Want to expand your audience and build your reputation as an authority in your space? Isn’t that the dream? Thoughtful guest blogging for authoritative blogs with larger and more established audiences could just be the stuff that dreams are made of.
But, as with many nonprofit marketing ventures, it’s not as easy as writing something up and sending it to a blog. There are some initial steps and strategies to get in place first. Before you can join the conversation, we’ll show you what to look for in a guest authorship opportunity and how to go about building a relationship that can result in a guest blog post.
What’s Guest Blogging?
Essentially, guest blogging is writing for another blog. And, by publishing content on a related blog with a similar audience, you can reap a variety of benefits, including:
When you write for another blog in your space, you have the opportunity to send people to your website who already care about the field you’re in. These people may not already know about you, but they trust the blog that you’re writing for enough to read their content. It’s an opportunity to attract another audience’s attention and support.
Even if folks don’t visit your site immediately, there’s something to be said for being recognized. When they come across your nonprofit’s name again, they may be more likely to click through to investigate a new organization that keeps popping up in their circles.
Forging strong partnerships with other organizations in your space has benefits beyond guest blogging opportunities. These partnerships could carry over to other aspects of your nonprofit’s overall strategy, like cause marketing campaigns, event sponsors or speaking engagements. It’s always nice to have a few friendly organizations in your field.
Showcasing where you’ve published can help you to build legitimacy on your own site. By creating an “As Featured On” portion of your site, visitors will associate the authority and trust they have for organizations that you’ve published on with your organization.
I’d be remiss to leave out the link building benefits that guest blogging can bring to your website. Each new, credible link to your website, from a site that’s already proven itself to search engines by ranking for related content, has the potential to boost your website’s chances of ranking within search engines as well. We’ll talk more about the importance of working in a link to your nonprofit’s website toward the end of the post.
Building Guest Blogging Opportunities
Now that you’re sold on the benefits of guest blogging, we can start thinking about which blogs might be a good fit for your nonprofit and how to pitch them a guest post.
Get to Know Thought Leaders
When selecting someone to guest blog for, you want them to already have some authority in your field. This way, their audience will have a vested interest that can carry over to you and what you’ll have to say beyond this one guest post.
Look at the organizations established in your space that you trust.
- Who are they? Make a list of possibilities to look into.
- Do they have an active blog? If not, there’s no point in guest blogging for them. You can cross those folks off the list.
- Do they accept guest posts? Some organizations will have a process for guest submissions. Try typing the organization’s name plus “guest author” into Google. If they have a page on their site dedicated to guest authorship, there’s a good chance it’ll show up. You don’t have to reach out just yet (finish reading this post first!) but, when the time comes, you’ll know the process and requirements.
- What do they do to get the word out? Are they on social media? Which platforms? Do they participate in any forums in your field? Do they send out a regular email newsletter? Are they ranking for key phrases in search engines? The more they promote their content, the more people see it and the more worthwhile the endeavor is for your nonprofit.
- What does their audience look like? Look for engagement in the comments on their blog, on social media and anywhere else they interact with their audience. Is their audience a natural fit for supporting your nonprofit? Do your audiences overlap at all?
- Do you have an idea for something that could work on their blog? Look at their existing content to brainstorm future possibilities.
Researching the influencers in your field can get as in-depth as you’re able to go. While there are a plethora of helpful tools to assist in the work, there’s something to be said for placing yourself in the thick of it all and gathering information as you go. To understand and gain insights about a key contributor in a community, it helps to be an active part of that community yourself. Start paying attention to the people and places that you seek out when you need an authority on something in your space. Ask questions to see how they and the rest of the community respond and take note of what you find.
Once you’ve narrowed down a short list of influencers to focus on, reach out to them through a platform that they’re active on. This could be social media, email, a comment on a recent blog post or responding to something they posted on a forum. The first few communications carry the goal of putting your organization on their radar through an insightful comment on something they’ve written or posted about your cause. Trust us, it’s much more noteworthy to get a comment with a thoughtful question or insight from someone who you can tell read the post than it is to get generic superlatives.
Don’t bring up guest posting right away. Rather, start slow by engaging with their content knowledgeably, meaning more than just “great blog post” or “love following your tweets.” From there you can work your way forward, interacting on the platforms where they’re active until it feels natural to pitch them a blog post idea.
Get Your Marketing in Order
In the meantime, make the effort to prepare your marketing for an influx of new potential visitors. Before reaching out to an influencer in your field about guest blogging for them, polish the following marketing efforts:
- Website – You should have a website that follows basic best practices and that includes content (that’s easy to find) on who you are and what you do.
- Blog – It doesn’t need to be the most active blog, but you should have one on your website and it should have at least a few quality posts that show you’re knowledgeable and capable.
- Social media – Again, they don’t need to be the most active social media accounts, but you should be participating in conversations related to your field here.
- Call to action – Offer a way to ease new visitors into your audience. Most people won’t make a donation on the first visit from a guest post, but the option to connect with you on social media or sign up for your email might be an easier sell.
- Communications – As you’re having these conversations with thought leaders in your field, it’s important to respond in a timely manner. To keep track of communications happening over email and on various social networks or forums, it’s helpful to have a process in place to keep up with all of the various conversations.
While it may seem like a short list, these things take time and effort to do right. Sitting down one afternoon and posting ten tweets back to back doesn’t cut it. Instead, get in the habit of setting aside some time each week to keep your blog, social media accounts and wherever else you communicate. You could even start planning ahead with an editorial calendar or social media scheduling tools, like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Make the Ask
Once you’ve been communicating with someone for a while, you can begin to look for opportunities to pitch them an idea for a guest post. To get to this point, you should be sure that they know who you are and value what you have to say.
Sample Pitch Email
For each pitch, take the time to customize it to the individual that you’re reaching out to. They likely get these emails all the time and will be able to tell a copy and paste job before the end of your first paragraph. Instead, try a loose template that’s easily customizable so you aren’t starting from scratch each time.
Hi [thought leader],
I’ve enjoyed our conversations over [something you’ve discussed online]. As we’ve been chatting over the past few [weeks/months], I had an idea for a blog post that I thought might interest you.
[Explain the topic you’ve chosen and a couple things you plan on bringing up in the post. You could also bring up a variety of ideas and let them choose the one they’re most interested in you pursuing.]
You can check out some of my past blog posts here: [Include some examples of posts you’ve written — anything that helps show how you’re qualified to write about this topic.]
As a heads up, I’m not pitching this post elsewhere at the moment. But if you aren’t interested, please let me know so I can send it on to someone else. If you’d like to discuss the post further or pitch another topic that may be a fit for your blog, please let me know. You can email me here or give me a call at [phone number].
Thanks for your consideration!
After you publish once, it generally gets a lot easier to guest post again. Those you reach out to next will likely assume that the first person you published with has already vetted you. When you decide to try writing another guest post, be sure to include links to your own blog posts and your guest posts within the pitch email.
Asking for Links
It’s likely that the topic of links will arise as you work out the guidelines for the post. Links on a strong website can be a huge boost in the eyes of search engines. However, most reputable blogs are careful about who they link to, even within guest posts. They’re looking to avoid link schemes and spam that could devalue their site for search engines. To stay in their good graces, be careful not to stuff the post with links to your website and, instead, work one or two helpful links contextually into the content of the post.
Some blogs may be fairly rigid on links to your own site (or even other websites) and may only allow you one link in the author bio section of the post. While this isn’t the end of the world and the post can still help to boost your audience and authority, bio links aren’t valued as heavily by search engines as those within the content of the post. Most readers care more about the article than the author, and, with a limited amount of links, it’s best to use them where they’ll be seen. So, if you can, push to keep your link in the content of the post.
Once you have your topic and the guidelines settled, it’s time for the fun part. The writing! Show off your knowledge and craft a piece worthy of the new audience you’re targeting. Remember, this is your chance to woo them into following your nonprofit as well. And when the post publishes, you can boost the impact with your own audience by promoting it through all of your usual marketing channels.
Have you tried guest blogging for other organizations and thought leaders in your field? How did you build those relationships and pitch your idea? Do you have any additional questions on how to go about finding guest blogging opportunities? Ask away in the comments.