Guest Blogging: The Quintessential 2020 Guide
This is a massive - and I mean a really MASSIVE - guide to guest blogging. In fact, it’s the only guest blogging guide you’ll ever need to read. It’s the A-to-Z, the creme de la creme, the piece de resistance of this topic.
Whether you’re a business owner looking to do some DIY outreach or a discerning marketer looking to improve his or her craft, this one’s for you. But first, let me tell you a short story...
I have a confession to make.
I started SEO the wrong way.
The buying-SEO-packages-on-BHW-and-hoping-for-the-best kind of wrong way.
And it took me a lot of courage - yes, courage - to sit down and finally run a real guest post campaign. I was scared of doing the absurd amount of work required THEN just failing at the end. Paying for PBNs was the easier (and more convenient way) for me.
I tried doing it anyway, because the bloating recurring PBN costs wasn't worth it, at least for me. And if I don't want to rely on an external service to succeed.
And so off I went. It took me another 3-4 months before I finally optimized my process to the point where I'm confident enough to scale.
So, yes - guest blogging isn't as easy as people make it out to be, but the payoff is oh so worth it.
Check out the quality of these blogs where a client got featured for FREE:
Each of these link could cost you $300 or more on one of the many link vendors!
Do you want to start earning links like these at no extra cost other than the time and effort you spend writing an article? Follow along!
Benefits of Guest Blogging
Some would look at guest blogging simply as a way to get backlinks.
They can never be farther from the truth.
Guest blogging, if done right, brings a lot more to the table than just increasing your site’s rankings.
While the advantages of guest blogging might seem self-explanatory, I’m adding this section in an effort to help you rethink the way you treat guest blogging.
Notice: If you’re reading this guide just to get backlinks, just skip to this section, but if you’re here because you’re determined to build a brand that people talk about, you’re in for a treat.
#1: Builds Your Brand
A proper guest post campaign can help your business get featured on well-known and reputable websites (think HuffPost or PCGamer).
As they say, birds of the same feather, flock together - and if your website is rubbing elbows with the bigwigs, people’s perception of your brand is bolstered as well.
If you get a guest post on a good blog, you can take their logo and put it in your “As Seen On” section. This should improve your perceived authority!
#2: Creates Industry Connections
If you want to build a business that people within your industry recognize, you better make sure you make connections and expand your network!
As they say, your network is your net worth.
Guest blogging is a very efficient way to create these connections, because you provide value that benefits their business in the form of great content.
Admittedly, guest blogging is a very overused tactic, but it makes a world of difference if you have a solid prospecting process and script in place.
With our current campaign, we’ve been offered payment for OUR guest posts:
Unfortunately, a $40 check sent from the US to the Philippines isn't worth the hassle for the both of us, so instead of paying me I just asked George if he can accept more articles on a regular basis from me.
We’ve even been offered contributor roles:
Some people simply treat guest post campaigns as a one-off thing. Once they get their backlink, it’s bye bye.
This defeats the purpose of a blogger outreach campaign, where you want to build real connections with these people. Think of ways to leverage these relationships to benefit your blog in the future.
#3: Improves Rankings & Increase Organic Traffic
Great backlinks means better rankings. Just take a look at this traffic growth for our client in the pet niche:
Traffic growth for our client in the pets niche
When you run your campaign, just make sure that you filtering sites based on a few key metrics like:
Here at Outreach Authority, we try our best to find guest post placements on websites with high organic traffic, and a certain number of referring domains. We also check organic traffic graphs from the past 6 months to a year to check if there are any significant drops in traffic that might signify a penalty.
Don’t run an outreach campaign haphazardly. Filter blogs using key metrics and make sure you’re using the correct anchor texts as well.
While tech-savvy people and even Google frown upon paying for guest posts, it cannot be denied that guest blogging is a great way to earn money from your blog.
This actually goes both ways:
There are blogger outreach services that function as a middlemen between you and the blogs. You simply purchase a guest post and they’ll handle everything. It’s an effective and quick way to get links, I give them that, but the the relationship-building part is lost.
It’s Not Always A Monetary Transaction
I came from what you would call “gray-hat” SEO background. I’ve dabbled in PBNs and all that jazz. To put it simply, gray-hat SEO utilizes strategies that won’t exactly put Google in a good mood.
Additionally, it feels like paying your way to get rankings.
The bigger your budget, the more powerful PBNs you can purchase, the quicker your rankings will go up.
Is this a bad thing? No, not at all. You need money to make money. And if it works, then it works. I’m not here to discredit gray-hat (or even black-hat tactics).
But when I started guest blogging for real - it changed my outlook on link building.
"When I went out of my way to provide value in my guest posts, bloggers and webmasters were actually willing to link out to my site at no additional cost."
I don’t need to pay them exorbitant amounts of money just so I can post a crappy 500-word article with my backlink on it and call it a day.
At times, it’s nice to know that link building isn’t always a monetary transaction.
How To Guest Post On Blogs?
I hope I gave you some new insights on the full potential of guest blogging. With that thing out of the way, let’s get to the good bits - how do you get guest posts?
For starters, you need a sound guest blogging strategy to make it work - simply carbon-copying a strategy from a blog you've read will not cut it for you. This post is meant to guide you on the process, but you have to customize and adjust it to fit your target industry.
As a quick overview, here is a guest blogging road map you can follow:
My guest blogging process. For some reason Google Slides are crappy JPEG images. Click to view full size.
Step 1: Prepare your guest blogging tools
I’m putting Step 1 as preparation so you don’t find yourself scrambling for a tool or software when you're already neck-deep in the campaign.
Generally, I prepare 5 things:
Ninja Outreach, Mailshake, Gmail, or Snov.io
Ninja Outreach is one of the best outreach tools in the market today. It takes off the tedious task of copy-pasting email scripts and sending emails one by one.
As a side note I’ve been featured in Ninja Outreach as a case study on how the tool made my life so easier.
If you only plan to send a few emails a day or don’t plan to scale your outreach efforts, Gmail is a decent alternative, although you have to manually change the names for every email you send.
A Branded Email Address (@yoursite.com)
Using an @website.com email address converts better than using an @gmail.com account.
Probably because having a branded email address feels more “official” or assures that you’re not just another spammer.
You can get a branded email address for free in most web hosts. For convenience, I just link it via SMPT/IMAP to a generic/dummy gmail account. Here’s how you do it:
Note: I'm using Hostgator as my host here.
1. Create a branded email Address On Your Cpanel and Forward all emails to a gmail address. I suggest creating a new "dummy" gmail address for this
On your cPanel account go to Forwarders.
Look for the "Add Forwarder" button.
2. Connect your branded email address to gmail
Add a New Forwarder.
There are some things you simply have no control of, like emails being marked as junk or spam.
If you send emails from your main website and this happens multiple times, your other emails (note: important emails) might go straight to the dumpster too.
TIP: It’s best to use a separate domain for your cold outreach campaigns. For example, I send all my outreach emails from an @outreachworthy.NET email address even though my website is OutreachWorthy.COM.
For every successful outreach campaign, behind it is a very organized spreadsheet.
If you want to get MY outreach campaign template that I use for my clients do this:
SEMRush or Ahrefs
Remember when I said you have to filter your prospects using key metrics? That’s where SEMRush or Ahrefs come in.
Ahrefs is the ultimate SEO tool, but it’s quite expensive especially if you’ll only use it for one campaign. That is why I use SEMRush’s basic plan ($99.99/month).
You only need to check Referring Domains and Organic Traffic anyway so SEMRush's cheapest plan will suffice.
Step 2: Find Guest Post Opportunities
There are many ways to find guest post opportunities. The method I will show you below is the simplest one. Our internal process is a mixture of different tactics that let us automate 80% of the work.
Identify What Type Of Websites Will Accept Guest Posts From You
The first step to finding great guest post opportunities is knowing how and where to find them.
Take note of your niche and what kind of websites will accept guest posts from you.
For example, if my website is about a CRM software for real estate professionals, I probably want to get a guest post on a real estate website whose majority of audience are real estate brokers or agents. I don’t want to land a guest post on a DIY site whose audience are just looking to redecorate their garage.
Use Search Operators
Okay, so now you know what type of websites you want to pitch your guest post articles, it’s time to look for them.
Google is your best bet for finding these websites, albeit with a little help from the proper search operators.
According to TechTarget.com, a search operator is:
“...a character or string of characters used in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search.”
To help you with your search, here’s a spreadsheet that auto-magically spits out a list of search engine operators you can use together with your keywords:
Filter List Of Sites
Not every opportunity should be taken. Some websites that accepts guest posts can be glorified PBNs or crappy sites that do more harm that good.
With our campaigns we usually filter sites using a few key metrics:
Record the filtered sites on the spreadsheet
Make sure you jot down any sites that pass your criteria in the sheet.
A simple spreadsheet that shows an overview of the sites' metrics is useful for identifying good opportunities.
Step 3: Find their contact info
I thought about putting this under Step 2, but I figured this deserves it’s own step.
Finding the right contact info is a big part of a successful guest blogging campaign.
You can find a blog’s contact info on their About Page, Contact Us page or footer.
Just make sure you’re not looking for a generic email address. What do I mean by “generic”? These are emails that typically start with:
Basically any email address that doesn’t belong to a specific person is called a generic email address. Stay away from these because their response rates are low, and even if you get a response, it’s usually an automated one.
When you find the correct email address, record it on your spreadsheet!
You can also use a free tool called Hunter.io to make email hunting (no pun intended) easier for you. I also found a nifty tool called Lusha. It’s super useful for finding LinkedIn emails and stuff, but it’s a paid tool.
Step 4: Write an email script and send the emails
The next step is teaching you how to write a guest post pitch. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to writing a template, but there are some guidelines I follow:
Email Template Writing Tips
Tip 1: Stop copy-pasting templates from other marketing blogs. A million lazy people have already used them. Do you want to be another statistic?! It’s the surefire way to get reported for spam.
Tip 2: Be creative and engaging - Pretty vague, I know, but stop with the boring-ass emails. Before I write an email script I usually watch funny cat videos for that dopamine rush. If I’m happy, I’m more than likely to write a creative, fun, and engaging email.
Tip 3: Use the appropriate tone:
- If you’re reaching out to DIY-ers or pet lovers you can try to be casual and even funny.
Brainstorming For Topics
If you need some inspiration on what topics to pitch, Google is your best friend. It’s just a matter of using a few broad keywords and seeing what’s ranking on the top 10.
Let’s say you want to write about dog health. The top search results will give you an idea on what Google wants for a particular topic.
With those 3 tips aside, here’s a sample email script. Again, don’t you dare steal this email template. Stealing is bad for you.
Guest Post Template Examples
Let’s say you have a dog blog. Here an email script that I would probably use:
First Email - The first email is the most important part. Based on my current campaigns it’s the most opened and replied to email so nail it perfectly! If a prospect doesn’t reply to the first email, chances are they aren’t interested. On our campaigns, reply rates for 1st emails go up to 38%.
Subject: Paw-some content for your readers.
Dear [First Name],
I’m [Persona] and I write at [MyDogBlog.com]. It’s a blog about dogs. [Insert something fun/witty/engaging sentence here]
I’m wondering if it’s paw-sible to contribute on your blog? I’m sure your readers will find these articles pawsome! Here’s a recent article I published on [OtherDogBlog.com].
I have a couple of topics in mind:
- Topic 1
- Topic 2
If you have any topic in mind, please let me know as well - happy to write it fur ya!
Please let me know what you think.
Owner/Blogger @ MyDogBlog.com
Follow Up #1 - The 1st follow up email is important too. Some bloggers are just too busy to reply when you email them the first time, so a slight nudge to remind them of your previous email might be necessary.
Subject: In case you missed my last email…
Hi [First Name],
I sent you an email a few days back asking if your interested in a guest contribution from yours truly. In case you missed it, here it is again:
[Email #1 here in italics]
I’d really love to contribute on your blog.
Owner/Blogger @ MyDogBlog.com
Follow Up #2 - One last ditch effort to secure a guest post, but replies here are on the single digit percentages.
Subject: Should I stop reaching out?
Hi [First Name],
I’m reaching out to you one last time to see if your interested in a guest contribution from me.
Here are some suggested topics:
- Topic 1
- Topic 2
Owner/Blogger @ MyDogBlog.com
Use their first name. Nuff said. Nobody wants to be called Sir or Ma’am in an email.
Step 5: Writing articles that get published
You’ve sent the emails. They replied and accepted your pitch. Maybe you see something like this:
Now it’s time to write your guest article!
But hold up.
I can’t really teach you how to write a guest blog post that gets published, because writing takes skill and talent.
And if you don’t have it now, you can’t magically come up with a winning article in the next 3 days. No offense, but I’m trying my best to set the correct expectations here.
If you have a writing background, awesome! You can probably skip this Step (or maybe not - I have a few tips later).
On the other hand, if writing isn’t your forte, don’t fret. You can actually outsource the whole thing! You can hire Filipino writers on Online Jobs.PH at reasonable prices. Don’t cheap out too much though, because the quality might suffer.
Whether you’re writing the article yourself or delegating it to a writer, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way to increase acceptance rate.
Focus On Content
The most common mistake about guest blogging is trying too hard to get a nice link or optimizing the article to the point that the quality suffers.
With guest posts, you have to think the other way around.
Try to write the best article you can. Everything else is secondary.
When I assign guest post topics to my writers, I usually just give them the guidelines URL and let them have their way with it. If you have good, creative writers, they’ll deliver something awesome.
I'm the epitome of laziness so when I have a content assignment I just tag one of my writers on the sheet. An organized guest post campaign spreadsheet will make your life 100x easier.
Provide Value. Be Creative!
I’ve purchased guest posts from other vendors. And while they are guest posts in their purest form, the value just isn’t there.
It’s basically a 500-word article talking about a shallow topic. Something along the lines of "3 Steps On How To Guest Post". That kind of shallow.
The writing is pretty darn bad too and something I can pay $3-$5 per 500 words for.
Don’t be like this. Please.
"A guest post is your chance to be seen by thousands of people in an instant. Don’t waste the opportunity by making them read a crappy 500-word SEO article."
Write about something that addresses a great need or want. Talk about something common from a unique angle. Create the best blog post about a certain topic. Do these and you’ll stand out.
Grammar and Clarity
If you’re not confident with your English, it’s better to hire a writer that can produce a good article for you.
Even if you think you can come up with publishable content, use tools like Grammarly or Hemingway App to keep your grammar in check - your editor will thank you for it.
Step 6: Submitting The Post
Submission is the easiest step. Don’t start a new email thread and simply reply to your previous email conversation. Here’s a template:
Hi [First Name],
As promised here’s a draft for “TITLE”: LINK
If there’s anything else you need to get this piece published please let me know
Step 7: Live Link After Care
Your guest post finally got published:
But remember what I told you about building relationships?
Your job, does not stop at your live links. You need to do what I would call Live Link After Care.
Thank The Blogger
A simple thank you goes a long way. Once you get what we call the “live link”, go ahead and thank the blogger!
Remember they are spending time on your article for free - you have to thank them for that.
I would simply reply to our email thread with something like this:
Hi [First Name],
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share something with your audience. I really appreciate it.
I shared the article on all of my social media channels.
If you need anything else from me - a collab sometime in the future, perhaps - I’m just an email away 🙂
Share The Post On Your Social Media
What’s the point of publishing a guest post if you won’t brag about it?
Post the links on your Facebook, Twitter, IG accounts even if you don’t have a big following.
The publisher will also appreciate you for it - even a little social media promotion helps.
Don’t Close The Book On Future Collaboration
You’ve already built a relationship with these bloggers, use it for future endeavors.
Maybe you have a new infographic you want to promote, or maybe you’re running a contest. Just email these bloggers and ask if it’s possible to share this with your audience. The loved your guest post, they'll probably love other things you have to offer.
4 Guest Post Tips To Improve Your Success Rate
Don’t cheap out on tools
While I won’t advice you to buy the shiniest, most expensive tools available, I also will advice you to invest a little bit in the outreach tools that will make your campaign faster and more efficient.
Ninja Outreach is a software that automates almost the entire outreach process. This tool virtually reduced work my work by half, and I can finally allot that extra time to increase the quality of my prospects.
Personalize, Personalize, Personalize!
You might be tempted to use the email templates I used above because they proved to be successful (or maybe you’re just lazy).
Putting aside the fact that these templates will be copied WORD for WORD and turned to spam in a few weeks’ time thanks to some lazy people, these templates aren’t personalized to suit YOUR niche.
Are you going to use puns when you reach out to lawyers or real estate brokers? Hopefully not.
Optimize your email
Use 2 email templates at a time, changing one thing like the subject line or a few phrases/sentences on the body.
Ninja Outreach can track response rates for email opens, clicks, and response, so it’s simply a matter of picking the template with better results.
Rinse and repeat until you fully optimized your outreach campaign.
Don’t Give Up
When your first campaign is a bust, don’t give up just yet. As cheesy at it might sound, this holds so true with guest post campaigns.
Maybe you made a mistake in prospecting. Maybe you have a crappy email template. Maybe you have some technical problems like your IP address not having enough authentication (this one actually happened to me and I have to purchase a .net domain for my client).
The bottom line is try to figure out what’s wrong. Don’t stop when you’ve only taken the first 5 steps - the end of the tunnel is a really fun party, I promise.
Outsource guest blogging
Did you know you can actually just outsource the entire thing? If you…
…you can use guest blogging services that will do the entire thing for you. I’m going toot my own horn here:
Outreach Worthy is blogger outreach company that candle this for you. Check out what one of clients thinks about us:
"We've had a really good experience with Outreach Worthy so far - scored some super solid high DR links from very relevant websites, exactly what we need to help claim those top rankings. Yesh is a great communicator and a pleasure to work with. Very highly recommended."
Glen Wilde, CiteWorks.net
Visit our homepage to learn more about what we do.
Ready to start?
4,000+ words later, and we’re finally at the end of the guide.
I’m not going to lie - guest post campaigns are a pain in the ass. There’s a lot of moving parts you have to coordinate. If you’re a bit disorganized of a person like me, you’ll probably struggle.
I made this guide to give you a complete overview of the entire process. Just follow the entire thing and you’ll be fine.
I hope you learned something from this guide. If you have any comments, just let comment on the post below or shoot me an email.
Or, if you want to avail of our guest post service, send your website for evaluation using the button below: