Whether you’re in communications or marketing (or realistically, a combination of both PR and marketing), a major part of your job is developing and pitching content.
You and your team are responsible for creating content.
You need content for your website, blog, email newsletters and campaigns, and your social media accounts.
But you’re also responsible for using content to reach new audiences.
And not just those people who are already cruising your website and blog, opening your emails, and following you on social media.
That’s where guest blogging comes into play.
Tips to Improve Your Guest Blogging Strategy
Contributing guest articles to targeted online publications and media outlets can earn you a place in front of new audiences, while at the same time helping editors at those publications meet reader appetites for original, expert content.
It’s a win-win situation—when done correctly.
To learn more about how to create and pitch content that better meets editor and reader needs, we asked the editors themselves.
While putting together “The State of Digital Media 2018,” my team surveyed editors at online publications from various industries.
We asked them what they are looking for and how marketing and PR leaders can best deliver it.
Following are some of our top findings.
Lots of Opportunities for Contributed Content
When we asked editors how much guest content they accept and publish, we noticed a lot of opportunities.
More than three in four editors surveyed said they publish 1-10 articles from guest contributors per week.
And 94 percent of respondents said they’re planning to publish the same amount of contributed content this year or more.
This is good news for marketers because it signals plenty of opportunities to contribute content to publications that reach their target audiences.
It’s important to remember that you’re not the only potential contributor out there.
This increase in guest blogging can easily mean an increase in competition, as well.
To stand out and improve your chances of acceptance, focus on creating truly high-quality, original content.
Furthermore, this content should be coming from your company’s subject matter experts so it will engage audiences.
Skip the Self-Promotion
The majority of editors we surveyed say they publish guest content for the same reason: to share new ideas, fresh perspectives, expert opinions, and unique advice with their readers.
Editors want to share insights that meet readers’ needs and which audiences can’t get anywhere else.
Outside contributors can help deliver this—when they drop the self-promotion.
Unfortunately, self-promotional content remains a problem.
Seventy-nine percent of editors said one of the biggest problems with contributed content is it’s too promotional—an increase of eight percentage points over last year’s findings.
Overly promotional content is one of the leading reasons editors reject guest posts.
And it makes sense.
Editors who publish contributed content do so because they want to share valuable insights with their readers.
They are not keen on providing a huge platform for self-promotion or promotion of your company.
That too-promotional feel is easily avoidable if you keep your content focused on the audience above all else.
Your job is to educate readers, engage them with ideas and stories, and help them do their job better.
It’s to provide something of value to them.
Does this mean you can never, ever link to your company’s blog or other content resources, or reference your experience as a leader at your company?
No, it doesn’t.
It typically means that any reference or link to yourself must add actual, substantial value to your readers.
It means your reference should add value to their understanding of what you’re sharing with them.
Focus on your audience.
Save the self-promotion for the parts of your strategy that lend themselves to it best: your website, your email, and your sales process.
Distribute Your Content to the Right People
Your guest content isn’t inherently successful just because it’s been published.
That would be like saying your blog posts are all a success because they’ve been created.
Or your email campaigns are a hit because you sent them.
To ensure your content is successful, it’s helpful to know how editors define it.
When asked which metrics they use to gauge the success of guest posts, 93 percent of editors said pageviews.
Also, 75 percent said they use time on site, and 69 percent reported using social shares as metrics.
If you want to ensure your guest posts are successful—and become a contributor editors are excited to work with—creative content distribution needs to become a priority.
This means creating high-value content that’s engaging and shareable.
But, it also requires you to get it to the right people in your audience.
Those who will impact pageviews, spend time on the site, and pass your content along to others in their networks.
Guest Blogging is a Smart Tactic
Guest blogging for online publications and media outlets is a great way to reach new audiences and build your thought leadership.
However, it involves more than just shopping around one article to any editor who will take it.
You need to know what these publications are looking for when it comes to content…and be smart about pitching.
I hope these insights directly from editors will help you refine your guest blogging strategy.