If you’ve already read the first two articles in this series, then you’ve already learned about guest blogging and what the different things that you need to look for in order to find a good guest blogging opportunity. The next step is to apply and get approved.
How to Apply
If you read our previous blog, How to Find High Quality Opportuinties, you will already have compiled a list of potential sites that you can write for. Look back through your list and identify your top candidates. Hopefully, you will have recorded the URL or email address where you can apply. If not, then your first step will be to search the website and find that information, then record it. In most cases, you’ll be submitting a contact form in order to streamline the process for both parties. Some websites will ask you to contact them via email. There may also be some sites that don’t explicitly state that they are accepting contributors, but you might know that they do because you can see other blog posts that are written by contributors. In a case like this, you’ll need to do some detective work. Find the site administrator’s email, or locate a general contact form and send a request that way. You can also get creative: try reaching out to one of the existing contributors and ask them how they were able to get added to the roster of guest bloggers. Once you know the logistics, then it’s time to work on your positioning.
If you’re the primary content creator for your business, then you should only target one or two guest blogging opportunities to start so that you can give them enough time an attention for them to be successful. If you have a dedicated employee or a team that can help with content creation, then you will need to work with them to figure out how much time then can invest. A good rule of thumb that we use for ‘general’ topics that are not super technical is to allow for 1 hour of research and prep, 1 hour for writing and editing, and 1 hour for additional promotion including social media, announcements on your blog, etc.
Get Ready to Apply
Once you have an idea for how much time you can invest each week, you should go through and prioritize your opportunities. We recommend targeting 2 or 3 times MORE blogs than what you think you’ll have time for. The truth is that you won’t be accepted by all of them, and you want to maximize your chances of getting accepted by applying to more than what you’ll need. If too many accept your request, you can always respectfully decline the lower priority ones. A good way to do this is to let them know that you aren’t quite ready to start today, but may have more bandwidth later and will reach back out when that time comes. That way you can keep the door cracked if it doesn’t work out with one of the other opportunities that you do plan to accept. Take your list of guest blog opportunities and put them in a list with the most relevant and valuable options at the top.
Usually the websites that are accepting applications will also provide a short list of topics that you can select from in order to help them understand who you’ll be targeting. This is great, but if they don’t include this, then you should provide that list on your own. Look back over your notes from the previous sections. Make a new list of interests and topics for each of the guest blogging opportunities that you want to apply to. Make sure your list of topics matches up with the niche audience of each individual website.
Develop Your Article Ideas
If you haven’t noticed yet, a key piece of the strategy that we’re advocating is to customize your request for each guest blogging website that you’re applying to. You’ll need a subject to ‘sell’ to them (to become a contributor, not for money). To do this, you’ll need an article idea with an engaging headline. Review the interests that you listed for each website. Then, visit the websites and look for any recent trends in the articles that they’re already posting to help you understand what their readers are most interested in. Many blogs will actively try to target current trends and interests, which means they may focus on specific topics for an extended period of time.
For example, consider this guest blogging series that you’re reading. If allowing blog contributions was a part of our strategy, a good way to increase our visibility on this topic would be to expand the amount of content we have on our website by accepting additional contributors. This would increase our visibility on Google and other search engines, as well as build credibility with people that were browsing our articles – assuming that the content was high quality, of course.
Write down some article ideas under each of the websites that you want to target. Using our example of an online technology store from earlier, if you were targeting a guest blogging site that focused primarily website optimization, you might consider some of the following article ideas/headlines:
- 10 Tips to Make Sure Your Tech Website is on the Cutting Edge
- How to Analyze Your Website Data and Increase your Online Sales
- Decrease Cart Abandonment with these Easy-to-use Tools
Each of these clearly describes the intent of your article while also increases our fictional website’s credibility as a technology innovator by sharing some ‘tricks of the trade’ from their perspective. Your article topics and headlines should do the same.
Create & Submit your Pitch
Next you’ll be creating a pitch. You’ll want to be concise and confident in your pitch, we recommend trying to keep it to 3 or 4 sentences. Your first sentence should be the ‘ask’ – identify who you are and that your intentions are to become a guest blogger on their website. Then, discuss what your expertise is and why you’re qualified. You should also reference the article topic by citing your headline and why the website’s audience will like it. Lastly, thank them for their time and include instructions for followup if needed.
There are some other things that you’ll generally want include as well. One obvious one is samples of your work – this can be attached files or simple links to other articles you’ve written. This gives the site administrators a window into your work and will help them vet your eligibility. In addition to this, you should also include some way to prove that you are ‘real’, such as a link to an author profile page, or personal LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media account. Lastly, a nice touch is to include a featured image that the guest blog website can upload along with your text. This is a small gesture that may be disregarded by the poster, but often times they’ll use the one that you provide because it saves them time. This benefits you because you get to control more of the content and positioning around your guest blog post.
After you’ve applied to your target websites it’s time to sit back and wait. If you don’t hear anything back from them after a couple of days, try following up. Ask to confirm if they received your submission and if there is any additional information they may want to review while they make their decision. If you still hear nothing after your first followup, you can followup a few more times – we recommend a cadence of 5 days to 1 week between followups. Do this 2 or 3 times before moving on to other opportunities. They may reach back out later and you don’t want to annoy them to the point that they don’t want to work with you.
Once you’ve been accepted by the number of sites that you want to target, then it’s time to start creating content! The next post in our series will discuss how to develop engaging topics in more depth, as well as how to make any content that you create truly valuable to its readers.