Blogger Outreach Part 3: Sowing The Seed – How to Get Your Content Placed

Plot chosen, seed chosen – now how do you go about planting it effectively? Sometimes sites are happy for you to submit straight away, but most of the time they require pitches or some sort of initial contact. In general your guest posting will benefit from proper relationship-building with bloggers – to go back to the ‘Guest’ analogy, you’d have more success asking someone you vaguely knew for a couch to kip on than harassing a complete stranger.

Pitching can be the hardest part of the process, but it should get easier with practice and experience. It takes a bit of confidence – but if you know you have got great content that is right for the target site, then you’re halfway there. The rest is easier to get right than wrong – but if you get it wrong, be warned a lot of bloggers have a ‘Wall of Shame’ for truly awful pitches!

What’s the Germination Rate?
This depends on industry. Some sections of the blogosphere are notoriously hard to infiltrate, or have been totally saturated by a lot of companies doing blogger outreach. An interesting article by Distilled spoke of a success rate of 25 – 30% (email recipients to accepted posts) in the difficult areas of medical and finance. Basically, if you aim to get 10 placements a month you need to be sending out about 40 articles. Some might be slow-burners, some will be non-starters, some will sprout quickly and continue to grow for a long period of time.

Pitching Articles, Building Relationships
It’s like a blind date. Look your best. Be polite. Be personable. Be genuinely interested in them. Request – don’t demand. Don’t forget you’re asking for a favour. Don’t treat the pitch as a one-off – have the eye to building a relationship with this person. And for goodness sake, make friends with Spellcheck first.

Here’s some advice from real bloggers who are always bombarded by guest post requests. Basically, we find the best approach is just to be really, really, really nice. Why waste energy being anything else?

Use a Name! Find the name of the editor, even it involves a bit of a social media trawl

Subject – should mention it is a guest post pitch

First Line Flattery – Indicate that you have read the blog and like it. Praise a post you particularly liked and why, or say something you like about the site that makes it stand out from the others

Who You Are, who you’re with, why you’re writing (short and sweet) – include any accolades you or your business is known for, to lend authority to your pitch

Pitch Idea – why you think it is a good fit (eg. “I notice you have had some great posts about electric cars, but not much coverage of e-bikes” / “I’ve noticed other readers often ask on your forum about saving money as well as the environment…” / “You tweeted asking about any alternatives for commuters…”)

Examples of Your Previous Work – obviously your best work on the best, or most comparable, sites. Show posts that have attracted a lot of comments and a lot of interaction. Great if you can boast no. of tweets/shares/+s/links received by your guest post.

Show You Have Read Their Guidelines – and that you will stick to them! Never impose your own! If you can’t find guest post policy on their site, say something like “I notice from other guest posts there seems to be 2 links in the text – would that be ok for my post too? Is there any other guidance I should be aware of?”

Reciprocity – how will you promote it (social media, own blog, e-newsletter)? Can you offer anything in return?

• Your eagerness to make any changes they require: Demonstrate that you’re willing to work with them and make sure your content is a good fit for their audience.

• Make sure any links in your email signature – Twitter, Google+, blogs – are active and look good!

• If your pitch is accepted, send your article and any additional material (eg images) promptly in the correct format (usually Word doc, html, or text file)

How To Build Relationships. . .

Take a minimum of 4 weeks to engage and build relationships with sites through social networks, before sending them guest post requests. Let them know that you’re a real person, that you know who they are, that you’ve researched them, and that you’ve been in touch.
• Easiest and most effective way, mainly on Twitter – follow, re-tweet, comment and FF
• Comment on their Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram etc
• Become part of the site community – forums, comment boards
• Leave well-crafted comments on their blog articles
• BE OF SERVICE – offer to help with something, or reach out in general – over 4 weeks there will almost certainly be something they ask for help with on Twitter – also check their About page, find out more about them, if they say they want to travel to Japan offer some good places to go etc.

For some sites, particularly big ones, that won’t work – the relationship is built through producing good quality content and getting a reputation with them.

When you meet someone, get their card, find out if they have a blog and make a link later on if it will be a good fit, gently reminding them who you are and where you met.

Do you know someone who has guest posted for them already? Ask for an introduction. This will make it easier to get on their radar.

Above all, treat your build-up and pitch like any other business networking event.
Be interested. Be of service. Be honest. Be memorable. Be really, really nice.
And then be nice some more.

Previous Posts in this Series:
How to Grow Your Business Through Effective Guest Blogging
Blogger Outreach Part 1: Finding Places to Plant Content
Blogger Outreach Part 2: Choosing Your Crop – How to Write Effective Content

Following Parts in the Series:
Part 4: Harvesting The Fruit – How to Maintain Your Guest Blogging Momentum