21 Killer Tips for Landing a Guest Post Every Time

    landing a guest post - woman on ipad

    Do you want to grow your blog? Then writing guest posts is a great option. But it’s not so easy to get it right.

    As the Chief Editor of Write to Done, I get a lot of pitches. Some I immediately reply to, others just get a courtesy email — and their offering straight into the trash folder.

    Read on to learn 21 secret tips that will enable you to become a successful guest poster.

    Most bloggers focus on one main thing when they pitch: on their wish to land a guest post. Wrong! That attitude won’t get you far. Your focus needs to be on something quite different.

    Tip #1: Focus on what the blogger needs.
    Yes, your total focus needs to be on the blogger and his or her needs.

    Compare these two pitches I got recently:

    1. John: I’ve written an awesome post that your readers at Write to Done will love.
    2. Ryan: Do you still have a need for a guest post at Goodlife ZEN? I know you’re busy these days with the A-List Blogging Bootcamp launch – figured might be a good time to make contact again. I could do something about the value of dreams.

    Which one got the nod?

    I’m sure you guessed it. Ryan got the gig. In fact, you can see his post here. (By the way, I’m happy to report that Ryan has now joined our A-List Blogger Club)

    All John (not his real name) got, was a brush-off email from me.

    I’ll come back to the number John a little later on. But first, let me say more about why I had an immediate warm reaction to Ryan.

    His email told me a couple of things about Ryan:

    • He is regular reader of Goodlife ZEN.
    • He is considerate.
    • He knows how to follow up elegantly.
    • He offers an interesting topic.

    If someone ticks those particular boxes, I’ll definitely take a look at whether the blogger can write. And if they can, there’s a good chance I’ll accept their guest post – either now or in the future.

    Tip #2: Make the email with which you offer a guest post a bridge to another human being
    Make sure that you come across as the friendly and helpful human being that I hope you are. Personally, I dislike cold, business-like pitches. I’ll show you an example. (This one is from a blogger whose blog has only 30 subscribers.)

    “I would like to have a guest post on Write to Done. I suggest coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement. Maybe we could exchange guest posts.”

    Well, actually — no thank-you!

    I don’t mind if a blog is small. After all, every blog starts out small. Actually, I get a real kick out of helping ‘young’ bloggers get traffic to their blogs. A few months ago I offered Janice Hunter a guest post. She hadn’t even launched her blog yet! I suggested timing a guest post with her launch day to give her bloglet a bit of a boost. It worked and her blog has taken off! You can see her guest post here.

    Originally, Janice wrote an interesting comment on Write to Done, and I approached her about writing a guest post. Here is her answer:

    Yes, I would like you to write a guest post for Write to Done. In particular I would love to write an article about being a ‘quote hunter’. Just as well this is an email and not Skype with sound and vision – I squealed and scared one of my kids!

    That made me smile! It’s so nice to get a sense of the real person behind the email.

    Tip #3: Check your stance – are you submissive or superior? Or can you be natural?
    Think about the tone and the stance you are taking up in your pitch email. (I’ve done 18 years of karate training, so I tend to take an interest in stances…) Personally, I dislike a submissive, as well as a superior stance. Going back to John, his tone is on the superior side. He praises his post and assumes that everyone will love it. That turned me against him straight away.

    Tip #4: Remember that you are an equal human being
    Please remember that when you email a celebrity blogger. Even the blogging stars started small and with no experience. It’s good to acknowledge that they are more experienced and more successful than you at this moment, but they were once where you are in the past.

    Tip #5: Check your tone – do you sound confident and respectful, or arrogant?
    Think of yourself as a future A-list blogger. Your tone should be confident, straightforward, and respectful. Avoid toadying. For example, don’t say things like, “I’d be humbled if you would grant me…” or similar phrases. Instead, say things like, “It would give me much pleasure to write for my favorite blog”, or, “I’d be delighted to hear from you.” At the same time, don’t sound arrogant: “I’d be giving your blog a huge boost with my amazing writing.”

    As Jennifer Mattern says in her post 10 Reasons Your Guest Pitches Get Ignored:

    One thing even worse than a pitch making it clear you haven’t read the guidelines is a pitch letting a blogger know you did but you think you’re above the rules set for everybody else.

    Tip #6: A bit of humor goes a long way.
    If you can make the blogger you’re writing to laugh or smile, that’s great! I recently got an email from blogger Vlad Dolezal. He attached his guest post and responded to my warning that his post may not appear for a few weeks like this:

    “Sure, Mary, publish it whenever fits your evil masterplan blogging schedule.”

    That made me laugh!

    Tip #7: Get inside knowledge – it’s priceless.
    It’s important to research the blogger you want to contact. Study the ‘About’ page and read his or her blog articles. What are they interested in? What topic might be of interest to them? What is their passion at the moment? What else are they involved in at the moment? Maybe you can read their Twitter stream or Facebook page  to find out. Mention something they’re working on. I recently found an email I sent Leo Babauta long before he gave me half of Write to Done. You can see how I mentioned what he was engaged in:

    Hi Leo, I’m wondering whether you are on overload with your Ebook? I notice that “Write to Done” hasn’t had a new post for a while. Would you like me to write a guest post or two for you?

    Tip #8: Know the blog your want to write for
    What kind of blogposts does it have? What’s the style? Which topics are missing? What kind of comments do readers leave? Make sure that you are part of the blog’s community and write some interesting comments before pitching to the blogger. I really like it when regular readers pitch to me. I know they appreciate the culture of the blog and have a feel for what the readers enjoy.

    Tip #9: Compliment the blogger – but don’t compromise your integrity.
    When you contact a blogger, say what drew you to them in the first place. Be specific and name an article that made a difference to your life. Be honest. Don’t say you like something, just to please. After all, you want to create a connection.

    Tip #10: Introduce yourself, but don’t make a meal of it
    The blogger wants to know who you are. Tell him or her, but don’t make a meal of it. A pitch is no place for a CV! Here’s how I do it: I tend to put my personal details in brackets like this: (I’m a Zen master, psychotherapist, and published author.)

    Tip #11: Show off your writing
    When someone pitches to me and I like their email, I want to know if they can actually write. Make it easy: offer the blogger links to the best posts you’ve written. You can say something like, “Here are three posts of mine you might enjoy.”

    Tip #12: Name-drop

    You want to make sure that your recipient knows that he or she is in good company. Have you had a guest post published in a well-known blogs? The way you do that is important. Make it personal. Instead of saying, “My guest post (link) was recently published at SevenSands.com” you could say, “John MacDonald recently asked me to write a guest post (link) at SevenSands.com and it was well received by his readers.” It’s a good idea to name-drop. One of our students in the A-List Blogger Club recently pitched a big blogger and wrote, “I’m in a mentoring program with Leo Babauta and Mary Jaksch.” He got the gig.

    Tip #13: Ask yourself, “What can I do to help?”
    That’s the main question you need to ask! Is the blogger going on holiday and might need guest posts? Are they expanding their business and might need new staff members? Would their blog benefit from your proposed theme? Have they written a book that you could promote?

    On March 26, 2008, I emailed Leo Babauta with an offer of help:

    Hi Leo, I’m wondering if there is anything I can do to help you finish your book? (I’m a published author and know how hard it is to get that last bit done.) I’d be happy to do some editing for you if you like. Or I could put some ideas together for you for chapters that are still bare.
    (Any help from me would be free)

    Leo replied:

    Wow, thanks Mary! I appreciate the generous offer

     

    Tip no# 14:  Sell your proposed post with sizzle.

    Let the blogger know exactly what you’re offering. You might want to say, for example, “I’d like to offer you an in-depth guest post, called ‘10 Secrets of Innovative Writers ’. It would cover the following points…”

    Then list the main points of the proposed article in bullet form.

    Tip no# 15: Specify what’s in it for the readers.

    If the blogger accepts your guest post, what’s the benefit for their readers? Will the readers will be inspired? Or learn something new? Or acquire a new skill? Make it clear to the blogger what the benefits are.

    Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with something. When I wanted to interview Steve Pavlina for Goodlife Zen, I couldn’t think of anything. So I wrote, “What’s in it for you? Well, maybe just the sheer thrill of it!” It worked!

    Tip #16: Be audacious.

    You can’t lose by asking for what you want. I always say to myself, “If you don’t ask, you’ll get an automatic no.”

    Tip #17: Expect success.

    A positive frame of mind will give you a strong voice. If you believe in yourself, the other person will believe in you too. After all, confidence is infectious.

    Tip #18: Make it easy for the blogger.

    Imagine that you are a busy blogger. You need a guest post to fill a hole. But which one are you going to choose: the post that needs a lot of editing and formatting, or the one that slips into your blog without any work? No question – you would use the easy one first.

    Tip #19: Write your guest post in html

    The trick is to write your guest post in html. To do this, all you need is to write and format the post on your own blog and then copy the html version and save it as a text file. This means that the guest post is ready formatted and can be immediately placed into a blog. It’s a great mistake to offer a guest post in Word or just in the body of an email. It should always be attached in a .txt or .rtf file.

    Tip #20: Choose a fitting image

    Offer a couple of images. Research your target blog. What kind of images does the blogger prefer? What is the size and format of images on the blog? Check out whether the images he or she uses are in landscape (wider than high) or in portrait format (higher than wide). A good source for images is Flickr. Just make sure you choose images with a Creative Commons Licence and ad the reference to your covering email. It’s a good idea to choose three or four images to the blogger.

    Tip #21: Failure is a step closer to success
    There is no failure. Each ‘failure’ is a learning opportunity. You may find that not all pitches get accepted. Move on and focus on your next opportunity. The more pitches you write, the higher your chances are of landing your dream gig.

    Your best chance of landing guest post is to be a kind, considerate and helpful human being. And a good writer.

    Why not check out the Write to Done guest post guidelines and send me a pitch – I’m always happy to help you get it right.

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com. Grab a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • dil says:

      Hi there friends, how is the whole thing, and
      what you would like to say concerning this article, in my view its actually
      awesome for me.

    • Highly energetic post, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

    • Kim says:

      Thanks for this article! I’m looking into writing guest posts, but had no idea where (and how) to start.

    • Phil says:

      Hmm, quite a few of your guidelines seem to revolve around your ego. Is that really what an editor should be making their decision on?

      The truth is, a lot of the best writers are um, not the most delightful social butterfly diplomats. Well, ok, jerks.

      It seems an editor should be focused on finding those articles that best serve their readers, and look to friends and family for those cuddly feelings we all need.

    • Curtis says:

      FYI… Tip #8: Know the blog your want to write for

    • Marci says:

      Thank you for aharing the insider’s scoop on landing a guest post! My curiosity is peaked. And, I have a comprehensive list to refer back to when I’m ready to make a pitch.

    • Ioan Nicut says:

      Hi Mary,

      Now that I read the post I know that not long time ago I acted like John. This is one of of those mistakes that help me grow big. With this in mind thank you for writing this comprehensive post. It helped me realize how important is not to assume and take consideration of all emotional aspects of a relationship.

      Thank you.

    • Jeanie says:

      Mary-

      You as a person intrigue me. I shall now go devour everything you’ve written and skew your traffic stats. 🙂

      I am also a psychotherapist, interested in alternative methods and have a “babybloglet” wherein I hope to combine the eco craze and holistic wellness with many different methods.

      I will write, write, write in an attempt to summarize the trends + my voice without vampirization.

      Thank you in advance for any interest I may have piqued!

    • Christine says:

      What a great post! Thank you for this. I never even considered the possibility of pitching article ideas to the blog-world. I’m wondering — is this a good way to get a mini-portfolio going that I could then market to agents in the future? I know many agents like to see writing samples. I only accidentally stumbled across this blog, but I’ve bookmarked it and will definitely come back. Thanks again!
      Christine

    • Ai Ling says:

      Mary, thank you so much for providing such informative tips!
      I like as it’s coming from your stand, a celebrity blogger.
      I will come back to this post as a reference when I guest-post!
      Superb stuff!

    • Oh. Very nice article! very informative. I didn’t have a minute of dullness in reading.

    • I love the advice! I am going to try and write some guest posts, but I haven’t decided which blog to write for yet. I am also going to try out Scribd to see if I can get noticed in the writing community. Thanks for the post and I will definitely be back to read more.

    • cathy says:

      Wow, so much to take in. It really seems like common sense stuff but I think that’s what many of us take for granted. Thanks for the great insight.

    • Fantastic tips. I’m going to keep these in mind. And now, of course, I have to go explore the rest of the site.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Mary,
      these tips are priceless! Your first tips about guest posting that I read during the first bootcamp and they made the biggest difference for me. This article definitely expands on the points I read more than 6 months ago and it add so much more value.
      I must say that I owe you the courage to pitch and write successful guest posts. I’ve had a few already and a few more are coming up in the next few weeks. There is nothing better than seeing your post well accepted by a new audience and then getting at least some of that audience become your loyal readers. Aahh … Feels absolutely awesome! 🙂

    • Meeks says:

      Thanks for making the “unknown” a little less scarey! It seems a lot more doable now! Thanks!

    • Excellent tips Mary! I would urge every aspiring blogger to follow these tips and start writing and getting guest posts.

      Thanks again for your personal guidance a couple of months ago which helped me to get a guest post at Zen Habits:-)

      You rock, Mary!

    • Kat Eden says:

      Fantastic article, thanks so much Mary. This is by far one of the most useful posts I’ve read of late, and a handy reminder for me to get off my butt and start reaching out; connecting more. Thank-you 🙂

    • sui says:

      Interesting post– thanks for the tips. I’m confused as well.. John seems to fit #15-17 perfectly, and there wasn’t anything in particular I found off-putting about his email. He sounded confident that he could benefit the readers.

      • John was boastful. I didn’t maybe quote all the parts his email that made that clear.
        It’s important to get the balance between confidence and modesty right, Sui.

    • Awais says:

      Nice saying

    • Doug Armey says:

      Mary:

      This is one of the best, comprehensive guides to guest posting I have read. As with all of the A-List Blogging materials it is right to the point. I appreciate the focus on meeting the bloggers needs. It is so right on.

      Thanks

    • Mara says:

      I shall take this as explicit permission to name-drop Mary @ Leo! Thank you for this post, Mary, and for yesterday’s masterclass. I am learning a lot, and by leaps and bounds.

    • Perry says:

      Hi, thanks for this post. I’ve been wondering how guest blog requests work. I have had one request to guest blog on my project management blog and he did a great job of making the bridge between what he wanted to talk about and what my readers would be interested to read.

      Now I know how to go about getting the opportunity to post on other people’s blogs. I’ve bookmarked your post for the future.

      Perry

    • Julie says:

      Great post, Mary! I’m definitely bookmarking this one. Thanks for all the helpful info.

    • Hi Mary,

      I will definitely use this article as a reference guide when I go submit future guest post. Thanks for sharing!!

    • p.s. I found Janice Hunter very soon after she’d written her first guest post for you last year. She’s fantastic!

    • Hi, Mary. I just recently joined the A-List Blogger Club and must tell you that this post was one of the most helpful I’ve read in a while. I don’t believe I’ve yet read such a straightforward, honest post about the mechanics and nuances of guest posts and securing them. So I’d like to say a big thank you! 🙂

      Because I am new to both Write to Done and to Goodlife Zen, I was wondering if there are also similar archived posts about the other side of the coin: securing guest post-ers for one’s own blog?

      Enjoyed this very much.

      • A great way to get guest posts is to mention the possibility on your About page. Let people know that you would like people to offer guest posts. In time, as your blog grows, people will start approaching you automatically.

    • Great post Mary. I’m sure this is a topic that a certain amount of writer’s are just learning about. Super delightful idea to post this. (super delightful? Where did that come from?)

      “Heh, wait a sec…since I had the last guest post,” he pauses and looks around. Now in a whisper, “Did I inspire this?”

      Keep up the good work here. Always delightful and helpful.

      Daryl

    • Mary, this is a great post. One of the easier ways to build readership for yourself is to guest post, and this tip list is, to say the least, a comprehensive guide for smallish bloggers like myself to take that leap to some growth.

      Like Melissa, I will be referencing in the future. Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the tips Mary – I will be hanging on to these. I would like to try guest posting and these tips provide useful guidelines (need to re-visit Goodlife Zen to help build some courage/serenity first 🙂

      I was a little confused about your comments about poor ‘John’ (tip#1) vs. tips 15-17. Was it his tone in his email that was the turn off? He did seem audacious.

    • Great tips, Mary! I’ll definitely be revisiting this article soon.

    • Paul Baarn says:

      Great post. Some of these are personal, of course, such as the one about stances. I also “guessed” wrong about the first one, as I thought that John had something finished to bring to the table, so it would be easier for you to decide if it would help you or not. Instead, Ryan “could do something about the value of dreams”, which sounds rather vague to me, but I guess it’s different if you know Ryan. 🙂

      I’ll work on my skills first, but my number one question when thinking about guest posting will be: “How can I add value to that blog” instead of “What will it do for me”.

      Bookmarking your post for future reference.


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