First to be clear, the tips are my opinions (both being a blogger and a guest blogger-pitcher) on how to make that initial contact with a blogger to offer a guest post on their blog. I'm not talking about pitching press releases or getting bloggers to link to you. Rather, you are offering to provide unique, interesting and relevant content for a website in exchange for attribution, usually an author biography with a link back to your site.
First assumption is you represent a commercial interest. You're not a topical blogger that has a subscriber base, links to other blogs already on your site and social network connections with your blogging peers. Whoever champions this project may be in PR, web marketing or an online reputation management on behalf of the business.
We assume you'll be writing content about something current and newsworthy, like children's toys, recalls and safety for the holiday season. And, as mentioned yesterday, that you're approaching bloggers that have used guest bloggers before (it's like applying for a job with open positions vs. dropping off a resume at a company in hopes they may be hiring.)
Many bloggers simply aren't interested in guest posts - especially if they don't know you or you're not "famous" in their niche already. And other bloggers (like me) accept guest posts as invite-only. Please don't take it personally if your pitch is rejected. We've got our reasons for it.
You also want to stick with bloggers that offer their contact information (resist stalking behavior like digging up Facebook profiles or Whois info).
Blogger Outreach Tips
There are some great articles about pitching bloggers / "blogger outreach" in general, such as:
But for guest blogging specifically, you want to:
- Actually read the blog for a while to get a feel for the "fit" - don't pitch irrelevant story topics
- Tell the truth about who you are
- Keep your pitch to a minimum
- Address the blogger by name
- Link to examples of writing you've done before
- If you're using a pitch template, be very careful to use the right email address, recipient name and blog name each time
- Be careful of sender name and subject lines
Sample Guest Blog Pitch Email
Here's a sample email pitch:
My name is [your name] and I'm dropping you a line to see if you accept guest bloggers on [name of blog]. I write about [state your topic or what you do for which company or website] and thought an article about [relevant topic] would be a good fit for your blog.
[If you have specific expertise that qualifies you to write this post, now would be a good time to mention it, like education or professional association - as long as it's the truth.]
Here are some examples of my guest posts:
[Insert links to other blog posts you've done]
The post will be 100% original, written just for your blog and will not be posted elsewhere. I would appreciate an author bio with a live link back to my site. If you're interested in this idea, please get back to me.
Thanks, [your name]
This is about as much detail as you need to go into. If the blogger is interested, he/she can check out your sample posts, and will get back to you. You don't have to suck up and stalk the blogger on every social network, comment on the blog or send a series of non-pitchy emails to "engage the blogger" leading up to the pitch (that's actually annoying if you're just doing it to break ice).
For sender name, use your real name and a sender address that belongs to a domain, not a free webmail account. For subject line, I like to use something like "Looking for a guest blogger for [blog]?"
Just be straightforward in your email body. You are offering your time and expertise - the blogger gets benefits too. Around Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer holiday months are great times to fill in content gaps with guest posts, so bloggers can have a break. Plus, your content can attract links and search engine traffic to their blog.
Once you get a few guest posts published, you can explore cold-emailing other bloggers in the niche, referencing your high-quality content on blogs of similar subject matter.
Make it Easy As Possible for the Blogger
Ask the blogger what blogging software / CMS he or she is using and how he/she would prefer the article be marked up. For example, if he uses Wordpress, sign up for a free Wordpress dummy blog to do all your formatting (unless you already use Wordpress, then just create a draft) before sending it through. Find out if it's okay to send images, too, and send them as an attachment, not in a Word document unless the blogger has no preference on how you send them.
And please, please, please triple check your spelling and grammar. I repeat, check your spelling, grammar and links. It's one thing to get lazy on your own blog (Get Elastic readers smiling, you've caught typos here before and I thank you...) but you can't quickly edit posts when they're up on someone else's site, as I learned from my Marketing Pilgrim contest entry.
Bonus: help the blog get some social media love by promoting it through Twitter and other relevant news sharing sites (like Kirtsy for women's news).
I warned my Twitter followers that this post might get a bit ranty. I'll take this opportunity to get some things off my chest about PR pitches I receive.
1. I hate it when PR people I've never heard of send me press releases that have nothing to do with online retail.
2. I can't stand when a pitch asks if I'd like to arrange a meeting with [CEO of XYZ Company]. If the CEO was really interested in me and my blog, he/she could email me his/herself. One particularly irksome instance is with a company that I actually like. To be honest, because I like its blog and staff (not involved in the pitch at all) I gave it the time of day.
Not only did I never hear personally from the CEO, I sent through questions for the CEO to be answered, and at the last minute, they were answered by someone else in the company (which is fine, but it just confirmed my suspicion that the CEO really didn't have an interest in the blog or connecting with me).
I still like this company, I think it made a great post, too. No sour grapes, I just didn't like the process.
3. Don't throw in a one-liner "I really liked your last post [Post Title]" and then paste a press release after. Bless your heart, thanks for checking out the blog (hope you subscribed) but you gotta work harder than that.
I know many of our readers are also bloggers, feel free to share your own tips and opinions on this subject in the comments.