If you missed my guest post on Design*Sponge over the summer, it’s pretty awesome and you should read it: Fast Food Marketing for Your Biz.
A couple people have asked me how I managed a spot on Design*Sponge and while they don’t take art/design submissions (only business posts for their Biz Ladies column), I think this is good information for pitching any big blog.
So I’m dishing all the magical things I did to land a guest post on D*S. (Hint – they’re not very magical.)
I wanted a big guest post and Design*Sponge was on my list. So yes, I have a list of blogs, websites, magazines, etc that I want to work with or be featured on. You should too. If you don’t, start one today in your favorite note-taking method (mine is Evernote).
So I made it a goal. I’m going to pitch D*S. I hadn’t yet mentally gotten to the “I’m going to get on D*S.” mindset yet. But apparently I didn’t need to. I just set the intention to pitch them. To do what’s in MY power to get an awesome guest blog post.
Then I researched the blog. Sure, I had been reading D*S posts for a while, but I still wanted to look at them from the totally different perspective of “what makes this post good for this blog?” And I made some notes about the posts.
Then I drafted up some blog concepts. I came up with 3 different post ideas that I thought were a good fit for the Biz Ladies section of D*S.
And then I scoured the last six months of content on D*S to ensure no one had written about the same thing. That’s a mistake a lot of people make.
Then it was time to figure out how to pitch them, logistically. I searched their site for guidelines and only came up with a stern no-pitches for design/art/etc. But I knew that the Biz Ladies section was almost entirely guest posts. So something was off. This is where it gets a little interesting. I made use of my contacts. And this is one reason why it’s important not to be an island in your business. You have to get to know other people doing similar things or with similar audiences. You have to be building relationships. It’s networking, yes, but you want the connections to be a little deeper than that so that when you need something, they actually want to help you out. So that’s what I did. I looked up the last person I knew who posted on D*S and asked them how.
They gave me the run-down. Who the editor of the Biz Ladies column is, what her email is, and best practices for pitching her in particular. That is how I found out that she prefers you to send the whole post in your pitch so she can just copy/paste it up onto her site.
So then I had to write the post. Nothing crazy here. Though I did write the intro bit for her in the same style that they normally write them in, introducing me as the author of the post.
Then, her email address in hand, I constructed my pitch. This is verbatim what I wrote:
Hey [Name Redacted]!
I read D*S almost every day and really adore the Biz Ladies section. I scoured the site for your guest post guidelines for the section and could only find the policies for the rest of the site. So I sleuthed a little and got your contact info from a couple friends who have guested with you before. Hope that’s ok!
I have re-engineered an amazing marketing technique from the fast food industry for entrepreneurs to use in all fields. I thought it would be perfect for D*S. I think your readers will love it because it’s so unexpected – they’ve probably never heard anyone give this advice before!
I know you’re super busy, so I went ahead and wrote the whole post, plus the intro spiel you do, so you can scan it over and see if you’d like it on Biz Ladies! Please let me know if I can do anything else for you to make your life easier or make the post better for Biz Ladies. Here’s the post to make it as copy/paste-don’t-have-to-open-Word as possible:
And then I added the full post in-line (because this is what she wanted, some blogs just want your topic idea or need you to attach the post in a Word file or something) and my email signature.
She wrote back a couple days later saying she loved the post and wanted to publish that week!
So why did this work?
So I followed her guidelines. Well, I found out the best guidelines I could and followed those. Many blogs will have a “contributors” page or something like that where you can find their guidelines for guest posts. Scour the site for these until you are 100% they don’t exist before you give up. If you don’t follow their guidelines, it’s usually an instant no.
And of course I had a really good topic. It was unexpected and interesting – and best of all, it was really useful.
And then the other really big thing is the way I pitched. Let me break down the text:
1) I made it clear that I read the blog. So she can assume that I know her readers and I know the style of the writing and topics. Plus, it’s flattering!
2) Since I didn’t have definitive guidelines for pitching her, I mentioned that I tried to find some and went out of my way quite a bit to ensure I was giving her what she needed.
3) It didn’t hurt to gently mention that I knew people who had guest posted for her before, though that part isn’t necessary by any means.
4) I was succinct with my summary of the article so if it wasn’t a good fit, she could handle that quickly. And if it was a good fit, she would know right away that she wasn’t wasting her time reading the whole email.
5) I mentioned her readers, which is like saying “I know what’s most important to you – that this post is something your readers want to read.”
6) Then I finished by making it obvious that I was trying to make things easy on her, letting her know that I am conscious of her time, and offering to help her in any other way she might need.
So that’s a really good structure for most pitches. First and foremost, follow their specific guidelines. But if there aren’t any or they’re not constrictive, use this structure:
– mention you’re a reader (which you should be because you did your research!)
– quickly summarize the topic
– mention why it’s a good post for their readers
– make it clear that you are aware of the blogger’s time
– offer up your help in any other way they might need (or be specific if you can!)
– and then typically it’s good to add a quick 2 sentences about yourself
The little extra touches from my post are the personality things that shine through and make your pitch compelling. Those are important too. While brevity is good, you want to make sure you’re still coming across as you – a person with spirit and life and opinions. So use interesting words (like sleuth), write in snappy sentences, or inject some humor. If there’s no person on the other end of the pitch, it’s a no.
When in doubt, err on shorter as long as you hit the points above. But if you read it aloud and it sounds terse, it’s no good. Short, but nice. Short, but nice.
What has your most successful guest post looked like? How did you write the pitch? I’d love to hear in the comments below if you’ve got tricks or successes you’d like to share! The more guest blogs linked, the merrier!