Created a great guest post idea? Done.
Found the site you want to submit it to? Yup.
Sent your pitch to the site’s site’s content editor? Did it this morning.
Pitch accepted? … No.
If this sounds familiar or if you’re about to send off your first guest post pitch, stop what you’re doing a read this.
Guest posting is still one of the most effective ways for you to drive traffic and new business to your site. I could reel off more than a few writers who have managed to build huge subscriber lists and a solid base for their business simply by writing for others.
Whilst I’ve guest posted on my main paying niche of real estate and property, I’ve stupidly been ignoring the potential of guest posting to increase the reach, impact and readership of this site.
I can’t tell you why I wasn’t bothered with guest posting for other writing and freelance sites. Perhaps I was scared I’d make a fool out of myself or thought that, despite reading numerous accounts to the contrary, guest posting wouldn’t really help drive traffic my way.
A few weeks ago, I realised how wrong I was.
An article I had only the briefest of mentions in was published on thepennyhoarder.com (seriously, it was one sentence – check it out here). The article was written by Sophie Lizard of beafreelanceblogger.com and looked at weird writing gigs people had landed. Despite the extreme brevity exercised in mentioning my experience, the day after it was published I saw a nearly 200% increase in traffic and was able to trace approximately 70% of new subscribers in the following two weeks back to that article.
Imagine what those numbers could have been if I’d written the piece. Imagine what you could achieve with a handful of guest posts authored by you.
Needless to say my interest in guest posting was re sparked, enough to share the results of that brief mention and take a deeper look into the topic. I thought sharing my own tips for getting your guest post published would be a great little article. I’ve only ever had one guest post pitch rejected (from one of the editors mentioned below no less!) so thought I’d know what I was talking about. When I actually sat down to plan the article, I realised the tips I could offer were no different from the advice you should already know.
Come up with a unique story or angle, check your spelling and grammar, personalise the pitch, make sure the article is a good fit for the site yada, yada, yada.
Instead of recycling the same boring information and advice I thought I’d reach out to get the opinion of those who have to screen tons of guest post pitches every week. After all, my guest posting experience is a drop in the ocean compared to theirs.
I made a list of blogs I enjoy that accept guest post pitches before sending their content editors an email asking for advice. The responses I’ve received were incredible in both content, detail and length. Seriously, I doubt I can fit everything they recommended in this one article, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
Darnell Jackson runs the popular site youronline.biz and pays $100 for every guest post published. Darnell said that for him, ‘it’s all about the story’. For your pitch to stand out from the crowd you really need to be adding something of real value to the site, something that isn’t easily found elsewhere and that is actually going to help people. The opening line of his email really sums it up for me.
Below I’ve included his full response as I think it includes some really great examples of what it is that catches his eye.
“Landing guest posts is very simple if you focus on accomplishing something difficult and then explaining specifically how you did it.
The problem that I see with 99% of the submissions I receive (and I receive tons of them) is that many writers think that it’s all about THEM and their writing ability or their experience or their portfolio or their blah blah blah.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
It’s not about the writer.
it’s not about pitch format.
It’s not about the error freeness of their submission either believe it or not.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY.
I published a guest post submitted about a 17 year old student who built a blog to earning $1000/month without a computer he did it all on a smart phone.
Seriously, how could I NOT publish this?
I published a story about a woman who learned english as a second language who then went on to become a syndicated writer for the New York times.
Seriously, who in their right mind would pass on this post?
Alternative to excellent stories I always recommend that people focus on landing interviews which is more difficult as most influential people are too busy to talk to anyone, especially someone who hasn’t yet established themselves.
These are two of the most successful online entrepreneurs around. How could I NOT publish an interview featuring these two titans of the game?
So, that’s what it’s bout’. Ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
You have to go hard to get published.”
I also received an incredibly comprehensive reply from C. Hope Clark of Fundsforwriters.com. The timing of my request couldn’t have been better. Hope explained that she’d recently received a number of poor pitches and had written a piece for her February newsletter on the subject of writing better pitches. She very kindly sent me a copy of the newsletter in advance and allowed me to quote from it. I’m not going to include the full email but rather the two parts I found to be particularly pertinent.
“I love opening a query from a writer who obviously read the guidelines at www.fundsforwriters.com/guidelines . Instantly, I see that author as serious, attentive to details, and understanding of FundsforWriters’ needs.”
“While I’ve got your attention, I’ll post a few of my pet peeves, items that require me to email back and forth with a writer. Trust me, an editor usually wants a clean package all in one submission.
1) Academic writing. All theory. No anecdotes. No takeaway, practical value. No personality.
2) ESL writing. I do not mind submissions from around the world, but if I must clean up the grammar to make it work, regardless the topic, I won’t.
3) Elementary topic, commonly read on many blogs.
4) How-to without links, resources, and examples.
5) No bio.
6) No intro/pitch, just the story.
7) No title.
8) No method of payment.
10) Exceeding the word count. (Won’t even read it.)”
Hope is a wealth of information and her site was voted one of the best 101 websites for writers in 2014. Trust me when I say that it’s well worth signing up to her email updates.
Finally, Lauren Tharp sent through a huge amount of information. Lauren runs her own site at littlezotz.com and is also the associate editor, community manager and gatekeeper for all things guest post at beafreelanceblogger.com.
Lauren provided tons of information and links to numerous articles she’s written on what gets a guest post accepted or rejected.
One recurring issue I noticed in a lot of Lauren’s articles (as well as with Hope’s advice above) was writers often pitch an article without having first read the guidelines. I’m surprised that this is a common theme, the guidelines should be the first thing you check!
In one of her articles, Lauren really highlights why this simple step is so important.
“If you don’t read what the editor’s written, why should he/she read what you’ve written?”
She also goes on to say the following in another piece (I really enjoyed reading this one, the screen caps are just… wow).
“By following the editor’s preferred procedure, you’re showing that you respect them and their publication right off the bat. From your first initial contact, you’re showing that you’re a professional and you know what’s up.”
I think Lauren really hits the nail on the head with making a good first impression. Think back to the last time you were at a party where someone made a poor first impression. How long did it take you to give them a second chance? Did they even get a second chance to win you over? Don’t ruin a good opportunity by sending in an idea that doesn’t follow the publications pitching guidelines.
If I had to give one piece of my own advice it would be to stay humble. Having a piece that you think is perfect for a blog’s readership rejected can be hard. What you’ve got to remember is the person you’re pitching to has a wealth of experience and knows what they’re talking about. Work with editors, listen to their advice and use it to make your piece even better.
I’d like to take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to Darnell, Hope and Lauren for helping out with this article. Hopefully you guys will find their advice as useful as I have and I’ll see your names popping up on plenty of of my favourite sites as guest writers!
Image – Free Blog Photos