How to Pitch a Guest Post and Actually Get it Approved

Writing guest posts for popular blogs is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a freelance writer and blogger. However, just getting a guest post pitch approved can be a real challenge.

Many new writers simply don’t underestand what editors and content marketers want to see when they receive a pitch. All they really know is that they love to write and are passionate and knowledgeable about their subject area.

In this post, I’ll let you in on what blog editors and content marketers are looking for when they review a guest post pitch. In addition, I’ll walk you through four rules you can follow when pitching guest posts if you want to increase your approval rate.

Let’s get to it.

Blogging is Business

Every blog that earns income is a business, and businesses invest a lot of money in quality content. So when a blog receives an unsolicited pitch, they look at it as a potential investment.

They aren’t interested in financing your dream or even in buying your expertise. What they are interested in is purchasing your ability to deliver engaging and relevant content and meet a deadline.

So when they receive a pitch, there are three key questions that editors and marketers ask themselves:

  • Will this writer produce content that is engaging?
  • Is the proposed post a good fit for this blog?
  • Can I count on this writer? Do they approach their work like a professional?

The fact that you’re an expert and passionate about the subject matter is nice, but not strictly necessary. Editors and marketers – the folks that hire freelance writers – care about results, and what they really want to know is: Are you someone that can deliver the goods?

Save you passion for your writing and approach the pitch as if it were a business proposal — because that’s exactly what it is.

Four Rules to Follow When You Pitch a Guest Post

If you want to see your pitches approved, there are four rules you need to follow.

The four rules for effective pitches are: Pick the right blogs. Follow instructions. Answer the right questions. Include a solid outline.

Let’s look at each rule in turn.

Rule 1: Pitch the Right Blogs

To a certain degree, pitching the right blogs is a matter of luck. You may pitch a blog at a time when they don’t have the extra budget to hire you or in the middle of a specific content campaign that doesn’t fit your niche.

While you can’t predict or avoid these sorts of scenarios, there are certain signs you can look for to identify the right types of blogs.

First, look for blogs that actively solicit guest posts. These blogs will have a Write for Us or Guest Post Guidelines page. If you see this sort of a page, it’s definitely worth pitching your post.

Second, look for blogs that have multiple authors. If the blog only ever publishes posts by one or two authors, there’s a good chance they don’t have the budget for freelance contributors.

Third, focus on blogs that you actually read. Blogs prefer to be pitched by writers who are also regular readers of their blog.

Rule 2: Follow Instructions

If the blog you’re pitching has taken the time to publish guest post guidelines, read and follow them.

I can all but guarantee that the blog you’re pitching turns down most of the pitches they receive. If your pitch is going to be approved it has to be one of the better pitches they receive. Failing to follow instructions is a guaranteed way to get your pitch rejected.

Rule 3: Answer the Right Questions

Think back to the three questions editors and marketers ask themselves when they review a pitch:

  • Will this writer produce content that is engaging?
  • Is the proposed post a good fit for this blog?
  • Can I count on this writer? Do they approach their work like a professional?

The key is to answer those questions indirectly. Here’s what I mean. Saying “I write engaging content” doesn’t prove a thing. Instead, answer the question by writing an engaging pitch.

So, practically speaking, how can you answer these three questions indirectly?

First, write your pitch in a conversational tone. Avoid jargon and cliches. Write your pitch using the same style you use when your write articles. Show off your personality and don’t be afraid to inject a little humor.

Second, do your research. Since you’re pitching blogs you know well – go ahead and head back to step 1 if you’re pitching blogs you don’t know well – pitch content that you think will fit well with their blog.

Also, be sure to do a quick search of their blog to make sure you aren’ pitching a topic they’ve covered recently. Pitching a post that covers a topic they just covered two weeks ago is a sure recipe to have your pitch rejected.

Third, be a professional. You demonstrate that you’re a professional by following their pitch guidelines, by keeping your pitch succinct, and by carefully proofreading your pitch before you send it.

Rule 4: Include a Solid Outline

Some blogs will ask you to submit your finished post along with your pitch. I’m really not a fan of blogs that require the full finished post and would avoid pitching them as much as possible. However, virtually every blog will require that you submit a solid outline. So you’ll need to get good at writing thorough and well-structure outlines.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I hate writing outlines. My normal writing process goes something like this:

  • Think of a post topic along with one or two key points I want to make.
  • Open a document and write a couple of bullet points about each of the key points I want to make.
  • Get a sudden flash of inspiration and write the introduction.
  • Go back and flesh out the key bullet points into paragraphs.
  • Step back and create an outline for the rest of the post.
  • Write the rest of the post.
  • Edit, edit, edit.

That’s a process that works for me. In addition, most of my regular clients don’t require me to draw up a detailed outline before I start writing – they just want a title, brief synopsis, and two or three bullet points. That’s just about perfect for me.

However, if you’re pitching a post to a blog you’ve never written for before, you absolutely must include a solid outline.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine that you were going to pitch me the post you’re reading right now. Here’s what your outline would need to look like:

Proposed Outline

Working Title: How to Pitch a Guest Post and Actually Get it Approved

Synopsis / Introduction: If you’re going to pitch a guest post you must remember that you’re ultimately making a business proposal. Craft your pitch to reflect the blog’s needs rather than simply selling your own passion and expertise. While your experience and passion are important, what the blog you’re pitching really cares about are results.

Blogging is Big Business: Companies are spending a lot of money on content, so when they receive a pitch they evaluate it as a potential business investment. When editors and marketers review pitches they want to know if the writer can produce engaging content that is right for their blog and be easy to work with (a professional).

Sources: Content Marketing Institute and Express Writers.

Four Rules for Effective Pitches:

  • Pitch the right blogs.
  • Follow instructions.
  • Answer the right questions (Will the content be engaging and a good fit? Is this writer a pro?).
  • Include a solid outline.

Include meme style image with the four rules, sized for social media sharing.

Briefly, explain all four rules and include a sample outline.

Conclusion: Many pitches fall flat because the writer making the pitch doesn’t understand what they’re actually pitching. A good guest post pitch is ultimately a business proposal. Follow the four rules to craft effective pitches that may actually get approved.

Crafting a detailed outline does a few things:

  • It forces you to think through your post carefully. The last thing a blog wants to do is sign off on a post you aren’t going to be able to complete.
  • It shows the blog you’re pitching that you know how to structure an article and reinforces the fact that you’re a pro and not a hack.
  • It demonstrates to the blog that you know your stuff — at least well enough to write an outline.

In addition, writing a great outline means you’ve done the groundwork necessary to submit the same guest post pitch to other blogs if the first one turns you down.

It’s All About Proper Perspective

You probably love to write. If you didn’t, I doubt you’d be reading this sentence. That’s great. I love to write as well.

However, if you’re having a hard time getting your guest post pitches approved, it may be because you aren’t approaching the pitch process with the right mindset. You can begin to pitch guest posts properly by following these four rules:

  1. Pitch the right blogs.
  2. Follow pitch instructions.
  3. Answer the right questions.
  4. Include a solid outline.

What strategies and guidelines have you found to be the most effective when pitching blog posts? I’d love to find know! Share what you know in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *