Guest blogging has untold number of benefits; you increase your authority in an industry, you increase organic traffic to your site, and overall you increase awareness of your brand, to name a few. But actually getting a guest blogging gig isn’t as easy as it seems, especially in light of the fact that you are competing with many other people who want to guest blog as well.
In the webinar replay above, we explain how to approach an organization or brand to be a guest blogger, why ‘fit’ is everything, and why when it comes to sending e-mails quality is more important than quantity.
For bloggers and freelance writers, guest-blogging is a well-known strategy for increasing traffic to your website and a way of building your reputation in an industry.
And while guest-blogging can be a very effective way to grow your own audience, that does not necessarily mean it happens easily.
In fact, the importance of content in today’s digital marketing landscape has only increased the number of content producers, and subsequently, the number of writers vying for guest-blogging spots.
So how do you differentiate yourself among the thousands of writers and bloggers who are also trying to secure guest blogging gigs?
In the five steps below I outline an approach that focuses on developing a rich understanding of the company you want to write for, identifying the target audience for their content, and how you can publish on their blog by clearly articulating the value your articles offer them.
5 Steps to Landing a Guest Blogging Gig
If you’re not strategic about how you approach guest-blogging, you can end up wasting a lot of time and effort and have limited success. So a key idea to keep in mind is quality over quantity—you’re going to be more effective sending a tailored pitch to 8-10 websites than you are sending a generic one to 50.
Your primary goal is to get the marketing director to read your email and say, “This guest blog post will provide real value to our customers, which will increase traffic, enhance our brand perception, and ideally drive sales.”
For this to happen, however, you must be strategic. These five steps will help you do that.
Step 1: Find the Right Fit
Does your area of expertise suit their industry and subject focusses?
This might seem obvious, but it’s crucial that you align your own background, expertise, and knowledge with the site you want to write for. If, for example, you are an education blogger with a background in teaching, you could likely write for a range of sites that are education-specific like the large textbook companies. But you could also write for ed-tech companies who have sizable teacher readerships. Each of these will require a different approach.
Step 2: Research the Company
Understand the organization, its values, and its goals.
Once you identify specific organizations you’d want to write for, you want to analyze thoroughly who they are, what they care about, and what kinds of problems they solve for people. You can start by answering a set of questions:
- What does this organization do or sell, and to whom?
- What are their values? What is their mission statement?
- How do they define themselves in relation to their competitors?
- How does your expertise relate to this company’s products or services?
Step 3: Analyze Their Blog
Who are their readers and what value does the blog provide those readers?
Once you have a robust understanding of the company, you can then move on to analyzing their blog. You want to understand how the blog functions as a tool for the company and see, from the company’s perspective, what kinds of value the blog offers the company. To do this, you should analyze the blog through a series of questions:
- How is the blog situated within the website and how is it described?
- What are the backgrounds of the contributors to the blog?
- Who is reading the blog?
- What problems does the blog solve for its readers?
- Look at the top ten most popular posts—what are some patterns in terms of headlines, content, structure, and length?
Step 4: Demonstrate Your Value
Identify your unique value proposition in your article ideas.
At this point you should have a pretty clear understanding of the company, its blog, and the blog’s readers. But having this knowledge doesn’t mean you can just make slight tweaks to an already published blog post. Instead, you have to come up with blog post topics that provide explicit value to the organization. Here are three ways to think about coming up with ideas that create value:
- Your idea speaks specifically to their readers’ interests and needs.
- Your topic is something that the blog has not published before.
- You have unique expertise, which makes you a clear authority to readers.
The thread that loosely connects these three criteria for value-driven topic ideas is that you offer something new: companies want blogs to feel fresh, engaging, and lively. Your offering must convey its uniqueness and value—not just repeat topics that have been done a hundred times before.
Step 5: Write a Tailored Pitch Email
Draw upon your understanding of the company, its blog, and its audience to compose a tailored email that is friendly, concise, and compelling.
Everyone is busy these days, especially marketing and social media managers. So your email should be as succinct and direct as possible while also sounding personal and conversational. And it is critical that the email makes the reader feel special; they need to know you took time to craft a thoughtful email specifically for them and that you’re not just copying and pasting a generic email.
An effective pitch email follows a simple three-part structure: intro, context, pitch.
Intro: Identify who you are, what you do, and your expertise.
Context: Link your background or your expertise to the company, its blog, and the readers
Pitch: If you have written a blog post you can “sell” them on the value it offers to their readers and if you haven’t, you can propose three different article ideas.
Example Pitch Email
Here is an illustration of this three-part pitch email that follows the intro/context/pitch format:
(Intro): My name is AJ Ogilvie and I write about tech, social media marketing strategy, and start-ups at www.OgilvieTechFutures.com.
(Context): Prior to my current position I was a social media director for several start-ups including Verve, Stability, and Six Sigma Health. As director I found myself with lots of questions and I found your blog incredibly helpful in answering those questions and shaping how I thought about social media strategy, SEO, valuation, and other start-up related issues.
(Pitch): Given my understanding of your blog and the value it provides to readers, I wanted to propose three guest blog posts.
1. “5 Social Media Mistakes every Start-Up Makes and How to Avoid them”
Word count: 1058
2. “3 Questions Every Start-Up Should ask when Hiring a Social Media Director”
Word count: 987
3. “Measuring and Monitoring: 4 Ways Start-Ups Should Use KPIs in Social Media Engagement”
Word count: 852
Please let me know if you’re interested and I look forward to hearing back from you soon!
What this sample email articulates quite clearly to the social media director is the positive alignment between the writer’s expertise and the needs of the blog’s audience. Additionally, the email makes clear to the director that they truly “get” how the blog solves problems for its readers. And it does this in a direct, readable, and personal way.
Your email represents your writing. It’s likely the first sample of your writing that the person you’re pitching to will see. If it feels rushed, with grammar and spelling mistakes and awkward phrasing, your pitch isn’t likely to get very far. Why should they read your post if your email is poorly written?
Use ProWritingAid to make sure that your pitch email presents you and your content in the best light. When you download their handy browser extension, you'll see real-time suggestions on your spelling, grammar, and style that will turn your email from rough to ready to start getting your posts out there.
What is true of good writing in general is also true of a good guest blogging pitch; know thy reader.
The more keen your understanding is of the company, its blog, and the blog audience, the more likely you are to pitch ideas that the company finds compelling and valuable. And while it’s time intensive to do this research and craft a tailored email to each company, in the long run it is more effective.
Once you get a few guest blog posts published, you can leverage those to pitch companies with larger audiences. And more importantly, you’ll develop a better sense of who your own audience is and how to drive more readers to your own site.