Are your guest post pitches getting ignored?
If so, there may be some concrete things you can do to fix that. And it’s worth taking the time to figure out how to make your guest post ideas better.
Plenty of writers I know get all their freelance clients from the exposure they get guest posting on popular blogs. You can slog away posting on your own little blog named “blog” that’s living under a tab on your writer website, but few prospects ever see that.
On the other hand, they’re usually impressed as heck that you’ve appeared on that big blog, and dying to hire you, in my experience.
To improve your guest-post pitches and get more posts approved, you’ve got to know how to please editors. So I asked a bunch of editors at popular sites what writers are getting wrong in their pitches.
Listen in as nine editors tell us their pet peeves — and offer tips on how to get a ‘yes’ on your guest-post idea:
Andy Nathan, owner/editor at Smart at the Start
Andy is a digital marketing specialist who’s currently creating lead-generation funnels and in charge of social-media marketing for littelfuse.
Learn blog formatting. I ended up creating a format for my freelance writers, because most of them don’t know how to space content on a blog post.
Emory Rowland, editor for the Leverable blogs
(Leverable SEO, Clickfire, Testimony Share) and also on occasion for The Home Security Superstore, Ted Turner Expeditions, and ClickHOST.
Don’t skimp on research. Doing good research is not just Googling your topic and finding articles that reference your anchor text. Why not cite stats, examples, and opinions in the article that support the point you’re trying to make? It’s kind of funny to watch, but almost every writer who contributes posts for my SEO blog links to one of these three: Moz, Search Engine Land, or one of Neil Patel’s blogs.
Don’t ignore the power of images. Using any old image doesn’t cut it. Why not get rid of that pixilated clip-art and find–or better yet, create–an image that reinforces the message in your post in a clever subtle way?
The less back and forth time editors have to have with writers, the more the editor likes the writer and wants to publish her work.
Gail Gardner, owner/editor at GrowMap
Learn to use header tags. When you write online, header tags tell search engines like Google what words are most important. It’s essential that bloggers always use header tags instead of just bold text for their subtitles. Search engines do consider bold text more important than plain text, but not as important as the header tags. There should be only one Header 1 <h1>, which by default in WordPress is the title. Major sub-sections are most important and should be header 2 <h2>. Less important sub-sections should be header 3 <h3>.
Remember to size your images. Look at the site where you’re submitting and resize your images to the appropriate width. If a site uses square images on their page, use a square image for that (unless the site provides images). And if file size is an issue, compress images before submitting using http://compresspng.com.
Write good headlines. It’s a skill that can be learned. Take the time to write a good headline for your guest post. Then test the title using the Coschedule headline analyzer.
Glen Long, managing editor, Smart Blogger
I receive a good number of guest post pitches and teach students how to pitch big blogs within our Guest Blogging Certification Program. My personal pet peeves include:
Stop sending post ideas that are off-topic. If your topics miss the mark by a mile, it’s a good bet you haven’t bothered to read the blog you’re pitching. So I probably won’t bother to reply.
Don’t send poorly written emails explaining how good your post will be. If you can’t write an email without typos, I’ll have to assume you can’t write a decent post, either.
Don’t send your inquiry email with the finished post already attached. This tells me you’re not interested in feedback on your topic (and I just know you’re sending the same post to multiple blogs at the same time).
Jane Flanagan, Content Director, FreshBooks
Don’t send mass-mail. I’d say the “wide blast” approach to pitching is the worst. So many people fire off indiscriminate copy-and-paste pitches to multiple outlets. An editor can really tell when something is pitched with their publication in mind and whether time was spent researching existing site content. When it comes to pitching, go for precision shots rather than wide blasts.
Don’t forget the basics. I would also add the things that should go without saying, but unfortunately don’t: Grammar, spelling, the company name, and finding contact information. Just be a pro about these things!
Lexi Rodrigo, editor, Mirasee
Learn to follow guidelines. The world would be a better place if only guest writers would read and follow our submission guidelines, check their drafts for typos and grammatical errors, and write about fresh, not tired, topics. You’d be surprised how many times I have to point people to our Write for Us page–and then they still don’t follow the procedures we ask for!
Please follow instructions. Once, a guest blogger even wrote to me, “I’ve read and re-read your guidelines and I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong!” I had to point it out. So she already lost points with me for not being able to follow simple instructions.
Megan Krause, managing editor – ClearVoice
Please read over your work before you submit.
Then, strike the cliches.
Your editors will love you for it (and send more work your way).
Ronell Smith, associate, MOZ.com
Understand the blog first. Most writers don’t, so they pitch ideas that are a poor fit.
Begin by building rapport. Most writers fail to build rapport with the editor, to better discern her/his needs and what role they can play in meeting them.
Use editors’ advice. Most writers don’t use the advice given with regard to their ideas, and content.
Sherry Gray, freelance writer and editor
I edit a group of paid content writers for one of my clients. My tip:
Learn to be concise. My top gripe is wordily-worded sentences that utilize (argh!) an extensive plethora of words and phrases to over-explain a concept that, in all honesty, could be written just: Writers use too many words.
Build a better guest post
And there you have it, folks — a ton of tips on what you’re doing wrong, and exactly how you can improve your guest posts and get more gigs. Now, get out there and connect with some great blogs!
Do you guest post? Share your experience in the comments.