Become a Top Blogger By Ali Luke Want to get your guest posts accepted? If I could only choose one way to market my blog and my products, I’d choose guest posting. Guest posts have three huge benefits: They get your writing in front of an interested audience They help you build relationships with much bigger bloggers They boost your SEO, by providing a keyword-rich link from a large website None of this is a secret, of course. Lots of savvy bloggers are busy churning out guest posts, targeting top blogs in their niche, and reaping the rewards. In fact, guest posting has become so popular that many top blogs get inundated with requests. They’re only going to take the best … which means you need to give yourself every possible chance of success. I don’t want to put you off, though. If you’re reading Write to Done, you’re already a huge step ahead of most guest posters. And whether you’re a writer with years of experience behind you, or someone who’s just getting started, you can be confident that your guest post will be accepted if you take the following tips on board. 6 tips for getting your guest post accepted #1: Choose a Target Blog Before Writing Your Post One of the mistakes that new guest posters make is to write a post, then look for a suitable host blog. While that can work, it’s a much more effective strategy to choose a blog to target before you write the first word of your post. Your host blog will influence everything: your choice of topic, the vocabulary you use, even the way you structure and format your post. Look at a few different blogs in your niche. You’ll find that: Their standard post lengths vary. Some blogs might have posts of 1,000 words or more – others will have short, snappy posts that come in at under 500 words. They have different styles and tones. Some will use punchy, dramatic language; others will take a gentler approach. They cover different topics. Not all writing blogs cover both fiction and non-fiction, for instance. Take it further: Create a shortlist of major blogs in your niche that might be a great fit for your posts. Note distinctive features of each – e.g. the topic they cover or the audience they aim at. #2: Read the Guidelines This tip doesn’t just apply to guest posts, but to each and every occasion when you send your writing out into the world. Most big blogs will have guest posting guidelines, covering everything from what topics they want, to word length and formatting requirements. Read these carefully, and follow them. Often, the guidelines will include vital information on where and how to send in your post: Please send an email to writetodone[at]gmail[dot]com, addressed to Mary Jaksch, Chief Editor. Start the Subject line with GUEST POST (in ALL CAPS). (From the Write to Done Guest Post Guidelines) If you send your post to the wrong person, or don’t include necessary information, it might not get seen in a crowded inbox. Not all blogs will have published guidelines for guest posters. If you can’t find any guidelines on your target blog, then you might want to email the editor and ask whether they have any. Otherwise, take an especially good look at other guest posts on the blog – see tip #3 – and do your best to match them in terms of length and style. Take it further: Use the guidelines as a checklist. Go through each point or line, and make sure you’ve taken it on board in your planning. (You can do this again when you’re getting ready to submit your finished post.) #3: Read at Least Five Posts on Your Host Blog Ideally, you’ll be writing posts for blogs that you’ve been reading for weeks, months, perhaps even years. If you’re on a major guest-posting spree, though, you’ll probably find yourself reaching out to blogs that you’ve not come across before. Before you plan a guest post, always read at least five posts on your target blog. By doing so, you’ll get a good feel for the style, topic range, and audience. You’ll probably want to look at recent posts – but you may also want to choose posts from the blog’s “Most Popular” list, if they have one. Take it further: Print out several recent posts from the target blog. Try to get a mix of guest posts and posts written by the blog’s owner (if applicable). Go through and look for common stylistic features: e.g. do they all use very short paragraphs, or include first-person anecdotes? #4: Link to Other Posts on Your Host Blog One very simple – yet effective – way to boost your guest post’s chances is to put in at least one link to another post on your host blog. This has several advantages. As well as being useful for the blog owner, it helps show that you’ve crafted this post just for them. It demonstrates that you’re familiar with the blog (or that you’ve at least taken some time to research it). You might be tempted to link to your own blog when you want to give an example, or offer further reading. This can definitely result in click-throughs … but may also result in your post being turned down. If you do choose to link back to your blog in the body of your post, limit yourself to one link. Take it further: Instead of just linking to popular posts, listed in the host blog’s sidebar, look for older posts that might not be getting much attention. #5: Spend Extra Time Editing Of course, careful editing is always a good idea … but it’s especially vital when you’re writing a guest post. Make sure you give yourself enough time for this, and remember that: On your own blog, it’s easy to edit a published post to fix a typo or a broken link. When you guest post, you often won’t have access to your published post – and you don’t want to end up harassing a busy blog owner to get them to fix your mistakes. Busy bloggers may simply turn down a post that doesn’t quite come up to their required standard, instead of asking for a rewriting or making editorial changes. If you’re not sure whether your post is quite ready, ask a blogging friend to take a look. First impressions matter: if your post has several typos or basic grammatical errors, there’s a good chance it’ll get turned down – even if it contains lots of great information. Take it further: Read your post out loud as you edit. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to spot typos, clumsy sentences, poor grammar… If you know that editing isn’t (yet!) a strength of yours, read Eight Simple Tips for Editing Your Own Work and Get Your Eagle Eye On: 10 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Work. #6: Write a Polite, Friendly Query Email When you submit your blog post, you’ll need to write an accompanying email. This might seem like a mere formality – but remember that it’s the first piece of your writing that the host blogger will see. Depending on their guidelines, they may even want you to pitch your post by email before sending it. Keep your email professional yet friendly. Address the host blogger by name (and make sure you spell it right)! You don’t need to give lots of background detail – a line or two about any other guest posting experience you’ve had can help, though. Triple-check your email for mistakes. While a single typo probably won’t kill your chances of getting your guest post read, a sloppy email isn’t going to inspire much confidence. For more tips on writing a great pitch (with examples of pitches that got it wrong!) read Mary Jaksch’s post How to Land a Guest Post Every Time. Take it further: If you use a standard “template” email for guest posts, make sure you modify it for each blogger. That goes beyond just adding in their name and the title of your post: you could try referring to a recent post of theirs that you enjoyed, or any recent news they’ve shared. This heightens your chances of getting your guest posts accepted. If you’re going to the effort of writing a guest post, you may as well put in that extra little bit of work to make it stand out from a crowd of submissions. Guest posting is one of the most effective ways to build your blog and your reputation – so use these tips to make sure you get the success you deserve. Ali Luke is a UK-based writer, specializing in content creation for blogs. Find out four reasons why your business needs a great blog … whether you’re a major brand or a one-person start-up.