This is the first post in our series on Guest Posting, with a focus on benefits other than just SEO, for a more successful and fulfilling approach to finding readers for your blog.
Guest posting is not all (or even mostly) about SEO.
My first experience of ‘guest posts’ was back in 2005 here on ProBlogger when I decided to take a month off blogging to have a holiday with Vanessa and wanted to keep posting on the blog.
I put up a post calling for people to contribute posts while I was gone – and had a great response.
Here’s my post announcing the guest posters.
This opened my eyes to the potential of hosting guest posters on my blog – but I also got feedback from many of the contributing bloggers that guest posting on ProBlogger was hugely positive for them too.
Among the benefits they saw were:
- Spikes in traffic to their blog
- Building their brand
- Showing their authority
One blogger even told me that it led to them getting a dream job.
Some of these bloggers then started to offer to ‘guest post’ on other blogs and continued to see benefits.
How Guest Posting Developed
Both of these guys would do bursts of guest posts on numerous blogs over a few weeks – they’d seem to be everywhere – creating high quality content, building their brand, driving traffic to their blogs, and getting their work in front of a wide audience.
It was a win-win-win situation: Leo and Chris benefited, of course, but so did the host blogs (who got great posts for free) … and so did the readers of those blogs (who got access to fresh new voices).
Around 2010, though, things started to change.
Bloggers I’d never heard of would pitch to post on my blogs.
The posts they submitted seemed to be more about inserting links than providing value or showing the author’s expertise.
People had realised that there was another benefit of guest posts: SEO/link building.
A few things happened at this point: an explosion in the amount of people doing guest posts, lower quality posts, and people just wanting a link – not caring about delivering value.
Some people even paid to have their posts/links inserted onto blogs.
This went on for several years. Everyone was doing it, but then in 2014 Google put a stop to that, and Matt Cutts (who was the head of the web spam team) caused a huge stir in the blogging world with this post: The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.
As a result, many bloggers stopped guest posting and looked for different ways to grow their blogs.
I wonder if people threw out the baby with the bathwater. They’d become so obsessed with link building that they forgot the other many benefits of guest posting.
7 Great Reasons to Guest Post
Why guest post, then, if you’re not using it as a link building strategy?
#1: Get Your Name Known
When you guest post on a major blog in your niche, you instantly boost your authority and credibility: your writing has been featured somewhere impressive.
At the very least, guest posting on several blogs in your niche will get your name recognised. It allows you to get your work in front of a new audience … and it can also impress big-name bloggers. However, to even be considered by other blogs, your writing needs to be of high quality and value to their audiences. Earn the opportunity and earn the authority.
#2: Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Blog
Guest posting will bring in traffic: not just any traffic, but quality, targeted traffic (if you appear on a blog with a similar topic and audience to yours).
This traffic can turn into qualified leads: people who are a good fit for your products or services.
Check with the hosting blog about what you can and can’t include in your bio at the end of the post, in terms of linking to your own site.
#3: Build Your Email List
If you direct guest post readers to a sign-up incentive, you’ll quickly grow your email list … giving you a ready-made base of potential customers to promote your products to.
Some bloggers link to a “landing page” for their newsletter in their bio, and you may even want to customise this so you have different versions for the different blogs you’re guest posting for.
#4: Network with Other Bloggers in Your Niche
While commenting on blogs can be a way to build a relationship with a blogger, the best way to impress someone quickly is to send them a great guest post.
This provides real value for them (content their readers will love … that they didn’t have to write themselves!) and the power of reciprocity means they’ll be more likely to do you a favour in the future.
Bonus points if you take the time to get to know the blogger and their audience, and check if they actually accept guest posts, rather than cold pitching them.
#5: Open Doors to New Opportunities
I mentioned before that one of the first guest posters on ProBlogger landed a dream job as a result. You never know who might read a guest post (or who might be impressed by seeing your name on a major blog).
Guest posts also offer social proof: on your website, you can name the blogs you’ve written for – which could impress a new reader enough to get them to stick around. You may even want to use some of your guest posts as a writing portfolio, especially if you’re looking for freelance work.
#6: Improve Your Writing Skills
When you don’t yet have many readers on your own blog, it can feel like the tumbleweed is blowing past: no-one’s commenting, and certainly no-one’s pushing you to create your best work.
By guest posting, you give yourself more opportunities to write … the more you do so, the better your writing will become. You may also get feedback from the blogger (or blog editor) you’re writing for: this can really help you grow as a writer.
#7: Develop Your Ideas
As you put your ideas in front of different, larger audiences, you’ll get feedback. Some of this may be negative or critical, but in my experience, the vast majority of blog comments are positive.
If you get lots of positive feedback about a particular post, perhaps it contains an idea that you’ll want to develop further (maybe even as an ebook or ecourse). Or maybe you’ll get a comment that offers a different perspective – one you’d not considered before – or a way to deepen your work.
All guest posts will bring some benefit … but you may even find that one particular post is a game-changer for you.
That’s what happened to Jon Morrow when he guest posted for ProBlogger back in 2011. He wrote How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World.
This post did much, much more than just give Jon some link juice (which, of course, wasn’t his reason for writing it anyway).
It moved people and inspired them.
It showed Jon’s ability as a writer.
It sent Jon a lot of traffic.
It won Jon many new fans and deepened his engagement with his existing audience (many of whom weren’t aware at that point of his story).
It also got him 9,000 (yes, 9,000!) subscribers, as Ahmed Safwan explained here.
In case you’ve been skimming: SEO isn’t the only reason to guest post. There are a whole host of benefits to guest posting, whether you’ve just started blogging or whether you’ve been doing it for years.
In a couple of days one of our regular guest contributors, Ali Luke, will share how to find guest blogging opportunities and how to boost your chances of getting your submission accepted. I write a weekly newsletter with a wrap up of the latest ProBlogger content. Sign up so you don’t miss out on the rest of the series.