How to Do Guest Blogging: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide
Back in the day, people used to guest post strictly for SEO purposes.
But a little while back, Matt Cutts of Google told the search world that one of their favorite link building tactics were now garbage.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that guest blogging is totally dead.
No. Not even close.
Posting on someone else's blog can be very, very rewarding. It can:
So how do you land guest posting gigs on reputable blogs?
How do other bloggers score their own guest posts?
Well, the answer is pretty simple... Follow a proven strategy.
And in this post, I will show you the step-by-step process of how the other bloggers score their own guest posting gigs.
Let's get to the nitty gritty.
Download the PDF version of the guest blogging guide.
The Only Guest Blogging Guide You Will Ever Need
Note: By following these exact steps, I was able to land a few guest posts in a short period of time. One on the Jeff Bullas blog, one on Successful Blogging, one on Mad Lemmings, another on Matthew Woodward's blog, and a bunch more.
Step 1 - Make Your Hit List
This is where you'll gather up all of the blogs you'd like to write for.
It might take a bit of searching, but, it's a must.
So, open up a new word doc and create a table (Excel, Google Docs, Pages, etc).
You'll need about 4 or 5 columns and around 10 to 30 rows, maybe even more. And set it up like this:
i) Fill in the list a little bit.
Right now, I'm sure you're following at least a few blogs. Those are the ones you're going to add to your table first. It doesn't matter how big or small they are right now, we'll talk about that in a little bit.
Add their names, URLs, and email addresses.
Next, you're going to find out which of those accept guest posts and which don't.
To do this, go to the site and take a look at their menus (header and footer).
If they do have a link, click through and skim the page. Sometimes, they'll have a "We aren't accepting anymore requests at this time" either in the beginning or end of the page. If so, then just remove them from your hit list.
If you don't see something like "Write For Us" or "Contribute" on their menus, like this:
Look around for their search box. It'll either be in their sidebar, header, or footer.
When you find it, search for a guest post related term. Like "submit guest posts", "looking for guest bloggers, or "write for us".
And if they do accept guest requests, you'll see their page in the results.
Now do this with all the blogs on your list. And if they are accepting requests, keep them on your hit list (don't rate them yet). If not, you can remove them.
And when you're done with all that, you'll have a list that is a little bit better.
Now, the next thing you're going to do is:
ii) Find more guest posting opportunities.
There are a lot of ways to find new blogs to put on your guest blogging hit list.
Below, I will show you 3 ways to find blogs you could add to your hit list.
And remember, every time you find a potential blog, do what you just did above...
Find out if they're really accepting guest posts, grab their email address, and add them to the list.
1. Google Search
Google's search engine is so advanced now that there are a ton of search strings to use when you're looking for something specific.
Here are a set you can use to guest posting opportunities through Google:
(Note: replace "keyword" with the topic you want to write about)
2. Google Reversed Image Search
This one's awesome. I didn't even know about this until the other day when I was doing research for this post.
Anyway, here's what to do:
Find a blogger who does a lot of guest posts and copy their headshot image address.
Go to Google Images and hit that little camera icon...
Paste the image URL and then search...
You've got a list of blogs where the man in the image has been featured in. Check them out, and if they accept guest bloggers, you know what to do.
3. Other Bloggers' Lists
There are a bunch of bloggers that have their own "ultimate lists of guest posting sites" on their blogs. And this is great for everybody. They get traffic, we get a whole list of blogs that accept guest posts.
And finding them is extremely easy... Google it.
If you're not up to it, here are a couple ready-made lists you can check out:
iii) Rate Them
Right now, you should have a list of around 20 blogs with their owner's name and email address.
Now it's time to give them a rating (the Level column).
To do this, you'll find out the size of their following (social following, email subscribers, blog readers), their Domain Authority. and their blog comments.
1. Domain Authority (DA)
To find out a domain's DA, you'll have to either enter the domain into Moz's Open Site Explorer, or download the browser extension (MozBar).
I'd recommend the installing the MozBar because the Open Site Explorer only allows 5 searches per day.
The following are links to the download page:
Once you have it all set up, go to the first site on your hit list.
You'll see the MozBar on top of your web page, under your bookmarks.
A good DA is anything above 25. That means they have a pretty good link profile. Which also means they get a nice amount of traffic.
But if it's way high, like 60+, that'll mean they get a large amount of backlinks and traffic and it'll be hard to score a spot on their editorial calendar.
But all this doesn't mean you automatically scrap the blogs with DA's of 24 or less.
So if a blog's DA is between 10 and 24, leave them on your list. It'll be easier to get accepted. Which also means you'll be able to build up your guest post profile.
But anything under 10 would almost be a waste of time. Unless, they have a lot of engaged readers and a decent social media following...
2. Blog's Following
Now let's find out how large (roughly) the blogs' audiences are (blog traffic, social following).
To find out their traffic, there are several tools around to help you out. Though they're not 100% accurate, they're good at estimating.
Ankit wrote a good post on 5 tools that'll help with this at Bloggers Passion. So you can go ahead and check that out real quick.
And here's an example using SimilarWeb:
2000 or less visitors per month would be ok. 2000 to 10000 would be better. And 10000+ would be the best.
But anything above 100,000... That would be considered as a level 5. Even without counting the social following and comments.
As for the social media following, it's simple...
Check out their major social profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn).
Ok, so... Less than 1000 would be the lower end of it. 1000 to 5000 would be alright. And anything above 5000 would be great.
3. Blog Engagment
The easier and more obvious way to find out how engaged a blog's audience is is through the number of comments their posts get.
A great amount of comments would be 100+. Anything around 50 would be good. And 0-15 would be low.
Note: If you need more blogs for your list, here's a list of 50 top blogs. Some may accept guest posts.
So after you've added up everything up, give it a level 1 to 5.
Here's an example:
Do this with every blog on your list and you'll have a pretty nice hit list.
Step 2 - Research Your Targets
In step 2 of this guest blogging guide, you're going to do 2 things:
Let's do this!
Note: You might also need a new word doc / table to keep track of your blog post ideas. But if you have enough space for your potential headline in your original table, use that.
i) Get familiar with the blogs.
Read their guest posting guidelines. Read their most popular posts (including guest posts).
Find out their writing and formatting style. Find out the types of content they publish and which of them attract the most readers (how-to's, list posts, guides, etc).
And most importantly, find out who their audiences are. If they're targeting the same type of people, that's a big factor for you. Some questions to ask yourself are:
ii) Find the right guest post topic.
Now that you know about their audiences, their writing and formatting style, their guest post guidelines, and the types of content they like to publish, it's time to come up with a topic they'd want to publish.
To do this, you'll need to look at their popular posts, who they're aimed at, and find out what they haven't covered yet.
Let me show you an example:
I'll use Successful Blogging from my hit list.
After digging through their posts, I found that most of them are written for the struggling blogger. Which is a win for me because they're my target audience.
I also found that they get a lot of guest bloggers and a lot of comments (which means there are a lot of engaged readers).
From these posts, you can see that:
So, what would be a great blog post idea for Successful Blogging?
How about "big blogging mistakes", or "reasons why a blog sucks", or even something like a "quality blog checklist" where you point out everything that makes a great blog great. You know, something that would help the struggling blogger.
To make sure that your ideas haven't been done before on their blogs, do a Google search. Use the "site:domain.com + keyword" search string.
And if your idea has already been covered, like in the example above, take a look at that post because this doesn't necessarily mean that you can't write about it.
See? Since their post on "blogging mistakes" is a measly 200-word blog post, I could still pitch them my idea (we'll get into "the pitch" in a bit).
Next, you'll need a headline. And I mean a real, eye-catching headline.
If you need help with this, here's one of the best headline formulas:
Now do this with everybody on your guest blogging hit list. When you're done, you'll have something that looks like this:
Step 3 - Get on Their Radar
Step 3 of this guest blogging guide is where you'll let your bloggers/editors know you exist.
And there are 3 ways to do this. I'd suggest you do all of them.
1. Share their content on social media.
Browse around their blog and choose one that you like. Also, try to pick one that your followers would find useful.
For instance, if you were me, your audience would be struggling bloggers. Right?
So, you'd look for a blog post that would help them get out of their rut. Something like, content promotion strategies, blogger outreach guide, blog writing tips, or traffic generation tactics.
When you find something, hit one of the sharing icons.
And always make sure that you're tagging them. This is a biggie. It's how they'll know that you've just shared their content.
So do this a few times each with everybody on your guest blogging list.
Pro tip: Sign up with Buffer. Schedule their posts to get shared multiple times throughout a few-day period.
2. Comment on their posts.
This is another great way to get you on the bloggers' radars.
But the thing is...
A lot of bloggers and marketers leave comments these days. Especially the little one or two liners....
"Hey [blogger], great post. It helped me a lot. Cheers, [name]."
And most blog owners won't even acknowledge these kind of comments.
So, what are you going to do?
Leave a well thought out, 50+ word comment that will add value to the post or discussion.
Like this one from Adrienne Smith, the commenting queen, IMO:
As you can see, a great comment starts off with a friendly greeting. Then it gives the blogger a nice compliment. Next, it adds value to the post or discussion. And finally, it ends with a bang... a promise.
3. Link out to their content.
This might be the best way to get a blogger's attention.
Why? Because a backlink says a lot... It helps a web page's search ranking. It tells the reader that the linked page is something epic, which means that the person who wrote it knows his stuff.
So, you can either do this on your next blog post, or you can look through your older content and add your blogger's link there.
But you've got to make sure it's relevant. Don't make it look like you're just linking for the hell of it.
For instance, the last link I shared here was Kevin's guest post on Boost Blog Traffic. Did you see how it looked natural?
That's what you need to do.
Another way would be right inside your paragraphs. Like this:
After you've linked out to your blogger's content, you'll need to let them know about it.
You can do this through email or social media.
Now do this will everybody on your guest post hit list. Let them know you're alive.
And then move onto the next step.
Pro tip: Always be making them feel special. Do this for at least a 2-7 days before you take action on the next step.
Pro Tip #2: Another great way for this is through social media chat. Start a conversation with one of your bloggers. Ask them for help with something and take action on it, then let them know your results.
Note: If you need more help with "getting on people's radars", check out this post at Mad Lemmings.
Step 4 - Pitch Them Your Idea
Let's see where you're at right now:
Pretty cool, huh?
Now it's time to put together a solid guest post pitch.
This is the most important part. If you send them a lousy pitch, your email will go straight to the trash bin.
So how do you pitch them your cool idea?
You probably already know the answer to this. You did read their guest posting guidelines, right?
Most blogs that accept guest bloggers have guidelines. Sometimes they're on a separate page, but most of the time they're on the same page as their "write for us" page.
And most of them give you instructions on how to pitch your idea.
But to really make sure your pitch is awesome...
Here's what you need to do:
Open up a new email composer (or whatever). Enter the first blogger's email address into the "To" box, and write something like "Possible Guest Post on [sitename]" or "Hey [name], guest post?" in the subject line.
Some blogs, though, have a certain subject line they want you to use. You'll find this in their guest blog guidelines.
Now for the email itself...
Start off with a friendly greeting. Nobody likes the stupid Dear Sir/Madam, To Whomever it May Concern, Hey Blogger, or anything like that. So use their real first name, ok?
Next, you'll let them know it's you. And if you followed step 3, they'll know a little bit about you and your blog.
Also, you can remind them of what you did for them (ex: I was the one who left that big ass comment on [post name] hehe).
Then, let them know you want to write for their blog. You could say something like, "I see you're accepting guest posts. I'd love to write a post up for you." OR even something like, "I know it must be have been hard writing all those quality posts on your blog. So maybe you need a hand with that?"
Now, give them your idea. It'd also be cool if you'd give them 2-4 backup ideas, so they'd have something to choose from.
And finally, leave 3 links to your best posts and end it with a simple farewell.
Now, before hitting that magical SEND button, ask yourself these questions:
Hey! - If you need a bit more help with your pitch, go see our comprehensive guide - How to Craft the Perfect Guest Post Pitch
Bing. Bang. Boom. Now you're ready to send them your pitch.
Most bloggers and editors might take a second for a response. Some won't even reply.
But don't worry. If you sent them an amazing pitch, they should answer within a couple days or so.
When you get the go ahead, you're ready to move onto the next step...
Step 5 - Deliver the Goods
Now that you've scored a guest post and know what you're going to blog about, it's time for the fun stuff to really begin.
This is where you'll write your blog post, whip up a badass author bio, promote your guest post, and reply to comments.
Now depending on the blog's guidelines, you may need to send them your post in HTML. Some might give you a contributor account on their blog. Some will ask for some sort of word doc / file with links to the images. And some will simply ask you to email the post with the images attached.
So, before you begin writing, make sure you got that part right.
Alright... Now, your guest post is going to have to be great. It's got to be one of, if not the best blog posts you've ever written.
A great guest post will:
As soon as you've written your guest post, make sure it meets their guidelines. And make sure it's epic.
Now there's only one more task left to do before you send it in...
Your author bio.
This is going to be the most important piece to your guest post (for you).
This is how you'll attract new visitors, subscribers, and social followers.
Here are some tips for writing your bio:
For more info on writing author bios, see HubSpot's tips.
Now you're ready to send in your guest post.
When they get it and read it, they'll likely send you an email. It'll either say "we've published your post" OR "your post needs a little work".
If they want you to take a second look at your content, don't feel bad. Just go over their notes and guest guidelines again, fix it, and send it again. Some bloggers and editors will even work with you.
When your guest post is published, there are a couple things you'll still have to do if you want to become forever cool with the blogger and their readers.
Promote it and be active in the comments.
Share it on all of your social media accounts. At least once or twice per day for a few days.
There are several content promotion strategies you can look into. Here's one from Robbie Richards to get you started.
And for the comments... Reply to every comment you can. Try to be active for about 3-7 days.
Pro Tip: If you really want to be the best, send the blogger a checklist in a PDF format. This may not work for some posts, but most of the time you can. A perfect example would be a checklist for the ultimate blog post, or fixing common blogging mistakes, or even a top 10 list of a SEO tools.
Download the PDF version of the guest blogging guide.
Scoring guest posts can do wonders for your blog.
It can get you a tidal wave of targeted traffic, high-quality backlinks for search rankings, expand your reach, and most importantly...get you seen as an expert in your field.
And with the 5-step guide I just shared above, you have all that you need to land a spot on some editorial calendars.
Do you need more help? Ask your questions in the comments below.
The only guest blogging guide you'll ever need - Blogging Aid