You’ve done it haven’t you?
Looked at your analytics hoping something magical had happened.
It never does though. Unless you work at it, your traffic won’t spike.
You need to be like a tortoise.
No. Not stubborn. You know, slow and steady.
Do things that work.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to drive traffic, increase sales and grow your brand. Here’s how to guest post and avoid the common mistakes that most bloggers make (I’ll also throw in some great resources to help you drive even more traffic to your site. You can thank me later).
Let’s start at the beginning…
1) Define Your Guest Post Strategy
Guest posting is easy in theory, but hard work in practice. You need to create the kind of content that people love and get it in front of a big audience again and again… There are two ways you can do this.
Mc Donald’s Content Creation Strategy
It’s hard to come up with a great idea. Mc Donald’s did it once. Then they franchised it. The same formula repeated again and again. And it worked…
Brian Dean at Backlinko uses this strategy. And it worked, 200,000 unique visitors a month and counting.
Personalized Content Creation
Don’t like Mc Donald’s? That’s fine.
Create a unique article for every guest post. Your audience will appreciate it (yes they do read more than one blog). Of course it will take you longer to write each post.
Glenn at Viper Chill used this guest posting strategy to grow his blog.
Both tactics work. Find the path that feels right for you.
2) Identify Relevant Sites
For your guest post to generate significant traffic (like an electronic tsunami that overloads your servers) you need to target the right websites. The best sites are in your niche and have a minimum of 100,000 unique visitors a year/ 8,000 unique visitors a month.
You should already have an idea of who the big players in your niche are. They’ve probably published on all of the big sites you want to be featured on. So let me show you how to find these sites. This tactic is super simple.
First head over to Google Plus or Gravatar and find the profile of a popular blogger. Save the url of the featured image of the blogger and enter this into Google search.
Then just follow the urls.
You can use the Alexa Rank to double check the site is suitable. You want to target websites with a rank of less than 500,000.
Alexa states on its website that rankings outside of the top 100,000 are not statistically significant. If you want To learn more about the accuracy of Alexa then this article by Mark Collier, written in 2013, is a good starting point.
Never target too many websites to guest post on at once. You don’t want to overload yourself. I limit myself to no more than five sites at a time.
Before I show you how to pitch your guest posts, let’s cover coming up with ideas.
3) Get Great Content Ideas
To get hundreds of comments and eye-popping engagement from your guest post, you need to come up with some content ideas.
Even if you are using the Mc Donald’s method, take your time. Research what the audience likes. Find the most popular content on the site and learn how to spin your content to fit the interest of the audience.
There are three main ways to find the most popular content on a website. These are:
– Popular post tabs
– Start Here Page
– Check Social Shares
The video below shows you how I research a website.
Research is great. You get pages of notes, but then, sometimes…
Yeah, I find myself staring at the computer as well. It’s probably because I’m getting old, but it’s ok. You can
steal borrow and improve upon other people’s great content ideas.
Watch the video to find out how to find proven content ideas for your guest posts.
And here’s a list of resources to help you come up with those content ideas.
These tools are just a starting point. You want your ideas to pop. Get your thinking cap on.
3) Start Networking
Ideally you want to already have a relationship with the people you are targeting. Here are the four simple steps I take before I ask for a guest post.
1 – Sign up to their Email List
2 – Leave a comment on their site
3 – Connect over Social Media
4 – Send an Email
I get you. Not everyone likes to network. If it’s not your thing then be strategic about who you target. Go back to that list of websites you want to guest post on. Now bookmark those sites and spend two weeks leaving comments and getting noticed, before you make your pitch.
4) Pitch Your Post
You know what a bad guest post request sounds like don’t you? It goes something like this:
I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and I want to…
There are people on the big wide web who know how to pitch a post. They have written so many pitches they have ink stains on their fingers.
That’s the crowd you want to be in.
Learn From the Letter Writing Masters
I’ve collected some of the best guest post templates available online and put them in a book (you can get them for free at the end of the post). Before I give you access to them, I want to show you how to write a great letter for yourself, because the only way you are really going to get ahead is to be original.
– Write a Kickass Subject Line
Your subject line can be the difference between your email being read and ending up in the trash. So make sure it gets attention. Draws the reader in. Makes them read your pitch.
– Prove You Understand the Audience
If you’ve done your research you know what the audience wants. Prove to the Webmaster that you know this. Tell them that the content you are proposing is exactly the kind of post that people who visit that site love. Use examples of popular posts from the site to explain why your ideas are great.
– Pitch Three Great Ideas
Just because you think your idea is great does not mean that everyone is going to love it. Pitch a couple of different well thought through ideas to increase your chances of getting a positive response.
– Show You Can Write
Include links to previous articles you have written. Check how well they rank on Google (you won’t find many people who will turn you down if you can write great content, get it ranked and bring extra traffic to a website). It doesn’t matter if it’s just from your site. Everyone has to start somewhere.
5) How to Write Killer Content
Ready for the secret sauce to killer content?
Cut out the bland.
Add a dash of personality and throw in plenty of style.
Mix with stats and plenty of facts and allow to simmer for 24 hours.
Serve to a hungry audience.
Don’t start writing just yet. You forgot to read the fine print.
- Does the site use American or British English?
- Does the site use subheadings and header tags?
- What style of writing is appropriate for the site?
Of course you picked a great site to guest post on and you are writing great content (you’ve got the recipe now after all). That means you can get it to rank well on search engines. If you don’t know how to do keyword research, this article from MOZ will help with the basics.
Now for the important bit, get this wrong and you’ll lose 80% of your readers.
The most important 30 characters of your article
Headlines are so important that copywriters like Gene Schwartz would send up to a week on writing a good headline. The reason? Eight out of ten people will read the headline copy, but only two out of ten will read the article.
I like these kinds of fun facts, but I prefer statistics. When Upworthy split tested headlines they increased click through rates by up to 500%.
There are lots of different style of headlines and plenty of great resources for creating great headlines. One of my favorites articles is from Viper Chill.
On a side note, I found an interesting case study in The Guardian newspaper, which you might find helpful if you’re planning to write a list post. Odd numbered lists get 20% more clicks than even numbered lists. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know (but if you do I’d be interested in finding out).
The next most important part of your article comes right at the end; the Call to Action. Include one and you will get more clicks through to your website.
There are three key elements to writing a Call to Action that brings traffic to your blog. Gregory Ciotti nicely outlines these elements in his article on guest posting. Check out the screenshot below to see what he does:
The three key elements of a high converting Call to Action according to Gregory Ciotti are:
- A closing subheading that lets people know the article is finished
- A question that relates to the article
- An incentive to make people go to the website.
Get the combination right and it’s like offering candy to a child. Your readers will follow you anywhere for that sweet sugary goodness.
There are plenty of other small steps that you can take to increase the amount of visitors coming to your website. Check out the video above to learn how some bloggers take extra steps to increase the number of visitors coming to their site.
6) Promoting Your Content
The end. Or it would be if you didn’t want to go the extra mile to get all that traffic.
Great content does not publicize itself. You need to do the hard work to make sure it happens. One rule of thumb a lot of bloggers keep repeating is that you should spend 80% of your time promoting your work and 20% of your time writing it (one day I’m going to list down all of these 80/20 rules I come across, because there are a hell of a lot of them).
Sure it sounds like a hell of a lot of work. This article took more than 20 hours to write, that’s 80 hours of promotion and I’m tired already.
So let’s start off with some actionable tips. Here’s what Peep Raja, who runs ConversionXL and got 100,000 unique visitors a month within his first year, had to say about promoting articles.
- Contact every person and company mentioned in a post.
- Do not ask for retweets or promotion, simply state that you mentioned them in the post.
- Share content across all social media (including LinkedIn where you can mass post to groups)
- Submit the post to Reddit, StumbleUpon and niche relevant websites.
Another simple thing to do is answer all the comments that your guest post gets. Bryan Harris measured the impact that this had on traffic and it was huge. More importantly though answering comments is just good manners!
Watch the video and discover how I get traffic to my posts. I’m also sharing some of the essential tools I use to promote content.
7) Say Thank You
The guest post is published.
You promoted it to the point where even your best friends were bored about the subject.
You got new sign ups, grew your email list and got a big boost to your traffic.
Time to make your parents proud.
Say a big thank you to the person whose site you wrote for. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it and who knows, maybe you can write another guest post for them in the future.
The reason you read this guide was because you wanted to take action. Sign up below to get access to even more resources created to help you take action.
Now it’s time for you to inspire others. Share your tips and experiences of guest posting below.
P. S. You don’t need to write an ultimate post to get lots of traffic to your website. Find out why your ‘ultimate post‘ isn’t getting you the traffic you deserve (and what to do about it).