Three ways to create better guest posts (in less time)

Three ways to create better guest posts (in less time)

“I can hardly keep up with my own blog, why should I write for someone elses’ site?”

“I have to send in original content for a guest post? Why would I write something new?”

And my personal favorite, as discussed last week

“Why should I work for free? I have to put money in my hands now!”

Sound familiar?

Here’s my quick answers:

  • Because it’s going to send future clients & customers your way, and also make you look like a total BAMF.
  • Because the fact that they want original content means that you’ll be introducing your best shiz to a whole new audience who will be duly impressed by your post and turn into fans (and clients/customers).
  • You should probably read that aforementioned post, but in the meantime: that attitude is what keeps freelancers stuck in the feast or famine cycle, and guest posting isn’t free work, it’s marketing. (And if you don’t have time for marketing, you need to revisit your business model and/or how you’re spending your time, ’cause honey you ain’t got a biz without marketing.)

I understand writing doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone. I’m lucky in that writing a 1,000-1,500 word blog post usually takes me three hours, tops, with editing and research included. Which is one reason I’m a writer. If writing a blog post takes you 6-8 hours or more (as it does for some people which is totally okay and nothing to be ashamed about), then it seems natural for you to take that time and effort and put it into your own content, instead of creating content that won’t even go on your site.

Of course, building your own outpost (by which I mean your brand, your site, and content on said site) should come first – always. That said, if you’re blogging semi-regularly, there is no reason you can’t be guest posting elsewhere as part of your marketing efforts.

Why give someone else (original) content?

I’m going to address this issue first, because it is far and away the biggest problem people seem to have with guest posting. There’s two answers here:

The fact that they want original content means they’re a site worth posting at.

In general, sites that republish content on a consistent basis are not very good sites to guest post at, and won’t be worth your time (no, not even the time to send in a piece of content that’s already been written). There are some decent site aggregators, but mostly, places that republish the bulk of their content aren’t going to drive a large amount of traffic or interested people your way, because they tend to not have large, dedicated communities or brands of their own. It’s always better to post at a place with an active community than one without, and most places that republish a lot of content or accept unsolicited requests to republish content don’t have large or active communities.

Yes, you are contributing to their site, blog, & business…but you’re also contributing to your’s.

The main reasoning behind this objection seems to come down to scarcity mindset. People feel like they only have a finite number of ideas and by giving one of those ideas to someone else, they’re actively damaging themselves. This is not true because: 

  • You will always have more ideas for content. Creating things gives you more ideas for more things. I’ve written more the last month than I had in the previous six months and I have absolutely no shortage of blog post or guest post or video ideas right now. I have been blogging semi-consistently since 2008 (I’ve written very nearly 150,000 words on this site alone) and yet, I still have ideas.
  • You are giving someone else (whoever runs the site you’re guest posting on) something of value (your high-quality post) but that’s okay because you’re not doing this in some sort of hippy-dippy gifting thing or even as part of a haphazard “well somebody told me I should guest post so heyo! let’s do one here!” way. (Right? If you are, well, I have a thing to fix that.) Instead, you’re guest posting as part of your larger content marketing strategy, which means that you’re getting something of value (email list subscribers, industry street cred, clients & customers) in return. 

Three ways to create better guest posts in less time

Now that we’ve covered the groundwork, let’s get on to three ways to make guest posting easier on yourself:

#1: Revamp your older content.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve got content that you can revamp. Didn’t I just make a big ol’ stink about sending in original content? I did, and with this suggestion, I’m not talking about doing light editing on a post and then sending it in somewhere else. Rather, I’m talking about taking a post of your’s that’s done well in the past (which usually means it’s a pretty solid premise) and repurposing that content in a way that makes it more suited to a different site or audience.

This post that I wrote for Puttylike is a do-over of this post from the archives (2012!). I took the business-specific tips from my post and turned them into more lifestyle-oriented tips for the guest post. I already had an outline to work off of, so the writing went quicker than normal, and the post went over pretty well with Emilie’s audience – I’d call it a win!

#2: Turn video or audio into a post.

If you don’t have any blog posts, do you have podcasts or videos you’ve done before? I turned this video into a blog post at Sarah von Bargen’s business blog (going up later this week). I hadn’t published that content before as a text post, so it’s still an original post, and it turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

Also, if writing takes you an inordinately long time, you can ask a friend to interview you. They don’t have to know that much about your subject matter – just tell them what audience you’re writing for (or pick a person that’s part of that audience!), what you do, and let them fire away with all the questions. Record for 15-20 minutes, listen back over it later, and you’ve probably got enough content and ideas for two posts or more.

#3: Look at their archives for inspiration.

Have a place in mind that you want to post at? (You should, as a part of your plan, cough cough.) Take one of their top 10 posts and…

  • Write a follow up post. (“Thirteen more things to know about XYZ”)
  • Write a rebuttal post. (This one can be tricky, because you’re at risk of offending the blog owner. So instead of writing a post in direct opposition to a previous one, you can write it with a different spin, from a different angle, from an industry specific angle, etc.)
  • Write a post covering the latest research, on that same topic as the popular post. (“What the newest research on XYZ tells us and what that means for your ABC”)
  • Use it as a general jumping off point for content brainstorming!

The fact that it’s based off of a popular post shows the blog owner that you’ve done your research, and it makes your post more likely to be successful (because other posts on the topic performed well, your’s should too). Definitely a win-win, especially since it can decrease your content creation time drastically if you’re always getting stuck in the topic/headline/brainstorming phase.

And there you have it – I hope it makes writing your next guest post easier!

If you want to create your own results-getting guest post strategy, check out the class that starts July 21 – we’re going to cover the entire process and write a post together in class. Not to mention, you can get hands on editing & pitching assistance. Check it out & sign up here! 

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