Guest posting is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) content marketing processes you can tackle, especially when you’re just starting out.
If you’re writing guest posts, having one or two on your plate a month isn’t too bad – you have enough time to check your work thoroughly and keep up the quality of your writing.
But my team back at Process Street didn’t write 24 guest posts last year.
We wrote more than 100.
And I’m here today to tell you how we managed to do this with a team of 2 guest post writers (including myself); how we successfully pitched sites, how we stuck to our deadlines, and how we managed to recreate this success every time.
Document your processes
I can’t stress this enough – even if you don’t use our exact system (or anything like it), the only way that you’ll be able to scale your guest posting efforts or any other marketing process whilst keeping the quality up is to document your processes.
For example, we have a process for finding influencers to pitch to, for generating and refining ideas suitable to pitch, for writing the guest posts themselves, and for promoting the posts once they’re out.
Any one of those processes would be overwhelming if not for the fact that they’re set out in black and white in checklists. Checklists that let us track our progress, always know what to do next, and never worry about not knowing who we need to contact.
It’s all about managing your business processes, which for us means that it’s all there in the checklist.
Again, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated, so long as you can repeat your process and improve it over and over again. For example, we started out with a writing process of:
- Get the title / outline you pitched
- Write the post
- Submit it
Now, however, our guest post writing process looks more like this:
- Get the title / rough outline you pitched
- Check your pre-prepared research
- Perform small batch of keyword research
- Note your basic points / headings
- Flesh out your headings from personal experience / researched posts
- Write introduction and conclusion
- Insert links and (if needed) images
- Run regular pre-publish checklist (to check for things like SEO)
- Do another editing run 1 day later
- Give to a team member to check
- Send it
Make your pitches human
Oh, someone sent me an email? It’s a guest post pitch? It’s a canned response and a title that contains no information? Eh, I’ll get back to it later.
Except that “later” never comes.
If your pitches aren’t up to scratch then you won’t get any responses – anyone who guest posts will tell you the same.
So, the Process Street team came up with a set of requirements for our pitches:
- Is it interesting?
- Is it relevant?
- Is it useful?
- Does it waste time?
If any one of these is met with a “no” then we don’t send the pitch, it’s as simple as that.
Put it this way – nobody likes to be talked at by an obvious robot. We get enough emails as it is that the vast majority are going to get archived or deleted straight away, so the best way to avoid the trash bin is to check those four things.
Set your subject line as “Pitch: Insert Title Here”. Compliment them on a recent post they wrote, but only if you read it through and can highlight what you actually enjoyed. Give a rough outline of your talking points in the post so that they will know whether it will fit with their audience before you write it.
Above all, be human.
Set a time limit
Like most, I’m an awful procrastinator. Unless it has a deadline, or is instantly pressing, it’ll go on the backburner until I find time to go through my task list.
Having said that, taking weeks to submit a guest post after you sent a pitch which already has a rough outline is not good practice. It makes you look lazy and unprofessional (and that’s not mentioning your turnover rate for guest posts).
If you want to submit over 100 guest posts in a single year, you need to be completing one every 2-3 days, so stalling isn’t an option.
As such, the best way to stay on target is to set a deadline on every guest post you receive.
Some will take longer (usually if it gets bounced back for edits) and you can’t drop all of your other tasks, so this will take a little practice and some serious time management on your part.
However, having that little red mark on a Trello card to tell me that a task (or post) is due works wonders towards keeping me on track and staying productive.
Don’t skimp on quality
Just because you aren’t writing for your own blog doesn’t mean you can churn out any old post. If anything the bar for quality should be just as high, because you’re trying to get the attention of an audience who probably haven’t heard of you before.
If you submit a sub-par post you’re wasting one of the biggest advantages of guest posting; the exposure to an existing audience. If someone turns up to a blog they enjoy and see your guest post full of spelling mistakes or logical errors, there’s no way in hell they’re going to read the whole thing (let alone click through to your own blog).
We do this by running through a guest posting checklist we created for every submission. Spelling and grammar are checked and rechecked. Language is analyzed and (gasp) filler words removed. Keyword research is done for every (yes, every) post.
No stone is left unturned, because to do otherwise alienates both the blog you’re writing for and their audience.
Don’t take on too much
So, you want to write 100+ guest posts a year? Brilliant! It’s a great exercise that brings huge benefits in terms of both exposure and SEO.
However, unless you’re a writing machine there’s no way you’ll be able to take on more than one every 2 or so days.
It’s always tempting to try to be more productive – to send a huge number of pitches at once and reply to all of them with the vague promise that they’ll be done “soon”. The problem is that you will drop the ball on some posts, and the damage dealt to the connections you’re trying to make will last a long time.
If your pitches are good enough, you should be able to send batches of 5-10 (per guest post writer you have) at a time. With good pitches (and some follow up emails) you should be able to have a backlog of 3-5 posts at a time per person, which is plenty to be getting on with.
Once you have the backlog, all you need to do is send the next batch of pitches when you’re down to a week or two of posts left in the pipeline.
There you have it – the system we used to write over 100 guest posts last year. One final tip I have is to keep up to date on the best blogs you can find in your niche – after all, there’s no way that you’ll be able to consistently come up with good ideas to pitch if you’re drawing from thin air every time.
I’d also love to hear your own systems for guest posting though; what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what have you found to be the most difficult part of consistently getting guest posts accepted and published?