Guest blogging is fun, as long as you can manage to get most of your articles published with no hiccups.
The other side of the coin, however, is that guest blogging can also be really frustrating, especially when it seems that every one of your articles keeps getting declined for one reason or the other. I’m sure you can relate.
Just to give you an example. Some time ago, I wanted to get my work featured on Killer Startups. A rather popular site – Alexa rank of 10,000 if you care about such things – that covers everything related to startups.
Looking at my journal, I can see that I apparently tried reaching out to them three times. To no avail. It was only on the fourth time when they finally said “yes” and let me through the door.
Was I frustrated along the way? Kind of, not hugely, but some frustration was surely there.
What did I do to finally get in?
Well, you won’t like the answer, but I didn’t find a secret trick or anything. There was no magic-bullet solution. I just stayed committed to a handful of basic ideas, which I’m about to show you here.
Staying on target vs. going with the flow
When you’re out looking for some guest blogging opportunities, there are basically two main paths you can follow:
- Going with the flow. It’s when you look for blogs that are known for accepting guest posts (feel free to check one of our lists, by the way, e.g. on blogging, freelancing, or entrepreneurship), then you craft your post accordingly, reach out and hope for the best. This approach has a good success rate because the blogs you’re targeting are openly inviting guest bloggers to contribute. The sites basically build much of their expertise through their guest writers’ content, so they need you just as much as you need them.
- Staying on target. It’s when you pick a very specific blog and then stay committed until successful. The important part is that the blog you’ve picked may or may not be openly accepting guest posts. This doesn’t matter. What matters is you taking action.
Now, both of these approaches have their pros and cons and they are both very effective. The first approach is something we talked about in the previous article on this blog – how to play the modern guest blogging market. So today, let’s just focus on the latter.
Staying persistent and embracing failure
This may sound a bit obvious, and a bit “out there” at the same time, but bear with me. As shallow as this might seem at first, it just works.
What you need to do is keep pitching your articles, no matter what sort of responses you get.
If someone says “no,” what you should do is pivot, come up with another pitch, and send it again.
Remember the sensational 90s’ flick – Casino? Here’s a quote:
No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun.
This is you. You are Nicky. If one post gets declined, you come back with another, a better one. This one gets declined too? You bring up an even better one.
Treat it as your own “failure challenge.”
Simply speaking, a failure challenge is when you try to check how many times you can get your articles declined before you finally get a “yes.”
(Oh and by the way, no response is a response too, so if a blogger remains silent for too long, that’s a “no.”)
In short, keep coming back. Don’t worry about looking like a weirdo. I’d rather be a weirdo featured on Killer Startups than a cool guy featured nowhere.
Breaking the pattern
The other thing you should try out is breaking the pattern.
Here’s what I mean. There’s always a pattern when approaching a guest post pitch – a standard way of handling the task. The blogger simply expects to receive certain things when someone pitches them a guest post.
On the web, we are surrounded by patterns. So one of the more efficient ways to differentiate yourself, and thus make your message more visible, is to opt out of the pattern – to break it.
Here are the three things that remain to be extremely effective for me in 90 percent of the cases:
- Using a different channel. If the person expects to be contacted via a specific email, or via a contact form, try searching for other ways of reaching them. For instance, try looking for other projects of theirs. If a person is an editor at X, but they are also blogging at Y, reach out them through Y about a guest post for X (I hope this sounds clearer than it looks). And just to warn you, Twitter hasn’t been the most effective channel for me.
- Staying stealth. A commonly known “good guy practice” is to mention the fact that you’re reaching out with a guest post in the subject of your email itself. Well, I find that doing so doesn’t always work. To be perfectly honest, I was really surprised to find that sending emails titled “Saying hi” is the most effective way for me. People just can’t resist opening them. Whatever you do, don’t title your email “Quality guest post for you and your readers” or anything along these lines.
- Starting a conversation. People don’t like to be told how great you or your article both are. For example, if you say “I’m sure this article will resonate well with your audience and give them some great insights,” it’s often a big no-no. Mainly because how do you know for sure that it will? Don’t get me wrong, being confident is okay, but too much of it and you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Next time you’re sending a pitch, try asking this instead: “Do you think this might be interesting to your audience?”
What if the site really doesn’t accept guest posts?
Keep trying anyway.
Look at it this way. Obviously, there are humans writing for the site at the moment, right? They are not different from you in any way. So there’s no particular reason why they wouldn’t let another human being in eventually.
Every website has a certain life cycle, and at some point, almost every one of them will consider featuring guest posts. Very often, your success depends on the timing. If you just happen to send your pitch at the right time, you might get in easily.
This is what I did recently with a post for the Conduit blog. A while ago, they shut down their Wibiya Blog – was quite popular and had quite good user engagement, as far as I remember. Then, they moved their blogging efforts to blog.conduit.com. I noticed that, so I emailed one of their editors, only to find that they are in the middle of setting up everything and preparing new goals and action plans for the blog.
I knew that it’s my chance to get in with some fresh content. So I did, which in the end got me featured on one of the strongest domains on the web (according to Alexa). I’m pretty sure that the thing that made me successful in this particular case was timing.
I’m going to leave you with this story. The conclusion is simple: break the patterns and be persistent.
I’m curious to learn about your experiences though. How do you feel about failing and getting your articles declined? Does it fuel you to keep going forward, or do you feel a bit on the down side when it happens? We can surely help you out with this, by the way.