Guest posting and influencer outreach are two proven methods of building your brand, creating awareness and generating targeted traffic to your site. That’s why they form part of CanIRank’s 23 different strategies to identify growth opportunities.
Knowing what possibilities to pursue is one thing. Getting them is another. That’s why we put together this guide to securing guest post opportunities and public relations (PR).
Our SEO agency arm CanIRank Full Service has helped to place hundreds of guest posts and obtain public relations placements for numerous clients. So it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about conducting outreach.
What follows is based on our own personal experience and the knowledge of other professionals whom we admire. Think of this as an over-the-shoulder peek at what we do, so you can accelerate your learning curve and make the most of the opportunities CanIRank discovers. Here are some pitching templates to get you started.
Guest Post Template 1: Standard
Here’s a standard submission template you can use as a guide along with some variations. Use them depending on the situation. Just remember to change it up a little and make it yours.
Title: A Couple of Guest Post Ideas for [blogname]
I’ve been reading through your blog and noticed you’ve written some wonderful posts on [topic]. I’d really enjoy the opportunity to write a guest post for your site. Here are three ideas to further expand on those posts:
[List two or three ideas with a title and one or two sentence summary]
Here are the links to some of my work in case you’re interested:
[insert links to two or three of your guest posts or own posts that are relevant]
Looking forward to your reply.
Consider using this type of intro if they have yet to write about your topic:
I’ve been reading through your blog and noticed you haven’t written about [topic]. I’d really enjoy the opportunity to write a guest post for your site. Here are three ideas I think would work well for your audience:
If a blog has not written on that particular topic in a while, try this approach:
I’ve been reading through your blog and noticed that it’s been some time since you’ve written about [topic]. I’d really enjoy the opportunity to write an updated guest post for your site. Here are three ideas I think would work well for your audience:
Guest Post Template 2: Product Launch
Who’s It For: A highly targeted recipient who hasn’t written about the problem for which your startup offers a solution.
How To Use It: Sometimes you can get away with a really short pitch like this. It’s deceptively simple yet requires lots of forethought. The key here is to have a killer tagline. Otherwise, it’s real easy for them to hit “delete.” Hint: avoid fluffy marketing words like “empower.” Please, do yourself and the writer a favor and just give them the straight facts.
I know you’re busy so I’ll get to the point.
Today we’re launching [your product], [what it does in one short sentence].
Here’s more information if you’re interested [link to your press kit here]
Guest Post Template 3: Piggybacking
Who’s It For: A highly targeted recipient who has already written on the subject.
How To Use It: In this pitch, you’re showing the writer you’ve done your research, giving them a new angle on the story plus how you fit into the picture, and providing them with material for a follow-up article.
I really enjoyed reading your article on [post title/subject], especially the part about [illustrate an important point they made].
In fact, I have an idea for a follow-up post that you could write for [name of publication].
[Concisely describe your concept in two to three sentences including how your company’s story relates to this idea]
Let me know that you’re interested, and I’ll send you over some relevant information.
Guest Post Template 4: Dead Blog Walking
Here’s an example of pitching the blog of a prolific guest poster who had not done much posting on his own site. Not knowing the situation, it didn’t warrant spending a lot of time crafting some story ideas only to find out the blog owner had moved on to greener pastures. So instead, a basic pitch was sent with links to three existing guest posts that were relevant to the subject matter of the blog.
Guest Post Template 5: Oops! The Apology
Sometimes you get lucky as in the case where I was brought in to help salvage a guest post submission to a popular blog gone horribly wrong. A situation like this can be difficult to recover from, due to guilt by association.
“These guys already sent me a crappy post! What makes them think this one is any better?”
Some details have been hidden since it’s a real story and we don’t want to cause certain people embarrassment.
Here’s why the email worked.
The headline “Well that’s embarrassing!” encouraged the recipient to at least open the email. Immediately there was an acknowledgment of the client’s fault accompanied by a compliment on the way they (the blog editor) handled the situation.
Next came a tactful lead into some posting credentials, implying that it would be worth having a look at this new draft. The next sentence not only lets them know I was a reader of their blog, but also a big promoter.
Finally, the intro from the proposed guest post was added as a teaser to encourage them to have a serious look.
The result of this email was that the new post got published, even though the client’s original submission was refused.
Here’s another example of a similar situation.
Again, it’s the same approach as before, and it too worked like a charm. Why? Because it was friendly, personable, and honest. Always remember to be yourself unless, of course, you’re not very amiable.
Best Practices for Guest Post Pitching
There is no shortage of blogs that are in dire need of good, solid content. But just because they’re in need, doesn’t mean they’re desperate!
The key here is ensuring that your content is excellent. Unlike pitching to writers, blogs that accept guest posts often publish their submission procedures up front, making it somewhat easier to get the ball rolling.
Many of these sites accept submissions without the need to establish a prior relationship. They evaluate entries strictly based on the quality of the submission.
So make sure you offer up your best work because you almost never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Journalists are among the best influencers due to their large following and good standing within their community. Often, they write for multiple publications and have many stories on the go.
Life as a journalist is challenging. There’s always too much to get done under extremely tight deadlines. They’re often under appreciated, yet everybody wants their attention.
So help them to help you. Doing whatever you can to make their life easier will help your cause.
Pitch a story, not your company. No matter how exciting you may think your business is, you are not entitled to receive press. According to Cheryl Conner of SnappConner PR, “Believe it or not, your company and product, by themselves, are not an interesting topic. But as part of a broader story or an example of a pervasive need or a message—now they can shine.”
Use a good subject line. As Ben Sailer at CoSchedule explains, “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.”
Carefully read the author’s prior posts. Media consultant Janet Murray advises that “Before you even attempt to create a pitch, make sure your story is newsworthy.”
Realize that if they have already written about widgets, they’re not likely to write about the same topic again. Instead look for ways the writer can incorporate your story into a new article that expands on points the reporter made in a prior post.
Choose a target that fits. “Get to know the publication, the reporter and his or her beat,” suggests Pressboard Co-founder Jerrid Grimm. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised at how frequently writers are approached with irrelevant pitches.
Be concise. Get to the point fast. Most journalists are bombarded with pitches and will skim your email before making a decision. This Muck Rack survey found 59% of journalists prefer a pitch that’s two to three paragraphs long while nearly 37% prefer just two to three sentences. Remember, the best pitches are the ones that get read.
Double check for spelling errors. According to Harvard Business Review, only 15% of writers will continue reading your pitch if they notice a spelling or grammar error.
Follow up just once. The same Muck Rack survey determined that 67% of journalists prefer one follow-up, while only 5% want multiple follow ups.
Although nearly every journalist in the study said that they respond to people they don’t know, be concise, personalized and relevant when pitching a new journalist for the first time.Do your homework before pitching a journalist. Be concise, relevant & personal. Click To Tweet
The Guest Posting Process
The business of getting guest posts published is simple. Find high-quality blogs in your niche that accept guest posts, determine the type of content you can provide that will work best in each situation and submit your proposal.
How to Find Guest Post Opportunities
If you lack money but have an abundance of time, conduct a search using Google and any of the dozen of different search phrase possibilities like your_keyword inurl:guest. Then use a tool like Mozbar to determine each blog’s domain authority, and whether they provide “dofollow” links. A browser extension like SimilarWeb can be used to double check on the amount of traffic each site receives.
Take these extra steps to ensure you pursue only those opportunities offered by top quality blogs. There is no shortage of blogs looking for guest posts. But you’re not doing yourself any favor writing for low-quality sites with little traffic.
Years ago, when I started out pitching for guest posts, this is the system I used. So I can tell you from my own experience that doing it this way takes a lot of time.
If you have the budget, you can use one of any number of specialized guest posting apps. But with a price tag running anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year, you’ll need a lot of guest posts to justify the expense.
CanIRank subscribers can take advantage of the Promote My Content feature to find guest post opportunities. With this particular strategy, you’ll want to use a broad industry keyword that describes your entire niche.
CanIRank will search out guest post opportunities and a return a list of possibilities, each scored according to a number of factors including relevancy and authority. You can also see what percentage of the links on that page are dofollow, which may be a deciding factor when evaluating sites of similar quality.
Often the URL’s in the list link directly to the respective sites’ guest post guidelines, saving you the effort of locating the information. Don’t underestimate this benefit! In an effort to combat guest post spam, blogs have become more discreet in where they publish their guidelines. Tracking down this information isn’t the easy task that it once was.
Click on any URL to visit that particular page and evaluate its suitability. If it’s something you want to pursue, change the opportunity status to “to do.” That way you can keep track of which guest post blogs require outreach. Keep your list updated by marking opportunities as “completed” when finished with a particular task. If the opportunity is not appropriate, then change its status to “declined” thereby removing it from your list.
If you’d like to try this out and get a scored list of guest post opportunities for your own niche, you can sign up for a free CanIRank account here.
How to Get Your Guest Post Accepted
If you’re sending a guest post proposal without a draft, you need to craft some strong post titles and a short intro that peaks the blog owner’s interest. Here’s a real example to illustrate.
As you can see from this correspondence, the editor accepted two out of three ideas. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s nice when it does. Take time to craft the topic titles and description since that’s all the editor has with which to make their judgment.
Never Use These Five Words
Despite its promise, guest posting is an approach that has been horribly abused. To avoid coming across as a guest post spammer, never ask for “a small link in return” when pitching a new blog.Never ask for a small link in return, when pitching for a guest post. It looks spammy. Click To Tweet
That kind of request typically raises a red flag in the mind of the blog owner. They don’t want anyone writing something for their blog just to get a link. Those days are long gone! Besides, there are easier ways to get links than guest posting. If you’ve done your research you already know what to expect.
Although every blog is different, you can expect to get a link back to your site and social profiles in the author bio. Some blogs allow in-content links to editorially relevant sites, including yours, while others don’t.