Do you know the feeling in your gut? You have a message that you know people will love. You know it can touch lives. But you don’t know how to get the message in front of people.
There’s a way. A magical pill that will change everything.
You have a chance for your writing to get read, not just thrown up on your blog with your fingers crossed.
That chance is guest blogging.
Guest blogging is a powerful tool that all new bloggers and companies should be using.
Guest blogging doesn’t get used nearly as often as it should because writers are afraid. Cold emailing and rejection are scary.
I know what it’s like to be under the impression that you can’t land a guest post until after you build some credibility on your own website.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, Susanna Gebauer argues in this article on The Social Ms that many freelancers today could be (and are) using guest blogging to market their business – before they even have a website of their own.
Think about it; if you were on the other side of the table, having guests posts pitched for your site, you’d be thrilled.
It’s a dream really… A writer emailing you out of the blue asking if they can write an epic piece of content that your audience is going to love. And that isn’t everything. They’re going to promote it, too.
Trust me, there are thousands of blogs in your niche who will gladly accept your pitch. 😉
What if I told you there is a way to get a guest post pitch accepted, even if you launched your website last week?
There is one way to earn your first post in one week. (But only if you’re dedicated.)
You can be the writer that is making someone’s day by pitching a guest post.
4 Benefits of Guest Blogging
The quickest way to drive traffic to your blog (for free) is guest blogging. Guest blogging allows you to “borrow” someone else’s audience and gives you a shot to convert them to your own loyal fans.
When you write an amazing article for someone else’s site, it’s going to make their readers want to click over. They want to come see who this writer is that just blew their minds, and they want to consume more.
Even better: this traffic is targeted. The conversion rate of those who click over will be far higher than the conversion rate of almost any other way in which readers land on your website.
Leo Widrich, the founder of Buffer, famously grew the app to 100,000 users solely through guest blogging.
Another website, Groovehq.com, similarly claims all their success is thanks to guest blogging. CEO Alex Turnbull’s own words: “There’s no faster or cheaper way to reach massive audiences than guest blogging. By leveraging existing audiences in a way that delivers value, you create opportunities for exponential growth.”
Just last week in my private mastermind group, a friend commented that she is successfully growing her second blog (in the last year) using only guest posting as her marketing strategy.
This could be the most valuable asset to your business, yet very few writers are talking about it.
It’s great to see a traffic spike in the short term, but the relationships will help you win the long game.
A natural part of guest blogging is networking. You will get to know the people whose sites you write for. Since you’re a good writer and savvy business person, you will do what you can to make sure you’re building that relationship.
Relationships are so crucial because they lead to opportunity. More guest posts, potential masterminds, feedback on your writing, and business referrals and even partnerships can all be born of a single guest post.
Make Google Like You
The days of random backlinks benefitting your blogs SEO are over. The best way to boost your SEO in 2016 is by getting backlinks from relevant, useful, and valuable pages that have real people visiting them.
Guest blogging is perfect. You wouldn’t be writing a blog post about cars for a gardening website. The backlink to your website from the one in which you’re guest posting will be from a relevant, valuable website.
“In 2016, a better approach is to focus on relevant backlinks from real websites.”
Finally, writing guest posts will boost your authority.
“What matters more than traffic is building your online presence. Building your authority and making yourself known is one of the main benefits. This will pay off in the long term.” – Adam Connell, BloggingWizard.com
Authority is a metric that cannot be measured. You aren’t going to feel more authoritative when you wake up the day after landing a new guest post. Readers, however, are going to look at you that way.
When a reader comes across your work for the first time on a site that trusted you to write for them, they’re going to know you know what you’re talking about. (And you do, or you wouldn’t have landed that guest post).
Three Steps to The Undeniable Pitch
The hardest part of landing a guest post is the pitch. We’d all agree that cold calling sucks, and rejection is worse.
You can avoid these horrible parts of being a creepy salesman. Follow the steps and use the resources outlined below and people will be happy that you contacted them.
Remember the key word in your life since starting a business: value. Everything you create and every decision you make should be with the value to your audience in mind. Guest post pitching should be approached the same way. These blog owners are your friends and colleagues, and the people closest to you in your professional life. Treat them as such. They aren’t billboard owners, offering space for you to sell your product.
Step 1: Identify The Right Influencers
The first step of this process is to find 10 influencers who have blogs that you can post on.
Be warned: This process can be as boring or as fun as you make it. My suggestion for actually finding these potential influencers is simply searching for topics on Twitter. More on that down below.
There are a couple different pieces of criteria that you should look for when finding these websites.
They accept guest posts.
Many websites and blogs don’t accept guest posts. In order to find ones that do, you can simply cruise the blogs and see if there are any existing posts by guest writers. If it doesn’t seem obvious, you can go to google and search (site:www.____.com “guest post”). This searches only the website you chose for the words guest post. If you’re lucky, the website will have a page that outlines what their criteria are for guest posting. That makes life a lot easier and less nerve-racking.
But, They may not have a page like that, but the results will reveal whether others have guest-posted. If they have, this site passes the first test.
They have the right amount of traffic.
The secret here is to find sites that have some sort of following. There isn’t an exact science or math.
Guest posting takes a lot of time, and you don’t want to waste it writing a big, bad ass epic piece of content for it to be posted on a site with no traffic. (You could just post it on your own site. Too harsh?)
You also don’t want to only pitch to websites that have huge amounts of traffic, as there is much more competition. Guest posting, like most things in life, gets easier and quicker each time you do it. It’s better to start out with blogs that will give you a higher chance of success, not more traffic.
In order to find out what kind of audience they have, you can simply check out their social media profiles, or check out the comments on their current blogs. Again, they don’t need to be crawling with Twitter followers or comment interaction, but it is a good sign that your guest post won’t go completely unnoticed.
Another resource you can use here is called Alexa.com
. You can sign up now for a 7-day free trial, but remember that this tool isn’t necessary. This is a market research SEO tool owned by Amazon.
It also has a Global Rank system that ranks every website based on traffic. As you can imagine, Google is number 1.
Anyways. There are billions of websites on the interwebs, so anything in the top million or so probably has some traffic.
They have the right content.
This is the fun part of finding influencers. You need to find the right website that aligns with your content, but you have room to branch out a little bit. Let’s say you write a blog about growing cilantro, the world’s more polarizing herb. It makes perfect sense for you to find another website that only writes about cilantro, and write a post for them on a topic they have covered yet, such as the best potting soil for growing cilantro indoors. Really, you should do this.
However, you can (and should) also seek out blogs that would have readers interested in cilantro – such as blogs about making the best tacos. Readers of a taco blog would probably be pretty interested in knowing about high-quality ingredients for tacos that they can grow at home. A post on that website about how to grow the best cilantro right in your kitchen, so you always have a supply of cilantro, would be a hit.
They Take Their Website Seriously
This may seem obvious, but there are websites that can actually hurt your reputation.
This article on Digital Nuisance
points out that any site willing to post just about anything just to stay active should be steered clear of. These sites may not be legitimate, and it could end up hurting your Google rankings. They also probably don’t have targeted readers (or readers at all) therefor defeating the purpose.
Lastly, anyone running a black hat SEO website in 2016 is someone you probably don’t need to build a relationship with.
Once you’ve found 10 websites that meet these three criteria, write down the results in a spreadsheet. You’ll need to know their website url, the owner or editor (who you’re going to pitch to or interact with), social media handles, and the email address or link to a contact form.
You are going to use this spreadsheet to record your progress in the next step as well, so make it pretty.
Step 2: Interact with Those Influencers
Every step of the process I’m laying out is equally as important because there’s no fluff. This is “straight to the point” stuff.
With that said, this is the most important part of this article, because it’s the part that is most forgotten. It’s also the step that transforms you from a sleazy salesman to a friend looking to help.
Interacting with the influencers you chose above is what removes the cold pitching feeling, and reduces the chance of being flat out ignored. In fact, I’ve been rejected by influencers, but because I took the time to get to know them later, they came back to me later when they had work available.
It’s funny, treating people like human beings makes them want to interact with you. Who knew.
The first thing you want to do is reach out to any influencers that you already know on your list of possible blogs, or any of your friends could put you in contact with these people. As Belle Cooper points out on the Ghost blog
, the best starting point is people you already know.
I’m assuming if you’re reading this, though, that you’re very new to guest blogging. You’re going after websites you don’t have connections with.
Begin the interaction process by reading the blogs you want to pitch to. Get to know what they’re all about, and what value you can add to their customer. Just like you research a company before a job interview, being “in the know” positions you much better to make a good impression. I would say that you should spend a minimum of an hour just getting to know the blog. Read at least 5 to 10 posts (actually read them) and get to know the rest of their website as well.
This is the perfect opportunity to add valuable conversation to the comments. You shouldn’t comment just to comment. I wouldn’t recommend you do comment unless you genuinely have something to say.
The goal here is to get the blog owner to begin recognizing your name. The more valuable your comments, the more likely the owner will take notice.
Next, follow them on all social platforms. Twitter is a big one in the world of blogging, but don’t stop there. Find them on all of the social media and follow those accounts. Make sure that your name is the same across all platforms, so you’re easily recognizable.
Now that you follow them on all the social media, begin commenting and interacting on posts there too. Share their work, give them an ego boost, ask questions, etc. Again, just make sure you actually believe in what you’re saying. Don’t just throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks.
You should be keeping track of these actions. It may be overkill to keep track of every comment, like and share you give an influencer, but you should keep track of when they interact back with you. Did they respond to a comment or say thank you for a share? Keep track of those. These are the only attempts that you’ve made at interaction you can be sure the influencers saw. It stands to reason that after so many “thank you’s” and question answering, they’ll remember your name.
Important: Be mindful of the insane amount of noise on social media today. 90% of the times my content gets shared on social media is solely by people who are trying to get me to follow them. They most likely didn’t read it and their “audience” most likely doesn’t care.
I never pay attention to any of these people. It’s not a numbers game. When you share something, make sure that you also message the influencer and make it obvious that you actually read it and appreciated it.
You want to know that an influencer has definitely seen your name multiple times. This way, your pitch isn’t so cold. The warmer your pitch, the more likely it’ll be accepted, or at least you’ll get an encouraging rejection, and not be flat out ignored.
The final step of interaction is to email the influencer. You going to flat out send a pitch yet. You need to get your email address to be recognizable by the influencer. The point of this email is to help in some way. Any small way is great.
If you find some incorrect data, broken links, or typos in the writer’s blog, shoot them an email and let them know.
You could even write them a short thank you note, or ask permission to link their content in an article on your blog. This doubly serves the purpose talked about in my previous article
There are a ton of ways you can get in front of an influencer and provide them with value. Here are 11 pointed out on Traffic Generation Cafe
. I am especially fond the first example: doing what no one else would. That 301 redirect tactic is awesome and classy.
And if this isn’t enough for you, and you really want to take your influencer engagement strategy to the next level, check out this post by Alp Turan
. It actually is a guest post in itself on Sean Ogle’s Location180 blog. These strategies will take time, but will truly blow the influencer away.
Important: I created a tool to help you track your engagement with influencers. Sign up below for instant access.
Step 3: The Perfect Pitch
The time has come.
You know that you need to be guest blogging to grow your traffic exponentially, and you’ve done your homework. You’ve found your target influencers, you’ve become their biggest fan and gotten to know their work. You’ve even had a few conversations with them on twitter.
Now comes the pitch.
Jennifer Xue sites the art of pitching
as the sole skill that would’ve made the difference between “a scholarship… big-shot clients…an exciting and high-paying job… multi-million dollars in a short time, and —perhaps, even— married a soul mate.”
This is the nerve-racking piece of the puzzle, so let me prepare you: You are going to be rejected.
The reason that you’ve been working on 10 influencers is so that you can land a few posts. Hell, your first post is an amazing feat. You have no experience with guest posting, so your first should be absolutely celebrated, even if its only 1 of the 10 that you’re chasing.
How to Find Out What To Pitch
You need to decide now on a few topics that you’ll pitch to the particular blog you’re focusing on.
A good way to do that is to research what they’re already writing. Again, you need to know their content really well in order to provide the most value for their audience.
The best place to start your research is on the comment sections of blog posts already on the website. Go into those comments and find a question that someone has asked that you could answer better than the blog you’re pitching to.
Even if it was answered in the comments, chances are you could write a really in-depth 1000+ word answer to their question.
You could also read your favorite posts on the site and find a question that you have, or a hole in the content. This could be the subject of the post you pitch.
For example: If you’re reading a killer piece of content about how to grow Cilantro inside, but you notice that they make no mention of whether they’re talking about Asian Cilantro or Leaf Cilantro, you could pitch an article about the differences in the varieties. Chances are that a blogger who loves cilantro enough to write about it would be thrilled to feature that piece on their site. (disclaimer: I’m not 100% sure that those two types of cilantro exist.)
Once you’ve decided on your topic, you must write the email.
Get Your Email Opened, Read, and Responded To – Every Time
What is the most important part of any blog post, article, book, or any piece of content?
The headline (or title). According to Copyblogger
, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the article.
The subject line of your pitch email is your headline. The subject line is the only piece of your email that will definitely get read. So you need to stack the odds in your favor and write a killer headline.
Your subject line must accomplish a lot in about 15 words or less. You must tell them who you are, that you’re pitching a guest post, and what you’re pitching.
You should not give them the bait and switch. If they think they’re opening an email that is going to be helpful, but it ends up being a guest post pitch, you’ve lost any trust you had or could possibly build with this influencer. We know that trust is the name of the game when it comes to guest posting. Don’t blow it.
That being said, the worst possible subject you could use is:
Guest Post Inquiry
Nobody is going to willingly put someone so plain and boring in front of their audience. Try this instead:
How to distinguish between two types of cilantro. [Guest Post]
This very easily lets them know why you’re emailing them. It also uses a working headline of the article you’ll write.
This tells them that you’ve already got a great idea and that you know the type of work they do. You know that their audience are fans of cilantro, and they’d be interested in knowing the different types.
Most importantly, you subject probably hooked the blogger in the same way that the headline would hook cilantro lovers. It delivers a promise that you’ll teach them how to distinguish between cilantro types if they just click on the article.
Get the blogger or editor excited about what you’re going to write, and they’ll want your content on their site.
The body of the email – the actual pitch.
You’ve come so far. You’ve done so much work.
Don’t lose the opportunity now, this close to the finish line.
Make sure that your pitch email is perfect.
“Keep it short – popular bloggers get inundated with many emails and pitches. Their time is limited so only include the important things in your pitch.
Be personal – including the name of the person who will be reading your email gives it a personal touch. It shows you went out of your way to find out the editor or owner’s name.
Be casual – Your email is a reflection of how you will write your blog post. So, keep it fun and casual.”
The third criteria is important. Let me repeat that sentence: Your email is a reflection of how you will write your blog post.
Don’t sound robotic or overly-professional unless this is the appropriate place to do so. Show the blog owner how your piece will read, and that it aligns with how their content already reads.
The “short” aspect of your pitch is also important. Jess Ostroff is an editor over at one of my favorite blogs, Convince and Convert. She reads pitches every single day. In her article, 9 Tips To Perfectly Pitch Your Guest Blog Post, she stresses that editors are busy, and it’s better not to waste their time!
The content that falls within the short, personal and casual email is important, too.
You need to convey that you understand their blog and their audience, and that your content will be valuable to their audience.
The reason that this is such a great pitch is because it’s obvious that the pitcher really took the time to understand who he was pitching to. He made sure that they knew this in three key ways.
-He complimented their website, and mentioned a specific article.
-He mentioned their competitors.
-He made a piece of content that showed a hole in their existing content.
We aren’t going to be cold emailing, so you don’t want to write in an impersonal way that is outlined in the above example, but you should take notice of how powerful this pitch was. The pitcher even took the time to make small sample video, proving his value to the blog he wanted to write on.
Go the extra mile like this, you’ll see success. Period.
Don’t Pre-Write the Piece
The guest post has to be specific to the blog you’re pitching to. I don’t suggest that you pre-write a post because that can be time-consuming, and you may get rejected. Once it has been rejected, I wouldn’t recommend trying to re-purpose it, because it will come across as generic and bland.
It is important that you are writing for the readers. Not the readers of your blog, but the readers of the blog you’re pitching a guest piece to. That means that your piece should be tailor-made for their blog. Their readers.
“The best guest post submissions I’ve created have always included a specific pitch aimed at the blog I’m reaching out to.” – Alex Turnbull, Groove CEO
That being said, you should write a short outline and include it in the post. Write just the headings, for example, and present them as bullet points. This further proves how well you know the subject, and makes accepting your guest post less of risk for the other blog.
The Email Outline
Using all the techniques discussed above, let’s throw it all together into one epic pitch email.
I’m a huge fan of CilantroHQ. While reading your recent article about growing cilantro indoors, I noticed that you didn’t specify wether or not you meant Asian or Leaf cilantro.
Your readers would really get value out of knowing the difference.
I write for a blog called TacoToppings.com. We love to enlighten the world on all things cilantro, salsa, guacamole, and more.
I just wanted write you and see if you’d be interested in allowing me to tackle the different styles of cilantro for your blog.
This guest post would include:
- Differences in the varieties of cilantros.
- How to grow the different varieties.
- The best way to cook with both styles of cilantro.
Would you be interested in this article?
If you’ve followed this guide so far, you should expect, at the very least, a response from whoever you’re pitching to. They know your name, you’ve had a few interactions, they’ll want to maintain your relationship, and they won’t ignore you.
After You Land Your Guest Post
Now that you’ve finally landed a guest post, the time has come to prove yourself. The hardest part is out of the way, but there is still work to be done to get the most out of this!
Create Your Best Post Ever
Some writers think they should hold back their best content for their own site. They lose steam after the long process they’ve already endured to land the guest post, and they don’t see the reason to spend another few days writing a single post.
This is wrong. You have to blow minds here. You need to write the best piece of content you’ve ever written.
Remember, this is probably going to be read by more people than any of your content thus far. If that wasn’t the case, you probably wouldn’t be writing a guest post on the particular blog in the first place.
You really want to give people a reason to click through to your site. Better posts can also mean more repeat guest post opportunities. You can also use your guest posts as resources to prove your writing value in future pitches.
You also want to make sure the content is not only valuable, but easy for the editor or blog owner to throw up on their site.
This tip by Adam Connell is key
: “Figure out how their blog posts are formatted. Do they bold words or italicize them when they want to emphasize a phrase? Do they encourage screen shots? What size of images will fit perfectly within the blog’s theme? Knowing this will make your guest post easier to accept.”
Not only easier to accept, but they’ll also want to invite you back and refer you to friends.
Important Take Away: Treat this post as the most important thing you’ve ever written for your business.
The closing of your guest post is the most important part for your blog. (Remember: You’re selfless. This makes it the least important part of the whole article.)
The closing will include a call-to-action. Just because it’s on someone else’s blog, doesn’t mean you should try to get something measurable in return.
and Peter Sandeen
both point out that in order for a guest post to be successful, you have to invite the readers to take the next step. Peter also points out that it’s important not to try to make a sale or sound like you’re writing an advertisement. If you do, the guest post probably won’t get posted. Even if it does, there will be no click through.
Instead, offer the readers more value.
Am I crazy? You just spent a week grinding to get a guest post accepted, a week writing it, and more weeks for the other website to post it. I want my email list subscriber NOW.
You have to remember that these readers have only just realized that you even exist. They aren’t ready to give you anything, including their personal email address.
The answer here is to make the call to action a very small “ask.” I recommend three possibilities.
Link them to a blog post on your site on a similar subject.
This post will be wow them for a second time, and they’ll be ready to sign up for your list.
Ask a question for them to answer in the comments.
Comments are important to the world’s perception of your post. More on that later.
Take It To the Next Level with a Landing Page and Lead Magnet
The bonus step and final option is to make a downloadable resource specifically for the topic your post covers.
At the end of your guest post, link directly to a brand new landing page that you made for the readers of your guest post. Thank them for reading the other person’s blog, because you’re so damn selfless. Offer them a tool they can use to take action on the subject in exchange for an email address.
See, you’re first asking for just a click. Then when you knock their socks off with a special landing page just for them, they’ll be throwing their email address at you. And to top it off, a nice resource to help them take action.
Here’s a sample landing page from Alp Turan:
Click the photo to check out the landing page!
Include an Awesome Bio
What’s the payout for doing all this work? A bio.
At the end of guests posts, you get a small piece of internet real estate to include your bio.
This usually will include a picture of you, a few sentences about what you do, and one to two links back to your page.
This paragraph and link is what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. This is where people have the opportunity to click back to your website. The link provided is how google will know to boost your sites position in its engine.
What makes a good bio? Being relatable. The readers should be reading a bio about themselves. This is usually done with personal details.
Yes, you want to include where you work, what company you write for, your achievements, etc. But, none of this matters if the bio is dull and isn’t relatable.
There are occasions that a bio should be very professional (dull), but the world of blogging isn’t the place. Make sure that your bio will make people like you when they read it, not be impressed by where you went to business school.
Your bio should also tell your reader what’s in it for them when they click to your website. What benefits will they achieve for themselves if they spend time in your digital home?
Dr. John – The Cilantro Doctor
I’m Dr. John Cunningham. Before graduating from MIT, I found a deep love for cilantro. The flavor, the color, the way it grows, I love it all. I decided to make it my life, and went to Harvard Law school, graduated with honors, and went on to work for the premier Farm Protection Lawfirm – Williams, Williams, and Williams, and founded the Cilantro and Other Fine Herbs Department. I’ve been published by the International Herb Loving Lawyers Digest and wrote a book: Keeping Cilantro Legal. Learn more here. (link)
What did you learn from this bio? You learned that Dr. John loves cilantro, can rattle off a couple cool accomplishments, and works in a Hogwarts-esque law firm. That’s it. No one will click through because Dr. John failed to remember who matters when you’re writing anything. Your reader.
Dr. John – Spreading the Cilantro Gospel
Hi! I’m passionate about making sure you get everything you can out of growing and cooking with cilantro. I know what it’s like to make the perfect tacos, only to realize that you don’t have any cilantro handy. I want to make sure that you never encounter that problem again by teaching you how to make your own self-sufficient herb growing garden. If you care to learn more, come visit me over here (link).
This is a good bio. What did I learn by reading this? That there is a way to never run out of cilantro again, and Dr. John is the man to go to find out how. I know what’s in it for me if I click through to his site.
The Comment Section
You should always reply to every comment. This gives you a chance to engage with your potential new customers.
Content marketing is all about creating value for your audience. It’s not a banner on the side of a page or a billboard downtown, it’s a living engagement between brand and audience. If you don’t see the need to respond to the comments, you’re missing the point.
Even if the blog that your guest post is featured on never responds to their audience, you still should respond.
The more comments that are on your posts, the more that additional readers will comment. When someone knows there’s a high chance of engagement, or someone caring enough to respond to their opinion, they’re more likely to respond.
“If you don’t reply to a comment, you’re broadcasting to all of your current and future readers that there’s no reason for them to come back and invest in sharing their perspective or comment on your content. “
Here are a list of resources that you can use for research and outreach:
– As explained earlier in the article.
I’m a big fan of Buzzsumo for marketing and research.
List of Sites that Accept Guest Blog Posts and Pay You – 44 blogs that pay you 50 bucks for blogging.
Now It’s Your Turn
You really have everything that you need to land your first guest post this week.There is just one more piece of advice.
You have to do it. The hardest part of the pitch email is clicking send.
If you use the methods above 10 times, you will get a guest post.
And this is a process that snowballs as you get better.
Right now, you should use this resource I created to start keeping track of the influencers that you’re engaging with.
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below.
And remember, consistent, bold action is the key to success.
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