I’ve had my content featured all over the web, ranging from sites like Business Insider and Entrepreneur Magazine to niche blogs like Copyblogger and Search Engine Land. Some of my posts did extremely well, while others didn’t do as well as I wanted.
I’ve guest-posted over a hundred times and learned a lot over the years. If you are considering including this strategy into your marketing arsenal, here are a few lessons that will help you out:
Lesson #1: Relevancy is more important than traffic
But there is one big issue with guest-posting on popular content sites like Huffington Post that discuss every topic under the sun. They have very little engagement from their readers.
Just look at this article on Huffington Post. You’ll notice it has very few comments and social shares, while every post on Moz gets dozens of comments and hundreds of social shares.
It’s because blogs like Moz write only on one topic. So their readers are more likely to convert if your business is related to the topic the blogs write about.
When I look at my analytics, I see that over 93% of my leads come from guest posts written for niche, not broad-themed, blogs.
If you want to drive revenue from your guest posts, focus on writing for niche blogs. The readers of those blogs will be more likely to convert into customers because they will be more engaged.
Lesson #2: You need to be consistent for at least six months
If you decide to guest-post, be prepared to do it at least once a week for a period of six months or longer. You can’t expect great results from a few posts.
It really is a numbers game. When I first started guest-posting, I was hoping for great results, but my efforts drove little to no signups. I also didn’t see any improvement with my branding.
If you continue posting for a year, you’ll notice that business will start rolling in because the content you published six months ago will start ranking really well in the search engines.
The Buffer team had a similar experience. They guest-posted consistently for well over a year, and now they generate hundreds of signups each month from these posts. If they stopped guest-posting today, they would still get signups as their older guest posts rank well for terms like “social media tools.”
Jayson DeMer also experienced something similar. He got very few inquires when he first started off. After guest-posting for six months on sites like Forbes and Huffington Post, he started to get hit up by companies like Cisco, who were willing to pay him for his advice.
If you want to guest-post, you need to post at least once a week for a minimum of six months.
Lesson #3: Pick blogs based on engagement
Now that you know you should focus on niche blogs, which ones should you choose? The deciding factor should be the number of comments and social shares a blog gets.
It doesn’t matter if a blog gets a million visitors a month. If none of them share the content via the social web or comment on it, it means these visitors aren’t engaged.
Just think of it this way: if people aren’t willing to share an article or comment on it, do you think they are going to click through to your website and take the time to buy a product from you?
Chances are they’re not.
When picking blogs to guest-post on, choose those that have a lot of user engagement.
Lesson #4: Don’t forget to participate
Guest-posting is also about brand building. You may not get any conversions from a post, but more people will learn about you and your business.
So, how do you ensure that each guest post brings you the maximum branding benefit? You need to promote each of your posts on your social profiles, and you need to respond to every comment.
It’s a lot of work to engage with your readers, but if you are prepared to spend hours creating a guest post, you might as well put in a few extra minutes to respond to comments.
The beauty about engaging with people is that they will get to know you and your business and even start following your blog, if you have one. It’s one of the easiest ways to gain new readers, and it is the exact strategy Pete Cashmore from Mashable used to grow his audience – he would comment on his competitor’s blog.
Lesson #5: Don’t guest-post for SEO
One of the big reasons marketers guest-post is to manipulate search rankings. I know a lot of marketers who got link warnings in Google Webmaster Tools because of their guest posts.
I know it is tempting to use keyword rich anchor text within your guest posts, but you should avoid this. Also, when you are linking to your own site, consider nofollowing the link. It’s your choice if you want to do this, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
The good thing about some blogs is that they are starting to nofollow author bios. For example, if you guest-post on Search Engine Journal, it will automatically nofollow all links to your site.
Lesson #6: Make sure you are in good company
Do you remember how in high school the cool kids hung out with each other, the nerds hung out with other nerds, and the band kids hung out with other band kids?
As they say, you are the company you keep. I’m a big believer in this, which is why you should be picky when choosing blogs to guest-post on. Surround yourself with other writers who are known to be experts on similar topics.
If you do, eventually people will start seeing you as an expert too. Your posts will get better traction, which will help you generate more customers.
Lesson #7: Guest-post on partner blogs
We love blogging on partner blogs because it leads to greater conversions.
For example, when promoting Strideapp – a sales CRM software, besides guest-posting on sales-related sites, we guest-post on Strideapp as well.
Another example is INinbox. Because we have an integration with the platform, we guest-post on the INinbox site.
We’ve found that guest-posting on partner blogs drives more signups and revenue than guest-posting on any other channel.
I’ll be employing a similar approach with marketing Woothemes. I am currently working on releasing a free theme that is targeted at business owners and marketers. The theme will be created by Woothemes and optimized by me. Guest-posting on their blog will help generate more downloads for the theme.
I hope you find my lessons helpful. I remember when I first started guest-posting, I would publish my articles on any site that would accept them such as the American Express blog. After months of doing this, I wasn’t generating any signups and felt frustrated.
Luckily, I learned how to make guest-posting a profitable channel.
You too can do well at guest-posting. You just have to give it time and continually modify your approach until it becomes profitable.
What other lessons have you learned from guest-posting?