Guest Blogging: The Complete Guide

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Guest blogging, also known as guest posting, is writing content for another website with the goal of getting backlinks to your site to increase your domain authority (DA) and get more traffic.

Guest posting benefits both the guest and the host. The guest blogger gets a backlink to their site, and the host gets free content to share with their audience.

WIN-WIN-WIN. The Office meme

Contents

  1. Benefits of guest blogging
  2. Cons of guest blogging
  3. How to check a website’s domain authority
  4. How to find guest blogging opportunities
  5. Organizing and filtering your guest post prospects
  6. Finding the editor’s contact information
  7. How to pitch a guest post
  8. Sending your guest post pitch
  9. Follow-up
  10. How to write a guest post
  11. Sending your guest post
  12. After you’ve been published
  13. Tracking your results

Disclosure: You should always assume that pretty much every link on this site is an affiliate link, and if you click it and buy something you like, I’ll earn some money to help me buy a DeLorean, build a time machine, and travel back to the 90s so I can watch Hey Arnold! and eat Dunkaroos again.

Benefits of Guest Blogging

Before learning how to find prospects and pitch your guest posts, let’s go over some of the benefits and best practices of guest blogging.

1. Getting Relevant and High-Quality Backlinks

Guest blogging allows you to choose relevant sites to get backlinks from.

A backlink from a high DA site that’s in your niche will increase your DA more than a high DA site in a different niche.

Also, a site with low domain authority might not benefit you much regardless of their niche.

Most websites that accept guest posts will let you add 1 or 2 backlinks to your site.

2. Control Over Link Placement and Article Linking Back to

Another cool thing about guest blogging is that you often get to choose where to place the link and which of your articles to link back to.

You see, a link placed in the body of an article passes more value than a link placed in a “bio box” at the bottom.

Link placement value
Link placement value

So when guest posting, you always want to include your links as close to the top as possible.

You also want to link to your most popular posts or the ones you want Google to rank you for.

However, you must make sure that they’re still relevant.

Don’t include a link to an article about the best winter coats for penguins if you’re writing about how eating donuts can make you smarter.

If you do this, you run the risk of having the editor remove the link altogether.

3. Higher Success Rate Than Other Link Building Strategies

Other link building strategies include roundups, broken link building, sponsored posts, pitching infographics, and regaining lost links.

However, guest blogging seems to have the highest success rate.

4. Making Friends With Bloggers in Your Niche

Even though blogging is fun, it can also be a little lonely.

You’re just sitting in front of your computer writing blog posts and learning about SEO, guest blogging, sales funnels, opt-ins, and WordPress.

FB comment about blogging being a lonely journey

Guest blogging will allow you to network and build relationships with other bloggers who have the same goals as you.

That’s also why I’ve created a Facebook group where you can connect with other bloggers.

5. Increase Domain Authority

While having a high domain authority isn’t the end-all and be-all of SEO, it can help search engines measure the value of your domain.

Having a high domain authority means that your website will have a better chance of ranking than your competitors with lower domain authority.

6. Getting Your Content in Front of More People

Not only do you get the benefit of increasing your DA, but also get engaged traffic from the host’s website.

This will help you build a stronger presence in your niche.

Cons of Guest Blogging

Even though guest blogging has several benefits, it also has some downsides.

1. It’s Hard to Do at Scale

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you know that writing high-quality posts takes time, especially when you have other business or blogging-related tasks to do.

For this reason, it’s hard to guest post at scale.

2. Publishing Quality Posts on Other Blogs Instead of Yours

It’s always a question whether you should post a piece of content on your blog or someone else’s.

This is where you should take into consideration the other blog’s domain authority.

If you have a DA of 30, then guest posting for a website with DA of 35 or below might not be worth it.

However, if you’re looking at a website with a DA of 60, then you might want to publish your content there.

This does’t mean that all websites with low DA are bad.

If you see that a website has a low DA, but they’re constantly putting high-quality content, it might be a matter of time until their DA goes up.

In this case, you might not benefit from it right away, but will in the long-term.

How to Check a Website’s Domain Authority

You can use Moz’s free SEO toolbar.

Just go to Moz’s website, download the free MozBar, and create an account.

You’ll then see a little square in your navigation menu that shows the DA of the site you’re currently on.

MozBar
MozBar

STEP 1: How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

“Okay, Christian! I’ve learned all the pros and cons of guest blogging. How do I start?”

Alright my young Padawan, let’s get started.

Here are 7 ways to find guest blogging opportunities:

1. Check Facebook Blogging Groups

On Facebook, search for general blogging groups and groups in your niche for guest blogging opportunities.

I would stay away from guest blogging groups as most of their posts are spam, paid opportunities (more on this later), and scams.

Once you’ve found a few groups, use the search bar on the left sidebar to search for terms like:

  • guest
  • guest post
  • guest blogging

You should look for comments like this:

FB group guest post opportunity

2. Do a Simple Google Search

Of course, we’re going to use our friend Google to help us find guest blogging opportunities.

Here’s a list of search strings you can use. Just replace keyword with keywords from your niche:

Keyword “guest post”
Keyword “write for us”
Keyword “guest article”
Keyword “guest post by”
Keyword “guest post guidelines”
Keyword “guest writer”
Keyword “guest author”
Keyword “submit a blog post”

3. Use Google Reverse Image Search

This method will make you feel like a spy hunting down bad guys!

Or a stalker…

Either way, you want to find serial guest posters in your niche.

First, you need to find a guest post in your niche and scroll down to the bottom.

There, you’ll typically see an author box that includes a picture of the guest poster.

Author Box example

You want to right-click on the image > search Google for Image

Reverse image search

A new tab should open with all of the places that image is found.

Reverse image search results
Reverse image search results

If everything goes as planned, those places should be websites where that author has submitted guest posts.

Alright, Sherlock. Let’s move on to the next tip to find guest blogging opportunities.

4. Shares on Social Media

Plenty of guest writers share their posts with their audience on social media.

You can simply search for the following hashtags on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter:

  • #guestblogger
  • #guestpost
  • #guestwriter

5. Check for an Authors Page

Another way to find serial guest posters is to check if a website has an authors page.

For example, Muscle & Strength has a page where they list all their guest writers.

MS Contributors Page

You can then go ahead an apply the secret agent skills you learned on tip number 3.

6. Use AllTop.com

AllTop is a website that lists the most popular websites on different niches.

You just select your topic on the top menu and then your sub-niche on the drop-down menu.

AllTop website screenshot
AllTop

Keep in mind that not all of these sites will accept guest posts.

You still need to do a little digging to see if they do.

7. Search for a List of Sites That Accept Guest Posts

There are a few bloggers that have taken the time to make lists of different websites that accept guest posts.

Here are a few sites that have already done the heavy lifting for you:

STEP 2: Organizing & Filtering Your Guest Post Prospects

I suggest spending a few hours hunting down several guest blogging opportunities and making a list with all their info.

That way you don’t have to search for opportunities every time you want to guest post.

I’ve made an Excel sheet for you to write down their info and keep track of the emails you’ve sent and replies you’ve gotten.

Guest post prospecting spreadsheet
Guest post prospecting spreadsheet

It’s nothing fancy, but you can download it for free by clicking the link below.

Filtering Your Guest Post Prospects

Remember, when you looking for guest blogging opportunities, focus on sites that:

  • Have an equal or higher DA than yours
  • Are in your same niche
  • Let you add “dofollow” backlinks to your site
  • Only post high-quality content

Checking for Dofollow Backlinks

If you’re not sure that a website allows backlinks, you can check their guest posts and see if they include dofollow links.

Here’s how to find if a link is dofollow:

  • Find a guest post on their site
  • Right-click on a link that goes to the guest poster’s site
  • Click on Inspect Element
  • Search for the rel attribute (rel=” “)
  • If you see nofollow between the quotations, it means the link is nofollow
  • If it doesn’t say it or has a rel attribute at all, it means the link is dofollow
Finding nofollow links using Inspect Element
Nofollow link

By default, most links are dofollow. To make a link nofollow, the editor would have to proactively do it.

A dofollow link is preferred because it passes PageRank to the linking page.

Nofollow links are not bad, but they’re not as beneficial as dofollow.

High-Quality Sites

If a websites accepts everyone as a guest post and links to a lot of low-quality or spammy sites, it won’t benefit you much and could actually hurt you.

Also, if you want to receive engaged traffic, make sure that the site you want to guest post for doesn’t have lots of ads.

People don’t like seeing ads on websites and they can hurt a brand’s credibility.

STEP 3: Finding the Editor’s Contact Information

Now that you’ve made your list of prospects, it’s time to find their contact information.

If a site doesn’t have a Write for Us page with instructions on how to submit a guest post, you want to find the owner or editor’s email address.

You can do this manually or with a tool like Hunter, Hiretual, or ContactOut.

Manual Method

You can look for it in the following pages:

  • Contact page
  • About page

If they don’t have an email listed on those pages, your next option would be to search for their names on:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Tool Method

Another option is to use the Hunter extension for Chrome. Their free account will allow 50 free searches per month.

Just go to Hunter.io, add the extension to Chrome, and register for free.

Once you’ve done that, you can visit any website you want and click on the little Hunter icon.

Hunter will then look for all the email addresses found on the site and display them.

Boom! How easy was that?

Ideally, you’d want to use an email address with a name, but sometimes you’ll just have to settle for generic accounts like:

  • theteam@domain.com
  • admin@domain.com

STEP 4: How to Pitch a Guest Post

“I’m going to start contacting everyone now! Thanks, Christian!”

Woah! Slow down there speed racer.

There’s a little more research to be done before you start sending emails.

Editors receive tons of guest post pitches so you need to stand out from the crowd.

Sending generic emails and changing post titles won’t cut it.

To increase your chances of landing a guest post opportunity, you must tailor your pitch.

Here are 7 things you must do before sending a pitch:

1. Study Their Content

At this point, you should have a list of relevant websites in your niche.

However, that doesn’t mean that they write the same type of content you do.

Some websites love writing how to guides while others prefer science-based articles.

So spend some time going through their content to see what they like.

Here are a few examples:

  • How-to guides
  • Tutorials
  • Technical
  • Research-based
  • Long-form
  • Listicles
  • Personal stories
  • Reviews
  • Articles that go against traditional wisdom

If they love writing how-to guides, then pitching a how-to guide might increase your chances of getting accepted.

2. Check the Type and Level of Their Audience

Who are they writing to?

Are their blog posts targeting businesses or general consumers?

Are their articles geared towards a beginner, intermediate, or advanced audience?

3. Check How Other Guest Posts Do

Some people only like reading blog posts from the owner of the website.

So if your goal is to build authority in your niche and get engaged traffic back to your site, you want to check if other guest posts do well on that site.

Take a look at the comment section and social shares of posts written by the owner and those written by guest bloggers.

Do they get the same amount of engagement and shares?

Keep in mind that not every site will have these enabled.

If you’re just guest posting to get a backlink and increase your DA, then you don’t have to worry about this.

4. See Which Blog Posts Are The Most Popular

To get the best bang for your buck, you want to see which blog posts do best and pitch similar ideas.

For example, if you see that workouts posts get more comments and shares than weight loss posts, you’d want to pitch a post about workouts.

Maybe something like:

  • The best workouts to build massive arms
  • Time-efficient workouts for busy people
  • Booty building workouts
  • Workouts that don’t involve jumping
M&S most popular articles

From the above photo, you can see that “build muscle” posts do better than other general fitness posts in Muscle & Strength’s website.

Some websites also have a “Most Popular” category somewhere on their site.

5. Check Their Guest Bloggers’ Bios

Some websites only accept guest posts from bloggers who have PhDs, Masters, or B.S. degrees on the subject they’re writing about.

Others will let you guest post without having a degree as long as you have personal experience.

Other websites won’t really care as long as your content is high-quality.

You want to check what kind of people are posting for those sites to see if you’ve got a chance or not.

If you notice that most guest bloggers have some sort of qualification, you want to mention yours in your pitch.

Some sites will actually mention in their Write for Us page if you need to have some sort of qualification to submit a guest post.

6. Don’t Be a Stranger

A blogger is more likely to accept your guest post if they’re familiar with who you are.

Consider following them on social media and taking some time to leave comments on their posts.

Try not to leave generic comments like this:

  • Loved this post!
  • Very useful information, thanks!
  • Keep up the good work!

Bloggers get comments like that all the time.

Remember, they’re people like you who love connecting with other bloggers and building relationships.

Be genuine, read the post and comment what you actually thought about it.

Tell them how it has helped you or how you plan to use it.

Mention something they covered that you didn’t know before.

Fitness site comment

The above image is from a comment left on my fitness blog.

I’m more likely to remember someone who writes a comment like that than someone who just says: “nice post!”

Don’t get me wrong, leaving “thank you” comments isn’t bad.

But if you want to stand out, you must be a little more creative.

Social Shares

When you share their content on social media, be sure to tag them using their @username.

This way they’ll know who you are when you pitch your guest post.

Sending an Email

If you like living on the edge, you can send them an email telling them how their blog post helped you.

Most bloggers love hearing how their content is helping people.

That’s kind of the reason we write!

It always puts a smile on my face when someone replies to my newsletter or emails me telling me how much a specific blog post helped them.

Some bloggers are busy and might not reply to you, but you can be sure that you made their day a little better.

7. Read Their Submission Guidelines

Most sites that accept guest posts have general submission guidelines where they include things like:

  • The minimum number of words your guest post should have
  • If they want you to send them topics for approval beforehand
  • If they want a full ready-to-submit version of your article
  • How many backlinks you can include
  • If you can include images
  • How to submit images
  • How to submit your author bio
  • If you should include citations
  • What subject line to use

Other sites make things easier by even telling you exactly which topics they want their guest bloggers to cover.

STEP 5: Sending Your Guest Post Pitch

“Okay, Christian! I’ve done my research, can I send my guest post pitches?”

Absolutely, you’re now ready to send some emails!

Here are a few tips to help you land that guest posting opportunity:

1. Personalize Your Email

I clearly mention my name throughout both of my blogs.

So when someone sends me an email that starts off with:

  • Hi
  • Hello there
  • Dear Sir
  • To the owner of domainname.com
  • Dear domainname.com

I don’t pay much attention to it.

If you won’t take the time to click my about page and find my name, I won’t take the time to read your guest post proposal.

Now, if the editor’s name is nowhere to be found on the website, then it’s understandable.

But always try your best to find it, it shows that you care.

Maybe go the extra mile and check their social media pages.

2. Mention a Post You Liked

Briefly mention a post of their’s that you liked and why you did.

This will show them that you’ve done your research and know their content well.

3. Suggest Topics Related to Their Blog

Pitch them 3 related topics based on the research you did earlier.

4. Link to Samples of Your Work

If you’ve been published in other popular sites, make sure to mention it and link to your guest posts.

Only mention them if they’re related to their niche or the topics you plan to write about for their blog.

Don’t bombard them with a bunch of links, 1 or 2 will do the trick.

5. Keep it Short and to the Point

Big bloggers are busy people, so try to not go over 150 words in your email.

6. Use a Catchy Subject Line

Again, you want to stand out from the rest of the bloggers.

Don’t just write “Guest Post Pitch” or “Guest Post Submission” in the subject line without context.

Create some curiosity, be mysterious, make them click.

Here are a few examples of creative subject lines for your guest post pitch:

  • Let’s discuss your new blog post
  • Great content ideas for your blog
  • You haven’t covered this topic, right?
  • I have something special for [Blog name]

Not your style?

Fine… here are some more serious subject lines:

  • Pitch: Best Winter Coats for Penguins
  • Guest Post: How HIIT Cardio Can Kill Muscle Growth

If you’re using a more serious subject line, be sure to give them a sneak peak at what’s inside.

Only use these subject lines if the site you’re guest blogging for doesn’t specify what to write.

Some websites tell you exactly what to write on the subject line so that your guest post pitch doesn’t get filtered somewhere else.

7. Other Ideas

Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ideas.

For example, if you notice that a blogger uses GIFs or memes on their blog posts, maybe add a funny meme in your email.

Guest Post Pitch Templates

Here are some guest post pitch templates you can use.

Just make sure to replace what’s inside the [brackets] with your own name, domain, links, etc.

Guest Post Template #1

Hi [owner or editor’s name]

My name is [what!] and I’m writing because I would love to contribute to [blog name].

You can see samples of my work [here] and [here].

Please do let me know what you think.

Sincerely,
[Slim Shady]

Guest Post Template #2 (no previous work samples)

Hi [owner or editor’s name],

My name is [what!] from [yoursite.com].

I’m writing to you because I have some great content ideas that I believe [blog name]‘s audience will love.

Sincerely,
[Slim Shady]

STEP 6: Follow-Up

Just because someone didn’t reply to you doesn’t mean they hated your pitch.

Like I’ve said before, editors are often busy, so it’s easy to forget sending a reply.

Maybe they hadn’t had their coffee and were kind of grumpy when you sent your pitch.

Maybe today they’re in a better mood, and your follow-up email gets them to approve your guest post.

It’s impossible to know what caused them not to reply so it’s okay to send a follow-up email.

Here are a few follow-up email best practices:

1. Always Include the Original Message in the Follow-Up

They’re not going to go back to their inbox and search for your old message.

Make it easy for them and link to your original pitch.

2. Email Them Early

People are the most productive and happy in the morning after they’ve had their coffee.

So consider emailing them before 11:30 am and try not to email them after 3:00 pm.

At 3:00 pm, most people are tired and desperate to go home.

That clock is slow. Stanley meme

3. Find the Sweet Spot and Be Polite

A follow-up email should be a polite reminder kept between 2-3 lines.

Here’s an example of a short and sweet follow-up:

Hey [editor’s name],

Just dropping in a quick line to remind you about my guest post pitch. Please do let me know what you think of it!

Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Don’t Rush It

Wait at least a week and a half before sending your follow-up email (unless otherwise specified).

If it’s a popular site, you should wait at least 3 weeks.

5. Don’t Follow-Up Too Much

I personally only send one follow-up email, unless I’m pitching to a big website.

If I’m guest blogging for a big website, then I might send a second follow-up email.

If I don’t hear anything after that, I just assume my pitch wasn’t a good fit.

If you keep sending follow-up emails you might frustrate the editor and ruin your chances to guest posting for them in the future.

STEP 7: How to Write a Guest Post

Here are 4 things you must keep in mind when writing your guest post:

1. Don’t Include Advertisements

Don’t include any sales pitches or self-promotion on your guest post.

If your content is great, you’ll get recognition for it.

2. Adopt Their Blog’s Style

You want your guest post to look similar to other posts on their site.

Do they use different headers, bulleted lists, images, and bolded text?

If they do, then you want to do the same when writing your guest post.

3. Include Internal Links to Their Blog

Don’t just include backlinks to your site.

You want to show them that you’re thoughtful and care about their content as well.

Plus, adding internal links to their blog will make it less likely they’ll remove your backlinks.

4. Leave the Readers a Question

Finish your guest post with a question to encourage conversation and increase engagement.

Remember, you must spend some time replying to comments on your guest post.

STEP 8: Sending Your Guest Post

If the website you’re guest posting for has specific submission guidelines, follow them.

If they don’t, you should send them both a plain text format and a text document in WordPress ready HTML format.

Plain Text Format

Simply copy and paste the text of your blog post into a Microsoft Word document or Google Docs.

HTML Format

Here’s how to get the HTML version of your guest post.

  • Format the guest post on WordPress like you would any other post.
  • Click the three vertical dots on the upper right corner of the editor screen.
  • Click on “copy all content.” This will copy all the codes as well.
  • Paste it in a Word document, Google Docs, or a simple .txt file.
Getting the HTML version of your guest post
Getting the HTML version of a post

STEP 9: After You’ve Been Published

Give yourself a pad in the back and celebrate because most guest post pitches don’t even get accepted!

Now, there are 3 more things you must do after you’re done doing your happy dance.

1. Thanking the Guest Post Host

Send a short and sweet “thank you” email to the editor and mention how you’d love to contribute again in the future.

You could also thank them on social media and tag them using their @username.

Thank You Email Template

Hi [owner or editor’s name]

Thank you so much for allowing me to share a post on your site and engage with your audience! I appreciate the opportunity and would love to contribute again in the future.

Sincerely,
[your name]

Social Media Post Example

Hey, @[username]! Thanks for having me on your blog today. [link to blog post]

Thank you for allowing me to share my message with your audience, @[username]. [link to blog post]

2. Check Your Backlinks

Go to your guest post and make sure that they included your backlinks.

Did you forget how to do this?

No worries, just go back to STEP #2 and look where it says “Checking for Dofollow Backlinks.”

3. Reply to Comments

Don’t post and go!

Be a great guest poster and engage with those who leave comments on your blog post.

This will show your host that you care about their audience.

STEP 10: Tracking Your Results

If your goal is to bring engaged traffic to your site, you must track your links to see if guest posting for a website is giving you results.

A way you can track how much traffic a guest post is bringing you is by creating and using UTM parameters.

UTM Parameters Generator
UTM parameters generator

Each backlink in your guest post should have a unique link.

This will allow you to see how much traffic is coming from each specific link.

Here are a few things you can do if a link isn’t generating traffic:

  • Change the placement of the link next time you write a guest post
  • Change your writing style
  • Stop writing guest posts for that specific site

Guest Posting FAQs

1. Can I Buy Backlinks?

I know what you’re thinking.

“Couldn’t I just pay a big blogger for a backlink to my site?”

You could… but I wouldn’t recommend it for a few reasons:

  • It’s against Google’s terms of service (TOS) – paying for backlinks is not considered “natural” by Google and it’s against their rules. If they find out that you’re doing it, they could penalize you and deindex your site from Google.
  • Could hurt your rankings – if a website is selling you links, chances are they’re also selling them to other people. They sell links without checking the quality of the websites they’re linking to. If they sell links to a lot of spammy sites, it could hurt your rankings.

2. Do Guest Bloggers Get Paid?

Most guest bloggers don’t get paid.

The value they get is often engaged traffic to their site and heavy promotion.

However, bigger sites sometimes open paid contributor positions, and if you’re a consistent contributor already, you’ll stand out from the crowd and might land a position.

3. What Happens if My Pitch Isn’t Accepted?

While guest blogging is one of the most successful link building strategies, it doesn’t mean that all of your pitches will get accepted.

On the contrary, most pitches don’t get accepted.

So don’t feel bad if you’re sending pitches and not hearing anything back.

Just keep finding guest blogging opportunities and emailing editors.

Final Thoughts on Guest Blogging

Here’s how to guest post in a nutshell:

  1. Find related sites with DA higher than yours to post on.
  2. Do your best to find the editor’s contact information instead of using a generic “support” or “team” email.
  3. Craft a catchy subject line.
  4. Pitch them 3 topics related to their site.
  5. Link them to 1 or 2 guest posts you’ve written (if you have any).
  6. Keep your email under 150 words.
  7. Wait at least 10 days before sending a follow-up email. If it’s a big site, wait at least 3 weeks.
  8. Unless it’s a popular site, only send 1 follow-up email.
  9. Keep the follow-up email between 2 to 3 lines.
  10. Don’t include sales pitches on your guest post.
  11. Include internal links to their posts.
  12. Include 1 or 2 backlinks to related articles on your site.
  13. Send them plain text and HTML versions of your post.
  14. Send them a thank you email after being published.
Chris

Christian Coulson

Christian is an industrial engineer who's used his knowledge and experience to grow 7Sigma Physiques—his fitness coaching business and blog with thousands of monthly readers.

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