Guest posting can be a superb way to collect email subscribers. But it can also be a huge waste of time, as you write a compelling and well researched guest post perfectly targeted at the blog’s readers – and get no engagement or new subscribers.
Maybe you know a couple of blogs you think would make a perfect fit for you, because their readers are the people you want on your list.
But how can you tell if it’s really a good site to pitch? Is there any way of predicting how many subscribers you can get?
Many factors are in play, and you can never predict your results for sure. Still, I have done my fair share of guest posting, on sites including Write to Done, The Write Life, Boost Blog Traffic, and many others.
Over time, I’ve found these five factors help me decide whether to pitch a guest post or move on:
1. Not enough commenters
Probably the most important indicator you have is the number of comments the posts on the blog get. Comments mean engagement: Readers really like the blog and interact with it. They might be ready to invest a moment into finding out who is behind that guest post – you – and what you have to offer.
Look out for blogs with at least five different commenters (not comments) per post. If you find a blog with 10 or more commenters per post, it should be great hunting ground. Don’t count comments by the author of the post or by the blog owner, though.
For example, if you count like that, you’ll see that most posts here at Make a Living Writing have 25-40 different commenters per post or more. That’s an excellent number.
2. Little or no direct traffic
Direct traffic means readers who explicitly typed the blog’s URL into their browser or clicked its bookmark. Those readers are most valuable for you as a guest poster, because again, they care about the blog, and they engage. Any visitor who reaches the blog via a quick google search is less interested in the blog itself and its posters.
The website similarweb.com is your best friend to find out about traffic numbers. The basic version is free, and it’s all you need. Type “makealivingwriting.com” into the search field and scroll down to “Traffic Sources.” The blue bar “Direct” will reveal to you how much the audience cares about the blog and its guest posters.
In my experience, below 20% direct traffic will give you poor guest posting results. 20%-30% is good to very good, and anything above 30% is stellar. MALW currently has almost 30%, which makes it a very interesting guest post target.
3. The blogger won’t link or introduce you
Some blogs, especially smaller ones, will introduce you above your guest post with a link. They might also allow you an embedded link in the body of the text.
Both of these opportunities are golden, because you can place your link in front of the reader early, before he gets distracted.
If you see an engaged community and a blogger introducing his or her guest posters or allowing embedded links, pitch that blog! Here on Make a Living Writing, as you’ll see below, I get up to two links in my tagline.
4. Not much total traffic
To find out a blog’s traffic numbers, again use similarweb.com. Notice that total traffic is only number 4 on my list though. The three indicators above are by far more important.
I have written for a blog with 300,000 views per month and only got 25 signups. I have also written for small blogs and seen a much higher percentage of signups. Don’t fall for traffic numbers alone.
5. The topic isn’t a good fit
Obviously, the more similar the topics of the guest blog and your own blog (or your email goodie) are, the more subscribers you will get.
Keep in mind that the topic of the blog you post doesn’t have to be an exact fit – if the blog is big enough and its readers are highly engaged. For example, my niche is fiction writing, but I’m writing a guest post on MALW, which is all about freelance writing. It will hopefully pay off, because MALW is huge and readers love and trust Carol.
Other factors to consider
Once you’ve gone through these five criteria to decide whether you should pitch a blog, here are a few more things you can look at.
First, how many hyperlinks does a typical post on that blog include? Every hyperlink means an additional chance of distracting the reader before she gets down to your bio. The fewer hyperlinks, the better.
Also, how frequently does the blog publish a new post? The longer your post stays in the top position, the more attention and subscribers it will attract. Here at MALW, most posts stay up for a week these days, so that’s an advantage.
I hope this post helps you find a promising blog to guest post on. If it did, then what are you waiting for? Get pitching!
Have you guest posted before? Tell us how it went in the comments below.
Alex Limberg blogs about fiction writing at Ride the Pen. Create intriguing stories with his free e-book 44 Key Questions to test your story or check out his writing exercises.