I’d like to tip my hat to two people here. The first one is Matt Goffrey. He’s written articles for SEO Chat for the last quarter, and he’s done just about everything a guest poster should do. The second one is Matt Beswick. He wrote a piece for Search Engine Journal on how to cheat at guest posting and get away with it. Some of the tips I’ll be including here I got from his article – but I’ll be talking about them from the other side of the desk.
So let’s assume, for the moment, that you’re an expert in your field, and you want to find someone – or many someones – who will appreciate that expertise. It’s a little like dating seriously; you’ll looking to build a relationship that will last for a long time and be mutually beneficial. Instead of going to an online dating site, though, you might start by hitting up Google and searching for the keywords “guest post by” or “write for us.” Beswick recommends this. I don’t know if Goffrey did this, but he certainly could have found SEO Chat that way; we do, in fact, have a “Write for us” page that covers the entire Developer Shed network.
Once you’ve collected a list of candidates, forget about sending flowers and chocolate to all of them. If you really wanted to score a date online, you’d study profiles, and that’s what you’re about to do. Go to each site on which you’re thinking of guest posting and read a bunch of entries. You need to read enough posts to get a feeling for the site. Remember that saying about being known by the company you keep – so if you find a site that isn’t posting quality content, cross them off your list. Aim for websites that will appreciate what you have to offer.
After you’ve narrowed down your list, you need to approach each website with your offer to write a guest post. Beswick almost glosses over this as part of the hunt (so totally like a man, right?). As an editor who will receive your offer, however, I see this as a separate step. Focus on each website, and write an individualized letter for each one. Get the name of the editor if you can, and include it in your salutation. Tell her what you like about the website, why you want to write for it, and what value you can add. List your qualifications and include links to examples of your writing.
If the website features a “write for us” page that includes a procedure to follow, follow it. Few things turn on an editor as much as a writer who can follow directions. If that means you need to include a free writing sample, do it. As an editor, I must see what your writing looks like “naked” to know how much time I’ll need to invest in fixing your deathless prose. Matt Goffrey did this, and his sample became his first guest post on SEO Chat. It included our first link back to him.
So you’ve impressed your target editor enough to convince her to give you a try. The next step is to come to an agreement. Make sure you know your editor’s requirements as to the length of your posts, the topics you will cover, how links back to your site will be presented, and so forth. Use your own voice, but match the tone of the site. For example, you probably won’t find any authors on SEO Chat that write with the mellifluous grandiloquence of an Oxford don, but you won’t find texting shortcuts or “leet speak” either. Above all, don’t be boring!
Do your research and turn in a high-quality guest post, on time. You can’t flub this step; a good editor will spot it. We know our specialties, too, and we can tell when someone is feeding us a line. If you must delay submitting a post, you’d better have a good reason. Remember, this is supposed to be a long-term relationship; that means you might be doing regular guest posts, and getting link juice from all of them. So do what you can to keep your editor and the website’s readers happy.
Bringing up the blog’s readers reminds me of the other target audience you need to please. If you’ve written a good guest post, you will probably get some comments. Respond to them. Readers love it when writers engage with them. It keeps them coming back for more. And believe me, editors notice this! So answer questions from readers, engage them in discussion, and so forth. If you need to set up some kind of alert or spreadsheet to check your blog posts for comments, as Beswick suggests, do it.
You’re still not quite done, however. After you’ve written your first guest post for a website, make sure to thank them for the opportunity. If you want to politely pitch your next idea for a guest post at this time, you can, but be low-key about it. Your editor may want to see how this post does first. Fortunately, that’s another area in which you can provide a boost.
If you’re guest posting on a blog, you’re probably getting traffic from a link that leads from your guest post to one of your own properties: your website, your own blog, your Google profile, your Facebook page, what have you. It’s only right to return the favor. Get on your social media and send out a link to the guest post. “Tweet your post, share it on Facebook, vote it up on Reddit, and generally make sure that you’re being a good guest author,” Beswick recommends. He explains that “this will be noticed and massively increases the chance that you’ll be invited back.”
You’ll want to repeat this process for every website for which you’d like to write guest posts. Yes, it takes a while, but when was the last time you built a long-term relationship in just a few minutes? Do it right, and you’ll benefit yourself, the websites for which you write, and all of the readers that come to visit. That’s a beautiful outcome in anyone’s book. Good luck!