How to expertly pitch a guest post (and get it every time!)
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I get a LOT of requests from other bloggers who want to submit guest posts on TSR. Honestly, I reject most of them because their pitch is uninteresting and lacks much in the way of enthusiasm.
But, when Paul Andrews from The Code To Riches approached me to write a guest post about questions to ask your significant other, I was literally blown away by his email. Not only did I accept his intended proposition, but because he did such a good job with his pitch, I asked him to write another post about how to pitch a guest post to another blogger.
Here it is, straight from the mouth (fingers?) of Paul. Curious about how this works? Read on, my friends.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
8th grade spring dance. I had finally asked Emily Metruck, who at 14 I was SURE was the girl of my dreams, to dance with me. Arms outstretched, sweaty palms stuck to her waist, I spent as much of the 3 and-a-half-minute song avoiding eye contact with her.
It was returned in kind. As the song approached its inevitable conclusion, I looked her straight in the eye, and (in what could only be described as) spat out:
It was met with a no, and I was more uncomfortable than the first time I had to play an entire little league game using a cup. She ran off to her friends, and I spent a solid week listening to “Closing Time” by Semisonic while wallowing in my teenage angst.
…and that, ladies and gentlemen, was the very first time I realized that I HATED asking people to do things for me.
Fast forward over 10 years later, and the ability to ask for favors still hasn’t gotten much easier. But in the world of blogging, you’re really not going to get anywhere on your own; you have to have help.
And when you’re looking to grow your blog, seek out new audiences, and network with other bloggers, the easiest way to kill those three birds with one stone is to offer to write a guest post on someone’s blog.
I’ve been very fortunate, in that every single time I’ve asked to write a blog post for someone else, it’s been met with an enthusiastic yes! In fact, Steve asked me to write a guest post on guest posting because when I asked him if I could write a guest post he thought my guest post pitch was so good that he wanted another guest post!
Having fun yet? ;)
So this post is dedicated to all you bloggers out there that may or may not have had a hard time getting guest post spots. Here’s my formula for success:
First thing’s first: Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success
My apologies if I’m the first one to shit on your parade, but we need to make sure that we’re calling the sky blue and being honest: if you’re a brand new blogger, chances are you’re not going to have a ton of success reaching out to enormous bloggers for guest posts. Some big time bloggers, the ones that are making millions and millions of dollars a year, are not going to respond to your tiny little email about a guest post. They get hundreds to thousands of emails a day.
So, if you’re just starting out, make sure you’re hitting up established blogs that will help you reach a larger audience, but not so large that you’re going to get lost in the noise. Wait to be a little bit more established before you start going after the whales.
Second thing’s second: Don’t go in cold
Unless you’re the most extroverted and charming organism on this continent, I highly advise that you take a month or two to really get to know the blogger that you’re trying to guest post for. To give you an example, I didn’t just reach out to Steve and ask him for something. I commented on a few of his posts, I asked his opinion on a couple things (because frankly, he knows a lot more than me) and shared out a few of his posts. This shows the potential blogger that I’m invested in their content.
You might be thinking to yourself at this point, “Won’t most bloggers think that I’m just doing this to get something out of them?” and the short answer is anywhere from “yes” to “maybe”. But think about this from the point of view of the blogger: Do you think they’re going to be more receptive of someone who has, at the very least, attempted to create a relationship or someone who is just another rando off the interweb?
See what I’m getting at? Make sure your first contact isn’t just asking them for something. The blogger is WAY less inclined to say yes.
Third thing’s third: You should make their job as easy as possible
When crafting your pitch, it’s important to remember that you have to write for your audience. In this case, you’re writing to a blogger. They’re not going to spend hours going over your email to pick what subject they want. They don’t want to be sold to. And they don’t want to have to read some book from some insignificant speck of a blogger off the internet.
With that in mind, be sure when you’re writing your pitch to:
- NOT write a full article - I like to give 3-5 ideas of articles, and the direction I would take them. It allows the blogger to pick from a group of articles. It’s a nice medium between “what do you want me to write about” and “I wrote this entire article for you”. If you write a full article, and they don’t like it, not only have you wasted your time, but you’ve now got to go back and have another conversation about the guest post topic. Keep it simple, stupid.
- Provide Data - I always include how competitive the keywords are in Google, and the average number of searches per month. Now, you might remember back last November (+3 blogger points for rhyming) Google made it MUCH more difficult to find the average monthly searches on your own. Before, you could just use the Keyword Tool with Google. Now, they give you a range based on a factor of 10. So “videos of kittens” might come up as “1000-10,000 average monthly searches”. That information is more useless than sandpaper TP. So what I use is a tool called LongTail Pro (affiliate link), and it not only tells me the average monthly searches, BUT it also ranks how competitive the keyword is. Which means I can tell a blogger, “This keyword is searched 940 times a month, and ranks 29 on a 1-100 competitive scale.” That being said, you have to read up on the scale to learn what it means. But it’s allowed me to rank #1 for keywords, so it’s an INCREDIBLY helpful tool. Check it out, and tell them Paul sent ya… ;)
- Leave it open - The blogger may WANT to tell you what to write! In fact, that’s why you’re reading this post right now! So make sure you add something along the lines of, “If you’d like a different article let me know!”
Fourth thing’s fourth – The obvious shit
I can’t believe that I’m even writing this in this day and age, but there are some obvious parts to your pitch that you really shouldn’t miss:
- Spelling/Grammar - itz reely hardd two tayk sumwun seereeuslee eef thay downt no hhow too spel. Honestly, I’ve seen blogs with some ridiculous typing errors. Like using the wrong word (“Ludacris” instead of “Lucrative”). If you spell something wrong on your pitch, don’t expect them to contact you again. I know I wouldn’t.
- Keep it friendly, but not too formal - This is blogging for Christ sake, not investment banking. The person to whom you are writing is more than likely a single person running the blog. They’re not Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or a Bush; they’re normal people. Treat them as such.
- Be clear on expectations from the beginning - Things like how many words, how many links, if duplicate content is kosher with both parties, if affiliate links are ok, are all things that need to be hashed out BEFORE ANYONE HITS PUBLISH! Otherwise, someone is going to end up resenting the other in the end.
- End with a “thank you” - Manners still matter, even over the internet.
Fifth thing’s fifth- The follow up
I’ve been lucky enough that the bloggers I’ve reached out to have been SUPER responsive. But guys, bloggers tend to be busy people, and they might very well read your email with every intention of responding and simply not get around to it. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to reach out again!
It can be a simple note, such as “Hey there, just wanted to follow up on my guest post idea? Have you had a chance to read over the ideas? Is there something else you’d like me to put together? Let me know when you get a chance!”
Boom. Bam. Done. Simple.
“But Paul, what if that doesn’t work?”
Ok, so I’m not saying that you should find their address and beat down their door, but no one got anywhere without just a little bit of persistence. If you need to reach out on social media, do it. If you need to comment on a blog post, then comment! Don’t be afraid to ask!
After all, the worst that’ll happen is she’ll run off to her friends and you’ll listen to angsty music for a few weeks… ;)
How to ask to Guest Post on a blog (and get it every time!) - The Wrap Up
As with most things in life, the more you do something, the better you get at it, whether it’s sports, reading, learning, or jousting. So while it might feel awkward to ask for your first guest post, the next one will be twice as easy, and the next one twice as easy as that, and so on and so forth until you’re a guest posting GOD (or Goddess. We don’t discriminate at TCTR.)
As you’re writing your pitch, remember:
- Set yourself up for success. Don’t go after big fish until you, yourself, are a big fish.
- Don’t go in cold. Try to establish a relationship BEFORE you ask for space on someone’s blog.
- Make their job as easy as possible. The less time a blogger has to spend reading your stuff, the happier they’ll be and the more likely they are to say yes. LongTail Pro is a great tool for this.
- The obvious shit. No one will take you serious if you don’t spell correctly, act without manners, or are a general tool.
- Don’t fear the follow-up! Asking for something again doesn’t make you annoying; it makes you persistent, which is a good thing! Follow up until you get a response!
Alright, now it’s your turn to speak up! What techniques have you used to get guest posts? Have you found a specific format to “cut through the noise” and get a response? Do you think I could have done something different to win over Emily’s heart?...
… comment below!
Keep trying to crack the code,
Paul Andrews writes for thecodetoriches.com, a personal finance site that makes the world of finance as entertaining as possible. Known for his contrarian and no-bullshit attitudes, Paul doesn't sugar-coat finance. He simply uses logic, expletives, and an obscene amount of humor to make his points. Head on over to Thecodetoriches.com to check out more from Paul!
P.S. If you’re looking for an example of what I like to use as a template, you can check it out here. It’s free, so you might as well check it out!
This post was originally published July, 2017, but has been updated according to my Revise and Republish content strategy.