By Daryl Rothman
Have you ever had a great idea for a guest post and wish it could be featured on one of the top blogs for writers?
It can be.
I found a great list on Write to Done’s Top 10 Sites for Writers, but I had a huge problem when it came to pitching them my guest blog ideas.
I was a nobody.
Not as a person, but I had next to no publications to my name. Plus, the guidelines and submission formats — while crucial to adhere to — seemed so distant and impersonal. What would distinguish my random pitch from the plethora of inquiries these sites received?
I decided I needed to do something different: perform CPR.
No, my dreams were not dead, and neither are yours. But mine needed a revival, a jolt.
The Power of Relationships
When I say CPR, I don’t mean resuscitating a stopped heart. In marketing, CPR refers to Cultivating Positive Relationships.
After being published on several of the Top 10 blogs, with more scheduled, I can tell you, CPR was the key. Getting published on top blogs can be a huge boost to your own blog’s visibility, too.
Do relationships matter? Just today I sent a quick note to a top-ranked author and inquired how she was doing. “Thanks for asking!” she replied. “No one ever asks anymore.” Writers are people, too — a little basic human kindness can go a long way.
I’ve always been a people-person. That’s not necessarily synonymous with being a social butterfly. Some of the boldest writers are the most reserved people.
But I’ve always been more successful when I’m able to connect with someone at least a little bit, to say hello, get to know them a little, let them get to know me.
Robert Steven Kaplan of Harvard Business School has spoken of the importance of giving something of yourself when building relationships. Tell them briefly about your writing and why you’ve contacted them. Demonstrate you’ve read their blog and sample posts and explain you have an idea for a fresh angle on a subject you think will interest their readers.
This hypothetical interaction is not the same as the pitch itself, so you don’t want to run long or unveil the entire pitch unless the author has asked you to do so.
Really. Listen in the same way you need to listen to the guidelines: they say, you do. (Or, don’t do. If they say they aren’t open to pitches, don’t pitch them) It’s knowing not only what to do, but what not to do.
If you get to submit a post, follow the guidelines, read sample posts, and submit the best draft you can. If the author asks you to revise it, listen meticulously to the feedback.
The top-ranked blogger who publishes your guest post is conferring something of great benefit upon you. You get exposure to their vast readership, association with an esteemed author/blog, and myriad opportunities to connect with others through the comments.
I always offer what I can. I’ve offered to beta-read, and to link their work. I understand their following dwarfs mine, but the more positive buzz the better, right?
I offer this even if they have rejected my request to pitch. It never feels good to be told “no,” but I try to reframe back into CPR mode, rather than pouting.
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If they grant permission to pitch, do so promptly.
Maybe the author asked you to read a few more posts and get back in touch. If so, be strategic and organized. Maintain a tracking system. The last thing you want is to generate interest and start building relationship with a great author, only to come off disrespectful and amateur by neglecting basic courtesies and follow up.
How has Cultivating Positive Relationships paid off for you? Tell us in the comments below.
Daryl Rothman writes novels, short stories, flash fiction, serial fiction and articles. He has guest-posted for KM Weiland, CS Lakin, Joanna Penn, and Firepole Marketing.