Increased credibility and exposure. Maybe even paper money.
That’s what awaits bloggers, freelance journalists and entrepreneurs who devote themselves to chasing solid guest posts.
To say “content is king” is to trade in cliché, but it’s true nonetheless. Companies and site owners in 2010 rely on relevant content to lure consumers, boost their profile and potentially bolster their search engine standing.
Those desires tend to mesh well with the concerns of content creators and companies at large. For writers, publishing guest posts on emerging and high-profile websites is a great way to establish credibility and drum up business.
Freelance writers often struggle to effectively market themselves. Many are equally loathe to work without a payday. While you can’t feed your family on pro bono blog posts, offering to knock out a couple posts for a few well-positioned sites in exchange for well-placed promotion often proves a winning deal.
Writers who learn to harness that exposure and credibility can carve out a path toward gigs that pay real money.
Here are five tips for landing guest posts and how to maximize your efforts:
Find Your Niche(s)
Don’t pitch a personal finance site if you can’t keep your checkbook balanced. Skilled writers are adept at learning complex topics quickly, then turning around and explaining them simply. But adaptation isn’t usually your smartest play here. Play to your strengths and your knowledge base, especially if it’s a topic you’ve publicly written about previously.
Don’t Go in Cold
That said, you don’t have to be a certified, Harvard-trained expert in your field to start scattering guest post pitches. Possess some general knowledge and then drill down into the niche. Pore over that personal finance or real estate site before ever sending an email or filling out a contact form. Make sure you’re intimately familiar with the site’s voice, style and general topic flow.
You wouldn’t walk into a job interview without knowing something about your prospective employer. The same holds true for pitching guest posts. Make sure you’re not suggesting a topic or seeking to highlight a trend that’s already received significant exposure. Writers who don’t do their homework when pitching a site aren’t likely to do it when the time comes to actually writing for them.
I tend to believe more is more in this case. A singularly spectacular idea can sometimes win the day, but site editors love variety and flexibility. Pitching several solid story ideas also showcases your versatility. There’s a balance between variety and deluge, so go with your best three pitches.
Your bio blurb is the place to start. Most sites keep author blurbs in the 50- to 75-word range, so conciseness is key. So is choosing the best links. Obviously, your personal site gets top billing, but consider linking to clients or other writing hubs if you can strike a promotional deal. Then, push your content on Twitter, Facebook and any other social medium you can find.
Engage readers in the comment discussion. Write about your guest posts on your own blog. Building a social media community through your work can bring paying clients out of the woodwork. After you wrack up a few high-profile jobs, make sure to create an “As Seen In” section on your site and plaster those logos in a prominent spot.
Leverage Your Experience
It gets easier after the first, mostly because of the credibility and exposure you sought at the outset. Leverage your past guest gigs to land new ones. Most site editors worth their salt want to see examples of previous work. Referencing your prior gigs in your pitch post can help ensure your email gets read and your work gets a look, however brief.