Alright! So you’ve made it to the fourth article in our Guest Blogging Series! We’ve covered a the merits of guest blogging, discussed how to find high quality websites to submit to, and how to structure an engaging pitch to increase your odds of approval. If you’ve missed our earlier posts, go back and check them out now! At this point, you’re ready to actually create the article. We’re going to assume that our readers have a general method to their writing process that includes outlining and research, so we’ll only cover those topics briefly. Instead, we’ll focus primarily on what specific things that guest blog sites look for and are designed to increase your reader engagement and audience conversion.
The Principals of a Guest Blog Post
By now, you should already have a list of websites that you want to target as well as some article topics and catchy headlines for each one. If you don’t, try re-visiting our previous articles. Otherwise, it’s time to write a great article. The first step is to know the guidelines of the site that you’re targeting. In a lot of cases, they’ll list these on their website, or provide them to you in an email once you’ve been accepted as a contributor. If these things aren’t provided, then you’ll want to do a little research on each of the sites that your’e targeting. Look at some of their existing guest blog posts – take note of the length and general formatting of their posts. Consider the following key aspects:
- What is the average article length (tip: copy and paste the article text into MS Word and do a Word Count to get a better idea)
- Are there stock photos within the articles, or custom pictures that are tailored to the content?
- How many photos are on the page?
- Do the articles typically include infographics, screenshots or other statistics that support the claims being made?
- Are there any other consistencies between the various articles, and if so what are they?
By doing this, you’ll gain an implicit understanding of the guidelines and typical best practices. Make sure to frame your article in the same way. If there are custom graphics included but you’re not graphic-savvy, consider an economical graphic design service such as what can be found at www.fiverr.com or a freelancer from www.upwork.com.
The main goal of any kind of good content, whether on your own website or a guest blog site, is to create value for your reader. Quality content that solves a problem should be your main objective. To get the juices flowing, describe the problem that you’re solving, then outline some topics that you will discuss that help the reader solve the problem on their own.
Lastly: edit, edit, edit! This may be a requirement in order to get posted – diligent site administrators will read your content and request certain changes. Others may just reject your content, so you should edit preemptively in any case. Read the content for clarity and cut the fluff. If you have been rejected and aren’t sure why – reach out to the moderator and ask for feedback.
Dos and Don’ts
When it comes to creating the article itself, it is probably easier to cover the things NOT to include first. The main thing to remember is that it is not an advertisement and therefore should not be full of sales language. It should also not be a blatant attempt to keyword or backlink stuff. As we have stated many times, your main goal with all content should be to solve a problem for your readers. If you can do that, then you will create value for them and they will want more. This means that the sales and SEO return that you’re seeking will occur naturally as they engage with your content, share it with friends, and look for more.
As you’re writing, you will want to include some editorial references to related content. That is, they should support the content or a point that you’re making. Remember to not over do it. We would only recommend one or two links to your external content within the article. We also recommend including a couple of links to other content that is hosted on the guest blog website that you’re writing for. The last part is key, as it will demonstrate to the person that is approving your article that you’ve done your research on the type of content that their site typically promotes and that your article will create value for the readers on their own website.
We also recommend creating an outline as one of the first steps in your writing process. The overall structure of your content outline should be pretty straight forward and consist of three main parts – the introduction, the content, and a conclusion. A good rule of thumb is to follow these guides:
- Introduction – Summarize what you’re about to tell them and why it matters.
- Content – Provide an in depth explanation of the steps and various aspects in order to reach the stated goal.
- Conclusion – Recap what you’ve told them and why its important. Also summarize any final takeaways or action items.
The content section will be the most in depth, and you should include multiple headings and subtopics within each one in order to walk people through the topic that you’re describing. A good way to do this is to consider what you’re writing about in terms of a ‘system’. That is, some steps that readers can follow in order to achieve the goal that you’ve laid out for them. When creating this, try to break up the content with screenshots, statistics, infographics, or videos that help the reader stay engaged. Remember, look at the other articles on the guest blog site that you’re targeting to see what others are doing and how heavily they rely on rich content as a benchmark to aim for in your own article.
With every activity you take in your business, you always need to be mindful of your return on investment. That means maximizing what you get back when comparing it to what you put in. In the case of blogging, you don’t want to spend hours or days creating a single blog post, unless you feel that your return will be worth it. A good rule of thumb that we covered in an earlier article is to set a 3 hour maximum:
- 1 hour – Research your idea or target site to find supporting content and facts.
- 1 hour – Creating your content outline and writing the article itself.
- 1 hour – Editing and revising. Allow time to do this yourself as well as to make edits provided by the moderator.
This is not the end-all be-all, but it is a good place to start. If you can reduce the time per article, then that is even better. We also recommend making a note about how long you actually spent on each article. Then, after your article is posted, monitor your analytics and check the amount of traffic you get from the guest blog site that is hosting it. Measure it for a specific amount of time and be consistent with that time measurement as you write more articles. As you write more articles, you’ll be able to see which ones garnered more clicks and website visits than others. Review these articles to see what may have worked on them. Another good practice is to read the comments that people are leaving to see what they’re talking about. This will help you hone your message and give you better perspective in terms of what your audience is interested in and can help you increase your ROI over time.
At this point, you should submit your article for review. Hopefully, in following these guidelines, you will have created something of value to readers and the moderator will have no choice but to accept your submission! If the content is truly good, you should start receiving some benefits in terms of additional traffic to your website and readers sharing your information. This is great, but how can you convert them into an audience of your own?
In the next and final article in our Guest Blogging Series, we’ll discuss how to grow your own audience by capitalizing on the referrals that you receive from your guest blog post. Click below to continue learning how to grow your traffic with guest blogging.