Thinking about a guest blogging strategy? Get the lowdown from Ann Smarty, founder of MyBlogGuest and former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal.
You are best known as founder of MyBlogGuest nowadays. How is it going after two years?
I’ve been on the Internet marketing and blogging for about seven years; I’m happy to hear people know me as the owner of MyBlogGuest. I guess that’s already an accomplishment. I used to be much better known as the Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal (one of the top resources for search and social news). I’d been contributing and editing for like three years before I resigned to be a self-funded entrepreneur.
These two years have been crazy! We have been growing very steadily which is a blessing for us because that’s how we managed to fight off various attempts to abuse the system. We were the first (and we still are) the only project of its kind: we had no competitors to learn from or any software to copy. We had to invent the tools we needed and we had to fight those trying to abuse our system. That’s been an amazing experience. I can’t say that we are done, though. We are still a work-in-progress and we are still developing innovative tools for our users.
What are the advantages of guest blogging?
Oh, I can talk a lot about that. And I actually have talked a lot about the benefits of guest blogging. Guest blogging is the only *free* way to market yourself (or your product) to influencers that is quite easy to embrace. There are other ways (like social media marketing, viral marketing, etc) but all of them are extremely hard to control or predict. With guest blogging all you need to do is learn to write great articles.
Just a few examples…
- Here are a few case studies on how established brands are using guest blogging
- Here’s how guest blogging has changed my own life
- Here’s how Buffer is getting most of its exposure through guest blogging (their CEO is one of MyBlogGuest earlier adopters by the way)
And the disadvantages?
Guest blogging is a long-term task. Besides, it’s very hard to scale and organize. The impact you make is very hard (if not impossible) to measure. Some guest posts won’t bring you any traffic but they will work great for branding. Some guest posts won’t get you much exposure but they will introduce you to an influential blogging celebrity who you will be able to pitch later on.
Many people quit before they even realize the power: guest blogging is where you need to work hard for a long time without being able to see the results. Not many people can do that!
But at the end of the day, it’s well worth it!
Can you give some advice on how to get started guest blogging?
- Start with those blogs you are reading daily or weekly. You know the style and the audience. It will be easier for you pitch a familiar blogger and brainstorm a great post idea for someone you know
- Set the priorities: guest blogging only works if you know what you want. Traffic and backlinks are poor reasons to start guest blogging for. It’s too time-consuming and, like I said above, in many cases has low-effeciency in terms of generating huge traffic. Your priorities should be: 1. network building 2. branding
- Try to integrate guest blogging in your working routine. Guest posts are unpaid and optional: therefore it’s so easy to put writing a guest post always at the end of your never-ending To-Do list. What I do is set up a specific day of the week when I manage and plan my guest blogging as well as write guest posts
- Never aim for quantity. Quality is the only thing that matters. It’s true about both the article you write and the blog you choose for it. It’s much more effective to have 1-2 powerful guest articles go live each week than one poor one daily.
- Don’t ignore new but promising blogs. I have always got quite a few invites from newer bloggers who wanted me to guest post for them. I never refuse if the blog seems to have some activity and if I see that it’s rapidly growing. I don’t care if it’s just a couple of months old. What matters is contacts. And it’s easier to build contacts with those who are just starting out and are hungry for relationships and opportunities.
What is the best strategy?
I have described the whole guest post pitch process in this detailed article on becoming a stellar guest blogger.
In short, I suggest asking first. An email with an attached guest post is likelier to go to a spam box. Besides, if the blogger takes time to respond, you will never know if you can send that article to someone else.
It’s better to have a confirmation that your article sounds good and will be reviewed within some period of time.
Are there pitfalls to avoid and, if so, how do you do it?
I have mentioned that above but I am happy to say that again (no matter how much I say it, not many people listen!): ignore short-term benefits (like traffic and backlinks) and focus on long-term results (like branding and networking). This is the only way it is going to work.
Focusing on short-term benefits will force you to lower the quality (for example, to get more links within a shorter period of time) and that’s when guest blogging will stop working.
Guest blogging takes plenty of time and effort. It’s only worth it when you aim higher!
Can you give a couple successful examples of guest bloggers?
Kristi Hines is another very successful blogger whose guest blogging strategy is highly focused: she has picked a few of the most powerful blogs in her niche and keeps contributing to them on a regular basis.
Neil Patel is one of the most successful entrepreneurs I know and he never stops guest blogging no matter how popular and busy he is.
Are there too many people guest blogging now? How do you compete with others?
Plenty of people are guest blogging now. But there’s no competition. Guest blogging is very individual. I am never afraid of revealing my most efficient guest blogging tactics because I know that no matter how many people follow my advice, I’ll still remain unique. My style is unique. I love every article I write. I am passionate about my guest blogging. Other people are great as well. But I won’t ever try to replicate what they are doing because I value my own blogging style.
Bloggers love accepting guest posts for this exact reason: they need some fresh air. They are up for new perspectives and unique styles to make their blogs more interesting. So by being what you are and wring about what you are best at you can forget about competition and simply enjoy blogging!
As for MyBlogGuest and the emerging competitors, we take pride in what we are doing. Our selling point is the quality approach to guest blogging. We invest in the team helping us to maintain the quality of the submissions. We invest in tools and video tutorials that help to develop an educated and scaled strategy of guest blogging. We encourage everyone who gets the power of guest blogging to join.
What future does guest blogging have? Will other marketing tactics take over as the online world becomes more visual?
Guest blogging is not really a new tactic. It has helped newer bloggers for ages. It has become much more popular recently. It’s been largely abused. Many people start associating it with spam.
Therefore at MyBlogGuest we’ve been straightforward about our aims and objectives: we support only high-quality approach to guest blogging because we believe that it’s the only way it should work.
My prediction: “low-quality” guest blogging will soon die out but it will spoil the reputation of guest blogging in its pure form. We’ll survive but we will need much time and patience until people stop associating a guest post request with “link” spam.
You have started an Infographics Gallery to help bloggers. Is there a market for “guest inforgraphics”?
People love infographics. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny it. Once you publish an infographic on your blog, you notice that more people are likely to share it and comment.
Our infographics gallery is meant to help bloggers diversify their content and engage more people. There they are able to find a great relevant graphic to publish. Moreover, they are offered a free unique description going with the graphic. All you need is to publish and keep your readers happy.
Your company is called SEO Smarty — so where are we with SEO? Is content taking over, or is there a future for SEO?
I haven’t been a real SEO, though. I used to be an SEO blogger (finding and reviewing various SEO tools). That’s the time when I also edited SEJ.
But with SEO Smarty I have never ended up providing SEO services: I had a huge issue with pricing. How do you explain the client what you are charging for? How do you explain the client that it took you XX hours to perform some analysis? I always felt uneasy trying to explain anything like that. Package SEO hasn’t been a good solution to me as well because SEO is much more than XX links + XX profiles + XX extra bonuses.
I’ve found my passion in content marketing. I’ve learned to create great content people are happy to publish. I used to be a paid blogger, an editor, a guest post contractor, even a ghost writer. With content I could do anything: from branding and PR to link building and social media marketing.
SEO only works if you have good content. SEO should support good content (making it easier to find). So they should not be interchanged or compared. SEO and content marketing have always come hand-in-hand. I don’t think it is going to change any time soon.
So I’ll state nothing new here: the past, the present and the future of SEO is in the content strategy. Learning to provide great content (in various forms and media) will secure you from any algorithm changes.
What other services do you provide or interests do you have?
I do guest blogging consulting (but I have to reject most of the clients due to the lack of time). I consult MyBlogGuest members for free whenever they need guidelines or help.
I blog a lot. Here are a few of the places where I guest post regularly. I love tweeting (Twitter is still my #1 social media network). I have a few smaller niche-specific blogs I’d love to dedicate more time to including Viral Mom and my self-improvement blog. I have a few tools which I still plan to market soon. These include link tracking tool and TweetedRanks. I am also a stay-at-home mom which makes me less productive.
All in all, I need much more time in a day than I have!
What else would you like to know about guest blogging? Ask in the comments below or share your own experiences.