It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you have to say, if you’re only just starting to tell your story to the world, you’ll probably be tearing your hair out over building an interested and engaged audience. In all fairness, you’d be right to. After all, having someone read and engage with your work is up there on the list of “top 5 things I want as a writer”.
So this means we have to do the work and actually build an audience. And often, one of our first considerations is guest blogging. And rightly so. Because if you can get someone else’s audience interested in your writing, they’ll flock to read more from you, right?
It’s easy to see the benefits of guest blogging. You get a huge bump in exposure, a high authority backlink to your site to drive tons of traffic, and you get to do what you love to do: write! The theory and logic are sound, but the reality is much different. So before you run off and guest post, expecting an influx of traffic and engagement, take a look at these 3 considerations before you start guest blogging.
Side note: I won’t go into the debate around payment for guest posting here, as the reality is if you want to get paid to post, don’t write for someone with a restrictive policy on payment. For every Huffington Post that thinks of exposure as payment, there are 5 other outlets who pay for high-quality content – anecdotal, not an actual ratio! You just need to find one in your niche, with an audience you can engage with, and send them a pitch they can’t refuse.
Increased exposure to a relevant audience
The whole point of guest posting is to get your content in front of a new audience’s digital eyeballs. It’s a no-brainer, and it does work, providing you’ve chosen a blog that gets the right traffic, and actually has the right audience. What’s more, when a brand new audience engages with your content, shares it with their connections, and helps drive awareness of your work, your reach is increased exponentially. So it’s all good news, right?
Guest posting can open up a whole new world of readers, but like anything, it can come with a few downsides, and often raises a few concerns. The biggest of which is the idea that you’re using your best content to drive traffic, and boost SEO for a third party.
Well, you are! But instead of worrying about the traffic, or SEO boost you’re not getting today, think of guest blogging as a building block for the traffic you want tomorrow.
In the beginning, your goal is to build and engage an audience. So unless you have a huge blog audience, you need to be in front of as many people as possible, as often as possible, delivering consistently valuable content.
Bylines and backlinks
High authority links back to your website can help boost SEO, in the form of domain authority. That is undeniable. But what about increasing traffic?
Many guest bloggers expect a guest post to magically increase traffic to their blog, like flicking a switch. Sure, in an ideal world, that would happen. In a perfect situation, readers would be so impressed with your work they would flock to your blog, and start engaging with you on social.
The reality is the increase in traffic generated by one guest blogging byline is negligible, no matter who the publisher is. Understand, I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. But unless you have no visitors to your blog, you’ll hardly notice the increase from a single byline.
You always write what you want to write
One of the biggest misconceptions about guest blogging, in general, is the idea that you always get to share your thoughts and opinions with a new audience. The reality is those opportunities are few and far between.
Of course, as a blogger or a writer, you can write whatever you want. Fill your boots! Write about a political comment that struck a nerve, or the latest gripe you have about the marketing world. Write about that thing that got you fired up. But don’t expect to have is published by a third party.
The reality of guest blogging is your thoughts and opinions will be scrutinized, sub-edited, re-worded, and restyled, only reaching the publishing stage if they fit within the views of the third party.
So be strategic. Make sure you identify audiences, and blogs, that align with your values. Figure out what they would want to read. Look at their latest posts, and use them to inform your work. Don’t expect everyone to share your views, but seek out those that do.
Succeeding with guest blogging is a case of managing your expectations, and not expecting instant results. Consistent exposure to a relevant audience through continuous guest blogging is key, and to make the most of your guest post, make the most of the audience. If there are comments, engage with them. If the post is shared, engage with the person who shared it. Make sure you are actually building your audience, not just contributing to someone else’s authority.