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4 Absurdly Effective Steps to Take Before Asking to Guest Post

by Marian Schembari on February 21, 2011

The past year has made guest posting all the rage. With the launch of Jon Morrow’s last summer, every blog with more than a dozens readers was suddenly inundated with guest posting requests.

It’s no wonder. I guest post around once a month (check out my portfolio here) and when each new post goes up I get around 10-30 new subscribers, as well as a major traffic spike.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to guest post for the amazing Erika of Redhead Writing. I landed forty new subscribers as well as being able to position myself in a new community.

The best way to grow your community is to leave it…

When working on a blog strategy, one of the first things I advise clients is comment on relevant sites. This accomplishes two things:

  1. Gets them reading, thinking about and responding to the “right people.” You’d think this was common sense but it’s unfortunately overlooked.
  2. Puts their name out there, helping them form relationships with the blogger as well as starting conversations with readers. Plus, if they include their URL and full/blog name, they’ll get a few click backs and therefore more traffic to the site.

While it’s more time consuming than commenting, guest posting is like taking those two accomplishments above and putting them on steroids. It’s an amazing way to generate traffic that sticks and lead to new opportunities.

I’ve written a number of guest posts, but the most effective in terms of – shudder – “ROI” was a social media post I scrawled specifically for photographers. Same advice I would have written here, but adding personalization and concrete examples aimed at a brand new audience turned that guest post from generic advice to awesomesaucerockstar and made me a couple hundreds bucks in new projects.

But how do you land these posts? Most of you probably recognize the importance of guest posting, but some of the bigger sites either don’t reply or are quick to reject. By using these simple four steps, I always land the post and make fabulous new blog friends in the process:

Step 1: Find a blog

Guest posting is great because it takes the pressure of the blogger for a day but you have to make sure your ideal site actually accepts guest posts first. I made the mistake once of asking a Hot Shot Blogger to guest post and hadn’t done my research to see that he hadn’t featured one in over a year. However, many major sites feature one guest poster per week and those would be ideal as you have more of a chance of getting in.

Note: Use your judgment on this one. For example, I personally accept guest posts, but only if someone comes to me with a great idea. So if you were to look closely it might seem like I’m not open to contributors. No harm asking anyway, but this first step is something you need to think about before going any further…

Step 2: Sign up and snag first place

The next step is to sign up for that blog’s feed so it’s emailed, not just posted in your reader. You want to know the SECOND they post so you can be one of the first people to retweet and leave a thoughtful comment. Being top of the comment feed means more people are likely to read and respond. Plus, a blogger is always waiting for those first few comments to gauge the reaction.

Over the next few weeks I want you to comment on every post your Top Blog writes. Join their community. Talk to commenters as well as the blogger. This is the KEY step. I never accept guest posts from names I don’t recognize. The writer needs to not only read my blog, but engage with it. Otherwise I think they don’t care.

Step 3: Follow/connect/friend/email

Remember what I said about being nice last week? Do that. Email the blogger to say how much you love them. Retweet their stuff. Make it known that you love what you do and are part of their community. Don’t ask for anything – just be genuinely nice and they will appreciate it. Trust me on this one.

Step 4: Choose a topic and WRITE THE POST

Before contacting these blogs, think of a topic first. There’s nothing worse than an offer to guest post when the guest poster doesn’t have the slightest idea of what to write about. Make sure the site hasn’t written something similar already. Do a search. It should take 5 seconds of your time to confirm the blogger hasn’t, in fact, covered what you want to cover.

Then, write the damn thing. Attach it as a Word file so it’s easy to read and as a text document so they can cut and paste into the blog. If you know the blogger well it’s sometimes okay to just email and ask if they’d be interested in a guest post, but it’s definitely better to show the finished product from the get go. Plus, think about it from their perspective – it’s always better to know exactly what they’re posting straight from the get-go.

And on a final note, do what you’re say you’re going to do. About 50% of people who ask for a guest post here never actually write it. Don’t be that person.

Why Go Through All This Effort?

Because. If the blog is worth writing for (meaning you’re not just doing it as a favor, but they have a large community you can tap) they’ll have A LOT of requests gracing their So not only does your content need to stand out, but they need to know that you appreciate and are part of their community.

Have you started guest posting yet? How do you usually land them?

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