Content marketers know guest blogging is important.
It helps us build topical authority, reach new audiences, and increase brand exposure.
However, even expert writers sometimes struggle to write strong outreach emails. This results in guest post pitches getting rejected. Even worse, writers sometimes fail to recognize their own missteps.
This leads to frustration for over-pitched editors and prospective writers alike.
Pitching guest posts doesn’t have to be a painful experience. It just takes practice and patience to get it right.
Once you know how to pitch effectively, you can dramatically increase your success rates. The key is to take the time and care to do things right. In this post, we’ll help you do just that while covering the following points:
- Generating strong guest post ideas blog editors will want to publish.
- Understanding how to properly write and format pitch emails.
- Knowing which steps to take once your pitch is accepted.
By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll know how to write a pitch email an editor will actually want to read.
Download Your Guest Blogger Email Pitching Kit
We’ve put together three free downloadable resources to make writing successful pitches easier. This kit includes:
- An Email Pitch Template to ensure every email you send is properly structured.
- A Guest Blogging Target Spreadsheet to track your pitches and store blog contact information.
- A Guest Blogging Checklist to ensure you don’t miss a step when pitching posts to editors.
Each of these pieces will help you apply the tips in this post. Pretty sweet, right?
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Start By Selecting Prospective Outlets For Your Guest Posts
Determining where you'd like to be published is the first step. Figure this out before you do anything else.
Five Ways To Find Relevant Guest Blogging Outlets
There are probably some big-name blogs you’d like to see your name on. However, if you’re not already a big-name brand, it may be tough to get their attention.
This is where you need to get strategic.
1. Start with industry-leading blogs you already know. It’s likely you’re already reading these blogs and interacting with their writers on social media. It might take time to get the attention of these outlets. However, it's good to keep them in mind, setting your long-term goals high.
2. Search Google and social media. Use industry-related keywords for Google and social media searches (start with Facebook and Twitter). This may help surface more blogs you can target.
3. Consider using BuzzSumo to research other blogs. BuzzSumo is a helpful tool for finding top-performing content. Try a few searches for topics you’d like to write about. Then, see which outlets appear to get shared the most. These may be good targets to pitch.
4. Think about your partners and the products you use for professional purposes. Are there any companies you work with? Do you (or your company) use any products or services to do your job? If so, check to see if those brands have active blogs. This can be a great way to leverage existing relationships to find guest blogging outlets.
5. Find overlap between your expertise and publications outside your industry. Spend a little bit of time thinking of blogs and publications outside your niche that might be interested in what you write about. For example, general business publications can be a great fit for nearly any company (if you’re interested in sharing business tips).
Next, Create A Guest Blogging Target Spreadsheet
You’ll need a way to store editorial contact information and URLs for each prospective guest blogging target. That’s why we’ve included a Guest Blogging Target Template in this post. It includes the following fields:
- Blog / Publication Title
- Name Of Editor
- Contact Email Address / Contact Page URL
- Link To Editorial Guidelines Page (if available)
- Date Contacted
- Pitch Accepted / Declined
Here's what it looks like (it isn't fancy, but it works):
Research Each Prospective Outlet
Now it’s time to research each prospective target you’d like to pitch. The goal is to understand the following points:
- What does this blog cover?
- What types of content do they publish (informative, how-to, feature articles, etc.)
- How frequently do they publish new blog posts?
- How does their writing voice sound? Are they serious and professional? Fun and lighthearted? Something else completely?
- How long are their posts, typically?
Prioritize Guest Blog Targets Based On Authority
Now you have a long list of guest blog post targets. How do you prioritize which ones to target first? This can be challenging, especially if you haven’t had any guest posts previously published.
One way to start is by looking at each blog’s Domain Authority. This is a metric generated by Moz (a popular SEO software platform). It measures the authority of blogs and websites based on how many backlinks they have (along with other considerations).
This video from Barry Feldman helps explain why this is important:
Install the Moz toolbar for Chrome. Here's what it looks like:
Next, look for this DA score (the blue bar labelled DA). It measures a site's authoritativeness on a 100-point scale.
You can also use this tool to gauge your own Domain Authority.
If you’ve never published a guest post, it may be best to start with blogs near or below your own level.
Keep in mind that blogs with low DA scores may still be good guest blogging targets. They may have low scores simply because they’re new (DA tends to build over time). Take a look at their site, and if they appear legitimate, give them fair consideration.
If a blog or site looks like junk, however, don’t hesitate to cross them off your list.
Next, list your targets in the order you’ll pitch to them. Start with blogs that offer the best mix of the following factors:
- Realistic Domain Authority score. This means blogs with a score comparable to your own.
- Strong topical alignment with what you’d like to write about.
Once you have a few posts under your belt, you can start pitching more high authority outlets. Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.
How to Generate Strong Post Ideas
We’ve done a lot of work, and we haven’t even started coming up with ideas.
There’s a reason for that. You need to know your targets and understand their needs before you can start aligning ideas with their interests.
Our 30-minute blog brainstorming process is a great way to get lots of ideas fast (it’s technically not our own original concept, but one we’ve put our own spin on). Read this if you haven't yet.
However, when it comes to pitching guest post ideas, there are some additional points to consider:
- Make sure your guest pitch addresses the interests of your target publication. Self-serving ideas get trashed.
- Choose topics you can write about like a true authority. It’s okay if they’ll require some research on your part. Most blog posts should require research anyway, even if you're an expert on your topic.
- Check to see if your targeted publication has already covered your topic. If they have, try to think of a unique angle. Approaching the topic from a different perspective may still help add value.
How To Develop An Interesting Angle
Once you have an idea, you’ll need an angle.
This means finding a specific, unique perspective on your chosen topic.
Let’s say you’re pitching a blog post about dog training techniques. This is a topic that has been covered countless times. Another run-of-the-mill post isn't going to cut it.
In order to get your pitch accepted, you determine you’ll need an angle to make this topic feel fresh.
Here are three simple techniques for refining your angle.
1. Find an aspect of your topic no one has covered yet. Do some research. Read as many existing articles on your topic you can find. Try to find a gap or perspective that hasn’t been covered yet.
2. Connect your topic to something that (at first) seems unrelated. This works best if you draw a connection between two topics that share similar audiences. For example, someone interested in dog training may also be interested in cleaning products (to sweep up dog hair and other messes). In this case, something like 8 Cleaning Products That Make Dog Training Easier may be something to consider.
This is an unpolished hypothetical example, of course. However, you get the idea.
3. Tackle something timely. Identify trending topics. Then, find a perspective that’s missing. If every other post is talking about a given topic the same way, then differentiate your pitch. Pitches that are timely, relevant, and unique are likely to appeal to an editor.
How to Construct a Pitch Email
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.
We’re now ready to write a pitch email. Get ready to craft your masterpiece.
A strong pitch email should include each of these items:
- Catchy subject line
- Unique angle
- Introductory hook
- High-level body summary
- Your proposed format (List, Feature, etc.)
- References to research
In addition, your pitch email should clearly convey why your post will be interesting to readers. It should include, in detailed terms, exactly what value an editor’s audience will get from your piece.
Step 1: Write A Strong Subject Line
Editors are busy. Give them a reason to read your email. Start with a good subject line.
Don’t just write “Pitch” or “Guest Blog Submission” in the subject line field without context. Include a hypothetical headline or something to hook an editor’s interest.
Strong Example: Pitch: 8 Ways To Train A New Puppy
Weak Example: Guest Post For Your Consideration
Step 2: Include An Introductory Hook
Your opening paragraph should hook an editor's interest right away. Here are a few different ways to do this:
- Establish a problem your post will solve.
- Pose a question your post will answer.
- Describe a scenario your post will discuss.
Here are some theoretical examples:
Example 1: Establish A Problem
Puppies are lots of fun. However, training one can be a challenge. From wetting the floor to tearing up furniture, your new furry friend may leave you tearing your hair out.
Example 2: Pose A Question
Rawhide bones are a popular dog treat. However, how were they first invented? The history of rawhide dog bones is one filled with mystery and intrigue.
Example 3: Describe A Scenario
You’ve just gotten home from work. When you walk in the kitchen, you discover your new puppy has knocked over your garbage can. This is just one of many common complaints amongst new pup parents.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking.
Step 3: Incorporate At Least One Detailed Body Paragraph
This is where you dig into the meat of your post. Include key details and references to outside research (if applicable). However, keep it clear and simple. Don’t make an editor struggle to understand what your pitch is about.
Here is an example (incorporating one of the intro examples above):
Puppies are lots of fun. However, training one can be a challenge. From wetting the floor to tearing up furniture, your new furry friend may leave you tearing your hair out.
Fortunately, even the worst puppies can be perfect angels with the right training. In fact, top animal trainers at the University of Dog Studies suggest following these five steps (note: underline intended to indicate link to outside research):
- Positive reinforcement
- Crate training
- Loose-leash walking
- Proper socialization
- Plenty of nap time
This post will explain how to apply each of these tips. This will help exasperated readers train their dogs better and faster with less stress.
You’ll notice this paragraph accomplishes a few key goals:
- It tells the editor specifically what this post will be about.
- It clearly conveys benefits to the reader.
- It supports its claims by referencing external research.
Step 4: Tie It Together With A Short Conclusion
The conclusion offers one more opportunity to reiterate the value of your pitch. Keep it short and sweet.
Please let me know if your readers would be interested in learning about these scientifically-proven puppy training tips.
That’s all it takes.
Step 5: Include An Appropriate Salutation And Email Signature
This is simple enough. Typically, "Best Regards" (or its shorter cousin, "Best"), is appropriate. Be sure to include each of the following too:
- Job title
- Phone number (optional)
- Portfolio or blog author page link (optional)
- Social media links (optional)
Step 6: Ensure Your Email Is Properly Formatted
There is nothing worse than embarrassing yourself with simple formatting mistakes. Follow these tips to make a good impression:
- Use a single font all the way through your email.
- Clearly break out paragraphs. Don’t send an editor a wall of text. Use short, clear paragraphs to make your point.
- Include a personalized greeting. A simple Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [INSERT EDITOR’S LAST NAME] works.
- Make sure your email signature is clearly formatted.
Here's what your final pitch might look like:
How To Deliver Your Outreach Email
You’re now ready to send your pitch. Sending an email may seem simple enough. However, there are some best practices to follow to increase your odds for success.
Find The Right Contact Information For The Right Editor
Browse your target blog's Contact Us page. This will help ensure you have the right email address for your pitch. Some blogs may also have a form to complete. Make sure you figure out which is the case.
In some situations, a blog may have multiple editors. Each editor might have their own focus area. Do some research to see which editor covers topics most closely related to your pitch.
Some blogs may even have a catch-all submission form. In this case, simply copy and paste your message where appropriate.
Know When To Send Your Pitch Email
The best time to send a pitch email is typically on a weekday morning. This shows you’re up and working hard early in the morning. It’s also the time editors are most likely checking their email.
Avoid pitching late at night or on weekends. This is likely to annoy an editor. Don't send an email late at night, thinking they’ll see it first thing in the morning. Nobody wants their phone to buzz because of a new email when they're trying to sleep.
When Should You Follow Up After Pitching?
If you don’t get a prompt response, wait at least a week to follow up. Editors get a lot of email, and it may take them time to see yours.
One follow-up email is usually enough to get their attention in case they missed your first message. Anything more than that is annoying. They’re likely either too busy to accept your pitch, or they’re simply not interested. Either way, you’re better off moving on (and maybe trying your pitch somewhere else).
How to Write Your Post To Match An Editor’s Style Standards
Once an editor accepts your pitch, it’s time to write your post. Different blogs have different style standards and expectations. Failing to meet an editor’s expectations can result in posts being rejected or requiring heavy editing.
Get it right the first time. Follow these tips:
Tip 1: Ask The Editor For Their Style Guide
They will probably provide this to you before you need to ask. However, if they don’t, then do ask. Be sure to check their website for contributor guidelines.
Tip 2: Remember, You’re Writing For Someone Else
What’s acceptable on your blog might not be on another. If in doubt, ask.
Tip 3: Avoid Excessively Linking Back To Yourself
Most blogs frown on this. It’s self-serving and may even have negative SEO implications. Instead, find other relevant blog posts to link to on your host’s blog. The editor and their readers will appreciate it.
What To Do After Your Post Publishes
Your work isn't done once your blog post is published.
Go the extra mile with these simple steps:
Post-Publish Step 1: Promote The Post On Your Own Social Channels
Post-Publish Step 2: Respond To Comments On The Host Blog
Engage with readers. Respond to every comment you receive. This is a best practice for blogging in general. It’s also a good way to show appreciation for the opportunity to write on someone else’s blog.
Post-Publish Step 3: Thank Your Editor
A short "thank you" email can go a long way. A short email or social media message will do.
What To Do If Your Email Pitch Gets Rejected
Rejection is part of pitching to editors. Not every guest post you pitch will be accepted (unless you’re superhuman). Use rejections as a learning experience so you can do better next time.
Tip 1: Accept Constructive Feedback
If an editor offers feedback, take it to heart. Listen to what they didn’t like about your pitch, and remember it for next time. It doesn’t necessarily mean your idea sucks. It just means it wasn’t the right fit for that particular blog.
Tip 2: Ask Yourself What You Could Have Done Better
Take a step back and honestly analyze your pitching process. Was your pitch missing key details? Was your topic misaligned with your prospective audience? Did you just straight up get the editor’s name wrong?
There are an endless number of things that can go wrong when pitching. Make note of your mistakes so you won’t make them again.
Tip 3: Keep Pitching Guest Posts
Pitching guest posts is an art form. It takes practice to get it right. Don't let failure today stop you from succeeding tomorrow.
Now Write Better Guest Blog Post Pitch Emails
Pitching successful guest posts isn’t easy. However, you now have the knowledge and tools to succeed. Best of luck!