According to research, high-growth professional services companies generate at least 40% new business online. And the one thing most of these organizations have in common is a consistent content strategy. They educate their target audience by sharing valuable information. And one of the best ways to reach an audience beyond your immediate reach is through guest blogging.
There are two main reasons that guest blogging should be part of your content marketing strategy:
- It increases your brand's visibility and credibility with a wider audience, establishing you sphere
- You gain authoritative SEO backlinks to your website.
Take a look at the 6 steps you need to take to get started with guest blogging.
Step 1. Find guest blog opportunities
You may already have a few outlets in mind. If you don't - and many new bloggers won't - the first place to turn is Google. Search for terms similar to the topics you want to write about. Add "guest blog" to your keyword to see if that helps. See what your peers are sharing on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well. Your goal is to find the outlets your target audience read. You'll need to vet these outlets to confirm they're relevant, reputable, and active on social media.
Your competitors can also lead you to fresh outlets. Consider what competitors closely mirror your service offerings the closest - where are they blogging? Typically, folks aren't shy about promoting their content when it's published elsewhere. If you know the names of your competitors' leadership, you can even Google "John Doe ABC company" for some quick intelligence. You can also set up Google Alerts to let you know when they publish anything new.
Over time you will develop a list of prospective outlets that make sense.
Step 2. Identify topics
Start by researching the outlets on your list. Acquaint yourself on the issues covered in the last 6 months. Also look for patterns or clues that can help you shape your topic and pitch to fit their preferences. Doing so will greatly increase your chances of success.
Armed with this critical information, you can start evaluating your own content. Determine the best fit between your content and your prospective outlets. Then be sure to match these topics with your firm's service offerings.
Step 3. Pitch your ideas
Now it's time to dig in and write your pitches. Your pitch letter or email should cover some basics:
- Introduce yourself and your firm.
- State your intention (to submit a guest blog).
- Mention how it will fit will their readership.
- Provide a working title and main points of the blog (including any supporting research).
Keep it brief. Don't force the recipient of your blog proposal wade through more than a few sentences to get to the ask. So strike the right balance and make sure your outline isn't too complex or too generic.
Be sure your keep track of what online pubs you pitch which ideas. We recommend you start a simple spreadsheet with the editor's name and email, the name of the publication, the date contacted, and current status of the pitch. Have fields for the ideas you pitched and any other notes that might be relevant. It will help to include a link to the blog. (This will come in handy once your blog is accepted and published. See step 6.)
Step 4. Follow up
If you don't get a response, gently follow up in 2-3 weeks. Sometimes editors are inundated with email and things get lost in the shuffle (we've all been there). If you still don't get a response, try again with a different topic. If that fails, let it go for now. Keep the publication on your list and let some time pass - you can always return later with a fresh pitch.
Step 5. Write and submit
Did you snag a guest post? Excellent.
If you pitched an idea and outline, your next step - before any writing - is to nail down the important details with the editor. What's your deadline? What word count should you target? Chances are they'll have specific guidelines on both.
Also ask if you're allowed to link to your website from the post (after all, this is the payoff for all this labor), and how long your biographical blurb should be. Some blogs and publications are also willing to run your photo, so be sure to inquire and provide that, too.
And above all else, be sure to do a final proofread before you submit.
Step 6. Promote, promote, promote
All your effort is for naught if no one sees your post. So, promote your guest post (and let the editor know that you plan to do so). Liberally spread the link across social media and include a shout out to the publisher.
Guest blogging is critical piece of your online marketing program, and it'll reward you with increased exposure and critical links back to your website.
Keep at it and watch your visibility and authority grow.