A guest post by Ann Smarty of MyBlogGuest.com
Ah, guest posting. While blogs were once a fringe activity similar to writing a journal, they now represent a great bulk of much of the average freelance writer’s work. If you own a blog yourself you have probably written guest posts before, or written them for someone else. If you are a writer you will probably regularly look for chances to expand your visibility by searching out chances to get involved with various high-profile sites.
But if your application process is specifically aimed at getting approved for a post you are doing it wrong! Your focus is not in the right place and it might be costing you your chances. Instead, use these ten tips to help you land the spot every time.
Tip #1 – Focus On What THEY Need, Not What YOU Want
You have a great idea for a post about how iPhone apps can be used to increase market visibility, and you know just the blog to pitch the piece to. Having read their blog many times before, you remember a similar piece done just a few weeks ago. So you eagerly shoot off an email along with the headline idea, confident that this post you want to write will be well received. A few days later you get a big, fat no.
Really, it should be obvious: a similar piece was already written on the topic a short time before. Therefore, it is needed. However much you wanted to write it they have no demand, and so you won’t land the spot. You should have taken that into account before offering your services, and shown that you were aware of what they needed.
Not only will it give them a chance at using something they require during that time, but it will show that you are a regular reader. It will also put off a professional and competent air, and that means everything in a business where any blogger is taking a chance when they hire a guest poster. Add that to the fact that you come off as considerate and you have a recipe for a good working relationship.
Tip #2 – Be Personable and Friendly, Not Cold and Calculated
There is nothing I hate more than an overly formal, cold sounding pitch letter. I am looking for someone approachable that my readers can really relate to, and who can have a sense of humor with a dash of cutting sarcasm to go along with their informative posts. In other words, I want a real human being who I can talk to and who I know those who visit my blog will like. Not some robot who knows how to use fifteen ten-syllable words in a single sentence. I have a thesaurus built into my OpenOffice for that, thanks.
The second you open yourself up by applying as a guest poster, make sure some of your personality comes through. You can remain professional without sounding toneless, and be proper without being cold. The friendlier you sound, the more likely you will be to catch their interest. Otherwise it sounds like you are reading from a pre-made letter. Who wants that?
Tip #3 – Watch Your Tone
I have lost track of the times when I had read a pitch that sounded like the person was doing me a favor. “I am an excellent writer, highly skilled, and I have this post idea I know you and your readers will love! Let me know when it is up, please.” This is a line taken directly from a pitch I received just a few days ago. I saved it in order to show you an example of a quick way to be turned down.
Not only was he talking himself up immediately, but he assumed that I was just going to put it up on my blog. He didn’t ask, he didn’t give me a chance to read it first, he just made the aggressive move of telling me to let him know when it was published. What a jerk! Would you go to a job interview and end it by asking your potential boss when you start?
He may have thought he sounded confident, but he just came off as arrogant. Plus, the post wasn’t anywhere near the quality I demand of my guest posters.
On the other hand, sounding too submissive is also a turn off. I have gotten emails from people begging to write for me, or asking for links. It is annoying and I tend to just ignore them outright.
Tip #4 – Don’t Be Intimidated…You Are Equal
When dealing with one of the “Blogerati” and celebrity writers that have taken over the Internet with their popular sites, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. These are successful people who have gained actual status in cyberspace, which is not that easy to do. With such a huge wash of blogs out there, they managed to claw their way to the top. They are the Perez Hilton’s and Jason Chen’s, and you might feel intimidated.
But remember, they were just like you once. They are regular people who are running a business and know what it is like to just start out. They had to work to get there, and they are usually pretty nice people. Remain friendly and natural, and acknowledge their success without fawning over it. These are writers, not rock stars.
Tip #5 – Have a Good Sense of Humor
I go through endless guest blog requests a month. So many that they tend to swim in front of my eyes and leave my brain the moment I read them. It takes something special to really catch my attention, and humor is a big factor. If you can make me laugh then I will remember your email forever. You will also be much more likely to get on my list of published bloggers, because it shows me you can add that humor to your writing.
That doesn’t mean you should make everything into a joke. But show me you can turn a couple of things into that direction and you are golden.
Tip #6 – Research, Research, Research
One of the most aggravating things I see is someone applying to guest post without any knowledge of my blog. Honestly, you would think that they would take a little bit of time to get to know me and what it is I do. Maybe read a few posts, check the FAQ page, read updates on projects. Anything.
But so many completely ignore this part and instead offer unrelated posts or at times when the last thing I need is more content.
Before you shoot off that eager email, take some time to study the site. Look at what it is all about and what has been going on recently. Check posts to see what kind of topics get the most response. See if there is anything from the past you could properly update that got a lot of attention but hasn’t been covered in awhile. Research the blog, not just the post!
Tip #7 – Compliment The Blog, But Don’t Overdo It
“Oh my God, I can’t believe how amazing your blog is! I read it every day and you are the best in the whole of cyber space. Seriously, everyone else is horrible in comparison to you. Someone asked me the other day who my hero was and I totally said it was you!”
A little much? Yeah, I thought so too.
Throwing a compliment or two to show why you want to write for a particular blog is a great idea.
Be specific about what it is you like, and maybe reference a post you especially enjoyed. Show that you appreciate the site because not only will it offer a little flattery to the owner, but it is will show you both know and will care about the blog before you begin writing for it.
Just don’t go too far. It isn’t about brown-nosing, after all. Plus, most can tell the difference between real and fake flattery.
Tip #8 – Introduce Yourself Without Writing a Biography
Of course the blogger want to know a little bit about you: where are you from, what are you interested in, what do you do? Basic questions that any survey would probably ask, mainly to get an idea of who you are and what you will be able to write about.
But notice how I said a little bit. No one wants to read a biography about you, not an introductory email. Offer up a few small facts about yourself and leave it at that. Anything else should be specifically about your work experience, and even then only a few choice bits you are especially proud of.
Tip #9 – Show What You Got
When I was first starting up I would always offer a small list of three links that showed off online work I was really proud of. These were my “samples”, and it was usually on those samples alone that I got work. They showed that I could write well and covered a broad range of topics.
Remember when you are linking your own samples not to do too many. Three is usually any ideal amount, as it is enough to show consistency. You should also try and link to at least one related to the topic you are applying to post about. Though that isn’t actually mandatory.
Tip #10 – Drop a Few Names
Yeah, it sound like a cheesy move. But dropping the names of a couple of blogs along with your pitch can really help to show that reliable sources have published you in the past. Of course, you don’t want to do too many of these. Just name off two or three places that have hired you in the past. You can attach those to links for your samples as well.
Land The Post Every Time!
See, it isn’t that hard. These are some common sense rules that are nevertheless violated on an alarmingly regular basis. If you keep these tips in mind you will be sure to greatly improve your chances to getting that guest post of your dreams.
Find out more on guest blogging at MyBlogGuest.com