I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Guest blogging is when a visiting blogger writes for another blog.
I’ve written several guest blog posts for various websites this year. Today I’m going to dive into the basics of guest blogging and give you the fundamental information you need to get started as a guest blogger.
In this post:
The Different Types of Writing Gigs as a Blogger
Commissioned blog posts where the blogger gets a byline: Some paid blog writers write in exchange for monetary compensation as well as a byline. Occasionally, depending on the terms agreed upon between the blogger and the commissioning party, link(s) back to their own website/blog/social, etc. This blog post is an example of such a commissioned piece.
Ghostwriting: Ghostwriters are also paid writers, but they don’t get a byline. They write under someone else’s name. Ghostwriters are typically expected to get paid more since this type of writing doesn’t give them credit or exposure.
Guest blogging: Guest bloggers are often not paid for their contribution, but they get a byline and links back to their own website, social, etc.
In this blog post, I’ll focus on guest blogging as a new blogger on other blogs. Now, let’s jump into the different ways you can guest post, and what the pros and cons are for you as a blogger.
The Basics of Guest Blogging
Let’s take a look at what guest blogging is before we jump into the nuts and bolts.
What is guest blogging?
Guest blogging is when a blogger writes a blog post on a specific topic on someone else’s website. Ideally, guest blogging is understood to be writing without monetary compensation, in exchange for exposure, backlinks, establishing authority, building a writing portfolio, etc.
What kind of websites accept guest posts?
From personal blogs to huge companies, plenty of websites accept guest blog posts.
Sometimes site-owners will specially invite a guest to their blog to write a relevant post for their audience, and other times they might accept a guest-blogging pitch from a writer.
Can you get paid to guest post?
Technically, yes. A company or blog may pay a writer for a one-off blog post without long-term commitments.
But to avoid confusion, in this blog post we’ll refer to them as commissioned writing or freelancing, and not guest blogging.
In this post, I’m going to focus on unpaid guest posting.
What Are The Benefits Of Guest Posting?
Although it might seem like guest posting for free is a waste of time, I don’t believe it to be so, as I’ve pointed out in my post about 10 blogging myths. There are plenty of reasons why someone might want to write on someone else’s blog for free. Let’s look at a few of those reasons below:
Building credibility and authority in your niche
Have you ever noticed a blog with an “As seen in…” section on its homepage? How did this influence your perception of their brand?
Collaborating, contributing, and being featured in blogs besides your own shows your audience that you are a knowledgeable and trustworthy resource on your topic. It provides social proof that someone else wants your content on their blog, in front of their audience. That is a big deal!
Reaching an ideal audience
One of the major benefits of guest posting is the ability to tap into someone else’s audience that may also be your ideal audience.
When you’re a new blogger, you don’t have many readers yet. If you can put yourself in front of an audience on another website, you have an opportunity to drive that traffic to your blog.
To get this traffic, you need to write guest posts for websites whose readers will be highly receptive to your content. This means writing about topics you know about, for blogs in a niche that compliments yours (compliment, not compete!), with readers who are thirsty for more information.
To make sure that people can find your blog or website, communicate with the blog owner about adding your bio and [do-follow] link to your site.
Hands-down, one of the most prominent benefits of guest blogging is getting backlinks.
A backlink is when one website links to another website. Here, the second website gets a backlink from another website. Google and other search engines may consider such a backlink as a sign of confidence, and use it to improve the second website’s ranking on the search engine results.
For a backlink to be helpful to you, make sure that you’re writing for a website with a good reputation and high authority. And also, the link must be a do-follow link.
Make sure to communicate with the blog owner (on whose website you’re guest posting) about backlinks. Some questions to ask:
- How many backlinks will you receive?
- Will the backlinks be do-follow links?
Most sites won’t allow more than three do-follow links, and that’s a good thing. Too many links might end up making your content look spammy to search engines, and you don’t want that!
Should you guest post for free if a site doesn’t allow backlinks?
Note that some high-authority sites may not allow backlinks even for unpaid guest blog posts. You may still consider writing on these sites if you want:
- To be seen as an authority in your niche/topic as mentioned previously
- To build a writing portfolio if one of your goals is to land freelance writing opportunities
If any of these is your goal, then, by all means, feel free to guest post even without a backlink.
Growing your email list
Another way to utilize the traffic and audience of your ‘host blog’ is to invite them to join your email list. With permission from the blog owner, you can use your guest post as a place to offer an opt-in to your email list. Do this by linking out to one of your landing pages or opt-ins.
This works best when you are offering them something that is complementary to what you have written about. Use your email or opt-in as an ‘extra’ for those readers who are interested and want to learn more or take the next step.
Crafting your brand
As a blogger, the more honed in your messaging is, the more likely you are to resonate with your target audience.
Hone in your message and brand by guest posting on different websites that compliment your niche. This will help your name become associated with your topic, and clearly define your mission to your readers.
You want to have a cohesive brand, so it doesn’t usually make sense to guest post for free on websites that are not complementary to your niche or interests.
Gaining experience and practice
Of course, you can gain blogging practice and experience by writing for your own website, but guest posting offers additional advantages you don’t get elsewhere.
Through guest posting, you learn how to:
- Pitch posts and collaborations
- Write according to someone else’s guidelines
- Present yourself in front of an audience other than your own.
These skills can be beneficial to bloggers who want to later expand into other types of industry outreach such as writing sponsored posts, brand collaborations, or landing freelance writing jobs.
In addition, guest posting allows you to build a list of different blogs you have written for, which is one way to show off your “blogging resume.”
Finding community and collaboration
One of the ways I have personally benefited from guest posting is by using it as a means to partner with other new bloggers.
This certainly isn’t the only way to do it, but I have experimented with ‘swapping’ guest posts with other bloggers in my niche as a way to work together to build each other up.
Guest posting can build relationships and open doors later on down the road. It has helped me build a small community of mom-bloggers like myself, which is invaluable when we need support or advice.
This community building is good for the audience, too. A great example of this is when I invited my friend to write a guest post for my blog about essential oils.
I am a beginner when it comes to essential oils, but my audience wanted to learn more about essential oils. This is a perfect example of complementary niches. Inviting this guest blogger allowed me to give my readers something they wanted, and since we ‘swapped’ guest posts, I also was able to reap the benefits of introducing myself to her audience.
This is the kind of community building (or industry outreach) that is helpful and relevant to everyone!
The last benefit of guest posting I want to highlight is not explicitly a benefit for you, but it is a huge benefit for the audience.
Through guest posting, you add unique and fresh insight and enrich the depth of the content on that blog. Hearing the stories or opinions of many contributors provides more insights into a topic. It also is a way for readers to consider points of view they may not have otherwise been exposed to.
Landing freelance writing opportunities
Blogger, freelance writer, and coach Elna Cain has shared how her guest posting pitch to Zapier landed her a freelance (paid) writing opportunity with them. So, that can happen!
Also, as I’ve mentioned before, guest posting is a good way to build your writing portfolio too if freelance writing is something you’re working up to.
I have experimented with different forms of guest posting over the last several months and have already seen benefits as a new blogger.
As I mentioned above, some of my goals with guest blogging have been to collaborate with other new bloggers, build up some social credibility, and share my knowledge with other bloggers’ audiences. I have easily been able to do all of these through guest posting.
On the technical side, guest posting has raised my domain authority (DA) through backlinks. There are more ways for readers to find my blog now, and more reasons for Google to show my posts in search results.
Some Cons to Guest Posting
There are some aspects to guest posting that can be negative, depending on your goals.
A big con is that you’re spending a lot of time and effort writing a great blog post, only to give it away for free, when you could have written the post on your site for your existing audience.
While I personally don’t view guest posting as “giving away” content because of the benefits I outlined above, it really depends on what your goals are as a blogger.
Before trying out guest blogging, you should think about if the return on investment is right for you. At the end of this post, I pose several helpful questions you can ask yourself to determine this.
How To Find Quality Guest Posting Opportunities
After deciding you want to start guest blogging, you need to find blogs where you can guest post!
One way to find guest blogging opportunities is by going to blogs you love and want to write for, and then searching for whether they accept guest blog posts or not. You might find this information on their contact page. Some websites have dedicated pages with guest blogging information.
Try the following search terms on Google to see if a website has guest blogging information:
- [site name] guest post
- [site name] guest blogging
- write for [site name]
If you don’t have a specific blog in mind, then try searching for:
- Guest Post [a keyword in your niche]
- [Niche/topic] write for us
If you are in the Motherhood/Family/Home niche, make sure to check out my massive list of 70+ Blogs For Mothers that accept guest post submissions. I keep this list updated with hand-picked, quality sites.
Now, let’s talk about how to pitch guest posts.
Deciding who to pitch to
Who you pitch to depends on your motivation for guest posting and the outcome you seek.
For example, if you’re a new blogger and want to network with other new bloggers, build up camaraderie, and bounce backlinks off one another, then all you need to do is find other new blogs you like, and reach out to them.
If you’re trying to get backlinks from authority websites to improve your domain authority faster, then focus on creating a body of work (build a writing portfolio) that bigger websites would want on their websites.
Also, if your goal is to drive traffic or improve the domain authority of your blog by getting backlinks, then make sure that the sites you’re pitching complement your blog’s niche. Blogs with niches that are irrelevant to yours will neither help you build your authority in your own niche nor will it help improve your domain authority.
Are there times you shouldn’t guest post?
There are times when you should walk away from guest posting.
- When their audience is not going to be receptive to your content.
- When the relationship with that blogger isn’t beneficial to your brand
- When they are asking YOU to pay THEM to write for their blog. (Yes, I have seen this!)
- When their website is spammy or has a bad user experience.
To illustrate, I want to share an experience I had while still learning the ins and outs of guest posting.
I spent a lot of time researching and writing a post that I would have loved to publish on my own blog, but I decided to use it as a guest post instead.
I was really excited when the post was accepted and published. But I became disappointed when I saw how many affiliate links and ads had been tucked into my writing. It became hard to read, and frankly, ugly. It kind of ruined my post.
In fact, as a blog reader, I personally would not have enjoyed reading that post because it was so overwhelming. Maybe someone out there is okay scrolling through so many ads, but not me!
Use this as a warning to make sure the websites you are going to guest post on are high quality, not spammy, and will present you in a good light.
How To Pitch And Land A Guest Post
Pitching (and landing) a guest post involves three basic steps:
- Your research before pitching the post
- Finding the pitch angle for the website you are targeting
- Pitching the post.
What to do before pitching a guest post
When you have found a website you are interested in guest posting for, there are a few things you need to research and consider that will help you succeed.
First, take a look around their website and figure out what kinds of posts they publish. Are they personal stories, tutorials, or list posts? Do their posts usually have lots of images? How long are their posts?
One good way to research their blog and their posts is to look up their URL in Ubersuggest or another SEO tool. Then, determine which of their posts receive the most traffic and social shares.
With this kind of information, you can write a post that is complementary and will fit in well with the other content on their blog.
You should also try to determine what kind of audience you are writing for. Are they beginners, or advanced in that niche? How is your guest post topic going to provide value to them?
Finding your guest posting angle
There are an infinite number of ways to reach out to bloggers with guest post submissions, but the only way your idea is going to be accepted is if it solves a problem for that blogger and their audience.
Using the information you gather when researching their website, you will be able to figure out the angle that will make your guest post appealing.
Here is an example of how I recently found a great pitching angle:
I recently found a blog all about pregnancy and childbirth that I was interested in writing for. The website had several different content categories such as pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and babyhood.
While browsing through their published posts I discovered that the “postpartum” category on their website had significantly fewer posts than the other categories.
I used this information as an opportunity to solve the content-gap problem for the blog, and decided to pitch a guest post all about postpartum.
So, my angle when pitching my post was this: They had holes in their content that I could fill. I sent them an email that said something like:
I am very interested in writing a guest post for your website. I have been researching what articles you post and noticed that you have quite a few articles about pregnancy and babyhood, but not very many about postpartum.
I have a lot of experience with the postpartum period, including teaching postpartum topics at a local parenting class, so I know I could write something valuable for your audience. Here is my idea…”
Do you see how instead of just submitting a random idea, I offered to fill a need for them? It is so much easier for bloggers to accept a guest post that serves a specific purpose, especially if they receive many guest post queries. So find a pitching angle!
Here are just a few ideas of angles you could use:
- Filling in their content gaps
- Writing a more advanced tutorial based on a beginners tutorial they already have
- Write about your personal experience using their product, method, or advice
- Provide an alternative opinion about something they have written about
- Write a complimentary or “spin-off” post that pairs well with one they already have
- Use your pitching angle to explain why they would benefit from publishing your guest post
Pitching your guest post ideas
Reaching out and pitching your idea is kind of intimidating, but you really don’t need to be scared. The worst they can do is ignore you or say: “no thanks,”
And that’s okay. Every writer has been told “no thanks.”
If you are pitching bigger sites that actively seek out and publish guest posts, chances are they have a ‘guest post’ or ‘write for us’ page that has specific topics, instructions, and rules you should read before emailing them with your ideas. You need to make sure to follow their instructions exactly.
If you are pitching a guest post to a smaller site that doesn’t have any instructions to follow, here are some basic guidelines I have used that are impressive and successful:
- Don’t just write a post and send it to them with your cold email. Instead, you should contact them with your idea topics and let them pick what they are most interested in.
- Accompany the idea topics with title ideas, and plausible long-tail keywords you could target. This shows them that you are knowledgeable about SEO and can write a post that will bring them traffic.
I explain two of the easy methods I use to find good longtail keywords in my post: “How To Find Longtail Keywords (When You Have No Ideas).”
If you are submitting just one topic idea, make it really well thought out. Provide an outline with headings, sub-headings, and keywords. When they know exactly what you have in mind, it is easier for them to approve your idea.
Basically, you want the blog owner to look at your email and be able to say to themselves:
“This post solves a problem for me, it is a good fit for my audience, and the topic seems valuable and well researched. I can’t say no!”
Guest Posting Case Study
I have written and pitched many guest posts so far, and I want to share one of the best responses I received after I pitched my idea.
I started out by finding a blog in my niche and researching their published posts. As I mentioned in the paraphrased email snippet above, my angle was to fill in a content gap on their website.
My topic was ‘natural postpartum,’ and I was going to target the long-tail keyword, “after birth contractions.”
According to my research, this keyword had roughly 880 monthly searches. This isn’t huge, but its SEO difficulty was only 14, so it was an easy target!
But most importantly, this was a topic that is extremely relevant to the blog’s target audience.
To pitch my idea I sent an email that explained which keywords I would target, why I thought they were a good fit and some additional keywords that would naturally flow into the post.
After this explanation of the keywords, I listed my title, headings, and subheadings.
I then explained briefly why my post would be a good addition to their blog, and mentioned a particular point of value my post would include that set it apart from other posts. (Which was that I was going to tackle the topic from a natural birth point of view.)
To recap, I:
- Chose a relevant blog that I could provide expertise to
- Researched their content and determined what kind of posts do well for them (I made mine a list post.)
- Determined my ‘pitching angle,’ which was to fill in a major content gap on their website
- Researched a specific long-tail keyword as well as a few others that would be sprinkled in
- Outlined a clear post with a title, headings, subheadings, etc.
- Explained why they needed my post
I left my name and URL, and crossed my fingers!
Within two business days, the blog owner emailed back. Here’s the gist of their email:
- They were glad I emailed them
- They loved my idea and how organized it already was
- That they wanted me to send them the first draft
This is not the only time I have had quick positive feedback. When making my topic highly relevant and useful, I have good results.
On the other hand…before I knew any better, I made the complete opposite mistake and just sent an already written post to a blogger, without even researching their content very deeply. They totally ignored me. I won’t make that mistake again!
Delivering High-Quality Guest Content
Being pre-approved to write a guest post isn’t the end of the story. You have caught the interest of your host blogger, but you still need to follow through and provide them with quality content that they will be proud to display on their website.
Writing a good guest post follows the same steps as writing any other post, but there are a few things you want to keep in mind that pertain to guest posting in particular.
- Remember to keep your writing relevant and helpful to the host blogger’s audience.
- Writing for an audience that isn’t your own might mean you have to make your post more basic or more advanced than you would for your own blog. Or perhaps you will have to use slightly different language or terminology than you normally would.
- You want to keep your voice in your writing, but you also want to tailor your style as appropriate to what will resonate with your new readers.
- If you provided a solid outline in your pitching emails, make sure to stick to it closely or run any major changes by the blog’s owner so they know what to expect.
- If you include any source links or outbound links in your post, make sure to mention them to the blog owner so they can be approved. Guest posts are not the place to add your own affiliate links.
- Format your post similarly to how the other posts on the website are formatted. Some writers use italics, bold, different text sizes, long or short paragraphs, etc. You want your post to compliment the style of your host’s website. (And be open to them editing your post for these types of changes)
- Include key takeaways in your post, and leave the audience wanting more of you and your knowledge.
- Make sure to write a good author bio to accompany your post.
Crafting your Author Bio
It is a common practice to include a short author bio at the beginning or end of a guest post. They often include a photo and social links. Ask your host about it if they haven’t specified any instructions.
You want your author bio to be short, informative, and point readers to your own website. Briefly explain how you help your readers, what your mission is, and what your blog is all about. Mention any perks you have available to new readers.
Then, deliver an awesome piece of content that provides that value, insight, and relevancy!
Key Takeaways on Guest Posting For Beginners
This guide has walked you through some important factors to consider about guest posting. We’ve covered the types of opportunities available, the benefits and disadvantages, and how to pitch a great post idea.
Guest posting should never be spammy. Make sure to partner with other blogs that will help you establish expertise and authority.
Guest posting for free might not be the best strategy for every blogger, and it isn’t the only way to reach certain blogging goals.
Ask yourself a few questions before getting started in guest posting, such as:
- Will guest blogging be beneficial to my brand?
- Is the return on investment worth it for me?
- What do I hope to achieve through guest posting? Can these goals be met in other ways?
- Am I able to provide this audience with the value they deserve?
My personal experience with guest posting has been positive and educational, and it has allowed me to meet several of my own blogging goals.
If guest posting sounds like something you want to try out, the fundamentals outlined in this post will help you get started!
Now it’s your turn! Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments or any questions you have below.
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2 thoughts on “How to Start Guest Posting for Building Authority: A Beginner’s Guide”
I’ve done quite a few “guest” posts over the years and they did not deliver the traffic I thought they would though they may have helped my SEO with backlinks. It is good to know the blog you are doing to write for first. I get so many emails from people who I’m sure never read the blog. Or at least never commented or shared my posts on social media. That’s one way to get their attention before pitching them. I’m glad yours was beneficial as I read many do benefit from guest posting.
Hi Lisa, Rachel may pop by later, but I just wanted to say that for me, personally, the domain authority boosting benefits of guest blogging is more appealing than traffic at my current stage. The way I see it, people guest post for a variety of reasons. To some bloggers, the ability to network with other bloggers may be the main attraction; and yet for others, being able to guest post on big sites may open up freelancing opportunities where they get paid to write for well-known sites. As mentioned in the post, Elna Cain is a great example. Her blog writing gig with Zapier came about from a guest posting pitch. So, yeah, there are plenty of reasons to guest post, but traffic is probably not the most attractive of them in 2022.