One of the biggest challenges people tell me they have with guest posting is fear.
Fears like what if:
- My topic has already been written about?
- I get rejected?
- Readers reject and ridicule me?
- I end up wasting a valuable opportunity because I’m not ready?
Do any of these sound familiar?
If so I hear you. I completely get where you are coming from because all of these are fears I had to address each of these fears myself!
Once I did, I not only started getting most of my guest posts accepted but was able to rapidly build an email list packed with passionate fans.
To help you do the same I created a 4600+ word guide that addresses these fears (and others).
I originally wrote this guide for Navid Moazzez’s very popular site (over 90K visits per month).
Here is what Navid’s readers said about the guide:
In this new and improved version of the guide I share how to deal with even more fears (+ if you read to the very end you can grab my 8 step roadmap for getting your guest posts accepted also).
Happy reading! And as always if you have any questions feel free to drop me a comment below (or email me)!
What is one activity that I can do to rapidly build my email list, get seen as an expert, and befriend online influencers all at the same time?
That was my biggest question about online business soon after getting started.
After reading multiple case studies about guest posting (like this one), I was sold. Guest posting seemed to be the best way to bring in hundreds of new subscribers hungry for my expertise, and build long term relationships with influencers all at the same time.
So I studied every successful guest poster I could. I read everything they wrote about how to guest post that I could get my hands on. I even joined courses to learn the exact way to pitch guest posts.
But despite this I couldn’t get myself to pitch, not really anyways.
You see, just when I’d sit down to pitch a guest post I’d get hijacked by fears like:
What if my writing isn’t good enough?
What if the blogger rejects me?
What if their readers’ reject me? Or even worse–ridicule me? *YIKES*
What if I do all this work and no one reads my post?
As a result I didn’t pitch much. When I did pitch and guest post, I would only get 5-10 subscribers per post. Painfully low returns for the weeks I had spent pitching, writing, and editing the post.
And that was when my pitch got accepted…Most of the time my pitch was so arrogant it never even got a reply. Funny isn’t it how fear shows up as arrogance?
So here I was, spending a lot of time and energy, and not getting anywhere. And I was beyond frustrated!
It wasn’t until I changed my mindset AND followed it up with action, that my results started paying off. And boy did they pay off!
I now get thrilled about pitching guest posts. Five out of every six pitches I make get accepted.
Even better I get the type of encouragement from bloggers that would make anyone’s day:
I am steadily building my email list with the right audience for me. One that raves about what a blessing I am (no seriously I can show you the emails if you like 😉 ).
If you are interested in pitching more guest posts and getting more acceptances, so you can accelerate your email list growth, then this guide is for you.
This guide is 4,600+ words. Since reading it is a big investment of time, I want to be upfront and share exactly who this guide is for.
This guide IS NOT for you if you want:
- inspiration to kick your fears so you can take action (external inspiration never lasts long enough to achieve anything worthwhile anyways)
- to overcome all your fears and then take action (which is just setting yourself up for defeat because that never really happens)
A quick google search will give you many short articles that claim to do exactly these things, even though ultimately none of them help.
This guide IS for you if you:
- are highly inspired to reach the right audience, at scale for your business
- have already tried guest posting at least once, but intense fears keep you from pitching as much as you like
- believe confidence comes from taking action. You just need some help loosening the grip of fear so that you can take action
- are driven to create remarkable results for your clients
Is that you? Then welcome! You are in the right place.
This guide will help you to:
- Confidently pitch 2 guest posts per week, even if just reading those words makes you feel vulnerable, anxious, and afraid
- Improve your pitching (and writing) so that each post attracts hundreds of subscribers, hungry for the solutions you have to offer
- Develop outstanding pitches hard for any blogger to refuse
Ready? Awesome! Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now? Download the full 4,600+ word guide as a pdf here.
How to stop fear hijacking and take action? Hint–not willpower
Like most entrepreneurs, I have high standards. When I realized I was not meeting my guest posting standards because of fear, I was beyond irritated. And I refused to accept that fear could hold me back.
So I tried using every ounce of willpower I had to force myself to take action. I quickly learned that using willpower over fear just doesn’t work. It feels like using a small whip to control an enormous unruly elephant. Not only did I not make any meaningful progress, I only ended up tiring myself out. My fears would then feel even more justified and using willpower got harder.
What worked better?
Owning the hidden assumptions underneath each fear. These assumptions hold us back from taking the actions that would give us the results to disprove our fears.
The best way to stop your fears from hijacking your guest posting actions is to:
- spell out the assumptions under each fear
- reframe the assumptions under each fear
- take action and get results
The last part is critical. Each time you get results you disprove the fear. This causes your fear hijacking to get weaker and weaker. Eventually you get to a point where you don’t even remember that fear hijacking you.
In the next few sections I will share common guest posting fears and help you stop them from hijacking you. These are fears that I have either had to deal with myself or helped other entrepreneurs through. I will also give you exact action steps you can take to pitch more guest posts and get more of them accepted.
I suck at writing!
This was one of my biggest fears. Even though I had written in earlier careers, I felt my writing sucked. The main reason? Writing anything took me forever.
One day, when I was particularly deep in despair over how much my writing sucked, a friend asked:
“is it that writing takes you forever or that you are taking the long way to write?”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t suck at writing, I was just writing the wrong way.
I’d write a few sentences, reread them, make edits, and then reread them again. By the time I finished doing this, I would completely forget the point I was trying to make. I’d then force myself to remember the point or come up with a new one. No wonder I was taking so long to write! Once I realized this I starting writing first, and editing later. My “writing” time went down considerably–what took me two months before, now took me 3 days.
But even though I was now writing faster, I still thought my writing sucked. Whatever I wrote just wasn’t epic enough. At least not compared to the posts published by other people.
In my mind all these other people were born talented writers. And since I wasn’t born with that kind of talent, there wasn’t much hope for my writing. What was even the point of trying?
But then I came across Yaro Starak’s interview with Navid. In the interview Navid talked about creating a guide on Pat Flynn’s work as his first online content. Expecting to confirm Navid was born a talented writer, I looked up the guide.
What I saw floored me. I realized that many of the features of Navid’s writing that I view as epic, weren’t there. I looked up a few other guides and noticed these were features he developed overtime, with every successive post.
Perhaps I too could make my writing more epic with time and effort? And even though I didn’t have expert level abilities yet, I could get there. And maybe publishing posts I thought were less than epic was exactly what would help me improve. I later found content from several experts that helped me cement this attitude further. Yaro Starak has written about a great technique to train yourself to be more optimistic in the face of poor results here. Dr. Carol Dweck has written an entire book about this attitude that she calls the growth mindset.
Now it is your turn. Take these action steps to shift your writing fears:
- Watch Carol Dweck’s Ted talk on the fixed vs growth mindsets.
- Ask yourself what are 3 ways you can have a growth mindset around your writing abilities?
- Read the section “How to Get Confidence on Demand” in Alp Turan’s post here and pick your “goofy.” Then write a reminder near your workspace saying “if goofy can do it, I can too!”
- Lay out how long it takes you to write a discrete piece of content–eg a 500 word blog post takes you 2 weeks.
- Set a goal to shave down the time it takes you to write by 10%. (Ten percent is large enough to feel like progress and small enough to be realistically achievable.
- Schedule out when you will work on each writing phase: outline, draft, edits
- Post “write first edit later” visibly near your workspace.
- Publish what you have even when it does not feel “epic enough.”
- Assess & Reiterate: zero in on what didn’t work, what you can improve in your next piece of writing.
I’m not big enough
Why would a large influencer want me to guest post on their site? It’s not like I have a huge email list or a large following I could promote the guest post to. What exactly do I bring to the table anyways?
These fears used to hold me back from guest posting until the day I ended up having a conversation with a large influencer. This particular influencer had 50,000 subscribers on their email list. Imagine my surprise when they pitched me to guest post with them!
Here’s what I realized. Influencers aren’t just looking for a guest post that will attract their audience. They also look to guest posts as a way to serve their existing audience. This can mean having guest posts cover topics they do not have expertise in. Or by having them cover topics they aren’t interested in writing about.
Your job then is to sell the value of your guest post to their existing audience. Especially when they already have a much bigger audience.
Now it is your turn. Take these action steps to shift your fear of not being big enough:
- Use SimilarWeb or the following counts on social media to estimate an influencer’s follow size
- Use the comments of their audience on their content to determine the types of topics they still need help with that the influencer does not cover (or has no expertise in)
- Come up a clear way you can use your expertise to provide value around those topics to the influencer’s audience with your guest post
- Pitch your guest post idea to the influencer making sure the value to their audience stands out
2 options sell audience value. Sell promotional effort.
Someone has already written about my topic
It felt like everything I wanted to say about my topic had already been written by someone else. If only I had started guest posting earlier, back when there was less great content on the internet. *Sigh*
I stopped wishing for this the day I started talking to my audience. In talking to them I realized that when people are trying to solve a problem, they don’t care about new ideas. They only care about solving their problem. And most solutions out there don’t do this.
You see for a solution to work for someone, it has to be metabolizable at the level they are at. Even though there is a lot of expert content out there, it isn’t metabolizable for everyone. If it is was, no one would have the problem. To understand more about metabolizability check out Tom Chi’s talk here (starting 27:51).
Your job then is to find an audience with unresolved problems that you can serve. And find ways to write about your topic in a way that is metabolizable for them so that you can help them make progress.
Action steps to finding audience problems and metabolizable solutions:
- Determine specific problem(s) your audience is struggling with, even with available expert content.
Tip: Three star Amazon reviews are a treasure trove for this information. Here is an example of what I mean:
- Understand why:
- Get on a live chat or call with members of your audience.
- Ask them about their struggles.
- Analyze: What is it that they haven’t learned yet which leads to this problem?
- What can you write that helps them move forward?
What if the blogger rejects me?
This was my most paralyzing fear. My mind would play a constant loop of God awful scenarios of my favorite bloggers rejecting me. They’d open my pitch email, take a brief look, get disgusted, and close out in a blind rage. I’d then be blackballed forever and they would never open another email from me ever again. I had one chance to make an impression, and I blew it! I’d be crushed…
But later when I got accepted by a blogger that had rejected me before, I realized I had it all wrong.
You see most successful bloggers don’t have time to look at pitch emails and get disgusted. They have even less time to add guest post pitchers to their personal blacklist.
That being said there is a wrong way of pitching. This way of pitching gets you rejected almost immediately because it disrespects the blogger. There is also a right way of pitching. This way of pitching leads to happy bloggers accepting your pitches and becoming your champions for the long haul. For a detailed explanation on the wrong way to pitch bloggers read this post.
- Give value to the blogger.
- After giving value make a clear pitch the blogger cannot refuse. Here are some guidelines:
- Show your personality. If you are funny let it show. If you light people up with praise, let that show.
- Prove you understand their work and their blog
- Highlight ways your post will be of value to their readers.
- Be concise.
What if I guest post for the wrong type of blogger?
I have a friend who is an introverted entrepreneur. We will call her Sammy. Sammy told me her fear of guest posting with the wrong blogger prevents her from pitching.
“What would happen if you guest posted with the wrong type of blogger?” I asked Sammy.
“What if I end up posting with someone who has a bad reputation and I just don’t know beforehand? If I post with them that will hurt how people perceive me. Or what if they, or people they know, don’t like me and end up trashing me?”
Did Sammy’s concerns make sense? In the world of her day job in a traditional industry it definitely did. In that world these concerns weren’t fears, they were prudent concerns she had to manage for.
But the online world is different. People online are more likely to openly share their good (and bad) experiences with a blogger. Bloggers themselves share a lot about who they are and how they think. A little research can reveal which bloggers have bad reputations or trash others.
But what if despite your best efforts you end up guest posting with a bad apple? In that case remember a single guest post will not make or break your business. Online memories are limited. One guest post among many will not have a significant negative impact on your business.
- Research your blogger. If you notice anything about them that does not resonate with you, don’t pitch them.
- Use site search to find 1-2 entrepreneurs who have guest posted with your target blogger. Send them a personal note sharing that you are considering guest posting with the blogger and if they would recommend it.
I don’t have credentials, why would people read my guest post?
When I first started guest posting I would look around at the bloggers I wanted to write for and feel “oh so small.” I didn’t have the credentials they had. Why would their readers take me seriously?
I’d think to myself maybe I should go and get credentials first.
But thankfully I became friends with several active guest posters. I realized they didn’t have huge credentials either. In fact the credentials they did have were from other work unrelated to their online business. But readers listened to them, wrote them love notes, and swore by them left and right. If the lack of credentials were the issue, none of these would be happening.
I soon realized people don’t listen to people because of their credentials. They listen to them because they have the results they want. They listen even moreso to people who have helped others achieve the results they want. Results always trump credentials.
Wait what’s that I hear? You don’t have the results either? Is that really true? As an introvert or a sensitive you may be judging your results on stricter criteria than other entrepreneurs are likely to. Ever been in a situation where you said you had no results but others thought your results were phenomenal? Are you sure that isn’t going on here as well?
But let’s assume for a second that you are right and you don’t have any results that you can count. Why then will readers listen to you? They will listen to you because they trust the blogger you are guest posting for. They will assume if a blogger they trust chose you to guest post, you must be competent and credible. Now all you have to do is keep this impression by writing a quality blog post that helps them achieve what they want.
- Watch Michael Ellsberg’s talk Your Competitive Advantage is Not Information, It’s Transformation starting 6:09
- Before you pitch anything
- Ask yourself what result do the blog’s readers want?
- What do they not seem to know about achieving that result (based on your experience)?
- What can you write that will help them achieve that result?
- Now pitch, write, and blow them away!
What if readers reject or ridicule me?
Most introverted and sensitive people have painful memories of not being accepted–of being rejected and ridiculed. Pitching and writing guest posts brings these fears to the forefront.
Here is what one entrepreneur I talked to said about this fear:
“If I show how I really think, I risk not being accepted. Or worse, being ridiculed and criticized. If that happens that would hurt a lot because they would in a sense be rejecting me for who I am.”
I am going to tell you what I told her. You won’t know for sure how readers will react until you get a guest post published. Once you do, their reactions can serve as valuable feedback. But their reactions are valuable feedback only if you focus on the parts you can control. The parts you cannot control–how every person who reads your post will react. The parts you can control–writing a guest post that helps them with their problems.
- Lay out the best possible situation and the worst possible response to your blog post
- Ask yourself: what you can do now to make the best possible response more likely?
- Ask yourself: what could the worst possible situation teach you? What could it teach you about helping your audience solve their problem?
What if I nobody reads or engages?
I knew my audience scrolled through feeds and inboxes packed with content every day. With so much content out there, they make fast two-second decisions on what to read.
What if my guest post headline doesn’t catch their eye? Or it does and they click to read but after another two seconds they then decide it isn’t worth reading? I would have then done all the work of pitching and writing in vain. My list won’t grow, I won’t make any money and my dream of succeeding in business will never come true!
It was only after analyzing several blogs did I realize all this can be prevented. I learned that there are two types of guest posts that do catch readers attention:
- guest posts on quality blogs that they trust and repeatedly read
- guest posts with headlines focused on their main problems and goals
It then dawned on me that to get my audience to read and get engage with my guest posts I had to:
- Identify quality blogs my audience trusts and reads AND
- Write clear headlines focused on my audience’s problems and goals
Here are the action steps that will help you do the same:
- Find blogs in your space
- Select blogs with passionate engaged following. Look for:
- High traffic
- Blog posts are promoted on their email list
- In depth comments and sharing overtime
- Write headlines that focus on the exact problems and goals of your audience.
Protip: When writing headlines do not to channel late night TV mattress sales advertisements. Scammy unbelievable headlines will only backfire 😉
What if I’m successful and get pigeonholed?
I have a friend who has no problem at all getting her guest post pitches accepted. But she still doesn’t pitch often. The reason? She is afraid of succeeding and getting pigeonholed in one area. She feels that even though she is passionate about her chosen area now, that may change. And when it does she won’t be able to explore others that interest her. At least not without letting her subscribers down. After all they have come to know, like and trust her for her work in one area.
Is this one of your guest posting fears?
I get it, I have been there. But let’s think about it for a second. Have your predictions about what will make you happy been accurate? In his book Stumbling On Happiness, Daniel Gilbert says we are notoriously bad predictors of what will make us happy. Now you may agree with Daniel Gilbert or you may not. But one thing is for sure. The only happiness you can guarantee is going all in on the business area you have chosen right now.
It also helps to continue exploring your evolving passions in other spaces in your life. In fact you should set up time every week to delve into those passions. If your other passions persist, you can always pursue them with the right work model. Emilie Wapnick explains a few work models for people with many passions here.
- Go all in on the business area you are working on now
- Schedule in time to explore, play with, and clarify your ideas for other areas every two weeks
Protip: Try to do this in a fun way that does not consume a lot of time. This may be journaling, creating art, taking a class, starting a meetup or whatever else inspires.
What if I lose the respect of my colleagues?
I have a friend who is building her online business, while working a day job. Her colleagues at her day job look up to her as an expert. This is a position she has worked hard to reach. But it is this same position that makes her afraid of pitching guest posts.
She worries that if her colleagues ever see her guest posts, they will lose respect for her. They may even think her business is silly. And since her colleagues are also close friends, their opinions matter to her. She fears losing these friendships. And this fear in turn makes her afraid of pitching guest posts.
Are you in a similar boat?
The easy solution of course would be to use a pseudonym. If that isn’t an option, remember their opinions might not be as negative as you think. If they are negative, and your colleagues are not your target audience remember that. In most cases, your colleagues aren’t experts in online business. Even though their opinions are strong, they are uninformed. Simply take their opinions as a well-meaning attempt to help.
All this being said, you don’t have to lose old friends and relationships by guest posting. In fact you can turn them into champions for your new business.
Here are action steps you can take to turn your colleagues into champions for your business:
- Talk to your colleagues. Share what you are going to be writing, who it is for, and why it will help them.
- If they respond with doubts and their opinions seem reasonable and informed, ask them more. See if they can help you brainstorm a solution
- If they respond with uninformed opinions tap into your gratitude. Thank them for caring.
I’m not ready!
“But I’m not ready to guest post!” I said to my mastermind group.
My website looks amateur. I don’t have enough content on it. I also don’t have a great autoresponder sequence to deliver once they opt-in. I need all these bells and whistles in place before I guest post. Otherwise I’d just be wasting an opportunity!
- I don’t think my website will get enough subscribers
- I don’t think I be able to engage the subscribers I get
The irony was that guest posting would have helped me figure out both! It would have sent me engaged and relevant traffic. I could then see how many subscribers would opt in. And thereafter see how many of those who opted in engaged with my emails.
Without any traffic, I had no way of knowing what was working. So I copied ideas from other people’s websites and emails. And since I had no idea of knowing what would work for me, I’d jump at every new idea I saw. In the end I was spending all this time trying to get ready, without ever getting there.
Out of curiosity I looked up the older designs of the experts I was trying to copy. To my surprise their early websites appeared amateur too (Ramit Sethi’s first website). Despite this, they succeeded.
Curious why, I poured through their blogs and online talks. Soon I started noticing a pattern. These experts didn’t succeed by trying to get everything ready first. They succeeded by testing and improving everything. And this included their website and autoresponder.
Here are the only action steps you need to take to “get ready”:
- Pick 2 experts you admire. Look up their oldest website design (I guarantee they looked amateur)
- Take these steps to get your website “ready” only:
- Create an opt in offer that will get your audience one step closer to solving their problem
- Turn your website into a catcher’s mitt–visitors can get your opt in offer in exchange for their email address
- Pitch guest posts and tie them to your catcher’s mitt
We just covered ten of the biggest guest posting fears AND action steps you can take to pitch anyways.
Want to highlight the advice most relevant for you? Download the whole 4,600+ guide as a PDF here.
BONUS 8-step guest post acceptance roadmap
In the last few sections I gave you the tools to stop fear hijacking in its tracks.
Every common fear that hijacks entrepreneurs pitching guest posts has been covered. Including:
- What if someone has already written about my topic
- What if I get rejected by a blogger?
- What if readers reject me or publically ridicule me?
- What if I am not ready and end up wasting an opportunity?
But you already KNOW all of this is useless if you don’t put it into action. To help you put this into action, I have created an 8 step guest posting acceptance roadmap you can use to create outstanding pitches that are hard for any blogger to refuse.
Ever wonder how I land guest posts? Get my tell all Guest Posting Roadmap to find out.
- About the author
- related Posts
Guest posting since 2009, Sana’s posts have been seen on places like Adweek, VentureBeat, byRegina.com and many others. She is on a mission to help online entrepreneurs like you grow their brands, credibility, and email lists by getting their guest posts published. When she isn't writing posts like this one you will find her meditating somewhere beautiful or pondering the meaning of life over a cup of tea.