If your aim is to build a money-making blog, then guest posting is a powerful strategy to help you achieve your goals.
Many top bloggers swear by guest blogging as the biggest and best way to grow their site’s traffic. In fact some 64.9% of link builders use guest posting as their go-to tactic!
Unfortunately however it’s laborious, tedious, confidence zapping work, as you beg to be seen amongst the thousands and thousands of other guest bloggers out there all hoping to win a guest post!
No wonder, so few bloggers have a genuinely effective guest posting strategy in place, and consequently lose out on the traffic-building potential on offer.
I have to be honest, when I started, I completely overthought the whole guest posting ‘thing’ and as a result gathered woefully few links in my first couple of years as a blogger.
That’s why I decided to write this guide to guest posting to try to simplify the process and take away some of the fear of rejection (if you have that, which I sure did).
Also to demonstrate that although it’s not the sexiest side of your blogging business, you can get started with relatively little effort and create guest posting systems that eventually you can outsource!
If you’re new to the world of guest posting, then keep reading as I’m going to take you through everything you need to know, from the basics of guest blogging through to scaling your processes to gain maximum benefit.
First of all …
What is Guest Posting?
Guest posting is when you write a unique article and publish it on somebody else’s blog.
There is no exact structure behind a guest post. It could be an in-depth industry topic, an opinion piece, or even a simple interview among peers in the same niche.
Nor are there any set guidelines for how often you should guest post.
But one thing is true, people have been guest blogging ever since blogging became a thing. And it allows you to access several unique benefits for your own website, as well as benefiting the site you guest post for.
What are the Benefits of Guest Blogging?
1. Link building
One of the main reasons people start guest blogging is for SEO purposes.
Put simply, the more domains that link to your website, the better it is for your Google rankings. This is because search engine algorithms take into account how many other websites point to yours when deciding how useful and important your content is.
This rule isn’t hard and fast. Meaning, more links won’t directly lead to dramatic gains in traffic. This is because much of the SEO benefit you receive through link building depends on the quality of the links you receive (more on this below).
For now, all you need to know is that the more links coming to your site the better. And guest posting is one of the best ways to achieve this end.
2. Referral traffic
If the website you are guest posting on attracts a sizable amount of monthly blog traffic, then you can expect some of these people to visit your website after reading your guest post.
Again, the quantity of referral traffic you receive is primarily dependant on things like:
- How big their monthly following is
- How good your guest post is
- How well you attract visitors to visit your site
To help boost the amount of referral traffic you receive from guest blogging, keep reading the rest of this guide.
To build a profitable blog, you’ll need to develop a name for yourself within your chosen niche. And the only way to achieve that notoriety is by increasing your exposure.
Regular and effective guest posting can significantly increase how well-known you are in your industry.
4. Making industry connections
Building relationships with influential bloggers in your niche is not only a route to fast growth but also an incredibly fulfilling way to build your overall business.
What? Make friends and develop relationships with like-minded peers while beginning to generate an income doing something you love to do? Sounds too good to be true!
Many people (incorrectly) assume that every other blog in their industry is a competitor.
In the world of blogging, this is not the case. Instead, the sheer number of other blogs already in your space is an indication of the opportunity on offer.
And by high-quality guest posting, you start building connections and relationships that you can then leverage in the future.
You will naturally discover opportunities you never before believed possible. Including new ways to monetize, events to attend, collaborations to embark on. And much more.
6 Stages of Effective Guest Posting
Now that you’re hopefully convinced of the benefits of guest blogging, it’s time to dig into what makes an effective guest blogging strategy.
Like most things blogging-related, it all comes down to systems. Develop a set of steps that you can rinse and repeat for maximum effect with as little effort as possible.
Step 1. Create a list of websites
Before you even pitch a guest post idea, your first stage is to gather a list of sites you’d like to write for.
You’re going to get a lot of ‘No’s’ to your pitches (you get used to it), so make a nice big list and cast a wide net!
How to Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Find a List of Sites That Accept Guest Posts
Wouldn’t it be great if someone had already done this stage for you?
Guess what, they likely have!
There are two ways to go about this.
Firstly, head on over to Google and type in things like
- “[niche] blogs”
- “Best blogs about [niche]”
- “Complete list of [niche] blogs”
Chances are, they will turn up a number of long lists with either dozens or even thousands of niche relevant blogs.
Take, for example, this post here from Everything Everywhere. It lists more than 1,400 travel blogs. But, better yet, it ranks and organizes them all by important metrics!
If you’re in the travel blogging space, then this is an absolute GOLD MINE.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you whether they accept guest posts, but a quick look through their website will show if there are guest authors published on their blog.
Also, be sure to head to the footer bar and see if there’s a link to ‘guest posting guidelines’. Many sites that accept guest posts have a set of guidelines outlining guest post submission. Easy peasy!
Secondly, simply go to google and type in;
- “Your Keyword sites that accept guest posts”
There are literally lists upon lists of hundreds of guest blogging opportunities!
This website lists over 700 websites split down by industry and even includes the domain rating and traffic metrics!
This is probably the quickest and easiest way to get started looking for sites that accept guest posts.
Google Search Strings
Google is your friend when looking for great guest posting opportunities!
Simply type in search strings such as;
- Your Keyword “guest post”
- Your Keyword “guest posts”
- Your Keyword “guest posting”
- Your Keyword “guest blogging”
- Your Keyword “accepting guest posts”
- Your Keyword “guest blog posts”
- Your Keyword “guest post opportunities”
- Your Keyword “guest bloggers
- Your Keyword “write for us”
- Your Keyword “guest blogging opportunities”
- Your Keyword “guest writer”
- Your Keyword “guest author”
- Your Keyword “blog contributor guidelines”
- Your Keyword “become a contributor”
- Your Keyword “guest post submission”
- Your Keyword “guest post by”
- Your Keyword “submit article”
Simply replace ‘Your Keyword” with the main keywords in your niche and you should find lots of opportunities.
Uncover Competitor Guest Posts
A great way of discovering quality guest blogging opportunities is by analyzing competitor websites.
Using a site like SEMRush, you can enter the domain of a competitors website and start looking through their backlinks for sites they’ve guest posted on.
Look for the anchor text ‘written by competitor name ’ or ‘by competitor name’ to find the published guest posts.
Guest Posting Collabs & Groups
Another great way to find guest post opportunities is by joining blogging collaboration groups.
From personal experience, Facebook is your best friend here.
I recommend finding groups that are already home to tens or hundreds of blogs in your space.
Search for things like:
- “[niche] blog support group.”
- “[niche] blog collabs”
Following on with our travel blog example, great groups to find hundreds of other like-minded bloggers are:
Step 2. Assessing the value each blog can offer
The last thing you want to do is randomly start emailing every single blog you’ve just found.
Not only will this take FOREVER and be unbearably boring, but it’s also ineffective.
One of the key aims behind guest blogging is quality over quantity.
It is much better to guest post for 10 high-traffic, high authority sites, as opposed to 50 low-quality, low-traffic sites.
Better yet, writing guest posts for just 10 sites is much easier. So it’s a win-win.
Take your original list and start filtering it. For this, it helps if you’ve been collecting your potential guest posting blog URLs in a simple spreadsheet format with one column for the blog URL, and additional columns filled with metrics you want to analyze. Such as:
- Domain Authority – A metric designed and managed by Moz. It is a rough indicator of how “authoritative” a domain is. Factors taken into account here include estimated traffic, number of links to that domain, quality of links to that domain, etc. Read this guide for more info.
- Traffic – You can use most SEO tools, like Semrush, Keysearch, Ahrefs, or Ubersuggest, to get a rough look at how much traffic a site receives.
- Social media following – Total number of followers across social media.
To help speed up this process, I recommend just looking at DA, to begin with. And start by only focusing on blogs with a DA of 30 and above.
This is a good baseline for a blog that has been around for a few years and has put effort into building its authority.
Once you’ve filtered all blogs that are DA30 and above, you can then look at their social media following and estimated monthly traffic to ensure you’re targeting quality blogs with a solid following.
Step 3. Creating content ideas
Now that you’ve gathered your list of blogs to target, 50-100 is a good starting point; it’s time to decide what you want to write about.
Putting together a long list of content ideas now makes the entire guest posting process more manageable.
What sorts of topics do you want to write about?
What sort of topics will resonate with your target blog audience?
All content ideas should have the following 4 attributes:
Be as relevant to your blog’s audience as possible
For example, if you are a vegan health food blog, then you want to be blogging about topics like “best gluten-free, vegan recipe ideas” as opposed to “how to make a chocolate fudge cake.”
Though they are both food-related, the sorts of people reading about chocolate cake are unlikely to be vegans.
Be non-competing content
In an ideal world don’t write a guest post that’s in direct competition with something on your site.
It’s okay for it to be similar in some way, but your goal is to increase your domain and ranking factors so you can rank your best posts.
If you get the opportunity to guest post on a site with a far higher domain than yours, the chances are your guest post may rank a lot faster than posts on your own site. If the post is in direct competition, you’ve likely jeopardized your own ranking for that topic!
However, if you get the opportunity to write for a highly authoritative (DA70+) and popular blog, then it certainly would do you no harm to put out some of your very best content.
The reason is, the better that post does for them, the more you can expect to benefit.
Which leads on nicely to …
Write something that will do well.
When submitting guest posts, one of the biggest issues is people simply writing something for the sake of getting a link.
Instead, write & submit guest posts that will likely generate large amounts of regular traffic for the blog owner. Be that through social shares or organic ranking.
By default, the more traffic your post gets, the more referrals you get. The more authoritative that post becomes in the eyes of Google, the more valuable the backlink is that goes to your site.
You’re now attracting organic traffic & getting high-quality backlinks.
Something that’s unique to the site’s you’re going to pitch
This step can take some time but is worth doing to ensure you’re pitching unique topic ideas.
After you’ve created a list of article ideas, head to google and type in “site:blog.com topic”.
Replace ‘blog.com’ with the URL of one of the blogs you’ll be approaching and ‘topic’ with your article keyphrase. This way you’ll see at a glance whether your guest blog post topic idea has already been written about on their site.
For example, if you wanted to write about Amazon FBA for my site, you can see at a glance I’ve written extensively about it.
This will help you decide to either not pitch me an article about Amazon FBA or come up with a unique angle I haven’t yet covered.
Step 4. Crafting your pitch
It’s now time to start reaching out to other blogs to secure guest posts. After years spent receiving dozens of guest post pitches a week, I can tell you this … Most people do guest post outreach TERRIBLY.
Below I’m going to give you a really simple guest post email template you can use when pitching blogs.
But first, here are a few crucial things to consider when writing your guest posting outreach emails:
- Make it personal – This can be as simple as including the blog owner’s name and writing about something you read on their site.
- Keep it short – Don’t waffle in your pitch. Instead, get to the point and be precise with your questions.
- Make it easy to say yes – The best way to do this is by giving particular guest post topics you’d like to write.
- Demonstrate your ability – There’s a very good chance this person has never heard of you. So they need to see that you are capable of writing good content.
Example email outreach guest post template:
I’m [your name] from [blog name].
I love your blog, and particularly enjoyed your recent guide where you [write something personalized].
I was wondering if you allow guest posts on your blog?
I would love the chance to write for you, here are a few ideas I think would be a great fit:
- Title 1
- Title 2
- Title 3
Here are some posts I’ve recently written for other sites:
- Guest post 1 URL
- Guest post 2 URL
- Guest post 3 URL
Let me know your thoughts!
The reason so many pitches are bad is that they’re so obviously automated.
I’m not saying automation is bad, but if you’re going to use a platform like Lemlist or Buzzstream to help with email outreach, be specific with your filters or change the wording accordingly so it’s extremely difficult for the email to be wrong.
I know many site owners and guest bloggers who have had immense success with automated outreach campaigns. I have to say though my preferred option is fewer pitches to higher authority sites with a far more personalized email.
Step 5. Securing guest posts
Now you have your pitch ready, it’s time to start emailing the blog owners or content managers.
Finding email addresses
Most of the time, you will find an email address or contact form on the “contact us” or “about us” page of the site.
Sometimes, there’ll be a page for guest posting guidelines, which will give you details on how to contact them and how to submit guest posts.
If you are struggling to find an email, you could always message the blog on Facebook (if possible) or find the blog owner’s LinkedIn profile and contact them via that.
You can also use a tool like hunter.io which helps you find the emails you’re looking for in seconds!
How many emails to send
Unless you’re going for automation using tools such as Lemlist, I recommend emailing your list in batches, say 10 – 20 blogs at a time.
(If you’re going for the highly personalized strategy, you’ll likely email even less)
By the time you have responded to follow-up emails and secured guest posts, this will leave you with maybe 4 or 5 guest posts ready to write. It all depends on your success rate.
For those that don’t respond, I recommend sending a simple follow-up email a week later.
I just wanted to float this email to the top of your inbox and see if you’d had time to consider a guest post from me?
Just a reminder, here are the topics I had in mind:
- Title 1
- Title 2
- Title 3
I’d love to discuss it with you.
Replying to responses
When people do get back to you, it’s a simple case of:
- Deciding on an exact topic
- Securing a clear deadline for when you will get it across
- Finding out how long your post needs to be
- Deciding how many links to your site you can include
- Discovering any other requirements, they may have
It’s worth nailing all of these things down now, rather than waiting until after you’ve written the post. It can save a lot of time and effort down the line.
You may also find that their guest post guidelines are too strict or don’t meet your own needs.
If you’re struggling to get a response from highly authoritative sites (don’t worry, you’re not alone), then there is a bonus step you can take.
It can massively improve your response rate but is a simple step that most guest post outreach campaigns don’t allow for.
Make contact BEFORE you send your guest posting pitch.
Your aim here is to get your name on their radar. So that when your email lands in their inbox, they already know you and are much more likely to give you a response.
How do you start a dialogue in this way? There are a few techniques:
- Comment on a blog post – Go through the site and leave a meaningful question on a post.
- Comment on a social media post of theirs – Same as above, the idea is to start a conversational dialogue.
- Share some of their content – Share a recent post across your social media channels and be sure to tag them so that they are notified of it.
These steps shouldn’t take very long at all and help to slowly build a relationship. That way, they will be much more open to talking about a guest post with you.
Step 6. Writing your guest blog post
Writing a guest post is the same as writing a post for your own blog. The only real difference is any guest post guidelines that the blog owner has.
Here are some basic rules to follow;
1. Ensure your guest post is high quality, SEO ready & shareable
It goes without saying, be sure to write a top-quality guest post.
The aim is to make this content highly valuable so that it can perform well both on social media and in Google search results.
The better your guest post performs, the more valuable the links you receive.
Using sites like SEMRush or Google’s own keyword planner, what’s the main keyword/phrase you’re attempting to rank for? At the very least ensure it’s included in the post title and the first 100 words, then strategically placed through the article.
If your goal is to grow & rank your own blog then consider investing in a tool like SurferSEO. These platforms will ensure your copy is SEO-rich for your own blog posts as well as your guest posts.
At the very least plug Yoast into the backend of your website and feed your guest post through their scoring system first to make sure it covers all the basics of SEO.
2. Use google docs to format your guest blog post.
Most blog owners use google docs to format and layout a blog post. Unless told otherwise, make it easy for the blog owner, by supplying a fully laid out, fully formatted, and finished document via a shareable google doc.
3. Include images, links, headings, subheads etc
Be sure to add all images into your google doc and add the alt text for each image. Make relevant subheads h2’s, h3’s and h4’s, and add any bolding, quote marks, blockquote sections, bullets, or numbered lists, all formatted correctly.
Lastly, perform a spelling, punctuation, and grammar check through Grammarly.
4. Add links to your own blog posts
When it comes to inserting backlinks to your site, I recommend placing one as near to the start of the blog post as possible.
Link value depreciates the further down a page that it goes. So links right at the top are the most valuable, and those at the bottom are the least valuable.
Find a relevant link on your site and find a suitable place for it in the article.
If the author allows 2 or 3 links to your blog, then consider placing these sporadically throughout the blog post.
5. Add links to other influencer sites
You’ll likely add links to other resources throughout your guest post. If possible add links to influencer sites you’d love to guest blog for!
Then when writing your guest post pitch for that influencer site you can include the fact you already linked to them from another guest post! How’s that for winning their favor!
However, only ever add relevant and quality links from sites you’d be happy to link to from your own site. Always take the long-term approach and remember the goal is to create solid relationships with other bloggers, not to create spammy links which will negatively affect them and ultimately you.
6. Add your author bio
This usually goes at the end of the article and is one of the most important parts of your guest post.
It’s the final thing that gives the reader a reason to check out your blog. It’s also a good spot to get a final backlink to your site.
You can either include a link to your homepage, a landing page of your choice, or even include a deep link to another article on your site.
The owner may change this on publication, but then again, if you’ve written a quality guest blog post they probably won’t.
7. Scaling your guest post writing system
There’s no doubt, writing quality content takes time. You’ll likely be writing for your own site at the same time and trying to write blog posts, plus guest posts, plus searching and pitching for guest post opportunities, plus promotion, plus emails for the email list you’re slowly building up, plus all the other elements of your business.
It’s a lot of work.
That’s why as soon as you have the financial resources to do so, you’ll want to look at scaling your guest post writing system by hiring some independent writers.
The system would include you pitching for the guest post and communicating with the blog owner. Then you’d write a comprehensive outline for your ghostwriter, ideally on a shared google doc. Then on submission from your ghostwriter, you add all the finishing touches including any personal anecdotes or extra copy and the links you want to include.
You’d then submit the finished guest post to the blog owner.
As long as you control the whole process, ensure the post is as high quality as if you were writing it yourself and the end result is a blog post you’d be happy to publish on your own site, this is a great strategy for scaling up your guest posting efforts.
While the writers are writing, you’re pitching and uncovering even more guest blogging opportunities!
To get started you can advertise for writers on upwork.com, pick a writing service like writersacess.com or advertise on probloggers.com job board.
Step 7. Promoting Your Guest Post
Congratulations! Your amazing guest post is live!
Hold on though. Now’s not the time to sit back with a cuppa or slap yourself on the back for a job well done.
The better your guest post performs, the more traffic it will generate for the blog owner and for you, and the stronger the link juice will be!
Not only that but the more you can help the blog owner drive more traffic to their site by providing quality content that gets shared, the more likely they are to recommend you to a blogging friend!
So, once your guest post is live, be sure to post it out on all your social networks. Send it out to your email list if you have one. Add to groups you belong to, send to interested family & friends, and sing it from the rooftops!
Also, be ready to jump on and respond to any comments your guest post attracts. This provides credibility and sends even more people to check you out on your own site.
Hot tip for finding even more warm leads for you to pitch guest post ideas to. Look at the websites of the people commenting on your post. Do they accept guest posts? If they’ve commented on your post, it stands to reason they like your content.
Reach out with a nice personalized email thanking them for commenting on your post and giving them an idea for a guest post you could write for their site!
Alternatives to Guest Posting
Guest blogging has always been traditionally pitching a guest post to a site owner and then publishing your article on their site linking back to your blog.
But what if there were other ways to link back to your site without writing a separate guest post, but still offering value, building credibility, and driving traffic back to your site?
It just so happens there are!
1. Podcast Interviews
Becoming a guest on a podcast is like an audio version of guest posting!
The host asks lots of questions about a specific topic. You give a hugely valuable interview including all the kind of information and detail you would have included in a guest post, and in the show notes, the podcast host links back to your site, a landing page of your choice, or a specified article.
This is a fantastic way to build relationships with fellow bloggers and other site owners. Rather than just a few back and forth emails confirming your guest post, you’re spending an hour or so with them, having a conversation.
It’s like guest posting on steroids!
HARO (help a reporter out) is like micro guest posting. Rather than pitching topics to sites and writing long guest blog posts, you sign up for a HARO account and receive emails every day from blog and website owners looking for specific answers to their questions.
Most are writing blog posts or articles for their own publications and are looking for contributing comments/insights from other people in a similar industry. AKA; you!
Simply answer their question and submit your copy with your links, bio, and headshot and wait to be included in an upcoming blog post. Depending on your niche there might be limited opportunities or there could be quite a lot of competition, so you won’t always be successful. I’ve tended to see around a 10% conversion rate in my submissions to actually getting published.
It sounds low but if you’re answering say 10 HARO’s a week, that’s 1 extra link per week for what amounts to a couple of hours of work.
I’ll take that any day!
3. Content Syndication
Unlike guest posting, rather than creating unique guest posts for other publications, content syndication means giving another website permission to republish your article in full, mentioning on the same post that it was originally published by you.
If you’re concerned it will count as duplicate content, don’t be. Website owners who syndicate content know that when adding your article they need to use a particular style of link called a canonical link, which tells google where the original post was published.
To find publications that engage in content syndication, head over to trusty Google and type in search strings such as;
- “Originally published in” inurl:keyword
- “Republished with permission” inurl:keyword
- “Originally appeared on” inurl:keyword
You can also syndicate your content on sites like Medium, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc. The likelihood is, some of these sites won’t give as much SEO juice, but it is a great way to drive more eyeballs, add more credibility and increase the chances of getting your content shared.
Hubspot has written a great article on content syndication here.
Beginner Guest Posting FAQ
How many guest posts should I write?
This is entirely up to you. It’s a lot of work and you’ll likely be writing and publishing content for your own site at the same time.
I do, however, encourage you to make guest blogging an ongoing and consistent part of your link-building strategy.
A good target could be 2 guest posts a month for the first 6 months. You can then scale this up more as you realize the benefits and perhaps use outsourced writers to help write the guest posts.
Should I accept guest posts on my blog?
Guest posts can be a great way to build up the content on your site. Just be sure to have strict guest posting guidelines in place to ensure that you only receive top-quality submissions.
I recommend guest blogging for other websites first, and then deciding afterward whether or not to offer the opportunity on your own blog.
How much do guest bloggers get paid?
Very few guest post opportunities are paid ones. If you are writing for a large, well-established site, then you may find that they pay you to write them, but this is rare nowadays.
Should you pay to write guest posts?
You will find that many websites are happy to receive guest posts, but they require you to pay for them. This is because they recognize the value guest posting for their publication offers you. It is entirely up to you if you wish to pay. However, there are plenty of free guest posting opportunities out there if you’re just starting out.
Does guest blogging still work in 2022?
It honestly depends on how you approach it. Guest posting at scale has the potential to lead to lower-quality links. Sites that accept a lot of guest posts will pass less link juice to you than a high-quality site that is extremely picky about who they allow to publish on their site.
This is why less could potentially lead to more. However, if you’re consistent, choose decent quality sites, don’t pay for links on spammy sites, and focus on creating amazing, highly shareable guest posts that are super relevant to your own niche you won’t go far wrong.
Is guest posting bad for SEO?
This to me seems an odd question. I personally would have asked ‘is guest posting good for SEO’ but it seems most people are searching the opposite!
Guest posting is as old as the day is long and over the years Google and online SEO webmasters have had fluctuating views about its effectiveness for SEO purposes.
The simple fact is, that the more high-quality links coming from authority sites to your own blog, the more authority your site has in google’s eyes.
The more guest blogging I do, the more links come in, the higher my domain rating goes and the easier I find it to rank my content.
However, guest posting on its own won’t work long term. You also have to be publishing amazing content on your own site or it won’t be long before an algorithm change will penalize your site on a massive scale if all you’ve relied on is links and substandard content.
This is not a system to be gamed, no matter what expert tells you otherwise. This is a long-term strategy that if deployed expertly will help drive traffic to your site for years to come!
Developing your guest blogging strategy
By following these 7 simple steps, you should be able to build an effective guest blogging strategy for your site.
The key is to be patient and consistent.
Start by publishing at least 2 or 3 guest posts a month for the first 6 months. After this time, you can look back at your site’s traffic and hopefully you’ll have started to see some results.
Blogging is truly about patience. It takes time for Google and other sites to start to recognize your growing domain authority, your credibility, and your value to the wider community.
By consistently posting high-quality and valuable posts on your site and gradually building a reputation as an awesome guest blogger, before you know it you’ll be guest posting on some of the best sites in your niche!