You don’t need to be a magician to get a guest post published — you just need to have the proper education. Having a decent knack for English (or the language you plan to write in) certainly helps, as does having a few connections in the industry.
When it comes down to it, though, most bloggers start with a simple idea and a couple long nights a week. No in-roads, no real plan, and no special treatment.
Guest posting starts the same for most bloggers, too. You want to get in the guest post game, but don’t really have a clue. You start sending off emails, just like you started posting stuff online when you started your blog.
The issue with starting your guest post road just like you started blogging is that you’re trying to connect to people in the industry now, not just publishing your own content.
Emailing individuals leads to a reputation, and you don’t want to email really off-putting or strange things to potential contacts.
While this is also true for blogging, you can get by for a lot longer without knowing the science of blogging — you should probably know the science of emailing guest post pitches before you actually start sending them out.
This is why you’re here — the research phase.
When you think about composing that first (or second or third or fortieth) guest post pitch email, there are some standard rules you should always follow.
This will make sure that no matter what email pitch example you decide to embark on — I list five below that will help you narrow down your style — you will always be received pleasantly, if not accepted universally.
Seems like a simple piece of advice, but you’d be surprised at the number of cold, toneless guest post pitches I receive on a daily basis.
Being kind is always necessary when sending out emails. You should have an upbeat tone in your email and be considerate of the person you are emailing.
Considerate, in this sense, means using their real name, recognizing the fact that they are living human being with daily stresses and joys, and inviting them to like you as a person, even if they don’t accept your guest post pitch.
Kindness goes a long way, almost as long as coldness or aloofness. Editors hate emails that start with “Dear Editor,” and end with “Please reply ASAP, Regards”.
In almost every guest post email pitch you will want to include: your name (the one you use to publish articles), your website (you will need one), and some samples of your work (you will need these).
As you can see, including these identifiers makes it so you have to have a track record of writing articles.
If you think you can write a guest post out of the blue, with no article under your name on the entire internet, you’ll have some trouble. The only possibility of that happening is if you’re an expert in a scientific or humanitarian field, but then you’ll probably have those in-roads I was talking about, and not have to worry about it so much.
All of these verify who you are and the quality of your work. An editor needs to be able to glance at this in a flash.
Use a Legitimate Email Subject Line
This a whole long topic in and of itself, but it needs to be mentioned in the etiquette section. Make sure to title your email subject line something reasonable.
Some editors like your article headline as the subject line, others don’t. You’ll have to gauge your audience and follow any rules they have.
In general, I’m a fan of writing something along the lines of: “Guest Post: My Article Idea”.
This will make sure they know it’s a guest post email, but also show what the topic you want to write on is.
On the flip side, don’t make your email subject line sound like click bait, and don’t trick anyone into opening anything. This will leave a bad taste in an editor’s mouth.
Examples of Good Guest Post Email Pitches
All the general rules above apply to all the specific examples below.
Also, remember that the examples below are templates in a generic sense, and you should tweak each to what feels appropriate for you, first of all, and to the publisher, second of all.
Don’t try to be something you’re not, and don’t get overly flashy.
Finally, remember that at least half of the key to getting a guest post accepted is your idea. The article idea has to be very strong — all the stuff you do in your email to frame that idea is very important, but it’s rare to get a guest post accepted if your idea is terrible.
1. The Standard
As the email pitch name implies, this is all about crafting the standard, excellent email pitch.
It continues with the etiquette in that, for the most part, you can always send the Standard and always get accepted for it. The Standard may not have the pizazz of some other methods, but it’s not the wrong way to go, because you’ll likely check every box an editor is looking for.
Pitch a Headline (or three)
The first part of the Standard is to make sure you include an actual headline for your article, in addition to the idea itself.
If you can do this well, editors will love you. Headlines are difficult to come up for any publication, but in the blog world the headline is often the driving factor in SEO placement. Therefore, an editor doesn’t want to create a headline for you because it might change the nature of the article.
They will if they have to, but if you pitch a perfect headline (therefore a perfect article idea), you have a much higher chance of getting accepted.
Also include other headlines, either as variations on your topic, or slightly different topics. Show you have depth.
Include a Summary of the Article
Right after your proposed headline, include a bulleted list that highlights the primary points you’ll make in the article. This shows you aren’t just an idea person — you have a plan to deliver.
Include a Connection to the Editor
In the Standard this connection doesn’t have to be over the top, but you should always relate yourself to the editor and their publication.
Pick out an article you enjoyed that relates to your own guest post pitch, show you follow the editor on social media, and highlight any outstanding connection you have with the them.
If you don’t have a single one, you haven’t done enough leg-work for this email.
Follow these steps and the general etiquette and you’ll have sent the Standard guest post email pitch.
2. The Rule Follower
This guest post email pitch strategy is great for those that have a hard time being creative. In essence you follow rules — two sets of rules.
The first set of rules is the ones I have outlined above. Follow the etiquette to a T; do your homework in every aspect before sending out that email so it will be met in the best possible circumstance.
The second set of rules is one that you’ll find on many blogs.
While not all blogs have a stated set of guest post guidelines, the ones that regularly accept guest posts do.
As a good Rule Follower you will want to keep a running spreadsheet of all the blogs you want to publish posts on. Make sure to include a specific column for if that blog has a guest post guidelines page, and link to that page for easy reference.
Then it’s pretty simple: do exactly what the guidelines tell you to do.
Some blogs want you to include a finished article with images, a headline, and social media copy all in one nice package. This way the editor can look at everything and say yes, or no.
Some blogs ask you to include a specific number of links to your previous work, comment on their blog in a variety of ways, and be a subscriber.
Some blogs ask you to use a specific email address when sending guest post inquiries.
You get the idea. The Rule Follower does whatever the guidelines say to such a specificity that they can’t be ignored or at fault.
What separates the Rule Followers that get published from those that don’t? Your article idea. You can follow all the rules and still get rejected if your article idea just doesn’t cut it.
What if the blog has no guidelines?
By definition those blogs are not great for the Rule Follower. It’s a struggle to follow any rules when there are none posted.
The best way to handle this is to email the best address you can find and ask if they have guidelines in the kindest way possible. If you get a response with rules for applying, follow those. If you get no response, follow up a week later with the Standard guest post email pitch.
3. The Social Butterfly
While the previous two styles of guest post email pitches are available to pretty much anyone, the next two are for bloggers that have reached a certain status in the community. That status doesn’t have to be incredible, but you will need an established track record.
The Social Butterfly is the guest post email pitch that, while following many of the Standard rules, goes into further depth about how many publications you have written for already.
It’s not a laundry list of every publication, but those that might be impressive to an editor.
In the larger publishing world, think about it like this:
You send a guest post pitch email to an editor at Entrepreneur. Beyond a great idea, headline, and article outline, you also mention that you’ve written for Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Forbes. You link to articles that relate to the topic you’re pitching, showing that you already have a solid stake in the industry as a writer.
That’s a high level example, but it work to illustrate my point.
The Social Butterfly has a track record, and can use that track record to impress an editor at any blog. The reality is that all blogs want excellent articles written by well-known authors.
They’ll take an excellent article from an unknown author, but if you’ve started to gain a foothold in your niche it’s worth mentioning.
Do this without sounding cocky, bloated, or presumptive. Kindness still reigns supreme.
The successful Social Butterfly pitch will highlight your experience as a further proof of your ability, not as a benchmark of your success.
4. The Overachiever
Similar to the Social Butterfly guest post email pitch, the Overachiever utilizes their past success with guest posts to bring an irresistible idea to an editor, one they basically can’t refuse.
This involves a number of elements coming together:
- Knowing your niche intimately, and having written in that niche.
- Knowing the publication you want to write for in a historical sense. You read their work regularly, comment regularly, have been a subscriber, and generally follow what they do.
- Knowing what that publication is lacking. This is the toughest bit, because it requires you to follow them so closely, and the niche so closely, that you know precisely the type of content they need. This applies to subject matter, but also to format, be it an infographic, video, or standard article.
With those three steps in mind, the overachiever then creates a sample of work. This includes the headline, the idea, and the bullet point list, but it presents it in a compelling way that goes beyond those mock-ups.
You don’t actually write the full article in the Overachiever pitch, but you produce something similar that will wow an editor.
Show them how much work you’re willing to put in even before they’ve accepted you and, if steps 1-3 are accurate, they won’t be able to say no.
Incorporating images, video, an infographic, or a study into your pitch are incredibly effective ways of being an Overachiever, and getting the editor to green light your post.
5. The Persistent Guest Poster
The final example of a good guest post email pitch applies to pretty much everyone: don’t give up.
You can do every single step above and still get rejected. It’s not personal. Sometimes an editor’s schedule doesn’t line up with yours; sometimes a budget gets cut randomly; sometimes the market subtly shifts and you haven’t caught the scent.
As long as you follow the etiquette and continually represent yourself as a professional with all of these emails, you will stay in the game.
It is then the job of the Persistent guest poster to continue to email new ideas to a publication that is semi-responsive.
Don’t bombard one institution with 10 emails a week until they accept you. That’s not kind.
Instead, if you get a response like this — “Thanks for the idea! We’re not looking for that type of article right now, but let us know if you have more!” — make sure you let them know.
Maybe a week after your first pitch, and every couple weeks after that.
Make sure the editor knows who you are to the degree that, when you pitch the right idea at the right time, they will say yes in an instant.
If you continually knock on your neighbors door with fresh-baked cookies but find they aren’t home, or are just too busy to talk, that’s alright. Keep doing it, and they will scarf those cookies up eventually, and probably invite you in for tea or milk, too.
Persistence is necessary in any guest poster’s routine. Make a habit of connecting to the editor continually, so that with every pitch you are more and more a solid person in their mind.
Nothing is guaranteed. That is the first piece of knowledge you need to realize and run with as a blogger and guest poster.
You could perform each of the above five examples excellently and still not get accepted. You could also hit the jackpot just by following the etiquette. Try each style out. See what works for you, and for different publications.
Let your creativity run with the process, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Your guest post pitch email will get accepted, sooner or later.