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Guest Posting 101: Penning the Perfect Post

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Yesterday, I talked a little bit about why you should guest post in Guest Posting 101: An Introduction, but today, I wanted to get into the real meat of this series, starting with some information about penning the perfect guest post. I’ve actually written hundreds of guest posts (on behalf of myself and on behalf of clients) with varying degrees of success. Let’s look at what works…and what does not.

Post Content – Writing for Another Blog

The best guest posts are a fusion of styles. It is extremely important to remain true to yourself and your blogging style when you write a guest post, because you don’t want the reader to be shocked by something completely different when clicking through to your site. At the same time, the post has to work for the blog where you’re posting. Those readers won’t respond well to something completely strange and different (and you’ll have a hard time getting the blogger to agree to posting it).

When it comes to post content, here’s what you should consider:

  • Relevance:

Is the post you’re writing going to be relevant to the reader of the blog where you’re posting it? You want to show off your expertise, but if you write about parenting on a tech blog, you’re not going to be relevant for a large percentage of readers. Beware of mish-mosh blogs that except guest posts on any topic and don’t have a closely defined niche. You can get some SEO juice by posting on these sites, but unless they have a huge readership, you probably aren’t going to be relevant to 99% of the people who randomly land on the site.

  • Meet Expectations:

When readers visit a blog, they have certain expectations. If you want to write a successful guest post, you have to meet those expectations. We already talked about being relevant to the reader, but even if you do find a tie-in, the post might not be a good fit. Let’s go back to our parenting and tech examples. As a parenting blogger, you could absolutely write a post about the top ten video games for kids, which makes it relevant for a tech blog (if they cover video game news), but are you meeting the expectations of readers? If the blog never covers kid-friendly material, readers are probably not coming to that blog for that kind of advice, even if they are parents. I’m not saying that it won’t work at all…but proceed with caution. Make sure that when you surprise readers with content they don’t expect, it’s a delight, not a turn-off.

  • Quality

It might not be posted on your blog, but it will be posted with your name on it. It goes without saying that it should be high-quality. If you spent 10 minutes throwing together a guest post, it will show, and that only hurts your brand even if you can find a blogger willing to post it. Keep the quality as high as you would on your own blog.

Establishing Authority

One of the biggest mistakes that I see with guest posts is that the writer doesn’t establish authority. Being a friend of someone with authority is not enough!

Let me explain – this goes back to one of the points I made above: expectation. When a reader visits a blog, he or she doe so because the blogger is an authority in the niche (and also, in the best cases, entertaining or inspiring). No matter how entertaining or inspiring you might be, if you don’t establish the fact that you’re an authority too, they’ll likely just skim your guest post. What gives you the right to move from blog reader to guest poster? They’ve been reading the same blog as you – why are you rising above their knowledge to post something on their beloved site?

Show a little proof. Do you run an extremely popular blog in a related niche? Give us some numbers. Are you talking about making money? Don’t just give us vague figures – give us dollar amounts. Explain to us, either in your bio or in the post itself, why we should listen to you.

Free Milk

You want your guest post to be awesome…but you also don’t want to face the free milk problem.

You’ve heard of the saying, “why buy the cow when the milk is free” haven’t you? They usually aren’t talking about blogging, but it can be applied here. If your guest post is the ultimate resource on a topic, the readers might not really have a reason to actually click through to your blog. Give them that reason! At the end, tease the reader a little, telling them about some of the other awesome content they can find if they decide to visit you.

A word of caution – make sure that you site can back up your guest post. If you’re going to give others amazing posts that people love, your own site better be filled with amazing posts as well. It’s always disappointing for me when I click through to someone’s main site and it’s a lot of throw-away crap that doesn’t live up to the guest posts.

So, that’s what I got for penning the perfect post – what about you? If you’re a frequent guest poster, give us some of your best tips for writing a great guest post. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about linking within your posts in the best way possible!

Here are all the links in this series:

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


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