Guest blogging is a pretty simple concept that a lot of blog owners embrace. They own a blog, and they want new material to help flesh out their editorial calendar. It reduces their burden when a guest writer is looking for exposure and wants to contribute something great to share with the owner’s blog.
Despite that, a lot of marketers seem terrified at the idea of reaching out to a company or blog to ask for the opportunity. And that’s if they can even find a place to guest post at in the first place.
What’s worse, is that plenty of people have been turned off by the idea when word spread that Google was possibly preparing to penalize guest bloggers or sites that supported guest blogging.
Needless to say, he wasn’t happy and the request for guest blog links in exchange for compensation brought about an algorithm shift that started penalizing guest blogging networks and their contributors.
It created a tsunami of chaos among marketers.
The great part about that is it made people pay attention to the real problem: spammy guest posts.
Guest blogging is still very much alive, and effective when you do it right. In fact, data from Social Marketing Writing found that more than 60% of people perceive blogs with multiple authors to be more credible.
If you want my totally transparent take on guest blogging, here it is. I believe it’s the best inbound marketing strategy. And I have the data to prove it.
If you follow some simple guest posting best practices focusing on quality and trust, you never have to worry about issues with the search algorithm:
- Create and share high-quality content that answers real questions your audience might have.
- Structure content in a way that is optimized for readers first, and discovery second.
- Link out to reputable sites and avoid any kind of link strategy which aims to game the system.
Now you know the approach is safe, and you know there are bloggers and companies out there who want guest posts…
How do you find them?
1. Use a Little Search Fu
You can waste a lot of time looking for guest blogging opportunities by searching through popular blogs for links to submission guidelines or if they allow guest posts. Using search methods is a great way to find those opportunities, but you need to play detective and get a little creative.
Google is a smart starting point for finding guest post opportunities if you use the right search terms. Here are a few examples, just replace ‘keyword’ with keywords from your own industry.
- Keyword “submit a guest post”
- Keyword “guest post”
- Keyword “guest post by”
- Keyword “accepting guest posts”
- Keyword “guest post guidelines”
Searches like those above should present you with a list of pages including guidelines pages, guest post submissions pages or actual guest posts by other writers.
Keep in mind also that more and more bloggers are getting savvy with promoting their content on social media. You can run various searches on social channels like Twitter and Facebook with the same type of keywords.
This can bring up the latest public posts in your industry that could reveal articles and guest blogging opportunities.
The extra benefit to searching in social is that you can see what kind of traction the article or post has gotten.
A quick dive into previous posts around the same blog or site can give you an idea of the authority of the site and whether people are engaging with the content being published there.
2. Competitor backlinks
If you have ever pulled a backlink analysis of a competitor, then the chances are good that one or more of the links pointing to their domain have come from a guest post they’ve done.
If you know one or more of your competitors are actively using content marketing to grow their reach and engagement, then you’re likely to find some good opportunities here.
A quick scan will reveal any guest blogs they’ve produced and shared on other sites.
Keep in mind that many of the tools for mining and analyzing link data come at a price – though some may give you a short list of link data as a peek while hiding the rest behind a membership.
3. Find influential writers in your niche
This is one of the best ways to build a huge list of guest post opportunities, and I recommend putting a simple spreadsheet together to help you sort the data.
This approach takes you back to search but you’re not using targeted searches like I mentioned above.
Now we want to do some broad searches for relevant keywords to your niche.
Ignore the ads sitting at the top. We want to make note of the sites/blogs that appear on the first and second pages. The goal here is twofold:
- Find authoritative content/blog sites that appear
- Make note of the content writers
As you’re creating a list of sites and authors based on your keywords, the more specific you can be with those keywords, the better.
Record all of the sites that are relevant places to submit possible guest posts.
Also, record the post authors for that content.
It’s important to not only find some raw sites for guest opportunities but also find the influencers who are creating great content. These are the people who already hold significant sway within your niche.
Now you can start a search for each of the influencers you’ve recorded and find out where they’ve been creating content on the web. You’ll likely find their social accounts as well. This is another place to look into to see if they share other guest posts and authority sites that may not have popped in your initial search.
For each influencer you could come up with dozens of potential guest blog opportunities
4. Engage major influencers in your niche
Finding influencers isn’t difficult. You can likely generate an influencer list from names you already know working in (or relevant to) your industry.
This list can be expanded using the tips in #3 above.
You’re not just mining the data where they post. You also want to start cultivating relationships with those individuals, especially if they have their own blog with a growing list of followers.
Trying to immediately pitch an influencer on a blog post isn’t recommended unless they specifically have a guest post submission form or guidelines on their site, even then you want to warm them up.
Spend some time engaging them.
Follow them on social, comment on their blog posts, comment on social posts, share and take part in conversations – just don’t do it obsessively. You can even tag them in other content you produce to capture their attention using a tool like Notifier from ContentMarketer.io.
After some continued engagement, the pitch, or offer to produce a guest post, will be softer and they’ll be warmed to the idea.
There’s always the possibility that they may even present the offer to you first if they see that you’re creating quality content that your followers are engaging with.
This strategy takes a little more time, so I would reserve it only for the top-tier influencers and sites.
5. Reverse Image Search
I know reverse image search might seem like a weird way to find guest post opportunities. But it can work.
First, find an author or competitor that creates a lot of high-quality content within your niche. Check to see if they’ve got an author box with an image placed in it.
When you search using an image, you’ll get results for similar images and sites that include the image. You can reverse search with a simple right click and “search google for image”.
That should serve up a list of places where that image is used, likely posts and guest post content.
This function works on a variety of browsers including:
- Chrome 5+
- Internet Explorer 9+
- Safari 5+
- Firefox 4+
Making the Pitch for Guest Content
You’ve got some solid ways to find places to guest post, but that’s only helpful if you can get the pitch right.
It would be disappointing to put in all that work only to get turned down by everyone you ask.
You need to perfect your pitch with a little research and prep.
Get to know the content and audience
Understanding the content and the audience of a blog is key. You know they have content related to your niche or a certain keyword you searched for. But you need to know more about how they position their content including:
- Is it written for a beginner, intermediate or high-level audience?
- Is the content for a B2B or B2C audience?
- What type of content do they prefer? Is it general concepts or detailed tutorials? Do they prefer lists, long form or short content?
Which posts and topics do best?
If you want to increase your odds of getting a yes from a site owner, you want to pitch them with topics that will do exceptionally well with their audience. This takes a little digging as you’ll have to go through older post content to see engagement.
You can also look through “most popular posts” if they feature that content in a sidebar to help show you what topics are most interesting to their readers.
Read the guidelines
The last thing you should do before contacting the owner is to read and understand their guidelines for submission.
Some may only want you to pitch an idea, others may want to see an outline or a rough version of the post before giving approval.
If they ask for a topic idea, give a few topics so they have a few to choose from rather than just shooting down the one idea that you pitch.
Make it personalized
Nothing will turn off a content manager, editor or blog owner more than an impersonal email that has clearly been copied and pasted.
You might have to ferret around a bit to find out who your point of contact is, but make the effort.
Find it and create a targeted and more personalized email. Make sure you include details about why you want to guest post on their site as well as a clear explanation of who you are and why you should be a guest blogger.
Provide links to other publications and content, especially your own blog. Leverage posts that have the most social engagement or are your highest-quality pieces so they can see potential value with their audience.
I’m a huge fan of guest blogging for obvious reasons — data, experience, and a track record of success.
Guest blogging is one of those strategies that everyone knows about, but few people actually do anything about.
Why not? Fear.
Once you break through the barrier of fear, I think you’ll experience success, too.
How do you find awesome guest blogging opportunities when you want to increase your reach?