This is a guest contribution from writer Ali Luke.
Do you ever think about guest posting but worry you’re not ready?
You probably already know that guest posting is one of the most effective ways to build relationships in the blogging world, get writing credits, and grow your audience …
… yet you might worry that no-one will take your posts, because you’re too new to blogging, your own audience is too small, or you’re not (yet) a great writer.
Maybe you’ve heard bloggers say that they get dozens, even hundreds, of guest post pitches each week, and you feel certain that the numbers will be against you.
It’s true that a lot of people are pitching guest posts: as Editor of DailyBlogTips (Sept 2013 – July2014), I got a huge number of pitches.
The truth is, though, that many of these pitches are just awful. And you could easily do much, much better.
Here’s an all-too-representative sample:
I am [name removed]. I wanted to guest blog on your esteemed site under SEO section. Here by i am sending doc conatining article named ” Secrets to improve your page rank” .
Kindly do the needful action
Thanks & Regards
I have come across your website and found it very informative.
I am currently the webmaster of (a specialist Email Marketing Company). We are interested in writing a “guest blog” for your website.
Please kindly let me know if this is of interest to you, with any terms/conditions of posts. I will then send over some fresh and inspiring content for you to review.
On another note, please could you also give details of any link exchange opportunities?
Looking forward to your positive response.
Yes, in that second example, they really did write “(a specialist Email Marketing Company)”.
Drowning in emails, I soon started deleting pitches straight away if the would-be guest poster didn’t even bother using my name.
I sent brief “no thanks” emails to anyone who pitched something clearly off-topic, or whose email suggested they had a poor grasp of spelling and grammar.
(Yes, that might seem a little elitist, but when I’m offered one nearly-perfect guest post and one that’s going to take hours of my time, it’s an easy choice to make.)
Even the slightly better pitches made some annoying mistakes, like:
- Telling me they wanted to write a guest post, but not suggesting topics.
- Acting as though their post was sure to be accepted (e.g. “Tell me when it will be live on the blog.”)
- Getting my name wrong and starting “Dear Luke”. (Ali is my first name, short for Alison; Luke’s my surname. I know it’s weird!)
I agreed with Daniel (who owns DailyBlogTips) that I’d publish one guest post every two weeks – we wanted the blog to be mainly our own content – and I rarely had much difficulty deciding who to accept. It was rare that I got more than one decent pitch in a two week period.
So you probably have a far higher chance of success than you think. You don’t need to be the world’s greatest writer, and you definitely don’t need a big audience. In fact, I gladly published guest posts from people who were just starting out. All that mattered to me was that they could deliver useful content.
Here’s how to maximise the chances of your guest post being accepted:
Read plenty of posts on the blog before you begin: at least five. You need a clear sense of what’s on topic, and what the audience is like. One of my biggest reasons for rejecting reasonably good pitches was because they weren’t on topic enough (e.g. pitches about running an “ecommerce website” when DBT focuses on beginner bloggers).
Offer a topic or perspective that the host blogger can’t easily provide. I’m definitely no expert on SEO or blog security, for instance, and I was always particularly interested in posts on those subjects. I’d also have been interested to hear from bloggers at a very different stage of life from me (e.g. teen bloggers, people in their 70s, or bloggers with six kids…)
Plan out your post before you start writing. Some of the posts I saw had decent information, but they rambled all over the place. I did accept one or two that needed quite extensive editing, but there’s no guarantee an editor will do this. Having a good plan, and thinking through your post structure, makes it much easier to create a strong piece.
Don’t make obvious, generic points. I saw a few posts that weren’t badly written, but that didn’t say anything much. They gave very obvious advice, and didn’t offer examples, quotes, screenshots, or anything similar. There wasn’t anything new or interesting there for readers.
Edit your post carefully before sending it. I strongly suggest you look at the “big picture” first – do you need to cut any paragraphs, or add in anything new? Once you’re happy with the post overall, do a close edit to make sure your sentences all read smoothly, and to fix any typos.
Get to grips with formatting a blog post well. I loved having guest posts with subheadings, bold text for key sentences, lists in bullet point form, images, and so on. Too often, though, I had to add these things myself when editing. No-one wants to wade through a mass of long, dense paragraphs … and that includes blog editors.
Follow the guest post guidelines. I bet you’ve heard that before! I know it sounds obvious, but so many bloggers ignore guidelines – and that’s often enough to get your post rejected (or at least send it to the end of the queue). If you can’t find any guidelines, take a close look at recent posts to at least get a sense of how long yours should be and what sort of style it should be in.
Include links to posts on your target blog. Some guidelines ask for this, but even if they don’t, it’s good practice. It shows you wrote the post specifically for that blog, and it adds extra value for the host. If you include plenty of links like this, you can usually get away with one or two to your own website as well (so long as they’re relevant).
There aren’t any guarantees in blogging – but if you can write an interesting, well put together post that’s on-topic for a large blog in your niche, there’s a pretty good chance it will be accepted.
(But if you never even try – it definitely won’t!)
I know that pitching a guest post can be daunting, but the worst that can happen is the host blog says “no thanks” – and you can always rewrite the post a little and approach someone else instead.
Is it time for you to write your first guest post? Choose a blog today to target, dig into some of their posts, and brainstorm some topics you could write about. If you get stuck or have a question, just pop a comment below. Good luck!
Ali Luke’s ecourse On Track is a free seven-week program for bloggers and writers, designed to help you get motivated and moving again on your blog (or ebook, or any other big writing project). It’s packed with practical tips to help you move forward week by week, and comes with a free ebook, Seven Pillars of Great Writing. Find out more and join here.