You can write all the guests posts you want, but it doesn’t matter unless you can do a good job pitching your ideas to other bloggers. This is where a lot of really talented writers fail. You have to understand how to connect with other bloggers so that they’re more than happy to publish anything you write.
So let’s talk about pitching your posts.
Write First or Pitch First?
One of the most common questions people ask me about guest posting is this: should I write my post first and pitch it to bloggers or should I pitch my ideas to bloggers and then write. There’s no one right answer to that question – it depends on the situation and on the blog.
If you know the blogger enough to have conversations via social media occasionally and meet up at conferences, I suggest pitching them first. You have a working relationship – simply ask if they’re accepting guest posts and go from there. When you have a relationship with someone, you can develop ideas for guest posts together or even consider posting something from them on your own blog.
If you don’t know the blogger personally, though, it might not make sense to pitch ideas if you don’t have the post written yet. Check out the blogger’s guest post policy if they have one. Some prefer to receive ideas, while others just want to see the full post. If they don’t have a guest post policy, here are a few tips to help you decide if you should send the full post or simply send ideas:
- A-listers who get tons of traffic and lots of emails don’t have time for lots of exchanges. Send your full post unless their guest post policy says otherwise.
- Do you see other guest posts on the blog? If not, the blogger might not accept them, even from friends. Ask first.
- If you see a blogger mention an upcoming vacation on Twitter or Facebook, reply and ask if they’d like guest posting help in the meantime. It’s simpler than an email, and you can get a quick yes or no before you spend time writing a post.
- Is the blog more personal or more informational? The more personal the blog, the more likely it is that they want to exchange guest post ideas via email first, because their blog is more branded around their personality.
When in doubt, send the guest post in full. If it really is perfect for their blog, they’ll accept it. I’ve even placed guest posts with bloggers who don’t normally accept them because the post I sent was such a good fit.
What’s in it for Me?
When you pitch a guest post to a blogger, you want to make the email short and sweet. So, don’t spend what precious space you have talking about what’s in it for you. Talk about what’s in it for the blogger.
Be realistic. Don’t say that your post is going to send them tons of traffic because you really can’t be sure that it will, even if you’re the most a-list blogger out there and wrote the most search engine optimized post in the world. Instead, simply make offers. Will you promote the post on your social networks? Will you blog about it?
Also, make sure that the post makes sense for the blogger – and mention that. Don’t get post if you aren’t familiar with the blog, and definitely do your research to make sure they’ve never published a post on the exact same topic in the past. Even if you’re a fan, do a quick search to make sure they didn’t post the same thing you’re hoping to post before you were a reader or in a post you missed while sick/on vacation. Don’t be afraid to mention where you think the post would fit in terms of category, especially if the blog covers a wide spectrum of topics.
Your Pitch Doesn’t Need…
As you’re writing the email to pitch your post, there are a few things you don’t need to include:
- A Deadline
Bloggers are busy. If you don’t hear back in a week, you should definitely follow up, but your initial email doesn’t need some kind of imposed deadline. It comes off like a threat. If you don’t get back to me by the 15th, I’m going to approach other bloggers. You know what that makes me think? Go ahead. In reality, your post might fit on a few different blogs (though avoid being too generic). But giving a deadline makes it seem you’re just going to offer your post to blogger after blogger until someone takes it. It makes your post sound…well, not very good.
- Warnings about your Links
You can also leave out the part where you say that you want a link back to your site. That’s why people guest post. Just include your bio with the post itself, along with the link. Otherwise, it takes up space and looks like you’re just interested in the benefits you’ll get if they post what you’ve written. I once received a request from a blogger who spent an entire seven-sentence paragraph talking to me about how if I used his post, I had to include the bio exactly as written with links in tact. He even said that if I didn’t, he would consider it steal. Um…you’re asking me for a favor. Stop being a guest post diva.
- Anything Else
If you send me an email with a guest post pitch, don’t also include other requests or information. I like to keep my inbox organized and I get easily distracted. Name your email something like “guest post” so I don’t miss it and save everything else for another email.
Have you received any good or bad guest post pitches? What did the other blogger to right or wrong? Leave a comment! And don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series:
- Guest Posting 101: An Introduction
- Guest Posting 101: Penning the Perfect Post
- Guest Posting 101: Link Like a Champ
- Guest Posting 101: Pitching Your Post (this post)
- Guest Posting 101: After Your Guest Post is Live