Start Guest Blogging to Build Your Author Platform

by E.J. Wenstrom
published in Community

There are a lot of ways to build your author platform these days. But guest blogging is still one of my favorites.

Writing an article for a popular blog has long-term value that far outlasts the effort, and offers an engaged audience within a focused niche. But my favorite perk is seeing my own work alongside that of an influencer in my niche that I’ve come to respect and admire!

It’s true, blog readers don’t turn into the cross-traffic they once did, but it will still bolster your credibility and SEO from the affiliation with these influential, established websites.

I still get comments on social media and even email about articles written years ago that were helpful or inspiring to readers. I’ve even been queried for events based on the guest posts I’ve written on the topic they’re looking for. And best of all, I get to put my favorite skillset to work (writing, hello) for my author platform.

All in all, I still find a few hours of effort to draft a post to offer years of value (think evergreen topics, not timely hooks, for the best results).

So how do you get guest blogging opportunities? For me, a simple query template has done the trick over and over, for years, consistently scoring me opportunities, even before I had any credentials to back up my request.

Here’s the tried-and-true method I use for guest blogging:

Step 1: Identify your target websites

Consider your audience. What is your book about? What type of readers are you trying to reach? Research blogs that focus on these topics and align with this target audience.

Hopefully, you already know some of them, because the topics in your books likely align with your own personal interests. Bonus points if you’ve commented on posts on the blog in the past or tagged the blog in shares of its content—showing your support for a blog in these ways can help you build rapport even before you pitch.

If you’re looking for new opportunities and feel stuck, look at the other recommended blogs cited in the content of your favorites—some even have a list of recommendations in a sidebar. Or, ask your social media community!

Step 2: Read the guidelines

Before pitching, make sure the blog you have in mind accepts guest posts. Many do—in my experience, more do than don’t. But always confirm before pitching.

To do this, look at the blog’s recent content and see if any are by guest posters. A blog that accepts guest posts on a regular basis will likely also have a page with its submission guidelines. That’s where you’ll find important information about who to address in your pitch, what information to include, and what types of content they accept.

Read them. Know them. Love them. Double-check them.

Step 3: Brainstorm possible topics

When I send a guest post pitch, I always include a few topics for the blogger’s consideration. The magic number is generally three unless the guidelines specify otherwise.

Why three? It keeps the email short but allows for some variety. That way, you’re not all in on a single topic. What if the blog just accepted another post on your one big idea? There’s no way for you to have known, but they can’t accept a second post on the same topic. Sharing a few different ideas gives you more opportunities to pique the blogger’s interest with that perfect idea.

I package each topic with a catchy title—something designed to match other titles on the blog’s recent posts! You want it to be easy for the blogger to see your work fitting into their usual content. Under the title, I share one to three sentences of descriptions about what the post will include: A personal experience that demonstrates a lesson learned? Top tips? An expert perspective? Be clear and specific, and let your natural blogging voice show.

Step 4: Write your email

Finally, draft your email. Be professional, friendly, and concise. Introduce yourself, and be sure to mention anything that gives you particular expertise on the topic. Make your ask clear and mention that you’ve included a few initial topic ideas below, but are open to feedback to make sure it’s of value to their readership.

Before sending, check those guidelines again and make sure your pitch aligns with them.

Then, you wait! If you haven’t heard back in a couple of weeks, it’s generally appropriate to check back.

Guest Blogging Offers Value

When reaching out to blogs, remember: blogs need you too! When you approach a blog with quality content, you’re offering them something of value. After all, blogs need content—constantly!

When you show up in their inbox professionally and articulately, with well-aligned ideas ready to go, you’re showing that you’re not just another person trying to get in front of their audience—you’ve got insights and value to share. You might even make the blogger’s job a little easier.

Follow these steps and I’m confident you’ll be on your way to guest post bylines in no time. Good luck!

Tell us in the comments: Have you ever tried guest blogging? How did it go? Any words of wisdom to add?

By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a digital strategy pro with over 10 years at communications firms. By early-early morning, she’s an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War novels, starting with Mud. She believes in complicated characters, terrifying monsters, and purple hair dye.

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