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4 Highly Effective Guest Post Pitch Tips For You

Editor’s note: Hello weekend warriors. We’re back with another quick and effective task you can do in a weekend to get big results for your business.

You’ve imagined it so many times.

Your work, featured proudly on enormous websites with millions of readers: Huffington Post, Lifehacker, LiveStrong, or so many others… attracting thousands of views, thousands of shares, but most importantly—hundreds of new subscribers!

Then you snap out of it and remember, you’ve never actually pitched to a big website. And you don’t know where to start.

You ask yourself:

“Is my content good enough?” (spoilers: yes!)

“Doesn’t it take special connections to get published there?” (Nope!)

 “Mine must be one of hundreds of pitches they get every day—what are the odds?” (Better than you think!)

These are all valid concerns. Today, let’s try to answer all of them and set you on the path towards pitching to the big boys—and getting a “yes!”

Two Winning Mindsets to Help You Pitch with Confidence

There are two kinds of big blogs relevant to you:

  1. Biggest sites specifically in your niche (e.g. if you write about health and wellness, your target blog would be LiveStrong).
  2. Huge blogs that publish tons of content on many general topics (Huffington Post, Cracked, Lifehacker, etc.)

When dealing with either type, it’s important to internalize these two mindsets—they will empower you to pitch the right way.

Mindset #1. They need you just as much (if not more)

These blogs live and die by their ability to maintain a constant output of content. Nine out of ten pitches they get will suck irredeemably, so they’re constantly on the lookout for good content, i.e. content like yours.

You might not be a big-shot expert, or a proficient writer, but you have to have solid content. And how do you know if it’s up to snuff? Only one way to find out…

the right mindset

Mindset #2. Your pitch doesn’t have to be groundbreaking

There’s a misconception that it takes an incredible story to get on a big blog. Something like…

“12 Counterintuitive Lessons I Learned Making a Billion Dollars Overnight”

“How to Travel to Every Country in the World While Broke, Naked, and Swearing Uncontrollably”

“I Can Do 1,000 Pushups with My Tongue—Let Me Teach You How in 15 Minutes”

Yes, these are all me being ridiculous for the fun of it.

But you know the type of posts I am talking about, right? Well, if you look closely, you will discover a simple truth: these insane stories are a minority. For every jaw-dropping article published, there are hundreds of regular posts you don’t notice. Like these:

Not Finishing a Marathon: Failure or a Success? (Not completing a marathon? Gee, how revolutionary!)

7 Ways to Unlock Your Greatness (What does that even mean?)

The Most Overlooked Muscles in Your Upper-Body Workouts (Insightful, but by no means groundbreaking)

Pembroke welsh corgi puppies in the yardOpen any big blog, and you will see dozens of posts like these—in some cases, exclusively posts like these (*cough* Pick the Brain *cough*). If you think I’m cherry-picking, you’re welcome to try it yourself.

If you’re an expert in your niche (as I’m sure you are), I bet you could churn out stuff like that non-stopeven if I unleashed a litter of excitable Corgis on you while you do it.

Bottom line is, editors working at those blogs aren’t looking for sensational stories only. More than anything, they are looking for relatable and emotional ones. As long as yours can be a little remarkable and stand out just enough to get noticed, you’re good to go.

Now, let us dispense with theory, and talk about crafting a killer pitch that will get you noticed by an insanely busy editor.

80/20 Process for Preparing and Sending a Killer Pitch

1. Stalk before you talkat least a little

Guest posting is only one of many relationship marketing strategies. It’s incredibly popular, though. And as a result, most editors are irrevocably traumatized by cookie-cutter pitches.

So much so that a generic, one-size-fits-all pitch is the worst disservice you can do to an editor. If it’s hilariously bad, then at least they can make fun of it. If it’s merely sad and devoid of individuality, they can do little but remove it from their inbox while dying a little bit inside.

You know the type of pitch I’m talking about. When someone writes new content just for the sake of it, and then goes around shoving it down editors’ throats.

Don’t do that. Nobody wants unproven content that isn’t a good fit.

By the way, the same holds true for when a guest post is rejected. Don’t pitch it to other sites on the off-chance that it might get accepted. If you can rework it for another site, fine. But don’t just spew out the same pitch after pitch.

Pitching to a big website means you have to invested time and effort into learning what kind of content they like, and what kind they’d never publish.

If it sounds hard, that might be because it is. But if you do the work in advance, and use your in-depth knowledge to craft a killer pitch, it will pay off.

guest post pitch tips

At a minimum, you should do this:

  1. Study their submission guidelines (most people never do).
  2. Gather the topics of the posts related to your niche from the past month or so.
  3. Make a list of the ones with the most views, shares, and comments.
  4. Skim the contents, so you know how the authors of those posts chose to present the topic.
  5. Know the name of the editor responsible for the topic you want to pitch.

For extra credit, perform steps 2-4 on competing blogs, too, so you know which topics are trending on more than one website.

These steps give you the necessary groundwork for a compelling pitch. You don’t want to come across as a clueless, cocky blogger, who is only sending in a pitch because everyone else is doing it. That’s lottery-ticket reasoning: “They’ve got to accept someone’s pitch—why not mine?

Doesn’t work like that. Never has, never will.

2. Prove your relevance

This is where your “homework” pays off.

You studied the content, you figured out which pieces resonate with the blog’s audience, you thought about how it relates to your expertise and your particular niche…

Time to show your work! Here’s the easiest way to do that: don’t present your pitch in a vacuum.

Whenever possible, link to a recent post on the blog, or a past popular piece, and explain how it connects to the topic you’re suggesting.

  • Are you going to focus on something that was overlooked in said popular post?
  • Will you offer a contrarian, but legitimate, point of view?
  • Do you have a terrific case study or a personal story about applying a technique from the post?

This is very important. Give the editor some helpful context. Connect the dots for them, explain why their audience will love your topic.

Remember: they don’t want something totally new and groundbreaking just because it’s totally new and groundbreaking. They want a relatable story, preferably about something people already love.

And if it happens to be somewhat new and a touch groundbreaking as well, all the better!

3. Never send a draft right away

cookie cutter guest pitch

This goes back to my previous point about cookie-cutter pitches. Sending the draft right away is a huge red flag. To the editor, it means you assume they will agree to publish.

It’s disrespectful, and you should never do it… unless submission guidelines clearly state to send a draft right away. Amateur approach, if you ask me, but there are more than a few blogs out there practicing it.

In a similar vein, never ask the editor if they want to publish your piece. Instead, ask them if they want to see a draft. This removes pressure from both of youand nine times out of ten, getting a “yes” on a draft means the post will get published.

4. If you have strong previous content, use it

Editors are terrified of two things:

  • Agreeing to a draft and getting an unreadable mess.
  • Publishing a perfectly good guest post that bombs.

Alleviate both of them, and you’ll be their hero.

You have the perfect tool for the jobyour past content. If you can link them to your best-written post, preferably one that also did well in terms of views and social shares, you make those fears go away.

With certain blogs, you can even get your past successful content syndicated (basically, republished) on their website. This is a strategy not many bloggers know about, but it’s extremely effective (James Clear used it to grow his blog to the household name it is today).

I won’t get into it here, but you can read this guide from SumoMe to find out more.

After you’ve done your due diligence on all the steps above, you are clear to craft your pitch and send it off come Monday (use Boomerang or FollowUp.cc to do it automatically)!

Bonus tip from the editor!

First off, Oleg is right. I want your content. I am rooting for every single person who sends in a pitch. I open every pitch with the expectation that it is amazing, and I can’t wait to publish it on the site.

So nothing brings on my pouty face faster than opening a pitch email and seeing “Dear Mr. Mirasee.” Aside from the fact that that clearly tells me you know nothing about our site, it states on our Write for Us page “send your pitch to Selene…”

Another quick bring on my pouty face pitch email… someone doesn’t submit their pitch in accordance with our guidelines and has clearly not researched our site.

But probably one of the things I’m most turned off by as an editor is the immediate ask: “And all I ask for in return is a link.

I know you want a link. You know you want a link. And I know you know I know you want a link. And I also know if you’ve done your research, you’ll see all of our guest authors get a link (and often more than just one!).

So based on that alone, there’s no need to ask for a link. We just met, yes? Let’s first see if this is a mutually beneficial relationship before we go asking for stuff from each other.

End Editor’s note.

Full disclosure: even for an entire weekend, preparing a pitch to a big blog is a lot of work. This process is neither quick, nor easy.

However, it’s the key ingredient that separates people whose pitches get a “yes” from thousands of time-wasters, sending half-hearted, one-size-fits-all queries to every website they can think of, and then whining about how the deck is stacked against them.

I can’t stress this enoughbig websites run on content. They are relying on good ideas from people like you to keep them in business. If you have something valuable to offer to them, you owe it to yourself to try.

And hopefully this post will help you navigate the most common pitfalls, and land a pitch that will make any big-shot editor say, “Whoa! We need to get this on the blog asap!” Godspeed!

Over to you. Have you tried pitching to some of the bigger sites like HuffPo? If not what’s holding you back? Any tips for hopeful pitchers out there? Leave a comment and let us know!

About Oleg Starko

Oleg Starko is a copywriter and student coach with Mirasee. As Junior Copywriter, he helps to write and perfect the content that Mirasee develops. As a Student Coach, he helps our students craft a persuasive message that drives action.

16 comments

  1. Rose Folsom says:

    Oleg,
    This is great — you’ve really saved me some (mis)steps by revealing exactly how and where I should apply my efforts to get results. Many thanks!!

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Glad you liked this post, Rose! If you’d like to get a critique of your pitch, feel free to reach out through your Course Building Coach. 🙂

  2. Judy cullins says:

    Hi Oleg, Great tips for guest blogging. Since my niche is book writing. self publishing and online marketing I wonder if I’d be smart to first guest post to big sites related to my topic. I just got s request from Mike Larson’s blog after admiring one of my blogs.

    I’ve been a bit quiet over the past 2 years because my life partner was sick, then died. I’m a real experience book coach and back with a lot of online marketing for my quality info.

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Judy,

      If you know what the big websites are, then certainly! 🙂

      Having a guest post request from someone established is *huge* — not just because you have this immediate opportunity to come out swingin’ with terrific content, but also for building an amazing relationship with that person. That could lead to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities.

      Also, something to think about: a niche topic like book writing or self-publishing could be made more appealing for general audiences (like the ones on HuffPo) if you look at it through a new lens related to one of their niches.

      E.g. you could easily spin it as health…

      “5 Surprising Reasons Failing to Write a Book Might Be the Best Thing You Do for Your Cognitive Health”

      “Novel-Writing as Therapy: How My First Stab at Writing a Book Saved My Life (and Made Me Money)”

      …self-development…

      “15 Sobering Life Lessons I Learned While Writing and Self-Publishing My Book”

      You get the idea. 🙂 So, as you can see, it doesn’t even have to be a niche blog. 😉

  3. Rachael E Stout says:

    Great post.

    I know guests posts are important, so today I’m reaching out. So glad I read this first!

  4. Rocky Kev says:

    Thanks for the reminder of Mindset 2. I don’t know why I keep wanting to find some unexplored angle and that paralyzes me from actually taking action.

    To answer the prompt: What’s holding me back from pitching is the writing part! The moment they say yes, all sorts of panic comes in. I’m scrambling to write – I’ll share it. Then I wait – waiting for the approval.

    Scary stuff.

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Sounds like you could use a detailed plan for what happens *after* you get a “yes”, Rocky. That should take the fright out of it!

      To use an analogy, if you ask someone out on a date, and they say “yes”, you’d better know what to do next. 😀 Guest posting is kind of similar.

  5. Drew Weaver says:

    Oleg- So glad to have the Weekend Warrior series back! I love these posts because they model what they are teaching. I think back to watching webinars selling how to create webinars that convert or sales pitches selling sales training; a goldmine of value (if you pay attention to the details). Keep up the great work, and I’ll be putting your wisdom to work this weekend!

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Drew, I’ve actually never thought about it like this! Usually when I see something that teaches you about itself (e.g. webinar on webinars, course about courses, etc.) “in the wild” I get suspicious. Especially if it’s a paid product. 😀

      But you’re right — there are learning opportunities everywhere, we just have to get good at noticing them.

      I’ll try to make Weekend Warrior posts happen more frequently. Thank you for your continued support!

  6. Scott Flear says:

    Great tips here!

    Just started Jon Morrow’s guest blog course. Excited to see the results.

    This weekend I will try and get some traction with a guest blog post on a major site.

    I would love to see the size of the benefit of doing so with my website traffic. There probably isn’t a better feeling than seeing your google analytics traffic graph shoot up right?

    Newcomer to your blog, looks great so will now be following each post 🙂

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you, Scott!

      If your goal is traffic, there’s nothing like posting on a huge website. Just make sure your web hosting platform is up for it — it sucks when you get a traffic surge and the website can’t handle it and goes down. 🙁

      Oftentimes, it helps to ask in the editor in advance if there’s something you can do to help promote your post. If they like you, and your enthusiasm to go an extra mile, they will do something on their end, too, e.g. feature it more prominently.

  7. Virginia Reeves says:

    Oleg – useful tips. Researching, being polite with your submission request, and follow-through with a pertinent article will get you on their list of “I want you again”.

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      That’s right, Virginia — you’ve just identified the main benefit of a killer first-time pitch! 🙂 It’s not about the initial “yes”, but all the “yeses” that come after.

  8. Cynda Pike ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Great post, Oleg!

    Pitching is hard. I realized as a screenwriter, it’s not enough to write good scripts; I had to become proficient at a style of writing that contained the types of “hooks” producers need to see to even consider requesting a script.

    1. Oleg Starko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you, Cynda!

      You know, I think I’ll have to disagree somewhat. 🙂

      Pitching is something that *pitch recipients* like to pretend is hard. But as long as you know who you’re pitching to, and do 80% of the work upfront before you even start writing the pitch, it gets easier.

      I can’t speak to script-writing: obviously it’s a rare and valuable skill, i.e. — very hard, there is a high level of scarcity, and the stakes are obviously much higher. But it is true with blogging. It’s not nearly as hard as gatekeepers would have us believe. 🙂

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