21 Killer Tips to Land a Guest Post Every Time

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    Do you want to grow your blog? Then knowing how to land a guest post is crucial. 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 guest post goes 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.

    21 secret tips on how to land a guest post

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

    I’ll come back to 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 new bloggers get traffic to their blogs. An interesting example is blogger Janice of Sharing the Journey .

    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’m a karate Blackbelt, 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.”

    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 a new blogger. 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 blog 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?

    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.

    What I like best is if a blogger inserts the post in an email so that I can read it, as well as attaching the HTML as a text 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 License and add the reference to your covering email. It’s a good idea to send 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.
    Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.

    Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at Write to Done. Grab her FREE report How to Write Like an A-List Blogger. Mary has helped thousands of students successfully create outstanding and profitable blogs at  A-List Blogging and is the blogger behind Goodlife ZEN.

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    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Great article, Mary! Anyone new to guest blogging should definitely read this, read it again, and then post it all over their office. Very good advice on a topic that many people are unaware of. I get emails all the time that remind me of your “John’s Pitch” example, so I can definitely relate.

    • Great article! I think this is one of the best articles on ‘Guest Post.’ The points are precise and each one is expalined well. Thanks!!!

    • Josh Sarz says:

      Wow, really great tips on writing guest posts. I’m a fairly new blogger, and I’ve been doing some guest posts already, but I haven’t been featured in the top blogs yet. Maybe someday I might be able to write a guest post here at writetodone. 🙂

    • Conni says:

      Absolutely fantastic post! Been doing a lof of research on guestposing, and this one is by far the best one I’ve come across, Mary! Thanks so much!
      Especially enjoyed the advie on specific email pitching examples!

      (Can’t wait for A-List Blogger Club to open up again actually, will sign up for sure! I’m a huge fan of you and Leo!)

    • Fantastic, much-needed post. Will RT!

    • Shyxter says:

      These are a handful of tips, Mary. Thank you! I first read this post from your email newsletter and I enjoyed reading it. I especially like the tip on being confident and respectful 🙂 I have bookmarked this URL and will surely be referring to it in requesting for guest posts.

    • Such an instructive post. I especially couldn’t agree with you more about people who can’t think beyond what’s in it for them. After years as a journalist and in PR, I’m writing a book about how to write a press release. The deal is exactly the same: of course there has to be something in it for you but you have to come at it from what the journalist (and by extension his readers) is interested in. As a blogger I get pitches for guest posts all the time that leave me wondering why they think my readers would be interested or, worse, don’t even tell me what they plan to write about just that they want to write something!

    • This is a fantastic article. I’ve saved it to by favorites so I can use it for reference in the future too. Thanks

    • Mary,

      Thank you for such an informative piece!

      I’m curious with respect to Tips #18 and #19.

      #18: In the past, when writing for a publication that I am extremely familiar with, I have submitted pieces that were within their structural and word count guidelines. While my writing has improved dramatically since my very first article–and the editor told me that she believed I was a good writer–I continue to get back massive redlines before the pieces are finally published. I was assured that some editors are simply that way: They edit like crazy, no matter who you are or how you wrote. So when I read #18, I found it very interesting to know that there are bloggers out there who will do minimal editing to guest posts.

      #19: Because of the massive editing taking place, as I mentioned above, this doesn’t seem feasible. In fact, the editor and I email Word docs back and forth with “Tracked Changes” enabled.

      Thank you for offering a different perspective on these two points!

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Wow, Mary. As Kellie said in the comments, this is an amazing breakdown and could be a guest blogging primer. I am starting to get a lot more pitches from potential guest bloggers and this kind of education piece is so needed.

      Just yesterday, I got a pitch from someone who didn’t even take the time to edit what was so obviously a “form” email. I’m not making this up. It really started, “We at [Name] recently came across your blog and were excited to share with you an article…” so our Tip #2 was especially timely.

      Another thing I wish people would do before pitching their guest posts would do (and reading my blog regularly would probably help) is look at the tone and feel of my blog. I don’t go for formal, rigid, humorless writing, yet I still get posts that clash with my style and are more like academic papers.

      Thanks you so much for this, Mary. I’ll be linking to it.

    • p90x says:

      Some great ideas on how to land a guest post. I have not done much guest posting as of yet but one day plan to. I Think this information can serve as a reference for any blog that accepts guest posting. Anyways thanks Mary.

      – Robert

    • Kellie says:

      This is fabulous! I want to send everyone who inquires to guest post on my blog to this article. Just this past week I’ve had several not-so fabulous requests by those wishing to guest post. One gentleman emailed me 9 times to follow up!

      Another asked me for topic ideas, and the last one wrote me completely irrelevant content.

    • Phillipa says:

      Now THIS is the most helpful list Ive read in ages.:)
      Thank-you thank-you.
      Your Tip 19 is the first time I have come across this advice and I read waaaay too many blogs.
      Again Thanks.

      Regards Phillipa
      PS. This will be saved to my Fab Blog Advice file. Right at the top.

      • The trick is to make it as easy as possible for a blogger. I love it when I can just copy/paste a ready-formatted article into a blog.

    • An elegant and simple way to describe the writer’s relationship (with a boss/audience), Daphne: A Venn Diagram. I like that… very cool.

    • Wow, that was very insightful! I’ve always been so hesitant in attempts to guest blog, on one hand I believe I have the ability writing-wise but on the other I just assumed I would fail. Probably too much time spent getting rejected by publishers and agents lol! Anyway, this article posed so many good points: this is going on my bulletin board.

      Thanks!

      • The best way forward is to start pitching blogs that are up to ten times bigger, but not more. For example, if your blog has 300 subscribers, try pitching to blogs that have about 3000 subscribers. That tends to work much better than going for the HUGE blogs first up, Tarah.

    • Great article! I always tell my clients they should think of writing in terms of a Venn Diagram. (Remember grade 6 math? Those two intersecting circles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venn_diagram.) WHAT you write about should be in the part that intersects — the stuff that interests YOU and the stuff that interests your AUDIENCE and/or BOSS.

      • Oh – that’s great way to visualize who to go about guest posting, Daphne!


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