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Contributing as Guest Author: 5 Tips To Make It Work For You

Dedicating a lot of time to writing for free may seem counter-productive, but guest posting can be very beneficial for authors. After Steve Gillman, author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money, wrote an article for the Huffington Post, he made $800 in Adsense revenue in only 3 days. His site got over 20,000 more views than normal in that time period - and his article didn't even go viral.

Guest posting has a lot of other benefits, besides driving more traffic to your site. It builds your authority as an author, it can help your site rank better and it increases the reach of your content. If you do it right, guest posting can get you more invites for interviews, more reviews and better book sales.

Here are your 5 most important tips on how to make guest posting work for you:

1. Find the right website/blog

It is easy to find sites that accept guest posts. Do a Google search for keywords like "guest post by", "writers wanted" or "write for us" and you will have plenty of options. But not all sites were created equal and contributing to the wrong one can be a royal waste of time. For the best impact, you want the ones with the greatest reach in your niche and with the most dedicated fans. The one reason why the Huffington Post made such a huge impact on Steve Gillman's site is because the Huffington Post gets over 80 million unique global visitors per month. If only a fraction of the Huffington Post’s readers go to his site, it would already be a great boost to your traffic.

Google is still your friend, so expanding your search with keywords from your niche would give you a couple of sites that rank highly. But you still need to check whether the site is a good match for you:

  • Use tools like SEMrush and Moz to see the website’s rankings. If the site doesn’t get enough traffic, it may not be worth your while. Read our article How to Gauge a Website’s Traffic and Influence if you are not quite sure what to look for.

  • Go to individual posts and have a look at the number of social shares. The more the posts get shared, the further your reach.

  • Look at the comments and see how the readers respond to the posts. The more interaction, the better, as their friends will come to see what all the fuss is about.

  • Read some of the articles and see if the quality of the writing is up to par - you don't want your guest posts to damage your online reputation.

  • Most importantly, see if the site includes author bios, with links to the author's social media profiles and blog, because this is where you will get your exposure.

2. Find the perfect topic

Once you have identified a site you want to contribute to, have an in-depth look at the type of content it publishes. Looking at what type of posts get the most shares on the site will give you an indication of what the audience is interested in. Studying the content should also give you an idea of what knowledge level the readers are on - don't try to write anything that is too basic for an advanced audience or the other way around.

See if there are any popular articles that are outdated and whether you can come up with a new angle on any of them. Look at what other guest posters wrote to give you an idea of the type of content the site owner is interested in. Once you are happy to have found the perfect topic that also ties in with your genre, find two more to include in your pitch.

3. Make a strong pitch

Not all websites are easy to pitch to right off the bat, especially if you are looking at a site as popular as the Huffington Post. For large sites like these, you may have to build relationships first: comment consistently on the site's social media pages, connect with other bloggers and editors that work for the site and ask for guidance.

With a strong pitch you can however get very far, even with some large sites. Many sites will welcome good content, especially if you have a good topic that will resonate with their readers. The secret to a good pitch is to be authentic. After doing so much research about the website, you should be able to write about it in very specific terms. Be sure to include writing samples that are similar to the type of content you think they may be looking for. Suggest two or three topics you can write about and elaborate a bit on what you had in mind for each. Run through your pitch and sample articles several times and use a grammar checker such as Grammarly to eliminate any typos, spelling or grammar mistakes. Here's an example of what a good pitch would look like.

Hi First Name

I keep going back to site because I love your posts on name a certain topic. Your quirky take on name topic has really been a great inspiration to me and has helped me to look at my own writing in a different way. Thanks so much!

I would love to contribute a guest post that would be both fun and useful to your audience. Talk about the site's editorial focus and why you think your contributions would be a good fit.

If you are interested, I have three possible titles in mind:

* Title name
(One or two sentences on what the article would be about)

* Title name
(One or two sentences on what the article would be about)

* Title name
(One or two sentences on what the article would be about)

Hoping to hear from you soon!

Your name

4. Promote yourself

  • Write the best article of your career - The best way to really get the interest of the readers of your host is to write a really fascinating article. Make it your best work to maximise the amount of likes, comments and shares you get on it. A good article will promote itself and its author. Be as helpful to the reader as possible and include infographics and images to make the article more visually appealing.

  • Only include valuable backlinks - You need to be careful with creating backlinks to your site from your guest posts. Not only is it frowned upon by some website owners, it can also have a negative effect if done incorrectly as Google penalizes sites with spammy backlinks. Only include backlinks if they are very relevant to the content and if they help the readers.

  • Write a bio people will care about - To promote yourself, create a very enticing author bio. Don't go for the boring "Sue is the author of 100 Ways To Feed a Cat and the proud owner of" Give them a personal titbit that shows your human side and then give them a reason to want to click the link to your site. Let them know about a certain awesome post, a free download or any other benefit they would get from visiting your site.

  • Promote your guest post through your own website and social media channels. Be sure to also tag or tweet @ the site or author that featured you to yet again grab the attention of their followers. Being featured just adds to your image and will raise more awareness to your expertise as author. After doing a couple of guest posts, you can even create a showcase on your own website with links to your guest posts and logos of the sites you were featured on.

  • Respond in the comment section - participating in the comments on your post not only shows the site owner that you are actively helping conversation develop on the site, but also drives more traffic to your own site and social media. When you respond to comments, people will start noticing.

  • Do it all over again - If you are happy with the relationship you have built with a certain site through your first article and you had good results (see tip 5), consider becoming a recurring author. When readers of the site see your posts pop up multiple times, they will start to really trust your writing and want to know more about you. This will eventually drive traffic to your site along with more book sales.

5. Analyse the results

Check Google Analytics frequently to determine where your traffic comes from and which guest posts are really driving traffic to your site. This data can eventually help you to figure out which sites are most worth your time and effort. Use analytics goals to see how the traffic from different sources performs on your site. Look at whether or not visitors coming in via your articles are taking desired actions such as signing up to your newsletter, downloading samples of your books or clicking through to Amazon. Stay tuned to our newsletter for detailed instructions on how you can use Google Analytics to track performance and make better informed decisions.

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