How many times has this happened to you?
You find a blog that accepts guest posts, and you want to get published on it.
You work your butt off coming up with an awesome idea and putting it onto paper. After several hours, you’re satisfied. Your post is good, and you know it.
You spend an hour on the pitch, working up the courage to hit that ‘Send’ button. And then…
Or maybe you’re not even that far…
Maybe you haven’t even worked up the courage to send that first pitch, even though you know that guest posting is the indisputable king of building targeted traffic and name recognition in your niche.
No more! Today you’re going to learn five tactical tips to get consistently published on the blogs your audience is reading.
1. Start With Tier 2 Influencers
We all dream of getting published on one of the big dogs in our niche, right?
You know the ones I’m talking about…
Now, I’m not here to tell you that it’s impossible for guest posting newbies to get published on these big blogs. But, there are a lot of benefits to starting with a few smaller Tier 2 blogs instead.
In fact, getting published on Tier 2 blogs has its own unique set of benefits:
- The best Tier 2 blogs have a very loyal readership. What they lack in popularity they make up for with quality.
- You’ll build confidence by getting a few pitches accepted. You’ll realize that the process is largely the same for bigger blogs.
- Getting published on Tier 2 blogs still builds name recognition. Many of the Tier 1 bloggers keep tabs on other up and comers in their niche.
- Tier 2 blogs allow more room for error, so they’re a great for honing your research and pitching skills.
Again, it’s not that you can’t get published on big blogs, it’s just that most people are too afraid to make that their starting point.
Pitching Tier 2 blogs offers a lower barrier to entry and will build the skills you need to successfully pitch the A-list blogs down the road. Plus, you’re helping the Tier 2 blogs out by putting the same effort and care into your contributions that you would for a top-tier publisher.
Here are a few steps to find and filter good Tier 2 blogs:
Step 1: Go to Alltop.com and browse four or five topics that relate to your primary niche (eg. Blogging, Content Marketing, Internet Marketing).
Step 2: Look for blogs with names you don’t recognize.
Step 3: Read through the comments and guest posts on Tier 1 blogs in your niche. Tier 2 bloggers are usually smart enough to engage with the audiences on the blogs right above them in the food chain.
Step 4: Good rule of thumb – your ideal Tier 2 blog clearly accepts guest posts, has a good chunk of social followers (ideally 1,000+ total) and/or gets 25 comments minimum on each blog post.
2. When & How to Send Your Pitch
A superb content marketing firm by the name of Frac.tl published a study a couple months ago to see what gets the biggest influencers in the world to open and respond to a pitch.
The results aren’t actually all that surprising.
Turns out, most of the biggest publishers in the world have a pretty straightforward routine:
- Send Your Pitch in the Morning – 69% of the 500 publishers surveyed want to be pitched in the morning. Only 22% say they want pitches in the afternoon, and only 9% want pitches in the evening.
- Pitch By Email – This one is a little surprising because you’d think that social media would have changed the way we pitch. Nope. 81% of top-tier writers and publishers prefer a pitch sent directly over email. Only 9% want anything sent over social media, and only 5% want you using their on-site contact form. And everyone agrees that you should NEVER pitch by phone.
- Keep it Short – 88% of influencers want your pitch to be under 200 words, and about half of those want it even shorter under 100 words.
- Carefully Craft Your Subject Line – Because 85% of influencers will open or ignore an email pitch based exclusively on its subject line.
Make sure to read your target blog’s submission or editorial guidelines, if applicable. These will almost always have at least a couple strict rules you’ll have to follow to get a response.
Oh, and one more thing – never, EVER submit a finished piece unless you like wasting time.
70% of publishers want to hear your idea first so they can collaborate on your final piece. They want to work with you, not for you. Submitting a finished piece is like saying that you know what their audience wants better than they do, and it’s a borderline breach of etiquette.
3. Learn How to Handle Rejection
My partner Kyle and I have been submitting guest posts for about 2 and a half years now, and we’ve been published on a LOT of different blogs.
But, we still regularly get rejections.
In fact, I’d bet that only about half of our pitches get a response — and in the beginning, it was even less than that.
Rejection is just part of guest posting. It’s a lot like cold calling in that way.
You have to think of it like each “no” gets you closer to the next “yes”.
Truth be told, rejection isn’t even the right word for it. Ignored would be more accurate.
You’ll rarely get any response at all if your target isn’t interested in your pitch.
Here’s what to do if you don’t hear back from an editor:
- Wait exactly one week after my original pitch. If I still haven’t heard back, I’ll shoot them another quick email “just making sure you saw this.” Sometimes they actually didn’t see it. Even Tier 2 blogs will get 10-20 pitches a week.
- If you don’t hear back in another week, it means you missed the mark. No problem! Keep them on your list and pitch that same idea to your next target influencer.
- Wait two more weeks (now 1 month after your original pitch). Send your original target another pitch, this time with two or three different ideas for a contribution. Ask them which one would be the most help for their audience, and if they’d be willing to look at an outline.
- Repeat step 1.
- Still nothing? Oh well! Just not your day. That’s fine; there are other Tier 2 blogs for you to pitch. Come back in a few months when you have more name recognition and try again, if you still want to.
Whatever happens, keep your eyes on the prize.
The simple truth of guest posting is that as long as you keep reaching out and putting your ideas in front of influencers in a way that’s genuinely helpful, you’ll get published and your traffic will grow.
Don’t worry about the pitches that get rejected; focus all your energy on making the most of the ones accepted.
4. Promote Your Guest Posts Like You Promote Your Own
What do you do when you publish a post on your own blog?
You promote it, right?
- You share it with your followers on Twitter and Facebook…
- You send a broadcast to your email list…
- You may even go out and comment on other blogs, or tweet out to influencers to reference it.
Do you know what 90% of bloggers do when they get published on somebody else’s blog?
One of the best ways to really stand out and build relationships with the big players in your niche is to work your butt off actually promoting the content you give them.
Even if you only drive a sliver of traffic compared to what they get from sharing your post with their own followers; that sliver makes a world of difference.
Promoting your guest posts shows that you really do care about what THEY get out of publishing your work.
Trust me, they’ll notice.
Honestly, it’s stupid not to promote your guest posts. After all, you want your own followers to see that you’ve been published elsewhere.
Promoting your guest posts…
- Builds authority with your own audience and makes yourself look like a crucial part of the industry
- Gives you more credibility to new readers since your own readers will be sharing & leaving comments
- Guarantees you an open invitation to contribute again anytime in the future
Pretty hard to argue with that, right?
There’s absolutely no reason not to spend just as much energy promoting your guest posts as you do your own. At least, if you care about getting traffic .
5. What To Write About
Okay, by now you know the mechanics of guest posting… You know who to pitch, when and how to pitch them, what to do when you’re rejected and what to do when you get published.
You’re almost ready to get out there and start pitching, but there’s just one more problem…
What do you write about?
Thankfully, the Frac.tl study we cited earlier has some pretty revealing stats about what today’s big-name blogs want from a contribution. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Relevant Industry News or Research – 39% of respondents said they prioritize content that includes exclusive research. Obviously, if you’re an up and coming blog, you may not have the resources to perform your own study. That’s okay! You can either write about someone else’s research (as long as it’s new and/or under-used) or focus on recent industry events instead (eg. The latest Google update).
- Multimedia Content – 36% of publishers polled say they prefer some sort of visual content with their guest posts, such as an infographic, data visualization or custom image. This doesn’t have to be hard; we’ve had at least two guest posts published on the back of a custom featured image we made for free at Canva.com. If even that is too much to ask, include a spreadsheet, quiz, or something else useful to share with your target’s audience.
- Identify Subjects That Get Shared – Look through your target blog’s past posts to see what topics resonate with their audience. Usually you’ll find that there are one or two subjects that tend to get the most comments and shares. Publishers know what their audience wants, and they like it when contributors show that they do too.
And again, don’t forget to put a LOT of thought into your headline. You can do everything else right, but if your title isn’t at least a little bit intriguing, it won’t matter. Conversely, if you have a killer headline, you’ll have a lot more cushion with your subject matter.
Beginner’s Action Plan – Do These 4 Steps Right Now
Listen – there’s a ton of guest posting tips out there, and I’m sure a lot of them are really helpful. But don’t get bogged down with information.
In the end, successfully getting published on the top blogs in your niche is just as much about your people skills as your blogging skills. All you need is a little common sense, a pinch of marketing savvy, and an action plan.
Here’s what I want you to do right now:
- Go over to Alltop and pick out five Tier 2 blogs in your niche that you’re going to pitch. Use the advice from #1 to identify and qualify your prospects.
- Come up with three content ideas per blog that fit in line with their most popular posts of the past 6 months.
- Pick the best idea for each blog and write three headlines for it. Pick the best one – that’ll be your subject line.
- Write each pitch ahead of time (keep it under 200 words), then send them all at once. Say who you are, what your contribution is about, and thank them for their time. It’ll be easier for you to work up the courage to hit ‘Send’ if all you have to do is copy+paste the pitch into an email.
If you can get that far, the rest should be pretty easy. All you have to do is write really, really good content and use the advice in #2 and #3 to make the most of each rejection and/or each successful contribution.
Now you have an exact action plan to get started guest posting RIGHT NOW.
No reason not to get started.
What are you waiting for? Increased traffic awaits!