Ah, the guest post pitch. For busy publishers and blog editors (like the team here at BuzzStream), guest blog pitches are a mixed blessing.
We’ve had some truly awesome guest blogs from industry leaders and up-and-comers on our blog – like this one, this one, this one, and this one. (There are more – just check out our Guest Author postings.)
Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to guest post on some great blogs, like Marketing Agency Insider, KISSMetrics, and the John Doherty Blog. So I love good guest posts – writing them, receiving them, reading them, introducing great guest posters to blog editors – and everything that goes along with them.
But, there is guest post spam – which makes people close their doors, ban guest posts, and hate everyone involved with blogging, content marketing, and SEO. We get a lot of pitches that are just spam. Here’s an example of one we got yesterday.
Sorting through these is tough. It’s so tough, some larger publications like ProBlogger have closed their doors to uninvited posts entirely.
Today, I’m going to show how to pitch busy blog owners and editors with guest posts, and give you some tips in case you ever want to guest blog for BuzzStream.
Before You Pitch
Before you pitch your post, you should take the time to analyze the blog in question and understand its editorial style, its stance on your topic, and its goals. Then, you can offer something mutually beneficial – instead of “1000 words of unique content for a backlink.”
Understand the Blog’s Editorial Calendar & Style
Before you pitch, take some time to understand the blog’s editorial content and style.
- Do they publish short pieces or long pieces?
- Do all of their pieces have images or video?
- What specific topics and broader themes do they cover?
For example, on BuzzStream’s blog, we cover advanced link building, outreach, and content promotion, so we look for posts about those topics. We try to write long, detailed posts, that rise above the standard link building fare – we seek to be a great resource for blogger outreach, digital PR, and link development professionals.
Conversely, there’s a lot of SEO-related topics we don’t cover – like on-site SEO, SEO basics, why your business needs SEO, etc., so pitches on these topics tend to be off-target.
By contrast, Bill Slawski’s excellent blog covers search patent analysis, so our posts wouldn’t fit in there. But something that analyzed technology company patents around search might be a fit.
Take the time to understand what the blog you’re pitching covers, and you’ll be dramatically more successful.
Understand the Blog’s Stance on Your Topics
Some blogs cover controversial topics – and once I really understand a topic and the discussion around it, I find that all sorts of topics are controversial.
For example, I wouldn’t pitch something on the benefits of a vegan diet to a blog about paleolithic eating. At BuzzStream, we think link development and outreach are important – some SEO bloggers don’t, so we don’t ask them for coverage.
One easy way to understand a blogger’s opinion on a topic is using the “site:” query with some keywords relating to your topics. These queries look like this:
Understand the Blog’s Business Goals
Running a good blog is time consuming, so every blog owner, manager, author, or publisher has their own unique set of reasons for blogging. Some people try to build their own or their company’s brand, while others aim at affiliate revenue, fame (for a book deal or speaking engagements), or advertising revenue.
Your guest post strategy should depend on the goals of the blogger. If the blog is targeted at search-based affiliate revenue, you’ll want to write a post that will attract links. Branding posts, by contrast, need to be high quality and paint the blog (or company) and their issues in a positive light.
At BuzzStream, our blog is a way to give back to the community, educate our potential customers, and build our brand. We’re less concerned with SEO – although it’s nice – because SEO tools are mostly bought on a word-of-mouth basis. So quality – not links or traffic – is our primary concern.
By contrast, if I was running an affiliate blog, I might be very interested in “Top Ten Tips” posts that tend to attract lots of shares and traffic.
Once you’ve prepared, it’s time to pitch the blogger.
Writing Your Pitch
Come Up with a Topic
Coming up with good ideas for posts – especially on blogs that cover topics at intermediate to advanced levels – is really hard. I spend a lot of time brainstorming topics, and a lot of my ideas (especially the technical ones) don’t work out.
So when someone asks me for a specific post idea, I’m always confused. While I can think of a topic, the guest poster might not be knowledgeable enough to make it into an engaging, valuable blog post.
It’s the responsibility of the guest poster to suggest good post ideas. Bloggers, editors, and publishers have enough on their plate.
Make It Clear Your Pitch Isn’t Spam – Provide Mutual Value
A great guest post pitch – like any great email – is personalized, positioned, and persuasive. It shows the blog owner or editor how your content will help him or her accomplish their goals.
Make partnerships, not one-off guest posts. When you create mutual value, that blog is much more likely to ask you back in the future.
Delivering the Post
Here are three ways to make a blog editor’s life much, much easier:
Use Legal Images
Every blog editor’s nightmare is getting an email from a lawyer about an uncleared image, demanding restitution or threatening suit.
Great blog posts have great images. And they have the legal right to use great images.
You can find quality images you can use through:
- Stock photo sites (these often cost money – remember photographers need to get paid too)
- Flickr Creative Commons Search
- Other work licensed through Creative Commons
For two examples of great CC content, check out Ann Smarty’s list of royalty-free web cartoons, or the images from the forthcoming Lean Entrepreneur book.
Copy Edit Your Posts
Have someone edit your posts before you send them over. As Louis Brandeis said, “There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.”
Make Your Images Easy to Insert
Send images as a separate zipped folder, and give the images the same name as the image placeholder in the document. EG if you have an image placement in your text file (or Word doc, or Google doc) called “Goals-Image”, name the corresponding file “Goals-Image”. This makes uploading a post faster and easier.
Additionally, resize images to fit the blog’s width. For example, here at BuzzStream, our blog is about 600 pixels wide. Taking the time to resize images saves the blog editor another step – which will leave fond memories with him or her.
Promoting & Responding to Your Post
Promote Your Post Across Your Own Channels
Once your guest post goes up, promote it across your own social media channels, and on your own blog. This helps get the word out about a new post – and all blog owners love traffic and social shares.
If your following and the hosting blog’s following overlap heavily, consider scheduling your tweets and shares later in the day, so more people see the guest post in their feed.
Respond to Comments and Tweets
Great posts generate responses – like comments and Tweets. Take the time to respond to these. They may lead to more guest post opportunities in the future – and certainly more exposure for the guest poster and their brand.
What Do Blog Editors Recommend?
I reached out to Sean Work, the Director of Marketing at KISSMetrics and editor of the KISSMetrics blog, and asked him: “What should potential guest posters do differently? What separates good guest post pitches from bad ones?”
I hate to read long emails 🙂 Because I get so many emails every day. I just want guest posters to get straight to the point. Something as simple as: “I was interested in guest posting.”
Finally, my other tip of advice is: Don’t come in thinking you’ll be able to backlink several times to your own site. You really shouldn’t be doing any self-promotion in a guest post because you are there to teach the readers something valuable. The minute you start self-promoting, you begin to eat away the trust you have with the reader. You’ll notice that posts that have too much self-promotion tend to get less tweets and likes.
And that’s how to be a great guest poster – one that gets invited back in the future. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them. And if you’d like to guest post on the BuzzStream blog, please drop me an email at matt (at) buzzstream dot com. I’m always looking for great posts.