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Over the last 6 months or so, in an attempt to get more traffic and new readers to my blog, I have been trying to leverage other peoples audiences. Otherwise known as guest posting.

Guest posting is not a new concept and over the last several years,  it has become an incredibly popular way for new bloggers (or anyone) to get more exposure in the blogosphere.

The concept is pretty straight forward. You write an article, submit it to another blog, and sit back and enjoy your newfound traffic. Sounds great, right?

If only it worked that well. Well… it can, but you have to do it right.

Anatomy Of  A Guest Post

If your goal is to get your name/business/brand out there, wouldn’t it make sense to submit only your very best work? Do you think that submitting a half assed post to another blog is going to help you or them? Unfortunately, many, many people do just that. Why do you think the Web is filled with more trash than a Kid Rock concert?

Done correctly, guest posting can be one of the strongest forms of traffic generation. Done poorly, your results will be…well..poor.

Over the last 6 month or so, I have submitted a number of guest posts to some high traffic, well known sites. My results varied greatly and I couldn’t figure out why. While some of these posts generated hundreds of visitors, some generated fewer than ten.

So why the huge disparity in my results? I was writing in the same style as I always have, I put a lot of time into each post, and I thought the quality was very good.

Well, there was a critical point that I failed to learn prior to submitting these posts. I didn’t understand their audience nearly enough.

For my guest post on HowToMakeMyBlog.com, I wrote what I thought to be a well thought out and helpful post about keyword research, but apparently nobody else did. Fail.

Given the fact that Mario averages between 20,000 and 50,000 visitors each month on his site, I could have gotten much more traffic than I actually did. It was my own fault for not understanding his readers interests.

Just because you write a post about how to play tennis and submit it to a tennis website doesn’t always mean that your message will resonate. This holds true for any topic.

Know their audience well before submitting. Take the time and actually read some (this means more than one) of their posts. Your results will be much better.

Anatomy Of A Sucky Guest Post

Over the last two months, I’ve been fortunate to receive a number of guest posts from my readers and other folks I’ve met online and although most have been very good, there have been a few sucky ones and I’ve had to outright reject a few train wrecks as well.

As it turns out, not everyone is a good writer. And that’s OK.

However, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to work on a few things:

  1. Your spelling. This irritates me to no end. We all have spell check don’t we? I can forgive you if you misspell one or two words, but ten??? Come on now. What’s even worse is the improper use of words like lose and loose. It’s really not that hard people. I see this one every day and have to wonder how it’s possible. Here is a great post from The Oatmeal about misspelled words. My sentiments exactly…
  2. Your lack of originality. Please don’t rehash the top 10 best SEO plugins for the millionth time. Please don’t tell me how to increase my email newsletter subscribers again. How about using that little thing called your imagination? What a concept. Show some of your creative juices off. Stand out and get noticed.
  3. Fragmented sentences. If your sentence fails to make sense, you are either a sub-par writer or you may be using a fragmented sentence. There’s your weekly English lesson…
  4. Sentences that make no sense. I received a guest post that included the following sentence “when I discovered more how to adapt to my current job description, I was relieved. WTF is that? Please double check your entire article before sending it off. Many times, the accepting blog owner will not catch your mistake(s) and now the Web has yet another poorly constructed article…
  5. You don’t reread your post before submitting it. Nobody gets everything perfect the first time. There are bound to be errors. It’s your job to find them, so I don’t have to.
  6. You make demands. This happened to me once. I got an email from a fellow blogger who told me he would be happy to provide a guest post on two conditions: 1) I pay him to have it transcribed into audio because he didn’t want to actually write a post and 2) I put a link to his site above the fold in my sidebar and with specific anchor text. If Darren Rowse asked me for this, sure no problem. This guy was NOT Darren. The point is-don’t be an asshole. We’re not as important as we think we are.
  7. Your post title sucks. We all know by now that post titles are every bit as important as the content. Why? Because nobody will ever read your post if the title is boring. By the way, I am definitely guilty of writing weak headlines too. Take some time and really think it through. Here is a great article from CopyBlogger about the importance of headlines.
  8. Your bio is boring. After reading an interesting or inspiring post, I want to read something interesting or inspiring about the author. Take the time to make it unique and fascinating. We all know that you enjoy Internet marketing and blogging. Tell us something about YOU!
  9. You forgot sub headings. Nothing says boooring like seeing a 1,500 words all in one block. Break up the post with catchy subheadings, bullets, bold font, and photos. Don’t forget that these titles should be attention grabbing as well.
  10. Your choice of photos is weak. We’ve all done it, but I’m tired of seeing cheap stock photography on every other post online. It’s lame. What’s even worse is seeing low quality photos or ones that don’t fit with the concept of the post. Photos should draw the reader in and get them thinking. I have spent 2 hours trying to find a single photo before. Yea it’s annoying to spend all that time, but I feel like it has worked to my advantage. Try it out.

Ok, Know-It-All, So What DOES Work?

I am far from the expert on guest posting, but I have spent a great deal of time learning about how to effectively use it. I also know what I look for and find acceptable in a guest post.

If you want to learn from people who have done a TON of guest posting, check out Karol Gajda’s interview on BlogCastFM or get Onibalusi’s free eBook about it. Both of these guys have dominated the world of guest posting!

What I can tell you is to focus on a few things that will get you better results:

  1. Write the absolute best post you are capable of and give it away. It sounds crazy and many people scoff at this idea (myself included). However, if you currently have 500 monthly readers and you write a post that will change the world, why put it on a site that will only reach 500 people? Share it with a blog that will get in from of 10,000 or 20,000 readers. It will be excruciatingly painful to give a post like this to another blog, but it works.
  2. Make sure you find the right audience. Would you submit your post about the best way to create passive income to TheArtOfManliness? No, but it happens. Make sure you understand their readers and be perfectly clear about why you are writing for their blog. To get more traffic is not a good answer..
  3. Don’t duplicate an idea that has already been beaten to death.Writing about Twitter apps and WordPress themes is fun, but it’s been covered more thoroughly than Charlie Sheen’s descent into reality television.
  4. Don’t spam out your post. For example, I just received a guest post submission that was all about earning money with network marketing. Do you think that person read my blog first? I think not either. Point being-don’t just send out your post to as many sites as you can find. Take your time and choose the best ones.
  5. Spell check.We often hear that we should write like we talk. That may be all fine and good, but at least try to spell “wut up dawg” correctly.
  6. Become an insider FIRST! When I say insider, I don’t mean that you should know what kind of toothpaste Pat Flynn uses. I’m referring to getting on his radar. Who do you think has a better chance of getting a guest post submitted? Me (an unknown) or Onibalusi, who leaves a comment on every one of his posts? Your job is to find a way to introduce yourself into their circle, even if it’s just a little. You want them to know your name. I actually have reached out to Pat several times and although he did respond, he didn’t have the time to help me with my requests. Why? He’s super busy and he doesn’t know me.

If you are serious about attractive droves of new readers to your site, and of course you are, then guest posting is a great way to do it. Take the time to do it right and you will reap the rewards. This is truly a win-win situation. The host blog gets a (hopefully) awesome post and you get more exposure.

If you have any strategies or tips that you would like to add, please feel free to share them in the comment section.

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