Guest blogging can be one of the most beneficial traffic generation methods for bloggers and online businesses. When you write for another blog, you do so in exchange for a link back to your website in the bio at the bottom of your post. This tactic can help direct new readers to your site, and builds brand awareness and credibility for your blog and business.
But the problem with guest blogging is that if you jump in without a plan, it can be really hit-or-miss. One post might generate 1000s of views and new followers, and another post for a similar audience on a similar blog could generate 4 hits. All the experts say preach the gospel of guest-blogging – but it can be difficult to motivate yourself to write posts for other blogs when you’re not seeing the results you’re after. What are you doing wrong?
Blogging without strategy is a bit like being in the army in an action film – you walk in and spray the area with gunfire. Sure, you might hurt a few bad guys, but you also kill several civilians, destroy valuable property, and give your position away to the enemy.
A sniper, on the other hand, takes his time. He scopes out the best vantage point, tracks his target, and waits for the best possible time. He might fire less bullets, but every bullet hits it’s mark. Also, snipers get all the cool equipment.
Are you the soldier, or the sniper?
The Sniper’s Guide to Guest Posting
Like the sniper keeping his eye on his target at all times, as a blogger you should enter any content marketing campaign with a view of what you want to get out of it. Once you know your goal you can focus your efforts on submitting posts where they have their greatest impact. A strategic guest blogger makes every guest post work for them through careful analysis, topic and blog choice, and follow-up tactics.
Step 1: Ready
The most critical step is to ensure you are targeting the correct blogs. You are looking for blogs with an audience that compliments your own site or products. The blog might not need to be in the same industry – in fact, sometimes that can be detrimental (if you are competing for the same clients, for example. It will be hard to gain new customers from your host blog, as the readers will not see any reason to change their service providers), but the audience has some crossover.
The demographic, interests and income levels of your audiences have to be the same. For example:
- A fashion label could guest blog on a luxury living blog, but not a travel/lifestyle blog for men.
- A B2B Software company could post on a business blog, but might not have any luck on the popular blog of a rival software company.
Finding a blog with high traffic is great, but choosing blogs with a high relevance to your niche is even better. The strategic blogger favors quality of audience over size of audience every time.
So how do you find good blogs to guest blog on?
- I look at the guest bloggers writing on the top blogs in my niche – they’ve chosen that blog for the same reasons I have – so chances are their audiences are also similar to mine.
- I look at the sites the top bloggers link to on social media.
- I ask my clients and customers what blogs they read
- I check out blogrolls and blog-roundup posts on relevant sites.
- I look up blog directories.
- I search for blog articles about breaking news within my industry. If a blogger is staying on top of new trends, their audience will be too.
Step 2: Take Aim
In your blog post you’ll be given a 1-3 sentence bio where you can add links and promote your own blog or business. That’s not a lot of space, and a strategic blogger will use that space wisely to focus their promotional efforts on one single aspect of their business.
What do you want to accomplish by contributing to a blog? How does each guest post fit into your overall business goals. Are you trying to grow the user-base of your product or to generate more traffic to a site? Are you trying to make your company world experts in a particular subject? Your guest post content should align with these business goals.
When writing your bio, focus on your business goals. Choose one aspect of your business to promote: it should appeal to the readers on your host blog, and it should align with your strategic plan. Don’t just give a generic link to your website – point the readers where you want them to go.
Focus on one thing and use your available bio to promote that to its full extent. You might focus on:
- A new product or service
- A sale or time-sensitive promotion
- Creating awareness of your brand
- Generating newsletter sign-ups/free downloads
- Sharing pillar or cornerstone content
Step 3: Fire!
Now that you’ve planned where you want the readers to go, you need to entice them to read down to your bio in the first place. You do this by providing an attractive headline and high-quality content about a topic that’s interesting and relevant to them.
When choosing a topic for a guest blog, I start by brainstorming ideas that link the main topics of the host blog with my own blog or products. For example, if I was a software designer writing on a business blog, then a topic like “10 iPhone Apps for Smarter Business” provides a crossover between our two sites. I’m not only using my bio, but also the content of the post itself to establish myself as an expert.
I read over previous posts and look for gaps in the content I might be able to fill in. I look for questions and criticisms – what do the readers want to learn more about? Sometimes checking out competing blogs or news sites can be a good source of timely and trendy ideas. I also check out the most popular guest posts – by analyzing what makes them successful, I can create a truly useful and popular post.
Before submitting topic ideas to a host blog, I search the website to check the same topic hasn’t be done before – if it has, I try to create a new spin or relate it to something newsworthy. I might also create a “part 2″ to a popular post on the host blog, adding new information and challenging old ideas.
Step 4: Target Practice
For each guest post, ensure that you are measuring the results in some way – whether that’s through monitoring referrals from the host blog, or keeping an accurate record of your free ebook downloads. If you aren’t measuring ROI, you won’t be able to tell if your campaign is effective for your business.
You could create a unique landing page for visitors from a certain blog, directing them to the areas of your site that are of the most interest. This is a great technique as it shows you provide a highly personal service, and also makes tracking movements from a particular blog’s visitors on your site easy.
Strategic guest blogging is about more than just writing blog posts and trying to place them online – it is about focusing on providing high quality content that displays your skills and the usefulness of your products/services. Isn’t it time you got strategic with your marketing?