7 Things I Learned Publishing 20 Guest Posts In 2 Months
Over the past two months I’ve been going on an intense guest posting campaign to get the word out about my new blogger outreach software, NinjaOutreach.
I’ve had 20 guest posts published in two months.
Guest posting is talked a lot about in the blogging world, but very few people are publishing 10 a month and can speak first hand about the results.
Without a doubt there have been some surprises.
I’ve identified 7 learnings that will benefit anyone who is looking to do some guest posting, even if you just want to put out one a month.
Target Relevancy And Engagement Over Traffic
Our gut instinct tells us that we should target high traffic blogs.
I don’t necessarily disagree with that methodology.
After all, there is such a thing as the 80/20 rule, which tells us that 80% of the results are going to come from 20% of the effort.
However, if I had a choice between a high traffic blog and a high engagement blog, I’ll pick engagement everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.
What do I mean by engagement?
Consider metrics like:
- How many comments does this person get on average?
- How many social shares do they get on average?
- How is the quality of their comments (is it a lot of spammy type stuff, or intelligent feedback)?
Traffic is good, engagement is better (and engaged, relevant traffic is the best).
The fact is that you are looking for their audience to actually come over to your website and ideally convert on the offer you are advertising (or at a minimum sign up for your newsletter).
This level of commitment requires an engaged audience.
What then should I be looking for?
I recommend targeting blogs that get at least 20, quality comments per post.
Additionally, I always look for to make sure they’re receiving in the 10’s, if not 100’s of social shares for each post.
Guest Posting Is A Long Term Strategy
I’ve seen a lot of people talk about guest posting like it’s a one-off attempt at getting traffic.
If anything, I’m usually underwhelmed by the amount of traffic an individual guest post sends to me.
Sometimes this is the result of a poorly targeted post that doesn’t resonate well with the audience.
But sometimes it’s just reality.
At least, the reality we allow ourselves to believe.
You need to remember that a guest post isn’t just about publish day – it has longevity.
A post on the internet can feasibly exist for years and continue to grab traffic organically months after it’s been published.
The traffic that you get on day one is simply a fraction of that.
And when you commit yourself to many guest posts, you start to achieve a collective effect of being “everywhere” at one.
For starters, take a look at our traffic:
We started guest posting in late January, and honestly by late February were more or less at the same place.
But the first two weeks in March we’re beginning to experience the cumulative effects of new guest posts being published and old ones picking up steam.
I don’t necessarily expect to continue at this rate, but without a doubt it is positive growth and the majority of our marketing has been through guest posts. So much so that we hear that many of our customers found us this way.
And I’m not the only one with this opinion.
Consider Neil Patel from Quick Sprout, who wrote
“It really is a numbers game. When I first started guest-posting, I was hoping for great results, but my efforts drove little to no signups. I also didn’t see any improvement with my branding.
If you continue posting for a year, you’ll notice that business will start rolling in because the content you published six months ago will start ranking really well in the search engines.” – Neil Patel
A very similar opinion was stated from Leo at Buffer, who famously did over 150 guest posts to get Buffer past 10k users.
Give it time, it will pay off.
Use Tools To Scale Your Efforts
If you’re going to be doing a lot of outreach and guest posting, you should look into the tools which exist to make your life easier.
Software exists for a reason, find a way to incorporate it into your workflow and it will save you hours upon hours.
Naturally we were able to leverage our tool, NinjaOutreach, as a way to find bloggers who do guest posts.
Here’s a video of how you can use it to find top notch guest posts:
Although this tool is paid, we offer a free Chrome Extension that works pretty well in identifying bloggers who do guest posts and give you the necessary metrics so you can make an informed decision, such as:
- Contact information
- Average social shares per post
- Average comments per post
- Traffic estimates
And so much more!
Approved Does Not Mean Published
While 20 guest posts published might seem like a lot, it actually overlooks the fact that many more guest posts had to be approved and submitted.
The fact is that many people accept guest posts at first glance.
Later on, you’ll contact them with the post, and they won’t reply.
Given the 20 that I’ve had published, I’m still waiting on 8 or so that have been written to be published, and another 10 titles that have been submitted that we are waiting for approval.
Basically, unless you are confident that the blogger is on the ball, you have to write almost 2 guest posts for every one that gets published.
Some advice is to keep track of the status of each guest post in an excel spreadsheet. Here are the life-cycle stages of a guest post:
- Accepted (need to submit title)
- Title submitted (waiting reply)
- Title approved (waiting post)
- Post submitted (waiting approval)
- Post approved (waiting publish)
- Post published (yay!)
But it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Many times if I write a guest post and the person doesn’t commit to it, I can find a replacement blog for it – same for titles that don’t get accepted.
In short, it pays to be resourceful, and if you really want to make progress fast you have to overshoot to account for the slow pokes who doesn’t publish it right away.
Have An Effective, Personalize Outreach Template
If you were surprised by how many guest posts had to be approved just to get 20 published, imagine how many requests had to be submitted, just to get approved.
A great template might convert at around 25% – that’s if you do everything right and a lot of upfront research.
And even given that, you’re still going to be sending out over 100 emails.
At this volume, it pays to take the time to draft an effective and personalized outreach template, because bloggers can sniff a cold, thoughtless pitch a mile away, and those will leave you stuck in the single digit conversions.
Trust me, I’ve tried both approaches.
Here’s one that’s worked well for me:
What makes it stand out? The following:
- Defined the relationship by letting him know I’m a long time subscriber (6 months)
- Request to guest post on a separate line so it would stand out at a quick glance
- Shared my research, stating the exact articles I know his audience likes and the respective social shares
- Pitched him my idea for a similar type of article relating to entrepreneurship
- Explained the value to his audience
My recommendation is to try different approaches, and keep track of the response rates for each template – this will help you identify the winners.
It Doesn’t End After Publish
Many people suspect that after a guest post is published, your job is done.
But really it’s just starting.
What do you do after you publish a post on your blog?
Probably you promote it, and respond to comments.
Well, it’s pretty much the same with guest blogging, perhaps even more so, because you want to form a good relationship with the blogger.
And trust me, if they’re any good, they’ll be following up with you.
Here are a few aggregator sites in the blogging niche, which I like to submit my posts to after I publish them.
And of course there is social media, your newsletter, and anywhere else you can think of that’s appropriate.
Next Steps – Start Guest Posting!
Guest posting can be effective at scale.
It can be a lot of work, but really so is most marketing, and rarely can it be paid in just time like guest posting can.
I recommend approaching it with the same level of analytics that you approach your blog. Keep track of which blogs send you the most quality traffic, and which outreach templates convert the highest.
The rest, is just writing!