Blogging: So you want to write a guest post

Sep 2, 2014 | Better Blogging

I get at least one almost every day. They’re emails offering to do guest post. When I opened up the weekend’s emails on Monday afternoon I found seven of them. I replied to all of them. I said “No, thank you” to every one.

If you want to do guest posts on other people’s blogs, start by doing your homework. Then craft a blog-specific request.

Do your homework first

When I was a young freelancer, we learned to “study the publication” before sending a query letter pitching a specific article idea. You may be sending a query e-mail to a blogger, but studying the publication is still essential.

Research will give you a clue about whether a blogger uses guest posts. I don’t for the very reasons Harold Jarche specified in his post, “Guest Posts.”

If you want to pitch me anyway, an opening line like, “I know you don’t normally use guest posts” tells me that you’ve looked at the blog. Not all bloggers are like Harold and me, though. Many bloggers, like Dan McCarthy have decided that guest posts make sense for them.

Analyze those blogs. Look for who writes guest posts for them and what they write about. Pick the blogs that use guest posts and try them first.

Craft a persuasive pitch

A persuasive pitch should tell the recipient three things. He or she should be able to tell that you’ve done your homework and understand the blog and the audience. You should demonstrate your competence, preferably with published material. And you should tell the blog owner what’s in it for you.

You may think that you’ll do better sending out a gazillion emails instead of taking the time to write a specific pitch for every blog you approach. You won’t. Generations of freelancers will tell you that fewer, more targeted pitches will help you more than thousands of generic pitches.

Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework

Show that you’ve actually studied the blog. If you have studied the blog, this will not be hard to do. If you haven’t, don’t even bother pretending.

Note to James. I’ve never had a guest post on that other blog. Not one. Ever. So when you say in your email that “I’ve studied your blog and I noticed that you use guest posts,” it suggests to me that you are either horribly sloppy or think I’m stupid.  I may be wrong, but that’s what I think.

Demonstrate your competence

Don’t tell me that you’re going to write a great post. Show me by sending me links to work you’ve actually done.

Note to Carl: A Gmail address and no web site or links to content, suggest to me that you haven’t actually written anything you’re proud enough to share. I may be wrong, but that’s what I think.

Note to Amanda: Spelling and usage errors in your pitch email suggest to me that either you think they’re OK or that you expect me to clean them up for you. I may be wrong, but that’s what I think.

What’s in it for you?

Tell the blogger what you want for your work. Are you publicizing a book? Trying to build traffic to your own blog? Building your reputation? What?

Here’s the encouraging part

If you write solid, helpful, interesting pieces you will succeed, but you will have to work very hard at your craft and your marketing. If you think you can get by with shortcuts you will spend a lot of time wondering why other people are doing better than you are.

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