Blogging is not dead—in fact, it’s very much the opposite. Content marketing is the name of the game right now, and a blog is the perfect vehicle to get your content out into the world.
And it doesn’t always have to be your own blog. If you’re looking for ways to grow your community and company brand, pitching yourself as a guest blogger is one of my favorite PR and marketing strategies. Introducing your voice and expertise to an audience on a platform they already trust, love, and regularly read? That’s always going to end happy.
But to get your content on someone else’s blog, you’re going to need a better strategy than a generic, “Hi, I’d like to write a guest post on your blog,” email. There’s a better way. So if you’re interested in guest blogging, here’s what you need to do.
Step #1: Get Specific About Your Expertise
Sometimes it feels like writing broad, general content will allow you to reach more people. The truth is, there’s so much broad, general noise out there, people often tune out.
To get an outside company or blog owner excited about your content, you need to get specific.
First, write a list of all the topics you can speak to. There will be the obvious ones, like “career advice” or “cooking,” but what else from your life can you incorporate that could further narrow that topic (and make it more juicy in the process)?
For example, I have a background in PR, marketing, content creation, social media, and coaching—those are my go-to topics. But I’m also an entrepreneur, so I can mix in some other sub-topics, like my favorite time management tools or how I stay sane as a business owner. And then there’s the rest of my life (all fair game when it comes to blogging!) that I can incorporate in interesting ways, like “What Getting Married Taught Me About PR.”
These are the topics that are going to capture the audience’s attention.
Step #2: Dig In
Once you have a few specific topic suggestions, figure out the outlets you want to pitch. I could write an entire post about the process of evaluating different blogs and online publications, but the most important gut check is this: What blogs are read by the people you want to get in front of?
For example, if you wanted to get in front of health- and wellness-conscious readers, you might think of MindBodyGreen.
Once you have a few ideas of where you’d like to be published, spend some time with your pal Google to answer the following questions about those blogs:
- Who’s the audience?
- What topics does the blog cover?
- What’s the tone of the blog? (Is it super serious? Light and conversational?)
- What’s the format of the posts? (For example, BuzzFeed often features lists, while Huffington Posts publishes longer articles.)
- Are the blog posts short (think: 500 words) or long (closer to 2,000 words)?
- Who are some of the blog’s other contributors?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a better idea if you and your pitches are a good fit. If you write BuzzFeed-style lists full of animal GIFs, for example, you may not be a good fit for a blog that focuses on serious articles about animal-related careers.
Step #3: Understand the Blog’s Contributor Policy
Some of the bigger outlets, like Huffington Post, have specific parameters around how to submit a blog. For example, they may be looking for a certain word count or require you to upload the post through an online submission form.
On the other hand, you’ll usually find that smaller blogs will have contact details for a human (my fave!) and fewer or less stringent submission parameters, so it’s up to you to decide what you want to send.
Whichever outlet you pursue, check out its contributor policy before you write anything—so you’re not writing 2,000 words when it only wants 250.
Step #4: Find Your Piece of the Garden
One of my coaches once told me, “There’s room for everyone to have a piece of the garden.”
It’s a metaphor I’ve found it to be incredibly true—there really is enough space for all of our voices. You just have to know how to insert your expertise and voice into the mix. So, once you have a better understanding of how your expertise matches up with the blog’s audience and policies, consider how you can best work together.
For example, is there a topic the blog hasn’t yet covered that you think would be interesting to its community? Or, do you have an idea for a fresh, new angle for a topic it regularly covers? These are great places to start forming your pitches.
At this point, you have all the groundwork in place: You know what you can (and want to) write about, the blogs that align with those topics, and the policies around submitting pitches for guest blogs. In my next post, I’ll share tips on how to actually write the blog to make it as compelling as possible—and then, how to pitch the pants off of it.