Bloggers usually have their own site and concentrate on providing content based on a specific vision or concept. Some bloggers become full-time professional writers that maintain multiple sites, or in some instances, manage multi-blog sites for many bloggers. No matter which type of blogger you are; a hobbyist, a professional, or a site manager, eventually you will encounter the “guest blog.”
This article takes an in-depth view of what guest blogging is all about, and presents solutions to issues that bug new and experienced guest bloggers that want to expand their reach through guest blogging.
Table of Contents (TOC)
- Blog Article Types
- Guest Blog Site Types
- Guest Blogger Types
- Guideline Principles
- Making a Proposal
- Creating a Bio.
- All about Backlinks
- Providing your First Guest Post
- Frequency and Exposure
The first task you need to set yourself is your vision and goals, where vision is the reason behind your blogging and goals are the targets you set for each blog. Vision is all about determining what makes you happy, after all, blogs are for the readers, but you won’t produce good articles if you don’t enjoy writing about the subject matter. So before you begin, determine what makes you happy to write. Once you have determined the article subjects and format for writing, you need to focus on this vision to act as your guiding light.
For instance: you like to cook and want to create recipes and methods of cooking, or you like fast cars and want to write about aftermarket car upgrades. Note, that each subject is a general area that has many sub-topics under each one. You have to determine whether you are concentrating on the general subject, or seeking out the unique in each one, and perhaps combining both to maintain a constant interest in your posts.
This leads us to the next issue, goals.
Goals are the individual targets you both want and need to reach for a successful guest blog career. A goal can be the frequency of articles, specific content interest such as expounding on an entire subject matter that has not been done before and breaking it up into individual articles. A goal can also be your reach, trying to build up a brand image and creating a following. A goal can be income from links to e-commerce sites or to buying services and products directly from yourself. There are many goals, they are perceptual and individual, and you will find that the goals expand and change over time.
Now that you have sat down and determined the goals that will provide your vision with the fuel it needs to grow, you now need to do some research on the vision and your competition.
Research is all about learning what is on the internet, who is on the internet and what are the metrics for the specific vision and goals you have set?
For instance, you want to write about gaming routers and gaming peripherals, concentrating on all the devices needed to provide a perfect gaming experience. In this instance, you will need to research all the games and the peripherals they use, all the peripherals that are used in games, and bloggers that write about gaming and peripherals. This is a lot of hard work, and it will also build up your knowledge base. However, if you tabulate this process, create comparative tables as reference points for key performance indicators to each peripheral and router, you will become an expert.
If you intend to become a real expert, you will need to actually test each peripheral yourself, or read up reviews of gamers experiences and collate their perceptions of the peripherals. Get ready for a headache, since there are many conflicting views per device. The only devices that stand out from the pack are those with the least conflicting views, for good or bad.
You will never complete your research, it’s a continuous affair and is constantly updating the tables due to newly released models, emerging technologies, new games, and upgraded software.
Another aspect of research is finding the blogs to write for, which requires some SEO analytics to determine the most popular blog sites that accept guest blogs, as well as niche sites that might seem unimportant, but they reach out to locations where there are a limited number of blogs servicing them. This part of the research links into your goals, where one of them is to create a larger following leading to brand image. The wider the audience, the more your name pops up in searches and the greater your following and influence online.
Now let’s take a look at the types of blogs you can provide.
There are many types of blogs to write for and formats to write with. In this section I take a look at the types of Blogs there are online for you to choose from. Blogs essentially split up into six types:
Guides are used to help others understand products, services, and experiences — for instance, a guide on how to fix a broken shelf, or a guide on how to find the best hotel in Austria, or a guide on how to change a tire in the mud. The volume of guides you can find and also not find is infinite. You can make a guide generic and universal, covering a wide subject area, such as how to choose a chair, or you can focus it on a specific issue such as a guide to dying your hair neon pink using only natural products, or how to set up an ASUS ROS PG278Q router in a 300 square foot apartment.
Lists are a simple guide, or a part of a guide you separate and focus on that includes the steps required to reach a target, such as the number of tools required to fix a shelf, or which tools to use to replace a tire, or even the five basics steps required to draw a face with an HB2 pencil.
Lists are less informative that guides, and focus on the how and not the why or the experience of how.
Reviews are split into three categories, these include an individual review of a specific object or services, such as a review of the hotel you stayed at in London, or a review of the ASUS ROS PG278Q router. The other type of review includes a comparative review of a number of items or experiences, such as a review of five hotels in London, or a review of 5 routers for gaming.
A review is structured and starts with an introduction to the subject, a review of each item or an in-depth review of the issue and then concluding remarks. A review will leave your reader with a much better understanding of the subject matter and provide the reader with the decision-making tools when encountering the subject in real life.
Experiences are not like guides or reviews; experience is a personalized article that provides a biased approach from your perspective. You took a holiday in Paris, and you provide a personal experience. Unlike a guide or a how-to, experience doesn’t tell the reader what ort how to do anything; it just provides them with the story, a factual story based on your personal experience.
These are actual reports of situations you encountered and how you managed them. A case study differs from a review, list, and guide in that it takes an actual experience you personally managed, such as how to install an aftermarket manifold on a Ford F150. A guide and a list can be re-written from other sources; a case study can only be written if you performed the actual process.
These articles can be as is reporting of a new product, a situation, or anything that is classified as new and unique and is based on something emerging, happening or recently occurring. News can also include your perspective on a subject that is currently in the mainstream news lines, but includes emerging news information and is not just an interpretation of your point of view on another news article.
This concludes the six types of blogs, each one comes with its own rules and formats, and different sites determine different guidelines for each article layout and content structure. Not all writers can excel in all formats, and you must determine what kind of article you excel at, and focus on that type of article. You should be adept at three types, to assure a wider variety of writing, and if you can master all, then you have the world at your fingertips.
Guest Blog Site Types
There are many types of blog sites that accept guest bloggers. These sites are split into four categories, which include:
Public Blog Platforms
These are large platforms such as Reddit, Medium, and Steamit, where any subject can be presented and are usually filled with thousands of blogs of all types and sizes. A classic platform that is known above all is Reddit. This site is simple to join, and you can reach a very large target market if you know the secret to viral marketing, which you will need to know to be noticed.
You are not limited to the number of blog sites you want to write to, but you do need to focus your reach to sites that will give you an advantage and not waste time posting on dead end sites that have zero readers.
These sites are characterized by their immediate registration and posting capabilities and do not limit or review posters as you will find on private blog sites.
When researching, make sure you check the sites reach through Alexa rankings or MOZ.
Private Blog Sites
Private Blog sites are usually owned by a blogger and focus on a specific niche. They are not so much different online magazine sites, but they do allow for guest bloggers since online magazines tend to contract sources and not work with free blogging support.
Private Blog sites can include sites such as atebits.com and ridesharingforum.com which concentrates on the ridesharing industry and allows for blog contributions. As with public sites, you need to register to provide input, and these sites are much more stringent in whom they chose to contribute articles.
There are many more such sites, and they are more focused on specific issues, such as superchevy.com which is an online magazine that allows guest blogging for Chevy engine builds. Or scmopex.com which is a news and blog site that allows anyone to write blogs about supply chain issues.
Commercial Blog Sites
Commercial blog sites are the review forums where you find blogs selling products for a percentage of the sales provided through the blog. There are many such sites, and they are all privately owned or syndicated. As a rule, commercial blog sites pay for their content, and guest bloggers must provide adequate proof of their capabilities to meet the writing guidelines and deliver blogs of quality that will meet specific SEO demands.
News Blog Sites
News blogs are not so interested in reviews and lists, they want experiences and news, and sensational is the name of the game. They aim to wow readers with unique articles, and as such, they are much more stringent in their open the door to guest bloggers. News sites need to maintain a certain level of integrity and believability in content and guard against defamatory articles. Among the more famous news sites are Mashable.com, the Huffingtonpost.com, and Techcrunch.
Approaching each type has different levels and styles, the first category is easy, just register and start to post. The second category requires registration and some initial review until the editor feels you are safe. The third and fourth categories have very stringent rules and in some cases only allow for guest bloggers that are famous individuals or well-known bloggers to join their ranks.
Guest Blogger Types
Guest bloggers are only categorized in their popularity; it doesn’t matter which subject area they write on, or how they write. Their popularity determines their type. As such, top bloggers will usually write about a specific subject area, have a specific style and are found in many blogging sites.
Some bloggers are brand names, and they live off the income they generate through blogging, and this is in the millions of dollars. With this in mind, remember that their proliferance is only due to their hard work at providing interesting content over many different sites.
A successful guest blogger will always produce interesting and informative content. Their content is structured. They deliver the information in an easy to understand manner and they are good enough to elicit customers to seek out their articles. Some bloggers will be controversial, and use negative marketing techniques to attract attention, in fact, you will find that all the top bloggers are intelligent and confrontational in their articles, delivering an exciting read for even the most mundane issues.
The bottom line is this, to be a successful blogger (guest as well) you need to provide Stephen King level quality and on a frequent basis. This means writing a blog every day!
Now, with that said, the types of bloggers that are successful will be categorized in their style of prose:
Easy to read, humorous, interactive, serious, non-judgmental, non-biased, confrontational, and informative. Now you go and try to mix all those features up into one article. Check out Piers Morgan, who is an expert at providing such content.
To be honest, a blogger that doesn’t make you angry and laugh at the same time when reading a news article is standard. A blogger that makes reading a review interesting and humorous as well as serious is a success. A blogger that provides an experience that makes your mouth water and your imagination boil is brilliant and a blogger that delivers controversial content without being insulting, is a genius, and finally, a blogger that gives you a list of how to that is so simple to understand, you can end up building a Moon rocket using duct tape and some toilet paper rolls is, well Einsteinian.
All blog sites provide levels of conformance, and these are found in their guideline page or in their registration section. You must read these guidelines, and the harder the site you are allows to write for, the more important strict adherence to the guidelines becomes.
Guidelines are designed to assure that a blog site is not just informative, but uniform. Blog sites are about the eyes, and their eyes need to be unchallenged when reading content in a specific site. This means that titles, structure, and layout are similar. The content can be totally different, but the outline and how the article appears, including fonts, photos, and colors are key for some sites, and guest bloggers will be eliminated from access if they do not conform to the guidelines.
The most important issue of any guideline which appears in all sites (serious ones) is spelling, grammar, copying, and plagiarism. Blog sites do not accept misspelled articles, abhor grammatically bad content. They will not accept articles copied from one site to another (copying is when the blogger is too lazy to re-write the article) and plagiarism is when you steal the content of another article and post it as yours, or even when you give a link to the original article and name the content, where over 10% is not unique.
The bottom line is unique, even when you are asked to re-write an article, don’t just re-write it, and literally change it to be something else.
Making a Proposal
It’s time to make a proposal and ask a site to let you post an article. This is only done for private or hard to enter blog platforms, and you need to take certain steps before making your pitch.
Step 1: Understand the site you want to guest blog with, and know their content, their style, and their editorial board. Also, know their bloggers.
Step 2: The best time to make a proposal is if you are mentioned, or an article you wrote is mentioned in one of their posts. Or, if the site is asking for guest posts, or after a guest post has been published.
Step 3: Things you must have before you make your pitch:
- Personalize the request; this means, find the e-mail of the editor or publisher and start the proposal with Dear (name of the person and their role).
- Introduce yourself, who you are and what you do as well as where you have written.
- Explain why you want to post on their site and give links to relevant blogs.
- After checking how many words, an average article is on their site, possibly provide a unique post for them to review, to show them how serious you are. (remember the site’s guidelines)
- You need to tell them how frequently you can post and on what subjects and formats.
- Make sure the post is not selling you, your product, your website or anything about you. The articles you provide are about a subject area that the site requires.
- When supplying them with a sample blog, make sure there are contextual backlinks to other articles in their site, and make sure the SEO of the content is up to par with meta tags and keywords. (check the guidelines)
- Always close articles with a call to respond, since comments are always site boosters.
- Provide a bio with a brief outline of who you are, a photo and one backlink to your own website if you have one.
Remember, while it is about you, it’s not. You are writing to promote the site and as a subset, promoting your name. Your success is based on the site’s success, so make it about them and the readers and not about yourself. Always spell, and grammar checks your content, and always – always read the site guidelines and conform to their requirements.
Making a Bio
When you are accepted for guest blogging, you will need to provide a bio. This bio should be unique and not clash with other bio’s you have on other sites. The only identical content you want is your photo, backlink and your name. The rest should be different, even if it states the same, rewrite each bio to match each site.
All about backlinks
Backlinks are key to the success of a post, and contextual backlinks have to support the site and not the competition. As such, you will want to minimize the number of backlinks to outside sites, unless they are commercial or informative sites that do not conflict with the blog site. Also, make sure that all citations are linked to their source. Contextual backlinks must conform to the site’s guidelines, so check what the site allows you to do and don’t do anything else.
Providing your first guest post
If you are accepted, you need to provide a guest post and fast. The best way to do this is to have prepared a post forehand, and finely proof0read it for conformance to the guidelines as well as spell checked it, grammar checked it. Added the relevant photos, and links and made it interesting. There is nothing worse than a boring article. You can lose your entitlement to post when posting bad articles, and bad is not just about structure or conformance, it’s about the content, how the content is written and if it’s easy to digest. This means you need to understand the reader. Is the reader a professional seeking professional articles, or is the reader just seeking general guidance or a bit of sizzling gossip?
Whatever the reader is seeking, you need to provide, and this means that your first and second, third and nth degree article must constantly provide the content level that suits the reader. So when posting blogs for a site about ICSI and IVF do not discuss abortion issues and the challenges with the Catholic Church, the same way you won’t talk about the latest beer on an Islamic Food site.
Frequency and Exposure
Most blog sites want a lot of constantly updating content to keep their site interesting to their readers. Therefore, the more you can provide, the more you will be accepted and sought after. Eventually, when becoming a name that produces a lot of content on a number of sites, you end up becoming a brand.
A blog brand is someone that is considered either an authority on a subject, or a damned good read with great insights and is highly captivating. This means you need to write daily, you need to post frequently and you need to write for many sites to reach a wider market of readers.
Consider that taking one article and re-writing it a few times to be different but offering the same result is a useful tool for posting on many sites. However don’t fall into the re-writing trap and end up getting a name for writing one subject or article many times, since readers will notice this. This also goes hand in hand with “updated” content. The more you update the same article, the more you upset the system. Try not to update articles, instead, write a new article that updates the old one. This will generate more articles for you and provide a “series” which is much better than directing the reader back to the original article that has been re-written.
You will have noticed that I didn’t write about analytics, or gone into comment details — the reason being that these are not directly an issue for guest bloggers. A guest blogger relies on the reach of another site and as such, can get the analytics from the site, seeing how many visitors they had, and if there are comments, well, either answer them or not. In most instance, answering is great, but once you reach the stage where you get hundreds of comments, you have become a superstar, and you need to read the comments and understand what generated them.
The closing remarks of this guide are this: guest blogging is a profession, it demands hard work, and if you are not ready for disappointment, don’t take this route, because it is full of disappointment for 95% of all guest bloggers seeking to become the next Donald Trump tweeting level of blogger. The only way you will reach a global brand level is through hard work, persistence, and a lot of research.
Enjoy the ride! Take the wheel if you dare, but most of all, take the wheel to enjoy.