Editor’s Note: This post, The Building Blocks of a Successful Blogger Program, was written by nDash community member Jaime Saine.
Creating a robust guest blogger program can give marketing teams breathing room, increase blog cadence, improve SEO and enhance brand reach. But how do you find guest bloggers? Here are some top tips on where to look, how to cultivate relationships, and how to get the best response from outreach efforts.
Where to Find Guest Bloggers
Finding a line-up of guest bloggers takes time and sleuthing skills but isn’t terribly difficult. Create a simple tracking spreadsheet (here’s a template) and start gathering information.
You can get creative with where you find potential guest bloggers, but there are a few tried-and-true methods.
You’re likely already following popular hashtags related to your industry and areas of expertise/services, so put those lists to use. Look for the individuals who most actively use your target hashtags and participate in conversations. You can include less active people if they’d be a good fit for your guest blog series, but you’re likely to have better luck with people who are very active.
Another thing you probably already do is follow industry articles and publications. Make note of any industry experts who write contributor pieces or who are quoted in these articles.
Spend some time on conference websites looking at presenters, panelists, and keynote speakers. These resources are gold mines for finding potential guest bloggers. Not only can you get an idea of what they like talking about, but odds are they already understand the benefit of being a thought leader and may be open to additional guesting opportunities.
Award & “Top” Lists
Annual awards and “must follow” or “top XZY” lists are good for keeping an eye on rising stars. Keep in mind that these people likely get many requests right after a list is published, so you may want to add them to your list of potential guest bloggers for later outreach.
Simple but effective, ask your coworkers (in all departments) if they have any known connections they can introduce you to. These may be people they used to work with, someone they met at a conference, or even a customer or prospect.
Ask Your Guest Bloggers
Expand your network of influencers by asking your guest bloggers for introductions to anyone they know who might be interested in being featured.
Dedicate time every month to guest blogger research and keep the program in the back of your mind as you go about your day. As you come across names, add them to your tracking doc. Even if you can’t fill all the information in right away, you’ll at least have their name documented for later. Soon enough, you’ll have an extensive list to reach out to.
What to Ask For
What you ask for depends on your vision for your guest blog series, but at the beginning, it’s best to keep things simple. A few common asks include:
- Fully written blog posts (send word count expectations and topic ideas with your initial request)
- An original blog once a month or quarter
- 15-30 minutes of time for a recorded interview
- Answers to a personalized Q&A
My personal favorite is the Q&A series. It requires the least amount of effort from your guest as they simply have to answer a handful of questions via a word doc or email and don’t need to go through a potentially lengthy editing process. Answering questions is also less daunting for many people than the idea of writing a complete blog post.
You can also mix and match approaches. Maybe some connections are keen to write full original blogs, while others might be more comfortable with Q&As. As you build relationships with your guests, you may even find that some would be happy to contribute original content on a recurring basis.
Make It Simple & Worth Their While
When done properly, guest blogs benefit both the host site and the guest blogger. During your initial outreach, let your prospects know:
- Where their content will appear
- The size of your audience
- How you’ll promote their content (be sure to tag their social profiles)
- Engagement and reach of previous guest content (once you have a few published examples)
- An overview of your process and expectations (what you need from them, how long it will take, etc.)
Once your program is up and running, sharing examples of previous guest pieces will help prospects envision the end result and more accurately gauge if it’s something they’re interested in taking on.
Finally, make the process as simple as possible for them. Limit the amount of back-and-forth editing and try to avoid an extensive in-house approval process if possible. The more you ask of your guest, the less likely you are to get buy-in.
Building a Manageable Guest Blogger Program
You’ve heard it before when it comes to regular content publishing: Consistency is key. With a guest blogging program, setting extremely realistic goals is even more important since you don’t have complete control of the process. When starting your guest blogging program, aiming for one guest blog every month is generally a good place to start.
If you’re a top brand in your industry that people would love to attach their name to, it might be easier to get guest bloggers. But for the rest of us mortals, building a guest blogger pipeline takes more time and persistence. Send out at least five request emails per month, and keep track of when you last emailed someone. If you have a lot of interest at once, choose evergreen topics so you can backlog blog posts to publish according to your guest series cadence.
Most of all, keep with it. You’ll likely have to send out several requests to get one “yes,” but keeping an extensive list of potential guest bloggers and regularly doing outreach will help you build a successful guest blogger program.
Actionable Takeaways for Building a Guest Blogger Program
- Establish your guest blog series format (Q&A, podcast-style interview, full original blog posts, etc.)
- Build a list of potential guest bloggers
- Draft your ask (being able to copy and paste (with personalization) a request email will make the outreach process go much faster)
- Define your outreach cadence and set calendar reminders
- Begin outreach, content collection, and publication!
Shameless Plug: Brands on nDash can request (free) guest blogs from our community of 10,000+ freelance writers. Learn more here.