Can you spot any problems with the guest post pitch below?
Hint: if you’re sitting there searching for spelling and grammatical errors, then you’re overlooking the much bigger issues.
The popularity of content marketing has exploded over the past few years, and the benefits that guest blogging can bring to your SEO strategy are well known. In fact, many marketers now view producing content as one of their most crucial link building methods.
But with so many marketers searching for guest post opportunities, competition is high and most A-list sites will need to hear a pitch before they’ll accept your post. (If the blog you want to post on doesn’t any have any guidelines or requirements, chances are it’s not a site worth your time.) This means that a generic request like the example at the top of the page won’t cut it anymore. Just a few months ago State of Search decided to stop accepting guest post requests altogether due to the sheer volume of low-quality ‘pitches’ they were receiving.
The key to writing a guest post pitch that gets accepted is personalization.
Guest blogging allows you to do more than build links and authority – it’s also an opportunity to build industry relationships. One great guest post can lead to a regular series. Bloggers may write guest posts on your site in return. Not to mention how this can open up doors to partnerships in the future. So stop treating guest blogging like another impersonal link building tactic, and keep these 4 pieces of advice in mind the next time you pitch a guest post.
1. Be Prepared
People do a search for ‘guest post’ and find a site which has them… Then they simply stop looking and start filling in forms and sending emails. (Bas van den Beld, owner of Stateofsearch.com)
If you want your pitch to succeed, taking the time to research the blog you want to post on is absolutely the most important thing you can do! Researching a blog involves reading existing posts – especially guest posts – to find out what topics have recently been covered. Explore the “Most Popular” category, or take note of which posts have the most comments and social shares, to figure out what topics do best on the site. Also have a look at post style. Is the blog filled with resource lists? How-to articles? Reviews?
Getting familiar with the blog also gives you an chance to figure out what type of audience you’ll be writing for. A lot of sites that accept guest posts will have a set of guest post guidelines. These guidelines usually give you information on topics, style, and the blog’s audience, so make sure you read them carefully!
Why go to so much effort before you even know if your post will be accepted?
- You won’t waste time writing for a blog that isn’t relevant to your business. Getting a link back to your site isn’t just useful for SEO reasons. Readers who like your content will come to your blog looking for more. If the blog’s audience is similar to your own, there’s a better chance that this traffic will stick around.
- Since you’ll know what topics have already been covered, you won’t have to ask, and you won’t end up pitching an idea that’s already been written. Instead, you can tailor your pitch to the style and audience of each blog you contact.
- Make your pitch more persuasive and show them you did your research by including a few sentence like this: “I saw you wrote a great post last month on getting the most out of your Pinterest marketing strategy. Pinterest recently released a series of updates, and I’d love to write a follow-up article covering the changes.”
2. Be Personable
How often have you heard the social media marketing or blogging advice to “be human”? Well this applies to writing guest post pitches too. The generic email example I wrote could easily be sent to a thousand different blog owners. But how many do you think would actually respond? The spray and pray approach doesn’t work for email marketing, and it’s not going to work if you want to land high quality guest post spots.
So find an email address. Find a name. Do some digging if you have to! It’s okay to make a template, but be sure to customize each email you send. Remember you’re dealing with a person, not some anonymous webmaster. On that note, it’s also a good idea to briefly introduce yourself to give them a sense of who they’re talking to. And forget the formal language and industry jargon. As HubSpot suggests: “Write like you’re talking to a friend in the industry.”
3. Give Them Options
Another big problem with my example email is that it asks the blog owner to assign the writer a topic. Sure, this may seem like you’re being open and flexible to whatever they need. But in reality, you’re putting the work back on them. If they’ve already gone to the effort of coming up with an article idea, they might as well just write it themselves.
Instead, when you pitch a guest post give them 2 or 3 different options. That way, if they aren’t interested in one of you ideas, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll hear a “no.” And who knows, if they like all 3 you may get a chance to write for them more than once.
You don’t have to go overboard when providing details on each idea. Just make sure you’ve written enough that they have a sense of what each post would be about. Providing headlines can really help someone understand what direction you’re planning on going, and get them excited about it. If they want to read more, that means you get to write it!
4. It’s Not All About You
Has this thought ever gone through your mind: Hey, I’m providing this piece of content for free, why wouldn’t they want it? I’m the one doing them a favour.
Now imagine if a stranger came up to you on the street and offered you a pie. It’s a free pie, right? You should be grateful! But would you really take this pie home to your family and friends, and offer them all a bite?
Most likely, the answer is no.
Guest posting is a mutual exchange between bloggers and blog owners, where both parties benefit. All the same, blog owners still want to make sure they’re sharing quality content with their readers, so you’ll need to make a convincing case. The best way of doing this is shifting the focus away from what you want, and instead highlight what you can offer. The main benefit you’re providing is interesting guest post content. But you can also tell them how you’ll promote the post on social media, and suggest that they write a guest post on your blog too.
And when it comes to shifting the focus away from yourself, this applies to your blog post ideas as well. No one’s going to put a 1,000 word sales pitch up on their blog; you’re much better off pitching a topic that the audience will find valuable. Of course, if you’re able to weave the two together by sharing an interesting story from personal experience or a case study, then you might be able to get away with writing about your business. Otherwise, it’s safest to leave the backlinks for your author bio.
Thanks to Adrian Barrett, one of our SEO specialists, for contributing his guest blogging insights to this post.