Guest posting is one of the most effective ways to build links, grow your brand and drive sales. I myself used to try to do five guest posts a week, and it did wonders for my business. It was actually our third biggest lead generation channel, right after SEO and pay-per-click.
It’s become such a mainstream method of marketing that bloggers are becoming inundated with guest posting requests, which is causing them to ignore the requests.
Since January 1st, I’ve received 931 requests for guest post submissions on quicksprout.com. Out of the 931 requests, do you know how many I’ve accepted? 0!
It’s because all of the pitches I get are either spammy or just terrible. Here’s an example of the type of emails I’m getting on a daily basis:
Dear Site Owner
I want to know do you offer guest posts on your website? Can you please tell me discounted price? http://www.quicksprout.com
I will provide you very high quality and 100% unique article. Looking for your reply.
When I see emails like the one above, there is no way I’m going to accept the post. I will reject the post because the sender:
- Didn’t bother to fix grammatical errors.
- Didn’t personalize the email.
- Didn’t tell me what he was going to write on.
- Offered me money, which means I would be selling a link.
If you want to start leveraging guest posts as a marketing channel, you need to first avoid the four mistakes above and then follow the steps below:
Step #1: Do your homework
You should never approach a blogger with a guest post submission unless you’ve done your research. Sure, you could try the rapid-fire approach by just blasting out hundreds of guest posting requests, but no popular blog is going to accept you.
Here’s the type of homework you need to do before approaching any blogger:
- See if they accept guest posts – the obvious way to see if a blog accepts guest posts is to see if they’ve published any in the past. If they have, look for a web page that may outline their guest posting requirements.
- Read their blog – don’t just read their last few blog posts. Read at least ten of them. Look for patterns on what their readers like and don’t like as well as the type of content that performs well. You can easily do this by looking at social share counts…typically, the higher the number, the more successful the post was.
- Read comments – the best way to figure out what people like is by reading the comments on the blog. This will give you a quick understanding of what the readers respond to and what they are looking for.
- Analyze their writing style – from formatting look to writing style, analyze everything. This will help you determine how you need to write your guest post. For example, on Quick Sprout, I only accept guest posts that are written in a conversational style and contain an introduction, body and conclusion.
Now that you’ve done your homework, you are ready to write.
Step #2: Come up with a topic and write
You know what the blog owner likes and what the blog’s readers want, so write something that pleases both of them. If you can write an awesome piece of content, you’ll increase your odds of it getting accepted.
When I write a guest post, I, first and foremost, make sure that it contains an awesome headline. If your headline sucks, no one will want to read your content…no matter how good it is.
Jonathan Morrow from Copyblogger actually has a great tactic in figuring out if a headline is great. He goes to his local bar and pitches headline ideas to random groups of drunk people. If he can get them all excited and laughing about a headline, he knows he is onto something.
Once you have a headline, start writing. Make sure you write a really detailed post…something so great that they’ll not only accept it, but they’ll want you to come back and write again. That’s actually why Kristi Hines is so successful at getting guest posts. You see her name all over the blogosphere because she goes above and beyond with her first submission, which prompts the blog owner to ask her to write again.
Lastly, when you write your post, make sure you include images. They need to be royalty-free or bought so that the blog doesn’t get into trouble for using them. The images need to be formatted to fit within the blogs design.
Step #3: Send off your email
Now that you are done writing the post, you need to shoot off an email to the blog owner. Here’s an example of a template that I’ve found to be effective:
Subject: you should blog about [insert your guest blog post topic]
[insert their first name], as an avid reader of [insert their site name] I would love to read about [insert guest blog post topic], and I think your readers would as well.
Your content on [insert existing post from their website #1, insert existing post from their website #2, and insert existing post from their website #3] is great, but I think you can tie it all together by blogging on [insert guest blog post topic].
I know you are probably busy and won’t blog on it, so I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. How about I write it for you? Don’t worry, I’m a great blogger and have had my posts featured on [insert previous guest post URL #1] and [insert previous guest post URL #2].
Let me know if you are interested. I already know your blogging style, plus I understand what your readers love as I am one.
Look forward to hearing from you,
[insert your name]
If you look at the template above, you’ll notice two things. The first is that it is very personalized to the site owner. Even though it is a template, it won’t work without being customized.
Secondly, you’ll notice that the email isn’t formal. Typically, a formal email, such as the one Ambrose sent me, is rejected. Bloggers see formal emails as sales pitches, which is why they ignore them. Casual emails are typically from readers, which is why most bloggers at least read them.
Lastly, before you send out the email, use a free software like Yesware. Yesware plugs into Gmail and tells you if someone opened your email. This way, when you send emails to bloggers to see if they accept your guest post, you’ll at least find out if they opened and read your email. If they aren’t opening your email, it could be because it’s going into their spam box. In that case, you may want to try sending it again from another email address or using a different subject line.
Step #4: Follow up
Hopefully, your guest post has been accepted by now, but chances are you’ve been ignored. Most bloggers will open your email, but they won’t take the time to respond to it.
What you’ll want to do is to send them a follow-up email every week to see if they are interested in publishing your guest post. Keep the email short, casual and to the point, like this template:
[insert their name], I just wanted to follow up to see if you were interested in publishing the guest post I emailed you last week.
[insert your name]
Until you get a yes or a no, don’t stop emailing. Sooner or later they’ll have to respond.
Step #5: Promote
If your post gets accepted, you want to ensure that it does well. If your post gets a lot of traffic, social shares and comments, the blog owner will most likely accept guest posts from you again. Plus, you can use that post as a reference when pitching other blogs.
Here’s how I ensure my guest posts do well:
- Leverage the social web – I promote my posts through all of my social media accounts. From Twitter, to Facebook to even Google Plus, I share them on every social site I have an account on.
- StumbleUpon – for ten cents a visitor, StumbleUpon can drive thousands of visitors to any blog post within 24 hours. Check out their Paid Discovery plans if you need a bit of help.
- Don’t forget your friends – ask all of your friends to share your post via Twitter and Facebook. The more social shares you get, the better.
- Respond to comments - to get the maximum engagement out of the post, you need to encourage comments. The easiest way to boost the comment count is to reply to every single comment on the post. And don’t leave short comments like “thanks”; write thoughtful comments that help people out.
Guest posting is a new form of marketing that has been taking off over the last year or two. It works extremely well if you are willing to put in time and energy.
The one thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t just get one or two guest posts published and expect them to do miracles for your business. You either have to do them on a consistent basis or you have to crank out 20-30 of them in a short period of time to make a big splash.
Do you have any other tips that will help your guest posts get published?