Cartoon Man Hitting Blog ButtonGuest blogging is a great way to get your brand name in front of more potential customers. Essentially, you’re writing content for someone else’s blog, with the benefit of having your bio at the bottom of the post, including a link back to your site.

While this seems simple enough, there are steps to take to ensure success and help you target the best blogs to write for.

Step 1: Do Research
Using the scatter shot approach to guest blogging won’t help you. It’s better to invest time in finding those blogs that speak to your audience. If you’re in small business services, find blogs that speak to a small business audience.

Create a spreadsheet to collect data, and record the blog name and URL, as well as contact person and email, and any guidelines the site might have for guest bloggers.

Step 2: Pare Down Your List
Now that you have a targeted list, look at each in terms of traffic and value it can provide. There’s no set criteria for how much traffic a blog should have; you’ll have to decide what will benefit you. A blog with, say, 100 monthly visitors probably won’t net you the amount of clicks to your website as one with 10,000 visitors.

Also consider whether you’re just targeting a small geographic area. You can remove any blogs that speak to a national audience if you’re only trying to reach people in your city.

Step 3: Get Writing Experience
The better the blog is, the higher the standards the blog owner will have for guest contributions. You want to be able to point to your online portfolio and your own blog as examples of your skills. If you’re not to this level yet, spend some time writing and publishing your own work. Once you get a few guest post opportunities down, you’ll have those to refer to as well.

Step 4: Read Each Blog
You don’t have to read the last 100 posts, but it’s imperative to have read some of the posts to get a good sense of the blogger’s style, as well as what she looks for in a guest blogger. Pick a post you liked that relates in some way to one you want to write. You’ll refer to it in your pitch.

Step 5: Come Up with a Topic
Most bloggers like having guest posts because it saves them the time of coming up with a topic and writing about it. Make it as easy as possible for the blogger to say yes to your proposal. Come up with three topics that she hasn’t already written about, that you can cover intelligently. Find a unique angle that will make your pitch stand out.

Step 6: Craft Your Custom Pitch
Don’t simply cut and paste the same pitch to every blogger. Instead, write to each blogger individually. Refer to that post that you liked on her blog. Tell her why her audience will benefit from your post, and present your three topic ideas. Ask if this is something she would be interested in.

If you don’t hear back in a week, follow up with a second email.

Step 7: Be Humble
Some guest bloggers are surprisingly demanding. They want bloggers to publish their articles immediately, and want all their promotional links included. These rarely get accepted, so realize that you’re asking the blogger for a favor. Let her set the tone for the relationship, should she choose to develop it.

Step 8: Ask For (or Give) a Deadline
If your pitch is accepted, ask when the blogger would like the post turned in. Some will be casual about the deadline, while others will have strict dates they need it by. If she doesn’t give you one, provide her with a realistic date to turn it in, then meet (or beat) that deadline. This helps establish expectations and show that you’re professional.

Step 9: Write Your Best
You’re essentially a guest in this blogger’s house, so be on your best behavior and put all your creativity into writing a fabulous post. Read it through several times. Use spellcheck. Come back to the post after taking a break to review it with fresh eyes. These seem like simple steps, but many people are in such a rush to finish writing that they end up with sloppy work, which risks being rejected by the blogger.

Step 10: Share the Post
Once the post is published, promote it on all social channels. This shows the blogger that you’re interested in helping boost her traffic, as well as your own.

Ideally, you will impress the blogger with your work and she will invite you to contribute additional posts in the future, which will help you attract even more potential customers.