I have a confession to make…
…this post wasn’t part of my content calendar. In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar, but something’s happened in the last few days that’s really made me want to write this.
I’ll get to that in just a minute, but first…
Whether you’re just starting out, or a veteran blogger/content marketer, guest blogging is an awesome way to start a fire around you or your brand.
The tried and tested strategy creates brand awareness, builds links and relationships, increases your domain authority and reaches new audiences, amongst a ton of other super-value plus points.
So, what’s pushed this to the front of my content calendar?
Terrible pitches. And, when I say terrible, I mean it.
I’ll show you a few examples later.
But before we get to all that, let’s talk about how to create an awesome guest post pitch that will make any editor/content director/lead writer salivate.
Before the Pitch
Building a solid house requires groundwork, guest post pitches need concrete foundations too.
These few things will increase your chances of receiving the magic ‘we’d like to publish your article’ email.
This point is aimed at freelancers, students and content marketers who are just starting out.
Before you submit pitches, please make sure you know what you’re doing (just a little bit), don’t expect an editor to take time out of their busy schedule to hold your hand through every step in the creation process…
…and, what’s the best way to do that?
If you haven’t already, I’d strongly recommend creating your own blog. This is the perfect way to discover what works, proves your commitment to the industry and showcases your skills.
We accept guest submissions at Einstein, but I’ve never asked (any of the staff to demand or) submitting writers to provide us with a portfolio, or examples of their work…
…but, when a pitch lands in our inbox with this, it greatly improves its chance of acceptance.
So, now you’ve got some writing experience, you probably think you’re ready, right?
It’s time to really drill down into a niche.
Again, experienced bloggers and content marketers will already have this locked down…
…but, we see so many submissions from people who call themselves ‘Digital Marketing Experts’, without having any particular expertise, tactics or strategies.
It doesn’t matter what industry you want to contribute to, make sure you know something about it!
When you’ve found your niche and practised creating valuable content, it’s time to find some blogs that specialise in your field.
Use search engines and social media profiles to discover which ones accept guest posts. Try the following Google searches:
(Your industry/niche) + guest posts
(Your industry/niche) + submissions
(Your industry/niche) + write for us
The results should give you plenty of options for further research. Study styles and content to find a blog that is the best fit with your skill set and knowledge.
If you find a blog with a page dedicated to Guest Posts, e.g. Write for Us or Contributors page, make sure you read it! This will detail how your work will fit in with that websites content and give you a set of invaluable guidelines to follow.
If you’ve been lucky enough to find a handful of sites that are a good fit, it’s time to do some research.
Read their articles, discover what their most shared articles are and check out their social media profiles to discover where they are strongest. This information will strengthen your cause later on.
And, if you can, try to find out who the editor, lead writer, or content director is. Personalising your email so it is named and directed at an individual shows that you’ve done your research and really want to be published on the site, and you aren’t just sending emails to every website you can find.
The above foundations will make a massive difference to your publish and acceptance rate. So, don’t skip them!
If you’re just starting out it might take a while to perfect this process, but it’ll be worth it in the long-term. Some sites will accept anything that comes their way, but being published on them doesn’t mean a lot! Your quality work will be bundled in with bus-loads of rubbish!
Express Your Interest
The first thing you should do is express an interest in submitting a guest post.
This means writing a short email, only two or three sentences, detailing your interest in the blog, desire to contribute and questioning whether the site is still accepting guest submissions. (This question can save you a lot of wasted energy! Trust me, I’ve found this out the hard way).
These short emails are a great way to break the ice, introduce yourself and make the appropriate people aware of your interest.
The majority of blogs do not require an article to be written before submitting…
…this means it’s down to you to conjure up a creative idea that’s going to hook submission handlers.
I’d suggest retracing your steps back to the research stage. Study what’s been published recently, the most shared posts and what’s hot in the industry. These elements, coupled with your knowledge should provide you with a solid guest post idea.
Making the Pitch
You’ve got the idea, done the research and found the perfect place to submit to…
…it’s time to send the all-important pitch!
My experience in content marketing (from both sides of the fence) has helped me develop an effective pitch formula, and if you’re keen to publish anywhere, following these guidelines will put you in a strong position.
-Start by addressing somebody. Use your research to NAME somebody, writing ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ won’t destroy your chances but does make editors feel like you’re spraying and praying.
-Use the opening paragraph to make it clear that you know the blog. If there was an article that you particularly liked, tell them, if you’re a regular reader, put it in there! The main point here is being genuine! If you make fake or false compliments, you’ll (most likely) be sniffed out.
-Explain your product. In this instance, your idea. This doesn’t need to be long-winded or highly detailed, I’d suggest breaking 3-5 key elements of your submission into bullet points.
This outline will give editors a good idea of whether it’s suitable content for their publication. They will be most excited to read ideas that have original angles on subjects that are popular with their readers.
-Use the end of the pitch to tell them who you are, what you do and where (if anywhere) you’ve been published. Make sure you include links where appropriate, and don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Honesty is the best policy. Keep this section short and sweet, and don’t boast. It’s a real turn-off.
-Finally, say thank you.
As you can see, the submission pitch isn’t rocket science. It’s a straight forward, clear and concise message that editors should not get bogged down in.
We see guest submissions every day, and it’s (sometimes) hard to believe how wrong people get it.
Here are a few of our most hated mistakes, with (GENUINE!!!) examples:
-Poor spelling and grammar- if you can’t take the care to spell in an email, why would we publish your article?
-Failure to use names, even after receiving an email from a specific NAMED member of staff- if you don’t name somebody in your initial email you can be forgiven, but then sending a follow-up email to SIR/MADAM after already receiving a reply from a NAMED person is unforgivable.
-False compliments- telling us that we’re amazing isn’t believable unless you tell us why!
-Spray and pray- a generic email template that has clearly been sent to 500 different websites. Major turn-off. Make us feel a little bit special!
-No research- emailing us to submit a post, whilst clearly having no idea what we do. Need I say anymore?
-Boasting- telling us that you’re creative and clever and an amazing writer doesn’t mean a lot. If you really are that good, we’ll find out for ourselves!
-Assuming they’re doing us a favour- this one really gets me, and I will plain refuse to even read a submission that makes us feel like submitters are doing us a favour. Especially contributors who can’t wait a day without telling us to ‘hurry-up’ or for us to publish ‘ASAP’.
-Only interested in link building- we see this a lot from people who call themselves ‘digital marketing experts’. These submitters make it clear that they just want a backlink and are (generally) the people who give our industry a bad name.
These are all the tools you need to build a winning guest blogging strategy.
So, what are you waiting for?
The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll reach the finish line.
Would you like to contribute to Einstein Marketer’s blog? Visit our Write For Us page, send us a message or leave a comment and we’ll reply as soon as our social media manager has stopped playing poker.