Written by Tom Ewer on 25 November 2013
Guest posting (posting articles you've written on someone else's blog with a link back to your own site) can be a highly effective online marketing strategy. Publishing guest posts is a great way to bring new visitors to your site, improve your off-site SEO through link-building and increase awareness of your name and brand, at zero financial cost to you.
Guest posting isn't just for bloggers -- if you already have a blog then guest posting is an obvious strategy for promoting it, but you can also use guest blogging to market your business website, design portfolio or even promote your services if you don't have a website at all.
Getting Started with Guest Blogging
The key to a successful guest blogging strategy is simply to create great content. It's a common mistake to keep your best work for your own site but you should treat the articles you use as guest posts as premium content that offers some real value to the owner and readers of the site you're posting on.
If you try to pitch a badly-written, boring, or unoriginal guest post, it's highly likely that nobody will want to publish it and even if you can convince someone to take it, you'll hardly be marketing yourself in the best possible light with such substandard content.
Guest posts should be your best work. They should be entertaining, informative, written with perfect grammar and spelling, and make people interested in finding out more about you or reading more of what you have to say.
Take the time to read through popular web design blogs and blogs in other related fields that you may be interested in pitching to. Make a note of the posts that you enjoy reading as well as those that have the most comments and shared most on social media and try to determine why they are so popular.
Good content is generally informative, useful and interesting. It may be funny, controversial, newsworthy or timely. Ideas for producing this kind of content is outside the scope of this article, but you may want to check out Copyblogger, which offers some excellent tips and advice on the matter.
It's a common misconception that you need to have your own blog before you submit a guest post, but it's not essential. If you have a portfolio website, you can link directly to this from your guest post. Alternatively, if you have no website at all (although as a web designer, you certainly should!), it takes two minutes to set up a quick profile on Google+ or LinkedIn that you can direct people to if they'd like to get in touch with you or read other articles you've written.
How to Find Blogs to Pitch To
For the best success, you should aim to post on popular sites with a large readership. Examples of such sites would be sites like Huffington Post, Mashable, Smashing Magazine or any of the top blogs on Alexa. Posting on one of these sites will maximise your exposure and help to establish your name as an authority in the field of web design.
Getting a guest post on one of these sites is not as difficult as you may think -- you don't need to be a well-known blogger or have connections (although it can help). Famous bloggers don't care who you are, they just want to publish excellent content that promotes discussion and sharing.
While aiming high is strongly recommended, you shouldn't dismiss smaller blogs either. Blogs with a smaller readership are often more willing to publish guest posts and the more you can publish, the more you will begin to see results from your promotional efforts.
It's easy to find blogs that accept guest posts with a quick Google search. You can simply search for something like "web design blogs" and start trawling through the results for those that accept guest posts. You can also search blogs on Google directly with terms like "guest post" and "write for us", which can be a good way of finding blogs that accept guest post submissions.
There's no need to restrict yourself purely to web design blogs. By finding a different angle to write about, you can pitch your ideas to a greater number of sites and increase your chances of success. For example, you could write a post about budgeting as a freelancer to a personal finance site.
You can also register on sites like My Blog Guest, that help to connect writers looking for guest posting opportunities with bloggers looking for free content for their site.
The Next Step
Once you've found a few blogs to pitch to and you've come up with some ideas for amazing content that blog owners will be fighting over, the next stage in the process is to start contacting bloggers and pitching ideas.
Apart from creating great content, this is probably the most important piece of the puzzle and definitely one of the hardest aspects to get right. If you can't sell yourself and your ideas, your guest posting marketing plan won't even get off the ground, so it's important to develop an effective strategy right from the start.
In the next article I'll be covering a can't-fail guide to pitching your posts and securing valuable guest posting opportunities. Stay tuned to find out more!