It was a hot summer night in July 2005 and I couldn’t sleep. There were two reasons for my insomnia:
- I was eight months pregnant in the summer heat.
- I was launching my (ugly) website into the world.
I was a random mom from Romania who had a dream of replacing her high-level management consulting job salary. To make things more difficult, I’m not a native English speaker and had zero connections online.
I was, to be honest, a digital nobody.
Nevertheless, that first month I managed to bring in 200 email subscribers. To me, those first 200 meant everything. And based on that initial list, I managed to completely book my VIP content marketing services in only two weeks.
How did I do that? By highly targeted guest blogging.
Written off by some as a time-swallowing black hole, guest blogging can really work — but only if done strategically. And, in a bit of a meta moment, my content marketing services were just the skillset that helped me get my first 200 subscribers.
How to find the right blog to guest post
Most people will tell you to start by Googling what you want to write about. So if you are rolling your eyes thinking about blind Google research, I get it.
That’s why I want to go deeper and share my step-by-step process for finding 20 quality websites to target for guest posts — sites that are ideal for your business that will get you the best results for your effort.
The 5 factors to consider when pitching a website
How do you choose the ones that you are going to use as guest posting platforms?
You will look at the following criteria:
1. An overlapping audience
You must know exactly who your ideal client is and where they hang out online, what websites and blogs they read, and what they do in their free time. If you don’t have this information, it won’t matter how many guest posting tips I give you, they won’t work. How will you reach “the right” people if you don’t know who they are?
Your instinct will be to find ONE site your audience loves. But you have to diversify: aim for getting posts in blogs in at least three different niches as long as they partially overlap your own.
Let’s say your product teaches photography. In this case, you can be a guest blogger for:
- A parenting website – Parents usually want to take great pictures and capture the best moments of their family.
- An online marketing blog – Business owners want to take beautiful pictures they can use in their marketing.
- A personal development website – People want to use photography as a way of relaxing and clearing their minds.
Three different audiences for the same product/service.
2. High engagement level
You want to write for websites where readers are engaged. That means they often post comments and share the articles they love. An engaged audience is more likely to take the desired action (like opting into your email list).
3. High traffic
Get a ballpark for the audience size by going to TrafficEstimate.com and inputting the website URL.
Traffic numbers are just an extra data point to know about the website you are targeting, but it can’t be the ONLY data point. Traffic numbers offer a general idea about what results you should expect, but don’t think that this will clearly predict the success your article will have with its audience. I had more than 100 signups from small blogs (less than 50k in monthly traffic) and less than 20 signups coming from bigger websites (1 million in monthly traffic).
In the end, it is all about:
- The level of audience engagement
- How much your content will resonate with them
- How compelling your call to action is
4. Guest post policy
Simple, but often overlooked!
Look for their Contact page, type “guest” in their search box, or just go to Google and type the website URL and “contribute” for example:
5. Links policy
Read their guest posting guidelines (if they have any) or check out a few articles written by their contributors (using the Google search above) and see what information they allow guest posters to insert. If you are not able to insert links, the post will have significantly less impact on your business. Sometimes it’s still worth it. But most times, it’s better to find another outlet.
Either way, after your pitch gets accepted do not be afraid to negotiate with the editor for the best way you can attract their readers to your own website.
An example (my email and the blogger’s answer):
And another example:
If your article is valuable for their readers, they will be happy to help you in return.
Top guest posting research shortcuts
Now that you know the criteria for a great guest post target, let’s discuss how you actually find those sites. This is the exact process I use for myself and all my clients when starting to put together a list of websites to target.
1. The keyword master technique
First, brainstorm a list of 5 to 10 words or phrases that your ideal client would look up on Google to find a solution to their problems. Ideally, you have this information from your customer research as everything about this process will revolve around your ideal client and their specific needs.
An example: Let’s say that you are a diet coach working with busy corporate women who want to lose weight. Potential keywords that such a woman looks up would be:
- “quick healthy lunch ideas”
- “how to lose weight fast”
- “easy dinner recipes to lose weight”
- “office low calories lunch ideas”
Once you have your own list of keywords, you can start your Google research. You can use any of the above search formulas, just replace keyword with your own keyword.
- Keyword “guest post”
- Keyword “guest post by”
- Keyword “written by
- Keyword “write for us”
- Keyword “become a contributor”
- Keyword “contributor”
- Keyword “guest post guidelines”
- Keyword inurl:contribute
For example, if we use the keywords from the previous exercise, the search would look like this:
- Quick healthy lunch ideas “guest post”
- How to lose weight “write for us” etc.
And this is how the results will look:
2. The star blogger technique
I am sure you know people in your industry who are already successful with their business. Research the websites they wrote for when they wanted to build their audience and add those websites to your own guest posting list.
To do that, just go to Google again and type in the name of one blogger in your field together with the phrase “guest blog by” or “my guest posts.”
Let’s use me as an example: Olivia Angelescu “guest blog by”
Then you will scroll down and start to see the results of the search:
If you are writing for the same niche as I am (people who want to launch fast and grow their business), those websites will surely be interested in your articles.
3. The similar websites technique
Once you have your list of at least 10 websites to target, you can add more similar websites by using a simple free tool like SimilarSites (they also have a free Chrome plug-in you can use).
4. The top content technique
Another way to find good websites to guest post for is to use content analyzing tools like BuzzSumo.com or Epictions, which help surface popular content on a given subject matter. Those tools are paid, but both of them also have a free trial of two weeks (BuzzSumo also has a free version allowing 10 searches/day).
With these tools, you can search popular content that got a lot of shares on social media based on a simple keyword. This allows you to see two things:
- Which websites publish articles on your topic (and add them to your guest blogging list)
- What content type performed best on those websites (so that you use this information in your guest blogging pitch to them, to show them you did your homework and increase your chances to get accepted)
Now it’s time for action.
I put together for you a simple tool: a template containing all the required information to gather for your guest posting process. The first line is already filled in with one example from my own guest blogging database, so that you can see how it should look. Click here to access it (no opt-in required): Your guest blogging template
Download this file, and using the research shortcuts I gave you above, find 20 websites to target.
You now have your customized guest blogging file with 20 websites you want to guest blog for, and this only took you 30 minutes!
Now you can quickly move to the next step, where you start preparing your perfect pitch that makes the editor say “Yes” on the spot, and write that killer article that will instantly position you as an expert in your field. For more help with that, here’s this great resource for how to guest post with real pitch examples.
Also, here you have a comprehensive list of guest post format ideas, so that you can write your next one as quickly as possible (they work also for your own blog, of course).
I am curious. Do you use guest blogging to grow your audience? Do you have your own strategy or any cool tips on finding great websites to guest blog for? I can’t wait to hear all about it. Let me know in the comments below.