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Is guest posting a good way to get new blog readers?

And How did I score guest posts on top blogs like Zen Habits, Problogger, Copyblogger and Dumb Little Man?

Those are questions many new and not-so-new bloggers ask me and they’re smart questions because guest posting on top blogs has helped me grow my blog more than anything else.

I’m not really a genius of any kind but writing guest posts and getting them published on top blogs has helped me connect with hundreds of engaged readers who’d never have heard of me otherwise so I recommend guest posting to all bloggers.

As a blogger you want people to visit and read your blog.

If no one does what’s the point in writing a blog? It’s like talking to a wall.

So how can you find new and targeted readers when you’re just starting out blogging?

If you’re a new blogger you’ve probably been studying how to write good blog copy because you’ve heard that content is king.

It’s partially true.

As a blogger you need to understand how to write well.

You need to write with your readers in mind and help them solve their problems, but that’s not all. You also have to learn how to:

  • write killer blog headlines;
  • draw your readers into the blog post;
  • make your blog posts scannable;
  • persuade people to subscribe to your blog.

Guest Posting for Blog Power

Let’s say you’ve spent six months studying and practicing writing guest posts and you’re getting good at it now.

Of course, there’s still room for improvement, there always is when you’re a writer, but let’s assume that your blog posts are B+ material.

You have some subscribers too but they’re growing slowly.

Absurdly slowly in fact.

Maybe you’re aiming for 1000 subscribers after the first 12 months of blogging, like I did, but at your current rate of growth you’ve worked out it’ll take you five years of blogging to get them.

It’s tough and you need things to pick up fast.

In your heart you know what you really need is advertising.

When your blog’s got more subscribers and readers the quality of your writing will mean that word of mouth (or mouse) advertising will kick in, but until then you need a break.

You need something to give you and your blog a kick start.

Imagine a pay-per-click campaign with Google adwords where any time someone searches for your topic they see an ad for and link to your blog.

It’d be great to see your blog advertised on the side of a bus or twenty.

A slot on prime time TV would help too, preferably during that doggy show when all the dog lovers you’re targeting with your dog training tips blog will see it.

But get real.

These types of ad campaigns are expensive and you shouldn’t spend too much money on a blog that probably won’t earn you any money in the short term.

Or ever if you can’t get more people to visit it.

So let’s go back to your blog writing skills.

If I asked you to give away your very best writing to someone else for them to use on their blog would you? It’s not very appealing I know.

You’ve probably spent a while writing your blog post, even longer editing and polishing it to perfection, not to mention that the expertise you’ve drawn on took a lifetime to come by.

Now, I bet if I said I could get you a free advertising deal which put your brand or blog in front of your target audience you’d be more interested.

Well, with blogging giving away your best writing and getting free advertising are the same thing ~ it’s called guest posting.

You just need to change your mentality and stop thinking of guest posting as giving away your best work and start thinking of it as free prime time advertising.

It’s definitely worth giving away your best blog posts because one guest post on a top blog like Zen Habits or Problogger may send a few thousand new readers your way.

Choosing a Blog for Your Guest Post

Ideally, you should pick a blog with a similar audience to the one you’re looking for and readers who are interested in the topic you blog about.

Find out which blogs have the most subscribers.

Some blogs kindly advertise their RSS subscribers to make it easy for you.

If not you can use Technorati or Alexa to give you an idea. I’ve also found that if you write bloggers a quick email telling them you love their blog, would like to write a guest post for them and wonder how many subscribers they have, most of them will spill the beans.

Don’t focus on just one blog for your guest posts. Run with them as many suitable blogs as you can find to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Try creating a list of potential blogs to host your guest posts, ranking them in order of the most to least desirable then start at the top and work your way down.

Don’t worry if you can’t find enough blogs in your niche.

Even if you have a surf blog you could still find more readers by writing a guest blog post about blogging with a surf slant called The Surfer’s Guide to Blogging.

My blog has two main topics – empowerment and entrepreneurship – which allows me to cover a lot of different topics.

The main key to consistency is my writing style.

I focus on helping people get what they want in life and try to keep the tone of my writing positive and inspiring.

That upbeat tone ogf my blog has helped many upbeat readers or people who want inspiration and motivation to find me.

No matter what the topic, every blog post I write helps people get what they want out of life.

Guest Posting on Top Blogs – How to Score One

vector graphic showing various elements of a content audit

1. Read their blog

Really study the language and style they use, the headlines, the spacing and length of paragraphs.

Some bloggers have buzz words that they use again and again. If you can spot some and use them in your guest post for them, subconsciously they might relate more to your writing and feel it makes a good fit for their blog.

When you write your guest post for them use the same style, language and formatting they do so they can instantly see that your post fits in and will appeal to their readers.

2. Leave comments for the blog owner

It’s like a virtual calling card that lets a top blogger know you visit their blog.

Better yet if you can add to their blog post by leaving an interesting comment they’ll know you read their posts carefully.

This will naturally endear you to them but beware that comments with links in or key words instead of your real name will probably annoy them and have the opposite effect.

The aim is to make them notice you’re an engaged reader, not to make them think of you as a pain in the butt.

3. Connect on Twitter or Facebook

Retweet their posts and answer their questions on Twitter or comment on their Facebook page.

4. Arouse their curiosity

After a respectable amount of time, when you’re sure they know who you are and what you blog about try sending them a quick tweet suggesting a guest post.

Hopefully you’ll get a reply to something like “@BlogGod Got a cool guest post idea for your blog. Would you like to hear more?”

5. Email the whole guest post

Even if they don’t get back to you on Twitter you can still email them your guest post.

Make sure it really is an example of your best work then edit and check it carefully.

It needs to be word perfect. You want to make sure that you minimise work for the host blogger so you can format the post in simple HTML by writing it in a draft blog post on your blog then pasting the HTML into the body of the email for them.

Copy how they present guest posts on their blog with a byline like “Editor’s note: guest post by Annabel Candy” and a couple of sentences about you at the end of the post including one or two links to your blog.

Write a short email like this:

Subject line: Guest post – TITLE HERE (Anything in capital letters you need to customise)
Here’s a guest post I’ve written specially for NAME THEIR BLOG – TITLE OF YOUR POST (XXXX words). I think it will go down well with your readers and give them some useful information about THE TOPIC OF YOUR POST.
I write a blog called NAME YOUR BLOG about YOUR TOPIC and I’d love to have my writing featured on NAME THEIR BLOG.
I’ve pasted the post below. It’s all formatted in HTML which I hope will make it easy for you, but if there’s anything else I can do to help you just let me know.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my post. I’m really excited about working with you.
Best wishes,

6. Keep trying

Hopefully this will work but if it doesn’t try again.

If you haven’t heard from them within two weeks they’re probably not interested but resend your email just in case.

If it still doesn’t work move down your list of blogs you’d like to guest post for, alter the post for the next best blog and keep trying. In the end you’ll succeed.

Now all you need to do is make sure your blog looks good, that it will appeal to the influx of new visitors and that you encourage them to subscribe so that they become regular readers.

Getting new readers is hard work but it’s worth it and if you want to get new readers for your blog, guest posting is the best way.

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