If you’ve read my last article about guest blogging, you already know the basics of guest blogging and the ever-important what-not-to-do’s. Once you’ve established a firm foundation in the art of guest blogging, you can proceed on to learning the keys for long-term success.

Don’t be fooled by anyone who says guest blogging is an easy task. It’s often not the right inbound marketing tactic for everyone. However, if you lay a solid foundation and devote the necessary time and effort into it, you will start to see success.

Determine Your Goal

Once you’ve scouted out some blogs that accept guest posts, you might make the hasty decision to just send that pitch email in a storm of excited anticipation. However, I’m here to tell you to slow your roll, take a deep breath, and make some serious strategic decisions (which will also save you precious time in the long run).

First, you need to determine your goal. Write it down. Then write it down again. Write it down every single day if you have to. Is your goal to get traffic? Then write down something along the lines of, “I will get 5,000 new visitors a month.” Place it somewhere you’ll see every day. I like to write these types of goals on a post-it note and hang it off my desktop monitor.

Some goals you may have for guest blogging include:

  • Positioning yourself as an authority
  • Building traffic and gaining exposure
  • Building SEO backlinks

Just like for any sort of blogging strategy, guest blogging can be a loose cannon without a clearly defined goal. This will guide you as you move toward the next steps of your strategy.

Picking the Right Blog Host

Like I said in my last article, picking the right blog host is crucial. You can pick them based on their niche in the market, based on their relation to your target audience, or based on the level of engagement their readers have. You might know the saying, “You wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.” Similarly with your guest blogging strategy, don’t stoop too low just to get your content published. Find the right blogging mediums and build your relationship with the decision makers the right way.

Making the Right First Impression

Building that vital connection with the person who decides whether or not your blog content can be posted on their site can take some finagling. There’s a lot of talk about “the game” in the world of sales. To be a competitive marketer, you need to play the game equally as competitively to bring your content a notch above the rest. Or many several notches. That’s up to you to decide.

Here are some tips to help you make the perfect first impression.

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel

Consider which posts do well on the host site. You can use some free SEO tools (like this one) to see which blog articles have been the most successful in the past. If the site you’re trying to woo only posts long-form prose, don’t send them a pitch for a 500-word listicle. In addition, familiarize yourself with their house style. Are they pro-Oxford comma? Do they appeal to a specific expert audience? Do they use a lot of jargon? Considering these factors should greatly influence your approach to the host site.

2. It’s not all about the pitch

Many people place a lot of emphasis on the pitch itself. However, the truth of the matter is that you can spend as much time as you want on a pitch, but it probably won’t even be opened. There’s a big ‘unless’ here, though. Setting yourself apart can be accomplished by engaging with the blog owners and regular contributors. Comment on their blog posts. Ask hard-hitting questions that show you spent the time to read and understand their content. Quote tweet their content and tag the host site owners. Add some value on your name. That’ll bring you from the murky depths of cold pitching into warm or even hot pitching once you’re finally ready to send your blog pitch.

3. Best practices

Once you’ve gotten yourself noticed, read the guidelines for pitching and then read them again. If there aren’t any guidelines, try to emulate similar guidelines found on comparable websites. Be a braggart. Tell them why you’re the best person to write about this topic. Throw away your templates. Following a template might save you a few minutes, but it is almost always easy to spot a mile away, making it feel less personal and aloof. Finish it up with how this would benefit them. After all, they’re running a business here, so it only makes sense to tell them what they can gain by letting you post to their site.

Next steps

After you start developing your guest blogging pipeline and get into the swing of things, you might feel like your time is better spent churning out high-quality, long-form guest content than continuously building upon your long-term success.

While the former might work for some people, your time is better spent investing into the latter. Here are some additional tips to get a leg up on the competition.

1. Write follow up content on your own website

Making sure you have a well-established company or personal blog that can publish follow-up content directly related to your guest posts is crucial. Your incoming traffic may be curious to get to know your content and services better, so publishing content that directly relates to what they’ve already read from you will encourage a better customer-company relationship.

2. Respond to blog comments and social media shares

Keep an eye on your post once it’s published. Responding to guest comments will build your presence and make you and your company seem more personable. You can also search on social media for shares of your post. A simple retweet or thank you comment can make a difference.

3. Personally thank the website that hosted your blog

In the era of technology, sending a handwritten thank-you note can set you above and beyond everyone else. If a handwritten note isn’t possible, sending a follow-up email with your thanks to the website who hosted your post may make them more likely to publish you in the future.

4. Keep writing

Keep up any momentum gained from a viral guest post. See how many guest posts you can write in a week. Start with one a day, every day, then move up to two, three, or four, until you’re suddenly writing twenty or more posts a month. Gain content ideas from others who are successful and spin it in a way that will make your post memorable. And don’t give up, as stereotypical as that sounds.

With the above tips in mind, you will be well on your way to sustained guest blogging success.