Group Interview: Benefits of Guest Blogging Revealed

You’ve probably read and heard a number of bloggers iterating the importance of guest blogging and how a guest post on a big blog will drive traffic to your website, widen your blog reach on the web, or increase your subscriber count to unbelievable levels. Have you ever wondered how much of this is true and to what extent? I had the unique opportunity to ask these questions and more to some of the successful guest bloggers in the blogosphere and here’s what they had to say.

Here is the list of participants:

Nathan Hangen is an entrepreneur, a musician, amateur triathlete, and occasionally writes a thing or two.

Connect : Twitter LinkedIn

Annabel Candy, MA Design for Interactive Media Website & Blog Designer, Writer & Consultant
Get In the Hot Spot blog
Mucho for web design

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Pamela Wilson helps small businesses build big brands through the power of great design and marketing at the Big Brand System.

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Dean Rieck is president of Direct Creative, a full-service direct marketing creative firm based in beautiful Westerville, Ohio. He blogs at ProCopyTips.

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Sean D’Souza is the driving force behind “Psychotactics“, and an expert on using and understanding psychology to dramatically increase sales.

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Mark McGuinness is a business coach, trainer and consultant specializing in working with creative professionals, innovative companies and other trendsetters at the forefront of the Creative Economy. He also writes damn good poetry and blogs at Lateral Action. You can read his recent guest posts here.

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Catherine believes that websites don’t really run on technology, they run on emotions. If you agree, then she wants to help you rock it out and be awesome online. She blogs at BeAwesomeOnline

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James Chartrand is the pen name of a thirty-something leading copywriter, web business expert and recognized online entrepreneur from Montreal, Canada and the founder and owner of Men with Pens.

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Jonathan Mead helps people get paid to be who they are. He is also a martial artist, purposeful biz coach, and lucky husband. He blogs at illuminated mind.

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How many guest posts do you do in a month?

Nathan Hangen: Generally, I write 3-4 guest posts per month. These days, many of them are paid posts, but on occasion, I still write for free. Why do I do it? Simple, I get a chance to hone my writing for a new audience and talk about subjects outside my normal subject matter. Mostly, it’s a chance to build my reach.

Annabel Candy: I do guest posts to draw new readers to my blog and increase my subscribers. It also helps raise my profile as a writer and increase brand awareness for Get In the Hot Spot. I aim to do one guest post a week but that varies because on big blogs your post may not be published for two or three months. So some weeks or even months, I have no guest posts then three or four in the space of a fortnight.

Pamela Wilson: After my first few guest posts at Copyblogger I was invited to contribute once a month. I write a post for the KISSMetrics Marketing Blog every month, too. Outside of those commitments, I write additional guest posts as time allows. I try to make my guest posts really great, and that takes time. I avoid spreading myself too thin so that I can contribute my best work.

Dean Rieck: It depends on how many people send guest posts to me and how busy I am. On ProCopyTips, I publish twice a week. So I would prefer one guest post per week so I can publish one of my own posts. If it’s a busy week and I have a backlog of guest posts, I’ll use more guest posts.

Sean D’Souza: I don’t do many guest posts in a month. Why? Because I write about 12 articles for our own blog at Psychotactics, then about 10-15 articles (or more) in our membership site at and then run a few courses (e.g. article writing or web strategy) and write about 50-60 forum posts a day. So yes, there’s a finite amount of writing that I can do for other Web sites/blogs. If at all, I’ll do about 2-3 blog posts a month.

Mark Mcguinness: About one a month at the moment. With the aim of reaching new audiences and build relationships with the bloggers I write for.

Catherine Caine: It varies. My current goal is to at least one guest post a week, which isn’t completely overwhelming – for me – but keeps me visible.

James Chartrand: Right now, my average is two to three guest posts a month. Prior to 2010, I was guest posting far more than that, until I analyzed my time cost versus results and culled my guest posting back to blogs that bring strong results for my business. Which is why I guest post. For me, it’s a marketing and exposure tool, a way to educate people and help them succeed, and of course a means to demonstrate my credibility to potential clients.

Jonathan Mead: I probably do around none to one a month these days, but I used to do a lot more. When I was really focused on building my platform I did about 4-8 a month.

How do you approach bloggers to get this opportunity?

Nathan Hangen: There’s not really a secret, I simply build a relationship via Twitter or email, and then ask. Most will at least give you the opportunity, but you have to be willing to write your best piece and then give it away.

Annabel Candy: I never cold call. I make sure the bloggers know who I am by commenting on their blogs or retweeting their posts for a while so they know who I am before I ask if they’re interested in a guest post. At that stage I usually send a quick tweet to see if there’s an opportunity for me, then follow up with a brief email including the guest post pasted in as HTML so they can use it easily. Keep the email under five sentences long. There’s a sample email on my post on guest posting.

Pamela Wilson: I look for blogs whose audience is similar to the one I am interested in attracting. If their readers are thoughtful and engaged that’s a huge plus. I love it when the editor has specific guidance about the blog’s readers: who they are; what they’re interested in; what kinds of posts do well. Having that kind of information in hand before sitting down to write makes guest blogging less of a guessing game.

Dean Rieck: I email them and ask if they’d like to submit a post. Or they email me and suggest an idea.

Sean D’Souza: I don’t always approach them. They often approach me. This isn’t as obnoxious as it sounds. We’ve been a visible force on the Internet since the year 2002, and so a lot of our content is available online. This makes our reputation pretty rock solid. We’ve not missed a newsletter since 2002. Somehow other bloggers will stumble on our site and ask if we’re willing to write for their blogs. And if the blog suits our ethics (mostly ethics) and content-quality then we are likely to oblige. On few occasions, I have approached a blogger, but it’s easier to approach one when you’ve got enough credibility. I know this sounds pompous, but it’s not. I’m just telling it like it is.

Mark Mcguinness: I usually know the blogger already, so it tends to come up in conversation. And these days I receive a fair number of invitations to guest post.

Catherine Caine: I ask! I send a polite and thoughtful email with a few ideas for potential posts and ask if they’re interested. I only offer on blogs that I’m at least a little bit known on.

James Chartrand: In most cases, blog owners come to me for guest posts. But when I find a blog that I’d like to post on or have a post I feel might fit best with someone else’s audience, I simply get in touch and ask if they’d like to have it.

Jonathan Mead: Tell them why you think your writing is a good fit for their audience, where you’ve been published, and some of the ideas you have.

How much visibility do you get from guest posts in a month? What is the conversion rate?

Nathan Hangen: It depends really. I’ve had anywhere from 0 to 1500 visits/day from guest posts. I’m not big into tracking on that scale, as I’d rather focus on other things, but I’d say that the conversion is tougher because they are coming lukewarm.

Annabel Candy: That varies too but one guest post on a major blog can send you one thousand new visitors to your blog. The conversion rate (for me new readers who subscribe) varies but seems to be around 10%. I’d like to improve on that.

Pamela Wilson: I have a steady stream of people who visit my blog, and they tend to spend a few minutes reading and looking around. There is a definite spike to my traffic when a guest post goes up on a major blog, and I get 40-50 sign ups to my Design 101 course as a result.

That’s fantastic, because the course is an introduction to what I talk about on the blog, and it’s a great way to qualify leads. If they go through it and find they aren’t interested, they unsubscribe. Those who stay on the list have demonstrated they’re interested in how polished design and marketing will grow their businesses, and that’s exactly the crowd I want to talk to.

Dean Rieck: It depends on the topic. One post on the difference between American and British English generated a lot of conversation. As for conversions, that really doesn’t apply to ProCopyTips. I ‘m not selling anything at the moment.

Sean D’Souza: It depends. Way back in 2002, we’d get as many as 200 subscribers from a single article. People have gotten a lot more fussy since then, and the net has gotten more fragmented. But it’s still not unusual to have at least 40-50 signups from a single article. You have to consider that a lot is involved. It’s not just an article. It’s the pathway to your Web site/blog and then how you convince the person to sign up. No one wants to sign up unless they have a clear, distinct reason to do so, and the pathway is clearly marked.

Mark Mcguinness: I don’t really measure the conversion beyond checking that visitors are coming through from the blog I’ve written for. But I quite often hear from coaching clients ‘I first came across you when you wrote for X blog, then I subscribed to Lateral Action’ – and then they became a client, so it definitely works! 🙂

Catherine Caine: This part depends SO MUCH on who you’re posting for. My Copyblogger posts usually double my traffic on the day they go out, but don’t convert. (Maybe 1%.) Smaller blogs with a readership that’s more in tune with my offerings works a lot better (5-10%).

James Chartrand : That’s a rather large question and would require a full report!

Jonathan Mead: Right now this isn’t a primary strategy for me. When it was I’m not sure how much traffic it brought me because I’ve never been very focused on traffic.

What are the factors that you look for in a blog to write a guest post?

Nathan Hangen: Mostly, I just want to know if the author has the same values and style of audience that I do. I’m not looking to go way outside my niche, as I think it leads to poor leads (no pun intended), but I do like to go out just a bit. I’ll write anywhere that I can get a post accepted, regardless of the size or Page Rank. I just like building relationships in that manner.

Annabel Candy: I look to see if they display their RSS feed and use Alexa to give me an idea of site traffic. But more important than traffic is if their readers are engaged and there is a strong community. I’d prefer to guest post on a blog with less traffic and a lot of comments, than on a major blog where no one ever comments.

Pamela Wilson: I look for blogs whose audience is similar to the one I am interested in attracting. If their readers are thoughtful and engaged that’s a huge plus. I love it when the editor has specific guidance about the blog’s readers: who they are; what they’re interested in; what kinds of posts do well. Having that kind of information in hand before sitting down to write makes guest blogging less of a guessing game.

Dean Rieck: I want them to have expertise in the subject matter (copywriting and freelancing) and to have a clear writing style.

Sean D’Souza: Ethics: You are known by the company you keep.

  • Quality of content: If they have crap stuff, you get a crappy reputation.
  • Consistency: If they don’t publish to a schedule, then I’m not interested.

Mark Mcguinness: The most important thing is that the audience is likely to be interested in my core topics. Obviously it’s easier to say ‘yes’ to a big blog like Copyblogger or Gapingvoid, but the most important thing is that there’s an engaged audience of – in my case – artists, creatives and/or entrepreneurs.

Catherine Caine: The kind of audience. It doesn’t matter if there are 100,000 readers if none of them are a good fit for your website!

James Chartrand: I try to balance the returns with the giving and make sure that I’m selecting a blog that offers a good win-win potential. Businesswise, I look to see what type of readership it has and the sort of audience that hangs out there, and what sort of stats and numbers the blog might have. It’s important that my time and efforts bring something back. But I do sometimes offer posts just because I feel it’s the right thing to do, or because the post would have a good home and be appreciated, regardless of the readership or stats.

Jonathan Mead: Subscribers, and overlap in audience. I want to make sure it’s a quality blog with a large readership, at least 50,000 subscribers.

What is the one piece of advice you would give for a first time guest blogger like me?

Nathan Hangen: I’d say that you have to be fearless in facing rejection and asking for opportunity. Don’t expect an invitation, recruit your own spots. If people say no, then keep going. Lastly, don’t try to submit inferior guest posts. It’s not fair to that blogger or his/her audience. Write and give away your best stuff.

Annabel Candy: Make sure you have a sound blog set up with some decent posts which is a good showcase for your work. It’s important that your blog creates a great first impression because host bloggers will check out your blog to see if it’s something they can truly recommend to their readers. Can I add something else? Persevere. Being rejected is a rite of passage. To succeed at anything you have to keep trying until you get the result you want.

Pamela Wilson: All the usual advice you hear applies: study the blog you want to submit to so you can write to their audience and style; submit your very best work; write about what you know, but give it an interesting spin to make it memorable. Consider having something to offer to the people who click your author link, too. If they’ve read your work and are interested in what you talk about, a special report or e-course is a great way to keep them engaged. Most of all be brave! It takes a lot of courage to hit “send” on that first guest post to a major blog. It’s worth all the effort in the end, so don’t be afraid to step up and go for it.

Dean Rieck: Read the blog and take a look at the Write for PCT link where I outline what I’m looking for.

Sean D’Souza: Write great stuff. Stuff that’s like a movie instead of stuff that’s just like everyone else’s stuff. If you’re a movie maker through words, people will read your articles. If you’re not, you’ll still get published, but it’s not quite the same. The greatest movies, sitcoms etc. are extremely high quality. And if you’re not learning how to write by doing a course on article writing and not learning from an expert, then you’re committing a big mistake. You’ll be doomed to be average forever. Average works, but not quite as well. 🙂

Mark Mcguinness: Pick a few blogs you like and really get to know them, so that you’re sending a highly targeted pitch, rather than making a scattergun approach to lots of bloggers. And get on the blogger’s radar before you send the pitch – leave comments that add value to their blog, follow them on Twitter, and get to know their interests. If I receive an e-mail from a regular commenter, I’m already well-disposed to what they have to say.

Catherine Caine: Don’t wait! Email someone friendly who regularly features guest posts (like me, for example) and just ask! If you’re nice about it, the worst they can say is no. Oh, and you get serious bonus points if you send formatted posts. Write them in WordPress and copy into a text file… it’ll save the author 10 minutes of fiddling and they will appreciate it.

James Chartrand : Here are a few tips on pitching for a guest post:

  1. Connect with the blogger first. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Talk to them. Get on their radar as a real person who isn’t asking for anything. Become ‘friends’.
  2. Help the blogger. Retweet posts, leave thoughtful comment on the post that add to the discussion, start and maintain conversation on the blog, etc.
  3. Get in touch with the blogger personally. Email him or her. Thank the person for putting so much hard work into the blog. Mention something about a post. Show you read and follow the blog.
  4. THEN pitch the post. By then, you’ve established a relationship and shown that you’re not just out to get a spot. You’ve made a connection and got the blogger liking you as a person.

Jonathan Mead : Get to know the blog first so you make sure that your offer is targeted to their readers, not just a random idea that you came up with.

Honing your writing skills, drawing new audiences to the blog, and most importantly creating the opportunity to connect with various audiences and build relationships are some of the key factors involved in guest blogging. As James Chartrand rightly points out, reaching out to people by following them and commenting on their blogs establishes an interdependent relationship that leads to and returns success. Visitor counts of up to 1500 and sign ups of over 40 per post are possible depending on the values and style of the audience, and quality of the blog content.

And if you are a first time guest blogger it’s important to be perseverant and not be discouraged by rejection. Success will come to those who keep trying until the result is achieved.

While each of you may take a different learning from this post, the significant point remains that guest blogging is a smart and sensible strategy to help you blog your way up the charts.

So keep guest blogging the right way!

About the Author: Eddie Gear is a TechBlogger who writes about Microsoft Products and apps we use in everyday life. He aims to make apps easy to use. He blogs at