One of the simplest, yet most powerful, do-it-yourself PR hacks is guest posting on relevant and high authority websites.
But it’s not only these slightly opaque benefits that guest posts provide. They also drive direct referral traffic and build backlinks to your website.
The actual process of writing a guest post is the easy bit – as you’ll base it on a topic that you’re an expert on. The tricky bit of the process is pitching a guest post and getting it accepted by an editor.
At Publicize, we pitch guest posts on behalf of our clients, day in, day out, so we know what the best email pitches look like and know what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, I’m going to talk to you through how to write a guest post pitch, based on our years of experience.
But before we get started, there are loads of other ways to win media coverage, besides guest blogging. Read our guide on how to pitch to journalists if you want to learn about other PR techniques, get more valuable pitching tips and find more pitch email examples.
What is your guest post objective?
In order to reap the benefits that I mentioned in the intro, you need to approach guest post writing strategically. So ask yourself – what do you want to achieve by writing a guest post ?
This could be one of more of the following:
- Build awareness of you and your company with your target audience
- Generate referral traffic into your website
- Increase your brand’s credibility by building your digital footprint
- Get high quality backlinks into your website
- Reset the narrative on a topic within your industry
So how do these goals influence your approach to guest post pitching? Well, they determine which publications you target and which guest post topics you choose.
For example, if your primary objective is to use guest blogging to improve SEO and gain some backlinks from high authority websites, then you may look to approach publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and The Next Web. All these publications accept guest posts, are all very high authority sites, and all include a “follow” backlink to your website in the author byline.
Or let’s say you’re trying to build awareness of who you and your company are. If this is your primary objective, then you want to reach out to websites that are read by your target audience, so industry publications may be your best bet. However, it’s good to stay realistic: If you’re a fintech startup with no former media coverage and very little social proof, you might want to look into targeting some smaller publications first before you start crafting your Techcrunch pitch.
Once you have an idea of the types of websites you want to target, this will determine the best way to pitch for your company. For example, a pitch to Entrepreneur will need to have a guest post topic that’s more general than a pitch to an industry publication like Fintech Futures.
How to find guest post opportunities
Now that you’re approaching the task with some strategy in mind, you can start identifying target websites and finding guest post opportunities.
The first thing to do is make a list of all the websites that come to mind, based on your objectives. If you’re struggling to think of any, then search for something like “top tech blogs” or “tech publications accepting guest posts”.
The quickest way to find out if a specific publication actually accepts guest posts is to google the website name, followed by “guest post”. Here’s the result when you do this for VentureBeat:
So as you can see, they do accept guest posts. Perfect! Now it’s time to go a little deeper and determine if a website is relevant to your goals.
If your objective is to combine your PR and SEO strategy to gain a valuable backlink, check on the domain authority of the website using MozBar. If you’re looking for some high impact backlinks from a few high authority websites, a score of 90 or above is a good target to have.
In this example you can see that VentureBeat has a domain authority of 92, so is a good candidate for a guest post opportunity that can get you valuable media coverage and improve your SEO.
Or if your objective is to build awareness in the eyes of your target market, then you need to determine whether or not your target market read this publication. In this case, it’s often more effective to target niche journalism and focus on narrowcasting your guest blogging opportunities rather than targeting the general mass market publications.
To discover the best websites for finding more guest blogging opportunities and to get more insights to your guest post pitches, read our Guest Posting Toolkit.
Read the guest post pitching guidelines
Once you’ve selected a few websites that accept guest posts and which are relevant to your objectives, it’s time to read up on the guest post pitching guidelines. These will usually explain how to submit a guest blog post pitch.
Google the website name followed by “guest post guidelines” or hunt it out in the sitemap. Sticking with VentureBeat as the example, here are it’s guest post guidelines:
It’s vital that you read these guidelines as they will determine how to approach a guest post pitch with each publication. And the rules can differ massively from one publication to the next.
The VentureBeat guidelines are fairly unrestrictive, but some publications will list the guest post subjects that they’re interested in. So if you were to pitch a guest post topic unrelated to these subjects, it would end up being a complete waste of your time.
Also – as per the above example, it’s inviting contributors to submit full articles, while also giving them the option of pitching a short summary. Unless you have the time to spend hours writing a guest post that may not get picked up, our advice is to always pitch a summary first.
Read some previously published guest posts
Spend some time exploring articles that have been written by guest contributors. These articles will be clearly marked as “guest contributor” in the author bylines.
Take note of the topics that these articles cover:
- Are they generalist in nature, assuming that the reader has no great knowledge of the subject? Or are they in-depth pieces that the layman wouldn’t understand?
- Are they practical “how to” posts that offer takeaways and actionable insights? Or are they more like thought pieces about the industry?
- And what about the tone of voice? Are they written from a detached point of voice, or are they deeply personal, relating to first person experience?
Assessing this will help to get you thinking about guest post topics and ideas of your own, which is the next step of the process.
Coming up with an idea for a guest post
There are two very important pieces of advice here:
- Avoid anything that could be considered promotional – editors will sniff this a mile off and your pitch will just end up getting deleted
- Start with what you know. Ask yourself, what are you an expert on? This is the starting point for all guest post ideas.
My expertise and profession is SEO, and when I’m brainstorming ideas for guest posts, my thought process goes like this:
- Who’s the target audience of this publication? Do they have an expert knowledge of SEO, a working knowledge, or no knowledge at all?
- What’s the relationship of this subject with the target audience? Are they marketeers looking to sharpen their SEO knowledge? Are they startup founders trying to figure out where to start with it?
- Is there anything I’ve written recently on owned media channels that I could use as a basis for a guest post?
- Where’s the conversation currently at with this subject? What are the big SEO news stories that have happened recently? Can this be tied into a guest post idea?
Once you’ve come up with a few ideas, go back to the analysis in the previous step. You need to decide whether it should be a practical guest post providing actionable insights, or if it should be more of a thought leadership piece.
And of course, once you’ve come up with an idea, always search the website to make sure it hasn’t been covered before!
How to write a guest post email pitch
Quick tip – always pitch two or three ideas, rather than just the one. This way you get more rolls of the dice.
When it comes to writing out the guest post email pitch – keep it short and sweet. Here are the points you should try and hit when writing an effective pitch:
- Personalize it – Call out the editor by name in both the subject line and the body of your email pitch. Try and reference one or two recent articles that appeared in the publication that are relevant to your guest post idea, to show you’ve done your research and that you’re not just sending a bulk mail merge.
- Start networking with the press – Taking the above further by building relationships with the editors and journalists. Investing extra time into personalizing emails — whether it be a pitch or simply making contact — goes a long way to shifting a reporter’s attention to your messages at the expense of your rival’s.
- Include your social proof – You need to demonstrate why you’re qualified to talk about the subject you’re pitching. This could be a very brief summary of your resume and a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile, as well as links to any other media coverage you’ve had in the past.
- Demonstrate its value – Explain what the website’s readers will gain from it. If it’s about something topical, add some links to stories that have reported on this and explain the additional insight and value your guest post will provide on the subject.
Guest Post Email Pitch Template
Here’s a guest post email template that you can use as a basis.
SUBJECT: Hi [NAME], regular contributor pitch for [PUBLICATION NAME]
[YOUR NAME] is a [YOUR UNIVERSITY] grad with over 20 years of experience in brand management, technology marketing and innovative business strategy. His passion has led him to drive the go-to-market strategy and monetization efforts for successful startups in different industries, including [STARTUP NAME 1], [STARTUP NAME 3] and [STARTUP NAME 3].
[YOUR NAME] has been a mentor at [PROGRAM NAME], [CITY NAME]’s leading tech startup accelerator since its inception, over 7 years ago. He ran the digital thought leadership practice for creative advertising agency network [AGENCY NAME], raised funding and ran a marketing consulting startup in the past. In addition to this, he’s also a seed investor and advisor in several startup syndicates. Additionally, he’s an advocate for diversity in the entrepreneurial space.
[YOUR NAME] is interested in contributing articles to [PUBLICATION NAME] on a regular basis about topics on early-stage entrepreneurship and tech startups including:
- In-depth analysis on startup and funding trends
- Background and “founder journey” stories of dynamic startups that are dominating headlines and also flying under the radar.
- Entrepreneur profiles from underrepresented groups (e.g. women founders, Black founders, Hispanic founders, immigrant founders, etc.)
- Q&As with prominent angel investors, venture capitalists and corporate development leaders
Some of the titles he could immediately start working on include:
- Three women-led startups you need to know about
- What’s an oracle and why it (and not Bitcoin) is the killer app for blockchain
- Five Black venture capitalists changing the game
- Why it pays to be an early adopter (of tech platforms)
- Six reasons not to raise venture funding
Let me know if this would be something you’re interested in. Looking forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
So now you know how to set guest post objectives, how to identify target websites, what type of things to look for on each website, how to come up with a guest posting idea and how to write a guest post email pitch.
Once you’ve nailed the art of the pitch and secured your first guest post, check out our Complete Guide to Guest Blogging which includes useful guest posting tips and guest blogging best practises.