By Caroline Hughes

Admit it: We all like a little recognition.

As small business owners creating content, we like recognition for our hard work, an affirmation that the hours we poured into researching a trend, drafting eighteen different headlines to spark creative revelations, and keeping our thesaurus tab up and running until the cows come home.

We want a little recognition, but the world of guest blogging feels intimidating. You think, How will I compete with all the award-winning writers flooding the internet with their New York-acclaimed, gold-trimmed masterpieces?

Here’s a little secret for all you small business owners beginning to dip their toes in the wonderful world of blogging: It’s not as hard to get recognition, subsequently growing your network, as you think.

The solution? Research, relevancy, and relationship building.

Yes, your college professor was right about the importance of connections. Even in our current digital revolution, building authentic relationships will never go out of style nor be devalued in any business deal. In this case, the “business deal” is a guest post feature.

You’ve decided you’ve done all you can on your humble corner of the internet, and it’s time to share your experience with a broader audience while simultaneously growing your own blog. Below are three steps to creating a guest post that actually gets published. 

1. Research, for Real

The first step in creating a guest post that gets published is doing adequate research. Here’s where you should start.

Establish Your Goals

Before you even begin the research phase, it’s imperative to establish the purpose of your piece. Are you hoping to earn a backlink to your site to drive your business’ SEO rankings? Are you sharing a how-to guide on a hobby you love? Are you aiming to position yourself as an expert in this field, gaining some credibility for your personal brand?

Having a concrete motive for your article will not only help accelerate the writing process itself, but it will also ensure you pick a host blog that can hopefully meet your needs.

Find the Right Blogs

An easy way to find potential host blogs without subscribing to services is to employ keywords in your Google Search. Including a combination of the general writing topic and an indication of guest posting will ensure you receive relevant sites.

Examples include:

  • “Food trends” + “write for us”
  • “Web design” + “guest contributor”
  • “Travel blog” + “submit articles”

Familiarize Yourself with Sites of Choice  

After creating a list of potential blogs to write for, you should assess which serves as the ideal home for your content, just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

You don’t want to pitch to a site that is too big, as your small business content may not apply to their readers, and they may be highly selective in their article review process. On the contrary, you do not want to reach out to a site that is too small or unestablished, as it may end up being a waste of your time, resources, and article itself.

Sift through each potential site to find the right fit. Look at the most popular articles to analyze the overall tone of the website. Browse through previous guest contributions to check if they have credible backlinks, a suitable word count for your expectations, and any red flags.

 2. Create Relevant Content

After you figure out where you want to guest post, the next step is creating content that gets you a “yes.” Pay special attention to these three things while creating your content.

Word Count

The length of your article will vary depending on the host blog’s requirements. However, not all hosts provide you with a set cutoff. It’s advantageous to look into the benefits of both long and short posts. According to Search Engine Journal, a 2016 study showed that Page 1 results on Google averaged at about 1,900 words.

However, concise posts often promote efficient readability. If you are simply jamming in extra words for the sake of length, you will lose quality. Consider your audience in this choice.  

Keywords

Potential host blogs appreciate if your content helps them rank in the search engine results page. Using popular keywords can do just that. Free tools like Google Keyword Planner can aid you in this filtering process. Enter in topics you address in your piece, then analyze variants. Decide on which keyword is worthwhile based on its search volume, but also attainable regarding the amount of competition.

Backlinks

Before deciding which sites you want to refer when you’re creating your guest post, check for any link limitations. Some sites do not allow links, while others may have guidelines, like preferring one link per 500 words.

After clarifying the guidelines, strategically plan your backlinks. First, browse through the host site for preexisting articles relevant to yours. Linking to their website will help build their internal network and create a sense of cohesiveness amongst the content.

Then, link to outside sources. Linking statistics and quotes from credible sites with a large following will associate you with the experts.

Finally, if appropriate, take the opportunity to refer to your business’ website. You can share a story about how your business drastically improved after implementing this advice. If that is not suitable, subtly link a post from your business’ blog that provides further information on the topic. Linking to your own website can cause your traffic to increase and your website’s overall authority to rise.

3. Build Quality Relationships

Now that you’ve combed through host sites and produced high-quality content, you’re prepared to build relationships. When sending an email to a host blog, customization is key. If your email shows no signs of personality, blogs may disregard you due to a lack of creativity and effort.

Four tips for a guest post submission email include using names, referring to their content, giving options, and establishing credibility.

If you do not hear back from the blogger within two weeks, it is appropriate to send a follow-up message. However, do not bombard them; accept that if they discard your article, it likely was not the Goldilocks fit you were aiming for. If you do land the pitch, great! Say thank you, and create more guest blog-worthy content.

No matter the outcome, keep researching trends, keep drafting those headlines, and keep your thesaurus tab open. Most importantly, keep research, relevancy, and relationship building at the forefront of your process. Once you land your first guest post, the rest will be history.

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