Blogging allows you to be like Coke. Coca-Cola knows if they want to distribute their sugary drinks to as many people as possible, they need to use other people’s platforms to access their customers. Without a distribution network to supermarkets and stores, Coca-Cola can’t scale. It’s the same for your content. Lead generation is a clear benefit of guest blogging.
You can rely on your current network and current subscribers, or you can take advantage of those who have bigger audiences. By writing great content, and distributing it to the right places — you can access millions of potential customers/subscribers/lovers/trolls who currently don’t know how fantastic you and your company are.
Maybe you’re thinking guest posting is a minefield, a waste of time — or just something you can’t do. Well, after some detailed research, we found some case studies with very positive results.
e.g. the Startup that generated 100,000 users from an aggressive guest posting strategy, or the man who generated 1,000 email subscribers from one guest post.
So here’s our complete guide to Guest Blogging: Who to approach, how to approach them, and how to maximize your leads and results if they say yes. But before we start getting into the benefit of guest blogging, you need to realize:
Guest posting is HARD — it takes a long time to produce something suitable for another blog — you have to outreach and then you have to maximize your results.
You don’t have to be a big name — we’ll see how relative unknowns now have columns in leading online magazines. You can work your way up the ladder — you can’t go straight to writing for Wired, but you CAN get there if write well and distribute in the right places. The results are exceptional if you do hang in there.
From startups that has grown solely based on Guest Posting to those who have received consulting and other writing opportunities — you’ll find out how they did it all, below. So let’s start with some case studies of successful guest posting.
100,000 Signups To An SAAS Business By Guest Blogging
Buffer’s Leo Wildrich credits consistently guest blogging for 9 months with driving over 100,000 signups to the company. Using tools like BloggerLinkup — Leo found places to post who wanted great content. Leo is a content MACHINE and has written over 800 posts. Due to his vast experience, crammed into a few years — he can create an 800-word, high-quality post in around an hour or two which drives a huge amount of traffic to the site.
Writing online for Fast Company — he knows just how his metrics work and the estimated number of subscribers for a certain site:
“[Since we] have a 2% conversion from free to pay, that means we get two people paying. What do two people paying to mean? Well, we have a lifetime value per user of roughly $250. So that means every article we write equals $500.”—Leo Wildrich
It’s a great position for the company to be in, to know that if they write x number of quality words, for y site — they will generate $500. Buffer has now turned into a content leader and is consistently creating high-quality content, building on the solid foundation Leo built. They are a clear example of how you can benefit from guest blogging. More from Buffer, later on.
Generate 36,733 Email Subscribers Using Guest Blogging
Gregory Ciotti blogged to generate users for HelpScout and achieved this, including an impressive 9,000 subscribers in 9 weeks to bring in 36,733 email subscribers. His recommendations:
- Ensure you have a solid CTA (more on these later)
- Choose the right subjects through solid research — Repurpose existing content to avoid ‘burnout’
Guest Blogging brings 70% of traffic to a site
Asif Dilshad from Seoorb.com regularly guest posts –and it brings 70% of the traffic to his site.
Asif calculates the value of a post for him by considering how much it would cost to advertise: He calculates 1–2 hours of writing can provide him with a permanent article on a prominent site that can drive visits and leads his way in the future.
And if you look at his traffic in a chart, you’ll see the spikes in traffic once he has written a guest post, gaining around an average of 1,000+ views from a successful guest post. Assuming Asif has a good way to capture and convert visitors into leads — it makes commercial sense to guest blog like Asif.
One Guest Post — 700 Visitors In One Day And One Client
Chris Street writes regularly and was impressed with a post he published on SocialMediaToday.com As well as a huge number of shares, Chris received 700 website visitors in just one day from the post — and subsequently a new client on a 6-month retainer.
An impressive result from a few hours of work and selecting the right medium (Chris chose Social Media Today as it receives 1 million views per month).
Over 30,000 Hits From 5 Guest Posts
GrooveHQ produces a superb weekly blog about its growth story (currently on its way to £100,000 revenue per month) Alex writes frequently on his blog about the growth of the company — it’s honest, transparent, and enlightening. His results from guest posting were very impressive.
Groove Approached blogs like Buffer, Kissmetrics, Onstartup, Shopify, and angelhacks — which have a combined audience of over 1 million. Later on, we’ll talk through Buffer’s outreach strategy and how they reap the benefit of guest blogging.
Hundreds Of Visitors Every Month From An Old Guest Post
Peep Laja runs the impressive Conversion XL blog. It’s a wonderful blog and they always produce very high-quality content, backed by real data and research. Peep regularly gets more than 100,000 hits on his blog a month — and credits several these visits from guest posts on OkDork, Smashing magazine, Censtationgirl, and Funnelexperts.com. Peep continues to drive hundreds of visits monthly from an old article in Smashing Magazine.
‘Guest posts are essentially high-quality advertisements. If you want readers to check out your blog and start following your stuff, you need an epic guest post. Writing epic posts is of course hard work, which is why you should avoid writing for small blogs. The ROI is going to be much smaller if you do that, not worth it.’— Peep Laja
444 Visits From A Guest Post
Brian Dean is one of my favorite experts at generating traffic — and in a video on Quicksprout, he gives away just how many visits he received from a guest post: and that number clocks in at 444. — converting in 71 subscribers.
Brian’s a fairly high-profile guy and always writes very high-quality content.
With Quicksprout clocking in over 500,000 visitors a month, it’s a great place to get exposure. We’re surprised the referrals aren’t higher– but we think that’s because Brian didn’t adopt any of the impressive ‘expanded guest post’ techniques (see below).
One Guest Post For 1,000 Subscribers
Nathan Barry is a prolific writer who creates gorgeous, valuable books on several subjects. Nathan can be found guest posting at various sites — one of his most successful guest posts has to be one that was written for Smashing Magazine.
It generated over 1,000 subscribers for his email list (his primary source for generating sales)
Hundreds Of New Signups From Every Guest Post
David Arnoux is co-founder of Twoodo — a SAAS tool that improves teamwork. In a revealing post on his blog, David outlined some of his hits and misses from guest blogging. He hasn’t always been able to enjoy the benefit of guest blogging, but he’s learned from experience.
After some initial mistakes, they started to regularly land guest posts, and after a few months, they had the opportunity to write for The Next Web. The hard work paid off — each post on The Next Web regularly generates 3,000 website hits — and around 100 trial subscribers after every single post!
David has a similar approach to most — encouraging well-thought-out approaches and research. The team at Twoodo mapped out their ‘customer’ personas to the sites they thought about writing for:
Lessons learned, in David’s words:
“Our major lesson was that “content is king” is for those who have established authorities on subjects. To maximize our visibility in search results, we also started to apply better SEO tactics, but without ruining the content.”— David Arnoux
Relationship-building takes time and consistency, and there is no shortcut to that. Accept that there will be many hit-and-misses at the beginning. Eventually, you need to decide whether you will write one article for multiple blogs or become a regular contributor to a few blogs. Use metrics to track where the most conversions are coming from!
You need to decide what goes on your blog and what gets placed on other blogs — does the best stay or go? It’s worth the effort.
Generate 1,038 Website Visits In 2 Months
Coschedule produced a lengthy, detailed guide on guest blogging. Greg Digneo analyzed his 25 most important lessons learned from guest blogging — and found one of them to be writing for sites that have a high comment-to-share ratio.
You’ll note that Greg has some sizeable referral sources on the list — such as Kissmetrics, and Social media examiner. Greg pointed out the traffic from Boost Blog Traffic, provided the most referrals when he wrote it — primarily because the audience is very engaged, with a lot of comments per article. This knowledge shows the power of writing for smaller, lesser-known sites as well as big names online.
Even some of the biggest brands online syndicate and author guest content on other sites — they know the true value of reaching another medium’s readership.
Getting Started — Finding Places To Guest Post
Before you can ever see the benefit of guest blogging, you need to find websites to accept your posts.
- Greg from Coschedule recommends using Twitter’s advanced search:
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”
- Use a variety of google searches to find great places to blog.
Brian Dean provides a comprehensive list of ways to find guest posts.
- Engage with those who comment on your current articles — see if you can write for them or on their site.
- David from Twoodo recommends using the following resources to find guest posting — you’ll find those that have an engaged audience, but might be an easier target for guest posting.
If you find 50 sites to guest post on, you certainly can’t be sure all of them will give you any decent leads or links. This is why it’s important to filter. Brian from Backlinko recommends filtering the sites as follows.
Run through each one and note if the following apply:
- Does the site have an authoritative link profile
- Is the content related to your site
- Does the site only post high-quality content
- Does the site have a real following
- Can it bring you targeted traffic (use Alexa to find out their traffic rank)
- Make sure they won’t bury your link in an author bio area far below your content
- Ensure they have a significant amount of Twitter followers and Facebook fans
Relevancy Is Better That Traffic
If you appear on Huffington Post — it’s great for exposure and to land more opportunities — but Neil Patel points out it’s better to be on a site with a relevant, laser-targeted audience. That is, if you want the benefit, you better be guest blogging on a relevant website. Neil has more success in places like Moz.com, where there is a large number of eager readers, all relevant and engaged on the same subject.
How To Decide What To Post
Deciding on what to post can mean n the difference between a lukewarm reception and a guest post that drives a significant amount of traffic and leads to your business. So how do you ensure what you are writing will resonate with the audience?
Let’s see what the experienced bloggers have to say:
Focus on the two most important types of articles when guest blogging. This will allow the maximum benefit.
Work out which posts are highly mentioned. Use a tool like Open Site Explorer to see which pages on the site have the most links:
- Go to Open Site Explorer
- Enter the domain Click on ‘Top pages’
- You’ll see what pages are highly shared and linked to.
Find out what the author pushes. A lot of bloggers or places will have their best / most popular content in the sidebar — take advantage of this.
If you know a site’s most shared and linked content — you can plan articles around the subject to ensure you maximize your opportunity in front of the site’s readers. Having a successful, shared post also gives you leverage for other sites.
Use Data To Add Credibility
Gregory Ciotti agrees with Leo on using data in your posts and linking to resources. There is too much information on the internet which is just conjecture and assumptions on what might work for a market. There is no benefit of guest blogging if readers view the content as nonsense. Gregory agrees that data adds huge credibility to a post.
Even if nobody clicks on links to your original data sources, it lets the reader know you have researched your position and puts you a step above posts that are simply opinions.
Getting The Post — Outreach That Works
Now you know the potential benefits of Guest Posting, let’s check out some templates from those who have tried this. As you’ll see most have a similar theme, but we wanted to show which ones are recommended by the pros. Pick one, research it, and then start your outreach:
If You Have A Warm Intro
This is from the guys at Groove, who recommend always trying to get a warm intro. Their advice on reaching out to those you would like to guest post for:
- Put effort into generating a warm lead.
Alex recommends a simple engagement strategy that worked well for them to engage with influencers. Which are just 7 steps to being more engaged with someone!
- Put their blog first — what benefit will THEY receive from the site?
- Validate yourself — point out who is, and why they should want you to guest post.
- Put a call to action in the email — e.g. ‘can I send you the post for review’ is better than ‘let me know if that sounds of interest’
What The Publisher Looks For
Ramit Sethi is a powerful force in the world of online marketing. He’s written a New York Times Bestseller and writes very high-quality content for his subscribers. In his blog, Ramit was looking for someone to guest post on his site. Helpfully, he came up with the sort of email he’d like to have on his site and pasted it for all to see.
It’s high on providing validation in the opening paragraph and ensuring that the content is relevant to the site owner.
A ‘battle Tested Email’ From Backlinko
Brian Dean always develops high-quality content — due to his step-by-step tactics In his post on guest blogging, he revealed one of his most successful outreach emails. Brian loves this approach because:
- Starts with something specific about THEIR SITE
- Short and sweet (aim for 150 words or less)
- Gives them specific topics to choose from (less work for them)
- Soft sell
- Touches on your experience and published work
The Email That Led To 200,000 + Views
Gregory from Sparring Mind runs through his rules for an outreach email, allowing us to realize the benefit of guest blogging.
- Straightforward Subject — you have to sell them on opening the email first before you even get to sell the idea of a guest post.
- Brief Personal Greeting — Dear Sir, I was born in England, and went to University… is not as near as good as a brief intro.
- Genuine Context — Explain why you are reaching and add a bit of flattery (note, if you can’t find a reason to flatter the person you are writing to, then perhaps their site isn’t the right place for your work.)
- The Desired Goal — Explain what you would like to write for the site — don’t dilly dally or skirt around the issue.
- The Persuasive Pitch — Work out WHY this will be beneficial for the site owner — explain why you are the best person to guest post on their site.
- The Close — You don’t need a signature with 10,000 social media icons and stats at the bottom. You should have validated yourself in the email, so you don’t need to brag about several Twitter followers in a footer.
Try, Try Again
Don’t expect success after the first time around. You can only expect to see any benefit from guest blogging if you add patience. If you’ve done any form of sales in your life, you’ll know that when prospecting, it’s all about the follow–up.
It’s the same in email outreach. To maximize the results of your outreach, you need to follow-up consistently. That’s the data from James Agate on Moz. After approaching a large number of potential guest post opportunities for their clients — they found that of the successful posts they landed, around 33% were on the second or third email to the client.
A smart, simple follow-up in the same style as the initial approach, is worth the minimal amount of effort it takes, rather than just taking ‘no answer’ as a ‘no’. Don’t bombard or continually spam the recipient — but do tactfully follow-up to increase your chances of engagement.
The I’m A Fan Approach:
Sapph Li has provided some great resources for emailing in numerous scenarios. Pitching a few ideas — gives you a greater chance of acceptance, than simply sending one fully complete article.
Another suspect from above Garrett Moon writes and promotes Coschedule. In his post on guest blogging, he revealed he’ll often approach sites that don’t promote guest blogging opportunities. In his email to Ash Maura from Practice Trumps Theory, he used a simple template that highlighted the benefit of his posts for Ash’s readers. Garrett’s rules:
- Know who you want to target
- Know They Want You To Provide Them With Value
- Prove That You Aren’t Crazy
- Always Include Links
- Always Include An Idea
- Short Is Good, Except When It Isn’t (i.e. he doesn’t like a 2 sentence email that tries to elicit a response)
- Be A Human, Not a Template
- Simple research makes a hit
Jess Ostroff from Convince and Convert explained in a post how a managing editor had to sift through a barrage of pitches that didn’t hit the mark. From the opening line, she could tell they’d done their homework:
- She’d gone to the about page and found Jess.
- She had visited her Twitter profile and copied the line ‘chronic wanderer’ from there.
- She had visited Jess’s About.Me page and saw that Jess was living in South Florida for a short time, and then located in New York City.
All the above information had been packed into an opening that stood out a mile from other approaches (just make sure you don’t look like a stalker when you write a post like this).
From The Guy Who Gets Pitched Lots
Sean Ogle from Location 180 receives a lot of guest post pitches. He’s the one giving out the benefit of guest blogging. And like most people — he finds the majority of pitches are spammy and completely miss the mark. The advice from Sean:
Create As Much Rapport As Possible
- Engage with them on Twitter
- Comment on the blog
- Start an email conversation before you ask for a guest post opportunity.
If Possible — Be Their Best Case Study
If you have taken the writer’s advice — then point that out in your email — it’s wonderful for a writer to hear his action has provided real results for people.
Give Them Options Like Others
Sean recommends providing options before you write that 10,000-word blog post on something they might not like.
Systemize Your Approaches
- Follow the editors on Twitter
- Send a follow-up email the next day
- Use Yesware to track opens
If the follow-up email is confirmed as opened, follow up with a tweet to the editor. The follow-up can make a difference to your chance of acceptance.
How To Maximize Leads And Website Links From Your Guest Post
Respond To Every Comment
Neil Patel advises engaging on every single comment made — to ensure you are maximizing your interaction and increasing the chance of a user re-promoting your site. This ensures you gain the maximum possible benefit from guest blogging.
Hone Your Byline To Increase Clicks
Gregory used this tactic on Copyblogger to generate leads for his blog.
His structure: ‘It consists of 3 elements:
- Closing subheading: Let people know that the article is done and it’s their turn to do something. We typically use “Over to You” or “It’s Your Turn.”
- Ask a question: Creating two bullet points, you should use the first one to ask a simple question that relates to what you wrote about.
- Place a small CTA: In the second bullet point, offer the readers a way to “get more” with a simple CTA, such as a download from your site.
Make The Readers Feel Special For A Higher ROI
Alex from GrooveHQ managed to convert a percentage of visitors to subscribers using a targeted landing page such as below for copyblogger. This is a fairly simple technique to use and will ensure that those who visit your site from the guest post will feel continuity and are less likely to bounce.
Use The Expanded Guest Post For Maximum Conversions
Bryan Harris created a fantastic guide on how to generate more leads from a guest post. His approach shows how Greg from Mobile Mixed managed to generate more leads from a blog with a lot fewer visitors.
Greg posted to both Convince and Convert and Productivityist. You’d expect more leads from C&C, right? Well, Productivityist generated 100 x the email subscribers. How? He offered something of value in his blog. This led the visitors to his blog to download a video, in exchange for their email addresses. It’s certainly something worth exploring — and it doesn’t have to be a video, it could be an article, a checklist, or even a download of the blog post.
Long-Term Guest Blogging — The Benefits
Once you’ve had a few successes, there’s no need to stop, you can maximize your success by continuing to guest post and work on your blog. There is truly a benefit to guest blogging over a longer period.
‘I remember when I first started guest posting, I would publish my articles on any site that would accept them such as the American Express blog. After months of doing this, I wasn’t generating any signups and felt frustrated. Luckily, I learned how to make guest posting a profitable channel. You too can do well at guest posting. You just have to give it time and continually modify your approach until it becomes profitable.’— Wise words from a master of online marketing, Neil Patel.
His experience and analysis of several prolific guests show that he places a lot of faith in the subject. Neil gave the example of Jason DeMers who was approached by Cisco for advice, and who posted for 6 months on places like Forbes and Huffington Post.
Measure Your ROI To Ensure You Are Posting In The Right Places
Further to Brian Dean’s results, he created a detailed video on how to measure the ROI of your guest blogging. His advice:
- Check through google analytics for visits and referrals on the site
- Check if there is an increase in organic search on
- Calculate an increase in the number of Twitter/Facebook followers in the first 2 weeks after the post
- See if your Klout score has increased
- Look on google webmaster tools to see if there is an increase in branded searches for your name/company/brand
Syndicate Once You’ve Taken Off Your Training Wheels
If you do churn out content, then manage to get it syndicated by leading publishers — the benefits are enormous. In May 2014, Buffer generated an impressive 1,160,520 page views. From their republishing efforts — they generated 949 new conversions to Buffer!
Gregory Ciotti also succeeded in syndication:
- Gregory requested some bigger sites to syndicate his content, which worked for LifeHacker, Fast Company and Bufferapp
- Self-syndicate — use sites like Quora (Gregory received 30,000 views on a post republished there)
- Repost on medium (one of Gregory’s posts received thousands of views after becoming an editor’s pick)
- Repurposing an article on Slideshare led to 130,000 views.
The key takeaways are:
- Select where is the most appropriate based on your content and experience
- Remember that audience engagement and relevance are better than the size
- Spend time researching the right type of post to write
- Make sure you include data to give authority
- Outreach with style and personalization
- Use the byline, an expanded guest post, or personalized landing page to maximize leads and subscribers from your efforts
- Continually test and improve
- Blog consistently for 6 months + syndication and revenue opportunities
Remember, everyone started somewhere.