The answer to the question this article poses is debatable because the word “effective” is actually subjective. As in, it all depends on your perspective.
Yes, there’s ample evidence that guest posting in a specific manner is a great way to market your business, blog or online identity.
There’s also an immense amount of backlash against the guest posting community; the backlash claims it is unfit to guest post in many circumstances, and should not be counted on to drive your business.
There is no real, true, absolute answer. Tough, right? That’s life sometimes, and it’s also the world of entrepreneurship, which is exactly what you’re entering when you decide to blog, use guest posts, and develop any kind of marketing strategy.
The good news in all this is that my subjective viewpoint happens to believe that guest posting is an excellent platform to use in a marketing strategy. It’s not just effective; it can turn the tide to success.
The “how” of this stems directly from the “why” — as in, how guest posting helps your marketing strategy depends on why you’ve decided to do it in the first place.
So, we’ll get started with why you would want to guest post in the first place, then move onto the specific how.
Why Guest Post?
The why of guest posting is not mysterious — there are some key, determining factors that go into the equation. I’ll lay them out in bullets:
- Guest posting hones your writing chops.
- Guest posting increases your audience.
- Guest posting creates solid, insider connections in your niche.
- Guest posting helps to prove you’re an authority on a given topic.
- Guest posting has the potential to provide backlinks, which can boost SEO if done right.
There are a few more, but those five are the core elements of why we guest post. It’s an incredible tool that can get all five of those essential elements done in a single stroke. Typically those five things require five different strategies.
Plus, it snowballs. Once you start (if you start strong), there is no turning back. Each guest post builds on the previous one and soon you are a leading authority in your niche with a collection of readers from your own blog and a dozen others. You have interaction, traffic, and revenue.
Effective as it gets, right?
Why’s are simple. The how of something is always much more difficult, so get ready.
If the idea of laboring into the wee hours of the night for an article you aren’t going to publish on your own site sounds terrible, guest posting may not be for you.
Then again, most entrepreneurs are fine with those hours; it’s how every other aspect of business has to get done, so why not the guest posting too?
When it comes down to it guest posting is exactly like any other part of your marketing strategy. The first step is to be realistic about the time commitment.
Realistically you will have to put in a massive chunk of time (I’m talking full days and weeks in the beginning) to get a handle on your niche and the major players in it, your potential readers and how they consume information and goods, and your own perspective and place in that niche.
Learn to Write Excellent Blog Posts
After doing all of that (which is a bonafide way of starting your business) it’s time to start writing blog posts for your own blog. This is a necessary step that precedes guest posting because you need a portfolio — a digital resume — in order to show people what you’re made of.
After you’ve got a handful of articles up you can begin to guest post. Sounds easy, right?
Well, you should be putting a large amount of research and effort into your articles, both the ones you publish on your site and the ones you plan to write as guest posts. This involves a number of elements that are too broad for this article, but know that it’s paramount to write high quality, relevant content that goes above and beyond the competition. That’s just if you really, really want to succeed.
If you only sort of want to succeed, write mediocre stuff.
The second half of this step is guest post pitching, which is an art in and of itself. Again, too broad a topic for this article (which is about marketing!), but you’ll need to effectively pitch your guest posts to get them published, which in turn will make the whole effort “effective” as a marketing strategy.
These trends tend to be circular; you will always find that the hard work you put in at the beginning, and through each step, will build into one sweeping rise to blog stardom.
Reaching an Audience
Once your writing chops are dialed in you’ll start to get some legitimate guest post opportunities. The blogs may not be huge, but they should be right in your niche, opening you up to a slew of new readers.
You probably have some readership by now — all those backbreaking articles on your site are doing well, right? — but it’s time to leverage the new audience.
Effective marketing is really one thing: connecting with people.
People in this sense are who’s going to buy your stuff or click your links, and people are the ones that will make or break this process for you.
You need to do an incredible job connecting with the new audience members you have who are learning about you through guest posting. You want to be visible, present, available, and encouraging to this new audience, inviting them into your fold while also respecting they’re already part of a community (the one where you got a guest post published).
So, how do you do this?
Comment on Your Guest Posts
Time consuming? Yes. Necessary? Double yes. You should already do this on your own site, but it’s more critical to comment on your guest posts. Don’t comment when nobody else does (that looks bad); reply to comments that others leave.
Guest posting is all about joining this secondary community and trying to make it your own, and commenting is the most direct way of doing that. If someone says, “Great article”, tell them “Thank you!” Don’t oversell yourself, don’t be mean, and answer any questions people may have.
This shows you are committed and will encourage those readers to head to your site, find out more about your business, product, or blog, and become dedicated readers.
Commenting on your guest posts also proves to that blog’s owner that you’re attentive and dedicated. In this world there are a lot of “guest post and move on” types — they write mediocre articles, pitch guest posts every week to multiple outlets, and strive for a huge quantity of guest posts. Those people don’t check back in on their articles to comment across the web.
Remember that when a blog decides to publish your guest post they’re doing you a favor, not the other way around. Of course there’s mutual benefit, but if you approach it like you owe them something, you can repay it by being active on their blog.
It increases their overall comments, their interaction, and their readers’ happiness.
Make Inroads with the Industry
As I said, all of these will tie together to create a movement for your business and blog, otherwise known as a successful marketing strategy.
After writing great guest posts and commenting like a friendly over-attentive madman (or mad-woman), you’ll notice that this next step comes quite naturally.
The best way to build a solid marketing strategy is to get help from a few friends. Friends in your niche or industry — not your buddy who owes you $10.
You’ve already made inroads with your guest posts, and shown those people you care with your comments.
This can be enough to start the secondary marketing on its own. Perhaps those new friends will start sharing your articles on their social networks; perhaps they will ask to write for your site; perhaps they will want to collaborate on a guide, free PDF, giveaway, or unique promotion.
You can always wait for the good news to arrive in your inbox, but you can also take any of the above into your own hands.
Make sure you have a solid connection with someone before suggesting any of those ideas, but if you already do, there’s no time like the present. Make sure you have something to contribute — even if it’s just time and an outline for a collaborative article — and make sure to highlight the mutual benefit of doing such a thing.
This shows it’s still a professional arrangement, and again brings your ability to collaborate and work hard to the surface, which is what industry creators and leaders want to see.
Following all of the above over the course of six months to a year (or longer) will result in your authority in a given topic. Think about how it all compounds — you’re pursuing new audiences frequently, creating unique and relevant resources with your niche’s leaders, and have your own service that has just continued to grow.
You will turn the tide from working with authorities to being one, and then up-and-coming bloggers will start to approach you as you once approached others.
Continue the cycle as this happens by fostering these new individuals. In the blog world there is always competition, but those that collaborate effectively are the ones who mutually succeed.
In terms of marketing, there are few better places to be than an authority. Businesses will send you products to review, your opinion will be asked for interviews, you will participate in industry growth and, to a degree, help direct your entire niche.
Once you’re an entity, everything you do is marketing.
Backlinks and SEO
The final bit of this is the backlinks that guest posting can provide. This is the sore subject in the guest post world, and the main reason those naysayers are saying nay. Backlinks are when another site links to your site; Google’s search engine ranking system is heavily based on how many sites link to yours.
If you have a ton of backlinks you will be ranked highly, found in search more often, and receive more traffic. This, of course, is an incredible tool.
However, it’s not to be abused. If you think about guest posting as having a “dark” and “light” side (that’s a Star Wars reference just in case you missed it), backlink hunting is the dark, whereas developing awesome content is the light.
If you are producing stunning content you will get backlinks. This will increase as you make yourself known in the industry and become an authority.
Just don’t go for backlinks at the beginning, because you’ll end up broke and bummed.
In my subjective opinion, the above serves as an excellent marketing strategy, and guest posts are the central piece. If done diligently they will absolutely be effective in increasing your traffic, connections, and money — however you decide to make money.
That said, you’ll also notice how many elements are not just about the guest posting. It’s a full-bodied effort that requires research, writing, interpersonal communication, and a fair deal of collaboration. The guest post can be a goal and a way to instigate relationships, but it’s all of these elements that make it work together.
Time to get effective with your guest posts. Good luck!