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How to write a guest post that will dazzle any A-list blogger

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Guest posting is all the rage right now. From getting visibility to getting links everyone knows that guest posting can’t be beaten. But just jumping on the bandwagon will not get you the results you need. Because of the popularity of guest posting the bar has been raised … but I’m about to help you get over that bar. The following five tips will help you create a guest post that will dazzle any A-list blogger … and get you the attention and traffic you deserve.

1) Write your guest post for the target audience

Guest posting rule number one is this … write for the blogger’s audience. These are the people who will ultimately be the judges of your post. But there is a formula you can follow so that you give them something they can’t resist.

Read the ten most popular posts on the blog: most A-list blogs will have a widget that lists all the popular content. Sometimes it will be an ongoing list like on Copyblogger Or they might have a widget that shows the most popular in the last week, in the last month or ever, like they do at SEOmoz Read all of these if you can.

  • Read all of the guest posts you can. Start with the most popular and then move through the rest of the archives. Look for styles and topics that are popular. Also make note of content gaps. Is there a content gap you can fill?

  • Study the comments. The comments section is an open window for you to look into the head of the A-list blog’s readers. What kind of community is it? What do they like and dislike?

  • Create a spreadsheet for this blog. Copy and paste the headlines to the most popular blog posts, outstanding guests posts and make a note on why these posts did so well. Then fill in notes on the make-up of the audience based on the comments.

This may sound like a lot of work for a guest post, but it will allow you to write one killer post that the A-list blogger absolutely loves … and might even go viral!

2. Guest post because you have something to say - not just for links

The next thing you need to think about when writing a guest post is that you need to actually have something to say. That is one of the reasons I want you to do so much research.

You can’t read that many blog posts and comments and not walk away with something very interesting to say!

See, guest posting is not just about getting links back to your site. It’s about contributing valuable content to the web and guest blog.

But if you still don’t have a good idea of what to write, here’s a two-step process that will generate even more ideas:

  • Visit competitor blogs. Visit two or three competitor blogs and repeat the formula.

  • Browse trending topics. Check out what’s hot for the last week at places like Google Trends, Tweetmeme and Google News

3. How to get original ideas that can compete with other experienced guest bloggers

Keep in mind that you are competing against other guest bloggers … so you need an edge. This Google Doc tool by Daniel Butler called the Content Strategy Generator Tool will give you an unbelievable edge!

It’s insanely easy to use, go to File > Make a Copy and enter your keyword into cell ‘B3’, then hit return (for multiple keywords use the ‘+’ operator eg, london+hotels):

Content Strategy Generator tool

And after a few seconds you’ll get some pretty powerful ideas.

For example, you’ll get ideas from Google News, Bing News, Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Topsy, Twittorati, All Things Now, Yahoo! Answers and so much more.

Furthermore, if you click over to the “Source and Place” worksheet you’ll see something outstanding …

Content generator sources

You’ll see tons of places to publish your content! You’ll get a list 50 bloggers and 50 editors - that’s 100 possible options!

This is a great tool for creating outstanding guest posts.

4. Master the components of a high quality guest post

After you’ve collected all your ideas, it’s time to sit down and write your article. The secret to writing a popular guest blog post boils down to this:

  • Use simple words. You want people to be able to read and understand quickly what you are writing about … especially if it is about a complex topic … so write at a 5th grade level.

  • Write advanced how-to blog posts. Once you have your topic, sit down and write out all the steps to accomplishing your stated goal. Then revise, working in greater and greater detail.

  • Links Put plenty of internal and external links into your post. Bloggers love this. Ali Luke did a great job with her Copywriting Essentials from A – Z post

  • Create a conversation. Ask questions throughout your post that invite readers to think about and respond to what you are saying.

  • Prove you are the authority Fill your post up with research and statistics that prove your point and show readers that you are an expert on this information.

  • Create powerful headlines Finally, concentrate on generating some truly persuasive headlines. This is by far the most important feature … so work hard at it! I know you can!

After all this work, you are now ready to approach the A-list blogger.

5. Building a professional relationship with your target blogger

Social media makes it easy to connect and build relationships with A-list bloggers Tweeting and commenting on their site is usually the easiest place to start. Tweet their posts with their blog’s Twitter handle so they see what you are doing … and take some time to leave high quality comment on posts

Another approach is to get an introduction through a previous writer who guest posted on their site. This will add instant credibility to your post if someone who has already posted recommends you.

Of course probably the best way to connect with A-list bloggers is to meet them at conferences. Make a good impression on them and then after the conference email them to remind them about your offer to write a guest post.

Finally, once you have that connection, you need to cultivate it. Offer to help them in some capacity, maybe it’s an informal commitment to help them answer comments. Maybe it’s a promise to write a free report for them free of charge. Ask them where they need help … then give it to them.

This A-list blogger is truly your ticket to the big leagues. He or she can really help grease the slide to your success. But you have to really take care of them. If you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.

Generate a ton of attention

Sure, the guest blogging post bar has been raised, but I truly believe that you can get over that bar if you put these five tips to work for you. I’ve seen them work in my own efforts, and I’ve seen them work for clients.

Just like them, you can write an outstanding guest blog post that generates a ton of attention and traffic for you.

What other tips can you suggest to help someone write an outstanding guest post?

About Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the cofounder of KISSmetrics, a customer analytics platform that helps you maximize the life time value of your customers. He also blogs at Quick Sprout about entrepreneurship and marketing.