When I first came on board with John at EntrepreneurOnFire I knew I had a lot of studying to do.
I’m a somewhat smart marketer thanks to my background in the advertising industry, but drawing up marketing plans for a worldwide logistics company and for truckload and freight carriers isn’t really the same as a marketing plan for a business podcast. What’s this industry all about, and what’s it like working for myself instead of someone else?
I was anxious and excited about diving in and searching the Internet for others in the online marketing industry who I could learn from like Neil Patel, the guys over at ThinkTraffic, and CopyBlogger, who I’d heard so much about.
And I couldn’t wait for the day when I’d be hanging out with a group of people and actually know who they were talking about when they said “Oh yeah, Amy Porterfield talks about that a lot.”, or “Yep, you must be thinking of James Clear.” Better yet, what if I was the one who threw out one of these names?…
But aside from just exploring the wide open net to familiarize myself with the online landscape, I also wanted to hone in on a couple of things I knew I was good at right away so I could start adding value.
So I took a step back, and I asked myself, “What is that I’m bringing to the EntrepreneurOnFire table, and how might that lend to me learning more about working in the entrepreneurial space online?”
Well, writing was one thing I knew I brought to the table, so…
I started our blog
After getting our own blog rolling, I started thinking about the 2nd half of my question: how my writing might lend to me learning more about working in the entrepreneurial space online.
As a writer who was looking to improve my own skills, techniques and habits, I was particularly interested in learning from the best: what were already established bloggers doing online, and how could I learn from them?
After thinking it over, it all started to come together nicely:
- Writing was one thing I brought to the table, so starting our blog was my first step;
- Learning more about working in the entrepreneurial space online was important to me, and I was also looking to check out some already-established bloggers who I could pick up some good tips from, so I knew I’d have to be doing my research; and finally,
- I wanted to put this all against our big goals for 2014, one of which was to increase traffic to our site in addition to increasing our listenership.
Ah-ha! What did all three of these things point towards? Guest posting.
We knew guest posting could help us do 3 major things
1. Help me learn more about the entrepreneurial space online and pick up writing techniques from established bloggers in our industry;
2. Provide a ton of value to an audience who may have never heard us before, therefore giving us the opportunity to grow our audience;
3. Giving us the opportunity to grow some solid relationships with online industry leaders.
In fact, I learned a lot of these points straight from someone I’ve followed from the very beginning, Jeff Goins. Jeff wrote a great post on How Guest Posting Can Help Grow Your Blog, although I believe the points he makes here are really applicable to any business – whether it’s a blog, a podcast, or any other medium.
How do you request to guest post?
So, now that I knew what my goal was, the next question I asked myself was, “How do I go about requesting to guest post on others’ blogs?” … No, wait: “How do I go about requesting to guest post on others’ blogs AND get accepted?“
I had written guest posts before, but it was always a result of people reaching out to me and simply saying, “Will you write a guest post on this topic for my blog?”, and me saying “Heck yeah!” I’d never actually reached out to a big-name blogger and requested to guest post before.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy – I mean, I can’t just email Neil Patel and say “Hey Neil, what’s up?! What do you think about me guest posting for Quick Sprout?”
(Please don’t ever send a message like that to a blogger who you want to guest post for.) =)
But really, how would you know if you’d never done the research? I set out to do just that: research the best ways to approach bloggers and request to guest post.
Ramit Sethi writes in a post about guest posting on I Will Teach You To Be Rich, “While many new bloggers write content and pray for others to come, proactive bloggers reach out to others in their field, write amazingly good content, and quickly build a name for themselves.” This is who I wanted to be: a proactive blogger.
I also wanted to be a blogger who people just couldn’t say no to (remember: you not only want to request to guest post, but you want to be accepted, too). So I started thinking about how I could make my requests so irresistible and so easy for the blogger who I’m sending it to that it would actually kind of be a crime for them to say “no thanks”.
And what about content? I knew what I should write about for our blog, but what about for someone else’s blog?
Don’t worry, I’m about to give you a step-by-step guide of the best way to formulate a guest post, and then we’ll look at how you should actually request to guest post to increase your chances of being accepted.
4 steps to formulating a guest post, and how to request to
1. Start a list of the blogs you’re interested in guest posting for
You have to know where you want to guest post before you start reaching out to people. Generally speaking, the blogs you guest post on should have a similar audience as yours. If one of your goals is to grow your own blog, then you want to be talking to those who will visit your blog as a result of seeing your guest post, and then keep coming back for more.
Also, it’s not a bad idea to make yourself known on the blogs you want to guest post for. Have you ever commented on – or interacted with – that blog before? If not, then you should start. It’s a lot better to have someone say “Oh yeah, that name sounds kind of familiar.”, vs. “Who is this person?”
2. Go back to that list
Now go back to your list of blogs and add a 1-sentence summary of the type of content they provide their readers. Do they talk about SEO tactics? How to build and grow your audience? How to become a location independent entrepreneur?
You really want to hone in on their topic so that you have a place to start when thinking about potential posts, plus, you want this to be the best post you’ve ever written. If you’re not familiar with, or cannot speak to, the topic at hand, then it’s not a great idea to force it. This will only result in a poorly written post and a shaky start to a relationship – at the very least.
3. Study their writing and blog style
What’s the tone of the blog? What types of titles do they typically go with? Really study how their posts are formatted and take note of things like whether their posts teach a single lesson, or tend to talk about a broader idea; do they follow a certain outline, or is each post unique?; and what’s the average length of each of their posts?
Also, do they have guidelines already posted on their site? If they do, make sure you check them out so you know what will be expected of you as a guest poster. If you’re checking out a blog that only posts “epic content” that is no less than 2,500 words, and you’re not willing to take the time to write that post and make it best one you’ve ever written, then don’t waste yours or the blog owner’s time.
4. Create 2-4 titles with a short summary or bullet points for the content you’ll propose
Remember earlier when I talked about making it easy and irresistible for them to say no to you? This step is very important.
If you haven’t already been communicating with the blogger or someone on their team about writing a guest post, then it’s pretty much the law that – with your initial request to guest post – you send over your ideas for the post you want to write.
Think about it this way: a lot of the blogs you’re requesting to guest post on are probably pretty backed by pretty big names, right? Well, this also means they’re pretty busy.
Email communication takes time, not to mention the fact that you’re really asking them for a favor, not doing them a favor. So it really doesn’t make much sense that you would ask them for a favor AND THEN suggest that they do all the work.
Providing your proposed topics with a short summary makes it easy for the blogger to take a look at your email, quickly determine whether or not your post will add value to their blog, and then respond. If you don’t include your proposed topics, you’ve already added at least 1 back-and-forth set of correspondence that could have been avoided altogether, saving both of you time and making it more likely your request will be accepted.
Here is a sample email I want to share with you that I actually sent to request to guest post on another blog:
This was in response to an introduction that was made between myself and another blogger, who emailed me a gave me the guidelines they follow for their blog, which is why I open the email above with “Thanks for the rundown.”
Now, if I were starting from scratch, here is an example of what I would write:
I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now, and I love your content and the lessons you share with your readers. Every time I read a post, I feel like I’m able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it’s so great.
I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in featuring a guest post from EntrepreneurOnFire, a top-ranked business podcast that gets over 950,000 unique downloads every month. We also have a blog on our site at www.EOFire.com/blog, where we share resources and tips with entrepreneurs who are ready to take action to improve their business and their mindset today.
I believe I can add value to your audience on a few different topics, and so I’ve included those topics I think would really resonate with your readers here:
1. Proposed title or topic
– Summary of content
2. Proposed title or topic
– Summary of content
3. Proposed title or topic
– Summary of content
Thanks so much for considering my request! And I assure you, I will make this process as seamless as possible for you by sending you a formatted document with links included that you can copy and paste directly into WordPress.
Side note: Some bloggers like it when you link back to their own content within your guest post. If you know this to be the case, then you may want to either add a couple of links from their site that you plan to reference, or at least acknowledge this and let them know you’re on board and ready to do whatever it takes.
Now that you know how to formulate a guest post AND how to approach a blogger and request to guest post so that it’s likely they’ll accept, let’s get down to why I wrote this post.
Guest post takeaways
Well, first of all, this is all real-life stuff. I really did do all of the things I mentioned above after coming on board with EntrepreneurOnFire. And guess what? Since then, we’ve done guest posts on ThinkTraffic, Social Media Examiner, Location180, Early To Rise, Under30CEO and several others.
I want you to have the information and resources you need to become a guest poster and help grow your audience the same way we have ours.
I’ve also received a fair amount of requests to guest post on EntrepreneurOnFire that do not do any of the things I’ve mentioned above. While I suspect those people don’t actually read our blog, I still thought it was important to share these tips with you so that when you do go to request to guest post, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Here are some other helpful resources that I found when I first started researching how to request to guest post:
Michael Hyatt: Seven Steps to Writing a Successful Guest Post
Guest Post Guidelines straight from Write To Done