If you type “guest blogging” into Google, you will see plenty of articles discussing the SEO and increased traffic marketing benefits of being a guest contributor to other blogs and outlets.
While these are valid points, the PR benefits of guest blogging are usually just afterthoughts for most people and organizations. Yet, securing guest articles in high-quality outlets positions you and/or your company as an authoritative figure who understands the trends and pain points of your industry, peers, and potential customers, and can provide expertise about how to solve those problems. It builds your credibility and establishes you as a thought leader in your industry.
For growth companies, finding guest article opportunities can be tough and time-intensive to do successfully. How do you find outlets that accept guest posts, identify relevant topics to write about, and ensure your post is successful? Here are three ways you can get started.
1. Find relevant outlets looking for guest bloggers
To find relevant blogs and publishers, search for your industry area keyword plus “write for us” or “contribute.” For example, if you’re looking for top procurement media, you could search for “procurement + write for us.” As Google ranks websites based on their domain authorities, the top results will most likely be the most influential publications.
When you see the results on search engines, they will also often contain their style guides and editorial policies. Pay close attention to these and always tailor your posts to them as much as you can. Additionally, many industry press outlets have editorial calendars where you can see their plans for features and articles, as well as the deadline for submissions. Usually, these are 2-3 months in advance of the publication date.
If you know your competitors are prolific guest bloggers and you want to also capture some market voice, run a backlink check using an SEO tool to identify which blogs they’re writing for and target those.
2. Content is king – identify interesting topics and themes
Guest blogging is a win-win for you and the blog or outlet you are writing for. For the host blog or outlet, they get a free piece of high-quality, issue-led content that provides important expertise for the only people they care about: their readers.
For you, your content, name, company, and backlinks are presented to a new audience thirsty for knowledge. In the long run, you are considered a credible thought leader when people turn to you for insights and expertise.
Importantly, most outlets and publishers are looking for vendor-free content. This means that the article you write can’t contain self-promotional material about your products or services. If you would like to have featured content about your products or services, then these generally have to be sponsored posts. However, the power of PR lies in its credibility – paying to plug your own company isn’t credible and probably doesn’t speak to your intended readers as much.
How do you find relevant topics to write about?
You’re working with a team full of professionals who know their industry inside out. Use them. Talking to a range of people from different business units will help you to fully understand the landscape of topics you can talk about. A good way to get started is to think about your topics on three different levels: industry, customers, and employees.
Industry-level topics shape the conversation in your industry today. Your position on each is vitally important, as your approach to tackling these issues provides a new way of thinking about – and overcoming – the challenges people face. If new regulations are coming in that are going to shake up your industry, think about topics that will give readers the knowledge they need to navigate these new changes. If you’ve identified an industry trend from your company’s master data that shows urban mobility is causing pollution problems, for example, talk about it and its impact.
The intricacies of your customers’ businesses often throw up discussions that greatly affect the way they do work. Your customer-facing teams, such as sales, will know topics that impact your customers’ lives to the greatest degree.
As employees, you know the challenges and topics that are most commonly discussed as part of your job role. To find out about job roles in other business units, speak to HR and explore what needs are being unfulfilled with top talent and why people should come and work for you.
Finally, read through your target blogs and media outlets – see what’s already been written there and identify topics that are missing or areas where you can improve the commentary.
Usually, outlets request that content is original and exclusive to their outlet – most places use duplicate content checkers on the web, and if they find that it’s been published elsewhere, they won’t publish it. Some blogs have a reciprocal policy, meaning that you can publish the content on your own blog as long as you use canonical tags that point to the ‘original’ on the outlet’s site.
3. Write an irresistible pitch email
Pitching is hard. With the upsurge of companies performing their own PR and marketing activities over the last decade, journalists and media publishers are inundated with emails – most of which are usually pretty rubbish. This means that you have a lot of competition and because journalists are humans like the rest of us, they only have so much time; to stand out, you need to write a killer pitch that makes it impossible for them to ignore you.
Contents of a good guest blog pitch:
- Personalized introduction
- Who you are and why you’re a good resource for that specific outlet’s audience – include links to previous guest posts for credibility
- Your proposed idea(s)
- Short abstract or points you plan to include in the post
- A question to compel the editor to write back
Write once, check twice. If your pitch contains lots of spelling and grammar mistakes, publishers are likely to reject your pitch – even if your post would have uncovered industry-changing insights. If you have mistakes in your pitch, it’s easy to assume that your guest post would also contain mistakes and create extra work for the publisher. Having a colleague read through your work for 10 minutes could be the difference between success and failure. Additionally, keep it short and sweet – trim any unnecessary fat and delve straight in – your email has 20 seconds to capture the editor’s interest.
If the editor accepts your pitch, it’s time to get writing! If you get rejected, take a minute to identify why and move on to the next publisher.
Here to help
Guest blogging is a great way to improve your company’s SEO, but more importantly, it’s a long-term PR strategy to establish authority and credibility, so writing one article for one publication isn’t enough. Also, just winging the process without a strategy will almost certainly lead to failure.
We work closely with our clients to understand their company, industry, and challenges to help them dig out topics and trends where they can contribute their expertise and become thought leaders. We then help them write high-quality content that speaks to their audiences.
Click below to find out more about how we can help your company with its PR strategy and execution.
The writer is San Francisco Agency’s Senior Communications Specialist Tim Gilbert, or like some of us like to call him, Timbonator. After retiring from his acting career, he has excelled in international PR pitching and writing top-notch technological articles and blogs.