How to use guest posting to build your small business’s brand

Become an authoritative voice

Guest posting in popular blogs, trade publications and other media can be a valuable marketing tactic for your business, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur, founder of a funded start-up, or running a growing medium sized company. It’s a great way to position your brand as the voice of authority in its market.

In addition to exposing your business to people who have not heard about it before, guest posting helps you to build trust among people who know about your brand.  Sharing your expertise through guest posting shows your audience that you’re just the right person or company to help them with problems they have that fall within your realm of expertise.

To bring more customers into your business through the great educational content you produce, you need consistent website traffic. While it’s important to post content on your own blog, guest posting helps you reach new audiences. It is one of the best ways to start building that traffic and growing your business.

Here’s how guest posting works

The concept of guest posting is simple. You offer high-quality content that shows off your expertise to blogs or websites with online traffic that matches your business’s ideal audience. In return, the publication will give you credit for your article through a by-line – and often a profile photo and short biography – plus links to your own website or blog.

This arrangement builds name recognition among online readers for you and your business, and you might see a steady volume of traffic from the guest post to your website. It also generates “backlinks” from your guest articles to your own site that show search engines that your website should be seen as an authority, which makes search algorithms more likely to promote your content.

Determine your goals before you start guest posting

The best place to start with guest posting is to take some time to think about what you’re hoping to get out of your efforts. Are you looking for new clients or customers? If so, who are these ideal customers, where do they spend time online, and what kinds of problems can you help them solve through a guest posting format?

Are you hoping to grow your network within your industry, perhaps in an effort to access speaking opportunities at industry events? In this case, you’ll want to focus your efforts on industry verticals, which are likely tailored to your peers rather than your customers.

When you’re first figuring out how to start guest posting on various blogs, the sheer volume of platforms and potential topics to consider can be overwhelming. Focusing on exactly what you hope to gain from this marketing strategy will help you match your efforts to your big-picture business goals.

Build your blogging portfolio

It’s helpful to have high-quality content on your own site that reflects your knowledge of the subjects you’ll be pitching to the sites where you wish to guest post. This is particularly important if you are pitching ideas rather than completed pieces, since editors will want to see what you can deliver.

Start by publishing three to five high-quality, long-form pieces of pillar content on your own website.

This content should reflect the best of your expertise, relate to the product or service you’re selling, and be similar to the topic you plan to pitch to outside platforms.

Identify guest blogging opportunities

Once you have a solid archive of blog content on your own site, you’re ready to research where you’d like to submit guest content. Competition to get into top-tier business and news publications is fierce, while specialist sites focusing on your industry (ITWeb for technology or BizCommunity for marketing, for example) may be interested in your expert commentary.

There are other options. If you have a supplier or a business partner with a successful blog and large social following, you could see if you can create a post for its site. Or you could speak to hobbyist bloggers in your industry to see if they’d be interested in your content. Spend a bit of time googling for online publications in your industry to see if you can identify opportunities.

Review submission guidelines carefully

When you’re submitting a guest post to a major publication, try to make the editor’s life easy by meeting the submission guidelines in terms of length, format, writing style and so forth. They will usually give you these guidelines if they accept your pitch for a post. Read them carefully and follow them to the letter! The larger the publication, the less likely they are to bend the rules for you.

Track your referral traffic

Once your guest content has been published on three to five different publications, you’ll want to use Google Analytics – or another similar traffic monitoring tool – to track the volume of website traffic coming from the different articles you’ve published. Keep in mind that your biggest volumes of referral traffic might not come from the biggest publications.

Smaller publications will often display your by-line and website links more prominently, and can often have more engaged audiences who are more likely to click through to the author’s content. That’s why the beginning of your guest posting journey is a great time for lots of trial and error as you hone in on the strategy that’s best suited to meet your business’s goals.

Remember, this is a long-term strategy

You don’t want to burn yourself out before you even begin, so think about whether you’ll need the help of a team member or outside freelancers to develop the volume of content you want to share. And when resources are limited, be realistic about how much content you can create.

There’s a reason that we’re seeing more and more content every day that’s written by guest authors. This strategy has proven to work for thousands of businesses, big and small. Start with one guest post at a time, then stay consistent. Soon, you will be that top of mind authority that your ideal customers are vying to work with.

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Meredith Wood.