You’ve conquered the mocking cursor and those blog post ideas are coming fast and furiously. You finish typing just a few more words annnnd…hit ‘publish.’
Now, lean back and smile. This post was a winner. Perfectly suited to your target market, engaging, topical, all that jazz. You’re ready to watch the visitors (and, thus, the comments and book sales) roll in.
Several hours pass. Then a day. Then a week. There’s no spike on Google Analytics, no comments, no additional book sales. Your heart sinks.
We’ve all been there, our minds asking the same questions: “Is my blog a total failure? Is this even worth it?”
*tap tap* Is This Thing On?
The root of the problem is lack of consistent and loyal traffic (readers). You can write amazing posts all day long, score some traffic via Twitter, get lucky with a post that strikes SEO gold, and you may (may) achieve 50-100 unique visitors a day. If you’re lucky!
Here’s my question: why work so hard on ridiculously awesome posts and then leave the results up to chance? Pshaw, I’m not willing to! It’s not like writing an awesome, effective blog post is easy-peasy — in my mind, they’re precious like unicorn tears. Don’t waste them!
Listen to the Blogging Rockstars
One of the first pieces of advice I read when we started blogging (and I’m sure you’ve heard it too) was: write guest posts. Get your name out there. Which sounds awesome (in theory), but if you’re already swamped trying to keep up with your own blog, are the results gained from adding *more* to your workload worth it?
Yes, yes, y-e-s.
Become a Guest Post Rockstar!
If you want to dramatically increase visits, engagement and return on your blogging time investment, write guest posts. Doing this can double your site traffic, and you don’t even have to abandon your blog or spend all your time writing for other people.
I hear you scoffing, but stick with me! Follow the 8 steps below and become a guest post rockstar! *cue awesome chord*
1. Figure Out How Many Guest Posts to Shoot For
How many posts a month do you currently write for your blog? For most authors, one *quality* post a week is all you need, especially while you’re guest posting. If that seems too overwhelming, write two a month.
Note: Before jumping into guest posting, have at least 8-10 quality posts (that you’re proud of) on your blog. After all, we want to give all those new visitors something good to read and a reason to come back!
So, if you’re going to write 4 posts a month for your blog, let’s say you can also handle 4 guest posts in that same period of time. That’s enough guest posts to see tangible results without being too overwhelming.
Note: Want to write more and really go on a guest post blitz? Awesome! Your return on investment dramatically increases with each additional guest post you write.
2. Decide Which Blogging Rockstars to Ask
What types of blogs do your readers (target market) follow? Where do they hang out?
Note: It’s important to reach out to a variety of blog types (not just writing/self-publishing-related), especially if the goal of your site is to gain new readers/followers.
Once you have at least two broad topics written down, visit a site like Alltop or Technorati (or even plain ol’ Google) to search for blogs pertaining to that topic. Ideally, you’re looking for blogs which:
- Have 5,000+ readers (some sites will have this in a widget in the sidebar) and/or:
- Receive at least 20 comments per post
The reason is simple: the more popular a blog is, the more effective your guest post will be and the more traffic your site will gain. To assemble your list, pick out twice the number of blogs as the total number of guest posts you’d like to write.
3. Research Desired Guest Post Gigs
Spend 10-15 minutes browsing each blog. Read about the author(s), its history, posting schedule, commenting rules, etc. You might even want to comment on a few posts (if you feel you can add to the conversation).
As you go through this process, write down the following information for each blog:
- 5 Most Popular Post Headlines and Topics
Some blogs will have this in the sidebar, but if they don’t, check out the 10 most recent posts and write down the five post topics and headlines with the most comments.
- Posting Schedule
This will give you an idea of how long your post will hang out on the home page.
- Admin’s Name and Email or Link to Guest Post Submission Guidelines
Poke around on the site to see if they have a guest post guidelines page — some do, some don’t.
- Potential Post Topic
Choose a broad post topic from among the popular ones — make sure it’s something you feel comfortable writing about!
- Potential Post Headline
Check out the headlines of the popular posts and craft one for your (theoretical) post that uses a similar format. Make it catchy!
At the end of this step, use your research to rank the blogs in order of your guest posting preference. Take into consideration all of the factors above!
4. Craft a Totally Non-Threatening Email
Now, it’s schmoozing time! Starting from the top of your list, contact each blog individually and ask to write a guest post. Be brief, informative and polite. Be sure to include your background, experience and potential post topic/headline.
Use something like the below as a starting point:
Dear #Blog Owner’s Name#,
I’m #Your Name#, and I’m a blogger over at #Your Site Name#. I’ve spent some time checking out your site, and I would love to contribute a guest post about #Post Topic#. #Write another sentence briefly explaining your background/expertise on this topic, if you wish.# I’ve been thinking a potential headline would be #Post Headline#, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you’d like to read samples of my work, please check out the following:
- #Post Title/Link 1#
- #Post Title/Link 2#
- #Post Title/Link 3#
If you think I would be a good fit for a guest post, I’d greatly appreciate the opportunity. Please let me know if I should work up a draft and send it over for your review!
You can either contact all of the blogs on your list at once, or (if you’re worried about being swamped)split it up and wait to hear back from an initial round before sending more inquiries.
5. While You’re Waiting, Work on Your Blog
This is the torturous part. It’s kind of like waiting for that call-back after a job interview! Luckily, you can totally make this time productive. It’s easy — write for your blog while you wait! This way you have posts in the bank for when those “yes” responses start rolling in.
Rule of thumb: have the same number of future posts written as your goal number of guest posts.
6. Once the Gig’s Booked, Create an Outline
As soon as you receive a positive reponse, read any feedback the blog owner gave and begin crafting your post outline. These can be a lot like writing outlines — either you love them or hate them, but when you’re looking at writing many posts in a short time period, they can be a lifesaver!
Here’s a sample outline:
Catchy Intro Ideas:
How to Improve/Solve/Solution:
7. Write Your Masterpiece
After your outline is complete, take a deep breath and write your posts. Write them in the order you received your “yes” responses (and within 72 hours of receiving that response), unless a different deadline was dictated to you by the blog owner.
Some points to keep in mind:
- Type your post in Word (or other compatible word processing program). This allows the blogger to easily copy and paste your post (with its links and formatting) into their blogging platform.
- Write for the blog’s audience, not necessarily yours. There should be some overlap here, but don’t stray *too* far away from the tone of the blogger’s typical posts.
- Make your post easily readable and scannable. Include sub-headlines, lists and short paragraphs to break up the scary “wall-of-text” that turns readers off.
- Include discussion questions. Encourage conversation and engagement by asking questions of the reader.
- Include images, resources and credits. If you’d like to include an image or resource in your post, send it (and its proper attribution) along with your post.
- Add your byline/short bio. At the end of your post, include a *short* (4o-60 words max) bio to appear along with your post. Most bloggers are fine with you including links to your website or book within this text.
- Proofread and edit. At minimum, read your post out loud to check for flow and have someone else read it over to catch typos. Most bloggers will scan it over themselves before posting, but the more you do beforehand, the happier they are!
8. Wrap It Up (Encore!)
When your draft is complete, send it back to the blogger for their thoughts.
After any editing is complete and your post is put on the schedule, begin planning your publicity blitz. Be sure to tweet and share it on your Facebook page!
Once the post is live, send a thank you note to the blogger and be sure to check the post daily for at least a week after its posting to respond to any questions/comments. Showing that you’re human will drive even more visitors to your site (and might just get you asked back for future guest posts)!
So, that’s it: 8 steps that show how you can drive tons of traffic to your site and still have a life! Just rinse and repeat every quarter or so to keep building your traffic and your readership.
Tell me: are you ready to be a guest post rockstar? Or, for you blogging vets out there, I’m curious: Have you written a guest post? How did it affect your site traffic?