As someone who is involved in blogging and all things related to it, you probably come across a lot of information from various sources. This would normally be a good thing, but the problem is that not all the information that comes your way is accurate or up-to-date. As with virtually everything related to the Web, there are a lot of misconceptions out there surrounding blogs and blogging. There are also plenty of lesser-known bits of information that can affect the performance of your blog and your day-to-day activities as a blogger. I therefore thought it was a good idea to share some of these trade secrets in the hope of clearing up some confusion you may have.
Secret #1: A guest blog post is a team effort If you are accustomed to blogging by yourself, one thing that might surprise you about guest blog posts is that it takes at least two people to accomplish. This means you will usually have to work with one other person and in some cases, even 2 or 3 others. Most sites will also have a content manager that you will to get approval from, but it is the site owner who usually has the last word. Guest blog posting really is a team effort, and you will have to learn to work in a team setting. In such a scenario, effective communication and flexibility are essential skills to have.
Secret #2: Research is a must with guest blog posts Research is an especially important aspect of guest blogging. If it is your first time to guest blog, you will first have to determine the niches you will want to write in. After that, you will have to look for blogs in those niches. The next step is to figure out what type of content attracts the most comments. Of course, you also have to make sure that the content you post will be similar in tone and quality to the posts on the site.
Secret #3: Tracking your guest blog posts is a good thing After you have started networking and have gotten your name out there, start up a record of all your guest blog posts. This will come in handy when you want to expand, and it will also allow you to reference your previous work if necessary. A record of your posts will also help keep you organized and let you know important details such as when certain posts are live and when you need to make a comment or promote your posts.
Secret #4: There is no magic formula for guest blog posts There is no set of methods or a magic formula that will allow you to create perfect guest blog posts or help you accomplish your goals 100%. Sure there are clear cut rules, policies, and “must-do’s” when it comes to guest blog posts, but that’s not quite the same as a magic formula. You simply can’t break it down to a formula such as: epic blog post + A list blog = tons of traffic. The reality is that it will not always work that way for everyone. Think about it this way: if there was a magic formula for guest blog posting, everyone would likely use that same method, eventually making it worthless. As it is, the only really surefire way to success is through hard work, trial and error, and a continuous effort to improve.
Secret #5: You need to have a strategy before you begin guest posting. The “shotgun” approach simply doesn’t work with guest blog posting. You will have to come up with a specific strategy and have a clear-cut plan in place before you actually start. This will also help you stay focused on your objective and increase your chances of achieving your goals. If you are really serious about guest blog posting, you simply must have a well-defined plan of attack.
Secret #6: Your work isn’t done just because your guest blog post has been accepted Quite the contrary. In fact, in some ways, the real work begins after your guest blog post has been accepted. If you really want to become a successful guest blogger, you will have to put in the work in order to make the experience as beneficial as possible for everyone concerned. After the post has gone live, you will have to be proactive in terms of actively commenting on the blog, promoting it on your email list, and announcing it through social media channels. Don’t forget to write a “thank you” note to your host as well!
Secret #7: Guest blog posts work hand-in-hand with social media Social media is a highly effective tool for helping you get in touch with a network of like-minded bloggers. You can use for it anything from following and retweeting posts to commenting on Facebook pages, or even posting something from your own blog. Social media also provides a great way to break the ice and let other bloggers know who you are. In fact, social media can help you start communication with other bloggers, helping you avoid the awkwardness of asking for a guest blog post. Social media will also help you promote your post once it’s published.
Secret #8: An eye-catching title can really sell a guest blog post First impressions count when making a blog post, and making a good impression is often dependent on the title of your post. When pitching your guest blog post, you must have a catchy headline that makes people want to click on the post and read the rest of the article. Many site owners will actually use the title as the sole basis for accepting or rejecting a guest blog post. You might only have one chance at making a good impression, so make it count!
Secret #9: Building a solid portfolio requires a broad range of sites I always hear of people starting off by targeting just the high-profile bloggers, most of whom are recognized authorities in a niche, or host blogs with high rankings. Although you do want to connect with these bloggers eventually, don’t underestimate the value of smaller blogs at the start of your career. Posting in such blogs will help you learn the ropes of guest blog posting and are great for building your portfolio. Most established bloggers won’t even consider hosting your guest blog post unless you have a respectable portfolio so get started with a few small blogs first!
Secret #10: A guest blog post is not a cure-all Guest blog posts by themselves can be effective, but you really need to go beyond that. Guest blog posts alone won’t increase traffic to your site, raise your visitor count, or add to your sales. Of course, guest blog posts can help you build traffic, establish backlinks, and possibly even attract visitors to your blog. Just like everything else however, it would be more beneficial to adopt a balanced approach. It is when you implement guest blog posts as part of your overall plan of attack that you will see its full potential.
Secret #11: Content is the driving force behind guest blog posts When it comes to guest blog posts, the importance of content simply cannot be overestimated. You could have a quick pitch, but if your content is worth reading, many blogs will be happy to post it. Of course, coming up with good content is an ongoing process, and you will have to constantly figure out what sticks out and attracts readers. Don’t neglect the benefits of outsourcing your writing either. In some cases, this might help you generate new content or out a fresh spin on a familiar topic.
Secret #12: Never submit guest blog posts out of the blue I would say that 95% of the time, searching for someone online and getting in touch with them out of the blue won’t get you a response. “Cold submitting” to relevant sites is a common mistake that many newbies make, and it often leads to rejection and disappointment.
Secret #13: Getting guest blog posts accepted is hard work Don’t let anyone tell you that guest blog posting is simple and doesn’t take much work. One oft-neglected aspect of guest blogging is that the harder you work, the more likely you are to reap the benefits. Sure it is easy enough to post in a few small blogs at the start, but things quickly become more work intensive and time consuming when you work your way up to the mid-level blogs. This is when the demands of maintaining standards and doing research start to require more and more time and effort. Not to scare you away, but guest blogging is hard work and it will really take your all to make it work.
Secret #14: Guest blog posting only works as a long-term strategy If you try guest blog posting only once or twice, you probably won’t see any significant results in terms of increased traffic, more sales, or even a higher ranking. The key to success is being consistent and formulating a long-term strategy. Start out by doing 2 or 3 guest blog posts per month and slowly increase your output if you feel you have the hang of it. The most important is sticking with it for the long haul.
Secret #15: There is no real guarantee with guest blog posts An increasingly-common–and yet totally bogus–claim is that guest blog posts guarantee results. The fact of the matter is that there is no foolproof strategy that will “guarantee” you specific results. Sure there are absolutes and tactics that are clearly better than others, but none of them will get you guaranteed results.
Secret #16: Think of others’ needs first when guest blogging Don’t let others make-do with your leftovers; always give out only your best work. This means anything and everything from offering only your best posts to promoting other blogs as if they were your own. Also strive to be helpful as possible. Showing your gratitude and having the right attitude is just as important as the technical aspects when it comes to communicating with other bloggers, so always give before you receive.
Secret #17: Be persistent in guest blog posting Building a solid guest blog post portfolio is going to take a lot of work, considerable amounts of time, and plenty of persistence. You will also need to grow a thick skin, and don’t take it personally if you are asked to change something or if your work is rejected. You should also be prepared to provide more work if asked. On the plus side, you can take comfort in the fact that all your hard work will pay off in terms of results.
Secret #18: No response isn’t necessarily a bad thing I have had several occasions when I emailed someone and never got a response. Don’t be discouraged if you experience this scenario yourself, and don’t think that it means a “no” either. There could be many reasons for not getting a response. One approach that I found works more often than not is to give it some time, build up better credentials, and then try emailing that person again.
Secret #19: Follow all rules, policies, and guidelines posted There is a reason for all the rules, policies, and guidelines set up for that blog you want to submit to. Take the time to fully read, understand, and abide by all those rules. As simple or silly as some of them might be, you will have to play by the rules if you want your post to get published.
Secret #20: Guest blog posts should use keywords in a relevant and unobtrusive manner There was a time when pages of certain sites included a paragraph at the bottom filled with several keywords. Now known as “keyword stuffing”, this technique for attracting traffic has since been looked upon with disfavor by the online community. However, this does not mean that keywords are no longer important. While keyword stuffing may have fallen out of favor, it is still important to include the proper percentage of relevant keywords in your text. When someone searches for a specific term on Google, the number of times that particular keyword appears on your page is still a weighty factor.
Secret #21: Authorship is just important as the guest blog post When Google first became the top search engine and everyone was focused on site performance, PageRank became the number one priority for every marketer. While page ranking was–and still is–the input metric that affects ranking the most, Google personnel have explicitly and repeatedly stated that sites are ranked on hundreds of different metrics other than PageRank. Many site owners have therefore stopped caring so much about PR ranking. That being said, PageRank is still a relevant factor, and it shouldn’t be neglected even as you focus on other equally important factors.
Secret #22: Check up on your competition to see where they are guest blog posting This is one method that I have used when brainstorming or targeting sites that accept guest blog posts. This is a great way to get a feel for what’s out there and what works and what doesn’t. This could be accomplished several different ways, but my favorite tools for this purpose are Alexa.com reputation links. This list helpfully details all the links that your competitor site currently has set up.
Secret #23: You must have a solid foundation before attempting to guest blog post SEO can be considered a form of marketing, and as such, most of your efforts will be made after the site is completed. That being said, there are steps that you should take even before your site goes live. For example, you should make sure you have a good layout, logical navigation, and all the important details such as META tags, titles, and so on. All these are part of SEO and should be done while you are building the site. Also remember that search engines can find your site as soon as it goes live, so you will want your SEO ready for when Google first crawls it.
Secret #24: All guest blog posts are beneficial Some people who buy bulk links or use automated methods to spam blog posts seem to think that Google will not be able to detect such “black hat” techniques. While it is true that Google and other search engines may not discover these shady tactics right away, there is a bigger risk involved. Sites in which your links have been placed will eventually be found and removed from the index. In some cases, the actual algorithm may even be modified in order to make those backlinks irrelevant. When this happens, your ranking may plummet drastically.
Secret #25: Write a killer bio The only claim to fame that you can expect out of most guest blog posts will come by way of your bio. This is your little bit of space to shine, so make it count. Of course, this can be somewhat difficult given the limited word counts and space provided for bios. But being able to come up with a solid call to action is vital to the success of any guest blog post. You should also make sure to link to content that is relevant to the post.
Secret #26: “More” isn’t necessarily “better” when it comes to guest blog posts As mentioned previously, quality is one of the most important factors in successful guest blog posting. Sure it is a good thing to add guest blog posts on a regular basis, since it will help you expand your brand and increase your exposure to potential readers. However, just because you can churn out several posts in a short amount of time doesn’t mean that you should. It is important to keep in mind that Google prioritizes natural growth when determining ranking. You should therefore take the time to build slowly, and work toward a natural progression for your blog in order to get the best results.
Secret #27: Articles are the best type of content Articles are considered the most effective vehicles for attracting traffic, whether they are written for your own site or for article marketing purposes. However, you should remember that your content will not be seen if no one knows it exists. Although the major search engines will probably crawl your site anyway, you still need to implement basic SEO techniques in order to increase traffic.
Secret #28: Google still likes guest blog posts Because of how strict Google is with guest blog posts and how closely they monitor guest blogging practices, it is easy to get the impression that Google doesn’t like guest blog posts and would rather have them disappear entirely. This isn’t entirely true as Google personnel have said repeatedly, although there are right and wrong ways to post on guest blogs. Good guest blog posts help people find the relevant content they are looking for. On the other hand, guest blog posts written for spamming purposes or as part of a black hat strategy are likely to be frowned upon by Google.
Secret #29: Guest blog posts can be used on more than just blogs When guest blog posting, it would be beneficial to think creatively and “outside the box”. I understand that the term is guest BLOG post, but you can always benefit from stepping out of your comfort zone. Why not try submitting an article for an email newsletter, or coming up with content for a Facebook post? As crazy as it may sound, you may also want to submit articles to a magazine. There is a big, wide world outside the fairly limited blogosphere, and there are always outlets for putting out quality content.
Secret #30: It’s okay to get paid for a guest blog post There is certainly nothing wrong with getting paid for high quality content, and it is no different in the world of the guest blog post. Getting paid–or not getting paid–will not have any significant effect on how your content will be perceived, either by Google, the host of the blog, or the blog’s readers. In fact, guest blog posting can open up a nice, new revenue stream for you once you become really good at it and have built up a nice portfolio.
Secret #31: Look for guest blog posts that allow you to have links within the post Far too often, people limit themselves to having a link only in the bio section of the post. This is admittedly standard practice, and it works well for the most part. However, don’t discount the possibility of posting a link right in the body of the article. This technique is especially effective when tied in with a relevant keyword. As always however, it is important to keep structure, flow, and relevance in mind, and not post a link wherever you want just because you can.
Secret #32: Don’t plan on getting published right away One thing that you will soon realize about guest blog posting is that most established bloggers are on what is called a “blog schedule” or “blog calendar”. This means that even if your post is accepted, it will probably be a couple of weeks before you see it online. Keep this in mind when planning your bio links and your own blog schedule. While you should be prepared for your blog to be published at a moment’s notice, it is seldom that a blog post will be published right away.
Secret #33: Look for favorable opportunities Be aware of blog schedules and plan for them. Sometimes you may come across posts on social media networks or on the blog itself that the owner will be attending a conference, going on vacation, or is just not feeling well. You don’t necessarily want to take advantage of the situation, but you may be able to use such opportunities to offer your services as a guest blogger. This might just bring about a “win-win” situation in which the blog’s host won’t have to worry about content for a while and you gain the benefit of an outlet for your own content
Secret #34: Come up with your best elevator pitch One other important thing to realize when pitching your blog post is that you will often have to deal with the limited time available to a busy blogger or content manager. Before you submit your post therefore, you should make sure that it is short, sweet, and–more importantly–to the point. It also wouldn’t hurt to be creative and to throw in a nice pitch with a couple of quality examples for good measure.
Secret #35: Be true to yourself, while keeping the requirements of the guest post in mind Just because you are blog posting doesn’t mean that you have to change who you are or modify your writing style. Although you should be flexible in your approach and try your best to accommodate the requirements of the particular blog, your personality doesn’t necessarily have to take a back seat. Focus on quality, consider the needs of your target audience, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!
Secret #36: Make sure you are ready to guest blog post Just about everyone you will submit content to will ask you for one or more of these things: your bio, a picture of yourself, any social media links you may have–including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), and an avatar picture. It is therefore a good idea to get all of these things together long before you will need them. Don’t forget to come up with an “about me” page either. Some blog owners may want to know more about you before they consider posting your content.
Secret #37: Guest Blog Post is NOT dead Just as there are people who automatically assume that SEO is evil because of a few bad apples, there are those who simply assume that SEO is dead. Although this way of thinking can be damaging to any online marketer, it is also easy enough to prove it false. A quick look at how large brands advertise should show you that SEO is alive and well, and that it is still widely used. To this day, companies spend millions of dollars tweaking their sites and launching online advertising campaigns primarily for SEO purposes. Don’t listen to the naysayers: SEO is far from dead and will probably remain on the scene for as long as there are search engines. So there you go; that’s all 37 tips! But just because I like to over-deliver, here is a bonus tip just for my readers!
Secret #38: Think strategically when running your guest blog posts This should be helpful for increasing your chances of landing a guest blog post: when you write your next post, add a links to the blog that you want to guest in. When you then make a pitch for a guest blog spot, show the potential host your post with their link in it. This should give the host added incentive to take you on as a guest blogger!
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