Last week we talked about why writers should write guest posts and five different strategies where guest posts can writers build their audience.
Today we’ll go over how to navigate this process of pitching and writing guest posts including the before, during and after. The process might seem a little intimidating but once you’ve done it a few times it won’t seem nearly as scary. It might even be fun!
And remember, these techniques don’t just apply to blogs and websites. You can use a lot of this same information when submitting work to print magazines, newsletters or even literary magazines.
Before You Pitch
Your first step will be to find blogs where you can pitch a guest post. Don’t just focus on blogs about writing, though. Branch out and be creative about the blogs you approach. Put together a list and make sure you do your research. In particular, make sure you find out if the blog accepts guest posts at all, and who you should contact with your guest post idea. As you think creatively of which blogs to pitch with a guest post, here are some ideas:
- Book Blogs: Look at book review blogs and see if you can write a guest post relating to a genre you like to read or write. Book bloggers probably won’t accept guest book reviewers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pitch a post about a topic or recent trends in your genre.
- Blogs Relating to Personal Interests/Hobbies: Do you have any non-writing-related interests –perhaps even interests that come through in your writing but aren’t the main focus of your books? Maybe your protagonist loves baking (and you do too)–f so, why not pitch a post to a food blog? You could even include a recipe inspired by your character. Maybe you love reading (and writing) children’s books–how about reaching out to a mommy blog or two and writing a piece about kids and reading.
- Travel Blogs: Does your book take place in a particular location or setting? Why not use your research about that place to compose a piece for a travel blog?
Next comes the pitch. I know “pitch” sounds scary, but really all you have to do is write an email. Keep it short and simple and just follow the handy-dandy guide below and you’ll be able to craft an effective pitch email. If you’ve done your homework, then this step should be fairly easy and painless.
Dear [Blogger’s Name],
Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself (if relevant, mention how/when you have met the blogger in the past). Tell how you discovered the blog and say something you like about it.
Paragraph 2: Express interest in writing a guest post. Offer 2-3 possible topics that are relevant to the blog in question (even better if you can link your suggestions to a specific post they’ve written on their site). Tip: use bullet points for the topics so it’s easy for the blogger to scan through.
Paragraph 3: If the blogger is not familiar with your work, provide 1-2 links to your work (either posts on your own blog or guest posts you’ve done for others).
Keep the sign-off friendly but professional.
Include an email signature with your information so the blogger can look up you or your site.
There you have it, a simple template for writing a guest post pitch. Next, I’ll share a couple of things that are big no-no’s when sending a pitch. Watch out for these as you craft your emails.
Just as “Dear Agent” and “Dear Editor” are not acceptable salutations in a query or cover letter, “Dear Blogger” is not how you start a pitch letter. You don’t need to go as far as to say “Ms.” or “Mr.” but at the very least figure out the person’s first name.
If the person receiving your email can tell just by reading it that you have no idea what his or her blog is about, than that’s not going to be a particularly effective pitch. By pitching a topic that is completely irrelevant to the blog, you’re sending the message to that blogger that you couldn’t be bothered to read a few posts and get a feel for the blog. If you can’t take the time to pitch something relevant to that blog, don’t be surprised if the blogger in question doesn’t take the time to send a reply.
Articles Written on Spec
DIY MFA gets many pitches from freelance writers who have written something on spec (speculation) and pitch it after it’s already written. Many blogs and websites don’t have a problem with posts written on spec. With DIY MFA, though, we sometimes get a little nervous when someone pitches an article on spec because it means that the article hasn’t been written with the DIY MFA audience specifically in mind. More importantly, though, it also means that the article hasn’t been written to fit with the DIY MFA editorial calendar.
Whenever possible, I prefer when writers approach DIY MFA with a solid concept but not a finished article. I like knowing the writer has a good idea of where the article will go but there’s still wiggle room for adjusting the piece to fit a particular theme or genre. We plan the DIY MFA calendar months in advance, with articles, product launches and coverage of conferences and events all tied together. This means that at times we need to be able to tweak articles so they fit with the other things on the calendar. It’s much harder to do that with a post written on spec.
Once the Post is Published
We’ll talk about writing the actual guest post in another article, but it’s important for you to remember that just because the post is published it doesn’t mean your work is over. It’s important for you to find out when your post goes up so you can help promote it. Share it on social media and if you blog, don’t be shy about posting the link and directing your audience to your guest post. When DIY MFA does a guest post, I like to include the links in the Writer Fuel newsletter as well. Make sure to check in at the blog that hosted you at least a couple of times on pub-day so you can field questions and add to the discussion in the comments section.
After that’s done, you can check this guest post off your list and start on the next on.
We’ve put together a worksheet to help you keep track of places where you’ve pitched guest posts, the ones you’ve written and which ones have been published. Click this link to download your FREE Guest Post Log.