Most people know that guest blogging is a great way to get exposure to your content and grow your audience. Leo Widrich used guest posting to attract an audience for Buffer and grow his company into a multi-million dollar business.
However, if you’ve used guest posting as a strategy to build your audience, you may have noticed that guest posting doesn’t always get you new subscribers, and that sometimes the benefit seems short-lived.
So what can we do to make guest posting a more effective strategy for growing our audience? For starters, here are seven common mistakes to avoid when guest blogging.
1. Not Standing Out
Getting featured on a blog is not enough. To convince a blog’s readers to subscribe to your blog, you need to stand out.
Keep in mind that blogs that accept guest posts often have other guest bloggers. And readers aren’t going to sign up for email updates from all of those other blogs.
To get noticed, you not only need to guest post on popular blogs, but you also need to stand out from the other guest bloggers and regular contributors to that blog. Examine the blog’s content carefully and think about how you can make your content different or better.
Creating content of superior quality can be difficult, but the good news is the people contributing regularly are busy and might have already shared their best ideas. You can stand out by sharing your own unique perspective and putting more time into your articles.
Action Step: Take time to make your blog articles stand out. Add images, supporting data and your own unique insights to differentiate your content from everyone else’s. If those aspects don’t work, try thinking even further outside the box, like including a video message, gifs, or downloadable content like a checklist.
2. Guest posting infrequently
Many marketers are familiar with the concept of branding. The more exposure people have to your name, the more likely they will be to trust and buy from you.
That’s why you need to guest post on your target blogs more than once. People don’t always start reading or subscribe to your blog right away.
When people start seeing your name repeatedly, they’ll start to become more familiar with your name and your content. If they consistently like what they see, then they’ll become your loyal readers.
So in a nutshell, guest posting multiple times will often get you better results than just guest posting once.
For example, Buffer got their first 100,000 customers from guest posting. Leo Widrich wrote 150 guest posts in 9 months. He also mentioned that his first few guest posts hardly sent any traffic, but it gradually improves.
Neil Patel published at least 17 guest posts on Search Engine Journal. He mentioned that the traffic from a single post isn’t that much, but it accumulates when you write a lot of guest posts.
Action step: Set a guest blogging schedule or goal, and publish regularly on sites that have a strong audience.
3. Targeting only top tier blogs or the wrong blogs
Many bloggers will target the top blogs in their niche when guest posting. This approach makes sense because those blogs will often get you the most exposure to your target audience.
However, sometimes you can get more leverage by targeting lesser known blogs that still have a significant audience. Top bloggers don’t usually guest post as often on second tier blogs, so it’s usually easier to get featured and create content that impresses the readers.
Similarly, you can target blogs that have a related audience, but aren’t as niche specific. For example, if you write about online marketing, you can write an article about online marketing on a business blog rather than an SEO blog.
I’ve used these approaches myself to grow my own audience and I usually get more subscribers from business blogs than other digital marketing blogs. The audiences from those business blogs aren’t used to seeing high-level digital marketing content, so it’s easier to get noticed and perceived as an expert.
You should still try to write for top tier blogs for credibility and exposure, but also look around for less obvious opportunities.
Action step: Try publishing on less known blogs and other blogs outside your niche that have broader audiences and monitor the results. Use tools like BuzzStream Discovery to find blogs that could be a good fit based on Domain Authority, category and other filters.
4. Not Selling Yourself
I’ve seen several people guest post on popular blogs and do a good job on their article. However, they fail to promote themselves.
Keep in mind when guest posting that the goal is to get the reader to subscribe to your blog or visit your website.
Your guest posts should be different than articles on your own blog in a couple of ways:
- Include more numbers, details, images or any other information to boost your credibility. Remember that the audience from the guest blog isn’t as familiar with your accomplishments as your own audience.
- Be sure you have a call to action and even an incentive for people to subscribe to your blog.
- If you are expecting a lot of traffic from a guest post, consider creating an opt-in bonus on your own blog specifically related to that blog post.
For example, I wrote a post about content syndication on the AHrefs blog and I knew they were going to spend money on Facebook ads to promote it. So I created a relevant PDF called 10 Places to Syndicate Your Content for Massive Exposure and sent readers to a landing page to capture leads:
Sometimes it helps to think of your guest article as a long form squeeze page with the goal of getting new subscribers. Add a lot of value in your article, but don’t forget to encourage people to visit your site afterwards.
Action step: Include a call to action at the end of your article for readers to visit your site and subscribe to your newsletter. Think about further incentivizing readers with a special discount or coupon specific to your post.
5. Not Promoting Your Guest Post
One of the best benefits of guest posting is getting exposure to someone else’s audience. However, just because you are getting a lot of exposure doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put in the effort to promote your own article.
Promoting your article can drive even more traffic, social shares and links to it, which will help your own blog as well. Plus if the host blogger sees that your article is popular, they may do more to reference it in future blog posts, or offer you more guest posting opportunities.
Before your guest post goes live, decide on how you will promote the post. Be prepared to execute your promotion plan on launch day.
Action step: Come up with a plan to promote your guest posts after they get published. For example, your plan may include sharing it on social media and linking to it from your own blog.
6. Not Examining Similar Guest Posts on the Target Blog
Before you pitch a guest post, be sure to read other guest posts on the target blog and look for similar content. Examining other posts that have done well can give you clues about what topics are popular with that blog’s audience.
Examining the content on the blog will also allow you to see what topics have already been covered. You should try to come up with a unique topic, angle or perspective that hasn’t been tried before.
Analyzing another blog’s content does take some time, but it’s a good step to take if you want to increase the chances of success for your guest post.
For example, before submitting this article for the BuzzStream blog, I made a few observations about other guest posts and articles that were already published.
- Many articles are formatted as list posts or posts with several sub-headings
- Most articles include images or videos
- Authors often referenced other third party data or resources to back up their claims
A quick search for “guest blogging site:buzzstream.com” on Google also showed me that people have written about the topic before and also that the specific angle of this article hadn’t already been covered.
Action step: Analyze the content of your target blog. Read the blog’s about page to learn about that blog’s audience and take a look at some of their most popular articles and figure out why those articles did well. Find a topic that is relevant to that blog’s audience, but approach it with a different angle.
7. Not optimizing your guest article for search and social
Experienced bloggers will often optimize articles on their own blog for search and social media so that they get shared more and get more search engine traffic over time. However, when guest posting, a lot of bloggers forget to take SEO and social media into consideration.
Doing a little keyword research and including keywords in your article can help your article get traffic from search engines long after your post has been published. Plus, if you are publishing on a popular blog that has a large audience, those readers may share and link to the article as well.
For example, when I search for “blogger outreach” on Google, Brian Dean’s guest post on Smart Blogger shows up. Asides from getting exposure to Smart Blogger’s audience, Google also sends ongoing traffic to his article:
When I search for “expert roundup”, my guest post on Smart Blogger also shows up on Google.
Tapping into Smart Blogger’s established audience and domain authority make it easier to get ongoing exposure for my brand. Even though the article was written a couple of years ago, it still gets shared even today.
Also, take some time to brainstorm article titles that people will be tempted to read it and share it on social media. Write down five different article titles and pick the best one for your article.
Use social media scheduling tools to share your guest post on your social media channels over the next few weeks.
Action step: If possible, optimize your guest post for search engines and social media. Taking a little time to do so could result in a guest post that sends you traffic long after it’s been published.
To sum it up
If you’ve tried guest posting and are still struggling to get good results, remember to deliberately check for all of the above. Take the time to make your content stand out, use blog promotion and social media tools to promote the post and publish consistently to make guest blogging work for you.