This post is by Timo Kiander.
These guys, and many others, have proved that guest posting works and that it’s a great way to build your blog’s audience, your e-mail list and to be able to spread your name on the blogosphere.
Although we can easily understand the power of guest posting (thanks to them) and that we need to do lots of it, how can we stay on top of it all?
This was exactly the question I started to ponder about myself.
The more guest posts I wrote, the more issues I started to have with the disorganized manner in which I handled my them.
Somehow I knew that there had to be a way to be on top of my posts. Specifically, knowing which blog they are published on and when they were published (or going to be published).
Otherwise, this disorganized way of doing things would waste my already limited time and energy and I wouldn’t be getting the maximum results of the posts I had written.
In this post I’ll lay out the exact system I use to stay on top of the 56+ guest posts I’ve written.
Disorganization Slows You Down
Without paying close attention to your working habits, managing your guest posts becomes very difficult.
You might have posts floating around on your hard drive, but you have only a vague clue of the posts you have written or where they are stored.
Also, the follow-up becomes very hard.
For instance, do you know the exact date when the post went live or when you submitted the post for the blog’s author review?
And, if you haven’t got any reply back from the blog’s owner after the submission, do you know when it’s appropriate to ask for a status update about your post?
Finally, do you start writing the post without any planning in advance? Because if this is the case, you are probably losing valuable minutes (or even hours) this way.
No System = No Success
I used to just write a guest post every once in a while, but my efforts weren’t really consistent.
The real problem for this inconsistency and randomness was the lack of a system. More specifically I didn’t have a system for:
- Planning and scheduling the posts in advance
- Writing the posts
- Managing the submitted posts
- Finding the optimum time to write the posts
Without any system in place, I didn’t know what the actual the “status of my guest posts” were.
Also, without a proper system I was losing valuable time and that was the last thing that I wanted to happen.
Taking the More Organized Route
One day I sat down and started thinking about my situation – and especially about my working methods.
I knew that I had to bring some structure to my guest posting, so that things would go as systematically and smoothly as possible.
Like I mentioned earlier, I identified four areas which needed my attention: planning and scheduling, writing the posts, managing the stuff I had written and finding the right time for writing.
So here are the changes I implemented in each of these areas:
First, I started planning my posts in advance. In practice this meant writing the outlines of the posts before actually writing the posts.
This helped me to speed up the actual writing phase. Since I had the structure ready and I pretty much knew what I wanted to write about, I didn’t have to ponder these questions when starting the actual writing part.
Second, I found a standard way of writing posts. Doing this really helped me with my writing and I was happy that someone had figured out this system already.
In addition, I ditched my Word 2010 client and started writing all my posts in the cloud.
Third, I started to keep track of the posts I had written.
This simple tracking helped me realize when to send additional requests for those blog owners who hadn’t replied back to me after my submission (i.e. was the post accepted or not).
Fourth, I started to write my posts early in the morning. This helped me to achieve the most important task of my day with full focus – before my family woke up and before I went to work.
How to Stay on Top of Your Guest Posts
With the steps below, I’m able to write 3-6 guest posts per week, in a systematized manner:
1. Outline your posts
I outline the next week’s posts on Sundays. This way, when I eventually start writing the posts, I’m able to do it right away and without any extra pondering about the topic or the structure.
However, there is another benefit of outlining your posts in advance.
When the outlining is done, my brain is still processing the stuff on the background and I might find new ideas or angles to my posts – something I didn’t figure out in the outlining phase.
2. Have a system for writing
Fortunately I didn’t have to create this writing system on my own – it was already developed by someone else.
With this system, I’m able to produce posts quickly, without compromising the value I offer to my readers.
In addition to implementing this new way of writing, I decided to ditch my Word 2010 client and start writing my posts in the cloud (in Google Docs).
That way I had a centralized way of storing my posts and I could access the posts from any device with Internet access.
3. Keep track
I have created a spreadsheet, which keeps track of all my guest posts.
This Google Docs based spreadsheet was basically divided into the following tabs:
- Published: The posts that are already published. This tab contains the columns Post Name, Name of the Blog, Publishing Date and URL.
- Pending: The posts which are submitted to various blogs that are either accepted (not yet published) or are still pending for some reason (for instance, the author of the blog hasn’t confirmed if the post is accepted or not). This tab contains the columns Post Name, Name of the Blog, Status (Pending | To be Published on <date>), Proofread (Yes|No) and Sent to Blog (the date when the post was submitted).
- GPs for the next week: The posts that I’m about to write next week and what is my target blog. This tab includes the columns Post Name, Blog Name, Post Type (Blogging Productivity | Time Management | Personal Development), Writing Date (when I’m about to write the post).
- Guest posting sites: This tab contains all the possible places where I can submit my posts to.
- Ideas: List of ideas for future guest posts.
- Byline: The bio boxes I’m currently using. My bio box may vary, depending on which blogs I submit my posts to.
This spreadsheet is really the center of my guest posting, as I’m able to very quickly see the status of all my posts, what was published where, and what posts are waiting to be published.
4. Follow-up on your posts
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes quite a bit of time until you know if your post is going to be published or not.
That’s why it’s important to find a proper way to follow-up on your submitted posts and what their current status is.
I give two weeks to the author to reply to me, until I contact him/her and kindly ask about the status of the post.
If I haven’t got a reply to my first request, I’ll send another kind request about the status approximately 7-10 days after my first request.
Even if the second request doesn’t yield any results, I’ll send my third mail and in that message I set a deadline for the reply.
I’ll let the author know that if he/she hasn’t replied to me by a certain date then I’ll submit my post somewhere else.
5. Work when it’s quiet
My preferred time for writing posts is very early in the morning.
I wake up around 5 AM every morning (weekends and vacations included) and this ensures that I have a quiet time to write a post.
Also, writing without distraction helps me to focus on my writing much better.
I might also listen to some music while writing (mostly instrumental, uplifting music). I have noticed that it really puts me into a great mood and I become more productive that way.
The System is the Linchpin
Currently, I have 56 published guest posts under my belt and the figure is growing all the time.
With the current strategies, I’m able to write 3-6 posts per week, in addition of having a day job and a family life.
Having a system will help you to become not only organized but also very effective in your efforts.
Now that you see the system I’m following, you can take it as is and implement it in your own life or modify it according to your own needs.
Over to You
Do you have a standard way of handling your guest posts? How do you keep on top of all the posts you have written?
Let us know in the comments below this post.