute an article”
- “submit content”
- “guest post”
- “want to write”
- “write for us”
- “add a post”
- “become a contributor”
- “guest post by”
- “submit your post”
Based on this query, you will likely get a site, or twenty, that actively accepts guest blogging.
I Googled this:
And I came up with this:
Visiting the site, I notice that I can contribute an article.
Now, be very careful. Some of the sites you’ll turn up are mere content farms. The site curators care nothing about quality or niche. They simply care about getting content and getting ad revenue. You need to run every potential site on your list through the “vet the site” step below.
Step #5: Vet the site you’re targeting
To make sure that your list has only the best sites, it’s time to do a little curation. Don’t guest-blog on spam sites. Choose only the best.
- Eliminate every site that is not in your niche – visit each site on your list, and delete every one that is outside your niche. Some sites may have a broad variety of articles. That’s okay as long as they are categorized.
- Eliminate every site that looks spammy or ad-heavy – there are some sites that just feel spammy. You begin to develop a sense for this after a while. Get rid of them. If the site is full of banner ads or ads above the fold, nix it.
- Check the social activity of the site – you want to write for sites that have some level of interaction with an audience. If articles are getting plussed, liked, tweeted, and shared, this a good sign.
- Check the Domain Authority, and get rid of anything that has a DA below the level of your site – you can use http://www.bulkdachecker.com/ to get the DA of every site on your list. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate any site with a DA below 25. This is the route I recommend.
- If your goal is linkbacks only, then check all outgoing linkbacks on the site’s existing articles – if they are “nofollow,” then eliminate that site from your list.
Don’t vet your list so hard, however, that you’re left with just five or six options. You want to have as many sites to pitch to as possible because you’re going to get rejected or ignored by up to 75% of them.
Step #6: Send a pitch or inquiry
Every site varies. Depending on what the site wants (or doesn’t want), you need to make your best effort to secure a guest blogging spot.
For the sites that have an open invitation to submit guest posts, here what’s you need to do:
- Slavishly adhere to their regulations. Take note of every requirement and comply.
- Create an original killer piece of content. Find out, generally, what type of content is the most popular on the site. Use this as an inspiration for your own article.
- Write the world’s most amazing title. The title is the most important component of the article you create. Spend time on it, and make sure it grabs the reader.
- Add images, charts, graphs, statistics, videos, or anything else that makes it interesting.
- Get it copy-edited. To ensure that your article has the highest level of polish, send it to a copy editor for final spiffing. You may not be able to afford a copy editor. In this case, beg a smart friend to proofread it.
And for sites that don’t have an open invitation, you need to:
- Find a “contact us” email address or form.
- Write a request to contribute content. Make sure you keep it under 200 words. Be direct; show a few samples by providing a link or two; and don’t be self-serving.
- If you don’t hear back from the person within one week, write to him or her again. Persistence pays off.
Let me just throw in a final disclaimer here. Your ultimate goal is not linkbacks. Linkbacks are cool, and I think it’s a great way to boost SEO, but the spam risk is huge. Only use linkbacks to your site(s) when they are relevant and appropriate to your content. In many cases, the only relevance will be a little link in your bio section. That’s okay.
There’s a fascinating thing about guest blogging. The more you do it, the better sites you’ll start writing for. And the better sites you write for, the more and better sites you’ll be able to write for. Eventually, after the months of boring emailing, constant rejections, and faithful blogging, you reach a critical mass.
People notice. People start asking you to guest blog instead of you asking them. Now, it’s not a question of where do I guest blog, but how in the world do I find the time to guest blog for all these sites?
As a result of this process, I’ve seen people go from ground zero to becoming contributing guest writers to the world’s most-recognized periodicals, journals, and publications. Forbes? Entrepreneur? Heck, yes.
If you want to watch your business or personal brand skyrocket in popularity, use the secret weapon of guest blogging. Now you know how.
So, how else can you find good places to guest-post?