So, you’re sold on guest posting. You’re in. You’re going to do it.
You envision yourself writing your best work, sending it out to the world, scoring a post on a major blog – and then watching your new fans roll in like a big ol’ tidal wave.
Cool your heels. All in due time.
Like most good things in life, guest blogging success doesn’t come quite that quickly or easily.
In this series, I’m going to teach you step by step how to successfully launch your guest blogging campaign.
And successfully launching a successful guest posting campaign doesn’t start with cheering crowds and paparazzi. It starts with targeting the right blogs.
What Are Your Guest Blogging Goals?
When you’re taking on any project, it’s important to understand the whys before you start focusing on the hows.
Begin by asking yourself WHY you want to guest post. There are actually several reasons someone might start a campaign.
- To Build Credibility
When you’re already fairly established, guest posting on major authority blogs can help further solidify your reputation as an authority in that niche too. But we’re talking about driving traffic to a young blog here – so while credibility will definitely be a byproduct benefit of our efforts, credibility isn’t really our primary goal at this stage, is it?
- To Get Backlinks and Improve SEO
Some bloggers live for SEO. They figure the more links they can generate back to their site, the better. There’s some truth to that – but only until, as Leslie would say, “Google has a mood swing.” SEO will bring people to your site but it won’t keep them there. Your quality content and your community keeps them there. So SEO is not our main goal in guest posting either.
- To Generate Traffic and Build Your Community
Now we’re talking! If you’re just now starting a guest posting campaign, your top goal is to expose your killer content to as many new faces as possible, introduce them to your content, and convert them into subscribers. So there you have it – our goal is to build our community through capturing new subscribers.
How Not to Waste Your Time Guest Posting
Remember that your goal is not only to be seen by as many new people as possible – but to be seen by as many new people who are likely to become fans of your content as possible.
For example, let’s say you blog about fitness. While you may have the knowledge and expertise to write an awesome guest post about popular music for a music blog, I would advise you not to.
The reason is that dedicated music fans read music blogs – and you’re trying to connect with people who want to read about fitness. Even if readers love your post and follow it back to your blog, your average popular music fan isn’t actively on the hunt for fitness information. For a fitness blogger, a music site is not targeted enough.
Sure, some hardcore music fans are bound to be interested in fitness, but hoping for that one reader out of a few hundred isn’t an efficient use of your time. It’s like shooting in the dark.
If you run a fitness blog, you want to guest post on blogs that are read by people who are searching to find answers to their health and fitness questions.
Three Steps to Laser-Sharp Targeting Focus
If you’re going to put in the time and effort to write guest posts, you need to get as much out of them as possible. There are three important steps to targeting the right blogs for your niche.
1: Identify Them
2: Size Them Up
3: Qualify Them
#1: Identify Them
We’ve already decided that if you’re going to get the very most out of your guest posting campaign, you’ll need to focus your efforts on related, well-targeted blogs. So how do you know if you’re targeting the right blogs?
- How to Identify The Right Markets and Niches
You’ll want to focus your attention on blogs that come from your same market, your same niche, an overlapping market, or an overlapping niche.
For example, Become a Blogger is a site about how to build a thriving blog. So if Leslie were to launch a guest posting campaign, he would likely start by targeting blogs in his same market, his same niche, and then blogs in overlapping markets. Let’s take a look.
The idea here is to identify blog topics that the people who would be most interested in what you have to say would also be interested in.
In this case, Leslie would be wise to find other blogs in the blogging market and the “starting a blog” niche.
Those types of blogs are smart targets and make a lot of sense since virtually every reader would be interested in the type of content Leslie produces.
But take a look at the list under overlapping markets and niches.
When you’re targeting, don’t overlook those overlapping markets. People who read blogs in overlapping markets have overlapping interests – so are also good potential audience members.
- Finding Target Blogs
Once you have the right target markets and niches in mind, it’s time to start building your list of potential target blogs.
The easiest way to start building your target list is with blogs you’re already familiar with. If you blog about cooking, for example, you’re probably already familiar with many cooking blogs, so start with them.
Make a visit to those blogs to look for mentions of other related blogs. Some of these blogs may even be kind enough to post a blog roll in the sidebar for you!
After listing the blogs you’re already familiar with, it’s time to do some research and find even more blogs in your target market. A simple Google search is your best friend when it comes to target blog hunting.
An easy way to start finding blogs in your market is to type: (Keyword)/blog into the Google search bar and press enter. For instance, if your keyword phrase was “web design” you would type: web design/blog into the search bar.
Scroll through the results to find listings like the ones in the picture.
You might also try searching some exact match phrases. Exact match means that you place your keyword phrase in quotations when you search “like this.” When you place quotations around your search phrase, you will get results for that exact phrase exactly as it is written – not similar phrases. For instance…
“top web design blogs”
“best web design blogs”
“list of web design blogs”
As you experiment with these searches, you’ll come up with other ideas for new searches. Try them all.
When you have identified a large number of blogs (25-50) in a relevant market, it’s time to move on to the next step…
#2: Size Them Up
When you’re guest posting, you want to post on blogs that have a larger audience and more traffic than you do. There are some time consuming, detailed ways to find out how many subscribers or how much traffic another blog has.
Take a look at the average comment counts on the blog’s posts. If it looks more active than yours, it probably is. But comments alone are not always an accurate indicator. That’s why we also want to consider…
- Social Shares
Most blogs have social sharing features installed that show you how many times a post has been shared on various social networking venues. This one is from Become a Blogger. Again – if the social sharing is significantly busier than it is on your site, the blog is probably larger than yours is.
Some blogs get a lot of social shares and few comments. Some get many comments, but little social sharing. Some get a lot of both. Pay attention to both factors – it’s a good sign if either or both are active!
- Social Media Followers
Many blogs will proudly display the number of followers they have on various social networks. Here’s Leslie’s Facebook widget that he displays here on Become a Blogger. If someone has a large number of social network followers, they likely receive significant traffic.
- Subscriber or Reader Counts Displayed
Some sites will even post the number of page views, email subscribers, or RSS feed subscribers they have. Look for these statistics on the blogs you’re targeting.
A combination of these factors will give you a fairly accurate picture of what kind of activity your potential guest post targets are experiencing. If your target appears to be around the same size or smaller than you, it’s not an optimal target. Cross it off your list.
#3: Qualify Them – Do They Accept Guest Posts?
After choosing appropriate target markets, identifying blogs in those markets, and then determining the size (or traffic) of your target blog, you’re on the right track. But not all blogs accept guest posts – so now it’s time to go down your list one by one and find out whether your targets do or not.
Most of the time, you can find your answer right on the blog you’re targeting. There are four main areas on a blog where you might find information on guest posting. We’ll start with the easiest and most obvious – and work from there.
- The Main Menu
Many blogs will make your search easy on you by having a main menu item in or near the header of the site that tells you that they accept guest posts.
Although the examples shown above use the words guest post in them, you may also see phrases like write for us or contribute to… instead. If you see these things in the main menu, you’ve found a qualified target!
- The Footer
If you don’t see a clear indicator in the main menu that your target accepts guest posts, scroll down to the very bottom of the home page and read the footer. Often, a blog will have extra information in the footer that isn’t included in the main menu. Again, check for phrases like guest post, write for us, and contribute.
- Playing Detective
If you pay attention to the content here on Become a Blogger, you know how important it is to make finding information on your blog as easy as possible for your readers, right? Well, just because you know it doesn’t mean that your guest post targets do!
You’ll be surprised at the number of larger, popular blogs that bury the fact that they accept guest posts. I don’t know if it’s an oversight, or if they do it on purpose, but sometimes you’ll have to go sleuthing a bit to find the information you’re looking for.
So when you don’t see guest post information in the main menu or in the footer, don’t give up just yet. Make sure you check the About page and the Contact page as well. Read each page completely, because many times you will find information about guest posting there as well.
- Putting Good Old Google to Work
After you’ve scoured your target’s blog for the obvious signs that they accept guest posts and come up dry, you have one more trick you can try. Well, it’s not really a trick, but there is a little more work involved.
It’s time to consult Google. Below are 6 suggested searches you can run substituting your target blog’s name for NAME OF BLOG or EXACT BLOG NAME.
If your target blog accepts guest posts, one of these searches is bound to confirm that fact for you. You can experiment with different phrases as well.
If after checking their menu, footer, About page, Contact page, and performing these Google searches, you still haven’t found any evidence that your target accepts guest posts – cross them off your list. They are not a viable target. At least not right now.
After following this process you should have a smaller, but more focused list of target blogs. Now you're ready to take the next step in the process… researching.
The next post in the series will teach you everything you need to know about researching your target blogs and becoming familiar with what kind of content has been successful for them – so you know which direction to take with your guest post pitch.
Until Next Time: Homework
Until the next post, – you have a fun and easy assignment. Spend some time getting to know the target blogs that remain on your list. Read a few posts, subscribe to them if you like, and read any free eBooks they offer. Start to get a feel for their personality and the ways they communicate with their audience.
It’s important information for our next step!
So what do you think?
Are you starting to see the value of this focused guest posting approach? Do you have any questions? Let’s talk about it in the comments!