7 Tips to Guest Blog Like a Pro

Industry contributors are a vital part of many publications' success - from blogs to magazines. They help editorial staffs deliver more (and often more expert) content to their audiences, while also making relevant connections and helping their SEO initiatives. 


Similarly, guest bloggers are able to receive valuable backlinks and work to improve their credibility in a niche. Despite the fact that a publication-guest blogger relationship can be mutually beneficial, one could actually damage their website's rankings or, perhaps even worse, their own reputation if done carelessly. Here are seven tips to guest blog like a pro. 


1. Be Picky

Industry experts - or the marketing or public relations professionals that represent them - should do their homework before volunteering to submit articles to publications. They'll want to ensure the media outlets they pitch to have similar target audiences, will promote their articles and are authorities in certain niches. A good way to go about selecting a publication to work with is to draw up a "dream" list that includes 3-5 contenders, in order of preference. 


2. Be Exclusive 

Once a dream list is crafted, contact the publication that is in the number one spot. Guest bloggers will want to ensure they contact the appropriate person, for example, someone in sales likely isn't the contributor contact. A company's "About Page" can give insight into people's roles with the company, as can LinkedIn. Contacting the correct person out of the gates is great, but if that's not feasible, it's good to find an editors@???.com type email address. While some marketers or PR pros may recommend a different approach - to get faster results - this editor recommends giving editors time (at least 36 hours) to respond before moving on to the next publication. This is under the thought umbrella that the publication's editors will appreciate that the article being pitched is only being presented to them and will be more likely to take the next step. 


3. Be Prepared 

Once an editor replies to an email, it's important to already have a detailed article synopsis (likely more in depth than an original 2-3 sentence pitch) ready for his or her review. Articles should, however, always be catered to that publication's audience, so it may be best to hold off on actually writing the article until a green light is given. 


4. Be Compliant

Depending on who you ask, rules may be made to be broke, but not when it comes to contributing to publications. Guidelines are given (and if they aren't, ask for them), because editors have found that certain criteria must be followed so both parties get most out of the guest blogging experience. Guidelines also help manage guest authors' expectations. For example, Website Magazine doesn't allow "in-article" links when contributors write for WebsiteMagazine.com. The reason is simply because contributed articles must be vendor neutral and 99.99 percent of the time, in-article links are promotional in nature. Guest bloggers should follow the rules because it not only shows to the publication that they read them, but also that they respect the media outlet and want to put forward a piece that is compliant and meaningful for readers.   


5. Be Patient

Every publication has different editorial calendars. When a media outlet that has a print publication accepts a company's article, for example, the lead-time may be 6-8 weeks, meaning the author won't see his or her article in print for 2-3 months. It is the editor's job to keep the guest blogger up to date, but print schedules or newsletter calendars are typically pretty concrete, so the contributor will have to be on the media outlet's time. 


6. Be Flexible

It's not uncommon for an article to be penciled in for certain placement only to find out it had to be removed or rescheduled because of space, to accommodate a last-minute advertisement or it was a decision by a person higher up than the guest blogger's original contact. The editor will want to place quality material as much as the author does, so usually it's just a matter of both parties being communicative, flexible and, of course, patient. 


7. Be Reliable

The best case for both parties - the publication and the contributor - is that an ongoing relationship is formed. The publication gets regular material and the guest blogger builds his or her credibility and organic links. A relationship can go sour, however, when there are missed deadlines or poor-quality work turned in. So both parties should set realistic goals and deadlines to ensure they reap all the rewards of guest blogging.