A Step-By-Step Guide To Pitching and Writing Powerful Guest Posts

Have you ever noticed that the work we do on our website and our promo materials is a bit like event planning?

Imagine that the brand new ebook you'll give away to your email subscribers is a party you're hosting. You'll have to let people know, invite them to the party.

You'll need to get some food on the table - that's your blog content.

And of course, host the party in a super cool space - that could be the design.

Now: No one's going to know about that party over at your website if you don't invite them. But how fantastic would it be if you only had to phone one friend, and they'd instantly bring their whole circle of wonderful, smart, interested friends?

pitching guest posts

This is where one of the ultimate steps in any good marketing plan should come in. Cue the guest blog post.

Why Guest Post?

Guest posts can do amazing things for your traffic, your authority and access to an existing audience. They're free, and more effective than PPC advertising, and more durable than social media. Oh, and the search engines will love you for them too.

The problem?

Getting a guest post into the right kind of blog is not that easy anymore. Good bloggers are able to tell when something is genuine. Check out the following lines:

"We will create high value content to deliver for your readers."

"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."

"Our writers can offer you a unique and exclusive article on any topic related to translation, language, freelancing... "

These three quotes are all directly taken from pitch emails I've received. These are generic, dull, and barely credible lines. When your target blogger receives a bunch of them every day, it's time for you to step up and cut through the noise.

Don't be discouraged - in the next few lines I'm going to give you so many hot tips for landing a great guest post that you'll be excited to get started today.

Step 1: Approach Influential Bloggers The Right Way

Let's assume that you already have someone in mind whose blog will be a great platform for you to show what you've got. It could be a big name like Tim Ferriss, or it could be a big thoughtleader in your
niche.

It is not enough to simply pull a bunch of names from a list of "influential bloggers". You have got to read a few posts. The best guest post writers are people who are long-time fans or readers of a blog, because they really get the style. And before you even get that chance, rest assured that this blogger will know within seconds if you have no idea what their blog is actually about.

The first thing you should do now is to find out if the blog of your choice even takes guest posts. Look for the guest post instructions page (here is mine for example). These pages are often called "Contribute", "Write For This Blog", "Guest Post", "Work With Us" etc. If there isn't a page like that, see if you can find the blog owner on social media and connect very loosely, perhaps respond to a tweet.

After that, it's up to you. Either email directly, complete the contact form on their site, or DM them on Twitter with a short "Hey, I'm a fan and I wonder if you accept guest posts? Could I send you my idea and pitch by email?"

And here's how to cut through the noise:

  • Address the blogger or editor directly. If they're your host, you should know their name.
  • Introduce yourself and share your story. Talk about why you like their blog in particular, how you're using it, maybe mention something specific. The key here is to show them that you didn't just pull this name from a list of random "influencers".
  • Share your story - why is their blog relevant to you?
  • Know who their audience is and what they want to read.
  • Okay, this is important: Don't email a fully written article. It's usually preferred that you suggest a few titles instead of expecting the blogger to invest a lot of time in reading your whole post.

This is a chance to get creative and make another topic relevant to yours. For example, a German tutor who works with teenagers as after-school trainer can talk about steps to avoid overwhelm in the classroom or stay safe on school exchange. Or a travel agent can talk about Germany on a German language blog.

Step 2: Write A Great Guest Post Draft

Just like some podcasts don't have guest interviews, some blogs don't accept guest posts. So if it's a reject email, don't be disappointed, thank the blogger for replying and bookmark them for future connections like interviews.

If you've got the green light, well done! I bet you've already got your fingers on the keyboard as the ideas race through your mind.

Right now, it's time to let that creativity flow and just write out a quality draft. You're chain-drinking Americanos or listening to meditation music. Just be in "creation mode" for a bit, get out what you want to say, and we'll meet in the edit.

Editing Your Draft

The following quick tips are good practice for blog articles.

  • 500 words is a minimum, 2000 words is too much. The average post I see these days is 800-1600 - best to know what you're aiming for in line with your target blogger's instructions.
  • Break up your text into subheadings and give each thought a little space to breathe.
  • Start with a story, feeling, a little opener that tells the reader how you came to talk about this. A classic opener might be a variation of "Ever feel like [insert your topic]?"
  • Complete your article with a clear next step and offer solutions for all the problems you have talked about. You don't have to have all the answers, but there should be a clear recommendation.
  • For a bonus: Link back to one or two of your host blog's existing articles in the text

Step 3: Be A Joy To Work With

Once your first draft is written, the blogger may wish to work with you before they schedule your work for publication. Be nice, accept their editorial feedback. But even beyond the writing part, here are some amazing ways to become a blogger they will tell their friends about:

  • Pay attention to the format they want to receive. For example my preference is always Google Doc or Markdown, and not MS Word.
  • Provide a 50-150 word bio, a quality photo of you and any other information the blogger wants to include.
  • Always pay attention when your post goes live, reply to any comments and share it with your own followers. For good karma, if nothing else - but I have previously acquired paying customers from this.

Time To Take Action

Now that you know the secrets to getting featured on your favourite ever blog, what's holding you back?

Have you ever guest blogged before? Which tip are you going to try?

Share in the comments below or let me know in our Facebook group!

What Should You Do When You Need To Outdo Other Teachers?

online teaching competition

Here's a secret. The working title for this post was "In this whole article, I have essentially written up some wonderful advice generously donated to me by my friends. I'm a total thief." And with that in mind, let me tell you why this is fantastic.

At last week's rather amazing event How to Reach More Students in 2016, I was lucky to host a webinar entitled "What Makes You Special is What Makes You Money" with Lindsay from Lindsay does Languages. The webinar was one of the most honest and interesting of the whole show, guiding the audience through the process of finding the intersection between what you love and what will pay for you.

Roadmaps Don't Work

One of the most important aspects of finding your own style and brand in any business, no matter how big or small, is that moment when you realize that following another person's roadmap isn't going to work. You can look at their success and follower numbers and six-figure-income, and work backwards from "how they must have started".

But are they going to tell you how many times they messed up? No! And are you going to feel like an idiot the first time you mess up? Yes!!

Lindsay mentioned that it can be helpful to pay attention to those moments when jealousy gets the better of you and you start looking for faults with people that others look up to. This can be finding that the TED talk speaker you so admire is using "boring slides". Their achievement is belittled in your mind as you try to make yourself feel a little better.

What if you could change your way of thinking and start seeing how the other person's success is an inspiration, but not a blueprint of success? In fact: What if their talents could start being part of your own great business?

Mindset Shift: Eyes On Your Own Paper

Here's a little excerpt from the Savvy Brand Toolkit, the key set of brand building materials that I work with:

When throwing yourself at a market, you’re inevitably going to start looking around. It might start as a search for inspiration, but beware the rabbithole of comparing yourself to others on social media. Here are a few thoughts you may recognize:

  • What about all those other guys?

  • They can teach! They can entertain!

  • They have so many students!

  • How am I going to outdo the others?

You wonder what you’ve possibly got to offer that could keep up with them, but this is not an attitude that will get you further. As my friend Brenda often says, the mantra to adhere to is > “Eyes on your own paper!”

Return to that idea of brand, of being yourself. Personality is that one skill that none of us can ever fake, and should be at the top of your checklist whenever you sum up the value and goodness you provide.

Funnily enough, one of the people I used to be scared of was Lindsay herself. She makes incredible videos, is funny, dedicated, disciplined. She's even a great online teacher, and every course she makes looks awesome. Has this girl no faults?!

Luckily, I dared myself to reach out to Lindsay. I invited her to come and give an interview on my podcast, and turns out she was as funny and approachable as she was gifted and hard-working. We had a great time, and I found myself listening back to my Lindsay episode and enjoying so much about it that I emailed her and asked if she fancied becoming a co-host. Fast forward a few months and here I am with a strong podcasting partner whose talent has helped make my own show great.

I have learnt that reaching out to those that intimidate me most is a consistent factor of success in my own business. This is why I run events like #Reach2016 with such pleasure, and why I'm always excited to collaborate with people who kind of scare the heck out of me. Every one of the speakers at that event is doing something amazing that I've not accomplished. At #reach2016, I got to connect and find out how they did it. And I also got to put them on a stage and show you how they did it, too. It's pretty blissful, and way better than being in tears every time that Gabby Wallace posts a new picture of beautiful beaches in Brazil.

Reach Out (I'll Be There)

So this is a little call to arms:

Who intimidates you a little bit? What could they use that you provide?

I hope you'll find a way to get a little bit of that goodness they put out and combine it with your own talents. And if you're super brave, post a comment here and tell me who inspires you and what your dream collaboration would be. From Oprah to Dalai Lama, feel free to think big!

If you want to have support when you walk your roadmap to success, you can apply for one of my limited Mentoring slots by booking half an hour to chat.

Grow Your Reach With an Email Newsletter

Ahh, the arena of promotion. It is what makes working online so much fun. The internet has created a new workplace for you, one that has never been seen before. Fewer gatekeepers than ever, millions of platforms and forums, an ever connected world.

newsletters

Your new problem is not how you can talk, but how to actually be heard. Twitter is busy, Facebook limits "post reach", blogging feels anonymous. Enter the great old email newsletter.

No matter how many new solutions and social networks are launched, email refuses to go away. It's a consistent way of engaging with your subscribers. For me personally, it's always been channel #2 on the "I want to express myself" scale, but the first point I go to when I have something to share that I really care about. Email newsletters allow for a conversation with people who are allowing you to write to them at their online home address. It allows you to become someone's favourite teacher, writer or blogger. In other words, what's not to like?

One single blog article cannot really do justice to all the ins and outs of writing newsletters to your subscribers, so I expect to come back to this topic on occasions in the future. Today, let's start with why and how you can set up a newsletter.

6 GREAT REASONS TO WRITE REGULAR NEWSLETTERS

  1. It allows you to keep in touch in a way that lets you address your subscribers by name, write to them with ideas that aren't fully formed yet and open up real conversations.

  2. Email marketing is often cited as one of the most effective marketing tools out there. If you do it responsibly and don't go sending unsolicited junk every week, you will open up a great way to build trust with your subscribers.

  3. As you get busy, the newsletter's automation feature can allow you to set up a sequence of pre-written emails to send to your subscribers. This way, you get to remind them of your work on a regular basis and they don't have to come back to your website every time.

  4. Blog readers and social media followers get something special from you in a newsletter - a personal note, a special offer or a question.

  5. You get to track who's actually reading the things you write. And then you'll feel great because people read your news. And then you'll be able to talk to those who are most interested.

  6. It is reassuring and sensible at the same time to have a record of all the people who have opted in to hearing from you. No matter if Facebook shuts down or Twitter starts charging $0.10 per tweet, you will still have an opportunity to reach those people who liked you enough to say "yes, I'm in".

Of course, there are many reasons you would also want to avoid having a newsletter. You have to learn how to use them. You have to ask for an email address from your website visitors. You have to become a responsible list owner. If that kind of stuff worries you, don't read on.

WHICH SYSTEM SHOULD I USE?

The most convenient way to set up a newsletter is to use a service that's dedicated to this. These services will ensure you get the correct permission from subscribers before adding them. They make it easy to send email to many people and allow for personalization through easy Mailmerges.

I've been with Mailchimp for about 2.5 years now and am satisfied with their service, but ultimately it doesn't matter which provider you end up using. Core questions to consider might be:

  • Is this easy to use, do I understand how it works?
  • Has the service been well reviewed?
  • Is the cost right for me? (Bear in mind one day you might have tens of thousands of fans..)
  • Do they offer all the features I think I will need?

DON'T FORGET TO TEST

In the middle of the Black Friday promotion phase, I recently sent out a special newsletter inviting my subscribers to take advantage of my fab offers. I was agonising over finding the right recommendations for them. I was proud of my discounts. I was ready to go, relieved to hit send...and then I heard back from many subscribers who felt the need to tell me that their name isn't <<First Name>>. So. Embarrassing!

Don't be that girl - testing is important.

Once you have set up your newsletter's sign up forms and welcome pages, make sure everything works by subscribing with your own email address. Share it with your students, customers or friends, but don't expect it to rock your world instantly. The key is to show your friendliness and skill on a regular basis.

NEED AN EXAMPLE?

Why not sign up to my Teaching Newsletter? I will keep you up to date with upcoming events and share what's new in the world of online teaching.

And if you are super ambitious, try this for an inspiration source: Really Good Emails.