Imagine this: You sit down at your laptop and open social media to catch up on your favorite industry website. The latest article is an instructional how-to piece based on a trending topic, and the advice is top-notch; as you read, you find yourself reaching for a pen to take notes because it’s just what you needed right now.
When you finish the article, you’re curious—who wrote it? You check the author’s bio and discover that instead of being a regular contributor for the site, the author was actually just contributing a guest post. As their full-time job, they’re the founder and CEO of a company that solves the exact problem they talked about in the article. After what you just read, do you think you would be inclined to check out their website and their business? Absolutely!
Now flip the situation around. Imagine that you, as a CEO and/or founder, spend a few hours one day writing a blog post about your area of expertise. You submit it to a website and it gets published. Before you know it, you’re buried under a pile of emails, tweets, and messages about the post.
Guest posting is one of the most effective methods to establish yourself as an expert and get more traffic to your website, but only if you do it right. Here are the best practices for guest posting.
Identify Good Guest Posting Targets
How can you tell whether a certain website is a good target for a guest post? First, make sure it’s a high-quality website—that it’s well-designed, has high-quality writing on it, and gets a lot of pageviews and social shares each month. You can also check the website’s domain authority; websites with a DA under 30 probably aren’t worth pursuing.
Next, what niche is the website in? Look at the types of posts it publishes and try to discern the website’s target reader to figure out if it’s the right place for you.
To find websites, start simple by using search engines such as Google; search for a general keyword phrase related to your industry and write down the top several sites that come up. You can also search LinkedIn to see if you know any editors, or post on social media to ask who’s soliciting guest posts. Finally, there’s a good chance that many of the publications you read every day accept guest posts and would love to get one from you. Run a search on their website to see if they have instructions for submitting a post.
Before you reach out to a blog with an article idea, cultivate a relationship with them on social media. Following and interacting with their social media accounts can do two things: One, it can help you understand the types of posts they publish. And two, when you engage with their social media posts, the people behind the website will become familiar with your name and face.
As a CEO and/or founder, you automatically have credibility behind your name, and any ideas you pitch to a website are more likely to get accepted. They’ll be most likely to get accepted, however, if you refine your ideas until they’re as polished as they can be. The primary goal of your guest post, after all, is to establish yourself as an expert and draw web traffic back to your site—and in order to do that, you have to sound as if you know what you’re talking about.
How do you pitch an article idea? Follow the instructions on the website; in most cases, they’ll tell you exactly what to do. Most websites want you to email the editor with a brief introduction and pitch. Concisely explain your article idea: a proposed headline, the topic, and any key points you’ll cover.
Write A High-Quality Post
You’re busy, you have a lot to do, and writing might not be your forte. Here are a few key tips to help you craft the best article possible.
Throw in studies, statistics, and data, but don’t rely solely on the numbers—this will create a boring piece of content that nobody wants to read. For instance, don’t just say “55% of SaaS companies feel that customer retention cost is the most important metric to measure.” Your readers can’t relate to a flat statistic.
On the other hand, however, you don’t want to only use your personal experience with nothing to back it up (“I’ve noticed that measuring customer retention cost is key”). Instead, craft a sentence that combines the hard numbers and your personal experience: “55% of SaaS companies think customer retention cost is key, and from what I’ve seen in my business, I agree.” (Insert personal story here.)
It might be difficult to strike just the right balance of statistics and experience, but keep at it, because that’s what will create a compelling piece of content people want to read. People want to hear your personal stories, but they also want to know that those stories are backed up by cold hard truth.
And, of course, you can’t forget the nuts and bolts of top-notch content—grammar, spelling, punctuation, and all those other pesky (but extremely important!) things. Have someone else read over your post before you send it in, or use a tool like Grammarly to act as that second set of eyes. And depending on the readers of the website you’re writing for, avoid being technical; don’t use too much jargon. Instead, opt for simple, plain language that clearly explains what you’re trying to get across.
Finally, if you’re already working with a team of writers at Audience Ops to produce content for your website, delegate this task to them—after all, that’s what we’re here for! Let our writers look at the website you’re guest posting on, get a feel for the common topics and the target audience, and then run with it. It’s what they do best, and it can save you lots of time and effort.
Promote the Post
Once your article has been published, it’s time to promote it. The website you’re working with will probably share your post on their social media pages, but you’ll want to share it on yours, too—both your personal profiles and your company’s accounts—so as many people as possible get to read. Send the post to your email list, too. And if you quoted or mentioned a person or business in your post, reach out to them; most likely, they’ll want to share the post as well.
If comments are enabled on the post, keep an eye on those so you can respond to them. Thank people for reading, answer their questions (pointing them back to your own website for more details if necessary), and include a link to your company’s website below your name. Ideally, your post will be evergreen content—meaning it will always be relevant, with people finding and reading it months or even years from now—so keep checking on the comment section.
The Bottom Line
Rinse and repeat. The more websites you post on, the better. Once you’ve gotten into a rhythm of finding websites, pitching them, and writing articles (or having Audience Ops write them for you!), the process will begin to flow.
Before you know it, you’ll be firmly established as an expert in your field and your own website will have more traffic than ever.