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We’ve been pitched a blog post about hoverboards.
While hoverboards are pretty cool and I’d like to own one, our business and our blog have absolutely nothing to do with hoverboards.
Why did we get pitched a post about hoverboards? Most likely because the person pitching the post saw we have a decent domain authority and they wanted to get a piece of it by getting a backlink from us. I’m sure their blog post on hoverboards would have been very interesting, but it likely would have caused our audience of B2B marketing professionals to scratch their heads in confusion.
We know who we are, and who we are not
We are a boutique digital marketing firm that focuses on creating websites and providing content marketing services.
Writing about anything else doesn’t provide value for our brand.
Over the past eight years, we’ve built up the blog on our website writing (mostly) weekly posts about all aspects of web design and digital marketing. This blogging strategy has enabled us to add two to four new blog posts to our website each month. Our main goal has always been to provide our clients and prospects with helpful, actionable information that helps them do their jobs better or aids them in making a decision about digital marketing.
Potential clients get helpful tips and can do their jobs better.
We get great content that may help us rank better and attract more potential clients.
We hate rejection, too
While we love adding insightful information to our blog, we hate having to reject guest post submissions.
Below is an actual pitch we received (sender’s information not included to protect their privacy).
Any smart website owner should be excited to get a guest post pitch. Not only is it flattering (you really like us and want to write for us?), but you get free, hopefully useful content for your website. You can use someone else’s writing to drive traffic to your website.
It’s not us; it’s you
So, why the heck do we end up rejecting nine out of ten pitches we receive?
Simply stated, many of the guest post pitches we receive “aren’t a good fit,” which can mean a variety of things.
Here are the top reasons we reject a guest blog (and why you should, too):
- The topic is irrelevant
- The company pitching the blog isn’t related to our industry
- The writing is terrible
- The blog is tailored to the wrong audience (B2C vs B2B or CTO vs CMO)
- The website they want us to link to is sketchy
- We’ve published a blog post from them recently
- The writing in the email is terrible and full of grammar issues
- The person hasn’t researched our business or even looked at our website
- The topic is too inflammatory
- The topic is relevant but not inline with our firm’s philosophy
- The topic is tired and overused
- There is no value for our audience
When I read a guest blog pitch, I evaluate it for all of these things.
Don’t make me hate helping you
Recently, I made the mistake of tentatively accepting a guest post pitch even though the grammar in the email wasn’t up to our standards. We work with CEOs, founders, and marketing directors in a variety of industries, including biotech and finance, all who tend to have advanced educations and expect quality writing.
As such, we require all the content on our website to be grammatically correct, to flow well, and to be coherent.
I ignored my instinct because the proposed topic was really interesting and I felt it would be a great blog post for our current clients. I ended up paying for it. The draft that the guest writer sent over was subpar, to put it nicely. A blog post will undergo revisions, but this post was grammatically challenged and incoherent, jumping from point to point and back again.
I Tracked Changes during the revision process, then returned the post to the writer, who I didn’t hear back from.
The winning 10%
We’ve noticed that winning guest pitches — whether ours or others who pitch to our blog — have a few things in common, in that the pitchers seem to realize the following:
- It’s not easy and it does take time
- Always be professional and respectful
- Know your audience (both the person you’re emailing and the folks who are reading their website/blog)
- Read their existing blog posts
- Pitch a relevant topic
- Follow-up is key to getting a response (rejection or approval)
- Don’t push it
- Don’t get discouraged
We don’t anticipate this 90/10 rule for the blog pitches we accept to change. It’s unfortunate, but we know that many digital marketers will never fully understand guest blog pitches and will continue the machine-gun pitching strategy.
7 tips for a successful guest blog pitch
Based on our experience pitching guest blogs and accepting guest blogs, we have several insights to share with writers, marketers, and website owners.
1. Steer clear of paying for guest post opportunities
This one always surprises me. It’s only a matter of time before sites that sell space on their blog are nixed from the SERPs. We always decline when a website we pitch tells us they will publish it for a fee.
2. Do your own research
We always perform our own research to vet a website, ensure it’s relevant, and make sure it actually has a blog we’d like to write for.
3. Don’t always go after 60+ DA websites
It’s great to land a guest blog on a high DA site, but these are often very tough. It’s often better to start with the “low-hanging fruit,” relevant sites that might have low domain authority.
4. Write a thoughtful article that adds value
Don’t write crap. Consider every guest blog you write to be a graded assignment. Your professional reputation still matters in a digital world. If you write crap, you will be judged for it.
5. Provide options.
People, including editors, like to have options. You might have a great topic, but it’s always best to present several great topics. You never know, the editor may have previously accepted a similar topic.
6. Be genuine.
Ditch your generic email pitch. You may start with a template, but spend 15 minutes or so tailoring it to your pitch.
If you can, find the person’s name and personalize the message. Keep in mind that many of the people you pitch receive lots of unsolicited pitches every day. Stand out from the rest by being genuine and unique.
7. Don’t spam or waste people’s time.
If the website you’re pitching isn’t relevant to your industry, don’t pitch them. If they take the time to send you a rejection notice, be gracious and respectful. Take it as a learning experience and thank them for their time.
The last thing I’ve learned about rejecting and submitting guest blog posts is a success comes from creating a partnership between the person doing the pitching and the person being pitched. Our approach is always to offer something of value, be respectful, and, hopefully, create a connection beneficial for everyone.
Have you been successful in pitching guest posts? What’s worked for you?