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.
I am so happy to read this post. I get so many “pitches” for people to write a guest post on my blog. I need to have them read this first lol. If I don’t know the person, I’m probably going to say no way. I get so many messages that “I can write a guest post for you” with no further references, Hey they don’t even say hello Donna lol. It drives me crazy.
I have to post this everywhere because people need to know the correct way about guest posting.
Thanks again for putting this together,
Haha, feel free to link to this from your guidelines or contact page… ;-) I get so many awful pitches that I have a specific label in Gmail for them so I can pull them out whenever I want to reassure bloggers that their pitches are actually great!
Great advice which has been bookmarked for future reference. This series has already been interesting and useful to me as a freelance writer and it’s only two posts in!
So glad you found my post helpful! :-)
Great post Ali, I think guest blogging is a much simplier concept when it naturally occurs as a result from staying awhile and being a regular member of the community… it is more organic that way
Of course it’s brilliant if you’ve been a regular commenter on a blog, or if you’ve tweeted their posts, etc — though even if you haven’t, it’s still worth a shot at a guest post (so don’t feel you need to spend ages commenting, say, until you’re ready to pitch)!
True great point!
It is SO unbelievably helpful if you follow blogs for months and years Ali, become friends with blog owners or at least become familiar with blog communities, then when you pitch a guest post idea it will usually fit like a glove and you will be a friend, or familiar commentor, all but ensuring your guest post gets accepted.
This happened on Positively Positive for me a few months back. 2.5 million Facebook Fans, 80,000 email subscribers and yes the editors are picky about accepting guest posts. But I commented on the blog for months, mimicked the compassionate, pain-point-focused Pos Pos voice and my first intelligent pitch was accepted, and they placed the guest post within days of submitting. Pretty sure they bumped it up on the published sked which was sweet.
If you want to pitch why not go in not just warm, but hot? Guest posting is closed on my blog. That is the party line. But a dear friend like Donna Merrill or Zac Johnson can guest post whenever they want. Blogging From Paradise is almost just as much their blog as it is mine with all the promoting and supporting of me they have done over the years, so they get the keys. They have been there for me, when I was way off the grid, so since they are my friends, they don’t even have to pitch. They send me a post I am publishing it. Not even thinking about it.
But if a stranger tries to pitch me, guest posting is closed. Point blank. If you want to be a part of our group, display the generous nature all my blogging buddies display, and if you practice your writing you lay the groundwork for placing a guestie on a rocking blog….said blog officially with guest posting closed ;)
A must read for everyone involved in blogging and looking forward to the idea of guest posting. Especially if you are a new blogger and searching for some initial recognition and traffic for your blog.
How to pitch your email to the blog’s editor holds the key, this will decide on your chances of guest blogging for that particular blog.
Overall, a very worthy post and there is a lot to learn out of it.
Than you Ali for giving such a nice article for those also who are new and want to start blogging.These tips surely help for me as I am going to start blog writing.
Thank you Ali for this post. As someone with his own blog in the Online Freelance area trying to grow it, it can be difficult to do so for another blog.
My biggest problem with my blog F4Freelance is that while I want to write for other blogs like The Write Life, I have the fear of getting rejected after writing the post and sometimes I even don’t want to do it because I’d also want to publish it on my site.
Having said that, your post really enlightened me on guest posting!
Guest Posting is one the best way to increase your authority online and its also help you to get quality visitors for your blog. Pitching a Guest post is not a rocket science and you have just mentioned some simple steps to submit a guest post and connect with bloggers online. Great Post. Thanks for sharing it with us all.
Have a great day :)
Can you share later what was the outcome of posting on Problogger?
I am talking about traffic to your website, leads, clients etc.
Thanks Ali, a very useful article regarding guess posting. Recently I have a headache when trying to pitch for guess posting. You suggestions are very make sense and I will try on them!
Very good article, it is really hard to get guest post to be accepted these days.
I have written guest posts, not as many as some bloggers. I am still learning and I haven’t written any for some real big blogs.
Like you said, it’s about building relationships with the bloggers first. I spent months commenting and sharing their content before I sent them an email.
I pretty much used the tactic that you shared. However, I took the time to run the titles through the CoSchedule Headline analyzer. Next I took a screenshot of the high score I came up with.
Using that tactic pretty much sealed the deal for my last 2 guest posts. It takes a little bit of extra time to implement that technique.
However, I’ve definitely found it helpful in getting my posts approved.
Thanks for sharing these tips, you can bet that I’ll be using them as I’ve got to get busy finding some more guest posting opportunities.
Have a great day :)
Hi Ali Luke,
I read some your posts lately and this time, I got a real help indeed. This is because I’m gonna pitch some blog owners for submitting my guest posts for the first time.
Though it was always my desire to publish posts as a guest posters, I wasn’t getting any clue on how to do this.
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post,
When it come sot do guest post, most people fall in the trap of quantity. People do not invest time on finding quality blogs and interacting with them before actually pitching guest post.
I have seen the same thing when people approach me to publish a guest post. Every blogger should learn from this.
Thanks for sharing.
This helps because we are building a brand and guest post help our SEO ranking Thank you for sharing this fantastic tips,
Thanks for this. I have a blog and I’m now learning about guest posting to help me build backlinks. I’ll go through your articles for some more tips.
There are a few golden nuggets of guest posting opportunities. I have a great one at a blog I edit. Not sure if it’s allowed to link here or not. But there are some micro, short opportunities, almost as short as Twitter posts.