Dos and Don’ts for Pitching, Writing, and Following Up On a Guest Post

We’ve all seen it.

For every blog post out there saying that guest posting is a great use of your time, there’s another that says it doesn’t really pay off.

Thanks, Internet!

Really, though, the truth is somewhere in between.

Writing guest posts for other sites can be a great use of your time, but it can also feel about as useful as banging your head against your desk.

So the real question isn’t whether or not it’s worth making the effort – the question is how do you make the effort feel less frustrating!

When you implement the time-tested techniques that top guest bloggers use to broadcast their bylines all over the web, you can grow your audience, build your email list, and rack up new followers a lot more easily.

Want to know how?

Here’s what they’re doing, every step of the way!

When you’re getting started…

DO build relationships first.

You know that awkward old classmate who you weren’t really that close with, but still sends you random Facebook messages every time they want a favor? (And never any other time?)

Friends Chandler and Dana

Yeah, don’t be that person.

Make a list of 5-10 top blogs in your niche that you’d just love to guest post on, and then make a point to interact with the owner of that site. (Or a writer, or an editor.)

Subscribe to their newsletter and reply to questions they ask, or schedule some Tweets sharing their work. (Don’t forget to @-mention them, so they know!) You could even comment on their blog posts regularly!

You don’t have to show up on their doorstep with flowers or anything, but a few kind words and regular interaction can go a long way toward getting on a first-name basis.

DON’T stick only to people you already know.

Put a little effort into building relationships with some of the larger blogs in your niche. Sure, it’s easy to ask your friend if you can publish a guest post on their blog, but is your friend’s audience the ideal audience for you?

(And on the flip side, don’t just stick to blogs and sites you’ve already heard of – there could be some great opportunities on sites with smaller audiences, so do a little exploring!)

DO write a post that will help your host’s audience.

Make the guest post you write useful for the audience that’s about to read it.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer writing a guest post for beginning bloggers, you might want to talk about the elements of building a brand style guide. While building style guides might not be part of your work, you’re still demonstrating your expertise – which is a huge part of what this is all about. Focus on the reader, not on yourself!

(And remember – the readers of the blogs to which you pitch guest posts might be a lot different from your own readers! Adapt your ideas so that they fit where they’re being pitched.)

DON’T use a script to pitch your post.

Hey there, [First Name]!

Sometimes emails written with a template are appropriate – but for something like pitching a guest post, they can come off conspicuously impersonal.

Regina George Mean Girls

If your pitches sound forced, fake, or not-at-all-tailored to the recipient, they’ll struggle to stick the landing. Take the time to write your pitches personally, and make sure that each one explains why it’s a good fit specifically for the place to which you’re sending it.

DO: Stick to the timeline.

Bloggers rely on regular schedules to keep their audience connected and informed. If your article is due on a Tuesday, turn it in Tuesday! (Sorry, but “My dog ate my blog post” isn’t gonna fly – and you don’t want to earn a reputation as a flake!)

When you’re writing a guest post…

DO link to other posts on the host’s site.

Even if you’ve covered the topic you’re linking to on your own blog, go ahead and give a few internal links to your host’s blog. When a blog post links to other pages on the same website with relevant content, they rank higher in Google, and everyone cheers!

(Do you hear it? The cheering? Listen closely!)

DON’T include links to your own content if it’s not relevant.

Yes, one of the appeals of guest blogging is driving a little traffic to your own site – but that doesn’t mean you should stuff your guest post full of self-serving hyperlinks.

(They’ll probably end up getting removed anyway.)

We’ll talk more about getting readers to your own site in a second, but this isn’t the way to do it – so feel free to link to a few relevant posts if you’ve got ’em, but exercise restraint!

DO find ways to link to content from influencers and leaders in your niche.

It’s no secret that people love when other people share their work. Even big influencers need shares and links to their blog if they’re going to keep being a big influencer! So, when it’s relevant, link to other people’s work – even mention them by name, or work in a strong quote! 

DON’T forget the key interests of that blog’s readers.

If conversion copywriting is a hot topic for your host’s audience and you have an e-course on that very thing, link to it! In fact, adding in a little bonus content that supports your guest post is one way to help your post drive email subscribers to your list. List-building pro Bryan Harris covers this with his Expanded Guest Post technique:

The problem with a traditional guest post is the conversation stops at the last sentence. There is no compelling call to action and no incentive to start getting emails from you. An Expanded Guest Post extends the conversation by building up suspense throughout the post and climaxing at the very end with a compelling call to action.

This sort of thing might not always make the cut, so ask your point of contact about it ahead of time if you have something in mind!

DO spend time on your byline.

If people like your post, they’ll want to know more about you. Even though you’ve just spent tons of time and energy on your post and potentially some bonus content, don’t give your byline a half-hearted effort!

Give your readers a reason to click through. What’s the name of your company, and what does it do that nobody else does? What’s a good detail that’ll stick in someone’s head? Making yourself memorable in 25 words or less isn’t always easy, but it’s important!

After your post is published…

DO promote your post.

If your host gives you the link in advance, go ahead and schedule it up to save yourself time. If you have to wait until the day the blog post goes live, be sure to add a few social media posts to your library, so you’re constantly referring people to it down the line!

DON’T disappear from that person’s radar.

Remember that rando who pops up out of nowhere asking for a favor?

They usually disappear as soon as they get what they want.

(Casual reminder, you don’t want to be that person.)

Stay in touch with your host the same way you did when you were building the relationship in the first place! Keep that relationship strong even when you don’t want or need something.

DO check in on comments.

If your host’s blog has comments turned on, be sure to check in on your post and reply to commenters regularly. If the blog has an active audience of commenters, they’ll appreciate hearing directly from you, and it’s another opportunity to share your magical you-ness with those readers!

DON’T be afraid to pitch another guest post.

Now that you’ve built the relationship with the person who runs the blog and with their readers, you’re that much closer to another guest blog should want to write on in the future.

(Don’t get locked into only writing guest posts for one outlet, though. The whole point of this strategy is to diversify your audience!)

What’s YOUR guest posting philosophy?

Got a favorite do or don’t of your own?

Have you found it to be a big audience-builder, or more trouble than it’s worth?

Share your own guest posting experiences in the comments below!

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Dos and Don’ts for Pitching, Writing, and Following Up On a Guest Post
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Dos and Don’ts for Pitching, Writing, and Following Up On a Guest Post
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Wanna get your guest post pitches down to an exact science? (How about the parts that come after?)
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Meet Edgar
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