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guest blogging tips

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With the demise of many traditional news media outlets and reduction in coverage by many others, guest post articles on blogs have emerged as a worthwhile media placement alternative.

Guest posts can fulfill many different public relations objectives. It can build brand awareness, develop the writer’s authority as a thought leader, and increase traffic to the contributor’s website. The placements can also have SEO value since most blogs permit a link back to the author’s website from within the guest post content. However, guest posting requires time, effort, creativity and skill.

Like most blogs, Glean.info receives many guest post pitches. A majority are badly written, off topic or give us no incentive to respond. Many of the worst pitches come from SEO firms, not PR professionals.

The many bad pitches have prompted us to offer the following tips on writing well-crafted guest post pitches that vastly improve your chances of worthwhile blog placements.

Research: The First and Essential Step to Guest Posting.

This advice seems obvious, yet some writers still don’t heed the recommendation. Too many just spam blog sites with a general offer to write a blog post.

Researching the blog shows if it’s related to your niche, is worthwhile to include in a blogger outreach, if it is likely to accept a submission, and if it even considers guest posts.

“You wouldn’t pitch a journalist without reading past articles first – it’s equally important when approaching bloggers,” recommends Mickie Kennedy, author of PR Fuel, in a guest post for Solo PR Pro.

Search for the blog’s guest post guidelines. If they’re not obvious on the navigation bar, try a Google site search for guest post guidelines and other iterations such as “write for us.”

Scan the blog articles to get a sense of the blog’s writing style and favorite topics, Peruse the website, especially its About section. Checking author bios can reveal the backgrounds of writers and if the blog accepts guest posts.

Personalize the Message

Find the name of the blog editor and address him or her by name in the email message, spelling the name correctly. Email pitches addressed to “dear webmaster” or “dear editor” seem like fill-in-the-blank templates and are less likely to be read.  At least use the name of the blog like “Dear Glean.info.”

Some editors appreciate an individualized note that establishes a personal connection. That shows you’ve taken the time to research them by checking their author bio and Twitter or LinkedIn profiles.

“If you really care about getting your article published, then you must understand that your relationship with the editor is just as important, if not more important, as the quality of your writing,” says Jess Ostroff, managing editor at Convince & Convert. “Make me care about you, as a human, and I’ll be much more likely to read what you have to say.”

Include Essential Elements in Guest Post Pitches

Guest post inquiries should include:

  • A brief and specific description of who you are, ideally your name, job title, your organization, and a link to its website. Not transparently identifying yourself and your organizations may raise suspicions.
  • Your background and experience that’s relevant to the topic.
  • An idea or a few ideas for topics relevant to the blog.
  • A few links to writing samples, ideally to posts related to the blog’s niche.

Usually, editors don’t want another article on the identical topic. They and their audience want a different perspective. So, asking an editor to republish or link to your similar blog post is usually futile. Suggest an article topic that will appeal to the same audience but has a distinctive slant.

Avoid generalities. Most guest blog post pitches typically only include suggested titles of blog posts. Some are too general and vague, such as How Businesses Can Benefit from Digital Marketing. Elaboration and specific details, and even a brief outline, better describe the article and increase chances of acceptance.

Offer value. Explain the helpful information your article will offer to the blog’s audience, not what you’re seeking, as in this pitch we received.

I recently found your site https://glean.info  and was impressed by
its layout and content.
I feel that it could be suitable for my client marketing needs, to
post a guest post on your site.
Please let me know if this is something you offer, and if so, what do
you charge for it?

That pitch has many fatal flaws. It didn’t research our blog; it doesn’t pitch a specific idea; it is client centered; it doesn’t identify the client. All the flaws point to a spam pitch. Well-rated blogs don’t buy that kind of pitch. Most blogs with substantial audiences also don’t accept payment for guest posts. Those that do follow FTC guidelines and label them as sponsored or ads.

Double-check your pitch. Spelling and grammar mistakes are the most common reason why blog editors delete guest post inquiries. Even if your idea is good, editors think your article won’t meet their content standards if you can’t write a literate email message. Consider crafting and checking the guest post pitch in a Word document before copying it into an email message.

Subject lines. Some writers recommend catchy subject lines. However, a survey by digital marketing agency Point Visible reveals that only 20% of editors love catchy subject lines and 55% prefer straight-forward subject lines like “Guest Post Pitch.” Some want writers to follow their guest post guidelines for subject lines.

Avoid flattery. We often receive guest posts pitches that praise our blog with general and sometimes effusive comments. One stated:

“Your website absolutely grabbed our attention with its rich and unique content and We would love to submit a guest post or consistently to your website.”

We ditched the pitch. We didn’t believe them and the pitch had tell-tale signs of being written by a person who didn’t have adequate command of the language.

About two-thirds of editors surveyed by Point Visible agree that such praise is “cheesy and insincere.” However, almost a third say it’s fine to praise a specific piece of content.

Phrases like “I think your blog is amazing” and “You have such an impressive blog” are put-offs. They demonstrate lack of knowledge about the blog. Write something specific like: “I read your article [title] and followed your recommendation to [activity].”

Allow time for response. Respect the editor’s time when sending follow-up email messages. Some editors suggest waiting three or four business days before sending a follow-up email; others recommend a week. Never expect an editor to remember your original message. Any follow-up message should include the original request. Above all, don’t annoy blog editors with repeated follow-up messages. One or two is adequate.

Bottom Line: Submitting guest posts offers significant PR and marketing benefits. But successful placement of guest posts requires completing extensive research, personalizing messages, and careful writing.