17 Steps to Guarantee a Successful Guest Posting Campaign

This is a guest post by Nick Thacker of Live Hacked.

You’ve heard the hype.

Guest-posting is a great strategy for up-and-coming bloggers to get their name out there, generate interest in their topic, and make waves in their niche. You’ve probably even heard some of the success stories of bloggers who’ve “made it” by writing guest posts.

But the actual process of writing, submitting, and benefiting from guest posts can be a little less obvious. Like most things, there are different tactics you can employ to make the strategy work for you.

Here are 17 things you should do if you want to run a successful guest posting campaign.

1. Plan

Fail to plan, plan to fail. The old adage does remain true here, too. When you start a guest-posting campaign, nothing is as important as planning out what you’re going to do. Figure out goals, objectives, and timeframes as well as you can.

2. Write It Down

Going back to #1, make sure you write down everything you’re planning. Saying to yourself, “I’m going to find a blog and write a post for it,” doesn’t help. I use a spreadsheet to write down every blog I find that I might send a guest post to, the post I might write, and the submission guidelines.

3. Do it in Advance

Lots of larger blogs have publishing calendars that are set weeks or months in advance. Since you’ll need time to write all those posts anyway, get started early. I like to set a kick-off date for a few months down the road. For the smaller blogs that don’t have a long waitlist, you can just ask if they’d wait to post your submission.

4. Use Anchor Text

It doesn’t do nearly as much for your off-site SEO or backlink strategy to keep sending people to your homepage. Instead, set up a few keyword-optimized landing page funnels (directing people to your newsletter signup, of course) that you can link to from your byline instead. Check out what I’m referring to at the bottom of this post.

5. Set Up Your Site for Success

Just like #4, you need to make sure your site is ready to “capture and convert” your new visitors. It’s like how you clean your house before you have guests (if you’re married). You need to make sure everything’s functioning properly, ready to “close the deal” when people stop by.

6. Make Sure You Know the Audience 

You don’t need to be a vulture, leaving comments on every post on the site, but you should definitely read through the archives, top posts (most popular), and get a feel for the style and voice. When you write the post, you’ll have a better understanding for how it will be received. Does the blog write in first person a lot (“I, we, me”) or second (“You, they, y’all”)? Copy the tense and POV as closely as you comfortably can.

7. Don’t Post Off-topic

This is obvious for the sites you’ll be targeting, and many times the host site will reject off-topic posts anyway. But don’t forget about your target market. Are you writing guest posts for a site that’s not in your niche? Even though you’ll likely get a traffic boost, they won’t stick around long enough to make an impact.

8. Ask For A Date

If your post gets accepted, politely ask when they believe it should go live. You want to be around to help with the comments and reactions, so you should mark this down in your guest-posting spreadsheet.

9. Plan to Stick Around

Like I mentioned above, you need to plan to be around for when the post goes live. Don’t just write and run. Comments are like the lifeblood of that blog, and you want to honor the host with your time. I consider “sticking around” part of the agreement; heck, I even have a bookmarks folder where I keep my published guest posts. That way, I can click a button and visit all of the posts at once.

10. Don’t Submit the Same Article Twice

At least not at the outset. Give the blog owner at least two or three weeks to get back with you before you send the post somewhere else. And if they send it back because of bad writing, make sure you fix it first!

11. Don’t Just Send One Post Out

The first time I tried guest posting, I sent one post to one site. It was accepted, and I thought I’d “made it.” Here was my name in lights—live, for the world to see, on a very popular blog! I wouldn’t need to work another day in my life! I was very wrong. While it was truly my “15 minutes of fame,” it was only that—my blog faded into oblivion again within a day or two, and it was back to square one. Instead, send out three or four at a time, and keep churning out great content to have on standby.

12. Keep Your Own Blog Up-to-date

Don’t have a great plan in place, sending people to your site, just to find cobwebs and tumbleweeds (unless that’s what your niche is about…). Keep writing awesome content for your own site, and don’t fall behind with your schedule. One of my favorite strategies I employ is “capturing” visitors through targeted anchor text links, keywords, and optimized funnel/conversion pages.

13. Aim for Three Niches

If your site’s about productivity, that’s a broad topic that can pull visitors from almost anywhere. But if your site is about fishing, you might target fishing blogs, outdoorsy-type blogs, and DIY-type blogs. You’re trying to build vertically into a niche, but you also should have a sturdy foundation horizontally. For my site, I focus on living better, productivity, and writing well. These three topics combine to give me a unique yet applicable platform for my visitors. There are also plenty of great blogs already out there talking about these things—perfect starting points for my guest posting strategy.

14. Follow Guidelines

This one should be fairly obvious, but it’s important enough to reiterate here. If you can find guest posting guidelines (try searching on their site for “guest post”), follow them as closely as possible. If not, send a quick pitch to the owner. See below for my own flavor of “cold-calling.”

15. Cold Pitch

If there aren’t any guidelines posted, try:

“Hey [blogger], thanks for everything you do. I’ve been reading your blog for [how long], and I love your site. I was wondering if you accepted guest posts, and if so, I have one that I think would match your audience perfectly, called “[blog post title].” Let me know, and I’ll send it over tonight!”

Remember—bloggers are busy people, but they’re still people. Don’t suck up, but be nice. Be genuine, and don’t pretend like you’ve read every word they’ve ever written—unless you have (creeper). I use almost the same pitch for these “cold” emails, but I do personalize it since I read/receive content differently from site to site.

16. Say Thanks

Not just to the blogger who hosted you, but to their readers. I like to add, “thanks for reading—I’d love for you to reach out via Twitter,” or something to the end of the posts. As a blogger who’s hosted guest posts before, I don’t just prefer a nice, down-to-earth email from a prospective guest blogger—I almost require it. If I get a pitch like, “hey—here’s a post. Let me know if you want to run it,” I’ll probably ignore it.

17. Help in the Promotion Process

Plan a few tweets, and maybe even write a quick blurb/synopsis of the post and publish it on your own site. Include the blogger’s Twitter name on the post, as well as your own. This can help build brand recognition and social proof. From an SEO standpoint, it may not be in your best interest to link back directly to the post—Google loves one-way backlinks—but that’s up to you (and I’m sure there will be discussion about this in the comments!).

Where Do You Start?

Start small, with a few blogs in your direct niche who are about the same size or slightly larger, and work up the chain to the top dogs. As you gain experience and confidence, the ideas and ease with which you get your content in front of happy readers will improve as well!

Guest posting is one of those things that’s difficult to start, but I’ve found that it usually gets easier. Your writing improves, your pitches improve, and your ability to crank out high-level posts with regularity definitely improves over time. When I got started about five years ago, I didn’t have a clue how to start guest posting. I wrote about three articles, sent them off, and waited.

Two of the three were rejected—I was heartbroken.

I relegated my blog to the confines of the long-lost corners of the vast Internet—never to see the light of day again.

But then I got hungry. I wanted more—I wanted to get my content in front of people who could use it; who could help me learn and grow as a writer. I wanted to build a platform, and I wanted to figure this “blogging” thing out.

Don’t Take No for an Answer

And that brings me to my last, most important point: Don’t take “no” for an answer. That doesn’t mean to bug people over and over again until they block your email address, nor does it mean to spam your networks asking for guest post opportunities.

It simply means that if you get “rejected,” it’s more than likely due to a few minor writing issues that can be easily cleared up or your host blog’s calendar is filled to the brim already with guest posts.

Either way—make some small adjustments, send it out into the world again, and get it published! It might be on your own blog, or it might be on a different blog you’ve not yet come across.

Last, But Not Least

Finally, I want you to do one thing. It’s simple, and shouldn’t take you very long. If you’ve read this far, take a second and write out in the comments section the best advice (in one sentence, preferably) you have for a beginning blogger trying to get started submitting guest posts. It can be from this list or your own—let’s get a good value-adding discussion going!

Also, be sure to say hello on Twitter!

Nick Thacker is a writer, blogger, and author, who writes at LiveHacked.com. He recently finished his book, Building A Blog for Readers: 101 Questions to Ask Before Launching Your Empire. Sign up for the LiveHacked.com newsletter here.

63 thoughts on “17 Steps to Guarantee a Successful Guest Posting Campaign”

  1. The advice I´d like to give people is to seek out the name of the editor. So many people assume that you need to connect to the personality behind the blog. This can be helpful, but isn´t necessary if you are just after a guest post (at that time.)

    Research who the editor is. Email peers who may have guest posted on that blog and ask for tips. It saves a lot of time and means you have a better strategy.

    As an aside, I´ve been reading a lot of guest posts here about guest posting. I´d like to recommend Alexis Grant as a case study. She is an editor of a successful blog and has been running campaigns to promote her products. She has a lot of tips: http://alexisgrant.com/2012/06/28/placing-guest-posts/ and is one of the more qualified people to talk about guest posting.

  2. Wow, thats great insight I think the main idea is to write a super great post that will the eyebealls of the potential audience. Lovely Nick.

    1. True that–I haven’t decided whether or not I think our best posts should be guest posts or on our own site…

      …So I just focus on making every post I write the best post!


  3. Great post Nick.
    I always tried to concentrate more on guest posts rather than on my own blog. I also write and submit just one post at a time, maybe that’s why i ain’t receiving good traffic flow.
    I appreciate much of your effort. You have gave a clear view of what guest post is all about and how to do it effectively.

    Thanks for such a great piece of information :)

    1. Thanks for commenting, Arbaz.

      I spend a lot of time writing and submitting guest posts as well–lately I’ve been writing as many as 4-5 a week!

      Glad you liked the post–thanks!

  4. Thanks for this list. It is always great to read encouraging posts on guest blogging. I have had success engaging readers by asking for their thoughts on a certain topic at the end of the post (just like you did today).

  5. Great list, Nick.

    I especially like number 11. Caleb and Corbett were kind enough to accept one of my articles on Expert Enough then I just let it sit. I’ve done another one since then, but I really think keeping up the momentum is a great idea.

    1. Absolutely–I made the same mistake years ago, as I mentioned in #11.

      Now, I make sure to use that momentum for good–not just squander it away!

      Thanks for the comment, Jamie!

  6. Hi Nick,

    it’s a great list. One thing that occurs to me which isn’t really a tip or tactic is that there are actually two types of guest post, each with slightly different consequences (assuming the person doing the guest posting is not a ‘top-dog’ themselves, at least in the blogging sense).

    Either you post on a small blog in which case you will probably not get much traffic back but will get more appreciation and probably build a stronger relationship with the blog owner…

    …or you post on a big blog and you may get more traffic back but probably won’t build such a strong relationship with the blog owner,

    personally I don’t particularly see the need to rush to build up to guest posting on big blogs – as what I really care most about is the relationship with the blogger and less about the traffic, so even if I do post on a bigger blog, then that’s kind of what I focus on,

    Having said that, we are on a blog called ‘ThinkTraffic’ so I hope I don’t get done by the traffic cops – Corbett is a really nice guy though so hopefully I won’t get poo-poo’d for saying I care less about traffic 😉

    1. Hey Alan;

      Good points; both. I agree wholeheartedly, and I think it’s important to understand and differentiate between the two!

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Thanks for this post. It’s very helpful. I’m just starting with this. Don’t even have a blog. I want to blog and get my products reviewed. I am starting this the way I start everything new. Break it down into doable steps. My first two steps are to research conventions for submitting to blogs. Check. And make a list of blogs to try. Adding just one blog to the list is forward motion.

    By the way, I’m in a planning class, working on a plan for my next six months. (ittybiz.com) Yesterday I decided that writing for blogs and getting my products featured on blogs is one of my major projects for the next six months. Last night I got an email from a blogger offering to do a review of one of my products. I firmly believe that deciding to do something and acting on it, draws opportunities.

    1. Definitely need to break it down into doable steps–and it sounds like you’ve done that and also have a pretty solid plan.

      Good luck to you!

  8. Nice one Nick!

    The best advice I have for someone new to guest posting is make the person you’re pitching to do the least amount of work possible. If that means you edit the raw HTML and send it to them “copy and paste” ready, do it. If that means sending along suggested pictures and media for them to include in the post, do it. If that means formatting your original email pitch like you would your own blog post, do it.

    The less they have to do, the better your chances are of getting a “yes”.

    1. Thanks, Joel!

      That’s true–I usually do that, but I make sure to follow any and all posted guidelines on the site. That’ll save you–and the host–a huge headache!


  9. One of the best courses on guest posting is Jon Morrow’s.

    I bought it and absolutely loved it. I’m just now starting to use the advice, tactics, and strategies that are contained in the course. It’s not cheap, but it covers every single guest posting detail and then some…you can find out how to get your first 1000 subscribers here: http://guestblogging.com/ (not an affiliate link).

    Hope that helps some people out.

    Nice post Nick!

    1. Jared–I haven’t gone through Jon’s course yet, but I agree that he’s one of the best out there for coaching. I recommend anything he’s up to!


  10. Nice post – I really like the idea of having one big spreadsheet to keep track of everything to do with guest posting. Sounds like a great way to keep organized and I’m definitely going to try it out. Thanks!


    1. Hey Thomas! Thanks!

      I just released a course on my own blog that includes a guest-posting spreadsheet; check it out if you’re interested.

      That said, they’re easy to create and definitely worthwhile!

  11. Good post, Nick! I’d add a few more:

    – Try to connect in some way before pitching
    – Try to help the blog author, even in a small way

    Bloggers – especially popular ones – will be much more open to a guest post if they know and have a positive experience with you. Connecting simply to show appreciation for their work (as long as it’s genuine) before pitching a post goes a long way.

  12. Wow! That’s been great tips and certainly planning makes lots of difference in any field of life and if you did the proper research than you know your audience and than its become easier to write the content as per your readers and sticking to the point helps to get the readers intentions.

    Thanks for sharing great tips :-)

  13. Nick nice article. A question: I notice in your bio that you are not using the google authorship markup. (i’e linking your name to your google profile with the rel author tag and then linking to this post from your google + profile). Some in the SEO field think this is a good idea going forward as they anticipate google looking more at authorship in determining rankings. What’s your thinking on this?

    1. I agree that it’s probably a good idea, but honestly I’m not one to “focus” too much on SEO. If I spend most of my time creating awesome content (aka “writing epic shit”), I trust that Google will take care of the rest.

      And I would gladly focus more on adding the markup tags, linking my accounts, and adding individual posts, if only Google would find a way to get this done without so much hassle. I don’t have time to waste on recoding the META information section of my blog’s markup, linking it properly to my author page, etc.

      It’s been a headache for me, but I know that a smart guy or gal would be able to do it in a second. I’d rather spend my time on things that I KNOW will generate traffic (e.g. guest posting)…

  14. Great post! I often see a lot of “guest posting” posts that are about quick wins rather than planning and engagement. I loved how you said “don’t take no for an answer.” I think that’s important to be persistent and really get to the “why” they aren’t accepting. If it doesn’t pan out with them, at least you’ll learn for next time. I’d like to add to that. If you’re contacting a big site and the person you’re speaking with says no, consider finding another point of contact. Sometimes there is only one contributor content manager, but sometimes there are more. Sometimes, you can befriend the junior editors via social means and organically grow the relationship, in which a referral back to the main manager could be what you need.

    The one thing I did disagree on a bit was the cold-pitch. While I think you definitely shouldn’t only go after sites that blatantly have a “write here” advertisement, in my experience insinuating that you already wrote an article makes it less personable, like you’re just trying to find placement and churn the mill of guest posting. Rather, I like to go in and say, “Here are some ideas, what do you think?” and write after. It allows you to be agile and not waste time on writing an article only to not have it get placed later. And really you want everyone to think they are so awesome that you only reached out to them to ask, not that they are one of many :)

    Also, it’s about qualifying and positioning yourself when cold-pitching. I usually throw in links to samples and name-drop big places I’ve written subtly to let them know I’m legit. I also like to give a subtle call-out by telling them why I’m contacting them, and usually it goes something like, “I saw you accept contributors,” or “I saw that so-and-so wrote an article on this” who also happened to be a guest contributor – letting them know that you know they accept guest posts really plays to your advantage when pitching. Don’t be confrontational, but you definitely want to be persuasive in a way that will lead to success and an ongoing relationship.

    1. “The one thing I did disagree on a bit was the cold-pitch. While I think you definitely shouldn’t only go after sites that blatantly have a “write here” advertisement, in my experience insinuating that you already wrote an article makes it less personable, like you’re just trying to find placement and churn the mill of guest posting. ”

      Great point, and I agree–I think if I rewrote this post, I would say, “do whatever you can to develop a relationship with the blogger, and exchange ideas with them.”

      I just didn’t want to make it sound like it’s a “la-dee-da” back-and-forth with them–they’re busy people, and usually prefer a few specific, ready-to-go ideas (if cold-pitching). Make sense?

      Thanks for the insight, and for commenting–nice to “meet” you!

  15. Hey Nick,

    As usual, I came late to the party. 😉

    I’ve a question or 2. You mentioned keeping the guidelines on your spreadsheet. Do you simply include a link? How much information do you have on your spreadsheet? How often do you plan guest posting campaigns or is it something you incorporate into your daily schedule?

    1. Hi Yvonne!

      Good to see you here–it’s a fantastic site, so I hope you’ll subscribe!

      As for your question, yes–I just include a link to the guidelines page on the blog, and refer to it before I start writing the post. I plan pretty much every day, because I usually try to write 2-3 posts per day (1-2 for my own site).


  16. Hey Nick,

    Thank you for not only mentioning to stick around to answer blog comments, but actually practicing what you preach. Your post is the fourth guest post I’ve read this week that outlines that as a key step to guest posting, and yet, you are the only person that’s replied to comments.

    Saying and doing are two different things. Hopefully more guest posters catch on to that.

    Thanks for the excellent article and tips! :)

    1. Thanks Mandy!

      Sorry to be so late to these replies–I was away on vacation this weekend, and there was spotty Internet in the hotel (not to mention the wife wouldn’t have been happy if that’s all I did all weekend…).

      Saying and doing are DEFINITELY two very different things, and I’ll preach that we need to “do” more–all the while hoping it doesn’t catch on TOO much (then people will be on to my secret!).


  17. Hi Nick, that’s a great plan. I’m going to use your idea of creating a bookmarks folder for all my guest post, so I can periodically check for comments. Cheers, Paul

  18. Nick:

    Very helpful for new folks like myself. Follow-up question, though:

    One of the comments above (Joel) mentioned it. What is your take on sending fully formatted HTML? Do most who receive guest posts prefer that? What about images?

    Love to hear what you (or the other readers) think.

    Thanks Nick!

    1. Believe it or not, most of my accepted posts are sent in Word format (usually because they’re written in .doc format, and they never ask to resend). Sometimes the format in the guidelines isn’t specified, and I would recommend either .doc (or .docx), .txt (or .rtf), or HTML only–those are accepted and understood formats. Plus, it’s pretty simple to convert from one to the other if the host wants a different format.

      As for images, it depends. Sometimes I include an image that I find (I use Flickr Creative Commons almost exclusively: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0/) but sometimes I just include a link to an image that might work.

      Every now and then I won’t put an image at all (at the host’s request), as they like to make sure it’s legal and stuff.

      The images question is a good one, but unfortunately there’s no hard-and-fast rule. So here’s mine: if you’re not sure, include an image that’s free to use, and mention where you got it. They might change it, they might not, but that’s up to them. Hopefully it’ll save them time!

      Hope that helps, and thanks for the questions!

  19. Yeah, I just finished reading this blog post now. I think these are the basis of WSOs on guest post are been written on. Short, direct and helpful.

    The best part for me is this, don’t take no for an answer. I’d also advice that when writing guest post, try as much as possible to have a funnel on your blog to capture visitors email or fb or twitter… just make sure you get em…


    1. Hi Syeyi.

      A great course on guest posting can be found on Jon’s site (guestblogging.com), and I just released a product that’s on special this weekend, called The Platform Firestarter. Check both out for more info!


  20. Good advice as always, Nick

    I have seen some good times with Guest Posts in the last few weeks, but I need to keep it going.

    These tips help for sure :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  21. Really useful and informative. I really like how writers on ThinkTraffic and Corbett himself make advice easy to digest. I will be closely following your points and implementing them over the next month when launching my new blog.

    How many articles would you suggest I should write over the course of 30 days? Obviously, it would be great to have one everyday but what would you recommend?

    Thanks again, Nick. Awesome Twitter account too!

    1. Well–I would write as much as humanly possible.

      The best thing about guest posting is that even though you’re writing (hopefully) for one specific site, it’s not too hard to change out links and some of the content and send it somewhere else if it’s not accepted.

      My most productive month saw me posting about 10 guest posts, but some of those were written months before. It’s hard to say, Devon–the more you do it, the more you’ll want to, because you’ll see how successful it can be!

      Thanks for the comment!

  22. Hey Nick – Great post, and way to walk the walk by staying active in the Comments section. My only tip would be, when you reach out to those 10, 20, 50 blogs in or around your niche, don’t ask for anything. Just say “hey, love what you’re doing…” and maybe comment on a specific article of theirs or tell them about a typo you found or a dead link.

    After they get back to you, they’re in you network. Just like that, and you can ask any time about guest posts or for advice. Also, sometimes they just offer/ask you for one right off the bat. I’ve even had people offer me a link on their resources page or blogroll just for saying hello.

    Great tips on TT, as usual!


    1. Very true–many times I’ve already started building a relationship with the blogger before I submit a guest post, but it’s definitely worth noting that it helps immensely!


  23. Hey Nick

    A lovely post. Recently started my blog 2 months ago and was thinking I need to make sure my site is ready for guest post visits.

    So for me, tip 5: “Set Up Your Site For Success” is the most important.

    But all your 17 tips are epic #hit! LOL

  24. Thanks for this list, Nick. I’ve been trying to figure out what the smartest and most enjoyable way for me to connect with people is going to be, and I really love the idea of guest posting.

    But the idea also TERRIFIED me when I first seriously considered it. All sorts of different fears crept in there, making me stall.

    This list broke the whole idea down into bite-sized pieces that makes the idea of being a success at guest posting a lot more “graspable.” : ) I’ve bookmarked this, and anytime I get bogged down by less-than-positive thoughts, I’m going to go through it again and remind myself that even big-shot bloggers started at the bottom too.

    1. Yeah, the fear part of it was certainly there for me, too, but I’ve honestly only dealt with MAYBE two bloggers (out of the many, MANY, I’ve guest posted for) that have been even close to “rude.”

      I put that in quotes because even then they were more indifferent or nonchalant–borderline rude–than anything else.

      After I realized that most bloggers were like me–down-to-earth, nice guys or gals, I think the fear all but went away!

  25. This is a great post. I have been thinking about exactly this, and you have done a marvelous job making my life easier with this very comprehensive check list. Well, I have my work cut out for me, don’t I?

    Looking forward to learning more from you.

    1. Yes Maria–it’s not easy, but it’s also not “hard.” I’d put it somewhere between difficult and challenging, but you definitely get what you put in!

      Good luck, and keep writing!

  26. That is awesome post and great points. i think one of the best way to get ones site going is the power of guest post and if it’s properly used can transform ones site and help generate huge traffic. thanks for sharing

  27. Best advice I can think of is from Seth Godin. He encourages people to learn how to “ship!” When you are consistently writing and posting, you become a better writer. Not all of us can write 1000+ words per day but start somewhere. Write a 1000 words per week and then post and go from there. As you get better at writing, you can start to remove your weaker posts and replace them with your stronger, more valued posts.

    Best of luck to all the aspiring bloggers out there! Keep Grinding!

  28. The best advice to give new bloggers about guest posting is to be yourself and stick to the content at hand. Don’t try to come across as a superstar that knows everything, do your research and be up to date. Btw – great tips above

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