Guest blogging is a very simple concept: Essentially, a business should look for sites that fit its target market or find similar industries to share opinions and help others solve a problem. Guest blogging is one of the best tactics that fits both SEO and marketing initiatives. The goal is to hopefully get a link in your author bio and if you have a blog post that supports your thoughts, maybe you can link to that. Though more importantly, the ultimate goal is to get your writer and your company in front of a new set of eyes. If just one person knows who you are now — because of a guest blog post — the effort is a success.
The Straight North content marketing team breaks the guest blogging process into three phases (research, outreach and content creation). Two of those steps are pretty self-explanatory and do not take much strategic planning to execute well. We can find a ton of sites to pitch to through competitive analysis, a tool like Topsy, or by using search engines to find magazines/blogs that fit the topic we want to write about. The other simple step is content creation. We know what problem we can help our target audiences solve. As long as we have a good writer on staff (or hire a freelancer) and a creative mind to help draft topics, then the content shouldn’t be a pain to write (and be great, of course). In my opinion, a successful guest blog campaign mostly comes down to one phase, the outreach.
Though how do we get publishers to respond to us? In an ideal world, we would love to take months building great relationships with publishers and bloggers that result in guest blog posts. However, it’s rare to have the time to build that type of relationship. We need the process to move even quicker. What do we pitch to a publisher that makes her want to talk with a complete stranger? The biggest mistake I see with guest blog pitches is the person pitching the idea makes the entire pitch about himself/herself. The typical pitch goes something like:
“My name is … I have (x number) of years experience doing (insert some skill). I see you write about (insert topic). Being an expert in the field, I would love to write an article on …”
All of those points are great, but they’re generic. Just because you have been in an industry for some time doesn’t mean you know the publisher’s audience and what it wants. These types of pitches essentially say: Hey you write about x. I know about x. Let me write something for your readers.
We preach to talk very minimally about the author. Instead, we emphasize what value the author can provide to the publisher’s readers. Because at the end of the day, why else would the publisher let some stranger write for her? We have to help educate her readers using our company’s experience. We do this through a series of “ins” that give us a reason to email this publisher and create some type of value we can add to her content — if she lets our client or company contribute.
I’ll discuss two of our favorites:
Topic not covered
This is very simple: We look for a topic our client can write about on a blog and when we notice the blog hasn’t covered it in detail, we use that as our “in.” In practice, it would look something like this:
I used to work on a guest blog campaign for a trademark attorney. I would look for small-business blogs that had not covered the topic of trademarks. Once I found a handful, I would craft a pitch discussing the importance of trademarks, mentioning they had not covered that topic, and position our client as an expert to help educate their readers on a topic that was crucial to the safety of their business. Because I gave them a great value opportunity, the response rate on these pitches was really high and we landed some excellent placements for the client.
Contacting someone who interacted with other content of ours
One of the best things that happens when we guest blog is someone likes it enough to share it on his/her social media channels. It gives more exposure to our client’s content. Yet to help us get even more value out of these shares, we can use a tool like Topsy that will show us who shared our content on Twitter. This is great because we can email the site thanking it for the share, and if it has a blog mention, that we would love to put something similar together for its site. As you can see, the share gives us a reason to contact the site and is something I do not believe many people are doing; making your guest post pitch different from all of the others out there.
As you can see these “ins” give us a reason to contact a publisher and create some type of value — two aspects that are crucial to success and give you the best chance to have publishers wanting to hear/see your ideas. These are just two of 10-plus “ins” that we use.
What “ins” have you tried in your outreach? What seems to convert and resonate really well with publishers you reach out to? We would love to hear about what you have tried in the comments below.