How to pitch for a guest blogging assignment

Pitching for a guest blog post

Guest blogging is a great way to not just increase traffic to your website but also get visibility on other blogs and websites. Back in the early 2000’s when nobody knew anything about blogging I started my web design business backed by scores of articles that I had written for other websites. They were mostly about web design and web development telling people how to achieve various things with HTML, JavaScript, and sometimes PHP. I got lots of traffic. Those days competition wasn’t much so I also got decent traffic to my website that in turn, gave me decent business. I must confess that when I started my content writing business I lost my mojo for writing for other websites and even when blogging entered the scene rarely did I write for other blogs. Although I help my clients guest blog for other blogs and even advocate this aspect of content marketing, I myself haven’t really been into it for a long time.

Benefits of guest blogging

There was a time when people used to guest blog mainly for SEO purposes. The people who write Google ranking algorithms started frowning upon external links that people obtained just for the sake of obtaining external links. Page rank also mattered – what is the authority of the page that has your link? Search engines like Google also started penalizing websites that would just put links from other websites in lieu of money or link exchange. The only alternative left was, guest blog on other websites so that when they published your blog, they would also include a small bio that would include a link to your website. If you did that with high-ranking websites, the effort was worth it. Your website or blog immediately showed improvement.

Then again things began to change. In this blog post the Chief Search Engineer Matt Cutts at Google declared that:

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.

The statement made sense; people were actually using guest blogging to boost their search engine rankings which, in itself is not bad thing to do, but the quality begins to be compromized when the sole purpose is improving your rankings. You know what happens when people simply start sending you email messages to promote their products and services.

Are you wondering why I’m talking about this while I’m trying to tell you how to pitch for a guest blogging assignment? If it doesn’t help you, if it doesn’t improve your search engine rankings and if search engineers at Google frown upon it, why should you indulge in it?

First, many of the advisories broadcast by Google engineers don’t normally work in the real world. There are still SEO benefits of guest blogging because links from quality websites do matter. What Matt Cutts said was guest blogging shouldn’t be done just for the sake of improving your search engine rankings. He talked about low quality links coming to your website that can anyway get your website penalized whether you get those links via guest blogging, link exchanging, or simply by buying the space. If you stick to the quality guidelines, if you provide value to the readers of the blog post or the website where you are publishing your guest blog post, there should be nothing to stop you. Here are the benefits of publishing a guest blog post:

  • You get exposure to new audiences
  • By giving expert advise you build credibility in your niche (for example I should be writing more and more guest blogs on content writing and content marketing just to show how much I know of it)
  • It strengthens your brand across the Internet when your presence is seen on various websites and blogs
  • It makes you a subject-authority
  • It lessens your reliance on search engines for traffic (high-traffic websites and blogs can send you tons of direct traffic)
  • It improves your SEO, yes.

So how do you pitch for a guest blogging assignment?

  • Thoroughly study the blog: It will be very odd to pitch for a blogging assignment for my blog (that is on content writing and content marketing) that talks about how to dominate the real estate market even during the times of depression, unless of course, you intend to do it with the strength of content marketing. Spend some time reading the blog where you want to pitch. Understand the tone. Get a grasp of the audience. Is it a light-hearted blog? Do they have very serious blog posts? Are they always looking for a great headline? Do they normally publish lists? Only when you have thoroughly understood the nature of the blog you think about guest blogging for it.
  • Start interacting with the publisher on a regular basis: If you simply one day shoot an email pitching for a blogging assignment there is a great chance your email will be ignored. Not that the publisher doesn’t care about you, it’s just that being a successful blogger, he or she might be receiving 100s of such pitches every day and he or she would rather respond to people he or she is familiar with rather than someone totally strange. So start finding your favorite publishers on Twitter and Facebook and establish a contact with them. Engage them in meaningful discussions without nagging them or wasting your time. They should be able to respect you and remember you on the basis of your interactions. Interact with them for at least a couple of months before pitching your guest blog, preferably, although this differs from situation to situation.
  • Start interacting with authors of multi-author blogs: There are many blogs and websites where multiple authors write. On such blogs it’s very difficult to elicit response from the editor or the owner and one can only write for such blogs if he or she already knows someone who has access to the editorial team. If you want to pitch for a guest blogging assignment to such a blog, start following their main writers and start engaging them on a regular basis. Then, someday, you can ask them to refer you to the editorial department where you can submit your article or blog post.
  • Write to serve the audience of that particular blog: Remember that you are not guest blogging to promote your own business (at least not directly). You are adding value to that blog. You are offering something valuable to the audience of that blog. They may have never heard of you so they’re not interested in knowing what a great person you are, or what a great product or service you have got. They are used to a particular format of content on that particular blog. So stick to that format.
  • Don’t treat the guest blogging assignment as a stepchild project: You may wonder why you should invest enough time on your guest blogging assignment when it is being published on another blog rather than on your own blog. It should be the opposite. Since you are writing on another blog you should put in more effort (not that you shouldn’t put in enough effort for writing for your own blog) because one, someone is providing you a ready-made platform, a platform that he or she must have built with lots of hard work and dedication and two, since it is a branding exercise you don’t want to give a wrong impression by getting average or ordinary content published to serve such a big audience.
  • Use a convincing subject line while sending your pitching email: Even if the editor or the editorial team isn’t aware of your existence you can sometimes send emails pitching your guest blogging assignment. Use a convincing subject line that clearly states that you want to guest blog. Most of the blogs have a separate section used for accepting guest blog posts. Use that section instead of sending to a random email ID so that when they receive your message, they know that it’s a guest blog post pitch. Clearly mention in the email body what you intend to convey to the audience of the blog and why you think it is an important topic and also why you think it hasn’t already been covered on that blog.

As you must have noticed I have focused less on sending email pitches and more on preparing the ground for sending such pitches. Although I haven’t been guest blogging much (I should), what I have experienced is, sending random pitches rarely elicits responses. If you randomly approach people then it becomes a game of numbers, something like, if you send 50 emails then maybe 5 will respond. If you want to do that, go ahead, there is no problem in that. But if you want to optimize your time, rather than sending 50 emails and then hoping that 5 people will respond, I would rather start interacting with people who can actually help me get through. So more focus should be on networking rather than the number of pitches that you send.

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