If you run a website or blog, you’ve probably heard the advice that you should guest post to other websites and blogs to help get your name out there. It’s a strategy I recommend myself in my e-book and on this blog.
And while contributing guest posts is a great way to gain traffic, land important backlinks and build relationships, it’s not as easy as it once was. It’s become a popular strategy, thus there’s more competition—both for guest posting slots and for attention from bigger bloggers who’ve become inundated with guest posting requests.
So what does it mean for you? If you’re trying to land a coveted guest post or contributor role, you need to bring your A-game. And if you’ve been trying for a while with no luck, you’re not alone.
I recently received an email from reader Rob R. of Herbal Mind Life, a great blog about living a healthier life through meditation, natural herbs and essential oils. Rob has been reaching out to influencers for a while, trying to land a guest post to help gain exposure for his blog.
While he’s got solid topics (like how natural herbs can improve your gym performance and how to incorporate mindfulness into your workouts), he wasn’t having much success getting featured or even getting a response.
I asked Rob if he’d mind sharing his pitch with me so we could dissect it together and diagnose what’s not working. He kindly agreed. Here it is:
My name is Rob from herbalmindlife.com. I recently stumbled across [BLOG NAME] and was really impressed with the blog and what you’re doing.
I wrote up a potential blog post that I think would be a great fit for your blog in either the wellness, lifestyle, or personal growth categories…or all 3! I titled it “How Mindfulness Workouts Will Skyrocket Your Fitness Goals (And How to Do Them)” I’ve included the post below as well as attached it in a word doc for your convenience. I’m also open to any suggestions to make it fit better on your blog.
Please let me know if there’s anything else you would need from me to make this a success on [BLOG NAME].
Thanks and hope to hear back from you soon!
Alright, that’s a pitch! Just writing one and putting yourself out there is the first step, so I applaud Rob for that. That said, I think there’s plenty of room for improvement that could increase his chances for getting a guest post slot in the future, so let’s dive in.
Strengthening The Pitch
Rob’s pitch is okay, but popular influencers receive dozens or even hundreds of these a week. We need to make it stand out and make it abundantly clear why an influencer’s readers are going to love a post from him.
We have to cater to the influencer, who—let’s be honest—probably doesn’t care too much about doing a favor for a stranger on the internet. The influencer cares about putting out content his readers are going to click on. It’s our job to show him how Rob’s post will help make that happen.
Tip 1: Don’t position it as if the influencer has already agreed to accept your guest post (unless they explicitly called for submissions on their website).
If Rob had sent this pitch to me out of the blue, I’d find it a little forward. Do I know you? You’ve got a great post for my blog? Well, then!
This is some tough love, but it’ll save you from putting people off before you’ve even gotten your foot in the door.
Instead, approach it by inquiring whether they are accepting contributions. Don’t presume. The exception to this is a site like Inc.com, which regularly publishes guest posts. In this case, they’ll likely have a section of the website that tells you exactly how and where to send pitches (Inc.com’s instructions are here, for example).
Tip 2: Pitch a few different titles/topics as ideas.
If you’ve gotten an influencer to open your email, why give them a single opportunity to say yes or no? Instead, pitch them several diverse guest post ideas so they have a few to choose from.
I’ll show you exactly what this looks like later on in this post.
Tip 3: As much as possible, focus on bringing THEM value rather than asking for something.
Again, who starts off a relationship by asking for a favor? Make it about how you can help them and their blog.
Offer to accept feedback on what they think might work best. Offer visual elements like graphics or photos to support the posts you’re pitching. Offer to give their readers a hefty discount code on your site. Value, value, value.
Tip 4: Include SPECIFIC information on why your pitch is relevant to their audience.
This is the most important tip.
It’s no longer enough to say that you think your post would “be a great fit” for their site. Oh, really? You and everyone else who wants to get published on it. Show them why their readers won’t be able to resist clicking on your guest post.
This is best illustrated by example, so here’s a pitch I wrote for one of my marketing clients where I practiced this tip:
Thousands of babies die every year of SIDS in the US, yet 20% of moms still aren’t receiving any sort of SIDS education. I’m the content manager for [CLIENT’S SITE], a resource dedicated to educating new parents about safe infant sleep. As part of our mission, I wanted to see if you’d be interested in accepting a guest post from us or working together on an article.
We’re prepared to discuss the following, and open to considering any angles you might have in mind:
- The top SIDS risk factors. Many parents still don’t know their behaviors are putting their child at risk.
- Conventional versus “smart” baby monitors. What’s the story behind the new genre of wearable baby products? Do they work, and can they help reduce SIDS risk?
- Infant sleep complications. What begins as a relatively common problem can have serious long-term consequences, and might even be fatal.
We can also provide original artwork or an infographic to go along with the post. If any of these are of interest to you, please let me know! We’d love to work together.
At every turn, I’m hitting points that are super relevant to their target readership of new parents:
- 20% of moms aren’t receiving any sort of SIDS education.
- Parents don’t know their behaviors are putting their child at risk.
- Do smart baby monitors work?
- Sleep complications can have long-term consequences and can be fatal.
If you’re a brand new mom or dad, these are things you’re going to want to know more about. This pitch isn’t generic; I’ve done my research beforehand and know these topics are ones this outlet is going to want to cover.
This pitch resulted in a guest post on a popular family blog and circular magazine.
Tip 5: Don’t blanket pitch.
In other words, don’t blast out something generic.
Rob said it best himself after I sent him my suggestions. “I think I had an initial mentality of using a generic template to get it out to as many blogs as possible (and increase my chances of an acceptance)…However, makes much more since to spend more time on a few really good, customized requests.”
Yes, yes, yes! Research the blog or outlet you’re pitching until you know what will catch their eye, then write a message that’s tailor-made for them.
Putting It In Action
You’ve seen my pitch, now what about Rob? Let’s put these tips to work on crafting a stronger pitch for Rob to use in the future.
First things first, we need to know who we’re pitching. I picked Sonima.com, a resource for meditation, yoga and at-home workouts. They have almost 70K followers on Facebook, so we’re aiming big.
Science has shown that practicing mindfulness during a workout leads to greater satisfaction and more pronounced physical benefits—but it’s tricky to be mindful when you’re clamoring on a treadmill.
I’m the blogger behind Herbal Mind Life, a resource dedicated to improving readers’ wellbeing through meditation and other natural mediums. I wanted to see if you’d be interested in accepting a guest post or collaborating on an article.
Here are some topics I think would resonate with Sonima’s readers:
- Actionable tips for using mindfulness to reach your fitness goals. Mediation sounds great, but how do you actually incorporate it when you’re breaking a sweat?
- The 6 best physical activities to pair with mindfulness. Yoga is an obvious choice, but I’ll share 5 more people may not have thought of.
- How to use meditation to overcome a plateau. Whether it’s weight loss or a faster 5K, a mindfulness practice can help spark a breakthrough.
I’d be happy to shoot some photos or a short video to accompany any of the above. Do any of these sound like a good fit? Please let me know; I’d love to work together.
Thanks for your consideration,
We start off with a strong and specific lead that shows them we’ve done our homework—we’re speaking directly to their subject matter.
We don’t presume that they’ll want to publish our post; we ask politely if they’re accepting guest contributors.
We pitch our topics, all of which have been created specifically for their audience and are in a similar style to what they regularly post about.
We offer extras, like photo and video to sweeten the deal.
Yes, this approach takes more effort than blasting out a generic pitch to 1,000 addresses you’ve scraped from the web. But it’s much more effective. It’s the difference between a cold call and a personal recommendation from a friend. One feels impersonal and at the worst, invasive. The other feels familiar and welcome.
A Final Word On Guest Posting
I won’t deny the benefits of guest posting; it’s a strategy that helped build my traffic in a major way when I first started this blog.
But, like any popular marketing tactic, it’s gotten worn out by people who are doing it badly—just like spammers taking some of the oomph out of email marketing.
Guest posting should be executed like any other part of your marketing strategy: with intention and with careful measurement of results, not willy-nilly. If you publish a guest post and it brings you new readers, awesome! It’s making an impact.
But if you’re spending weeks and weeks trying to land a guest post to no avail, why keep banging your head against the wall? Pick another marketing strategy to try and move on, or hire someone like me who specializes in pitching to take it off your plate.
If you’re serious about sharpening your pitching strategy to land not just guest posts, but media coverage and even national television spots, check out my Get Major Media Coverage course. It’s a self-guided video course that teaches you the step-by-step process I use to create pitches just like the one above and figure out the perfect contacts to send them to. Click here to enroll.
Thanks for reading, and thank you to Rob for allowing me to use his story to share these tips with you. If you’re interested in natural wellness topics like meditation and herbal remedies, give his blog a read!
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