Say what you want about guest posting, it’s still a legit online marketing tactic. Sure, it may not get you any link juice and it probably won’t sky rocket your rankings on Google, but it can still put you on the radar of your peers and customers.
When done right, guest posting can boost your reputation, position you as an authority in your field, and ultimately generate more leads, sign-ups, and customers. When implemented the wrong way however, the practice can do more harm than good. When carried out incorrectly, guest posting can ruin your credibility and bury you in search results.
Don’t worry though, we won’t let that happen to you. For this blog post, we’ve outlined some of the biggest mistakes people make when pitching guest posts. Check them out below and make sure you stay away from these practices:
1. Doing it for SEO purposes
If you’ve been following SEO developments in the past several months or so, then you must have heard about Matt Cutts’ sweeping declaration about guest posting. Earlier this year, Cutts wrote a widely-shared post entitled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO,” where he “calls it” and says that guest blogging is done.
He said that anyone who’s using the strategy to gain links should stop because “it’s just gotten too spammy.” He also discouraged people from using guest blogging sites.
Shortly after this, news broke that Google has penalized My Blog Guest, a major guest blogging network, along with its users. People who acquired links originating from My Blog Guest received link notices from Google Webmaster tools, forcing them to correct the issues by either removing the links or making them no-follow.
Suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty for My Blog Guest and its users.
That being said though, should you be wary of guest posting? Answer: If you’re doing it for links, then yes, you should be worried. However if you’re doing it to build relationships, generate exposure, and provide real value to the readers of other blogs, then you have nothing to worry about.
Remember, guest posting is only a mistake if you’re doing it to build links. But if you’re doing it to build an audience, you’re going to be fine.
2. Not reading the blog first
Now that we’ve established that there’s nothing wrong with guest posting for audience-building purposes, let’s move on to actually finding blogs to write for and pitching to them.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not reading the blog first. You need to poke around the site, see what it’s all about, and read its previous articles to determine the following:
a) If the blog really is right for you – Check out the site’s other articles. Is the subject matter a good fit for your business? Are the readers of the blog your target customers or are they your peers?
b) How you should approach the blog – Reading the site’s previous posts gives you a better idea of who the blogger is, what they’re like, and what they’re looking for. This, in turn, can help you craft a better pitch.
3. Not commenting on the blog first
Look, you don’t want to just barge into a community with a guest posting pitch. In order for the blog owner and their audience to welcome you and your post with open arms, it’s best to ease your way into the fold by interacting with the community first.
Start by commenting on some of the blog posts. Weigh in with your thoughts. Put yourself on the radar of the blog owner and their audience, so when you finally approach them with your guest post idea, they’ll be more receptive.
You can even go beyond comments and actually share the blog’s posts via social media. Bloggers greatly appreciate these little things and they can go a long way in building a relationship with them.
4. Not following the blogger’s guest posting guidelines
Blogs usually have guest posting rules or guidelines for people who want to submit articles. Be sure to read those rules before sending them anything.
Does the blog owner prefer that you send them an idea or outline first, or should you go ahead and submit a completed article? Is there a special email address that you should send your post to? These are just some of the questions that the guidelines can answer for you and they can help you craft a better pitch.
5. Sending canned pitches
Let’s move on to your guest blogging pitch. The first rule is to personalize your approach. Never send in a canned pitch to a blog owner. Doing so will dramatically decrease your chances of getting a response, and it’ll likely ruin your relationship from the get go.
The best thing to do is to craft a thoughtful, personalized email when pitching to the blogger. Remember our tip about reading the blog’s previous articles and guest posting guidelines? Incorporate the details you picked up from those steps into your pitch.
For example, if the blog recently published an article on a particular topic, you can send them a compliment on the post, and maybe propose a follow-up.
Or, say you read the blog’s about page and learned that you and the site owner have similar interests. Why not briefly bring up those interests and let them know that you have something in common?
These things help break the ice, and they can help you make a great impression on the blog owner.
6. Focusing too much on yourself when approaching the blogger
Avoid being too self-absorbed with your guest posting pitch. Amateur guest posters often send out an email that’s all about them, and say things like “I’m a great writer” or “I’ve been published here, here, and here.”
While it’s good to mention your accomplishments, the main focus of your approach should be on the blogger, not yourself. Instead of filling up your message with “I” or “me” sentences, have more “you” statements in there.
Mention how much you love the blog and why your pitch will benefit the blogger and their audience.
What do you have to say?
That wraps up our thoughts on the no-nos when it comes to pitching guest posts. Next week, we’ll focus on the mistakes people make when writing and publishing posts. In the meantime, please share your thoughts below. Have you committed any of these mistakes? Can you name other things that people get wrong when pitching guest posts? Share your thoughts in the comments below.