I’ve run guest posting (and cross-posting) programs for SaaS, eCommerce, and B2B companies across multiple industries. Although I started out as a nuisance, I’ve learned a few key strategies to pitch articles that won’t get on editors’ nerves.
Why is guest blogging important?
Guest blogging is awesome. You already know that…it’s why you’re reading this!
Just in case anyone needs a reminder, here are some key metrics to help drive the point home.
- 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Source)
- Over 40% of revenue is captured by organic traffic (Source)
- Content marketing produces 3x the leads of paid ads (Source)
- Blogs influence consumer purchasing decisions (Source)
Having a blog is vital, and guest posting expands your reach (and by association, trustworthiness). Plus – take a look at those numbers – it helps your bottom line.
Tip: Learn more about how to manage a successful guest post exchange program.
Initial outreach mistakes
Back in 2014, guest posting was the new amazing thing that would give us an edge over our competitors. It was still early enough that not everyone was doing it, and editors you reached out to were healthily intrigued.
Within the next 2 years, guest blogging got big – with good reason. It was such a great way to reach new audiences while providing value, and create a mutually beneficial new partnership with another brand.
That’s when my tactics got annoying. I’m talking three email follow-ups, barely any personalization, and once I spelled someone’s name wrong. (I was so sure I double checked!)
1) Multiple follow-ups
Since we tended to get more replies the more we followed up, there were times I went as far as sending four email follow-ups to some editors. The last ones would have rightfully gone straight to their spam folders.
Not only was this annoying those editors who weren’t interested, it hurt our outreach moving forward. Getting marked as spam meant that my work email was more likely to be flagged as spam, even in accounts I hadn’t contacted yet.
I understand editors are busy, so sending one follow-up email is a good practice. By the third email, it’s clear they aren’t interested in your pitch. Besides, it’s awkward saying no, so even if you think the “right” thing would be to send some sort of response, you can’t argue it’s easier to delete that 1 out of 100 new emails.
How do I know this? I’ve sent a “no thank you” response to a few queries. Once, I got two more follow-up emails after saying no. No one has time for that.
2) Not checking their blog first
Before you pitch a guest post to a company, read a few of their blogs and scroll through their recent posts. You should also do a quick search through your inbox for their business name, to see if you’ve collaborated before.
This will help you avoid a few pitfalls;
- Pitching an article to a website that doesn’t have a blog
- Pitching a title or topic that was just covered on their blog
- Pitching an article that’s irrelevant to their audience
- Pitching a guest post to your competitor
- Pitching the same or similar title that they already turned down
Doing some quick research isn’t too difficult, and it makes a huge difference between knowing what you’re talking about and looking like a noob that no editor would want to work with. I’ve been there.
How to pitch a guest post without annoying editors
Luckily for you, I’ve made all the mistakes, and am here to share the lessons I’ve learned from annoying all those editors. Here’s what I do today.
1) Provide value first with a round-up post
I don’t do this every time, but if we’re planning a big feature release or heavily pushing a certain topic, I research the industry anyway, so it makes sense to compile what I learn (and the brands I learned about) in a roundup post. Plus, you can’t beat goodwill.
Here’s an example of how this would work.
- If we’re releasing a new feature for remote workers, I’ll research remote work tools online.
- I’ll note the most interesting tools I find, with the best case studies and blogs.
- I’ll write a round-up post of the X top tools for remote workers.
- When I have a draft ready, I’ll reach out to each company featured and share a preview of their section, asking if they’d like any edits.
- If they respond with any edits, I get those implemented and confirm I’ve made the changes.
- The blog goes live.
- I reach out again, sharing the blog post featuring them. In that same email, I mention we released a new feature, provide more information, and make the guest post pitch.
2) Clarify you’ll only be sending one email
No more four-email-follow-ups from me! When I’m doing a round of initial outreach, I don’t send out more than one follow-up email (and sometimes, not even that).
If you’re in a position to make this decision, I recommend only sending the initial email and mentioning something like “Everyone is time-poor, so I’ll only be pitching these this one time, and I won’t bother you again. If I don’t hear back, I understand that things are busy and you aren’t interested. No hard feelings!“
3) Include relevant title pitches
Years ago, I sent out “feeler” emails. No context, no further information, basically just “Are you interested in a guest post?“
Today, no one is going to reply to that. They don’t know who you are, what you sell, or whether you’re a good writer.
Show that you respect their time by including your article pitch in that first introductory email.
Make your subject line “Pitch: [Proposed title]” and include a couple options that will resonate with their readers. That means a title and paragraph or two describing what your article will be about and why their readers will care.
Tip: If you’re sending out guest post queries to multiple people, and don’t have time to draft up enough unique pitches, include the general topic and draft a rough outline in a quick bullet list.
Do not pitch the exact same article and angle to more than one outlet. If they both say yes, you’ll have a hard time explaining why you can’t deliver while retaining your credibility.
However, if a week has passed without hearing back from someone, you can reuse their article pitch and reasonably explain “we assumed you weren’t interested, and offered this angle to another publication.”
4) Link to samples of your work
Your email should be well-written, but beyond that, so should your other guest posts. Editors don’t want to have to have an awkward discussion about content quality down the line.
Link to a few samples of your work, and let them know where they can learn more about your business if they’re interested.
Bonus: Guest post outreach email template
Lets close things out with a sample email I’ve used in the past. Names and brands have been changed for privacy.
Article pitch: X Chrome extensions for busy marketers
Hello, I’m reaching out from [brand](link) because you’ve got a great Google Chrome integration, and we just launched our [exciting new Google Chrome app](link to more information). I was wondering if you’d be open to a guest post from us on how it all works;
- How much time Chrome extensions save users on average
- Value of [whatever your Chrome extension does]
- How to select the right fit for your needs
- Ensuring personal privacy when using online apps
Our launch was covered in [media outlet](link) and more information is available on our website (link to your internal blog).
For examples of our work, check out our guest posts in [publication](link), [publication 2](link), and [publication 3](link).
Let me know if this is an article that interests you and I’d love to get started on it!
P.S. I know we’re all busy, so I won’t waste your time with endless follow-ups. If I don’t hear back, you won’t hear from me again – no hard feelings!
Any other tips from the writers or editors out there? Send them my way @rgo_go.