Most businesses and entrepreneurs now recognize that blog content is a huge factor when it comes to driving traffic to your website, educating your audience, and staying relevant in your field. Being a guest blogger for big platforms can HUGELY help build street cred and stay relevant!
In fact, in 2015 Hubspot found that B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
The article goes on to say:
One of the biggest benefits of blogging is being able to attract high quality leads – even when you’re not working. The more a lead has contact with you, the more likely you are to make a sale. If you’re putting out valuable content on a consistent basis, you’ll be surprised how much your leads will skyrocket.
Even your old blogs can get you noticed if they’re relevant and answering a question many visitors are searching for. Make sure you’re constantly updating older blogs so they continue to bring in the high-quality traffic.
So, if you’re not blogging yet, you should be! But my guess is that if you’re reading this article, it’s not so much a question of whether or not you are blogging, it’s a question of, “now that I have all this great content, how do I get people to see it?”
One of the best (and most credible) ways to share your business is through guest posting. And in case you’re not familiar with the term “guest posting,” it essentially means what it sounds like: posting your valuable blog content on another person’s blog with a link back to your site.
In essence, you’re reaching a new audience and educating them about your business.
The key is to have your content posted on a blog or website that’s bigger than yours – and when I say “bigger” what I really mean is more popular. More views, more hits, more visitors, more eyeballs.
Some great examples of these platforms for business owners are The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, Entrepreneur Magazine Online, LinkedIn.com, Mashable.com, LifeHack.org, Brazen Careerist, MindBodyGreen… the list goes on and on, and it’s not limited to these biggies.
A great place to guest post can also be blogs that are industry-specific. For instance, one of my good friends, Sarah Siadat, has a company called Mentoring for Actors. Her niche is super specific – she mentors actors! For her, posting on Mashable might not necessarily translate to more clients because actors don’t typically hang out on that website (I’m sure some of them do, but not hoards of them!). A better fit for her is an industry-specific online periodical like Ms. In The Biz or Backstage.
See where we’re going with this? I’ll get more into determining your target guest post locations in a sec.
It can feel like an insurmountable challenge to get your work published on these sites, and yes, it will take a little legwork. But if you’re willing to do the work and you know your content is great, you’ll see some excellent results.
More leads. More opt-ins. More traffic to your site. And yes, more clients.
So let’s dive in! Check out my secrets to becoming a guest blogger, below (and by the way, these are the same things I did to get my clients on HuffPost, Forbes, DentalTown, Wall Street Journal, MindBodyGreen, etc. so I KNOW they work!).
Secret #1: A Guest Blogger Has to Ask
This one kind of seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But so often we get stopped just as soon as it’s time to make the big ask. Either it feels scary to ask for something that seems like a big deal (it’s actually not a big deal, and I’ll explain why in a minute), or the amount of prep you have to do in order to reach out feels like too much.
People get stopped here all the time, and often they don’t even realize it. It’s no surprise that so many business owners feel completely frustrated with their level of blog exposure.
One of my clients attended a women’s conference where Arianna Huffington was speaking. It was a great speech, she told me, and at one point in the presentation, Arianna actually turned to the audience of 100+ women and said something like, “If you want to write for the Huffington Post, email me at this address.” Then she proceeded to provide her direct email address to the entire audience of women!
You’d think that she would then be flooded with requests, wouldn’t you? But by the time my client mentioned to me what had happened, it had been almost a year since she saw Arianna speak and she hadn’t taken any action on this fabulous opportunity!
Together, she and I mapped out a plan to create a great article and send it directly to Arianna to (fingers crossed!) get her content posted on the megasite (by the way, if you want to take a peek into what that letter looked like, be sure to click on the Steal My Stuff! bar below to download the material).
Wouldn’t you know that now my client has an ongoing blog platform on the site? Sure didn’t hurt her credibility, number of opt-ins and business growth!
So, dear blogger friends, the moral of the story is that you have to ask! Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and do the scary thing. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no or ignore your email or phone call. No big!
The best that can happen is you’ll be a featured writer on a website that gets hella traffic.
Secret #2: A Guest Blogger Has to Find the Right Platform
This one really is a secret that a lot of business owners don’t quite get: most big blogs and news platforms are constantly seeking new content.
Think about it. If you’re the editor of Forbes.com, your audience expects you to post new, interesting and high-quality content multiple times per day. If you don’t, you’ll be out-matched by your competitors who are willing to hustle harder.
So this leaves you with a problem. A big content problem, especially if you don’t have it in your budget to pay writers to continually bring in new materials.
Here’s where you come in, blogger friend! When you find a platform that really and truly matches your business, like Sarah’s Mentoring for Actors business perfectly matches Backstage Magazine, that platform will jump on your content. They need it! Your content can help keep them relevant – in fact, it’s vital that they have it coming in regularly.
But here’s the catch: your content has to be a fit for their audience. If you’re a health and wellness coach trying to post on Forbes.com or The Wall Street Journal Online… well, good luck. It might work if you have a huge business, but chances are that Forbes readers would be thrown for a loop if they signed on to find an article about green smoothies. Get what I’m saying?
Trying to promote your content to the wrong audience is a waste of everyone’s time, especially yours!
Here are 5 questions I ask to find out if my content and brand is a good fit for the platform I’m targeting:
- Do my ideal clients frequent this media outlet?
- Does this platform get more traffic than my website? (You can check by visiting Alexa.com).
- Do I have a new and refreshing take on the topics that this platform likes to talk about?
- If I put myself in the shoes of the editor of this platform, do I think my brand and proposed pieces are appealing? If not, why?
- Does this platform accept guest contributors’ work?
If you can’t answer YES to all of the questions above, move on. The worst thing would be to spend hours working on a proposal for a platform that, in the end, won’t even consider your work. Be smart! (I know you will)
Remember to be specific. Entrepreneur Magazine online has several different sections. Is your content a fit for the Latest section? Lists? How to? Get clear on this before you reach out. Do your homework!
Secret #3: A Guest Blogger Has to Gather Credibility
Okay, now that you have collected several outlets that would be a good fit for your guest articles, it’s time to really look at what you’re offering the platform.
Even though big platforms are hungry for new content, there are many others like you who wish their content to be featured on these sites. The competition is definitely a real thing! In fact, over the last several years, I have noticed that it’s getting more and more challenging to get work published on big platforms – which tells me that these websites are being inundated with potential new content (it also means that persistence really has become key! More on that in a moment).
Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still try, because you absolutely should. I feel confident that if you follow these steps you will have a win with at least one site. But it also means that you should get your ducks in a row before mailing off to them. Make them an offer they can’t refuse, as they say.
Credibility is key to that irresistible offer, so spend some time putting together your “credibility package.” You can start by keeping a Word Doc of all your accomplishments. Here are some questions to help get the ball rolling:
- Have you been a guest on other blog platforms before? Collect all the links.
- Have you created video content that’s gotten many views? Have those links available, too.
- Do you have an impressive number of followers, readers, a large list, etc.?
- What are your credentials? For instance, if you’re a registered nurse with a specialty in Ayurveda, that’s important to include.
- Have you spoken at conferences, or led webinars or seminars?
- Have you won any notable awards?
As you answer these questions, be on the lookout for credibility-boosters that will be particularly appealing to certain platforms. Every platform is different, remember, so the more you can tailor your pitch to the individual platform, the more success you’re likely to see.
Choose the 3-5 credibility boosters that really show off you and your business. These are the points that you’ll include in your pitch letter to the editors.
Secret #4: A Guest Blogger Must Have Patience + Persistence + Chart Their Touches
Once you have your credibility boosters, the next step is to ask! Write a pitch letter that you feel really great about (if you’d like to see an example of a pitch letter that worked, click the yellow banner below to Steal My Stuff!).
The trick with the pitch letter is to be clear, polite and outline what you want and why you want it. Easy, right?
A couple tricks to keep in mind:
- Keep it relatively short. No one’s going to read a tome about why your blog content is perfect for Mashable – but they will read a couple concise paragraphs about it!
- Focus on their audience. Sentences like, “I think your audience would be really interested in hearing about X because Y” will catch the ear of the editor. Remember, your task is to make his or her job easier.
- Leave the ball in your court. Conclude your pitch letter with something like, “Allison, I know you’re busy, so if I don’t hear back from you in a week, I’ll touch base with you again.” This way, you’re building in the expectation that you’re going to follow up and they won’t be surprised when you actually do it.
Some blog platforms won’t provide an email address. In that case, either they’re not accepting guest contributors, or they want to filter you through their automated system (that will usually look like an intake form with vetting questions. Often this section will also include a prompt for links where you have posted blog content before).
Whether you’re reaching out to an individual (which is definitely preferred – and a great place to research individuals is through LinkedIn) or submitting through an automated form, a key aspect in this stage of the process is patience and persistence.
They say in the marketing world that it takes 7-12 touches before someone even remembers your name. Essentially, you’re trying to make a sale with this pitch, so don’t be surprised if you have to follow up multiple times.
Don’t be afraid to be persistent!
In fact, a great way to keep track of your touches is with a spreadsheet or Google doc. That way, you can make sure you’re leaving enough time between touches that you’re not overwhelming your target editors and you can also keep track of who you’ve reached out to (click the gold “Steal My Stuff!” for a template and example of how this works).
Secret #5: Now that You’re in, Consistency is Key
When you follow the steps and get your blog content published on another platform, congratulations! That’s a great accomplishment! Now the trick is to keep doing it.
When it comes to contributing content, my take on it is that the goal should be to make your content so valuable that the platform wants to feature you. In other words, make sure it’s juicy stuff that their audience will soak up.
But also make sure that you share it to your list and social media followers. The more eyeballs that land on the page the better for your status on the platform. And if you can get invited back to post repeat articles, hooray!
Becoming a guest blogger can be a real image-booster for your business, and depending on where you’re being featured, it could even be called a game-changer. Put in a little time to get your materials in order, do your research, and be persistent; you’ve got what it takes, my friend.
Giveaway: Steal My Stuff!
Over the years, The Blog Babe has successfully helped clients pitch themselves and get published on some great platforms. We know what works and what doesn’t. If you’d like a little peek into The Blog Babe pitch vaults, click on the gold banner to get immediate access to our materials. You’ll find…
- Sample pitch letters that build credibility…
- Your checklist to determine if a platform is right for your content…
- Your credibility-building worksheet…
- And a guide to following up without over-doing it.
Oh yeah, and it’s totally free 🙂
Blog on, my friends, your voice needs to be heard!
Allison Volk specializes in creating authority and visibility for businesses and entrepreneurs through effective content marketing. Her clients have appeared in The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, Mind Body Green, LifeHack, Bitter Lemons and DentalTown.com, to name a few. Find out more at www.TheBlogBabe.com.