How to Build Thought Leadership With Guest Posting

Jessica Thiefels on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

thought leadership

Guest posting is an important strategy for building thought leadership, in addition to building your backlink profile. Writing bylined guest posts for other websites affords you the opportunity to showcase your brand voice to a new audience, and may even lead to new business.

A recent Edelman and Linkedin research study found that 80 percent of C-suite executives said thought leadership increased their trust in an organization and 41 percent of execs say that thought leadership has directly led them to do business with a company.

You have the knowledge, the title, and likely a number of contacts in your industry—leverage all three of these factors to secure guest posts that  help you build thought leadership. Use the following tips to get started.

Read about my experience writing more than 700 guest posts over the last eight years to find inspiration.

Perform a Social Media Audit for Yourself

Before you start outreach for guest posting, do an audit of your online presence. Make sure your social profiles are up-to-date, specifically the platforms that are most relevant in your industry. For a fashion CEO, that would likely be Instagram, while a B2B software founder should look to LinkedIn.

This is important because, when you reach out to editors, they’ll check your online footprint to learn more about your expertise and confirm that you can actually provide value to their blog. Make sure your online presence shows that you’re an expert.

If your profiles aren’t up-to-date, take the time to adjust that now. Update your position, start scheduling a few posts to show you’ve been active, and engage with your community. Don’t forget to add a recent headshot, preferably one of just your face, that’s also clear and high-resolution.

Find Relevant, High-Quality Websites for Guest Posting

When choosing who you’ll pitch, start with your existing network. If you have vendor or channel partners, reach out to their marketing teams to see if they’d accept a guest post from you.

To find opportunities outside of this immediate network, identify the topics and areas where you have the most expertise. Use this as the basis for your research to find related publications, blogs and websites. For example, if you successfully run a law firm, look for law-related blogs, journals, or non-competing law firms who may want to feature your voice.

Once you find websites, perform a quick sniff test (check out my website quality checklist):

  • Does the website have a high Domain Authority (DA)? I always aim for 40 or higher. You can check this using Moz’s free toolbar.
  • Does the website look professional? Would you want to link to it on your social profiles?
  • Do they regularly publish high-quality blog posts?

If the website passes the test, look for “Write for us” or “Contributor Guidelines” pages for information on submitting guest posts. If you don’t see either of these pages, they may still accept expert contributions. Reach out to a marketing-related employee on LinkedIn or Twitter, or search for an email address on their website or Facebook page.

You can also do competitor research to see where your colleagues and other thought leaders are guesting posting. Simply Google “Guest Post” with a person’s name. You can also use a competitor link analysis tool, like those from Ahrefs or Moz.

Remember that your marketing team or assistant can do this work for you, ensuring that you’re reaching the right people with the best websites.

Brainstorm Your Value and Start Pitching

Editors are busy people, so keep your initial email short and sweet. Introduce yourself and show your value right away. Instead of sending pitches in your initial email, however, reference some general areas of interest or expertise and ask to be connected with the person who accepts pitches. For example:

Hey Sarah,

My name is Brian Smith and I’m the CEO of Business Apps Inc. In a poll of 500 customers, we found that most small businesses use up to five tools each day to connect with customers. I’d love to submit a guest post about this and why choosing the right tools is critical for small businesses.

Should I send my ideas to you, or is there a better person for me to reach out to?


Find your own unique version of this pitch, and remember to include who you are and what you have to offer, and then ask where to send your pitches. If you send your ideas to the wrong person, they’ll be ignored, so don’t put everything in this initial outreach email.

Finally, don’t be shy about reaching out to a lot of sites—a recent survey showed that 50 percent of guest authors pitch anywhere from 1 to 10 websites per month, while 27 percent pitch 11 to 25 websites monthly—and don’t forget to follow up after seven days.

I only recommend sending one follow up; doing more than that is both annoying and looks like spam. As a long-time editor, I can tell you that I’ve deleted hundreds of emails from people who I don’t want to work with, but who continue reaching out.

Write Value-Driven Content

Once you get a pitch accepted, write your guest post. The goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader and provide value to the reader. There are a number of ways you can achieve this in every guest post you write:

  • Back up your claims with research data, and expert insights from others within your field. I can’t stress enough how valuable research is when writing. If you’re too busy, consider outsourcing research to a member of your team. They can add the relevant data or quotes into your article for you.
  • Support your expertise with real-life examples or case studies from your professional experience. Instead of tooting your own horn, let your career or personal successes speak for you.  
  • Remember that you’re here to offer value to the reader and share your insights as a thought leader. This should not be a long-winded diatribe on your point of view.

This is when you need to find a delicate balance between thought leadership and self-promotion. According to Influence and Co.’s State of Digital Media report, 79 percent of editors agree that self-promotion is one of the most common problems with contributed content. Don’t shamelessly link to your own website or landing pages. Only include links when they fit naturally and provide value to the content. You can link to your study or a blog post, but make sure it adds value to the reader.

Promote Your Published Guest Posts

Once your articles are live, promote them on social media and include them in newsletters. To build thought leadership, you have to show your audience that publishers value your opinion enough to feature your work on their site.

This is also a smart and easy way to thank the publisher for having you as a guest author. Tag them in your social media posts when possible to share some of the promotion; they’ll likely do the same for you.

Stay Consistent With Outreach

To continue building thought leadership, you need to consistently do outreach for guest post opportunities. Set yourself a goal of getting X number of articles published per month and then make research and outreach a regular part of your weekly schedule.

Nurture existing relationships by providing more than one article where applicable, but continue to look for new blogs, websites, and publications as well. As you build your portfolio, you can start reaching out to larger, more reputable websites, allowing your thought leadership to blossom.

Consider adding a logo banner to your home page as well, allowing visitors to see that you’ve been featured on well-known publishers, adding to your credibility and value.

Develop Thought Leadership with Guest Posting

If you’re ready to build thought leadership with guest posting, you know what to do. If you need help producing high-value content or managing the process, tell me about your guest posting goals. I partner with businesses of all sizes to facilitate guest posting—we work together to drive brand awareness, thought leadership and SEO with high-value placements.