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April 16, 2014

Working Your Way Up to Better Guest Posting Opportunities

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You wouldn’t walk into the office of the CEO on your first day on the job and demand a pay raise and a better office. By that same token, you shouldn’t expect to land guest posting opportunities on premier sites without putting in some time in the trenches.

Landing better guest posting gigs is something you earn, not something that’s given. You must prove yourself reliable, and you have to have some previous posts to your credit, otherwise top-tier sites won’t give you a second glance.

Luckily, there’s no ceiling on how high you can go with your guest blogging if you lay the right groundwork. Here are some expert tips on how to work your way up to better guest posting opportunities:

Where to Start

Whether you’re posting for a top-tier site or a bottom-tier one, there are things that you want to look for in every website where you guest blog, including:

  • A decent reputation;
  • A desirable audience;
  • A chance to build traffic;
  • An opportunity for regular guest-blogging appearances;
  • A way to leverage this opportunity into better ones.

Your first step is to make three lists: top sites, secondary sites and bottom sites. These are the places you’ll be targeting to guest blog. Top sites are the ones with the most relevance to your audience, the greatest traffic, and the best page rank. Talk with others on your marketing team or friends in SEO about which sites they’ve found to be most effective for guest posting. Reach out to other bloggers to get a sense of the sites you’re targeting as well. You’d be surprised how much people love to dish on the competition and/or the industry generally.

Analytics can also be helpful in targeting your ideal guest blogging sites, although you shouldn’t rely entirely on the statistics to guide your outreach choices. Take a look at the social media usage for these sites, and examine their page rank compared to one another. Also use a few services to analyze backlinks on your target sites, such as:

Once you’ve figured out who you are targeting, it’s time to start at the bottom.

Targeting the Third Rung

Outreach requires patience and persistence. Remember, just because you’re not targeting Mashable or Search Engine Journal doesn’t mean that these “lower-rung” sites will accept just anything. One of the keys to successful outreach is treating everyone the same, whether their traffic is 500 or five million unique users per month. You should always be polite when broaching a new blogging opportunity. Do not ever act like this site is below you, because it isn’t. Everyone deserves your respect and good manners.

Here are a few “dos” and “don’ts” when reaching out to bloggers:

  • DO study the site before submitting the idea for your blog.
  • DON’T let your backlink stand out like a sore thumb. Any blogger worth writing for won’t accept a post that has a random keyword inserted in a post without any context.
  • DO explain to the blogger why your post would benefit their site.
  • DON’T assume that you have the gig until the blogger has confirmed it.
  • DO spend time writing the very best article that you can.
  • DON’T forget about the post as soon as you submit it. Engage readers in the comments section.

A hugely important aspect of guest blogging is promoting your own posts and driving engagement. Your goal should be to become the very best guest blogger on each site you submit content to. Drive traffic to those posts by promoting them on your social media accounts, building on them with future posts and becoming an active presence on the site you guest blog on.

Your goal: Become the top guest blogger on the site. That way you build credentials that prove you’re worth trusting with a bigger gig.

Moving Up the Rungs

After you’ve established your bona fides posting on smaller sites, it’s time to jump to the middle rung. These are the sites known within your field but with less following than a tier-one site. Unlike those bottom-rung sites, they probably have more than one employee, and so this means you will have to do your homework.

Before you begin your outreach, find out the answers to these questions:

  • Who is the correct contact person for guest blogs?
  • Is this person male or female (so you can include the correct salutation)?
  • How do you spell this person’s name?
  • What blog topics are acceptable to the site?
  • How many guest bloggers does it have?

It will make all the difference if you have done your research ahead of time, because it shows that you are well-prepared and serious about establishing a good relationship. Second- and first-tier sites receive hundreds if not thousands of guest blog pitches each week, but many are halfhearted and haphazard. Yours will stand out from the others if you do a thorough job.

Reaching For the Stars

Now you’re ready to target the big boys. Build on the lessons and contacts you’ve made at these smaller sites to try to get your copy onto the big ones, where your traffic can get a boost from both the huge number of daily readers on the site and the high-quality backlinks.

A great tactic is finding a third person through whom you can reach out. For instance, say the editor of a site you’ve written for used to work at Mashable. You may be able to broker an introduction through that third party that will help your copy stand out from all the pitches the site receives each day.

Or maybe you went to the same small college as the person in charge of setting up guest blog posts. Start your e-mail off with a “Go Tribe!” and mention your shared connection at the top before you begin your pitch.

Of course, it goes without saying that the content you submit to these sites must be of the highest quality. If that means hiring an editor to polish the content, then do it. You’ll earn back your money in spades with the doors one post on a top-tier site will open, helping you to earn gigs on other desirable sites and giving your traffic a boost.

Worth the Effort

Breaking into top-tier sites is not easy, but it is worth the hard work. With attention to detail and a smart, organized approach, you can climb from the bottom to the top rung.


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Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses like Olshan Law succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or get in touch.

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