How to Land Guest Posts on Huge Blogs (in Five Straightforward Steps) by Ali Luke

gb-aliby Ali Luke

One of the best ways to promote your non-fiction book is by guest posting: writing content for other people’s blogs. Whatever stage you’re at with your book (even if it’s currently just a back-of-an-envelope plan), you can try out guest posting. You don’t need to be an established author or a well-known name. You just need to be able to write. The best news? All it will cost you is a little bit of your time.

The Four Key Benefits of Guest Posting

Before we dig into the details of how to get your guest posts onto huge blogs, here’s a quick summary of why guest posting is so useful. It allows you to:

  • Build a relationship with a big-name blogger who writes about your topic. It’s often tough to get on these influencers’ radars, but a guest post is a great way to leap ahead of the crowd. (You could leave comments on their blog week after week and barely be noticed.)
  • Draw in an interested audience – you’ll get a ‘bio’ at the end of your guest post where you can include a link to your book’s sales page — or if you prefer, to a post on your blog, your email newsletter sign-up page, or anything else you want.
  • Try out different writing styles and tones. You’ll usually find that different blogs have quite different tones; one might be snarky, another inspiring and encouraging. Learning to vary your voice to suit different blogs helps you become an even more skilled writer and, creatively speaking, it can be very refreshing.
  • Create backlinks to your book’s landing page, or to your blog. These help you rank more highly in Google and other search engines. This definitely shouldn’t be your only motivation, or even your main motivation, for guest posting: writing a really good post for the host blog’s audience is what matters most.

**How to Get Your Guest Post on a Really Big Blog**

While a guest post on any blog can bring benefits, it’s obviously better to have an audience of 20,000 rather than 200. Assuming two blogs are equally on-topic for you, the bigger one is the best one to target. Many authors make the mistake of thinking that they have to work their way up, starting with small blogs, before the bigger ones will even take a look at their guest post submissions. This really isn’t the case, and you can go further, faster, by starting at the top.

Here’s How:

Step #1: Choose Your Target Blogs

Hopefully, you’re already reading some major blogs within your specialist area. You might well be able to name five or ten right now. If you need to do a bit of research, Alltop is a great place to begin, as the blogs listed there tend to be quite large ones. There’s no ‘magic number’ to shoot for, but a good rule of thumb is to find blogs with at least ten times your own number of blog readers (or newsletter subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, etc).

Step #2: Find Each Blog’s Guest Post Guidelines

Not every blog accepts guest posts so, before you spend time writing a pitch or a draft, check that they are actually open for submissions. Many blogs will link to their guest post guidelines from their contact page. Guidelines are normally straightforward, and will usually give:

  • An idea of wordcount (if nothing’s said, aim between 500 and 1000 words).
  • The stipulation that all posts must be unpublished and unique.
  • Broad topic suggestions, though some blogs won’t offer these.
  • Preferred formats for receiving submitted posts (e.g. rich text, HTML, Word document, Google Docs)

Step #3: Target Your Post to Each Specific Blog

One mistake that writers make when producing guest posts, especially if they’re doing so as part of a virtual book tour, is to write all the posts first, then look for blogs that might be a good fit. It’s a much better idea to craft posts with a particular blog in mind (you can always rewrite and resubmit them if your top-choice blogs turn them down). This means your post will be a great match for each blog’s topics, audience, and style.

Some bloggers like to draft the whole post before sending a pitch, even if the blog in question just wants a quick pitch to begin with; others prefer to pitch ideas then start writing. Do make sure you’ve got enough time set aside to write the posts if all the blogs on your list say “Yes”!

Step #4: Write a Great Pitch

As editor of DailyBlogTips, I get a lot of really poor guest post pitches. Some of these are laughably bad – calling me by the wrong name, suggesting topics that have nothing to do with the blog, making typo after typo. So the standard you have to beat might not be as high as you think. You don’t need to wow a blog editor with your clever turn of phrase or your credentials (though those can help, of course). Instead, what you need to do is:

  • Be clear and concise. Don’t waste a busy editor’s time – get to the point.
  • Give the title of your suggested post, plus a brief outline (this could be in a single sentence or in bullet points).
  • Follow the guidelines to the letter. If you’re told to write the whole post rather than sending a pitch, do that.
  • Triple-check for any mistakes… and be particularly careful that you’ve got the editor’s name right.

None of this is tricky. There’s no ‘secret’ here and nothing that requires more than the ability to write clearly.

Step #5: Work With the Blog

If your post is accepted… congratulations! You may find you need to be fairly accommodating to what the editor wants, though. Even if this is a bit frustrating, you can trust that they know their readers and what’s going to work best.

You might be asked to change your initial plan – perhaps going into more depth, or focusing on a narrower topic. You may be asked to revise your draft and, in almost every case, you can expect the blog to make some editorial changes. Unless you have a really strong reason to insist on your version, accept edits and suggestions gracefully. You’ll not only be more likely to get through to publication, you’ll also be much more likely to be welcomed back in the future.

That’s it! If you’ve never tried pitching a big blog, do give it a go. You have nothing to lose and you just might find yourself getting the big break that you’ve been waiting for.

Ali’s Hot Tip

Keep asking yourself what the next step is… and then take it! There are all sorts of marketing activities that might feel scary at first, whether that’s putting together a virtual book tour, or something as simple as signing up for Twitter. Whatever stage you’re at, you can always take one step forward. (And chances are, you’ll find it’s not nearly as hard as you thought it would be.)

ali-bookAbout Ali

Ali Luke is the author of ‘Lycopolis,’ a novel, and ‘Publishing E-Books for Dummies (Wiley, 2012). She runs a community/teaching site, Writers’ Huddle (www.writershuddle.com) with monthly seminars on different aspects of the craft and business of writing.

Comments

  1. Great tips, Ali!

    I love the way you broke it down into simple steps. I have a few big blogs that I love and I’ve been following for a while. I’ve wanted to pitch to them, but was never sure how to go about it. Thanks to your tips I know how to get started.

    • Thanks Elke! Best of luck with your pitches! The blogs you’ve been a fan of for a while are definitely the best ones to start with — you’ll know their content and audience well.

  2. Vickie says:

    Great post, Ali! Thanks for your helpful tips and you-can-do-it attitude!

  3. Thanks for the specifics. So many “instruction” posts don’t give enough specifics. Appreciate your ideas and tips. Will adjust for being a sci-fi writer and GO! Best to you!

  4. Great tips for writing guest posts! I get requests for blog posts from time to time on my women’s health blog and it is frustrating to get emails from people who obviously never read my blog. I get requests to post their blog posts on kitchen equipment, garlic supply stores, etc. The reason is because my blog is named Garlic & Lemons… I’m sure these are just SEO writers just looking for a place to dump a bunch of backlinks to their blog.

    So please, if you are going to write a guest blog post, take the time to read a few months of blog posts to get a feel for what the blog is actually about. Check out their writing style. Is it comedic? Is it filled with facts backed by research? Do they do interviews? Do you speak to a similar audience that will find value in your book? This is all important to deciding whether or not it is worth your time to write a guest post for any blog.

    • Thanks for those fantastic tips, Halona! I’m sure you’re right that you’re attracting a lot of SEO writers. (I know I get a fair few pitches from them too … it gets so you can spot them within the first sentence or two, doesn’t it?) I hope you get some great writers and long-time blog readers pitching you soon as well.

  5. Hello!
    Thank you dear for posting! You have some great in-sight. Have a great day!

  6. Thank you for this information which is broken down into easy to follow steps. I’m still learning about this virtual world of blogs, guest blogs, and virtual book tours! I need to move forward with the next steps and you’ve given me a load of help!

  7. Hello Ali,

    You provided some very detail information on how to guest blog for a big name that blogs in my subject area. Having the “How” information makes the process much easier.

    Thank you.

  8. Peg Hubbard says:

    Ali,

    Thank you for such clear and detailed advice! Guest blogging is definitely one of my next endeavors, and now I feel more confident about it. I really like your hot tip — taking the next step. I find that is where so many people get stuck, in whatever it is they are doing that is new to them. It’s a good reminder to now slow down on the learning and take the next step into effectively using all I’ve learned to successfully build a business with my book!

    • Thanks Peg! I know plenty about getting stuck… I really like David Allen’s advice in “Getting Things Done” to constantly ask yourself “What’s the next action?” to keep projects moving forward.

  9. Great post. Thank you. My trouble is that I have been reading the blogs I like, and not ones that my audience likes, so I will have to do some research in the coming months. I would love to have a VBT before the Toronto International Book Fair.
    I will save up your tips, as well as Halona’s.

    Cheers!

    • Thanks Mili! I think reading new blogs is one of the most fun forms of research. 🙂

  10. Gudrun says:

    Hi Ali, thanks for your great tips. There is so much wisdom in this group, it’s a joy to be part of it.
    Cheers
    Gudrun

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