Feel like a total newbie online?
Or maybe just a newbie to building your email list through guest posting?
Do you want to guest post but aren’t sure how you can sell the benefits to influencers?
I get it. I used to feel the same way.
I used to have no idea:
- How to find the right sites for guest posting?
- How to sell them on the benefits of my guest post?
- What to have in place before I pitch?
- What do I have to research or be aware of before I pitch?
- What to include in the pitch to make them believe my post was a fit for them? (even though I was a total newbie with no readers, credentials, or other guest posts and a site so new it still had demo content!)
Then one day I realized…
All my problems boiled down to one thing:
Not knowing how to sell my guest posts to influencers as a natural fit.
I did not want to come across as an obnoxious salesperson pushing a guest post they didn’t really want.
Neither did I want them to think I was some sleazy hustler goading them into accepting a post that didn’t really benefit them.
Instead, I wanted influencers to feel excited about my guest post right away!
I wanted them to know without a doubt that my guest post would be immensely valuable to them and their audience.
If I could sell my guest posts as a natural fit they wouldn’t care that I was a newbie.
Neither would guest posting take time away from my business, because the guest posts I’d pitch would get accepted right away.
This started my journey of figuring out how to pitch guest posts as a natural fit.
Even though it took a long time and a lot of work, in the end it was all worth it because...
Selling my guest posts as a natural fit changed everything
I have since guest posted at:
Adweek even though at the time I had just started my site and didn’t have any other guest posts
Well-known sites like VentureBeat, NavidMoazzez.com, byRegina.com
Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method community which led to the invitation to speak at their 1000 person ASKLive conference
These days I don’t need to pitch guest posts often.
Because the ones I do pitch get accepted.
Yes even with high traffic sites I routinely get 4 out of every 5 guest posts accepted.
How would you like to get 4 out of every 5 guest posts accepted with high traffic sites?
BTW here is what readers said about the last version of the guide
And I know this version is 100X better!
So what do you say?
Are you ready?
Don't Have Time to Read the Entire Guide Right Now?
How about you download the entire 32,000 word guide as a PDF so you can read and execute it in your own time?
How to sell your guest post the right way
[Hint it’s more than just building relationships]
The most pervasive advice about guest posting is that you should pitch influencers after building relationships with them.
As a result, many people spend months building "relationships."
But when they finally pitch, they get rejected. Or worse get ignored.
Even though building relationships is important to selling your guest post as a natural fit, it isn’t the only thing you need.
Even though building relationships is important to selling your #guestpost as a natural fit, pitching #guestposts takes more than relationships. Check out this free guide to learn what they are!
You also need to show influencers that your guest post is a fit for their audience.
Typically this involves:
- Your online headquarters
- Your pre-pitch research
- Your pitch itself
In the next few parts of the guide, I will share the biggest misconceptions about each as well as what you should do instead.
How to get your online headquarters ready for pitching
The other day I was talking to my friend Tim about his business.
Tim is a fitness coach, actively trying to sell more of his online fitness programs.
Since I believe guest posting is the quickest way to build an email list that buys, I asked Tim if he had started guest posting.
He said no and then he asked:
"Don't I need a lot more content on my blog before I can guest post?"
“Why do you think you need content on your site first to guest post?” I asked.
“Well if I have enough content, influencers I’d reach out to would realize my work is good and is likely to provide enough value to their audiences,” said Tim.
Tim’s reasoning is sound. But it comes from the flawed assumption that influencers assess your guest post fit by reading your blog in-depth.
The reality is very different.
Most influencers will never read your blog
I mean place yourself in their shoes for a second.
Imagine that you are a popular and busy influencer.
Would you have the time to go read the blog of everyone who pitches you a guest post?
The truth is influencers try to assess the fit of the guest post based on what is written in the pitch.
In the situations where they do visit your site, they are most likely only looking at your home or about page.
But before you go polish up those pages up check out the four critical areas influencers are assessing on those pages, so you know exactly what, you need to improve.Pro-tip: What should you do when your online headquarters is not a website? What if it is a podcast, Youtube channel, Facebook page or group? Apply the ideas coming up to the description sections of the online headquarters you do have. For example, for a business Facebook page, these would be your cover image, about section, story etc.
What influencers are looking for when they visit your online headquarters
When influencers visit your online headquarters, they are trying to assess how well you fit with them in four different areas.
① Who you help
The first thing most influencers try to assess is who you help. Specifically if you help the same people they do. Or at least, help some subset of the people they help.
Questions to answer to make who you help crystal clear
Here are some questions to ask and answer to make sure that when influencers visit who you help is crystal clear to them:
② What problems you solve
The second thing influencers try to assess when they visit your online headquarters is what problems you help your audience with.
Questions to answer to make what you help with crystal clear
Here are some questions to ask and answer to make sure that when influencers visit what problems you help with are crystal clear to them:
③ How you help your audience
The third thing influencers look for is how you help your audience.
Questions to answer to make how you help crystal clear
Here are some questions to ask and answer to make sure that when influencers visit how you help your audience are crystal clear to them:
Let's bring it together with an example of my guest posts. The method I use to help my audience grow their email lists is guest posting. Since most influencers I pitch to don’t usually cover guest posting, the fit is usually obvious.
I say usually obvious because it can all go south if you aren’t a match for the next and final criteria.
④ Your values
The fourth area influencers try to understand are your values.
Specifically, they are trying to confirm that you don’t have any of their deal breakers.
For example here is what it was for one influencer I guest posted with recently:
So of course this influencer won’t be taking any guest posts from people who only care about making money at any expense possible. If that is you, you shouldn’t bother pitching that influencer.
Questions to answer to make your values crystal clear
Here are some questions to ask and answer to make sure that when influencers visit your values are crystal clear to them:
Your Action steps
Influencers may only spend a few seconds on your online headquarters to assess fit.
You wouldn’t want to lose a guest post opportunity simply because the possible fit wasn’t immediately clear to them, would you? So take a few minutes to make sure it is.
Want my free 4-day checklist to help remind you of the specific actions to take to get your online headquarters ready?
Click here to download your checklist.
How to find the right sites for guest posting
A short while ago I was chatting with Priya.
Priya is a personal finance blogger. She has been trying to for months to get guest posts accepted.
Even though she’s contacted over 20 bloggers, she's been largely ignored.
The radio silence she has been met with has sent her into dark spirals of self-doubt about her business (her words).
I've read Priya’s content so I know it is solid.
I suspected her issue was pitching the wrong host sites, so I asked Priya:
“What is the most important thing to look for when finding a blog for guest posting?”
Without missing a beat she replied: “finding a site where your guest post can add value to the audience.”
"Aha!" I exclaimed.
While finding sites where your guest post can add value is certainly important, it should never be your only criteria for finding the right sites for guest posting!
While finding sites where your #guestpost can add value is certainly important, it should NEVER be your only criteria for finding the right sites for guest posting! #contentmarketing #influencermarketing
Found a site where you can add value? Don’t stop there!
Here are a few reasons why you should never stop screening a site the moment you determine you can add value to its audience.
① The site may not have your ideal audience
Just because you can add value to a site with your guest post, does not mean it is a site where your ideal audience hangs out.
Let me give you an example of one of my students Leila.
Leila helps stay-at-home-moms rejoin the workforce by finding remote work opportunities.
Recently she pitched an influencer who like her was in the career advice space.
But unlike her, his site's focus was on helping young professionals who already have a job get their next promotion or a raise.
While her advice on finding remote flexible work would add value to the blog, young professionals are simply not her ideal audience.
Because of this, the blog was simply not a good guest posting opportunity for her.
Unfortunately Leila and the influencer realized this only after three drafts and constant butting of heads.
Spend the time screening host sites before the pitch so you don't end up wasting time and energy like Leila.
② The site’s audience problems might be different than those of your ideal audience
Just because you think you might be able to add value, does not mean you can solve the specific problem a site’s audience may be having.
Let's go back to our example of Leila for a second.
Even though both stay-at-home-moms and young professionals are interested in finding remote work, the problems each audience faces in finding remote work are completely different.
Stay-at-home-moms often struggle with a lack of confidence that lucrative remote work opportunities exist.
Young professionals, on the other hand, may be concerned about the negative impact working remotely could have on their career advancement potential.
If Leila were to guest post with a site that speaks to young professionals she would have to spend a lot of time and effort making her solutions work for an entirely new audience.
And here is the rub: even if she succeeds in helping them and attracting them to her universe, she won't be able to hold on to them very long. Because eventually they will realize her work is mostly geared towards a group they don't belong to.
③ You may not get enough people joining your email list
If the site’s audience and their problems are very different from your own, your guest post won’t help you attract a lot of people to your email list.
Let’s go back to Leila’s example one last time. Imagine if Leila’s guest post got published--do you think the guest post’s audience would have resonated with her story and her advice?
Mothers resonate with Leila because in her they see another mom who has already gone through the doubt and rejection they currently face. They see in her someone who despite these challenges figured out a way to make remote jobs work.
Would a young professional resonate with Leila the same way?
Not likely. And because of this Leila would not have gotten too many people joining her email list from that guest post.
I know you are probably thinking, ok great Sana.
So what should I then look for when finding sites for guest posting?
I’m glad you asked! Here is what you should look for.
What you should look for when finding sites for guest posting
I recommend my students look at four different areas when researching sites for guest posting.
① Audience fit
Take a few minutes to understand who the the site is focused on helping. And make sure this includes your ideal audience.
Pro-tip: Don't limit yourself to sites that only have your exact audience. If you do this you are taking many perfecting good sites off the table, drastically reducing your potential sites for guest posting. Let me explain with an example. Let's assume your core audience focus is introverted entrepreneurs. While you should look for introverted entrepreneur sites you should also look for 1) sites for introverts likely to attract entrepreneurs 2) site for entrepreneurs likely to attract introverts.
② Values fit
Take a few minutes to confirm that you agree with the influencer’s most passionately held core values. Personally, I think it is unethical to guest post with an influencer if you know you disagree with their core values.
But let's put that aside for a moment. When you guest post on a site where you disagree with influencer's values you are unlikely to get the list building returns you want.
For example here are some core values of an influencer I guest posted with recently:
Say for some reason you happened to disagree with these values but somehow miraculously still managed to guest post with that influencer.
Because most of the influencer's audience agrees with her values, chances are your post would not attract a meaningful number of people to your email list.
Even if they did join, the moment they would notice you don’t have the same values, they would immediately unsubscribe.
③ Strong audience relationship
Confirm the influencer has a strong relationship with their audience.
When a strong relationship exists, the influencer's audience sees your guest post as the influencer's endorsement of you and your work. This alone would inspire them to join your email list.
But when an influencer does not have a strong relationship with their audience, your guest post will not attract people to your email list.
One of the best signs of strong relationships is the level of engagement with their content.Warning: when I say engagement I do not mean comments. I’ve written about why looking at comments for engagement is a bad idea (+ what you should look at instead here).
④ Evidence of promotion
Confirm that the site you want to guest post with promotes the author’s site and/or giveaway gift.
If you don’t, you might end up like Sam. By some measures Sam had a hit guest post. But unfortunately it did absolutely nothing for his business:
Talk about anti-climactic!Pro-tip: The reason why some sites don’t promote your site or giveaway is not that they are purposefully malicious. They simply assume your main reason for guest posting is credibility, not list building. This is why you should look for evidence of promotion and avoid guest posting at sites like that.
Your Action Steps
When it comes to guest posting for list building, guest posting with the wrong site is one of the most time-consuming mistakes you can make.
So take some time to make sure you have the right site before you pitch.
Want a checklist of the action steps my students use to find the right site for them? Click here to download the free 4-day checklist for this post.
One killer mistake to WATCH out as you start pitching guest posts
Recently I was doing a Pitch Perfect session for my student Logan. Pitch Perfect a chance for students to work one-on-one with me on their guest post pitch emails.
Logan signed up for Pitch Perfect because she felt that even though she had a lot of success helping clients, she didn't feel she was selling herself well enough in her guest post pitch emails.
She felt the culprit behind this was that she did not have the right credentials to sell influencers on her guest post.
So she did what most people do in such a situation--pack her pitch with as many credentials as she could.
Her hope was that this would convince influencers that she was a legit expert and not just some flash in the pan coach. Ultimately she hoped this would be enough for them to let her guest post.
She has been disappointed to discover that her pitches had gotten absolutely zero response.
I on the other hand was not surprised.
You see credential packed pitches are one of the first things I look for when someone sends over a failed pitch.
Let's talk about why credential packed guest post pitch emails fail.
Why credential packing your guest post pitch emails does NOT work
Even though most people think that packing a guest post pitch email with credentials, is the best most logical way to sell the influencer on the value of their guest post, that approach rarely works.
You see before an influencer can even begin to assess your pitch logically, their emotional brain needs to green-light it first.
And unless the credentials you have packed your guest post pitch email with have a personal meaning for the influencer, you can almost bet that their emotional brain will not green-light your pitch.
The reason? A busy influencer’s emotional brain sees your credential packed pitch as yet another distraction from their goals.
And distractions can kick off a fight, flight, or freeze response in influencers.
Unfortunately for your guest post pitch that could mean being harshly rejected, silently ignored, or placed in a deal-with-it-later-pile.
Wrap up and next steps
In the last few parts, I showed you how to start pitching guest posts, even if you are a complete newbie.
I covered every part of proper pre-work including:
- What to improve on your site
- What to research about the influencer AND
- What not to include in your pitch
But you know that these ideas will only help if you put them into action.
To help make it as easy as possible to take action, I have created not one but three special gifts for you.
First, I’ve put together a PDF version of this post that you can print out to jot down your biggest takeaways and ideas on.
Second, I’ve created a 4-day checklist with the specific actions steps you can take to get your online headquarters ready, research your influencer, and craft your successful pitch.
Third, I’ve created a 8-step guest posting acceptance roadmap to give you the exact framework I use to get 80% of my guest posts accepted at high traffic sites.
Click here to download all three gifts and use them to pitch your first guest post this week!
- 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.