8 Things Web Designers Need to Know Before Using Guest Posting to Promote Their Side Business

by Laura Spencer

on September 9, 2013

in Business/Freelance

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Like many web designers, you may have a side business designed to earn extra income. You may sell WordPress themes, you may have an app for sale, or your side project may be something else.

Whatever your side project is, you need to develop a marketing strategy interested in your product or service. We’ve already discussed the pros and cons of giving away freebies as a marketing strategy. But giveaways aren’t the only marketing strategy you should consider.

Submitting guest posts to multiple blogs is another popular marketing strategy that many web designers use to promote their side projects. However, as with promotional giveaways, the playing field for guest posting has changed in recent years.

In this post, I’ll discuss some of the changes you need to be aware of if you’re thinking of using guest posting as a marketing strategy.

How Guest Posting Changed

A few years ago, guest posting was a fairly effective marketing strategy. Most guest posters provided well-written, high quality posts to top-notch blogs. They understood the basic marketing principle that you must provide something of value to attract true customers.

However, somewhere along the way, things changed. A whole sub-economy sprung up around guest posting. Suddenly, many guest posters weren’t offering high quality posts anymore–instead they started pushing poorly written, recycled material filled with spammy links to their sponsoring company’s site. The main purpose of such posts was not to provide value to potential customers, but to build links and ultimately increase page rank.

As an example, I was researching a topic yesterday and wanted to find some current blog posts. A quick search revealed eight recently published posts and articles on the topic. However, as I dug deeper, I saw that four of the eight posts were written by the same author. While he hadn’t reused the same articles (each article was worded differently), he had certainly recycled his information to create very similar articles, published in a very short period of time.

Spammy guest posting practices annoy blog owners and have caught the attention of a major search engine. Many blogs have even stopped accepting guest posts. Suddenly, everyone, including the high-quality guest posters, needs to play by new rules. You can read Google’s latest stance on link building in Webmaster Tools.

8 Factors to Consider Before Writing a Guest Post

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Guest posting can still be a legitimate way to market your product. However, you should ask yourself the following questions before you email a guest post to a blog owner:

  1. Does the post add value for my intended audience? Your main purpose in guest blogging should be to inform your audience and build your credibility as an expert in your field. Do your homework before you write a guest post. Know who your audience is and make an effort to understand their needs. Make sure that your article or post is informative and well-researched. Whatever you do, don’t just submit your marketing material and call it a guest post.
  2. Are you submitting the post to a high quality blog in your field? It’s better to have a few high-quality guest posts and articles published on high quality sites that your prospective clients frequent, than to publish dozens of low-quality posts to less authoritative sites. Quality is better than quantity. Remember, your purpose is to build credibility with your prospective customers.
  3. Did I really study the site I’m submitting the post to? One sure way to annoy a blog owner is to submit a guest post that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of their blog. Instead, spend some time reading the blog. Also, be polite. Don’t assume that you are doing the blog owner a favor simply by providing content.
  4. Am I reusing the same tired material? Each guest post that you write should contain a thoughtful and informed discussion of your topic. Don’t take a single post and try to rearrange it (manually or automatically) into multiple posts or articles. One unique well-written post is better than dozens of published posts that are nearly the same.
  5. Is the post professionally written? I may be biased since I am a writer, but I can always tell a professionally written post. If you have problems constructing sentences or if you make lots of spelling errors, you may need to get help. While hiring a professional writer or editor is no guarantee that your post will be published, a professional can help you iron out potential problems in your writing.
  6. Does the post contain unnatural links? The search engines don’t like unnatural linking and they will look odd to your readers. Also, the latest Google Webmaster Tools advice recommends that you not use optimized anchor text.
  7. Do I plan to share this post through social media? Writing a guest post and getting it published is usually not enough. You need to help your intended audience find your post by sharing it on multiple social media sites. Also, be available to respond to comments and other reactions from your readers.
  8. Is this post really nothing more than an advertisement? Don’t disguise an advertisement as a guest post. If the only value of the post is to promote your product, consider it advertising. Blog owners should disclose any posts that they were paid to publish. Paid advertisements and sponsored posts should have no follow links.

As you can see, guest blogging can still be an effective marketing strategy to draw attention to your side project. However, it’s important to be careful when you create your guest post.

Learn More

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Are you still thinking about guest blogging as a marketing strategy? Here are three posts that will help you to learn more:

Your Turn

Do you use guest blog posts to promote your side projects? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.