Intentional Blogging [Lesson 10: Guest Blogging]

Writing great guest posts

Last week, we talked about offline networking and relationship-building to make your online presence stronger. That was a real turning point for me as a blogger.

As I learned how to grow in my comfort with being more outgoing offline, that naturally translated to online relationships.

In other words, I learned how to make bold asks.

In the early days of blogging, all the rage was “link swapping.” Everyone was concerned about their Technorati score, and we learned that you could game the system by trading links with other bloggers.

I remember many a weekly email, offering to link to someone if they’d link to me. After awhile, my blogroll was a list of hundreds of links to people I didn’t even know.

Now, only douche bags do that sort of thing. Or maybe it was always a douche bag thing to do. I’m gonna pretend like it wasn’t.

While our motives were far from pure, the idea behind link swapping was right.

A basic rule of SEO is this: more links to your site means a higher ranking in the search engines for you. Plus, people visiting those sites will click on the links.

In the end, it means more traffic to your blog.

The best way to do that now is to guest post for another blog.

Guest posting is the single most effective way to increase the reach of your blog. In addition to writing daily posts for this blog, I usually write a few posts per week for other blogs. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Why guest post

Here are three reasons:

1. Guest posting builds relationships with other bloggers.

Bloggers need good content. Pretty simple, right?

By being a good guest blogger and adding value to someone else’s blog, you’re going to build relationships with other bloggers. And bloggers make up for a large percentage of conversations happening on the Internet, especially on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

They can also be tremendously influential.

By making friends with other bloggers through guest posting, you’re going to grow your influence in the realm of social media, which will ultimately lead to more blog subscribers.

2. Guest posting is great for search engines.

The one non-negotiable you should have for guest-posting is this: The host blogger must include a link to your blog in the post somewhere (usually at the beginning or end).

Over time, these backlinks will raise the value of your blog to search engines, making your content easier to find via Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others. (If you want to know more about this, read my SEO guide for humans.)

3. Guest posting introduces you to new communities.

Perhaps, the best part of guest posting is that it allows you to enter an already-established community, and share your message.

If you’re adding value to the discussion, you’re going to see that convert over time to more readers, fans, and followers.

I’m a believer in guest posting. It’s the secret to taking your blog to the next level. And here’s the kicker: anyone can do it.

Guest blogging habits

Like anything new, it will take time for you to learn how to be a good guest blogger. However, since you are a “guest” on someone else’s site applying common courtesy is a great way to start.

Every blogger who wants to grow her influence can begin by practicing these habits:

1. Be polite.

Don’t ever underestimate the discipline of being courteous. Say “please” and “thank you.”

Show respect. Don’t be too pushy. Ask someone to be a guest on his site; don’t demand it, and don’t act like you’re entitled to it. The best guest bloggers are polite.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask.

The worst they can say is “no” right? I’m surprised by how many bloggers sabotage their own efforts before they even begin, because they’re afraid to make a big ask. Why not just go for it?

I’ve been surprised by how people have responded when I’ve put myself out there and made an audacious, albeit polite, request.

3. Write quality content.

Spending time writing good content and being known for your quality will make your pitches to other bloggers a lot easier. It really is about the content.

Good writing has a way of being found. While I had to begin by asking people to guest post, now people are starting to ask me.

4. Be persistent.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. That’s it. Simple, right? (It’s harder than it sounds.) If you’re easily discouraged, you may find it hard to guest post.

5. Add value.

Write content for other bloggers that they need. I’m amazed at how many people try to write for themselves on someone else’s blog and end up missing the mark.
Other times, they write on a topic that’s already been covered in a previous post. A little research can go a long way.

6. Have a good-looking blog.

This sounds superficial, and it is, but presentation matters.

These days, you can get a nice-looking website for cheap. It’s worth the cost to give your readers the impression that you’re a reputable provider of content. They’ll see your website first before they read it. This will also lead to influential bloggers taking you more seriously.

7. Serve before asking to be served.

The best way to network is to serve people. Don’t begin a relationship with a blogger by asking for a guest post. Begin by showing interest. Share her content on Facebook or Twitter, leave a few comments, send an encouraging email.

Then, go for the ask.

A good friend of mine once said that the road to building a popular blog is a three-step process:

  • Design a beautiful website.
  • Write great content.
  • Consider skipping 1 & 2 and just start guest posting.

It really is that powerful.

If you’re not guest posting, you’re missing a world of opportunity to extend the reach of your blog and message.

Why not get started today?

If you need more help, you might want to get this eBook and course by Chris Garrett (who co-authored the Problogger book with Darren Rowse): Guest Posting for Quality Links and Targeted Traffic

The design is a little old school, but the content is great and definitely worth the money. You can get it here:

This is part of a 12 week blogging course. Want to get these delivered via email? Click here to sign up for the free course.