The definitive guide to guest blogging outreach for PR pros
Targeted guest blogging has always been a useful tactic for PR pros to gain additional coverage for their companies or clients: increased traffic, better brand awareness and greater credibility immediately come to mind as some of the benefits.
But guest blogging has also never been a more challenging pursuit. The past year has brought a lot of upsets to the online marketing world that have made guest blogging more difficult.
Google made changes to its algorithm designed to punish link networks or places suspected of being link networks. The company’s webspam guru, Matt Cutts, went so far as to declare guest blogging dead, setting off an uproar in the SEO community. More recently, the penalty on MyBlogGuest and its “network” of users created a stir felt even by those outside the SEO community.
I email a lot of bloggers, and the MyBlogGuest penalty has put more of them on edge than ever before. Suddenly, they are suspicious of everyone who emails. Blogs I’ve written for for months have been shutting their doors to contributors or enacting sweeping changes in their editorial policy. It’s not an easy time to get into guest blogging; heck, it’s not even easy for someone who’s been at it for years!
Don’t despair. Despite all those hurdles, there are ways to get your content onto high-quality blogs.
Here are five tips to improve your blogger outreach.
1. Target the Right Sites. The quickest way you can destroy your own or client's reputation and come off sounding like a fraud is to start off at the top. Whoa there, partner! In order to get guest blogging opportunities at top-tier sites, you’ll need to gain some experience writing for second- and third-tier sites first. Practice your outreach to these sites and establish a few regular contributions. Promote your posts heavily and engage with people on the sites and on social media. Basically, let your genuine interest in the industry and the blogging community shine through. Then you’ll have established your credentials when you pitch the bigger sites.
For instance, say your client is Russ Brown, who writes a blog respected in the biking community, and you want to score an opportunity guest posting for a big bike site like CycleWorld. Don’t pitch them first! Come up with a three-month plan that involves pitching posts to smaller, related sites first, eventually building up to the biggest ones when you have a proven track record. Not only will your pitch stand out from leagues of others with no proven experience, but the editor may have even already read some of your work!
2. Make Personal Connections. Every person you interact with has the potential to help you with your guest blogging. That’s because the Internet has made everyone so interconnected. An editor at a smaller site may have once been a writer at a big site; a client’s customer may be married to the owner of a top-tier blog.
Keep your eyes out for these connections, because they make it a lot easier to approach a site about guest blogging. Many sites, especially the top-tier ones, receive dozens - if not hundreds - of guest blogging pitches per week. Yours will stand out if it has a personal touch, and you’re much more likely to get a response.
Need some ideas of where to find these connections? Here are a few places to look.
Facebook: Call me creepy, but I LOVE Facebook Graph Search. Never before have we been able to segment our friends – or friends of our friends, or pretty much anyone with a somewhat-public profile – in so many ways. Experiment with different queries to see if you already have connections in your network who might be good to get to know better. Social Media Examiner has a great post about this.
Recent Twitter followers: If someone has recently followed you, you’re probably fresh on their mind, and they either read something you wrote or follows a similar niche. I try to keep up with my newest Twitter followers to see if there’s anyone with whom I could build a good connection.
Comments on your posts: Is one of your guest posts getting a lot of attention in your niche? Keep an eye on the comments–you might be able to easily interact and built rapport with some big names in your industry!
Fellow contributors: Do you write for any blogs that have a community of writers? Check them out! You might have a lot in common and be able to share opportunities.
Blogging communities: Communities can be a great place to build connections with people in your industry. I would recommend Triberr, but there are many others. Try looking for one that is prominent in your niche.
3. Use Helpful Tools. Finding the right topics to pitch can be difficult. Luckily there are shortcuts that can help you figure out where you should be focusing your time. You can come up with blog ideas and places to pitch them using Topsy. Hubspot’s blog topic generator will spit out five topics at a time based on keywords you provide. Tools like these can break up some of the tedium of the guest posting process.
You can also try using tools such as BloggerLinkUp that will match you with someone who is looking for certain posts or themes for their website, but always exercise caution anytime you automate any part of the blog discovery. Remember that what happened to MyBlogGuest could conceivably happen to any blogging community.
4. Don’t Be Rude. There’s a fine line between assertive and aggressive. An aggressive public-relations professional will alienate bloggers and journalists with frequent, belligerent emails with vaguely veiled threats. On the other hand, an assertive one will touch base frequently in friendly tones explaining why a client’s guest blog would be a great addition to a site. There’s nothing wrong with reminding someone about your earlier inquiries, just go about it in a polite manner.
5. Show the Benefit. One great way to get your foot in the door is to demonstrate an area that needs improvement and explain how you can provide the necessary solution.
Say you’ve noticed that a food-focused site lacks reliable information about, say, wine pairings. Your sommelier client would be perfect to fill this void! It’s this sort of creative thinking that can really get your foot in the door. Show how you will solve a problem, and the site will practically be begging for your help.
Even though guest blogging is becoming more and more difficult, it is still possible to get started or grow your reputation as a blogger. Do you use any strategies different from the ones above? Share them in the comments below!
Adrienne Erin is an outreach specialist at WebpageFX who is always looking for ways to improve her PR game. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine People, and SiteProNews. Catch up with her on Twitter to see more of her work, connect on Google+ or check out her blog, Pongra.
Photo: Typing on laptop via Shutterstock