(and What Mistakes to Avoid)
Unless you have a Rolodex of highly placed contacts in the online world at your fingertips, when it comes to landing guest posting gigs, good old cold email outreach is one of the most effective ways to get to yes.
Now, I’m not talking about paid or sponsored guest posts in low authority sites. I’m talking about real white-hat submissions to sites with domain ratings in the 70s and 80s.
The problem is that, while many of these sites do welcome contributions from guest writers (since it allows them to rank for more keywords without the expense), they literally get bombarded with requests every day.
So, if your goal is to get through to the right people, make sure you stay away from the type of emails they’re known to reject.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to do email outreach the right way so that you can increase your chances of getting to a yes.
5 Tips for a Successful Guest Post Email Outreach Campaign
First off, before we move on to the five tips, let’s make it super clear what you’re not supposed to do so you don’t end up making rookie mistakes.
Decision makers on high authority sites are seriously connected people, and if you accidentally burn those bridges, you may be handicapping future outreach campaigns.
5 Outreach mistakes to avoid
1. Do not use cookie-cutter email templates
What I’m talking about are those presumed “time savers” where you can replace the name in the salutation, the name of the website you’re pitching to and/or the URL to a specific article and then you send it to hundreds of prospects using some fancy cold email software.
Think about it, if a high authority website receives dozens of emails like these a week, it becomes pretty obvious very quickly that they’re getting mass-produced emails and to the trash bin they automatically go.
Now, if you think you’ll have trouble coming up with original email copy at scale, there are plenty of AI-writing assistants on the market that can help you bridge the gap.
2. Don’t outreach unless you have at least three published guest posts
Yeah, I know, this is the chicken and the egg story. How are you supposed to show three posts already published on high authority sites in order to pitch to high authority sites?
The best way to break out of this vicious cycle is to leverage every single relationship you have to get the first three articles placed.
Maybe you know someone who works for a SaaS company that has a blog with a domain rating in the mid-80s and they owe you big. Maybe that someone is a relative of yours, whether close or distant. Or maybe your neighbor knows someone who… you get the idea.
You’ll just have to be resourceful at the beginning of your outreach journey because there’s no silver bullet to get you off the ground.
3. Don’t outreach with a three-page website
Unless you already have a professionally looking blog chock full of quality-content that screams “I’m a catch” don’t bother outreaching to high authority sites. What’s chock full? No less than 10-15 quality posts.
These are articles you took your time to research and craft into awesome, unique pieces of content. If you break through with the five outreach tips, you’ll find later in the article, the first thing content managers will do is check your website out.
If it looks amateurish in any way, that’s the end of the road for you, my friend. If they don’t feel you’ve taken the time and attention to detail to create a quality product, they’ll feel that you’ll be creating a guest post that’s subpar as well.
4. Don’t use generic gmail accounts
As an extension of mistake #3 above, make sure to spend the extra 5 or 6 bucks a month to get a proper paid Google Workspace email address that links to your domain’s URL (e.g. [email protected]_domain.com.)
If you use a gmail account or other generic email service, you may not be taken seriously (yes, I know, this is unfair and shouldn’t be the case, and in some instances you might get through, but most of the time you’ll be filtered out.)
5. Don’t be unauthentic in your pitch
Don’t be over-complimentary (“this is the best blog on xyz topic I’ve ever come across,” or “your article on xyz was absolutely brilliant.”) Yes, I’m being over the top here, but I really want to drive this point home.
Content managers can smell fake flattery from a mile away. Why? Because they have a lot of practice!
Just be yourself and don’t try to be someone you’re not. Read your outreach pitches as if you were in their shoes and you’ll know what I mean.
Now, without further ado…
Here are the 5 tips for a successful email outreach campaign:
1. Do your research
Before you reach out to potential publications, it’s important to do your research and find websites that will be a good fit for your guest post.
This sounds pretty logical, but you’d be surprised how many people use a scattershot approach and accidentally end up pitching a dating blog with a chatbot automation guest post idea.
When you’re looking for websites to pitch to, make sure the topics they cover and their audience align with your area of expertise and that of your own blog.
You want to make sure that both you and your pitch are a good fit for your target website and their audience before you reach out.
2. Don’t just ask. Offer a fair value exchange
When you’re emailing someone about a guest post, you need to refrain from asking without giving something back of equivalent value.
If all you do is ask, there’s a good chance your email will end up in the moocher pile and go directly to the trash bin. There are some exceptions, as you’ll see later, but for the most part, content managers hate naked solicitations.
Now, you may say, but wait a minute, I’m offering to write an entire quality article for free, isn’t that something? Not if you’re going to include a dofollow backlink to your website in your guest post. That pretty much cancels out the writing fee.
So, what’s the easiest thing of value you can offer? A backlink to the website you’re pitching to from another high DR site (preferably in the 80s.) Where’s this link coming from? From a guest post you’re pitching to someone else. Now you’re talking real value!
3. Personalize your email
When you’re emailing someone, it’s important to personalize your email so that it doesn’t look like a generic form letter; we already talked about this in mistake #1.
You need to take the time to read through your target website and get an understanding of their style and tone and then craft an email that sounds like it’s coming from a real person.
But that’s just the first step — your email also needs to stand out from the crowd. If you’re showing someone 5 pink flashcards followed by a blue one and then another 5 pink ones, guess which one that they’ll remember the most?
The same is true for text. After a while, all pitches read the same. So, you need to be thinking blue when everybody else is thinking pink.
Let me show you a couple of examples that get results. Here’s a great guest post pitch email that checks the boxes for personalization, authenticity and value exchange:
Hi <Name of content manager>,
I know you must get 10 of these a week (more? a lot more?) so obviously you never know which to take seriously. But unlike the others, I’m not a newbie and I have clear value to offer you.
My name is <Your name> and I’m the publisher of <Your blog’s URL>, a fast growing digital marketing blog specializing in small businesses.
I publish 5-7 guest posts per month on DR 70+ websites and I wanted to explore if we could talk about collaborating together by contributing to your editorial calendar. In exchange, I’ll send you a backlink from a high-DR website where I’m already a contributor.
My reciprocal backlinks are always natural and deliver valuable link equity (e.g. <High-DR site #1> has 1M monthly visitors, <High-DR site #2> has 1.6M and <High-DR site #3> has 0.75M)
I deliver on time, my backlinks are always dofollow and I get nothing but praise from content managers from sites where I contribute.
Are you interested in discussing further?
P.S. You can read some of my past articles by clicking the above links
(Before sending, double check the links point to your published guest posts and not to the home pages of those websites)
I know this email is on the long side, but the little “funny” at the beginning makes them chuckle and breaks the ice right away.
Now, you want to take it to the next level? If you want to be more creative (thus more memorable) you can try something like this: (please don’t copy this pitch, it’s an original from a real person!):
May this Thursday be a day where your words are plenty, your typos are few and your copy clear.
It hasn’t been easy for us writers to find our muse while we dealt with noisy neighbors, toilet paper anxiety and the fear of running out of our favorite coffee. That’s why I’d love to help my peers get their groove back.
Hoping <Target website> is open for a guest feature, here are my content ideas:
- Idea 1
- Idea 2
- Idea 3
Let me know if you’d like me to get started on one or all of them! 🙂
Your friendly notebook hoarder,
The content manager who passed this along to me gave this pitch a resounding yes, plus it made their day!
I know what you’re going to say next: but this pitch didn’t offer anything of value in exchange. True, but it compensated with extreme wit and authenticity and still got the gig!
4. Follow up
Since you’re sending cold emails, it’s highly unlikely you’ll hear back after your first try, so you’re going to have to follow up a couple more times.
Just make sure not to be too pushy or persistent. A polite follow-up email usually does the trick.
Now, it’s OK to use cute language like “Just a quick follow-up to my previous email in case it slipped through the cracks.”
What’s not OK is to use passive aggressive language, like “I emailed you last week but haven’t heard back yet.” We’re dealing with uber busy people with lots and lots of emails in their inboxes and the last thing they want to hear is some form of recrimination.
5. Be patient
Last but not least, guest posting outreach can sometimes take time, so it is important to be patient throughout the process.
It’s not unusual for weeks to go by before you hear something back. Now, if you don’t hear back from a site, don’t give up! This is a numbers game and it takes dedication and persistence to get results, at least at the beginning.
Eventually, as you build relationships in the content management community, you’ll get results a lot quicker. But until then, just keep trying and eventually you will find a home for your articles.
Email outreach is a lot easier said than done and it takes a lot of moving parts to get it just right. Use the above tips (and avoid the mistakes!) as a reference guide when you develop your email outreach pitches and do a lot of testing.
Send very small batches at the beginning so you can fine tune your message without blowing through too many leads, and then use the results of your test to make adjustments for the next batch.
Eventually, you’ll get to a high conversion message that you feel comfortable scaling!
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I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.