25 lessons from guest blogging for the top blogs in the world

During the past few years, I’ve written for some of the most popular marketing blogs in the world.

Blogs like Social Media Examiner, MarketingProfs, Copyblogger, Problogger, KISSMetrics, and the list goes on and on. It’s been an honor to guest blog for such amazing publications.

And along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two.

So, if you’re thinking about guest blogging as a way to market your company, this will help you get started. Or if you’re already guest blogging, then this will help you get even more out of it.

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Find Where You’d Like to Guest Blog

When guest blogging, the first thing you need to do is find good blogs to write for.

1. Know what audience you want to target.

So before you jump in, there are a few things to consider:

Are you looking to write on a blog in your industry? Or are you looking to write on a blog that your customers read?

For instance, my company focuses on marketing software for small businesses. I could either write for marketing blogs such as CoSchedule or I can write for small business blogs.

2. Use Google to find relevant blogs.

The first and most obvious place to look for a guest blogging opportunity is Google.

Once you know the type of blog that you want to write for, you simply Google the name of your industry and “write for us”.

So if you Google “small business” and “write for us”, you’ll see a list of small business blogs that accept guest posts:

Google search engine results (SERP) for small business blogs

Pore through them to find the blogs that are most aligned your goals.

3. Try Twitter to find relevant blogs.

If you go to search.twitter.com and click on “Advanced Search”, you’re brought to the following screen:

Twitter advanced search for guest blogging

In the “All of these words” field, enter the niche that you want to write for. In the “This exact phrase” field, enter the words “write for us”.

You should see a list of blogs asking for guest posts.

Blogs asking for guest bloggers via Twitter

4. Look through the blogs you follow.

Look for guest blogging opportunities on the blogs that you currently read.

Do all of the authors of the blog work for the company? If they don’t, it’s a good bet that they accept guest posts.

5. Investigate the size of the blog.

The truth is, writing a blog post takes a lot of time. And you want to get the most exposure possible.

To see how much traffic a blog gets, I do two things:

  1. First, I check out their Alexa ranking. Even though it’s only an estimate, it gives me some indication as to how many readers the blog has.

Alexa rank analysis for Social Media Examiner for guest blogging

  1. After I look at their Alexa ranking, I scroll through the most recent 10–20 posts to see how many social media shares each post gets.

examine social shares before guest blogging

These are mostly vanity metrics, but they’ll give you a sense for how many people will interact with your post.

6. Make sure the blog has an engaged audience.

If you’re looking to guest blog to get traffic to your site and build your email list, then writing for blogs with a high comment to share ratio is extremely important.

For instance, I wrote a post on Boost Blog Traffic:

guest blogging on Boost Blog Traffic

It received a ton of comments relative to the number of social media shares. It’s no accident that during the time this post was written, it was my largest source of referral traffic—even though I had written for much bigger blogs.

Boost Blog Traffic guest blogging results

It’s not always the size of the blog that matters. It’s just as important to have active and engaged readers.

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7. Make sure your target audience reads the blog.

One of the most critical factors for guest blogging success is ensuring the audience is a proper fit for you.

The biggest blog in the world will do you absolutely no good if your customers don’t read it. Make sure you understand the demographics of the blog’s audience to ensure your customers read it.

Ask To Write A Guest Blog

Once you find a blog you want to write for, you’ll need to apply to contribute a guest post to that blog.

3 steps for guest blogging

8. Choose a topic based on what was successful.

Read the last three to six months’ worth of blog posts to get a feel for the content the blog publishes and what type of posts the audience likes to read.

The posts with the most comments and shares probably get the most traffic, and in the blog editor’s mind, are the most successful.

Contribute an idea that is similar to a successful post to increase your chances of it being accepted.

So, as a person who is interested in writing for the small business audience, here’s how I would create a topic and headline:

One of my favorite small business blogs is called Under30CEO.

After doing my research, I find that a lot of the posts that do well are about increasing your company’s visibility.

Under30CEO guest blogging company visibility

Now that I know what works, I would say something like:

5 Practical Ways to Get Your Company in Front of Your Prospects, Even if You Don’t Have a Huge Budget

9. Create the guest blog outline.

A brief outline will give me a better idea of how the post is going to be constructed, what it will include, and how it will benefit the blog’s readers.

You only need to spend 20 minutes on the outline. Just enough time to flesh out your ideas.

10. Write the email to the blog you’ll contribute to.

Here’s the email script that I use often to pitch my guest blogs.

email for guest blogging

Figure Out The Best Post Type For That Blog

When you’re guest blogging, there are typically three types of posts that you can write.

11. Long list posts work.

A long list post is successful because the sheer numbers blow readers away. That’s why it attracts a lot of attention.

The key, though, is to blow your audience away.

For instance, I wrote this post on KISSMetrics.

KISSMetrics guest blogging

And it did amazingly well. And it even got featured on Entrepreneur:

Entrepreneur guest blogging

This post would have been lost in the Internet if I had simply wrote about seven email marketing tools. The fact that I had compiled such a huge list is what made this post so successful.

12. Analyze other people.

Another type of post you can write is to analyze other people.

In another guest post, I analyzed how five different companies deployed psychological triggers in their marketing to get more customers.

I backed these tactics with facts that the companies published as well as scientific research.

analyze other people for guest blogging

13. Try personal stories or case studies.

This is by far the most powerful post if you want to get your story out there, build your email list, and sell your products and services.

When I wrote, “Why Quitting May Be the Most Profitable Thing You do This Year”, I told the story of how I was absolutely lost as an entrepreneur. I didn’t know where my next customer was going to come from. I let all my emotions go.

I can’t tell you how many emails I received from people who have said they knew exactly how I felt. I was able to connect in a very real and personal way.

To date, this post has been the single largest contributor to my email list. The day it went live, I had well over 400 people subscribe.

Copyblogger guest blogging

Promote Yourself With Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can be a brilliant marketing strategy—if you promote yourself correctly. If not, it’ll be a colossal waste of time.

14. Focus on conversions and landing pages.

Neil Patel has seen conversions on landing pages increase by 10% simply by personalizing his landing page.

Instead of sending people to a generic landing page, send them to a page that has a headline like “Welcome, CoSchedule Readers.”

15. Provide relevant and useful offers.

It’s extremely tough to split test this, but when you’re guest blogging, I find that an offer related to your guest post will get more email subscribers than your general lead magnet.

For instance, let’s say I’m writing a guest post titled “25 Lessons From Guest Blogging For The Top Blogs In The World.” :)

I could either send all of my traffic to a generic landing page, or I could create an offer that reveals 30 popular blogs that accept guest posts.

The second offer is much more relevant to my post, and should perform a lot better.

16. Grow your following with Twitter.

Believe it or not, guest blogging is an effective way to grow your Twitter following.

When you guest blog on a popular blog, you can be sure that it will get a lot of tweets and retweets.

After your guest post goes live, copy and paste the URL from the post into search.twitter.com.

grow your Twitter following with guest blogging

And you will see everyone who has tweeted your post.

Twitter search for your guest posts

Follow each person who tweeted your post, and a large majority will follow you back. Remember, they just read an article by you, so they’re clearly interested in the type of content you produce!

17. The funnel is overrated.

Some of my most lucrative offers came not because someone gave me their email address on my landing page, but because they read my post and asked me if I wanted to do work for them.

In another life, I ran a marketing agency focusing on content marketing.

After I wrote a blog post on Copyblogger, I received this email offer to work with Shopify:

Shopify opportunity for guest blogging

And that’s not the only time guest blogging helped me land a gig.

More often than not, when companies would ask for my writing portfolio, I would simply show them various posts I had written for popular blogs.

It was the kind of social proof and validation that many of my competitors didn’t have.

18. Use guest blogging as social proof.

If you go to my friend Henneke’s blog, you’ll see that she’s been “seen on” some large and popular blogs.

She is able to put these logos on her site because she’s written guest blogs on each of them.

Henneke uses guest blogging as social proof

Guest blogging offers a third-party social proof similar to a public relations campaign. When someone sees that you’ve been featured on the popular sites in your industry, they know your ideas have already been validated.

This brings you one step closer to making that sale.

19. You must guest blog consistently.

Unfortunately, guest blogging is sold as the magic elixir for traffic.

How many times have you heard this before:

#Guestblogging is a way to build a popular blog.Click To Tweet

Well, that’s only half true. You have to guest blog consistently.

Consistent #guestblogging is a way to build a popular blog.Click To Tweet

These numbers show traffic from guest blogging over the course of two months:

guest blogging results after two months

I don’t mean that to scare you because the numbers are not large by any stretch. Like most endeavors, building your blog through guest blogging takes time and commitment.

20. Build your relationships.

A few years ago, I was building a blog of my own called “Sales Leads in 30 Days.” I needed to get traffic to my blog.

I had already written guest posts on several popular blogs, including KISSMetrics, which is owned by Neil Patel.

He’s a popular Internet marketer with a very large Twitter following.

Because I had already written for his blog in the past, I had a small relationship with him. So I “leveraged” that relationship in order to get some traffic to my new blog.

leverage relationships with guest blogging

That one single tweet brought 154 pageviews and 142 unique pageviews to that post. Mind you, this doesn’t seem like a huge amount of traffic, but this was the first post to the new blog, and this was only one tweet.

21. Promote case studies and user stories.

I’ve used guest blogging to publish case studies and user stories to help bring attention to my services. But right now, no one is doing this as effectively as Noah Kagan from Appsumo.

Everywhere you look, you see him promoting his new site Sumome—even on this blog.

Noah Kagan's guest blogging example

In this post, Noah gives some really valuable content that you can apply to your blog immediately. However, he also has the innate ability to talk about Sumome and the tool’s effect on getting more traffic to every post.

If you can work your product or service into your guest post without it being an outright advertisement, your guest post will be much more effective.

Be Prepared For Comments And Feedback

The very first time I had ever received a comment on any blog post was the first time I wrote for Copyblogger.

To be honest, I never really gave it much thought. However, once you put yourself out there for the world to see, you open yourself up to criticism.

22. Most comments are good.

Luckily, most people are going to love your work. That’s because you’ve undergone an editorial standard from the popular blog that prohibits bad posts from coming through.

And when you read how great you are from hundreds of people, it makes you feel really freakin’ good about yourself.

But there is also the other side of the coin….

23. Some comments suck.

I had just spent 25 hours compiling a list of email marketing tools unlike any the Internet has seen.

I poured my heart and soul into that guest blog. And one of the first comments I received was a snarky complaint about how my grammar was incorrect:

sucky comments from guest blogging

The world is full of critics. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and smile.

Bonus Lessons For Guest Blogging

Here are just a few things I picked up that really didn’t fit into any of the categories.

24. Guest blogging requires a big time commitment.

I often underestimate how long a post will take.

The 67 email tools post I wrote took me 25 hours. The post I wrote on Copyblogger titled “In Defense of Quitting” took even longer.

And if you want to be effective with your guest blogging, then it’s something you’ll have to do consistently.

If there was an opposite to “get rich quick”, then guest blogging is it. Sure, it can help you sell more products and services. But like all things in the land of entrepreneurship, it’s a grind.

25. Guest blogging isn’t for everyone.

Guest blogging is a strategy that allows writers to leverage their strength. Just as a public speaker leverages a stage to promote his ideas, guest blogging gives writers the platform to get their ideas into the world.

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If you hate writing, I highly recommend that you find another platform to grow your traffic.

That’s All You Need To Know About Guest Blogging

Now you know everything you need to know to write for some of the most popular blogs in the world.

Look, writing guest blogs isn’t easy. Nor is it the “get rich quick” scheme that everyone seems to think it is.

It’s a grind. It’s not for the faint of heart.

But the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.

Check out my free course “Double Your Sales Through Guest Blogging” where you learn step-by-step how to use guest posting to double your sales.

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