Updated on June 28, 2018. Blog post originally published on Oct. 15, 2014.
Every brand, thought leader, and individual contributor is different, and their content strategies are unique to their goals, expertise, and resources. Still, no matter what you're using content to achieve, guest-contributed articles play an important role.
The value of guest posting as part of your content marketing strategy is undeniable. If you're looking to reach new audiences, build trust, position yourself as an expert, earn third-party validation, boost SEO, or even drive traffic to your site, guest posting should probably be part of your content strategy.
The concept behind guest posting is simple: You identify an online publication whose readership aligns with your target audience, craft content that provides value to that audience, and pitch the editor your content to be published.
Now, you may be wondering, “How do I actually do that?”
By researching a publication’s “About” page or media kit, you can find information about its readership, and spending some time on its site can give you an idea of what types of content it publishes — and, often, how that content performs with its audience.
With this information in mind, review your own content strategy to determine whether your expertise aligns with this publication and would be valuable to its readers.
Findings from our annual research, which includes insights from editors at online publications across industries, reveal that fresh perspectives and expert insights are the biggest reason editors accept guest content. For you to deliver that to an editor, your expertise has to align with what a publication covers and provide value to its audience.
And according to our research, there's a lot of opportunity to do exactly that: 76 percent of editors publish between 1 and 10 guest posts each week, and 94 percent of editors report planning to increase or maintain the current amount of guest content they publish this year.
The right editors and publications exist, and they’re looking for engaging, relevant content — you just have to do your homework first.
Before you can start building relationships with editors at your favorite online publications, it’s important to learn how to pitch your content — and yourself — to them. Here are a few key elements of effective email pitches that will start you off on the right foot:
If a publication accepts guest posts, its editor probably receives hundreds of pitches each week, and the first part of the pitch she sees is the subject line. So keep it short, compelling, and accurate. An email with a subject line that tells the editor what to expect and gives her an idea of the article’s content is one she’ll want to open.
Addressing the editor by name shows that you care enough about the relationship to take the time to research her and get her name right. Feel free to get personable and ask how her week is going or throw in a friendly greeting. After addressing the editor, briefly introduce yourself, your company, and why you’re contacting her.
I emphasize "briefly" here because you don't want to dive right into your article without introducing yourself, but you also don't want the bulk of the email to be all about you, either. Keeping your introduction genuine and to the point creates a great opportunity to start building trust with the editor.
In the body of your email, provide a concise summary of the article you’re pitching. In it, be sure to include the key takeaways and something that will pique the editor’s interest. By doing this, your email will be easy to read, will save the editor time, and will enable her to quickly assess whether your article will truly serve the publication’s readers.
Editors don’t want content that’s being published by competing publications; they want readers coming to their publication for content that can only be found there. It’s important for you not to pitch multiple editors the same content and to make it crystal clear to the editor you're pitching that the content you're sending is exclusive to her publication.
You also want to ensure that your content isn’t too promotional. According to "The State of Digital Media 2018," 79 percent of editors say that overly promotional content is one of the biggest problems with the guest content pitches they receive. Remember, these editors want content that educates their readers and gives them a new perspective, not sales pitches for your service or product.
Lastly, your email should acknowledge the editor’s busy schedule, illustrate your willingness to cooperate with the other items on her agenda, and propose a date by which you’ll follow up. This will deepen the trust you began building with your personal introduction and exclusive content, and it signals your accountability for the content you pitch.
Every editorial relationship has to start somewhere. Below is an example of the kind of email that would fail to set you up for a mutually beneficial relationship with an online publication editor:
Subject Line: Article
I have attached an article submission for you to publish on your site. Please respond before 5 p.m. tomorrow. My article is attached.
Now, what’s wrong with this email?
By analyzing the elements of an effective email and learning what makes one bad, we can start to create a great one. Below is an example of the kind of email that will show a publication editor you’re a thoughtful, respectful, and knowledgeable contributor:
Subject Line: Exclusive Contributed Article Submission: Reaching Out to EditorsHi Natalie,
Acting as the liaisons between content creators and publication editors, members of the Influence & Co. publication team use the elements of effective email to build and maintain trustworthy relationships with editors at more than 1,500 online publications.
What makes our team unique is our ability to develop these mutually beneficial relationships to consistently deliver high-quality, fully edited, non-promotional content to industry publications. At its core, however, is the use of these email tactics.