This site’s not about traffic-generation.

First, there are plenty of other sites out there all able to help with that.

Second, most of you reading this aren’t interested in building massive blogs that generate loads of income, passively.

I get that, but I don’t care.

Here’s why you should be interested in this post: every writer; every creator, needs to be building their platform online

If you’re not, you’re missing out on the low-hanging fruit: people searching for what you have to say; what you have to teach.

You should be building an asset for the future–through building a blog or website.

And there’s one way I’ve found that beats all others. 

Before I give it all away, though, I’ll give you a few “selling points” that help solidify this strategy’s place in my heart:

  1. It’s free.This strategy takes no money. You won’t be paying for ads or anything shady.
  2. It’s pretty easy to do. Once you get set up, you’ll be churning out great content that people want to read. If you want to make money from it, you can. If you just want to use this strategy to get more sales for your latest novel, you can. It’s up to you!
  3. It really works. Seriously–if you don’t believe me, I’ll give you a list of articles that back this up. Read them, peruse the sites, and see for yourself how well it’s worked for the site owners.

Okay, okay. There are downsides, too. If you really want to know, here are a few possibly detrimental things this “magical strategy” brings:

  1. It takes time. Like most money/time tradeoffs, this is no different. You’ll spend many hours getting it right.
  2. It’s not automated. I’ll help you get it as automated as possible, but this is not a “set it and forget it” strategy.
  3. It’s not timeless. While your results will pay benefits long down the road, you’ll need to continuously be adding value and building your asset base throughout it all.

What’s the big secret strategy?

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s not really a secret. The strategy, generally speaking, is called guest posting, but I will be adding two other MAJORLY IMPORTANT aspects of guest posting to round-out the overall strategy I use, so stick around.

Guest posting is the strategy of writing blog posts with the intent of having them published throughout the web, in specific niche markets you’re trying to target, and on certain sites where your message will be received well.

Many, many bloggers have tried it and written about it, so you should be able to easily find other sources of great information on the topic. I’ll go over the basics here, and then add some specific, actionable advice you can really put to good use.

First, let’s talk about the basic strategy.

Guest posting doesn’t need to be hard–for most bloggers, the difficulty is in getting started. I’m here to help. Here’s the basic strategy, outlined in an approachable, usable way:

  1. Set up your site for success. Bloggers often forget this integral step (I did, when I had my first guest post published a few years ago). Make sure your theme is great and easily navigable, that you have great content that people want to read, and that you’re “capturing” visitors onto your signup forms, or sending them through a sales/conversion funnel of some sort. Basically, make sure that when they get to your site, they don’t bounce away.
  2. Plan your guest-posting campaign. This includes finding opportunities, seeking out blog owners, and landing scheduled posts. Do a search for your topic followed by “guest post” to see sites that might host your article. Then, keep track of the possible opportunities. I use a spreadsheet with the Site Name, Post Title, Anchor Text, Link, and Post Date, among a few other key metrics I want to track. Finally, I have a column for “Yes/No/Sent/IP (In Progress)” that lets me see and organize with the click of a button where in the process I am with my posts.
  3. Write, Rinse, Repeat. Once you have a great list of possibilities, start pitching (I’ll cover this in more detail later). Write the posts that are accepted, or write the posts to have a few on standby, and keep churning through your list. My spreadsheet is an ongoing work-in-progress that I add to as I come across more blogs that accept guest posts.
My pitch: Generally, I use this same “cold email” pitch, once I’ve found a site that might be a good fit. Keep in mind that I *always* make sure to subscribe to their newsletter or RSS feed as well, and I usually have been reading their blog for awhile. 
Hi [blogger]!
First, thanks for everything you do! I’ve been reading your site for [amount of time that’s not embarrassingly short], and I love it. Thanks for the great stuff, and keep it up.
I noticed you didn’t have any guest posting guidelines* on your site, but I have a post that I think might be a great fit for your audience. I’ve attached it in Word format, but I can send whatever works best for you! It’s called [name of post]–let me know if you’d like me to make any changes to it!
Thanks again,
[your name]
*If they already have guest posting guidelines, um, follow them precisely. 

Second, content is king.

To “guest post” well, you need to focus 110% on one thing: content. If you aren’t writing great content, two things will happen:

  • Your posts won’t be good enough to be accepted.
  • If your post is accepted, your blog won’t have anything of value to offer people if they do visit.

So combat that problem now. Focus on creating actionable, usable, and value-adding content. Read these posts for more information:

Practice writing every day. You don’t need to blog every day (and I might recommend not blogging every day, especially at first), but you really should get in the habit of writing every day.

I’ve found that the best posts, both for my own site and for guest posts, are:

  1. Long. Some sites will give you an explicit word count, but you can get a general feel for the standard post length by reading through a few posts on the site. I write posts anywhere from 700 to 2,000 words, sometimes more. Don’t believe the advice that shorter posts are better–shorter posts are generally better for sites churning out four to five articles a day, every day.
  2. Well-researched. This should go without saying, but unfortunately it needs to be said. Take the time to research your post, adding in helpful anecdotes, quotes, stats, and testimonials–really work on selling your ideas. If you don’t, it might still get published, but no one will care about your writing enough to visit your site.
  3. Linkable. This is the most “unscientific” of the three, but it’s still important. Why do videos, infographics, and super-in-depth posts get thousands of inbound links? Because they’re linkable. Duh. Make sure you’re including unbelievable amounts of value, and the links will roll in. Spin the same crap everyone else has been saying, without making it sound fresh and original? Fail.

Third, be sure to “stick around” and follow up. 

What you’re really doing here isn’t just adding value to your site’s and your host’s site’s readers–you’re building trust and relationships with people who can help you.

When your post goes live, be sure to bookmark it and visit it religiously over the next few days. Follow up with any commenters, and be sure to help promote it on social media sites. You want to solidify the fact that your site isn’t a fly-by-night blog, bent on getting free traffic from others.

Super-Advanced Guest-Posting Bonus Strategies

So, I promised some advanced techniques that make this particular strategy a winner. Without wasting your time, those particular strategies are outlined and described below.

1. Write compelling headlines. Be okay with the fact that your draft post’s final headline will be up the host. Still, I’ve actually found that it makes a difference in your initial pitch when you craft an amazing headline that perfectly encapsulates what the blogger wants for their site. Think about it:

Which would you rather read about here, even if it’s the exact same content:

The second is more compelling, more specific, and great at capturing attention. I can’t really get into what makes a great headline here (for that, you should watch more Mad Men…), but I can point you in the direction of a friend who’s pretty much nailed it.

2. Write more. When you think you’ve reached the point of wrapping up, read through the post one last time and see if there’s anything else that’s actionable, specific, and immediately helpful you can add. Even better–replace something vague, off-topic, or unhelpful (look in your parenthetical phrases!) with something that’s more in-depth.

Again, it seems like the longer (and more inclusive) the post, the better chance of success it has. This isn’t rocket science, it’s blogging. Add more value, get more result. Don’t worry about spending time writing, either–it’s worth it.

3. Stick with it. I first landed a guest post on a huge blogging site and thought I’d “made it.” I promptly sat back and waited for the traffic–and cash–to pile up.

I was sorely mistaken.

After a couple thousand unique visits, the initial fifteen minutes of fame ended. I hadn’t properly set up my site for “capturing” visitors, but my main problem was that I didn’t focus on continuing down the same path of Write, Rinse, Repeat.

For your guest-posting campaign, know that it takes time–not just to write great content and find post opportunities, but also to keep churning out content and having it posted anywhere and everywhere.

Well, what are you going to do? 

Guest posting is a great way to add one-way backlinks, increase your brand recognition, and the get your name out there–but only if you stick with it.

Take it from these guys–all of whom I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” online. I’ve got posts scheduled to go live at each of them, and I hope we’ll see the growth that I know can come from it!

You can take this advice, file it away, and hope to remember it upon the launch of your next blog (you won’t). Or, you can be smart about it and leave a comment, starting the chain of accountability, and let the world know what you’re planning to do! Better yet, you can subscribe to the newsletter here.