As a writer focused on creating content for both myself and clients, I engage in some form of guest posting almost weekly (daily if I’m feeling really driven).
The reason is simple – there is no better way to get in front of a new audience while also helping to build your business.
Here’s why – writing a post on another blog or website is as close to getting a guarantee on your investment as you can get. Not only are you able to reach a new and potentially valuable audience, but even if your post flops you still built at least one backlink to your site or portfolio. Compare that to something like paid ads where your efforts can fall flat with nothing to show for it and it’s easy to see why guest posting is such a powerful tool.
The rest of this post is going to assume you know what a guest post is and how it can impact your site via SEO. If you aren’t familiar with either of those terms or just want to brush up on your knowledge then these guides will help you out:
Tracking Guest Posting Opportunities
To me, the hardest part of guest posting is not the writing, it’s finding sites that are open to publishing your piece. To solve this, I’ve developed a process that lets me find, record, and pitch opportunities in a repeatable and scalable manner.
You might be asking yourself why does the process need to be repeatable and scalable? The answer is that you’re not always going to be writing one guest post a month – maybe you’re trying to launch a book and really want to hit the promotion circuit hard. To do that you’ll need to put yourself out there often, and this strategy can help you identify opportunities in bulk so that you can get published more frequently. To that effect, you might want to outsource the prospecting part of this process to a VA or employee, so it also needs to be easy to understand and repeat.
Before we start finding these guest posting opportunities, we need to create a sheet to record and track them.
I use Google Sheets for this, here’s how mine is laid out:
You can see that I try and record a number of different fields, all of which will get used later.
Let’s break down what each of these fields means:
- Status: this is where I track the progress of each pitch, once I submit a guest post I’ll write “Pitch Submitted 1/1/16” and if it’s accepted I’ll put “Published 1/5/16”. This is just here to help me track my progress because if you’re doing this a lot you don’t want to get confused about the progress you’ve made.
- Group: I like to follow up on my pitches after 2 weeks so I tag each with a group number so I can set a reminder to follow up with a group at a certain time.
- Keyword: this is where I track how I found the opportunity. I’ll touch more on this below but it just helps me remember what I searched for in Google.
- Type: this is the type of content I’m going to create, it’s almost always a Guest Post.
- Site URL: this is the main, or root, URL of the opportunity (ex: https://thewritelife.com).
- Guidelines URL: if the site has writing or submissions guidelines I copy in the page here so I can find it easily later (ex: http://thewritelife.com/write-for-us/)
- Contact: if there is an email where I need to send my pitch then I track it in this field.
- Cost: occasionally a site will want money for an article and while I never pay to guest post I do want to track it just in case.
How to Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Now that we know how to track our efforts, we need to actually go out and find some opportunities to populate our sheet.
For this, I use Search Operators which are basically just ways to structure a search query in Google so that it’s more likely to return the desired information.
A search operator is made up of two components, a keyword and an operator, and when combined they are very effective at identifying sites that accept guest posts.
Let’s look at 3 examples based on the assumption that I want to write about Photography – maybe I’m starting a Photography website and want to get my name out there and build some quality SEO at the same time.
In this example my keyword would be “photography” and I would structure my search operators like this:
- photography “Become a Contributor”
- photography “Contribute”
- photography “Guest Post”
Note: there are thousands of search operators out there, check out this post for more ideas.
When I plug each of these into Google, it will hopefully spit out pages that are based around the keyword “photography” but also include the operator term.
Let’s see what they come up with:
What Happens Next?
Now that you’ve found a bunch of sites that will potentially publish your work, you need to record them on your Google Sheet.
For an example, here is what mine looks like filled out with information on a writing site that accepts guest contributions:
You’ll likely need to visit each site and dig around to find all the relevant info, but in the end, you’ll have a list that allows you to go one by one and either submit a pitch or a post.
After this it’s really just a numbers game, if you’re a good writer and are both responsive and proactive you should have no problem landing regular guest posts. It’s important to remember that you need to follow up with pitches as guest posting has gone mainstream and editors receive pitches every day, so be persistent.
After much trial and error, I’ve found the following process works best for me when I am scouting and pitching guest posts: I’ll set aside one morning a month where I’ll identify opportunities by using the aforementioned search operators. Then, I’ll pitch and write on a set schedule depending on my goals.
For example, last year I teamed up with a friend to help promote a new online course and part of our strategy was regular guest posting on industry-related blogs. This goal had me finding 50 posting opportunities at the beginning of the project and pitching 10 per week. It took a while to get going, but like a flywheel, we were soon writing a few posts a week and ended up landing close to 25 over the course of the campaign.
About the author
Quincy SmithQuincy is a former teacher and founder of ESL Authority, a site dedicated to bringing first-hand advice and guides to those looking to get involved in ESL teaching. Currently located in China, he will work for strong coffee and IPAs. Send Quincy an email at email@example.com or connect with him on Twitter @youknowquincy.