What if I told you (at the risk of sounding like the intro to an ESPN 30 For 30) that there was a way that you could get more out of the time you spend writing, reach new people every day and increase your exposure as an author or expert in your field?
Well, there is. It’s called guest posting.
Guest posting (also called guest blogging) is when you write content that appears on other websites and blogs while still getting author credit.
When done right, guest posting opportunities can help you:
- Improve your search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Increase organic traffic to your website
- Expand your audience and sphere of influence
- Enhance your brand as a writer
- Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field
That’s right. You could get all of those benefits by simply doing what you’ve already been doing: writing (plus a few other simple steps).
Sounds too good to be true, I know, but I can tell you from first-hand experience guest posting for Pearl Lemon that it’s more than true.
And I’ll prove it by explaining to you exactly how to write guest posts.
In this ultimate guide, I will show you how to increase your organic traffic, expand your brand and establish yourself as an expert through guest posting.
Then, I will walk you through step by step on how to find, pitch and land guest posting opportunities on high-quality websites, before giving you actionable writing tips on how to write a killer guest post.
And if that wasn’t enough, I’ll share throughout my experiences on writing guest posts for high-quality sites, which include:
How Exactly Do Guest Posts Benefit You?
If you already know understand the benefits of guest posting and feel like skipping down into the more technical step by step portion of this guide, you can jump down by clicking here.
Go ahead. I won’t be offended.
If you’ve decided to stick around, however, then great! Let’s dive in.
There are several ways in which writing guest posts can benefit you, your brand, your business and/or your website.
Some benefits are tangible, like the acquisition of backlinks (more on backlinks later) and getting more visitors to your site.
Other benefits will be harder to measure directly at first, such as brand exposure, establishing your authority and demonstrating expertise.
But, if you’re patient and consistent with your guest posts, they will lead to more measurable metrics of success like an increase in:
- Professional and mutually beneficial relationships
- Business opportunities
Guest Posting Improves Your SEO
When you write a guest post, you are typically allowed to include 1-3 backlinks in your submitted content.
A backlink is a link embedded in text that, when clicked on, sends a user to a different domain. It can also be called an external link because the link sends the user to an external page.
For example, this is a backlink, because it sends you to Pearl Lemon Leads, which is a different domain than Pearl Lemon SEO.
So, when you write a guest post, you will be able to include at least one backlink that sends readers to a page on your site.
Backlinks are essentially the currency of guest posting, and they are super valuable for two reasons:
- Backlinks boost your organic traffic
- Backlinks improve your SERP ranking
How Guest Posts Boost Your Organic Traffic
By getting a backlink on a new site, you are creating a new avenue for people to land on your website or desired page.
Someone who discovers and reads your guest post can now find themselves heading directly to your site with the click of a button, which means your organic traffic (the number of people landing on a website through unpaid means) will increase. And as a by-product of this, your website will show up higher on Google.
But why is this so different than if you posted the blog on your site? Can’t you just put a link there leading to your main site homepage?
Well, the difference is that the person who arrived on your site through your guest post is a person who likely wouldn’t have landed on your site without your guest post.
Think about how they got to the guest post in the first place. They likely weren’t Googling your name, and they definitely wouldn’t have been looking for your website directly. Otherwise, they would be there and not on the guest post.
No, they either arrived at your guest post because either:
- They are a regular visitor of the site your guest post is on and found your blog by exploring the site
- The site or your guest post showed up in a Google search
A guest post then is not just attracting organic traffic to your site, but it’s traffic you would not normally receive.
The best part about this traffic is that those arriving at your site are in your target market – assuming you contribute to blogs that are within your field – meaning they are more likely to convert into leads and customers.
How Backlinks In Guest Posts Improve SERP Ranking
Getting a backlink to your site will improve your Search Engine Result Page (SERP) ranking directly, regardless if people click on the backlink.
This means that your website will show up higher on Google which will naturally lead to more visitors, as according to Backlinko, the first result on Google has a click-through rate of 31.7%, and only .78% of Google users click on something on the second page.
The reason this will occur is that backlinks are considered a “vote of confidence” in the SEO world.
When a website includes a backlink in a piece of content, they are putting their reputation on the line too. If the backlink sends a user to a low-quality site, it reflects poorly on the original site, potentially costing them users.
Backlinks, therefore, aren’t given out lightly, and by including a backlink, a website is essentially saying that “this other website is so good and useful, that I am willing to send my visitors to it.”
Google and other search engines understand this, and it is factored into their algorithm, so that the more backlinks that send users to your site, the higher it will rank.
Backlinks are actually one of the most significant factors in improving your SEO, making writing guest posts worth it for the backlink alone, as they are not easy to get.
Keep in mind, though, that the quality of a backlink matters in a website’s ranking as well.
What I mean by a quality backlink is a backlink that appears on a well-known and trusted website with high organic traffic.
Search engines added this as a factor to prevent people from creating sites specifically for backlinking that provide no value to its users.
Because of this, you’re better off focusing on acquiring a few backlinks from high-quality sites than going after tons of backlinks from sites with low traffic.
Later, this guide will show you exactly how to find sites that are worth your guest posting efforts.
Guest Posts Help Establish You As An Expert/Thought Leader
Appearing on a high-quality website as a contributor will implant the idea in people’s minds that you are an expert in your field.
I mean you have to be, otherwise, the website wouldn’t have accepted your work.
And your position of expertise will only get amplified the more guest posts you write.
How many times have you thought “man, this person is everywhere!” and assumed they were great at what they do?
Like that actor/actress in seemingly every movie trailer or the author whose name appears on all of the book covers in a store display case?
It’s the same with guest posting.
The more you get your name out there, the more your online authority will grow, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Of course, the quality of the website and your work has to be there as well.
Writing for websites no one visits is simply a waste of time because the idea is you want people reading your stuff.
And offering up low caliber content won’t help either. In fact, it can actually hurt you, as users may begin to tag you as the person who writes useless content, and Google may penalise you for it (more on this later).
But if you go about guest posting in the right way, you could find yourself as a leader and influencer in your industry, increasing people’s trust in you and what you have to offer while also leading to more customers down the road.
Expand Brand Awareness Through Guest Posts
The above is also true for your business and its brand.
If people are going to engage with your business, they need to have heard about it, and guest posts are an excellent way to increase your brand awareness and spread your company name across the internet.
The best part about guest posts is that in addition to simply putting your company name on other sites, you, as a representative of the company, are also demonstrating its potential value to the reader and establishing its authority through your quality content.
And because a guest post adds a layer of objective approval, it will make the reader more likely to become a customer than if they just saw your company logo on a paid advertisement.
You can increase the effectiveness of both of the above by writing more guest posts, as it often takes several impressions before a person will cognitively remember your brand.
Reach New Audiences And Grow Your Own
A sitewide link is one that points back to a single URL but does so on every page of a site. For example, a sitewide link might appear in the site’s footer for the website building tool they used.
For every new article or update on your own blog, a majority of its readership will be people who consistently see your content.
Which is great, but don’t you also want new people to be reading your stuff?
When you contribute to a website as a guest blogger, you are gaining access to a brand new and potentially massive audience with little effort.
Because the website you are guest posting for already has its own set of regular visitors that will now be consuming your content.
Normally, you’d have to conduct a considerable amount of SEO, lead generation and promotional strategies to expand your audience even a little bit.
But by writing a guest post, you just expanded your readership dramatically without putting in any more effort than you normally would writing for your own blog. The other website already did the work of obtaining that audience for you.
And the best part is that some of those people reading your guest blog may become a regular consumer of your content, as well as potential prospects, leads and customers.
Establish New Professional Relationships
When landing guest post opportunities, you will typically be communicating with at least one other person throughout the process; creating the possibility of building a professional relationship with someone that could potentially benefit both parties beyond this initial exchange.
Yes, even guest posting can be turned into a networking opportunity.
So be sure to stay in touch with your contact, because:
- It could lead to more guest posting opportunities
- They might become a lead, client, or customer
- They could connect you to other influential people in your field
This guide later will talk more about maintaining this relationship after your guest post is published.
Outside Approval Will Push You To Do Your Best Work
With your own blog, you’re in charge of what goes up.
Meaning that sometimes it can be easy to fall prey to publishing content that isn’t your best work, knowing that it will be published regardless of the quality – especially during those times you just feel absolutely swamped.
Trust me. As a content writer, I’ve been there.
There have been times – whether it was because I was just too busy to put in the time or simply got frustrated with a piece – where I’ve gotten complacent and published content that I knew wasn’t my best.
But it didn’t matter, because I was in charge of putting it up.
Sometimes, we need that extra kick of motivation that comes from another person looking at your content.
And guest posting gives you exactly that.
Because you don’t get to decide if it gets published – another website does. And knowing that if you don’t give them a high-quality blog post that you will get rejected can push you to put in maximum effort on your guest blog.
Plus, we all do our best work when we know other people are going to see and judge it.
It’s just human nature.
Can I Get Paid For Writing Guest Posts?
Unfortunately, most guest posting opportunities won’t result in a payday.
“What?! That’s a rip-off!”
If you’re thinking this right now, this may not be the guide for you.
I want to make this clear because guest posting isn’t about getting paid to write.
If that’s your goal, then that’s awesome! There are tons of paid writing opportunities out there, but guest posting isn’t one of them.
Writing guest blogs is more about growing your brand as an influencer in your field and marketing your website/business.
This won’t be as tangible as receiving cash, but it can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
“But wait, you said MOST guest posting opportunities don’t result in a payday?
Ah good catch, I did.
Yes. You could potentially get paid to write a guest post, but there are some things you have to keep in mind if this is your desire.
One is that there will be fewer opportunities for paid guest posting opportunities.
Well established websites – in other words, websites that are worth guest posting for – will already have professional writers on staff, meaning it won’t be worth their time to pay someone they don’t know to write a blog when they have several people whose writing skills they trust.
These sites also understand the value they are offering by giving you access to their visitors and placing a backlink on their site. Knowing this means there aren’t going to be many opportunities where you get all of the above benefits AND get paid.
If you want to get paid, you will likely have to sacrifice author credit and/or the backlink, which is the whole point of writing a guest post.
Besides, the value you get from expanding your brand through author credit and helping your website and business through a backlink will likely be much more than the $250 you get from writing the article.
Can’t I Save Myself The Trouble And Buy Links?
The simple answer to this question is yes, you can, but there are some severe downsides to buying links.
The first one is that it will cost you money, and why pay for something when you can do it for free?
The second reason is Google doesn’t like the idea of people buying links, because it means that the content that appears highest on its SERPs aren’t necessarily the most useful to a searcher, but content produced by people with the most money.
To combat this, Google created a tag that is added to the HTML code of links that are paid for.
This tag makes it so that the site that the link goes to doesn’t receive any additional SEO benefit beyond organic traffic.
And if the site you buy the link from DOESN’T put the tag on, you’ll risk getting penalised by Google.
Lastly, if you buy links, you could unwittingly get involved in an unethical link building scam, like low-quality links or blog comment spamming, which could also result in penalties from Google.
All of this is to say buying links is way more trouble than it’s worth.
Besides, you’ll feel so much better having earned your backlink than buying it!
Wouldn’t It Be Easier To Write Low-Quality Guest Posts For Low-Quality Sites?
Initially a filter, the Panda update was officially incorporated into Google’s algorithm (in 2015/2016) to fight content farms (websites with a ton of low-quality content), reduce the ranking of low-quality content and increase the rankings of high-quality content.
In other words, if you go after the quantity over quality approach to guest posting, you may only be hurting your website.
There is also the fact that if you associate yourself and your brand with useless content, then you’re also hurting your reputation, driving away potential customers/clients/business opportunities in the process.
How To Pitch, Land And Write A Guest Post
Ok, now that I’ve convinced you that writing guest posts is definitely in your best interest, it’s finally time to tell you exactly how to do it!
I’m about to take you step by step through the whole guest blogging process, from conducting outreach to writing your blog and what to do after your content is published.
The Outreach Process
To get guest posting opportunities, you’re going to have to get in touch with the decision-maker of the website you want to write for – typically, in the form of an email.
But before you can start drafting emails, there are a few things you’ll need to do.
Find High-Quality Websites
Alright, first thing’s first, you have to find guest posting opportunities.
The best tool to find high-quality blogs accepting guest posts is good ol’ fashioned Google (crazy that I’m calling Google “ol’ fashioned” am I right?)
- (keyword) guest posts
- (keyword) guest post opportunities
- (keyword) guest-blogs
- (keyword) write for us
- (keyword) blog
- (keyword) guest posting
- High domain authority – a metric on a scale of 1 to 100 on a website’s ability to rank on SERPs. The higher, the better, but aim for websites that have a domain authority of at least 40
- A lot of organic traffic – the number of monthly visitors a site has. This will be relative depending on the site and field but shooting for sites with at least 1,000 is ideal
You can also add to this list:
- Well respected websites and blogs in your field that you know about
- Blogs that don’t explicitly say they accept guest posts. You can still reach out to these sites to inquire about guest posting, although you may be less likely to get one accepted
Websites That Accept Guest Posts
Gather Contact Information/Check Submission Process
Once you have a sizable list (at least 20 but potentially more), it’s time to gather contact information to use for outreach.
Start by checking to see if the website has guest posting guidelines.
Source: The Blue Diamond Gallery
- Scour the website and look to see if you can find an email of the owner/decision-maker/editor on it
- Check the social media or LinkedIn of the owner/decision-maker/editor for their email (or you could potentially DM them)
- Got to the “contact us” page
- Find a customer service email
- Get the email of the authors of content on the blog. They may not be the one who approves content or the site, but they may be able to put you in contact with the person who does
- Use an email scraping tool like Hunter or Prospect to get emails associated with the domain name
Come Up With Topic Pitches
The last thing you’ll need to do before you can start drafting emails is to come up with blog topic pitches to send to each website.
If you don’t have any pitches, no one is going to bother accepting even a first draft of your guest post. Editors want to make sure you have an existing blog idea that will benefit their website, so they don’t read something that isn’t worth their time.
Make a list of topics in your field that you will be able to write about effectively and that you are very knowledgeable on.
The topics should also be something where you can bring something new or original to the discussion and add value to the reader.
This can be:
- A new take or opinion
- A problem and potential solution
- A new study
- Original tips and advice
Here are some tips for brainstorming pitches:
- Be specific – The more specific you are, the more likely your topic will be different and original. Specific topics also usually lead to better blogs, especially if your word count is going to be 1,500-3,000 words
- Demonstrate how it will be beneficial to readers – make sure it is clear how someone will benefit from reading your blog
To show you how the above tips work, I’ll give you a couple of example topic pitches:
- 8 New Strategies For Implementing A Call To Action In A Video
- Lead Generation Using Videos
Which pitch do you think is better (in a kid’s show, this is usually where the host pauses for a beat to let the children shout out the answer. Go ahead… I’ll wait).
If you said pitch number one, you’re correct!
It’s specific, telling you precisely what the article is going to be about, even giving you an idea of how long it may be. Pitch number two, on the other hand, is vague and can go in so many different directions.
Pitch number one also says right in the title what a reader will learn from reading the blog post, as well as demonstrates your knowledge base through using vernacular specific to the area of study (lead generation).
Pitch number two gives virtually no indication of what the reader may learn, nor if you even truly know about the subject.
Now, using the above tips, make a list of 10 or so topic ideas that you think you could write a 1,500 word plus blog post about.
The more potential pitches you have, the better because:
- If you get accepted by multiple sites, you can’t write the same article for both
- You may notice that even though all of the sites you gather will be within your field, their blogs may differ slightly on the more specific areas they like to cover
If you’re feeling stuck at any point, here are some templates for topics that usually work pretty well:
- How-to guides, ex: The Quick Guide On How To _____
- Advice, ex: __ Tips For _____
- Explanations, ex: _______ explained, or Reasons why more people are choosing _____
- Reviews/recommendations, ex: ____ tools to help with _____
With each pitch, it will also be helpful to have a brief description and potentially an outline, as some sites will ask for that.
It will also be helpful for you later during the guest post writing process.
So, with each pitch, write a little description, describing what the article will be about and how it will benefit readers.
Then include an outline. It can be as simple as laying out the headings you plan to use. Or, if your topic is “X Tips on ____”, you can simply lay out all of the tips you plan to share.
Okay, so you have a spreadsheet with a list of website URLs, the proper contact information and tons of excellent and specific topics you are itching to write about.
It’s time to start writing emails!
- A subject line
- An introduction on who you are
- That you want to write for their site
- Some qualifications (usually sample blogs you’ve published)
- 2-3 topic pitches
- A nice little thank you
- Have a voice in your writing
- Add humour. Self-deprecating humour can be especially effective with outreach in general (but don’t overdo it)
- Use Gifs, pictures, and Memes when appropriate
- Mention a specific blog you read (but avoid general compliments like “I love reading your blog”)
- Talk about how their product/service has benefited you (if this is true)
- Write a specific compliment to the editor (maybe you saw they won an award or posted something on LinkedIn you can mention)
The Subject Line
When crafting your subject line, the first thing you should do is check the guest post submission guidelines, because it may ask for a specific subject line to be included with your email.
If it does, be sure to use that, so your email doesn’t get lost, and you don’t irritate the editor.
If the submission guidelines don’t specify the subject line, you’re honestly fine keeping it simple and straightforward, like:
- Guest post
- Article submission
- Blog contribution
- Guest post pitches
- Guest blog topics
Or something else similar.
This will let the editor know what your email will be about, making it easy to find and label so it won’t get lost.
Another route you could take is to write a clever/funny subject line to help your email stand out. It may potentially annoy some editors, but in our experience at Pearl Lemon, emails that stand out get read.
If you decide to go this route, just be sure that:
- Somewhere in the email, it is clear that you are pitching a guest post
- If the guidelines ask for a specific subject line, then use it and don’t take it upon yourself to create your own
Examples of potential subject lines are:
- You guessed it, this is another email asking about guest posts
- Did you know you don’t read 100% of the emails about guest posts that you don’t open?
- So a guest post pitch walked into an inbox…
You don’t have to put much thought into the greeting.
Hey (name of the person you are addressing),
Will do the trick.
There are two things you should always, always, always do though.
One is to do everything you can to find the name of the person you are addressing.
It will go a long way in getting your email read.
It shows that you put in some effort and/or paid attention to their directions if their name is mentioned in the guidelines.
Also, people are more likely to open and read an email if their name is in it.
Just put yourself in their shoes.
If you check your inbox and see an email addressed to you with your name, aren’t you more likely to read it than if it just said “hello”?
If you can’t find a name, a “Hey there,” will do the trick, but only if you’ve exhausted every possible resource.
The other thing I’d recommend is to avoid the word “Hello.”
Business emailing has taken on more conversational tones in recent years and “Hello” sounds overly formal, and people don’t typically talk like that in person when meeting someone.
It likely won’t be a deal-breaker, but saying “Hey” or “Hi” could give your email a little bit more energy and friendliness.
The absolute first thing you should do is introduce yourself.
I mean, that’s just polite in any situation, but it is also crucial when pitching guest posts, as website owners will want to know who is writing for their site.
Along with your name, be sure to include:
- Your position/title
- The company you work for/own
- Your website
If you don’t include these, your email can come across as sketchy, like you may be hiding something or running a scheme.
Including your business and website is also important so an editor can ensure that there is brand alignment, as well as check that the website they may include a backlink to is legitimate.
All four of these things don’t have to be included in the first sentence of your email, (although your name definitely should) but make sure they appear in the email and are clear.
This is (name) of (company name).
(Name) here, of (company name).
I’m (name), and I write for (website).
That You Want To Write A Guest Post
This should be obvious from the subject line, but still, make it clear that you would like to write a guest post/pitch topics for their website.
That way, whoever is reading your email will know exactly what you want.
And get to this relatively quickly, because again, if you have too much fluff, an editor may decide it isn’t worth their time and trash the email before even reading what the email is about.
In sticking with the theme of simplicity, you can say:
“I am emailing you about writing a guest post for your blog. I have a few potential topics that I think you and your readers will love.”
As always, feel free to personalise this and add your own voice.
For example, you could toss in a little joke in parentheses, like, “I am emailing you about writing a guest post for your blog (sure you don’t hear that very often!), and I have a few topics I can guarantee you’ve never heard before!”
Do whatever feels most natural to you, but this should give you an idea of what you could say.
2 To 3 Topic Pitches
The most important part of your email: your topic pitches.
This is what is going to get you approved to write a guest post. Everything else up to this point is just to make sure you don’t get rejected before someone reads your pitches.
Don’t worry, though. You’ve come prepared for this. Go ahead and whip out that list of pitches you’ve already drafted up.
Don’t just plug in any three random pitches you’ve come up with. You’re going to want to tailor your topics to each website you’re submitting to.
This is super important because if you pitch topics unrelated to their blog, you’re going to get rejected.
“Well if these websites are in the same field, shouldn’t all of my topics be related to their blog?”
Because some blogs may cover smaller niches within an industry.
For example, just think of something like marketing and how many topics fall underneath such a vast field.
Some blogs will cover marketing in general, but there will also be plenty of other blogs with a more narrow focus under marketing, like paid advertising or video marketing.
So yes, consumer psychology is related to marketing, but pitching that topic to a brand-building blog will lead to a swift rejection.
How can you be sure then that you are pitching the right topics?
First, check that handy ol’ “Submission Guidelines” we talked about earlier, as it will often tell you exactly what topics they are looking for in submissions to help you pick the right topics for the website you are emailing.
You can also look at their blog to get an idea of what topics they typically cover.
Then pick from your list the topics that make the most sense for the blog you are emailing. If you have to, come up with new pitches or alter your pre-existing ones, so they are specific to their blog.
Once you have two or three pitches you think are a good fit, there are a couple more things you’ll need to do before officially putting them in your email.
Go back to their blog and double-check that they haven’t already covered the topic you are pitching. If you don’t, that topic will automatically get rejected, and it’ll look like you didn’t put in any effort in.
The other thing you should do while examining their blog is to pay close attention to how they phrase their titles so you can conform your guest post pitches to that particular website.
Here is what I mean:
Say one of your pitches is “6 Ways To Increase Efficiency With Microsoft Powerpoint”, but you notice that most of their blog titles have the words “how-to” in them. You may want to then adjust your pitch to be “6 Ways On How To Increase Efficiency With Microsoft Powerpoint”.
It’s subtle, but it could make a world of difference.
Alright, after going through all of that, you should now have two or three excellent pitches to put in your email (unless the submission guidelines ask for a separate Google or Word Document for your pitches).
You can simply introduce them like:
Here are some topics I would love to write about for you guys!
Your brief description
Your brief description
Your brief description
Including a few published writing samples in your email will help demonstrate to the person approving your guest post that you are a competent and interesting writer.
Attach a couple of links to some previous blog posts you’ve written like this:
Here are a couple of writing samples if you want to check out my work!
Two samples should be fine, maybe three. You don’t need to send any more than that, and definitely don’t send your entire portfolio. It’s overkill, and an editor is more likely going to toss out your email upon seeing a portfolio than take the time to read through any of it.
It could even cause you to come across as a bit pretentious.
So two to three samples max.
Also, send samples that are relevant to the blog you are submitting to.
This means that they should preferably be another blog – whether that be your own blog, your company website blog, or a guest post somewhere else – and in the same field.
Seriously, don’t send your screenplay (something I’ve actually gotten as a sample before).
Editors don’t care how you can pull off the three-act structure; they want to see that you can write about topics that will benefit them in their style.
Again, simple is your best friend here with your email sign off.
Here are some examples:
- Looking forward to hearing from you!
- All the best!
And then finish it off with your name and contact info as you would any email.
Outreach Email Template
Hey (name of editor),
(Name) here, of (company/business/website). I’m a (writer/other position).
Here is some of my work if you want to check it out (include links to writing samples/website)
I’m reaching out because I would love to contribute to your blog on (topic of blog).
Here are a few pitches I think would work great on your blog
(Topic 1 and maybe a brief description)
(Topic 2 and maybe a brief description)
(Topic 3 and maybe a brief description)
Let me know if you like any of these!
(Contact info and link to website)
My Actual Outreach Email
If you follow the above, you’ll come out with a pretty solid template that you can use for your guest post outreach emails.
Just remember to personalise each email to the website.
But I’m not just going to give you a template. I’m going to show you the email that I actually used to get my guest post with Hubspot.
No joke, this is word for word what I sent.
Here it is:
My name is Noah Carey, and I am the content marketing director at Pearl Lemon, an SEO company in London.
I was wondering how I could contribute a guest post? I specialize in writing about lead generation and growth hacking.
Here is some of my work:
If I could contribute to your blog in some way that would be awesome. Just let me know!
Yes, the email was that simple.
The response I got from this email was essentially a thank you, a link to HubSpot’s submission guidelines and then a request for pitches.
Here is the email I sent with the pitch that got approved (with the name changed to protect privacy).
Thanks for the response! Here are some topic pitches. Let me know if you like any of them!
- How to get customers raving about your business through automation
- How Pearl Lemon onboard their agency clients like a SaaS company
- How to use Whatsapp and Email to make your clients love you more than ever before
I then got approved to write the guest post about WhatsApp and Email (which I later changed to just being about WhatsApp), then I was off and writing!
Ok so you’ve sent your email/submission, it’s been about a week, and you haven’t heard back.
What do you do?
Most people will give you the generic answer of “send a follow-up,” and to that I say: NO!
I say, be patient and wait a little longer.
Some websites get ten or more submissions a day, meaning it takes them a bit to get through all of them.
Plus, in my experience, most websites will include in their guest post guidelines something like “please give us time to review your submissions, as we get a lot every day”. So don’t pester them.
Just give it a little time.
Eventually, if you don’t hear back, a follow-up email is a good idea, but I’d recommend waiting two weeks instead of just the typical one week.
When sending your follow up email, something we have found that works well is using a little self-deprecating humor, acknowledging the fact that you are pestering them.
For example: “Yes, yes, this is the “follow-up email.” Just want to make sure you didn’t forget about me!”
You can even send a third or fourth follow-up email. I mean, why not right? What’s the worst they can do, continue to not respond?
A few other tips when sending a follow-up email:
- Check the guidelines to see their policy. They will often say something like “wait at least X amount of time before following up”. Sometimes they’ll even say “don’t follow up”. Whatever it says, follow it!
- Keep it short. Two to four sentences will do the trick. The goal is to get them to check your previous email, not give them more to read.
Can You Send Another Submission If You Don’t Hear Back?
But again, wait. At least a month or two.
Give them time to read your original submission. You don’t want to get the reputation as the guy who continually sends submissions and gets rejected.
Because as soon as your name pops up in their inbox, it’ll head for the trash.
In the meantime, you can concentrate your efforts on landing a guest post/writing one for other sites, before eventually circling back.
Dealing With Rejection
Rejection is part of life.
You can get rejected by universities, job applications when asking someone out, and of course, guest posts.
But don’t give up!
Often, when you get a rejection response, the person emailing you will give you another chance to submit new topics, and maybe even offer advice.
This is what happened when I first emailed Hubspot.
My original set of topics were not in line with what they were looking for.
This is because I sent marketing topic pitches, but at the time, they were looking for guest posts about customer service, so they rejected me.
I didn’t throw in the towel though!
I hunkered down, and with a little help from some co-workers, came up with new topics and sent another email.
This time though I got the go-ahead to write one!
And the rest, as they say, is history…
So, if your first set of pitches get rejected, keep trying!
Be sure to take any feedback they give you. You can even go back to their blog and see if it sparks any ideas or gives you some insight into exactly what they may be looking for.
Writing Your Guest Post
You got a topic approved! Take a moment and congratulate yourself.
No seriously, that first guest post-acceptance is a great feeling, so let it boost your confidence a bit.
Don’t take too long, because the work isn’t over yet. You still got to write the thing!
Unfortunately, there isn’t one straight answer I can give you to write the perfect guest post.
What I can do though, is give you grade A tips and strategies to help you write a killer guest post that is sure to get published.
First, I’ll go into some general writing tips that will help you write an engaging and internet-friendly piece of content.
Then, I’ll share with you specific ways to improve your guest post that, in my experience, editors love.
After that, I’ll dive into the backlink, telling you how and where to include it in your guest post.
Tips When Writing For The Internet
Write An Engaging Guest Post
Being engaging is probably the most important thing when writing content for the internet, as it will solve the 15-second problem mentioned above.
And if your guest post submission has an editor fully engaged and immersed in your content, you’re almost guaranteed to get published.
Writing an engaging blog, however, goes way beyond just including interesting tidbits of information.
Being engaging is about presenting information in a way that captures and holds the reader’s attention while making them actively engage with the text.
For example, the fact that the moon travels around the Earth at a rate of 1.022 km/s may be interesting in its own right to some people, but I just presented it in a dull, matter of fact way.
But what if I presented it like this?
“Have you ever thought about how fast the moon travels?
To the naked eye, it’s hard to see it moving, but the moon is actually travelling at 1.022 km/s!
That means over the course of an hour, the moon covers its entire diameter. That’s 3,472.2km! (now if only we could build a car that travels that fast)”
Isn’t that WAY more engaging and fun to read?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the elements of that piece of text that you can use to make your writing more engaging.
When you ask a question to the reader in a blog, you get them engaged because you are directly provoking them to think.
Questions also leave the audience with a bit of suspense and create investment in your blog as they look for the answer they know you will provide.
With the example above, you weren’t consciously thinking about how fast the moon travels until I put the thought in your head through my question.
If I had just given you the answer straight away, you’d think “ok, cool.”
But instead, I got you thinking about it and wanting to know the answer, essentially forcing you to continue reading to figure out the question.
And if you present your question right and time the answer, you can keep your reader engaged throughout your entire guest post.
Because you don’t have to give the answer right away, you could make it, so the reader has to consume the whole blog for the answer.
I mean, do you think it was a coincidence that I started this guide with a question?
Italics And Punctuation To Add Voice
Who is a more interesting person to talk to?
Someone who has energy in their voice with varying pitches and cadence, or someone talking in a monotone?
Probably the former, right?
Well, it’s the same when reading.
A blog with a voice is way more interesting to read than a blog that sounds flat.
But how do you give a blog voice? Because a blog doesn’t make any noise, even if there are people in the woods to hear it (get it? Like the joke about a tree falling?).
As I’m sure you guessed by the heading, one way to do this is with italics and punctuation.
In my moon fact example, when I said, “That means over the course of an hour, the moon covers its entire diameter,” you probably in your head put emphasis on the word “entire” because of the italics.
Without the italics, it sounds more flat, like this: “That means over the course of an hour, the moon covers its entire diameter”.
You see? Boring.
Another trick I’ve used in this section is adding parentheticals.
People always read the text in parentheses differently, like an aside or (even a whisper).
You’re probably even picturing me talking like this:
And if you want to shout to your reader, you can, of course, write IN ALL CAPS AND MAYBE ADD AN EXCLAMATION POINT!
Lastly, you can use commas and periods to mess around with cadence.
You were probably taught in school that commas are like pauses, and periods are a full stop, and you can take advantage of that, even if it isn’t “grammatically correct”.
For example, this upcoming period isn’t proper grammar but. It creates a bit of a dramatic effect, does it not?
And if you really want to push the theatrics, you can use… ellipses.
As for commas, you can use them to simply slow, a sentence, down. Maybe create a bit of a beat like I did there.
Or you can take out all commas in a long sentence to create a rambling or fast-talking effect like you are ranting or in a rush or using it to make a point about how overwhelming something is kind of like how there are just so many ways to mess with voice and tone in a blog it’s kind of crazy right I hope I am covering them all well am I yeah I think I am and… you get the idea.
Now, with any of these tools, treat them like a strong spice, meaning don’t overuse them and “sprinkle” them throughout a blog.
If you use these too much, it will quickly become old and rather annoying.
Like wouldn’t you hate it if I had another rambling no comma sentence in this blog like the one I just did I mean that would just be overkill like dude we get the joke it’s not funny anymore and you may even be wondering if I just don’t even understand grammar but I totally do I swear I have great grammar and are you even still reading this or have you just skipped to the next section by now?
Comedy And Humor
Comedy and humour are some of the easiest ways to make even the most dreadfully boring topic interesting.
I’d be willing to bet large sums of my own (parent’s) money that you often judged how good one of your teachers from school was based on how funny they were whether you consciously knew it or not, as humour is so often associated with entertainment.
This makes humour one of, if not the, best ways to capture and hold people’s attention and entertain them while presenting them with information, no matter how unexciting it may be.
And if you can inject humour into your blog, you’ll provide double the value to the reader in that you are informing them while also entertaining them, which will keep them wanting more.
Types of comedy that work great for blogs are:
- Sarcasm (make sure it is clear though)
- Puns/dad jokes (typically work better when there is an awareness of how “bad” they are)
- Self-deprecating humour
- Pop culture references
When implementing humour in your blogs though, it is best to think of it as added commentary onto what you are saying. You aren’t going to be “telling jokes”.
Like it would be weird if all of a sudden in your blog you said, “So a dog and a taco walk into a bar…”.
As you can see in my moon fact example, my joke about making fast cars was added as a comment on what I was already talking about. I even used parentheses to give it that “aside” aspect we talked about in the previous section.
All of your jokes don’t have to get your reader rolling on the floor with laughter. I mean my fast car joke was, in all honesty, quite terrible. The kind of joke that would get me booed off stage at a comedy club.
But it still added a bit of voice to what I was saying, making the passage feel more human. And if you present a bad joke properly, you can create a sort of endearing effect to it.
Like earlier, when I said, “But how do you give a blog voice? Because a blog doesn’t make any noise, even if there are people in the woods to hear it (get it? Like the joke about a tree falling?)”.
I acknowledged the joke wasn’t really that good, but that acknowledgement in itself was kind of a joke, and that light self-depreciation can help give your blog some relatability and connection to the reader.
So, as you can see, there are many ways to use humour in your blogs.
Just don’t overdo it. Telling jokes repeatedly over and over can get irritating and make it appear like you are trying too hard.
A little bit of comedy can go a long way.
How To Make Your Blog Easy To Read
A blog that is hard to read is the quickest way to send your reader packing and off to a different website.
Meaning your guest post should inform the reader with minimal effort on their end.
Don’t think of your guest post as a car that your reader has to get in and drive, but rather as a tube, the reader, is lounging on while it travels down a gently flowing creek.
This means that:
- Explanations and concepts shouldn’t be difficult to understand
- The aesthetics of your blog should also be easy on the eyes
Below are a few tips on how you can make life easier for the reader:
When reading my moon facts, didn’t it sound like I was just talking to you?
In fact, hasn’t this whole guide felt like I was in the room with you?
That’s because I am. Turn around…
Nahhhhhh I kid I kid.
But seriously, the conversational tone is something I am doing on purpose to make this guide easier and more fun to read.
Wouldn’t it have been lame if I said, “The moon covers a distance equivalent to that of its diameter over the course of the unit of time of an hour”?
Like, no one talks like that.
So write how you normally talk!
And if you need to, read what you wrote out loud. If you come across anything that is hard to say or would sound awkward in a typical conversation, change it.
It will make any blog flow better and become more engaging.
As a bonus, here are a few words and phrases that I have found useful for creating a conversational tone, and some you should limit to avoid sounding too academic and unnatural.
Words to use:
- I mean
- A ton
- A lot
Words to limit/avoid:
- In order to
Simplify Complex Ideas
The people who arrive at your guest post likely aren’t going to be experts.
Your target audience, instead, is going to be:
- Beginners to the field trying to learn
- People outside the field looking for tips or quick answers
- Potential customers
Whichever one it may be, they won’t be well-versed in your topic, otherwise, they wouldn’t need to be reading your guest post.
So when talking about more advanced and technical concepts, try to simplify them as much as possible and put them in “layman’s terms”.
Otherwise, you risk pushing away viewers with jargon, definitions, and explanations they cannot understand.
For example, I recently wrote a beginner’s The Complete SEO Guide For Beginners.
The more technical definition of SEO is often “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results”.
To someone with experience in SEO, this makes perfect sense.
But that is not who my guide is for.
My guide is meant so that someone who has never even heard of SEO can understand what I am saying.
If I started the blog with the above definition, I’d risk creating more questions for the reader instead of giving them answers.
Someone new to SEO probably won’t know what makes traffic “quality” or a search result “organic”. Heck, they may not even understand what I am referring to when I say “traffic”, as that is traditionally used when talking about cars.
This assumed knowledge could alienate some readers, causing them to leave my blog to look up “organic search results”, or “quality versus low-quality traffic”.
Instead of giving this technical definition, I simplify the idea of SEO early in the guide, saying:
“Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making changes to a website, page, or piece of content to get it to rank higher on search engines.
Or, in other words, to make it appear on the first page and as high as possible on Google”.
See how simple that is?
You don’t need to have 15 years of SEO experience to understand that SEO is about appearing on Google’s first page.
Also, see how I said, “in other words”?
That’s a great little trick you can use when giving a somewhat complicated definition is unavoidable. It helps keep your audience sticking around because they know it is about to be explained so they can understand it better.
And as a bonus, it adds a little more voice to your blog.
This also works with:
- In simpler terms…
- In layman’s terms…
Another strategy you can use for keeping your reader sticking around through a hard topic is to break the fourth wall a bit and acknowledge that it’s complicated.
For example, if I gave the more technical definition of SEO, I could have said after, “Alright, I know that’s a little complicated, but don’t worry. I’m about to break that all down for you”.
Doing this lets the audience know that you are aware they may be confused and reassures them that by the end of your post, they will understand exactly what you mean, encouraging them to stick around.
Alright, I know this section is getting a little long, but I’ve got two more strategies for you on how to simplify your guest post (see what I did there?).
You can also give context early in your blog for necessary terms, concepts and ideas that one may need to know to be able to fully understand your blog.
Going back to my Beginner’s Guide To SEO, I have an entire section full of definitions for commonly used SEO terms, because when talking about SEO, it’s impossible not to use phrases such as “traffic”, “SERPs”, and “Backlinks”, and I want my reader to have an understanding of what they are.
So instead of just mentioning backlinks matter of factly and hoping they come back to my guide after Googling what they are, I give them the definition.
That way, they have the proper context they’ll need to understand the rest of my guide without leaving it.
Now, you likely won’t be able to have a full list of definitions with every post you write. I was able to with my SEO guide because it was a 10,000-word complete guide, so it made sense.
But if you’re writing a 3,000-word blog post, that would seem a bit overkill.
But you can still provide context.
As another example, I recently wrote a review about Social Pilot, a LinkedIn automation tool.
In the review, I mention that it is great for inbound lead generation.
Hopefully, my target audience should know about inbound lead generation, otherwise, the tool may not be for them, but I’m not banking on the fact.
So when I bring it up, I make sure to properly explain what inbound lead generation is.
I don’t go crazy and spend 2,000 words explaining inbound lead generation, even though you could write an entire book on the subject.
Instead, I give them just enough information so they can understand it and continue to read my blog:
“Inbound lead generation is when you attract people to your site through various strategies, channels and campaigns.
So instead of reaching out to people, you are allowing them to naturally discover you develop an interest in your business, which will make it easier to convert them into a customer.”.
And if they are still confused or want to learn more, I give them a link to a blog that goes more in-depth on inbound lead generation that I wrote. So if they leave my page to learn more about inbound lead generation, at least they will be going to more of my content:
“There is a lot that goes into inbound lead generation, and for more, check out our Beginner’s Guide To Generating Leads The Inbound Way.”.
When you are writing guest posts though, you’ll have to be careful about how you include links to your content. This will be discussed more later.
The last tip for this section, I swear:
Use pictures, gifs, and videos when you can to aid in explanations, especially with super technical stuff.
- Make your explanations easier to comprehend – seeing someone throw a baseball will tell you a lot more than just reading a written description of how to throw a baseball
- Improve your reader’s experience, as just about every study (including this one from Visual Teaching Alliance) shows that visuals improve learning – just remember how excited you used to get when a teacher would put on a video in class
- Make your life easier – taking screenshots of you changing HTML code is a lot simpler than writing out how to change it.
For an example of this, check out our guide to WordPress SEO. As you can imagine, WordPress SEO has a LOT of technical aspects to it, so Tannishtha (the author) included a lot of screenshots with little graphics to walk the reader through the different processes.
Now I’m finally done with this section. Time to talk about formatting!
Break Up That Text! (Formatting)
- Numbered lists
- Bullet lists (kind of like this!)
- Embedding videos
- Use headings to organise your guest blog and tell the reader where they can find specific information. So if someone is looking into how to format their guest post, they can jump to the heading in this blog labelled “Breaking Up That Text! (Formatting)” instead of reading the previous 11,165 number of words that aren’t of use to them
- Use boldfaced and underlined text to highlight important information, concepts, definitions and statistics
- Include a table of contents at the beginning so people will be able to see precisely what they will find in your blog and can jump to the relevant areas
Guide The Reader In With Your Intro
The introduction can make or break your guest post.
Write a good one, and you capture a reader’s attention, encouraging them to continue reading.
Write a poor one, and you can immediately turn a reader off, leaving the rest of your guest post to be unread or rejected by an editor.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in an introduction is a hard, abrupt start. This usually involves starting an intro with a definition or information.
If you’re writing a blog about SEO, for example, an abrupt start would be:
“SEO stands for search engine optimisation and is the process of making changes to one’s website to increase traffic and one’s SERP ranking.”
See how starting a blog that way would be so rough?
It feels like you are forcing it on the reader. I mean, could you imagine if I started this guide with the definition of a guest post? You probably wouldn’t still be reading this.
Starting a blog in this manner also gives away information right away, and if that’s all someone was looking for, they’d probably leave the page immediately, which isn’t good for its SEO.
Remember, the intro is meant to introduce a topic, not give everything away.
I like to think of an intro like I’m inviting someone into my home for dinner. I don’t open the door and shove food in my guest’s face. I greet them at the door and guide them into my home.
So with your intro, think of it like you are easing a reader into the topic, making it feel like they are taking in information effortlessly, rather than reading definitions.
Another flaw I often see is an intro that takes too long, and it seems like forever before the main topic is introduced.
This can frustrate a reader as they waste their time trying to figure out what it is they are reading.
Going back to my “having company over for dinner analogy”; when I bring people to my home for dinner, I’m not going to give them a tour of my entire house or linger in the doorway. I’m going to bring them to the dining room for dinner!
Meaning, the key will be finding the right balance between not introducing a topic too soon, but also getting to the point.
How long your intro is will depend on how long your post is, but I’d say for a 1,500 to 3,000 word pierce of content, your intro should be about 75 to 150 words.
Here are a few other tips to help you write an intro:
- Write an attention-grabbing first sentence (don’t say something provocative for the sake of it though. Make sure it is relevant)
- Ask the reader a question or create a scenario to demonstrate why your blog is going to be helpful (this works especially well for advice/tip guest posts)
- Tell the reader what exactly will be in your blog and how it will benefit them (this will most likely be the last sentence)
I’ve found that examples are often what separates a good blog from a great blog.
It makes a blog more tangible and actionable, as well as gives the reader a better idea of how to do whatever it is you are talking about.
Examples also help to give context and clarify what you are talking about.
To show you what this looks like, let’s look at an excerpt from my Complete Guide To Generating Leads Through Podcast Appearances on Pearl Lemon Leads.
In one of the sections, I say that when appearing on a podcast, one should “bring something new or original to the conversation,” then made some suggestions on ways people could do this.
You could talk about a:
- New opinion
- A problem in the industry (and potentially a solution)
- Different take or angle on an existing topic
- Study you’ve done
- Analysis of a case study
I could have moved on after this, but instead, I gave some specific examples so the reader can get a better idea of original topic pitches look like.
- “I found a mistake everyone makes when implementing keywords.”
- “I have a case study where I show a unique way of implementing keywords.”
See how even this example I gave of examples can help you get a better understanding of how to write examples in your guest post?
And if that doesn’t convince you to use examples, places that look for guest posts typically love examples, so including them is an easy way to please editors.
In fact, Wishpond specifically asked for examples in their guest posting guidelines when I wrote for them.
When you are writing examples, you can go about them in two ways:
- Make up a hypothetical one to express your point, like my moon fact example above
- Analyse things from real life, which I literally just did
Both are effective and will help you get your point across, and they each have their advantages.
A hypothetical example may save you the time of finding the perfect real-life example, and you can tailor it, so it is extremely relevant to what you are writing about.
A real-life example, however, will be more believable and tangible, since it actually exists. It will also allow you to conduct a deep and thorough analysis.
The good news is that you don’t have to pick one or the other!
You can use both real-life and hypothetical examples within a blog (as I have been doing throughout this guide).
When in doubt, though, I’d recommend going with real-life examples when guest posting.
Tips For Writing A Guest Post That Will Definitely Get Accepted
When writing your guest post, you’ll want to think about your audience.
The previous sections were all about writing a blog to please readers once your guest post is live.
But the following sections are about pleasing the often forgotten other part of your audience: the editors.
They’re the ones in charge of getting your guest post live, so you need them to love your writing, otherwise, your work won’t reach the rest of your intended readership.
The following tips will not only improve your writing but are ones that I have found will go a long way towards getting an editor to love and publish your guest post.
Bring Something New Or Original To The Article
You aren’t going to get approved for repeating what’s already out there.
An editor is going to accept your guest post because of what YOU bring to the topic that no one else can or has.
This may sound a bit dramatic on first reading, like “how am I supposed to come up with a groundbreaking discovery for every guest post I write?”.
Don’t worry. This is easier than it sounds. Because you don’t have to revolutionise the field, just bring an idea that hasn’t been discussed.
For example, my guest post for HubSpot was about using WhatsApp for customer service.
Using WhatsApp for customer service itself isn’t original in the slightest, but the methods I talked about were.
Because if you look at the blogs that talk about WhatsApp customer service and support, they mostly talk about the benefits of texting in general.
I, on the other hand, explained how to use functions specific to WhatsApp that could be used to enhance customer support in a way normal texting or emailing can’t.
A couple of great blogs out there do something similar to what I did, but the functions of WhatsApp they included were different from the ones I did.
See how easy that was?
I didn’t have to spend five years studying WhatsApp.
I simply drew from my experiences. The crazy thing is, it’s not like I discovered these functions or that they could be used for customer service (as my entire team at Pearl Lemon uses WhatsApp).
But I was the first one to write about it and get it published.
So think about what you do every day in your field – like strategies, hacks, or concepts you use or developed – and see if anyone has written about it.
If not, you have an original idea!
And that’s just one way to bring something new to a guest post. You can also:
- Use anecdotes/experiences where you learned a lesson
- Include a case study
- Conduct a study/survey to bring new and useful data to your field
- Conduct new analysis on already existing data or information
- Introduce a problem in your industry and a potential solution
- Introduce a solution to an already existing and known problem
- Bring a new take or differing opinion to something, potentially a controversial one (but don’t be controversial just to be controversial)
- Talk about a new way something can be done or used
Simply put, there are tons of ways you can be original. In fact, when you think about it, there are infinite new ideas, you just gotta dig deep and think!
Include Specific And Actionable Tips Or Takeaways For The Reader
- Use verbs – If you use a verb in your tip, that means your reader will have an action to perform
- Look at your section headings – your section headings are like a topic sentence, and will be an indicator of how specific the rest of the section and your blog is. Are they specific like “Words To Use In Your Call To Action To Increase Clicks” or “Use CTAs”
- Use numbers when you can – numbers always make things more specific
- Include examples – This was already talked about in-depth but using examples is a great way to make any blog more specific
- Show your expertise -> Talk About Topics To Show You Are An Expert
- Have A CTA With An Incentive -> Prepare A CTA With An Incentive
- Promote Your Appearance -> Promote Your Appearance Using Multiple Platforms
- Tell A Story -> Tell A Story To Connect To Your Audience
Put In Your Absolute Best Effort
This probably goes without saying, but I wanted to bring it up.
When you are writing a guest post for a high-quality website, put in your best effort.
If you don’t, it will show, and you’ll get rejected. These websites you’re trying to write for have a quality standard they need to maintain and aren’t going to post what you’ve written if there is any chance your guest post will affect their reputation.
I’m not saying this needs to be the best thing you will ever write and you should spend years on crafting a masterpiece on par with Jane Austen or JK Rowling, but it needs to be good.
You aren’t going to get away with minimum effort here. And while you can streamline the outreach process for high-quality guest posting, there is no way to streamline the writing process.
Because again, you want to write something new and original, and that takes time. You can’t go out and copy and paste what is already out there.
To ensure you’ve put in enough effort, I’d recommend:
- Spending about a week on it (assuming you are not spending a majority of your day writing and you have other jobs/tasks you work on)
- Write at least two drafts
- Have at least one other person read it
- Whenever you believe it is ready to send in, wait another day and read it one last time with fresh eyes to make sure it is up to par (unless you have a deadline, then I would recommend finishing it one day prior to your deadline so you can do this)
- Ask yourself if you’re proud that your name will appear with what you have written
Adding The Link To Your Guest Post
- Creating low-quality content to simply get the link
- Buying and selling links and guest posts
- Including links that were irrelevant to the content
- Links would send users to low-quality content and sites
Check The Website’s Backlinking Rules
The first thing you should do when thinking about how you are going to include a backlink to your website is to check their guidelines, (Those guidelines just won’t go away will they?).
They will often lay out their rules for backlinking, such as:
- Number of links you can include
- What the anchor text should be (the text that the link is embedded in)
- How to include them
- Type of content you should link to
- How to source (which is a way to include a link to your site which will be explained in a later section)
- Linking for images
- Type of link (also will be explained later)
- Backlinking in your bio
If there aren’t specific instructions on backlinking, it’s safe to assume that you can include one backlink in the main content and one in your bio.
Know Your Link First
Ideally, you’ll already have an idea of what link you are going to put into your guest post. That way, you’ll be able to write your piece with your link in mind, making it easier to find a way to place the link naturally.
You can even plan your link before your outreach process. That way, you can come up with topics and pitch to websites that can organically lead to you linking to your target URL.
For example, say you recently wrote a blog about why you should always include your first job experience on your resume, no matter how long ago it was, and now you want to get a backlink for it. You can:
- Reach out to blogs and websites that cover job interviews/applications/resumes
- Pitch topics like “6 New Tips For Writing A Resume That Stands Out”
- Write a section in your guest post about including previous work experience and reference the blog post you’ve already written, creating a reason to include a link to it
This is actually a great strategy to use when trying to get a new piece of content ranked, and it’s what we do at Pearl Lemon.
We often write guest posts about SEO services and SEO agencies, which creates opportunities for us to include links to our homepage, service pages, and blogs to help our website’s SERP ranking.
You could write the article first and see what link fits, but it might be more challenging, and you could risk forcing the link.
Pretend You Don’t Own Your Website
Whenever you are about to include a backlink into a guest post, pretend that you don’t own your website.
Then ask yourself, “would I still link to it? Is it providing any value to the blog and to the reader?”.
If yes, then you’re probably good!
If not, you are probably forcing the link and should think about putting it somewhere else or linking to a different.
Deciding What To Link To
When including a backlink, it doesn’t have to be the main page of your site.
You can link back to:
- Your blog
- An article you have written on your site
- A video on your YouTube channel or website
- Your podcast
- A podcast you appeared on
- Another guest post you have written
- Your service or product page (this one is probably rare)
- Pretty much anything you have produced and want to boost traffic to
In fact, more often than not, it won’t make sense to include a link to your homepage.
But how do you know what to link to?
The simple answer is, add a link to whatever makes the most sense and feels natural.
In a majority of cases, it will be pretty obvious what you should link to.
But if you’re unsure, the following should help.
You know how, when you write something using facts or statistics that isn’t yours, you have to cite them?
Well, what if you cited yourself?
On the internet, the proper way to site information is to embed a link to its original source in the text, which creates a natural backlinking opportunity.
So when writing your guest post, you can use original information, statistics, explanations, or facts that already exist in a blog you have written, and include a link to it as a source.
Just make sure it is relevant to what you are writing.
If you’re writing a guest post about the best long term property investment strategies, citing your blog explaining the buy and hold investment strategy works. If the guest post is about the best market for fix and flip, it doesn’t quite fit.
Another option is to include a link to a piece of content you have written (or video, podcast, ebook, etc.) as an option for the reader to learn more about a given topic.
Kind of like my example earlier where I included a link to my blog about inbound lead generation.
You can’t tell the reader to “go here for more”, with a guest post, however.
It will look too promotional.
The trick is to give them enough information where the reader won’t get confused, and they don’t need to leave your page, but also entice them to learn more about a topic while leaving a convenient link where they can do so.
This works well when you are talking about a big concept.
Going back to inbound lead generation as an example, it is a topic that can take up entire books, seminars, speeches, and still have tons left uncovered.
So let’s say then that I am writing a guest post about a more specific topic, like tips for writing an ebook.
Within my guest post, I can mention that “ebooks are a great form of inbound lead generation – which is the process of attracting people to your site to become leads”, then continue to talk about ebooks.
See what I did there?
I casually mention this big topic that is lead generation.
It’s relevant, but it isn’t the main point of the blog, so I can’t give a super detailed explanation of it. But I have to give something, otherwise, the reader could get annoyed that I talk about this topic they may never have heard of and don’t tell them what it is.
So I give them just enough, that way they can continue reading if they so choose, or, if they have become intrigued by this new topic, they can decide to research it further.
And I just so happened to have written a guide to inbound lead generation, and I included a link to it for them to go check it out if they want to.
The best part is the link I included isn’t just relevant, but of high value to the reader, because it gives important contextual information to the post. But I still gave enough information within the original blog so that it doesn’t appear as purposeful low-quality content.
See that where and how you include the link can increase the chances of people appearing on your site?
Proper internet etiquette dictates that when you use an image in an article or blog, you should include a link to its original source.
You can probably tell where this is going, but I’ll still spell it out for you.
When you write your guest post, include an image from… your site.
That way, you have the perfect excuse to give yourself a backlink.
Sometimes, a link for an image won’t count against your backlink limit in the body of your guest post.
That’s right. If you source yourself for an image, that means you could get not one, but TWO backlinks in your guest post.
That’s double the SEO benefits!!
But still, check the guidelines to make sure that this is the case.
Original images you could create and use:
- Infographics to convey a statistic
- Charts/graphs to show data
- Photographs instead of stock photos
- Memes to add humour and make your writing more interesting
- Graphic images/cartoons to demonstrate an idea or concept
Don’t Mention Your Brand Name With Your Backlink. Unless…
Many guest posting guides will tell you not to include your brand or company name in your guest post.
Well, they’re WRONG!
The reason they say not to is that it can make the guest post appear too promotional, which:
- Could turn off viewers
- Could make Google think you bought the link, even if you didn’t. And, as we discussed, that is not a good thing
And this is true. Including your company or website name in your guest post can actually hurt your brand name. Sort of ironic isn’t it?
But that doesn’t mean you CAN’T include it at all.
In both of my guest posts for Hubspot and Wishpond, I wrote the words Pearl Lemon.
Yes, I did exactly what other guest posters tell you NOT to do.
The trick is that you have to be careful and do it the right way; otherwise, you risk the promotional tone mentioned above.
Here is how.
At the end of your guest post, write a case study section.
A case study is where you analyse a real-life example of whatever you have been talking about, and it conveniently allows you to bring up your company as the case study for you to examine.
For example, in my Hubspot article, after giving several tips on using WhatsApp for customer service, my last section was a case study where explained how Pearl Lemon uses WhatsApp with their customers. I then included a link to our customer testimonial page as evidence to support how our customer service and client communication benefited from WhatsApp.
By including a case study, I was able to mention Pearl Lemon in a very organic and non-promotional way.
When you do this though, don’t say “we at (company name)”, because this isn’t going on your site, but an external one. Talk about your company in the third person.
For example, I don’t say “at Pearl Lemon, we use Whatsapp”, but instead “Pearl Lemon uses WhatsApp”.
Yes, after reading my author bio, it will be obvious that I am a Pearl Lemon employee, but saying “we” will still make it feel more promotional and subjective.
Use Your Company As An Example
This strategy is very similar to the case study one, but there is a slight difference.
Instead of including a case study at the end, you can use your company as an example to pair with a piece of advice or a tip you give in your guest post.
This works especially well with blogs like “14 Strategies for (topic)”.
The only thing is, you have to give an example then for EVERY piece of advice you give.
Because it will look weird if tips one through five didn’t have an example, then all of a sudden tip six brings up your company.
I used this strategy for my Wishpond guest post.
The blog gave readers 8 tips on podcast appearances, and for each tip, I had a real-life example.
One of the tips was to “hire a lead generation agency to streamline your appearance booking process”.
And guess what company does that?
Pearl Lemon Leads.
Crazy how that worked out!
Using examples throughout allowed me to be able to say “a company that can do this for you is Pearl Lemon Leads”, without it looking like I was forcing a sponsorship.
And similar to the case study example, I didn’t refer to Pearl Lemon Leads in the first person, but rather the third person.
Let’s go back a bit to when I said you could cite yourself.
By changing the wording of how you link to your site as a source, you could also include your company name.
All you have to do is add “according to (company name)” either before or after the piece of information or statistic you give.
Other options are:
- As per…
- In a study done by…
- In an article from…
- As stated in…
Or some other variation.
Like if I wanted to explain to you what a lead is, I could say:
According to Pearl Lemon Leads, a lead is “any person who has expressed interest in a product or service offered by a business”.
This way, you can even include the backlink right onto your company name.
Include A Link In Your Guest Post Author Bio
When your guest post gets published, the site will also give you an author bio (if they don’t, politely ask for one because they should).
This is a 20-50 word write up with a head shot about who you are.
Here, you can mention your company name or website, as well as include an additional link to your site. This means you can have a link in the guest post itself, AND your bio, giving you double the backlinks!
The best part is the link doesn’t have to be the same as the one in the guest post.
For example, in my Hubspot guest post, the link in the article is to our client testimonial page, but the link in my bio is to our homepage.
Most author bios include:
- Your name
- Your job
- Where you work/business you own
- An interesting fact about yourself
For example, here is the author bio I use for guest posts:
“Noah Carey is a content writer at Pearl Lemon. He also attends the University of Pennsylvania, where he studies English, because he likes reading and writing, and runs for their track and field team because he likes running in circles”.
Feel free to get creative with your author bio. Just don’t go crazy and only include one link if it’s for a guest post (most often this link will be to your site’s main homepage).
Whatever you do, don’t say: “When I’m not ____, you can usually find me _______ or ______.”
I mean, you can say that it’s just super unoriginal. 90% of author bios have this. SO if you must, use it. Just a pet peeve of mine.
Disclaimer: Check The Guidelines… Again!
Ok, so I just gave you a bunch of ways to add a backlink and incorporate your company name into your guest post.
Obviously, they are all great ideas.
BUT, if the guidelines for a website you are trying to guest post for explicitly say not to do anything I mentioned, then listen to them!
Not following the guidelines is one of the quickest ways to get your post rejected.
Meaning that if the guidelines state that you can’t mention your brand name anywhere in the guest post, then don’t write it. No matter how “organic” it may seem.
And if you are unsure of anything, like whether or not you can say your company name or your link feels too promotional, then shoot them an email!
They’ll appreciate the fact that you are being safe.
Technical Aspects Of The Link
Ok, we are almost done talking about linking!
I know it’s a lot, but it’s all super important to understand to get the most out of your guest post.
The last couple of things I am going to bring up are about the technical aspects of your backlink and how they will impact the SEO of your guest post.
Include Your Link Near The Top
Your backlink should always be the first link to appear on your guest post, and it should be located somewhere near the top.
Why? Because the first link is the most valuable one on a given page due to the fact that people are more likely to click on it.
This is reflected in Google’s reasonable surfer model, which gives more value to links that appear first and near the top.
All in all, putting your link at the top of your guest post means that:
- People are more likely to click on it
- The SEO of your site will increase, and so will your SERP ranking
And both will lead to more organic traffic!
Anchor Text Matters
The actual text that contains your link (called the anchor text) matters a great deal.
Your anchor text gives search engines more context as to what your guest post is mainly about, as well as the page the link leads to, helping both to appear in relevant searches.
For example, if I were writing a guest post and I was trying to include a backlink to our blog about Etsy SEO when talking about focus keywords, I’d get more benefits out of including the link in the text “Etsy SEO,” like so:
“Focus keywords are super important for Etsy SEO.”
A bad example would be:
“Focus keywords are super important for Etsy SEO.”
A good rule of thumb for what words to embed your link in is to do it in a word or phrase that is the main topic of your guest post (in SEO terms, this is your primary keyword).
The Nofollow Link
- If it is ever mentioned, you’ll know what it means now, and
- To tell you not to worry!
- Right-clicking anywhere on the page of your browser
- Click on “View page source” in the drop-down menu
- Look in the HTML code of the website for the link and see if it has a nofollow tag on it
Getting Ready For Submission
At this point, you should have your guest post completely written and almost ready for submission.
You may have noticed I said “almost,” because there are a few things you should do before emailing it to an editor.
Here is a handy little checklist:
- Read the guest post submission guidelines one last time to make sure you followed them completely
- Re-read your guest post and make any last revisions and ensure that it is 100% grammar mistake and typo-free (Suggestion: get a friend to read it or use Grammarly for this)
- Check that your backlinks work, go to your desired page, and fall within the maximum link limit
- See if you included images in the proper format
After going through this checklist, you’re ready to hit send!
What are you waiting for? Do it! Send that email!
No, you’re still not done, even once you have submitted your completed guest post.
After sending your email, chill out and wait for a response.
Once one comes, either two things will happen:
- Your guest post got accepted! Congratulations! A remarkable achievement indeed. If this is the case, you can skip ahead to the heading titled “Once Your Guest Post Has Been Accepted”
- Your guest post was rejected. While sad, it doesn’t mean your guest blog won’t get published. Read along to learn what happens when you receive an initial rejection
Dealing With Rejection (Again)
If you get an email informing you that your post won’t be published, don’t panic.
As I said, it doesn’t mean it never will!
Typically, with a rejection, an editor will explain why it was rejected and give you feedback on how you can improve your blog.
Most will then allow you a second chance to edit and resend your blog.
Meaning it’s time to get back to work!
And if they reject your submission but don’t explicitly tell you to make edits and resubmit, do it anyway.
The first thing you should do is take their feedback into account and make changes accordingly.
Even if you disagree, you’ll need to listen to what the editor says, as they are the key to getting your guest post live online.
You may be wondering, “But will an editor actually take a look at your blog a second time? Won’t they just assume you’re not a good writer and trash it?”
Well, I’m here to tell you that yes, they actually will take a look at your work a second time. I can speak from experience.
My first submission to Wishpond was rejected.
The original guest post I wrote wasn’t specific and actionable enough, and I didn’t provide enough quality examples.
The editor at Wishpond I was in contact with, however, was super nice and gave me helpful feedback.
Instead of getting defeated, I hunkered down, edited my original submission, and got it accepted the second time!
If you resend your guest post and it gets rejected a second time, there is a chance they will let you make one last round of edits. If they do, obviously go for it and see if you can still get your post accepted.
If not, or your post gets denied the third time, it’s ok. It doesn’t mean your time was wasted because:
- You can always use what you wrote for a different guest post submission or for your own blog
- The only way to get better at writing is to practice and get feedback, which is exactly what you got out of this experience
- Hopefully, you learned something too, like what editors are looking for in guest posts and what you can do better the next time
- Starting a dialogue is still a great thing because it could lead to something else down the line. You may even be able to get another try at writing a guest post again (but wait a while before asking again)
Keep trying, and eventually, you’ll get a guest post accepted and published.
Once Your Guest Post Has Been Accepted
After you get your acceptance letter, pop some champagne, throw a party, and indulge yourself in self-praise.
You’ve earned it!
But your work is still. Not. OVER!
It never is.
First thing you should do is send a thank you to the editor for accepting your guest post.
Use some exclamations (and emojis if appropriate) to show your enthusiasm and appreciation. This will go a long way in maintaining a relationship with them for future collaboration (more on that later).
Next, you’ll want to promote your guest blog after it goes live.
How To Promote Your Guest Blog
You should promote any piece of content you release, and this includes promoting your guest post.
Doing so will expose it to more people, increasing its readership and traffic, which will lead to a higher ranking, which will lead to even MORE traffic, which will lead to an even HIGHER ranking, which will lead to… you see where this is going.
You’ll also be giving your guest post an additional backlink every time you promote it, and this will ALSO better optimise your guest post as previously explained.
Finally, promoting your guest post will make the editor/owner of the website it appears on happy because if your piece is doing well, that means their website is too.
So, if it isn’t clear, I’ll make it explicitly clear by saying one more time that you should definitely be promoting your guest post.
And if you aren’t sure how here are some simple and effective ways to promote your guest post.
Share Your Guest Post On Social Media
The first and easiest thing you can do is share your guest blog across all of your social media platforms.
Another good strategy is to share the first 100-250 words of your post. Hopefully, this will get people to start reading and pique their interest enough to click on the link to your blog to finish it.
We often do this on our Pearl Lemon LinkedIn:
If neither of these suggestions jump out to you, feel free to write something that is in line with your brand and voice.
Just be sure to write something, as it will be more likely to stand out in people’s feeds.
Create A Press Release Announcement On Your Website
After your guest post is live, you can also create a press release or news update about it on your site!
This is pretty similar to sharing it on social media, except you’ll have more room to talk a bit more about the post, your experience writing it, and give a little preview.
You’ll also want to toss a link in as well to get that extra SEO juice flowing to your guest post.
Link To Your Guest Post In Blogs And Articles
If you can find a way to organically link to your guest post in new blog posts you write, then do it!
These backlinks are likely to boost the SEO of your guest post more than social media links.
Plus, you’ll be able to continue to link to your guest post in your blog for years to come, while you can only share it once on social media (otherwise you risk turning off your followers).
Just don’t do it in every blog you write.
You can also edit your old content and add links where they are relevant.
Ways you can include links to your guest post are:
- As a source
- Suggest readers check it out for more information
- You can quote it
Mention Your Guest Post In Other Content
You don’t have to just mention your guest post in a blog or press release.
Talking about it in videos, podcasts, or any other type of content you produce is a great way to continue to increase its exposure and deliver it to more people.
And of course, you can include a link in the descriptions to get some more SEO benefits.
Repurposing content is essentially reusing it.
This doesn’t mean re-publish your guest post on your blog, though, as the website where your guest post appears owns it now.
But you may be able to find ways to turn your guest post into new content while promoting it in the process.
For example, you could:
- Create an image of a quote from your guest post that you can share on social media
- Make a video about your guest post
- Record a podcast about your guest post
With any of these, you should ask permission from the website owner or editor you guest posted for, to make sure they are okay with it.
But as long as you aren’t straight up re-publishing exactly what you wrote, they will likely be fine with repurposing your guest post, because it will benefit them as well if you include a link to the original post.
Continuing The Relationship
Ok, so earlier, I mentioned how you should send a thank you after your guest post gets accepted.
If you don’t, you’re essentially closing the door on any further collaboration with that website/business in the future.
But if you send an appreciative thank you, you’re keeping the possibility of working with them again.
This could come in the form of:
- Writing another guest post for them
- Signing them on as a customer or client
- Starting a partnership
- They could write a guest post for you
- You could feature in other content like a video, podcast, or written interview
All of which could benefit you and your website/business!
So stay in contact!
Connect with them on LinkedIn, reach out every now and then, send them relevant articles or however you typically keep up with those in your network.
Maintaining contact and a professional relationship will make it easier to start up a new collaboration. If you go cold for several months then pop up out of the blue asking for a favour, they’ll be much less likely to welcome you with open arms.
For example, after my guest post with Hubspot was accepted, I sent a brief but enthusiastic thank you. Then, a few weeks later, after it was published, I sent another brief email saying it looks great and again, expressed my gratitude.
And because I kept this dialogue up, I was able to reach out a couple of weeks ago with more pitches for a guest post, and they gladly approved one!
As we speak (well, as you read), I am working on another guest post for Hubspot.
All because I kept in touch.
And it doesn’t have to be much. You don’t have to send an essay or message them on LinkedIn every day. Just making sure you stay relevant is all you need.
Here is what I said in my email to get another guest post for HubSpot:
Hope all is well!
Was hoping to pitch another couple of topics if you guys are currently accepting guest posts:
- How To Use Loom For Customer Support With A Personal Touch
- Tips For Bringing A More Casual And Friendly Tone To Customer Support Emails
Let me know if either of these work.
Yup, that’s all it took.
A Couple Final Anecdotes
Alright, I am almost done.
I’ve told you just about everything you need to know about finding, pitching, landing and writing guest posts.
But before we depart, I have a couple more quick anecdotes I want to share that will hopefully help in your process and give you a little more confidence.
Be Naive And Take Your Shot
When you do this though, don’t say “we at (company name)”, because this isn’t going on your site, but an external one. Talk about your company in the third person.
For example, I don’t say “at Pearl Lemon, we use Whatsapp”, but instead “Pearl Lemon uses WhatsApp”.
Yes, after reading my author bio, it will be obvious that I am a Pearl Lemon employee, but saying “we” will still make it feel more promotional and subjective.
Seriously, Don’t Give Up And Ask For Help!
I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I really want to drive the point home.
Don’t give up!
I got rejected by both Wishpond AND Hubspot.
I didn’t wallow in self-pity and give up though.
I got up (metaphorically) and tried again.
But believe me, I thought about waiving the white flag.
After Hubpspot turned down my pitches, I really didn’t think I’d have a shot getting a guest post with them.
I was a click away from sending the “thanks for your time,” email.
But then I thought, “wait! I work at Pearl Lemon, a company full of unbelievably talented people! Maybe someone could help me?”
So I emailed some co-workers for some suggestions on topics to pitch.
They came in clutch and gave me some great ideas. I then picked some I thought I could write about, re-sent the email, and, as you know, got approved for one!
And as for the Wishpond rejection, I wasn’t sure if I could write a better article than I did the first time around. I was convinced I blew it.
I thought about just giving it some quick edits to say I tried and then move on. But that just didn’t sit well with me.
If I’m going to do something, I’m going to give it my all.
So I spent an entire day editing my guest post for Wishpond. I re-wrote entire sections and added brand new examples.
After I finished, I thought, “at the very least, this is an article that I am proud of. I put everything I had into it, and if it gets rejected again, so be it. I’ll still be able to publish it on one of our blogs.”
And of course, it isn’t on a Pearl Lemon blog. It’s over on Wishpond.
The More The Merrier
Like I said, I got lucky when I landed my guest post with HubSpot, but getting the second and third opportunities were a bit tougher.
I’ve sent a ton of submissions and outreach emails that I haven’t heard back from.
And that’s ok.
You probably aren’t going to hear back from every request for a multitude of reasons, from your email getting buried in an editor’s inbox to they just didn’t feel like responding.
So send a TON of outreach emails to get opportunities.
The more emails you send, the more likely you’ll get at least some responses.
And you don’t need to pump out a ton of guest posts to see results.
If you write even two to three a month, you’ll get some incredible benefits.
Meaning if you send 50 emails and get six responses, then you’re golden.
I mean that’s what I’ve done. I’ll send out a bunch of emails, and if I only hear back from a couple of websites, then I’m ecstatic.
Sending 50 emails may sound like a lot, but you can use mass email tools and templates to streamline the process.
That’s why earlier I said you should have a list of topics ready to go, to make it easier for you to send mass emails.
So when you conduct your outreach, don’t limit yourself in quantity either.
SEO For Your Guest Post
- Using keywords and implementing them strategically
- Include links strategically
- Make sure your images are optimised