You know that your business needs a blog.
Reasons? Five, at the very least:
- You'll get more traffic.
- You'll have more leads.
- You'll get an additional channel for interacting with customers.
- You'll have content to share on social media.
- You'll share your business brand.
The only problem: once your business blog grows, you need more compelling content but have no time and resources for that. A good strategy here would be outsourcing your blog and inviting guest writers to generate content for it.
Yes, this strategy works. But there's more to this than meets the eye:
Google doesn't like guest blogging because, back in 2014, filthy marketers turned it into the infernal machine for poor link-building. And though guest writers are different now than they were five years ago, there are still tons of spammy content at top blogs like HuffPost or Forbes.
(And that's among the reasons why they make all outbound links no-follow. No one needs penalties for spam, right?)
However, guest blogging remains alive and well. To get the most out of it, you just need to accept the rules of this game. And to make guest writers boost your blog traffic and conversion, you just need to know how to work with them right.
Follow these seven steps:
1. Set a Clear Goal
First, decide why you need guest writers. To bring new visitors to your website? Great. But what will those new visitors do when they come?
In other words, figure out the goals of guest posting and make sure to prepare your website for those changes.
Do you want new visitors to subscribe to your email list? Add a contact form at the blog for them to see it when reading the guest content.
Do you want to turn them into your social media followers? Add social media buttons to blog posts and encourage them to follow you by sharing the corresponding CTA at the end of blog posts.
Do you plan to increase CTR or conversions? Run a promotion at the same time you publish a guest post.
Set a goal, prepare your website, and create corresponding guest post guidelines so writers can see your policy and decide if they want to do that kind of marketing content for you.
2. Write Clear Guest Posting Guidelines
Once you open your website for guest posts, you'll get tons of inquiries. The stark reality of life: most of them will be irrelevant or spammy.
The stark reality of life #2: you'll get inquiries even if you don't mention anywhere that you welcome guest posts at the website.
To save time, create a separate page with guest post guidelines. It will help to lower the chances of getting useless articles and relieve you from the necessity to explain every Tom, Dick, and Harry why you rejected their guest post.
What to mention on your "Write for Us" page:
A reason for writers to submit articles to your blog. It can be your blog statistics, free backlinks, monetary advantages, promotion, etc. (Keep on reading to Step 3 for more details.)
The information about your audience and the topics you cover, as well as the quality of content you welcome.
Editorial requirements about word length, format, writing style, visual content, link policy, bylines, how to submit drafts, etc.
Any other information you want guest writers to know.
Here’s an example from Copy Hackers:
The more detailed your rules for guest contributors are, the better optimized content you'll get, and the more time you'll save on editing. Clear guest posting guidelines will help you organize the process inside and out, get only high-quality and evergreen content, and attract more traffic to your blog.
3. Attract Guest Writers
Your "Write for Us" page alone will attract guest writers. Most of them understand the benefits of guest blogging and practice it regularly to build a portfolio, their reputation as savvy authors, and relationships with other experts in the niche.
They also understand it takes time and resources to create a content asset of high quality for your blog. The audience and content research at your website, coming up with relevant and interesting topics, writing a pitch, visualizing the researched data, outlining-writing-editing the blog post...
Guest writers need something to praise their endeavors.
The minimum you can offer is a byline or an author box with a short bio. It's essential for guest writers to get their name out there and be able to prove their authorship.
They'll definitely add this work to portfolios and will promote your blog on social media, proud to be featured there.
Also, you can mention some perks of being your guest writer at the "Write for Us" page: a chance to reach your heavy monthly audience, Amazon gift cards for top performing guest articles, etc.
If your blog is new and its domain rating is low, seasoned guest writers will hardly agree to work in exchange for a byline. To attract top names who make money from blogging to write for you and promote your blog, you can try paying them.
Offer a flat fee for submissions, and make it clear that you pay for approved pitches only. Or, if you can't afford payments, attract them with a do-follow link so they can promote themselves.
4. Scan Them Like a Boss
Getting back to the thesis from Section 2:
You'll get dozens of guest post inquiries each week. To save time, learn to scan pitches fast and ignore spam or irrelevant requests.
Guest bloggers read tons of tips on writing personalized outreach emails. So, even a nice-looking email can be just a template intending to get a spammy link from you.
Here are the most obvious markers of spammers or poor guest writers:
- They use general outreach templates with generic greetings such as "Hi Sir," "Dear YourWebsite.com," etc.
- They offer irrelevant or just super-boring topics to write for your blog.
- They write with grammar mistakes and poor formatting.
- They write from unprofessional emails and have no signature explaining who they are.
And here are not so obvious markers of poor guest writers:
- They don't offer any topics and samples of their writing.
- You can't find them on social media, and they have no portfolio.
- They write empty phrases about how much they love your blog.
- They don't say what's in there for you (why you should consider their guest post for publishing).
If you are still not sure, check the following information about a writer:
Background. Do they have a blog or a portfolio so you can see writing samples and understand if they can write? Do they have any bylined publications at other blogs so you can see if they can write guest content?
Links. Do they link to spammy websites from their content?
Credibility. What is the quality of their published content? Do they get featured at other cool blogs of your niche? Are they active on social media? Who is their audience?
5. Be Picky
Don't rush to publish a guest post, even if it looks good. Set strict standards from the very first day; otherwise, guest publications at your website won't perform well.
These standards can be as follows:
Don't accept posts with major spelling and grammar blunders. Yes, we all are just humans and we all make mistakes... But if a guest post requires heavy editing, the game isn't worth the candle.
Reject the guest posts that don't meet your blog's policy or your personal beliefs. Even if the content comes from opinion leaders or well-known experts, even if it's well-written and research-based — don't publish if you don't believe in it.
Ignore guest posts that have no fit in your blog niche. If your website is about SEO, welcome posts about SEO only. If you publish case studies only, don't approve "how-to's" or listicles, no matter how well they are written.
6. Have a Plan for Promoting Guest Content
Guest posts won't bring you tons of traffic and conversions alone. You should promote them the same way you do with own content. Tools like PomoDone App will help you manage time for guest content promotion: keep track of the time you spend on it, and you'll organize it accordingly for even better results.
Plus, let guest writers know your plan for promoting their works.
Give them information on how often you will tweet new posts or how many shares they usually get. If you share new posts through newsletters, specify this detail too. Also, let them know about specific tools such as SocialPilot or whatever you use for scheduling posts on social media and analyzing the results: encourage them to have a plan on promoting their guest articles and therefore managing their reputation online.
It will motivate writers to craft better content and participate in its promotion. The more shares, the more traffic and new audience to your blog.
7. Encourage Guest Writers to Support Your Community
Once you've approved and scheduled a guest post, let the writer know when it's live so they could plan its promotion too. Tag them when sharing the post and make sure they do the same: such a mutual exposure is a big win-win.
Also, let them know about how their guest post performs at your website to engage them in further collaboration and earn even more traffic and higher rankings with their help.
It’s a Wrap!
Guest bloggers will share your content to their network and backlink to it from their other guest posts at other websites. More than that, they can backlink or mention your product/service in their other content, just to thank you for accepting their work. It's all about reciprocation.
After all, networking wins, right?
About the author:
Lesley Vos is a web writer and guest blogging advocate from Chicago. Currently associating with Bid 4 Papers, she's also a regular contributor to many publications on business, digital marketing, and self-growth. Connect with Lesley on Twitter @LesleyVos.
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