Guest Posting. It’s become a link building phenomenon.
The natural way to build authoritative links to a website, right? In principle, sure. But, like with any type of link building, this type of tactic is only effective if it’s done the right way.
Of course, applying to become a guest author or blogger is the first step in the process of having your content published on a pre-sourced website or blog. Which brings me on nicely to the subject of this particular post – the pitfalls of guest post pitching.
Recently, I made use of Cathy Stucker’s BloggerLinkUp Newsletter (which, I must say, is an excellent resource), in order to accumulate content for a blog I’m overseeing. The response was overwhelming in terms of volume. I received a shed load of emails (and still am a couple of weeks after the original listing).
The problem is, nearly all of the guest post pitches I received were terrible. Genuinely terrible. As an SEO and having written a number of proposals myself, it was enlightening to be on the ‘other side of the fence’ if you like, as a blog owner rather than a blogger.
Here, I’m going to point out some of the obvious flaws in guest post pitching – and ones that continued to infuriate me as I browsed through the heap of guest post requests I collected. Hey, you may even learn something and the next time you pitch for a guest post you’ll think twice about what you’re writing.
1) Blatant lying
One thing I’ve never understood about guest post pitching is the audacity of those who blatantly lie in their email. In an effort to “butter up” the recipient, bloggers will lavish praise upon your website. However, unless you operate a highly-successful and well-known blog (and if that’s the case you wouldn’t be looking for guest posts in the first place), we all know the truth is that they’ve never visited your site before – let alone read the content.
Here is a small sample of what I’m talking about.
Apparently, the articles on the blog are “informative”, “interesting” and, oh, “interesting” (in case I missed the hint first time around). Now, if you’ve genuinely read these articles, it’s probably a good idea to tell me *why* they’re so informative and interesting. Also, I know for a fact that the content in question isn’t mind-blowing. In fact, the blog actually has only a small number of entries to its name. I’m under no illusions; I know it’s not ground-breaking. By attempting to falsely commend the blog, you’ve only attempted to undermine your credibility. Not good.
2) Misspelling someone’s name
It’s a very basic thing but it doesn’t half make a difference. If you’re pitching for a guest post (in fact, if you’re writing an email full-stop), always make sure you’re spelling someone’s name right – it’s only common courtesy! You’d be surprised at how many people fail to do so.
3) Using generic email pitches
If you make a great deal of guest posting enquiries, naturally there is a temptation to develop a generic email that can be used for multiple purposes. In a way, the idea makes sense. It’s a time-saver, after all.
However, more often than not, generic emails are far too easy to spot. And, if you’re not careful, you can look foolish for it. Just check out the following.
And this type of email was far from a one-off. As you can see, the mailer has included the angled brackets in their message, clearly indicating that they’ve just pasted in the URL of the blog into their pre-written pitch.
It may take you considerably longer, but I’d honestly say it’s much more worthwhile to write a unique and personalised email to each of the blog owners you’re trying to outreach. Make each pitch different to the last and I’m sure you’re success rate will rocket.
4) Failing to make any sense
If I, as a blog owner, am going to allow you, the “blogger” (notice the quotations there), to post on my blog then I want to be convinced that you can write at least half coherently. Not only that, but you need make sense, your grammar should be spot-on and your spelling exemplary.
If you’re guest post pitch contains errors then why would I entrust you with a post on my blog?
The image above is a classic example of an email that makes little or no written sense. “Some of the articles on your site and they were worth reading”, “I am interested to contribute an article” – huh!? A guest post pitch acts as a snapshot of your written skills so avoid basic errors – like not making any sense!
5) Being ridiculously brief
Another time effective guest post pitching technique is to write very short emails. They’re straight to the point, I’ll say that much. But, on the other hand, they also require very little effort – and that’s what ultimately comes across to the recipient.
How can you expand upon a guest post pitch? Well, how about telling me why you want to guest post, your previous written experiences and just generally, a little bit about yourself.
6) Offering numerous pieces of pre-written content
A few of the emails I received were offering three, four or more pieces of pre-written content. Again, in theory, a potentially time saving exercise for the blogger. However, in practice, I, as the blog owner, would rather content be tailored specifically for inclusion on my site – not someone else’s.
Perhaps you have a piece of content that you’ve already written and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t present it immediately to the blog owner. Suggest the topic title and, if they’re keen, come back with the content attached.
I guess you’ve learned what not to put in a guest post pitch. Well, I hope you have, otherwise this would all be rather pointless. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a genius to work out the trend that set in during this post – don’t cut corners. Yep, that’s right. Don’t even attempt to be conservative with your time by constructing a set of quick-fixes.
Whether it’s a typo in your pitch, a generic email outreach or blatant BS, your frailties will always hamper your chances of being successful in your pitch. Be natural, be personable, be honest and be different – who knows, you might just get that guest post after all.