Content Marketing 101: How to Promote Your Brand With Guest Posts

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to build a strong brand for your business. While there are dozens of strategies you can use to achieve your goal, the most effective is a guest posting strategy.

While it’s important to populate your own website with engaging, authoritative content, it’s just as important to share your content with other websites in order to promote your brand as an expert in your chosen field.

The new age of guest posting

The landscape of guest posting has changed significantly in the last few years. If you want to be known as an authority online, you need to learn how to navigate this landscape as soon as possible

Not too long ago, guest posts were a quick and effective way to build links. Over time, bloggers became more savvy to the demand for the posts they were hosting on their site and this has rightfully led to a demand for valuable, relevant content from aspiring guest posters.

While the process has become more challenging, that simply means there’s been a change to how guest posts work and the value they bring to any promotional strategy.

A guest posting strategy is one of the most important tools in your content marketing arsenal; you just need to know how they work in a world of increased editorial scrutiny, strict Google penalties and in some cases, high publishing costs.

In my experience, a good guest posting strategy is one that is built on on a comprehensive understanding of the following three principles;

  1. Content demand
  2. The ability to offer unique, high-value information
  3. An instinct for relationship building

Unfortunately some people treat guest posts with a churn and burn approach, without taking the time to conduct proper research or build a genuine relationship with the blog they want to publish their article on. Keep in mind that guest posting is a long-term strategy.

If you’re going to do it, there is a proven way to get them published.

But before we delve into the how of a good guest post, we need to address why it’s so important in the first place.

Why you should use guest posts for content marketing

In the current digital marketing landscape, businesses have to work hard to manage how they’re perceived online – otherwise their reputation will suffer.

Guest posting is a powerful content marketing strategy that can not only maintain your reputation, but also build your readership, traffic, authority, leads and ultimately, sales.

To do so you need to contribute high-quality content to high-quality websites. As blogs drive so many of the conversations happening on the Internet, a high-value guest post can give you exposure to hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers.

When your guest post is published, host websites should also include links to your own blog or business. Over time, these backlinks will help search engines recognise the value of your posts, making it easier for users to find your content, therein increasing traffic to your site, and increasing possible leads or online sales.

At the end of the day, guest posts are also a great way to add value to your industry. As a long-term strategy, it is designed to build your reputation and authority. If you’re publishing the right content on the right sites, you’ll eventually convert readers into customers, and customers into fans.

So how do you do this? I follow these three steps:

Step 1: Pitch your article to the right site
Step 2: Make contact and be charming
Step 3: Submit your article and maintain the relationship

Step 1: Pitch your article to the right site

When it comes to content marketing, your article is only as good as the site you’re publishing it on. But how do you narrow down the options and find the best home for your content? One way is through using search operators.

Basically, a search operator is a character, or set of characters, that content marketers use when researching specific keywords, phrases, blog post headlines, or contributor guidelines on websites. Through using the search operators, you can discover quality sites with high editorial standards who will link back to your website.

Before narrowing your search, it often helps to understand exactly what you’re going to write about. The old saying is “write what you know”. Readers can tell very quickly when the writer doesn’t believe in what they’ve put on paper. The editors you’ll be pitching to will be even more detail-oriented, so if you’re going to impress them with your content it has to be of high-value to their audience.

Once you’ve found a suitable site to submit your article, read their publishing guidelines and familiarise yourself with their content. This will give you a good idea of what their audience expects, and also ensure you’re not pitching something that’s already been written about on their site.

Struggling to come up with a great post idea? Don’t worry – inspiration can be hard to come by when you’re not writing on a regular basis. To get the creative juices flowing, take a look at what your competition is doing. You might come up with a similar or fresh take on one of their posts. You should also comb through your old posts and update one, write a follow up, or add a new, updated perspective.

Step 2: Make contact and be charming

Etiquette matters – even online. Remember that when you’re contacting a site, you’re communicating with an actual person. Before this person accepts or even considers your submission, they’ll want to feel comfortable with your personality, credibility and intentions.

So, what does the perfect pitch look like? Of course, this differs from one person to the next, but here a few tricks of the trade when you’re emailing:

Use your contact’s name

It sounds simple, but it gives your pitch a personal edge straight off the bat. After spending a few years working in editorial, I know that receiving an email that doesn’t address you by name is incredibly frustrating. It’s alienating and cold.

The clever folks at Outbrain once said that content marketing is like a relationship. So think of a guest post pitch as the same way you’d ask somebody out on a date. Would you launch straight into a pitch as to why they should go out with you, without mentioning anything about them first?

Your initial email pitch is the beginning of your relationship with the publisher, so take advantage of all the research you did in step one and express a genuine interest in being an expert asset to their website. Use their name, and show them that you consider them a human – not just a guest post target.

Highlight why you chose their site

Use your knowledge of their site to emphasise why your post/s will be valuable to their readers. The research you’ve done should show in your email. I usually mention how my article will complement an existing article on their site. By doing this, you immediately build trust between yourself and your contact by showing you are invested in the opportunity to share content with them.

Whatever you do, don’t use a templated email. I’ve seen many in the past; they’re robotic and are always on the fast track to the spam folder.

Pitch specific topics

Avoid being vague with your ideas. The tighter your pitches are, the less work your contact has to do. Your research will reveal the kind of content your contact likes to publish, so stick in that vein and make it clear that your proposed topic is in line with what they consider valuable.

Touch on your experience

If you’ve published content before, share links to articles you’ve previously published on other sites or on LinkedIn. This is a good way to show off that your content will be a high-value addition to their blog.

Be conversational

Striking the right tone can be tricky. However, just remember you’re emailing a person, not a robot. So don’t be too stiff and formal with your language. In the past I’ve found keeping language light, yet professional, goes a long way when it comes to engaging someone over email.

If it’s a Monday, don’t be afraid to ask your contact how their weekend was, or if their website has had an article recently go viral be sure to congratulate them. It’s these small things that builds trust and ultimately form a strong professional relationship.

Don’t go overboard

Keep it short, sweet and clear. Nobody has time to read an essay-length email so make it clear from the start what your intention is and why your article will be valuable.

Step 3: Submit your article and maintain the relationship

If all goes well, this will be the start of a great relationship. But don’t forget that maintaining a relationship takes time, effort and genuine consideration.

Here are few ways to cement the connection:

Share the article

Before it goes up, your contact should already know you’re committed to sharing the post on your social media channels. This is a great way to gain traffic, establish yourself as a published professional, and add value to your industry.

Respond to comments

Once the article is posted, make sure you stick around to respond to any comments or queries that pop up. You never know which commenter could be your next contact or customer.

Be thankful

As noted earlier, etiquette does wonders when building relationships. Take the time to send a genuine thank you note to your contact, letting them know how much you appreciate the opportunity.

Maintaining a relationship is also about going above and beyond. If you’re working with your contact on a regular basis, make sure you’re always submitting your best work.
The key thing to know about guest posts

Understandably, not everyone is a great writer. But that doesn’t mean you have to dismiss guest posting. As content continues to claim a bigger stake for itself in the marketing world, guest posting is an essential element that should be adopted by any business owner.

Begin reading articles relevant to your industry and practice writing. Over time you will get better at conveying high-value information in your articles. Alternatively you can hire a copywriter if you lack the confidence or time to write an article.

What matters is the relationship you build with your contact. Once you begin publishing, it will become easier over time, and if you’re lucky, publishers will soon be pitching article ideas to you because they respect your brand and value your authority as a thought leader.

Author: Shayen de Silva

Shayen is a Senior Content Promoter at digital marketing agency Web Profits. His role working in the competitive space of content marketing allows him to use out-of-the-box thinking to create content strategies that will attract customers to his client’s business online.

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