Do you want to drive more traffic back to your website? Do you want to increase your SEO ranking and gain further credibility? How about expanding your portfolio whilst building connections too? Guest posting and landing press features are effective strategies to do these.
Guest posting and landing press features are two of the best things I’ve ever done for my blogs, personal brand and business. In the past they have seen me add a couple of thousand extra subscribers to my email list, drive a lot of referral traffic back to my site and secure new clients/customers through high quality, valuable content and comments. Back in the last quarter of 2015, I was writing 1-2 high quality guest posts per month and by 2016, the return was so great I had upped my game to 3-4 guest posts per month. I would also have guest posts on my blog around once a quarter. Now I submit press features daily for myself and clients, and get lots of extra practise in by freelance writing for a number of different blogs and publications.
Doing this has taught me a lot about the questions I need to ask when I guest post, submit press comments on behalf of myself and clients, and when freelance writing for clients. I’ve discovered how to make sure I have the information I need to provide when people guest post for me too, in order to optimise the opportunity, work productively and have a successful collaboration that leaves the door open for future guest posting or press features… which is what I’m sharing with you today.
TOPICS COVERED IN THIS POST INCLUDE...
- Why guest posting and landing press features are effective strategies
- Why submission guidelines are essential for a successful collaboration
- What to include in the submission guidelines and what questions to ask others
- How and where to find opportunities to guest post and be featured in the press
- What to include in your submission pitch email
5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ADD GUEST POSTING AND LANDING PRESS FEATURES TO YOUR CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY
- Increases traffic back to your site = more potential email subscribers, clients and customers
- More quality backlinks to your site = higher SEO ranking = more organic traffic to your site
- Creates a portfolio of your work = creates freelance opportunities = could become a full time or supplementary income
- Develops relationships with others through collaboration = establish connections which could lead to more business opportunities
- Increases authority and credibility, especially when wanting to land clients or other press features as you can showcase where you have already been featured
WHY HAVING GUIDELINES FOR GUEST POSTING, SUBMITTING ONLINE PRESS FEATURES AND FREELANCE WRITING IS BENEFICIAL FOR ALL
- To maintain the values, message and vision.
Whether you’re guest posting for someone, or having them guest post for you, a sudden change in brand values, message and vision within the content triggers alarm bells for the audience. They can suddenly begin to lose trust and any emotional connection they felt to the content and the brand/person, because it loses consistency and may in some cases be demonstrating a totally different message altogether. Building up a blog or website where its’ audience understands the values, message and vision behind it isn’t easy to do, but it can quickly be lost by having someone who isn’t the right fit. It brings up questions and doubts, based on one wrong decision. Usually before saying yes to anything, you’ll have done a little background check on the person who wants to write for you (you might even get a gut feeling that they aren’t right based on their initial contact with you) or you’re already a huge fan of the blog/website and that’s why you’re wanting to write for them - because you know you can reflect their mission in your work. It never hurts to do research whether you are the one writing or the one receiving the submission/pitch.
- To help ask the right questions when you write for others and provide sufficient information when they are writing for you, in order to reduce the amount of communication needed.
We’ve all had those back and forth email communications where it could have been condensed with a simple breakdown of all of the information that was needed. It takes up our valuable time and effort that you could have spent writing the post yourself. If you think of every possible question that might need to be exchanged, then create guest posting/writing guidelines or your list of questions to check when you pitch, it cuts out all of that and allows both parties to get stuck into fulfilling their role. Having your own based on your past experience and what you can see from their existing content also ensures you’re asking everything you need to know if the person you’re writing for doesn’t have their own guidelines.
- To determine the roles of both parties.
The guidelines make it clear on who is responsible for coming up with the post idea, creating the image, replying to comments and shares and promoting the content. This sets an expectation from the outset and doesn’t leave either party with extra work that they aren’t sure how to do or don’t have the time to complete.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR GUEST POST GUIDELINES / WHAT TO ASK WHEN GUEST POSTING, FREELANCE WRITING OR SUBMITTING A PRESS FEATURE
- Who is responsible for coming up with the topic?
If there is a monthly content theme or section of the website already in place, does the idea need to fit it now or can it be scheduled in? Can own ideas be submitted and if so, are there any requirements?
- Is there a fee paid for writing or do it cost anything to submit?
(Whether money is being exchanged or not, I highly recommend a contract)
- Can the post be published elsewhere?
Does the post have to be an original? Can it have been used on another blog/website e.g. a syndicated site? To what extent can the information be reused i.e. can it be in full or only an extract?
- What must and must not be included?
Does the content have an age restriction? What can’t be mentioned i.e. political/religious views? How controversial can the post be? Can affiliate links be used? Can secondary images e.g. screengrabs be included?
- How many words should the post be between?
What are the upper and lower limits? Does this word count include the bio?
- Who will provide/create any associated assets? (e.g. social media images)
Will it be created by the owner of the blog/website/publication in order to maintain consistency with your other posts? Are stock photos allowed? Does text need to be added to the image? What information (i.e. style guide) needs to be provided for the other person to create the image?
- What type of post should it be? / How should the post be structured?
E.g. a list post, an interview, a news article, a how to, an opinion piece. Which parts need to be in bold? Does there need to be subheadings? Does the image come first or an introduction? How should the post be rounded up? Are a particular type of bullet point used or are numbers used instead? Long or short paragraphs? And who will do this formatting?
- What SEO techniques need to be included?
What meta information needs to be provided? Who is responsible for doing keyword research? Who is responsible for coming up with an SEO friendly title? Who will add H1, H2, H3 tags etc.?
- What call to action is required at the end of the post?
Is a call to action needed? Is a question required? Do links to related posts need to be added and if so – to whose content?
- Does there need to be a content upgrade at the end? What self-promotion can be included?
Can a free worksheet/workbook/checklist etc. be offered to the audience if they sign up to the email list? Is promotion of paid products or services allowed? If so, to what extent? How many links back can be included?
- How long should the bio be? How many links can be included?
How many words or sentences? Does it need to be written in the 1st person? Can this section contain self-promotion? Does it need to be about personality or professional role? What images and links (if any) are required?
- When is the deadline for post submission? How should it be submitted?
How long after agreeing to these guidelines and setting a post topic must it be received by? Should it be emailed over, as a Google Document or another method?
- How will edits be done? When will it be published?
Who is responsible for running a spelling, grammar and copyright check? Will the submission be added to? How will edits be done? Will revisions need to be provided? How long after the final revision will the post go live? Who owns the content once published?
- If it’s not used, will it be held onto or can it be used elsewhere?
Will the writer be informed if it isn’t being used? Could it be used in the future? If so, how long will this be kept for?
- How will the post be promoted?
Who is responsible for promoting the post? How often will it be promoted? What platforms will be used? Are there any copywriting guidelines for sharing this post? What obligations are there to promote the post?
- Who is responsible for replying to comments and shares of the post?
Will it be jointly done? Who is responsible for answering questions? Who is responsible for following up if a visitor would like to read about another element that relates to this post? What if a visitor has a problem with something included? Who will be responsible for responding and handling negative engagements? How will this be resolved?
- Is this a one-time occurrence or is there a regular contributor slot available?
By agreeing to all of these guidelines, what does it mean moving forward?
These questions are simply there to get you started, but are the most common ones I have had to answer/ask during the past 10 years of blogging, guest posting, working with journalists and freelance writing. My personal preference is when these are already available through a Contribute/Submissions page on websites - this allows people to read through them before they get in touch, saving time for both parties if they don’t agree to or are unable to fulfil them.
Your guidelines are in place for a reason, and it’ll only be in very rare circumstances that you need to make adaptations to suit the needs of the guest poster because you know having them won’t compromise your integrity and it would be really good to have them. Be sure to keep your guest posting guidelines up to date as you make changes to your own content, and keep a copy that you can send over to anyone who doesn’t get in touch via the section of your website containing the text link.
10 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN GUEST POSTING, FREELANCE WRITING OR SUBMITTING A PRESS FEATURE
- To determine why you are the right person/business and why they are the right publication/client
- To do your research and know the audience whether you are writing or receiving the submission
- To help the blogger/website/publication give their audience what they want and need
- To be flexible within boundaries for a smoother collaboration
- To be clear before you get started – it’s better to ask these questions before to save time and energy
- To check HARO, #journorequest, the Submit/Contribute pages of your favourite websites/publications, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn/Twitter searches for opportunities
- To include the word ‘pitch’ in the subject line and a topline (briefly describing what it is you are talking about and how it helps), as well as providing a very short background with a headshot/bio/links to where you can be found online when you are submitting
- To thank people for writing for you / having you write for them and promote the content
- To remember it doesn’t always have to get your business a mention to be worthwhile
- To know you don’t have to work for free, pay to be featured or say yes to everything offered
A SNIPPET FROM THE CLIENT AGREEMENT I USE WHEN GUEST POSTING, FREELANCE WRITING OR SUBMITTING A PRESS FEATURE
It’s important to know that it’s always possible when publishing content that issues will arise, so I wanted to share with you a short piece from my contract when freelance writing for clients. I also look out for similar points in any contracts I receive to sign too as these not only protect both parties but they very much stand by my values too. NB: This is not legal advice and is only for your inspiration.
“Once the Client has approved content ideas, assets and copy via textual communication and/or it is published, then it becomes the Client's property and therefore the Client is liable. Steps that are taken to prevent any issues arising with regards to content/ideas are listed below:
Every piece of content is uniquely written and never copied or reproduced from another client, the Service Provider’s own content or from any other source.
All quotes, images, definitions and information are clearly credited to the original source but may be obtained without explicit or intended consent due to the nature of the channels where user-generated content is shared. If the source cannot be found, it will a) not be used or b) the source will be stated as unknown but welcomes the owner to get in contact so they can be credited. If asked to remove this content, the Client agrees to do this and to take full responsibility for any legal implications that may arise.
Encouraging the Client to purchase stock imagery with the correct licenses, create original photos or work with a photographer to do so or storing the necessary evidence to prove that free stock images were obtained by legal means
If a post is 'sponsored' then ASA guidelines are followed which states that these posts must clearly disclose any paid content prior to anybody reading/watching/listening to it - not doing so is unlawful
No blackhat SEO methods are used that would result in being penalised by Google or any other search engines
No content is written about anything political, religious, extremist, discriminatory, adult or offensive – the Service Provider does not work with any clients who do create content or run a business in any of these areas”
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