What I am writing here is not a reaction to the great posts that Chris Abraham wrote recently here at Biznology: How to pitch a blogger and How NOT to pitch a blogger. In fact, after you are done reading this you may want to check them out for a real professional’s take on this subject! :-)
As the managing editor of Marketing Pilgrim, part of what I have to do on a daily basis is watch the e-mail requests stream in about the wonderful opportunity I have to allow people be a guest author on the blog. If you have a difficult time picking up the fine art of written sarcasm, the last sentence was filthy with it.
You see the Internet is a place where content is king, but most that are producing it aren’t exactly writing royalty. Don’t get me wrong here. I know for sure that I am not any kind of elite content producer, so don’t get all jumpy that I am some kind of written word snob. So you know, I have never been a journalist, I have no reporting background and I have no intentions of being taught the finer points of the discipline. It’s simply not necessary.
What I have done is build relationships over time, as well as to know in my heart that I enjoyed writing. At first, I harbored the classic idea that I had the next great American novel in me. It was when I actually tried to write something with several plot lines and ideas working at once (and realizing that any content I consumed which involved time travel left me hopelessly lost as to where I was supposed to be in a story) that I gave up on this grand idea.
Instead I went through my career and found that I have a knack for business writing. I like to take reported information and give opinions on it. Of course, we know what people say about opinions but we won’t go there in this post.
Over time, through my life in the world of Internet marketing, I met people like Andy Beal and Mike Moran. Through experience with each other, a mutual respect developed, and, since they both had started platforms for their own voices, I was able to even broach the idea that I might be able to create content for them.
Did you notice how my blogging “career” came about? It wasn’t by putting out thousands of blind sales letter like requests to be a guest blogger. In fact, I never did that. Other places that I ended up doing some writing for over time like HubSpot and Search Marketing Standard came about through relationships I have been developing over time either with or without the intention of trying to earn a writing spot with these folks.
I had my own blog that a small number of people used to check in at. When I say small I mean small. It was where I practiced writing. It was where I learned about blogging and, in particular, business blogging, which requires a certain approach in order to be effective.
To wrap this part of the story up, this whole process took time. It took time to develop relationships and trust that would afford me the opportunity to even ask if I could contribute to a blog.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Most blogs are looking for new material on a daily basis. Most aren’t desperate enough to just take anyone’s content to fill their space. If they are, they don’t last long.
I sympathize with those who are trying to get some attention from bloggers for their own writing or writing they are doing on behalf of their employer. I sympathized so much that I even started the Marketing Pilgrim Writer’s Garage, which was designed to give the guest post crowd a place to put up some content, maybe get moved to the main site and then earn the chance to continue based on their ability to produce.
What it quickly turned into was a place where SEO-minded folks would produce content and then complain if I stripped out links. Here are some words to describe the experiment: a mess, annoying, time-consuming, little or no return, etc. Needless to say that after about seven months that noble experiment has been shut down.
So if you are to take anything from this post, here are the things I think you should (or should not depending on the case) consider when trying to get a blog owner’s (or the person in charge of the content’s) attention in a way that may move you closer to being a contributor.
Don’t expect a response to your e-mail telling me why you deserve to be a guest blogger. It’s arrogant and creates more ill will than anything else
If you don’t get a response, don’t keep hounding the person. The reasons for this should be self-evident and if they are not, I can’t even begin to help you.
Don’t act like you are being short-changed if you don’t get some form of a response. Just today I saw two rather prominent SEO industry bloggers complain about the uptick in volume in these blind guest post requests. If every one of those got a response, no real work would get done. Ever.
Don’t get belligerent. It’s bad policy for all human beings from children through adults. If you are getting angry then just go away. It’s not worth your effort to run the risk of being black-listed from anything in the future.
If you actually do get the chance to guest post, don’t go back to the blog or content owner and demand your links be a certain way or whatever. You have no right to do that ever. It’s just rude and shows no respect to the blog owner.
Even if you believe that your idea is superior to the rest of the world, don’t even mention it that way. Why? Because EVERYONE says it, so it no longer carries any true meaning to editors, etc. It’s like saying “We have the lowest prices!” Saying it means nothing and it has lost any meaning in the already ridiculously overhyped society we live in.
Build relationships. In the end, the one thing I can say is that even if I didn’t write for Biznology or wasn’t the editor of Marketing Pilgrim, I would count Mike Moran and Andy Beal as friends. The relationship has to be greater than the activity in order for it to really work.
Don’t expect much success with a “campaign” to reach bloggers. Those with desirable blogs for you to put your content have likely seen it all and are even more than a bit jaded. They can smell a canned pitch from several paragraphs away. When I see these requests I simply delete them without any other thought. Will I miss a gem or two over time? Maybe, but it’s worth it compared to the endless hours I would waste wading through these things.
Before I wrap up this overly long rant, I want to share a quick story with you. I had gotten frustrated at another time with this process over at Marketing Pilgrim. As a result I put together a post outlining what it would take to reach me and get my attention for a guest post idea.
Guess how many people responded I way I outlined? One. Guess what happened? I interviewed him and a good piece of content was developed promoting his company and their online marketing efforts. He gained more than a few points from his “higher ups” because he got exposure for their business to a group that may have never heard about them otherwise. Oh and guess what? When you do a search on Google for Optics Planet, that post comes up in the top 15 results even though it was just done in August of this year about a company that is over 15 years in the online space. The guy who paid attention to my request, Alessandro Minnocci, is someone I would allow to guest post at Marketing Pilgrim any time he wants. (Did you hear that Alessandro?)
So is it impossible to get a blogger’s attention for a guest post? No. Is it easy? No. Should you follow certain rules of etiquette? Yes. Is it worth it? I think so, yes.
It’s really that simple. Thanks for reading.