The 3 Keys to Effective Guest Posting

Guest post by James Agate of Skyrocket SEO.

Guest posting on other blogs: you likely know about it as a traffic-building technique, you might have done it and you probably didn’t get the results you were hoping for.

Why? Because it’s easy to approach guest posting from the wrong angle.

I’ll start by saying I was recently ready to pack in writing guest posts…

Earlier this year I wrote for a couple of industry blogs in quick succession. Huge amounts of effort went into the posts. I put out completely new material like tutorials and the results of SEO experiments I’d been running.

These weren’t small time blogs either. One had 40,000 visitors a month and the other had an audience that shared my guest post hundreds of times across Twitter and Facebook.

But little came out of it. For all my hard-work and valuable time I got a couple of backlinks and a trickle of new visitors. To say I was disheartened is an understatement.

But as I always do when anything in my business fails, I dissect the failure.

Just where was I going wrong?

I quickly realized I was chasing the metrics. I was looking for how many visitors a blog gets, how many subscribers it has, how many people follow the blog on Twitter or like it on Facebook. Not only that but I was delivering content that was engaging for the audience but they just shared it and carried on with their day.

I didn’t give the readers a reason to clickthrough to my website and seek more help from me. I wasn’t building relationships; I was just providing content for free.

I decided to look at guest posting from another angle. What if I applied a direct marketing mindset to guest posting?

Thanks to my formal marketing education, I’ve always been pretty familiar with traditional marketing models and strategies so the STP (Segmentation – Targeting – Positioning) model immediately came to mind.

What if I were to identify the types of clients I am ultimately looking to reach and research which blogs they read? What if I then delivered content that would engage them and provide real value, but at the same time leave them wanting more and prime them to be interested in becoming customers of mine?

The 3 Keys to Effective Guest Posting

1. Segment your market – segmentation is so important in any online marketing activity because while your product or service might appeal to a lot of different people, targeting everyone is to target nobody at all.

For this particular exercise, you need to identify all the different clusters of potential clients or customers that exist in your market and then determine which segment you are going to target with this guest post.

This step is very much your call to make, depending upon your current business objectives and which segment you find either most attractive financially or most enjoyable professionally.

2. Target your segment – knowing the audience you are aiming for makes it infinitely easier to research the kinds of blogs they spend time reading and therefore trust as well as the problems they want help solving.

This step is really divided into three sub-steps because you need to A) Understand the market and find the tribe leaders B) Select and engage the tribe leaders and C) Get to know the content that the audience craves.

Investing time at this stage will pay dividends because if you know you are going put a lot of effort and time into crafting a superb guest post, you want to be sure it is going to end up at the right home.

There is no real substitute to immersing yourself in the marketplace and getting to know the players and potential blogs that might accept your work. Metrics like blog subscribers, twitter followers etc. can be useful, but you should actually spend time scouting out the blog to see the types of readers it has.

A blog with 1,000 highly engaged readers that have an active interest in your business is far more valuable than a blog that offers nothing more than sheer volume.

Engaging with the bloggers is relatively straightforward if you make the effort to get to know them before delivering your guest post pitch. Getting to know them means they’ll be more receptive to your pitch anyway but it also means you know more about their business, their readers and their area of expertise.

That means you can craft a guest post pitch that really pushes their buttons making your offer almost irresistible. Try creating content that is relevant but falls just outside of the bloggers area of expertise to create a win-win-win situation.

Getting to know the problems that the readers in the market face will set you up for a win because it ensures they view you as the savior who’s arrived to solve their burning issues rather than the outsider who’s “not from these parts”.

3. Position your guest post – now you have very clear foundations upon which you can build your guest post.

You know your segment and the types of problems they have and you know the blog and the type of content they usually deliver.

Now you need to fire up your keyboard and get creating. Make sure you:

  • Solve the problem for the reader
  • Plug the expertise/content gap for the blogger or offer something that they don’t – really try to hit a home run a produce something different
  • Give the reader a reason to come to you for more

What you write is up to you, but I always make sure I stick to the above three ground rules.

What proof do I have that this approach works? Well I recently won 4 new clients who each agreed to initial SEO consulting for their web businesses as well as sizable monthly retainer fees – all from one guest post that generated just 9 retweets!

Imagine what a post like this can do on a bigger but still well targeted blog like Think Traffic? Help me find out by clicking the retweet button at the bottom of this post, then head over to my site and let me teach you about effective SEO next 😉

Remember, submitting the guest post should never be the end of your involvement. Take ownership of the comments section and keep a close eye on Twitter and Facebook to see who is sharing it.

If you spot a blogger who you would also like to guest post for sharing your work, then use this as the conversation starter and approach them with a guest post pitch while they are a hot prospect… even big names will be more receptive.

Have any stories of guest posts gone wrong? I’d love to hear them (along with your tips for effective guest posting) in the comments!

James Agate is an online entrepreneur and the SEO Director at Skyrocket SEO, a worldwide consultancy that works with small and medium sized web businesses to increase visibility in the search engines. Follow him on Twitter or find out more at Skyrocket SEO.

31 thoughts on “The 3 Keys to Effective Guest Posting”

  1. There is a lot you can get from guest posting above whatever the bottom line is that you’re chasing.

    Similar to you I guess, one of my goals for this year was to finally start writing guest posts and its been a lot of work at times but pretty rewarding in terms of feedback and contacts. Sometimes I’ve been a bit disappointed that mediocre topics have worked well and other stuff I thought was good went nowhere.

    Ive tried blogging marketplaces and been disappointed there. The personal connection you make with blog owners is much more powerful than a faceless auction house

  2. I appreciate this James. I am just about to make my first foray in to guest posting and will definitely be keeping your advice in mind.

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment! I am certain guest posting will not be time wasted for you! A really excellent marketing technique in my opinion, if done correctly.

  3. This is a great article, especially for someone who doesn’t have a marketing background. Easy to follow steps and the psychology behind it helps too.

    1. Thanks James, I do have one question. What is your advice for getting those tribe leaders to respond to your requests for information, or some effective ways to engage with them?

    2. Hi Craig, the best way I have found is to work your way up the ‘tribe ladder’ as it were, writing posts for the outer ring and then mentioning these other bloggers and websites when you eventually come to approach the real players. That’s not to say the ‘outer ring’ aren’t worthwhile or valuable places to post because they often are since the audience whilst often smaller is highly engaged.

      First and foremost though, the content on your own blog has to be outstanding if you want to stand a chance of being successful at guest posting.

  4. My guest posting gone wrong is that I’ve never tried to submit a guest post. I know it’s something that would benefit my site, I’ve just never gotten around to it.

    I think the biggest thing holding me back is the fear that I will pour all of this time and effort into a guest post and get essentially zero benefit out of it.

    I need to work on point 2 above. I need to really dig in an figure out where my time would be spent the best. I need to identify a few blogs whose demographics overlap with my target audience.

    1. Jeremy, the only way to start seeing benefits is to get stuck in and start experimenting… figuring out your target audience is essential and whilst some guest posts will soar and others might flop, the important thing is to continually refine your strategy and learn from your failures.

    2. Hey Jeremy, totally understand that fear man! For me, I am a perfectionist at the best of times, but I am doing something for someone else it needs to be EVEN better.

      But I know that very soon I am just going to have to do it! As James says, get stuck in.

      It’s a roller-coaster for sure, but roller coasters are fun so I don’t mind too much!

    3. It’s scary to start with for sure, I 100% agree with this but there comes a point like I said where you just have to say, I’ve done my best and let’s roll with this and see what happens. 9 times out of 10 I have found the ‘host blogger’ to be happier with the contribution that even I am – more often than not though I am my own biggest critic. :-)

  5. Hi James, you just made my day! This article just saved me so much time!
    I really appreciate the points about approaching guest posting from another angle and applying a direct marketing mindset.

  6. I have experienced the same thing. I have guest posted on a few of the blogs with 30K visitor mark. But I hardly got any visitors. I was thinking I did something wrong. Now I know.


  7. Your absolutely a hundred percent on track here. I was going to start writing guest posts, but then I realized that the blogs I was focusing on – were really strayed away from my current entertainment (personal) niche.

    I don’t know if it was meant to be, but I’m happy I came across your website today… I would’ve been wasting my time – elsewhere.

    Target yourself. Target yourself. Target!

  8. I think this is the truth that a lot of people need to hear about guest blogging.

    A lot of people keep on complaining about not getting traffic and results from guest blogging, but the thing is how can they? When they keep on submitting blogging related guest posts to health blogs.

    Getting results from guest blogging is all about you understanding the blog you’re targeting and it’s audience. You also need to make them realize why you are the solution to their problems in your article (in a subtle way) and you need to use the right words in your author bio in order to get the right results.

    Thanks a lot for the great article James!

  9. Hey James, I love this approach.

    I am just getting into guest posting and everything I’ve read (and I’ve read alot!) talks about finding the right blogs in terms of traffic and engagement. Good advice, I’m sure but your approach makes a lot of sense to me.

    Quality over quantity, works in all aspects of business. 5 prospects who engage you and are truly interested in your product or services beats 100 people who come to your site and click off right away — every time.

    Thanks for this information, James. Shared and bookmarked for my reference!


    1. Great to hear that Bob – you are so right and I wish I had more clients with your mindset because so many happily skip over the ‘conversions’ section of our monthly SEO reporting to find the bits about ranking and traffic.

      Rankings and traffic are important but at the end of the day SEO is just a part of the journey really – more signups, more leads and more sales has to be the goal otherwise you are simply wasting bandwidth.

      Good luck with it, happy to answer questions anytime

  10. James,

    These are great tips!

    Knowing your audience helps, because you are not wasting time to please everyone. This makes the guest posting process (writing the content + finding the right audience) much faster, because you are focusing on the best blogs, which bring you best results.


  11. Hi James,

    Thanks so much for these great insights. I think these are some common mistakes which most guest posters commit and often overlook. And to think that all these points are crucial for ones business blog. You’ve cleared things out and have put things in perspective.

    Indeed, one useful reminder for all of us! TY once again.


  12. I have a photography blog and I recently jumped into guest posting on my blog. Some have been awesome for traffic only and some bring traffic + sales (my fav!). There is definitely an “art” to choosing guest posts on your blog also. I look forward to learning more about guest posting 😉

  13. Nice post, what I did was place my 5 best guest posts on my home page. It looks pretty cool for a brand new visitor to see that you have written on world famous websites like ClickBank & ProBlogger…

    It’s worth a shot!, ;]

    David Edwards

  14. Thanks for sharing, I’m learning as much as I can about guest blogging since I’m planning a launc of my new website in a couple months and want to have about 20-25 guest posts ready to go as soon as the launch is done, and I surely don’t want to “waste” them, I just printed your post so I can refer to it when writing my guest posts.

    Thanks again James, I’m sure the help I got from this post will help me in a couple months 😉

  15. James, this is really great advice. I especially love that you provide 3 steps that sum it all up instead of the “25 tips for better guest posting”.

    I don’t know if you noticed but your article is also great advice for a new blogger. You can approach writing for your own blog just the same and follow your 3 steps model. This should help bloggers to keep focused and be more effective and successful.

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