Here’s the brutal truth about looking for guest post opportunities:
There are WAY too many freelance writers who think dashing off an email pitch is enough to get bylines on well-known authority sites.
You know…All you have to do is find blogs that accept guest posts and send your pitch.
Well, that might sound like a good idea, but it doesn’t work in the real world.
If you’re serious about getting bylines on authority sites in your niche, you need to be very strategic, almost scientific, with how you find and pitch your guest post ideas.
Otherwise, your pitch will only be deleted and rejected.
Well, today I will be showing you the step-by-step experiment I used to get my first guest post published in one of the most competitive niches on the Interwebs.
Let’s get started.
Step #1: Find guest post targets
The first step of any guest posting campaign is to find highly relevant blogs you can contribute to.
But unlike everyone else, I took a different approach to the way I find blogs that are perfect for me.
Here’s the process:
First, I search Google using these search strings.
- Use “keyword” + “guest post.”
- Try “keyword+ “write for us.”
- Type “keyword” + “This post was written by”
- intitle:guest post guidelines
- intitle:guest blog guidelines
Right there, you have three authority sites you can reach out to for a guest posting opportunity.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
You can use a few other keywords in your niche to find other sites.
The next step is to check blogs that you already read to see if they accept guest posts.
In my case, I already read articles on the Big Apple Media blog, so I used these search strings to see if they accept guest posts.
site: bigapplemedia.com “write for us,” site: bigapplemedia.com “guest post.”
Once I did this for a few other blogs and added them to my list of potential blogs, I moved on to the next step.
Step #2: Qualify target blogs
Let’s face it, not all blogs are worth guest posting on, and that’s where this step comes in.
This is the most important step of all guest posting campaigns. If you skip this step, it will cost you a lot of time later on because you will end up contributing to sites that don’t have an engaged audience.
So how do you know which blogs are worth guest posting for?
The first step is to check the comments each post gets:
Blogs with at least 10 comments per post is a good sign that it’s a good fit. Why? Most blogs get zero comments. Yes, I said it. Zero!
Next, check to see if the blog gives credit to the guest contributor.
In other words: Does the blog fully credit guest authors for their work and allow them to link freely to their blog or another website?
The easiest way to find out is to check if there is an author bio section on the blog like this:
Once you find a blog from your list with both, that’s a green light that the blog is a good fit for you.
And that brings us to the next step…
Step #3: Build a relationship
If you read 100 blog posts on guest posting, 99 of them will tell you to look for blogs that accept guest posts and then send your pitch.
That’s one of the reasons it seems so hard to get accepted for a guest post.
As soon as I realized that sending cold emails to blog owners and editors is one of the hardest ways to go about guest posting, I changed my strategy.
I followed most of this advice for weeks and got no results.
I sent out dozens of emails and got almost no reply.
So what did I do to change that?
I build relationships with the person that runs the site or the editor.
The first thing I did was to sign up for their newsletter. That way, I get notified when they publish new content.
Next, I commented on their latest article and not just a few words Like: “great article”… I left insightful and valuable comments like this…
Once you leave a comment, share their article on social media.
This will put you on the blogger’s radar, because a lot of writers don’t do a good job at this.
And finally, reply to their newsletter and thank them for sharing such valuable content. Seriously, go the extra mile.
Here’s an example of a newsletter reply I sent to one of the target blogs I was trying to guest post for.
Once you start doing stuff like this, you’re already ahead of 80% of others who are sending guest post pitches to them. Even though at this point, you haven’t even pitched an idea.
With that, it’s time to start researching topics you could write about for one of your target markets.
Step #4: Research and write killer headlines
FYI, this isn’ t how you get a blog editor’s attention in an email: “I’m a big fan of your work.” It’s one of the fastest ways to get rejected. Don’t do this, OK.
It’s time to start doing some research to find topics that resonate with your target blog’s audience and potential topics you can pitch.
The first step to find topics that perform well is to use a tool called Buzzsumo. Just enter the URL of the blogs you find in step 1 in the tool.
Another way to find out if a post has done well on the blog is to check the sidebar of the blog to see if there is a “popular post” section.
If you want to go a bit deeper, you can check out the articles that gets the most comments. Read a few of the comments and see if readers are saying it’s a good post.
Once you have a solid idea of the topics that best resonate with the blog audience, it’s time to write some headlines.
Why great headlines matter when you pitch
In my opinion, the headlines you pitch the blog owner or editor is what determines if you get accepted or rejected, because no one wants to publish boring content on their site.
So you need to be very strategic with the headlines you sent in your pitch.
Here are the two most effective headline formulas (recommended by Smart Blogger founder Jon Morrow) you can use to write headlines the blog owner will be happy to publish.
- Try this convention: How to [Blank] (Even if [Common Obstacle])
- Use this format: How to [Blank] Without [Objectionable Action]
- Put two things together: How to [Do Something] While You [Do Something Else]
- Fill in the blanks: How to [Blank] and [Blank]
- [X] Ways to [Do Something]
- [X] Steps to [Goal or Achievement]
- [X] Tips for [Doing Something]
- [X] Resources for [Audience/Process]
So how do you know which headline format to use? Simple…
Look to see if the blog publishes mostly “list posts” or “how-to posts.” Once you have a good idea of the types of headline formats mainly used on the blog, it’s time to create yours.
Here are a few headlines I came up with based on my research on topics that have done well:
- Headline #1:[X] Ways to [Do Something]
- 17 Ways to Write Blog Posts that Goes Viral
- Headline #2: How to [Blank] (Even if [Common Obstacle])
- How to Write World-Class Articles (Even if You’re Not A Copywriter)
- Headline #3: How to [Blank] Without [Objectionable Action]
- How to Skyrocket Your Traffic Without Spending Money on Ads
Once I have at least three headlines that seem like a good fit, it’s time to move on.
Step #5: Send your guest post pitch
Once I have my headlines, I then send my pitch to the blog editor.
Remember that newsletter you replied to earlier? Great. That’s going to help you get noticed.
You’re more likely to stand out compared to all the other cold emails, because you have already established some relationship with the blogger you are about to reach out to.
Before you send a pitch, what do you say in your email?
Here’s the template I use every time I’m reaching out for guest posting opportunities:
As you can see, this email is short, and it gets right to the point. Make sure to personalize the email, so it doesn’t look like an email you sent to 100 other bloggers…
Here is a reply I got after sending out a pitch using this email template::
Not everyone will reply and give you the go-ahead to write on any of the headlines you pitch like the example above.
Once you get accepted, it’s time to do the most important part of the work…
Step #6: Write your guest post
Writing a guest often takes me anywhere from 5-12 hours.
But it might take longer for others, but I will share a few writing techniques that I used to write 2000-3000+ word articles written in a short time frame.
The first tip is to do an outline before you start writing your article.
For example, if the headline that got accepted for the guest post was: “17 Ways to Write Blog Posts that Goes Viral.”
The first thing I do is list out all the techniques that I would give someone who wants to write a viral article.
Remember, this is just the brainstorming process, so list out as many techniques as possible.
Once you have all your techniques listed, select the most practical ones.
So my outline would look like this after choosing the top 17 best tips on the topic…
As you can see, I add a short sentence under each tip, which is the main idea I will be explaining during the writing process.
The next tip is to use a tool like the Hemmingway app to help you keep your sentences short and avoid using unnecessary words and phrases. (I often use it during the editing phase of my article.)
The next step is to write your intro and conclusion first.
Most readers will judge your article base on the intro alone. If the intro is not interesting, readers will assume the rest of the article is the same and stop reading immediately.
So writing your intro and conclusion first will help you get the hardest part of the article out of the way.
The last tip is to use short paragraphs. Ideally, you want to keep your paragraphs at 2-3 sentences. Using images and screenshots to help explain complicated concepts is a good way to keep your content engaging.
These are the techniques that I rely on when writing content like my 3000+ word Email Marketing Guide.
Once you follow these tips, the owner of the blog will be happy to publish your content.
Use this email template to send them your final draft:
You will receive replies like this when you send them the finished content.
I am not the best at writing detailed articles, so if I can do it, I think anyone can do it.
Step #7: Follow up after your guest post is published
Once my guest post is published, the first thing I do is share it on social media.
Then I reply to any comments that it gets within the first few days. Once all that is over and about five days have passed. I send a follow up to the blog owner or editor thanking them for the opportunity.
This goes a long way. Unlike most other bloggers that just send the final draft and disappear, you’re showing them that you are happy for the opportunity, and it also builds a stronger relationship which leads to more opportunity for you.
You can use this email template to follow up with the owners of the blog:
Try this experiment to land guest post bylines
This is the step by step approach that I used to get my first guest post published in one of the most competitive niches online.
Guest Posting can do a lot for you in the freelance and blogging world…
In fact, by landing my first guest post here are some of the impacts and benefits that I have seen for myself.
- First, I gained more knowledge on what’s the best types of content to pitch for a guest post.
- Second, and by far the most important, is that by landing my first guest post more guest posting opportunities become available to me even paid ones because as you might have guessed my portfolio of websites that I guest post on got better.
- Third, by doing a guest post I have been able to build relationships with a lot of other top bloggers in my space. Such as Ryan Robinson, Robbie Richards, etc.
- Finally, it has helped my grow my email list and blog traffic.
Guest posting is one of the easiest ways to get in front of large audiences that will share and link to your content. If you are just starting out as a freelance writer or blogger the fastest way to build up your credibility in your niche is to guest other websites.
Need help landing a guest post assignment? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Floyd Johnson is a freelance writer and content marketer who helps bloggers and business owners grow their email list with actionable email marketing strategies and tips.