You may think it sounds silly. Why would you want to guest post on a site that doesn’t even accept guest posts? Is that even possible?
It is. And there’s a good reason to do it.
Here’s your problem with guest posting: When you target blogs that make their guest posting guidelines public, you can bet you’re competing against hundreds–if not thousands–of other bloggers who want a piece of real estate on that blog. That means it’s tough to get your pitch to stand out.
Furthermore, if you end up blogging on a blog that takes just anyone, how much are you really benefiting from that blog post? Chances are the quality of the posts on that site aren’t that great.
I’ll tell you a secret. A lot of big name blogs do accept guest posts. They just aren’t open for unsolicited submissions because they’re getting enough content from bloggers they already know and trust.
Don’t you want to be ranked up their with the elite? Wouldn’t it feel amazing to see your byline alongside influencers in your niche? Don’t you want your guest post to count for something–whether its SEO or an impressive portfolio piece?
You can. And it all starts by getting your name published on big blogs. Sometimes, that means popular blogs that don’t accept guest posts.
How do you make that happen?
I’ll show you how I contributed a guest post on Blogging Wizard, 6 Steps to Writing Captivating Blog Post Intros Every Time, even though Adam Connell specifically states that he doesn’t accept guest contributions. It’s right here in his contributor guidelines.
Want to see how it’s done? Let’s take a look.
Interact With the Community
Too often bloggers skip this first step. They find a blog that’s in their niche and looks pretty cool, and they go ahead and send their pitch. Sometimes this work. More often than not, it’s going to cost you.
That’s because bloggers like to publish content from people they know. At the very least, your pitch will stand out if they recognize you.
And how do you get them to recognize you?
- Comment on their blog posts
- Share their content
- Join and interact on their forums (if they have them)
- Subscribe to their newsletter
Here are just a couple of examples from my experience interacting with Blogging Wizard:
— Alicia Rades (@aliciarades) December 6, 2015
This step isn’t just about getting the blog editor to recognize you, however. As you read their blog posts and interact with their community, you get a better idea of what type of topics and content they’re looking to publish. You will also learn more about their audience, which will give you an advantage in pitching ideas they’ll love.
Keep an Eye Out for Guest Posting Guidelines
Sounds a little out of place, doesn’t it? Here, we’re learning how to guest post on blogs that don’t accept guest posts. They probably don’t have guest posting guidelines, then, right?
If the blog ever accepted guest posts in the past, you can still typically find their previous guidelines. Although this may not be up-to-date, it does give you a better idea of what the blog is looking for.
If you can’t find the guidelines through a tab on the blog’s website, try a Google search. Try something like “[Site Name] Guest Blogging,” “[Site Name] Guest Posting Guidelines,” or “[Site Name] Contributor Guidelines.”
I was able to find Blogging Wizard’s guidelines that way.
I learned that Adam likes:
- The blogger’s background/experience.
- Details on how the blogger thinks they can help his readers.
- Samples of published works.
If you don’t find anything through that method, you’re not completely out of luck yet. Instead of looking for specific guidelines, you might be able to find interviews or blog posts that detail what the blogger looks for in guest posters.
For example, I found a post on Adam’s blog about writing blogging pitches. The author, Karol K, interviewed Adam. Through that post, I learned that the number one thing Adam looks for is content fit for his audience, so coming up with an awesome idea his audience hadn’t seen before became my number one goal.
That post also taught me that Adam prefers:
- Short emails
- Email signatures with social links
- Personalization, which he mentioned in his guest posting guidelines
Adam also wrote his own post on blogger outreach, which I read through before pitching.
However, I realize that you won’t always be that lucky. Not all blogs have published guidelines, and not all bloggers talk about guest blogging. In that case, the best way to figure out what the blog is looking for is to read their previously published posts. (By the way, you should be doing this whether there are published guidelines or not.)Guest blogging tip: Before you #guestpost on a #blog, read through some of their published posts.Click To Tweet
Pay attention to the types of topics and headlines the blog publishes as well as the tone authors take. Take note of any styling elements they use, such as including screenshots, embedded tweets, offset quotes, numbered lists, etc. Finally, check the word count of a few different posts. That way you know what word count to shoot for and can develop your topic and outline based on how in-depth they want their posts to be.
Now that you know what the audience is looking for, it’s time to come up with a killer idea that will rock their socks off.
Have a good one?
Unfortunately, you’re not done.
One of the big things I’ve personally noticed while helping Be a Freelance Blogger with their public pitching contest is that a lot of bloggers tend to pitch ideas that have already been published on the site. For example, we get a lot of “how to overcome writer’s block” ideas.
The only problem is that bloggers are looking for fresh ideas. Why would they publish the same thing 20 times?
So you have a great idea, but you can kill your chances of getting your pitch accepted if you don’t perform research.Guest blogging tip: Before you #guestblog, make sure the topic hasn't been covered on the site.Click To Tweet
I had my idea about how to write amazing blog posts introductions. However, I wasn’t sure if Blogging Wizard had covered the concept before.
I started at Google to see if my idea had been done before. I searched:
(With the “site:” Google shortcut, you’ll only see results from that particular website.)
When I didn’t find anything there, I double checked that my idea hadn’t been done before by going through Adam’s archives. (Luckily, Blogging Wizard’s archives aren’t endless.) I also used this opportunity to find old blog posts I could link to and use as examples in my post.
The good news for me was that they didn’t have a post on this topic.
Ask for an Introduction
This technique is one I learned from Karol K’s post I mentioned above. I’d never tried it before, but what better place to use this technique than on the blog I learned it from?
Instead of contacting the blog owner outright, connect with someone they know first, such as a past guest contributor, forum moderator, active community member, or other team member.Guest blogging tip: Get an introduction from someone the blogger knows before sending your #pitch.Click To Tweet
I can’t speak for everyone, but chances are this lesser-known individual isn’t bombarded with as many emails as the blog owner, so you have a better chance of getting noticed for your interactions through them. However, realize that it takes time to develop these relationships and to build enough trust that they’re willing to introduce you.
Luckily, a writer friend of mine is a contributor to Blogging Wizard, so I asked if she could introduce me to Adam. Here’s how our first interaction went:
And guess what. It worked!
Adam emailed me back, and he actually surprised me a little because he’d noticed me outside his own community.
Write a Great Pitch
Now that you’ve connected, your work isn’t done. You still have to write that awesome pitch and convince the blog owner your post is worth publishing. And, of course, you’ll want to maintain that same wow-factor in your post if they accept your pitch.
You’ve already made your introduction, so you don’t necessarily need that when you send your outline. However, it’s worth sharing a few links to previous posts. I didn’t do that in this instance because Adam mentioned he’s read my work before.
When you pitch your idea, start with a strong headline. I’ve learned that many bloggers prefer that guest posters send a few alternative headlines so they can choose the best. One to three alternatives is enough.
Then, you’ll want to outline your post. I typically start with an overview that mentions what the readers will learn or take away from the post. Then, I list my points in a bullet or numbered list.
Finally, close with a question. When you ask a question at the end of your email, people can’t help but respond to answer it. (I learned this valuable lesson from Dana Sitar in a Be a Freelance Blogger post.) Examples include:
- Would you like to see this post on your blog?
- If you’re interested, when would you like the first draft?
- Is it okay if I send my first draft in a Word document?
To give you a better idea, let’s take a look at my pitch email.
After Adam approved the pitch, we discussed word count and deadline. Then, when I’d submitted my post to him, we made a few changes and I sent over my author bio.
The truth is that most blogs that say they don’t accept guest posts actually do. They just want to publish content from people they know, and by leaving their unsolicited submissions closed, they don’t have to deal with strangers and poor pitches. If you’ve seen guests’ bylines on the site before, there’s a really good chance the method I’ve outlined above will work!
Yes, it takes time to interact with the community and build a relationship with someone who can introduce you to the blog owner, but if you’re set on guest posting for a blog you love, it can be worth it.
Are you dreaming about guest posting for a blog that isn’t open for submissions? Will you take a shot at it now that you know it can be done? Let me know if you’re brave enough to try and how it all works out for you.
Alicia Rades is a professional blogger for hire who specializes in blogging and freelancing topics. When she’s not writing for clients, you can find her hanging around the Be a Freelance Blogger forums, reading or writing YA fiction, or browsing Netflix. Contact Alicia to see if she can help you with your blog content strategy.