As it turns out, pitching a great headline / outline duo isn’t always enough to get your foot in the door and into the publication queue on some popular blog.
Usually, the more popular the blog is, the more you have to do to get noticed, especially considering the fact that your pitch is likely one of the dozens (!) the blogger received that day.
So how to get over this? How to stand out from the crowd?
Well, first of all, there’s the topic of sending only the pitch vs. sending the complete article right away. This is something I talked about a couple of months ago, so I won’t get into much detail here. However, no matter if you’re a fan of one approach over the other, you have to admit that sending just the pitch (the headline and maybe the outline) gives you much less tools, so to speak, to work with.
If you’re sending the whole article right away, on the other hand, you can use this opportunity to present the whole scope of what you’re about and what you can deliver.
I guess what I’m trying to say is the following. If you want to stand out and get noticed by popular sites, you will need to send your article in its complete form right in your first pitch. That’s unless the blog in question has a nicely developed and effective guest post submission process (like Cracked or Boost Blog Traffic).
Now, if you think otherwise then just please hold on for a moment and let me explain why I think this is the way to go around. Therefore, here are the elements that you can use to spice up your guest post and showcase that it indeed belongs on the blog you’re sending it to.
1. The obvious
I guess I really don’t need to be talking about this, but the first thing you need to always do is make the topic of the article in-tune with what the blog usually publishes. The same goes for the style and the length of the article.
There needs to be a match. In short, when the editor glances over your article, they need to be thinking something along the lines of, “Wow, I wish I came up with this myself.”
The worst you can do is work for hours to spice up a post that didn’t belong on the blog in the first place. So just to emphasize, if you get this step wrong, none of the following ones will matter.
Feel free to browse through the archive here at Guest Blogging Tactics. We’ve published a lot of stuff on how to find the right topic and overall how to make your article to be a good fit for a given site.
2. Stats and data
Editors love stats and data. It’s the one thing that sets apart a standard opinion piece (the author’s opinion on something) from a data-driven post.
Editors know that writing an opinion piece is much faster than making it based on data. And that’s mainly why most of the pitches they’re getting are indeed opinion pieces (and that’s after weeding out all the crappy ones).
The reason is because many guest bloggers are not willing to invest time looking for data to back up the claims they’re making in their articles.
This is where you can come into play and do the opposite.
Now, you don’t need to spend days looking for relevant data or stats. All you need is one or two references to a quality source (along with links). If you can embed a graph or chart, that’s even more bonus points.
The goal here is to convince the blogger that what you’re sending is a real resource that took time to develop.
3. Link to their other posts
The review and editing process on most bogs is kind of similar (at least to my knowledge). It starts by going through the article and checking if it fits. Then, if it does, the editor makes a second run and includes links to their other posts, plus sometimes additional images and so on.
Now, if you want to improve your chances of getting approved, why not making the editor’s work easier and include some internal links yourself?
The editor will notice this right away because they will inevitably click on every link they find in your article to check if it’s not an obviously SEOd one.
How many links do you need? I’d say one every 250 words.
Want to get even more bonus points here? Link to the blogger’s opt-in page if it fits the topic of the post.
4. Make the images fit
Using images in your guest posts is one of those things that can easily backfire if you don’t do it properly.
Namely, there are three main problems with images:
- their stock nature,
- their quality,
- their size/dimensions.
In other words, if you want to use images as one of the elements to spice up your post, they need not be stock, be of high quality, and have exactly the right dimensions.
That last part is easy to check. All you need to do is visit the blog you’re targeting and check the size of the images used. Then when sending your images along with the post, make them exactly the same size. This is again one of the ways to make the editor’s job easier.
When it comes to the quality of the images, this is something you have to take care of yourself. Never add images just for the sake of it. Do it only if the image adds value in some way (e.g. it illustrates a point) and is attractive visually. Everything else will work against you.
Finally, stock images. Whether stock images are okay or not depends on the individual blogger to whom you’re sending the article. Most of the time, however, it’s better to send an image that isn’t a cliche stock scene (like a guy with a laptop in a cafe, or a group of people having a meeting).
5. Prepare the meta info
The majority of blogs use some kind of an SEO module or plugin. Those plugins require a title and description for each blog post. What this means for the editor is that they will have to come up with these during the editing phase.
So again, to make their job easier, send those details along with your post.
In general, an SEO-friendly title should be 62 characters tops, while the description should be less than 157 characters.
How important is all of this?
The things described above will surely take you a while to do. Based on the length of the article, it can even mean up to an hour of additional work. So is it really worth it?
Here’s the kicker, yes and no.
No, when the article isn’t a quality one, or if you’ve failed making it a good fit for the site.
Yes, in every other case.
Making the editor’s job easier is an invaluable thing. Just imagine, if you’re the editor and you get two articles of similar quality, will you go with the one that can be published right away, or with the one that requires an hour of your work to get it processed? I guess the answer is clear.