Today ProBlogger Subject Matter Expert Ali Luke is guest posting about guest posting.
So, you’ve realised that guest posting has loads of benefits for you and your blog, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it.
Maybe you’re worried that you don’t have enough experience.
Perhaps you haven’t even got an active blog of your own right now.
That’s absolutely fine. Most host blogs just want someone who can write reasonably well.
(It’s also OK to guest post even if you don’t have your own blog: some authors do this to promote their books, for instance, and freelancers do it to promote their services.)
If you’re worried about whether your writing’s good enough, ask a blogger friend to help you edit your guest post: a second pair of eyes can be invaluable here.
Choosing a Blog to Target
Where should you post? It makes sense to aim for a well-known blog with a big audience, though if this is your very first guest post, you may not want to go straight for the top. (Some bloggers do, though – so if you’re feeling confident, try it!)
Great blogs to guest post for are:
#1: Blogs that you already read regularly. This is definitely the best place to begin: after all, you already know these blogs well, and you may have left comments or shared posts, meaning there’s a chance the host blogger is already familiar with you.
#2: Blogs that are new to you, but well-established in your niche. I’ve been blogging for 9 years and I still keep coming across great blogs I never knew about! Check out the blogs that big-name bloggers in your niche link to (either in posts, in their sidebar, or on social media).
I don’t recommend Googling “list of blogs to guest post for” and choosing a list with hundreds of blogs on it. Guest posting isn’t a numbers game: it’s much better to write one or two great posts for one or two great blogs.
How to Know if a Blog Takes Guest Posts
The first thing to look for is a page on the blog titled something like this:
- Guest post guidelines
- Submission guidelines
- Write for us
- Submit a post
(Check the navigation menu, the sidebar, the About page, and the Contact page for these. Or you can type into Google: guest post guidelines site:[URL of the blog] to find any page/post on that blog that mentions “guest post guidelines".)
If there aren’t any guidelines visible, look to see who’s writing for the blog. Are there any recent guest posts? Anything written by someone who isn’t the blog owner / editor might be a guest post … though if the same names keep coming up again and again, they’re probably freelance writers.
Once you’ve found a blog to target, it’s time to come up with your idea.
Coming Up with an Idea
If you generally find it difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, you might want to check out the six months of blogging prompts (free).
When you’re pitching a guest post, your idea should be:
- In the right niche. I know this sounds obvious, but there’s no point in sending a post about credit cards to a blog about parenting toddlers!
- A good fit for the audience. Copyblogger and Helping Writers Become Authors are both excellent blogs with an interest in good writing … but Copyblogger is about copywriting and Helping Writers Become Authors is about fiction.
- Not too similar to other recent posts on the blog. You might want to find a category on the blog that hasn’t had many posts recently, and come up with an idea to fit that category.
- Appropropriate for the tone of the blog. Most blogs, for instance, won’t be keen to publish an angry, ranty, sweary post. (Of course, on some other blogs, that would work perfectly.)
I’d suggest coming up with two or three ideas for the blog: personally, I like to offer one main idea and a couple of alternatives.
Note: We’ll be going into more detail about guest post ideas next week and providing extra guidance on how to shape these not only to the blog itself but also to your own objectives.
Developing Your Idea into an Outline
Before you pitch, your main idea should be fleshed out with a brief outline or idea of what you’re going to cover. A list (with or without bullet points) is fine here. For instance, for this post, that list might look like:
Title: Finding Great Guest Posting Opportunities and Pitching the Perfect Post
This would cover:
- Where to find blogs to post for (and what NOT to do)
- How to come up with ideas that are a good fit for your target blog
- A sample email for pitching your ideas
- The importance of following guidelines
A quick list like this makes sure that the host blogger’s expectations line up with what you plan to deliver.
Occasionally, you may find that a host blogger likes your idea but wants you to cover different or additional points – it’s always easiest to get this clear up front, rather than to write a whole post only to end up making substantial changes.
Should You Write the Whole Post Before Pitching?
Some blogs like to have the pitch alone (title plus outline); others prefer to see a finished post. Check their guidelines to see what they specify.
There’s nothing stopping you, of course, from writing the whole post before you pitch (and just keeping it to yourself): if you’re feeling a bit anxious about doing justice to your pitch, this can help! You may, though, have to make changes based on the blog owner’s response to your pitch.
Writing a Pitch Email to the Blog’s Editor
This is where many would-be guest post writers get stuck! It can be really daunting to sit down and email a big-name blogger who you’d love to write for … what if you screw it up?
If it’s any comfort, that big-name blogger probably gets dozens of terrible pitches from SEO companies every single week.
To stand out from the crowd, just:
- Present an on-target idea (you should have that already!)
- Be clear and concise (don’t give detailed paragraphs about your backstory)
- Use correct spelling and grammar (ask a friend to proofread for you)
You don’t need to have any special credentials … you just need to show that you can write decent English and that you won’t be horrible to work with.
In case you think I’m setting the bar too low here, this is a real email I received a couple of weeks ago, for my blog Aliventures (my tagline there is “master the art, craft and business of writing”):
I am content writer specialized in Health & fitness niche, and I chanced upon aliventures.com. I must appreciate that the content of your website is par excellence and exceptionally useful.
I’ve been a blogger for about 10 years, with special interests in Health & fitness, Ayurvedic counselor, and Sexologist. Today I am a recognized expert in the subject, and over the years, have consistently contributed articles and blogs to top sexologist related sites.
I am looking forward to attaching myself as a guest blogger to your site by contributing an article to aliventures.com. I assure that the article will be highly informative and educative to your audience. While I am not looking at any monetary benefits, instead we could consider the possibility mentioning my site/resource just once within the article.
Do let me know if this sounds good and works for you.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Content Writer & Editor
I’m sure you spotted some of the glaring problems with this pitch:
- It’s clearly been sent to lots of different blogs. You can tell because it doesn’t address me by name and it has my URL instead of my blog’s name in the first paragraph (which means the writer likely has a long long list of blog URLs that they’re contacting).
- The topics are completely irrelevant to my blog on writing. I have never posted anything on Aliventures about health and fitness (or sex)!
- The writer doesn’t pitch an actual topic at all, but they assure me the article will be “highly informative and educative”. I’m not convinced.
- It’s pretty clear their aim in guest posting is purely to get a link.
Trust me, you can do a million times better than this.
Sample Email to Use When Pitching a Guest Post
Here’s an email you can use for your pitches: just fill in the [bits in square brackets].
Subject: Guest post submission: [title of post]
Dear [blog owner],
Would you be interested in a guest post titled [title of post]? It would cover:
- [Key point 1]
- [Key point 2]
- [Key point 3]
If that’s not a good fit, would either of these suit you?
- [title of alternative post]
- [title of alternative post 2]
I blog at [name of your blog] and I’ve also written for [any other blogs you’ve guest posted on, if applicable].
Many thanks for your time,
If there are specific guidelines about how to submit, make sure you follow those: for instance, if you’re asked to include links to samples of your work, do that!
Tip: Some blogs have quite detailed guest posting guidelines, and I find it helps to print those out and go through them point by point so I don’t miss anything.
Following Up on Your Guest Post Pitch
If you don’t hear back (and there’s no Out of Office reply or similar), follow up after 2 weeks. Anything sooner looks a bit pushy – remember that big bloggers will get a LOT of requests, and if you press too soon, it’s easier for them to say “no” rather than take the time to review your post.
Don’t leave it forever to follow up, though: it’s embarrassing for a host blogger if they lose your email and only find it again two months later. (I’ve had this happen not only with guest post pitches but also a magazine article submission: trust me, it’s best for you and for the editor if you follow up politely rather than assume that they didn’t want it…!)
Here’s an email you can use when following up:
Sample Follow Up Email
I just wanted to check if you received my guest post pitch on [date]? I’ve copied that email below just in case it went astray.
No problem if it’s not quite right for you, or if you need some time to think about it.
Thanks very much,
(Make sure you do include the original pitch. Don’t expect the blogger to trawl through their inbox for it… and there’s always the possibility it ended up being eaten by a spam filter.)
Guest posting is one of the best ways to boost your blog’s traffic and to build your own profile within the blogging world. Pitching can be a little scary – but once you’ve done it a few times, it does get much easier!
Have you written any guest posts yet? If you’re nervous or if you’ve got questions about finding opportunities, coming up with ideas and pitching your post, just leave a comment below.
Guest Posting Series:
Next week, we’ll be covering writing the guest post itself: making sure you’ve got an idea that’ll work for your host blog and for you, using your bio wisely, including links, and even including visuals.