If you use guest blogging to promote your business – and you use it correctly – you’re able to create value for your readers and another community of readers, as well as a lasting partnership between you and a brand. However, it’s not as simple as pitching an idea to a blogger. According to Amanda Vogel, fitness writer and social media consultant, it requires research and legwork. Speaking at IDEA World’s BlogFest in Las Vegas last week, Vogel offered several tips to use guest blogging opportunities to your advantage. Here are just a few that can apply to SMBs looking to stretch their earned media dollar.

Before the pitch

Vogel advises doing heavy research before pitching an idea to a blogger. Visit and read the blog to get an idea of the style and voice, and learn more about the blog’s audience. Ideally, you’ll also follow the blogger on social media channels and post a few comments – not spammy ones, but ones that show you’ve read the posts. The comments aren’t a place for pitches. Another thing to do is see if the blog does allow guest posts. Some blogs will have a page set aside that explains submission guidelines.

Wind up and pitch

When you do actually pitch a guest blog post, write a compelling subject line for your email. Keep your intro short and sweet, about 75-100 words, and explain your idea briefly. Explain why you’re qualified to write this post (you’ve worked with managed services for 10 years, for example) and any additional things you’d include, like photos or social media posts. Finally, provide a link to two or three published posts so the blog editor can get a feel for how you write.

What topics to use guest blogging

When you do write your guest post, remember that it needs to be a service piece. Offer practical ideas, tips, strategies or guidance for that blog’s readers. Answer how or what questions, like how to migrate from Windows 8 to Windows 10. The guidance needs to be something meaningful to the people reading it.

Think beyond your niche as well. If you run a managed services IT shop, your guest post may get more mileage on blogs that don’t focus solely on IT. Think parenting blogs for household computer-type tips, or accounting blogs for ways to use online accounting software. Use guest blogging to establish authority in your industry – it will help you generate leads and awareness of your company, as well as garner good will.