We know from surveys done by our partner HubSpot that the more posts your business blog publishes, the more website visitors and leads it will generate. In fact, companies that increase their blogging from 3-5 times per month to 6-8 times a month almost double their leads. (Click to Tweet)
But posting on a weekly or daily basis isn’t always easy. It requires a lot of time and a lot of ideas to keep the content fresh. Luckily, it doesn’t all have to be your own work. One way of spicing up your business blog content is to invite guests to write posts for your blog.
How guest posts help your blog:
For starters, it gives you a break for a day! In theory, anyway. Actually, guest blogs still require effort on your part to coordinate and promote. But at least it feels like you are getting a day off.
More seriously, guest posts can add a new perspective to your blog or even a new content type. If your business blog is always written from the same perspective, adding a new voice such as that of a satisfied customer or an industry observer can bring new insights to the information you are already providing.
Guest posts may also be a great way to expand the type of content your blog provides. Do you have a relationship with someone does podcasts or videos related to your industry? Inviting them to guest post will help you expand the type of content you provide in your blog.
Inviting guest bloggers to write or create for you is also a great way to introduce your blog and website to a new audience and increase links back to your site. Your guest is likely to promote their work with links from their own blog if they have one, on social media, or in other places. Those links could bring new readers to your site and give your blog an SEO boost as well.
How you help your guest blogger:
Guest blogging should be mutually beneficial for you AND the people you invite to contribute to your blog. Just as your blog stands to gain new readership as your guests promote their posts to their own networks of blog readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections, you will be doing the same for your guests.
Always provide links to your guest bloggers’ websites or social media accounts so that your readers can learn more about and from them. These links also give them the same boost in search engine rankings that you receive from the inbound links from their network to your blog.
Your guest bloggers also benefit by reinforcing their authority within in the industry.
If you want to thank them in other ways, consider that, too. Perhaps it is with a small gift, or by continuing to promote their work and provide referrals, especially if they are in a related but not directly competitive business.
How to go about it:
1) Brainstorm potential guest bloggers. Think about who you can invite to provide a guest post or content for your blog.
Colleagues and current or former coworkers — A “guest blogger” isn’t necessarily someone from outside your company. It could be someone in a different department who can offer a unique perspective. Maybe a customer service representative could share the story of a problem solved, or someone in product development could explain just how new ideas are brought to the market.
You could also reach out to former coworkers. Perhaps someone who used to work in your business is now an industry consultant. They may be able to offer an industrywide perspective that stretches beyond your company’s vantage point.
Industry influencers — These could be the leaders of industry organizations, researchers, consultants, educators or others who are on the cutting edge of what is happening in your field. If you hear a presentation at a conference that was particularly insightful, considering inviting that person to contribute to your blog.
Related industries — While you are an expert in your specific field, chances are your readers may need information from related areas as well. Just as an example, if you provide healthcare registration services like Primaris does, you could invite a writer from a related, but non-competitive company, such as TeleVox, which specializes in patient communication, to provide information that might show how the two services can work best together.
Satisfied customers — Who can better tell the story of how a problem was solved (using your solution) than a satisfied customer who experienced it? Just as you will want to ask your customers for referrals, you could also ask them to write a post for your blog. Or, if they aren’t comfortable doing the writing, use them as the subject for an interview or Q&A style post, telling the story primarily in their own words.
Your own vendors — Just as your customers have a story to share, so do the people who provide products or services to you. For example, if your business is a food service wholesaler serving restaurants, you could invite one of the farms that provides your beef to write about what it takes to produce top quality steaks.
Media bloggers — There’s a huge blogosphere out there. And while your blog may be published as part of an inbound marketing strategy to support your company’s lead generation and sales goals, many other blogs exist primarily as media and publishing entities, without a sales incentive behind them. There is surely an industry watchdog or news style blog that covers your field.
2) Brainstorm topics
You could leave a guest blogging invitation open-ended, but many people would rather than a little guidance about what you are asking them to write about. Identify topics they can address or content formats that you think would appeal to your audience.
As with your own blog posts, think about incorporating a range of post types — how-to, list, newsjacking, slideshows, infographics.
If you are inviting someone who doesn’t write blog posts or other pieces on a regular basis (maybe someone from a different department in your company who has great information, but doesn’t often write), you could even provide a template for them to work from. You might also want to provide something like this blog checklist that identifies best practices as they write.
3) Send out invitations
Once you have identified potential guest bloggers and the topics they may be able to address for you, it’s time to send out invitations. First, explain why you are asking them. This is where a little sincere flattery comes in. After all, you wouldn’t be asking them to be a guest on your blog if you didn’t think they have useful information to share.
This is also where you let them know how they can benefit from the time they take creating a post for you. How many readers does your blog have? How many social media updates will promote the blog post? And how many links will you provide from the post to their own blog, website or social media accounts?
Also include in your invitation any basic guidelines you would like them to follow. They will want to know before agreeing whether you are asking for 500 words or 5,000. Will you be editing the piece? If so, do they get to approve the edits before it is published? Who is responsible for providing images to accompany the post?
And what is the deadline? If you would provide this information to a paid freelancer before expecting them to accept an assignment, you owe the same respect to a guest blogger.
4) Schedule it into your blog calendar
Once your guest has agreed to provide a post for your blog, schedule it in. Think about whether it fits into a larger campaign you are currently promoting or if it is a stand-alone post.
You can also schedule the accompanying social media updates, determine which calls-to-action should accompany that blog post (because you are still using your blog to generate leads, right?), and plan any additional promotion you might use for this special blog post, such as email blasts or a slide-in CTA on your website’s home page.
Now, with all the time you’ve saved (wink, wink) by having someone else write that post, read up on other ways to source blog material in our Introduction to Business Blogging ebook.