Guest Post Lab: Follow This Blogger’s Experiment to Get Bylines

Try This Blogger's Guest Post Experiment. Makealivingwriting.com.Here’s the brutal truth about looking for guest post opportunities:

There are WAY too many freelance writers who think dashing off an email pitch is enough to get bylines on well-known authority sites.

You know…All you have to do is find blogs that accept guest posts and send your pitch.

Well, that might sound like a good idea, but it doesn’t work in the real world.

If you’re serious about getting bylines on authority sites in your niche, you need to be very strategic, almost scientific, with how you find and pitch your guest post ideas.

Otherwise, your pitch will only be deleted and rejected.

Well, today I will be showing you the step-by-step experiment I used to get my first guest post published in one of the most competitive niches on the Interwebs.

Let’s get started.

Step #1: Find guest post targets

The first step of any guest posting campaign is to find highly relevant blogs you can contribute to.

But unlike everyone else, I took a different approach to the way I find blogs that are perfect for me.

Here’s the process:

First, I search Google using these search strings.

  • Use “keyword” + “guest post.”
  • Try “keyword+ “write for us.”
  • Type “keyword” + “This post was written by”
  • intitle:guest post guidelines
  • intitle:guest blog guidelines

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Right there, you have three authority sites you can reach out to for a guest posting opportunity.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

You can use a few other keywords in your niche to find other sites.

The next step is to check blogs that you already read to see if they accept guest posts.

In my case, I already read articles on the Big Apple Media blog, so I used these search strings to see if they accept guest posts.

site: bigapplemedia.com “write for us,” site: bigapplemedia.com “guest post.”

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Once I did this for a few other blogs and added them to my list of potential blogs, I moved on to the next step.

Step #2: Qualify target blogs

Let’s face it, not all blogs are worth guest posting on, and that’s where this step comes in.

This is the most important step of all guest posting campaigns. If you skip this step, it will cost you a lot of time later on because you will end up contributing to sites that don’t have an engaged audience.

So how do you know which blogs are worth guest posting for?

The first step is to check the comments each post gets:

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Blogs with at least 10 comments per post is a good sign that it’s a good fit. Why? Most blogs get zero comments. Yes, I said it. Zero!

Next, check to see if the blog gives credit to the guest contributor.

In other words: Does the blog fully credit guest authors for their work and allow them to link freely to their blog or another website?

The easiest way to find out is to check if there is an author bio section on the blog like this:

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Once you find a blog from your list with both, that’s a green light that the blog is a good fit for you.

And that brings us to the next step…

Step #3: Build a relationship

If you read 100 blog posts on guest posting, 99 of them will tell you to look for blogs that accept guest posts and then send your pitch.

That’s one of the reasons it seems so hard to get accepted for a guest post.

As soon as I realized that sending cold emails to blog owners and editors is one of the hardest ways to go about guest posting, I changed my strategy.

I followed most of this advice for weeks and got no results.

I sent out dozens of emails and got almost no reply.

So what did I do to change that?

I build relationships with the person that runs the site or the editor.

The first thing I did was to sign up for their newsletter. That way, I get notified when they publish new content.

Next, I commented on their latest article and not just a few words Like: “great article”… I left insightful and valuable comments like this…

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Once you leave a comment, share their article on social media.

This will put you on the blogger’s radar, because a lot of writers don’t do a good job at this.

And finally, reply to their newsletter and thank them for sharing such valuable content. Seriously, go the extra mile.

Here’s an example of a newsletter reply I sent to one of the target blogs I was trying to guest post for.

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Once you start doing stuff like this, you’re already ahead of 80% of others who are sending guest post pitches to them. Even though at this point, you haven’t even pitched an idea.

With that, it’s time to start researching topics you could write about for one of your target markets.

Step #4: Research and write killer headlines

FYI, this isn’ t how you get a blog editor’s attention in an email: “I’m a big fan of your work.” It’s one of the fastest ways to get rejected. Don’t do this, OK.

It’s time to start doing some research to find topics that resonate with your target blog’s audience and potential topics you can pitch.

The first step to find topics that perform well is to use a tool called Buzzsumo. Just enter the URL of the blogs you find in step 1 in the tool.

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Another way to find out if a post has done well on the blog is to check the sidebar of the blog to see if there is a “popular post” section.

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

If you want to go a bit deeper, you can check out the articles that gets the most comments. Read a few of the comments and see if readers are saying it’s a good post.

Once you have a solid idea of the topics that best resonate with the blog audience, it’s time to write some headlines.

Why great headlines matter when you pitch

In my opinion, the headlines you pitch the blog owner or editor is what determines if you get accepted or rejected, because no one wants to publish boring content on their site.

So you need to be very strategic with the headlines you sent in your pitch.

Here are the two most effective headline formulas (recommended by Smart Blogger founder Jon Morrow) you can use to write headlines the blog owner will be happy to publish.

How-to headlines:

  • Try this convention: How to [Blank] (Even if [Common Obstacle])
  • Use this format: How to [Blank] Without [Objectionable Action]
  • Put two things together: How to [Do Something] While You [Do Something Else]
  • Fill in the blanks: How to [Blank] and [Blank]

List headlines

  • [X] Ways to [Do Something]
  • [X] Steps to [Goal or Achievement]
  • [X] Tips for [Doing Something]
  • [X] Resources for [Audience/Process]

So how do you know which headline format to use? Simple…

Look to see if the blog publishes mostly “list posts” or “how-to posts.” Once you have a good idea of the types of headline formats mainly used on the blog, it’s time to create yours.

Here are a few headlines I came up with based on my research on topics that have done well:

  • Headline #1:[X] Ways to [Do Something]
    • 17 Ways to Write Blog Posts that Goes Viral
  • Headline #2: How to [Blank] (Even if [Common Obstacle])
    • How to Write World-Class Articles (Even if You’re Not A Copywriter)
  • Headline #3: How to [Blank] Without [Objectionable Action]
    • How to Skyrocket Your Traffic Without Spending Money on Ads

Once I have at least three headlines that seem like a good fit, it’s time to move on.

Step #5: Send your guest post pitch

Once I have my headlines, I then send my pitch to the blog editor.

Remember that newsletter you replied to earlier? Great. That’s going to help you get noticed.

You;re more likely to stand out compared to all the other cold emails, because you have already established some relationship with the blogger you are about to reach out to.

Before you send a pitch, what do you say in your email?

Here’s the template I use every time I’mreaching out for guest posting opportunities:

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

As you can see, this email is short, and it gets right to the point. Make sure to personalize the email, so it doesn’t look like an email you sent to 100 other bloggers…

Here is a reply I got after sending out a pitch using this email template::

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Not everyone will reply and give you the go-ahead to write on any of the headlines you pitch like the example above.

Once you get accepted, it’s time to do the most important part of the work…

Step #6: Write your guest post

Writing a guest often takes me anywhere from 5-12 hours.

But it might take longer for others, but I will share a few writing techniques that I used to write 2000-3000+ word articles written in a short time frame.

The first tip is to do an outline before you start writing your article.

For example, if the headline that got accepted for the guest post was: “17 Ways to Write Blog Posts that Goes Viral.”

The first thing I do is list out all the techniques that I would give someone who wants to write a viral article.

Remember, this is just the brainstorming process, so list out as many techniques as possible.

Once you have all your techniques listed, select the most practical ones.

So my outline would look like this after choosing the top 17 best tips on the topic…

Guest Post: Floyd Johnson

As you can see, I add a short sentence under each tip, which is the main idea I will be explaining during the writing process.

The next tip is to use a tool like the Hemmingway app to help you keep your sentences short and avoid using unnecessary words and phrases. (I often use it during the editing phase of my article.)

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

The next step is to write your intro and conclusion first.

Here’s why:

Most readers will judge your article base on the intro alone. If the intro is not interesting, readers will assume the rest of the article is the same and stop reading immediately.

So writing your intro and conclusion first will help you get the hardest part of the article out of the way.

The last tip is to use short paragraphs. Ideally, you want to keep your paragraphs at 2-3 sentences. Using images and screenshots to help explain complicated concepts is a good way to keep your content engaging.

These are the techniques that I rely on when writing content like my 3000+ word Email Marketing Guide.

Once you follow these tips, the owner of the blog will be happy to publish your content.

Use this email template to send them your final draft:

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

You will receive replies like this when you send them the finished content.

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

I am not the best at writing detailed articles, so if I can do it, I think anyone can do it.

Step #7: Follow up after your guest post is published

Once my guest post is published, the first thing I do is share it on social media.

Then I reply to any comments that it gets within the first few days. Once all that is over and about five days have passed. I send a follow up to the blog owner or editor thanking them for the opportunity.

This goes a long way. Unlike most other bloggers that just send the final draft and disappear, you’re showing them that you are happy for the opportunity, and it also builds a stronger relationship which leads to more opportunity for you.

You can use this email template to follow up with the owners of the blog:

Guest Post Experiment: Floyd Johnson

Try this experiment to land guest post bylines

This is the step by step approach that I used to get my first guest post published in one of the most competitive niches online.

Guest Posting can do a lot for you in the freelance and blogging world…

In fact, by landing my first guest post here are some of the impacts and benefits that I have seen for myself.

  • First, I gained more knowledge on what’s the best types of content to pitch for a guest post.
  • Second, and by far the most important, is that by landing my first guest post more guest posting opportunities become available to me even paid ones because as you might have guessed my portfolio of websites that I guest post on got better.
  • Third, by doing a guest post I have been able to build relationships with a lot of other top bloggers in my space. Such as Ryan Robinson, Robbie Richards, etc.
  • Finally, it has helped my grow my email list and blog traffic.

Guest posting is one of the easiest ways to get in front of large audiences that will share and link to your content. If you are just starting out as a freelance writer or blogger the fastest way to build up your credibility in your niche is to guest other websites.

Need help landing a guest post assignment? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Floyd Johnson is a freelance writer and content marketer who helps bloggers and business owners grow their email list with actionable email marketing strategies and tips.

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34 comments on “Guest Post Lab: Follow This Blogger’s Experiment to Get Bylines
  1. Kerry Mc Donald says:

    Floyd, this post was timely and informative. I’m researching how to guest blog successfully in the niche of digital marketing. Thank you!

  2. Thanks so much for this detailed step-by-step plan. I recognize the importance of guest posting but it’s so disheartening sending out request after request. Building a relationship sounds key to me so that it is truly a mutual benefit. Thanks again!

    • Floyd Johnson says:

      Your Welcome Pricilla. Building Relationships with bloggers before pitching a guest post is a win-win strategy and that’s one of the reasons it works so well.

  3. Kevin J. Duncan says:

    Hey Floyd (and Carol),

    Very nice post with a lot of great thoughts. Your approach very much mirrors mine from a few years ago. 🙂

    Thank you for the links and the numerous references to Smart Blogger, by the way. Appreciate them!

    • Thanks Kevin. I appreciate that coming from you.

      I don’t think it is possible to write an article about guest blogging without mentioning Smart Blogger or Jon Morrow in it.

  4. Aruba says:

    Floyd, the step of building relationships as a guest-posting approach is effective because of involved work. And it’s even better for digital introverts (like me) to skip the social media and reach out to editors on their dens.
    It connects the best part of freelancing (researching and reading) with the mandatory part (networking) thus adding fun in the approach.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Aruba… Glad you found the step by step guide valuable especially the relationship-building process I agree with you that it is effective because I have experienced it first hand.

  5. Lisa Rogers says:

    As someone who’s been writing blogs and ghosting blogs for a while, I’m always delighted to find out something new. Like, I’ve been searching all wrong and for someone who’s more of a pantser, your outline sample really helps. Both your article and the comments it’s generated have me looking at things in a whole new light. Thank you!

  6. Saurabh says:

    Thanks for the great insight.

    This is the first time, I visit your blog and dropping a comment on your blog, I enjoy reading what you have to say.

    Thanks for the tips about Guest Posting, you have a great source of info here.

  7. Emaido says:

    Incredible tips here, thanks

  8. Thanks for this helpful step-by-step guide. I wish everyone pitching a guest post would read this!

    I get pitches to my own blog and most of the time the writers don’t get the basics right:

    – They haven’t built a relationship with me first
    – They pitch unsuitable ideas
    – They don’t send me a link to their own blog or previous posts

    Guest posting isn’t easy, but taking the time to do it properly is well worth it.

    • Claire I agree with you.

      Building relationships with other bloggers is one of the most critical steps in landing guest post opportunities because you are doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing and that will help you stand out.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Evan and I were just comparing notes recently, and neither of us can remember WHEN we saw a strong email pitch for a guest post! It’s 100% spam, these days, from link-seeking companies. We do find the majority of our posts come through connections – usually my coaching students or Den members, who read the blog closely and have a strong sense of our audience.

  9. Allen Taylor says:

    This is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read on guest posting. I’ve been writing online content for about two decades and I learned a couple of new tricks. Awesome approach. Jon Morrow’s swipe file on headlines is an incredible resource.

  10. Thanks for the specific steps and tips. I may be over analyzing, but it seems headlines that rate on a headline analysis site bomb on SEO. Your a advice about studying the site for possible guest post makes sense. My focus this coming week is to send queries. For me the timing of your article is spot on.

  11. These are very useful tips! In keeping with the tip to leave a helpful comment, I would like to advise readers to proofread their titles! “17 Ways to Write Blog Post that Goes Viral” and “How to Write World-Class Article (Even if Your Not A Copywriter)” would be much more appealing to editors if they didn’t contain typos. The second one is particularly dangerous. Is it a typo or grammatical knowledge gap? If I were scrolling through pitches, an apostrophe would make the difference between “Sounds great” and “Eek!”

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Ellie, Thanks for the heads up. Grammar police on the lookout. Made a couple of updates. Floyd did a great job here explaining how to do some of the behind-the-scenes things to develop a guest post idea.

    • Thanks for spotting the typo in the Headline there, Ellie… Appreciate it.

    • Carol Tice says:

      There are a ton of submissions these days from ESL writers who are actually link-seeking for companies. That’s the point of their post. See this a ton on my blog!

  12. I’ve found many sites that want me to send in a complete article for them to decide to use. It seems a waste of time writing 10 different articles with no guarantee they would be accepted. Advice on this? Thank you.
    Audrey

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think you have to use some discretion about whether a site that asks for a pre-written post is worth the time. As I recall, I had to do that for some big sites — and got accepted.

      This is why there are so many courses on how to pitch blogs, I think — few writers take the time to deeply study the site, see what is most popular, and then come up with a truly FRESH angle for them that would be a must-publish for that editor.

      I’ve had to submit the whole post a few times… and they ran, every time. It’s not a waste of time if you know how to analyze a site and write content that would give them a leg-up on the competition. Hope you can join us for Sophie’s bootcamp if you’re struggling with this! See the banner at the bottom of the post for a free taste…

    • I would recommend doing a deep dive into the blog to see what articles have done well in the past.

      Also getting a good understanding of what their audience resonates with most. Because most website owners know what their audience wants to read. I agree that most websites might not seem like it is worth the shot but you might be surprised at the impact of landing a guest post for one of those websites.

      I think the reason why these sites want a complete article instead of pitches is that most freelancers and bloggers will not take the challenge to write a full article so its a form of filter to get the best writers who are serious about getting published.

  13. Very useful post, thank you! One question though…..do you think the title format you suggest (7 ways to x, or How to Y when you are …) is getting stale? It seems like this format is used for everything. When I owned a small business I hired a company to write posts for me and every post had titles like “The best things to do in x” or “10 Awesome ways to…” After a while, it was clear that the posts were not being written by my business and I think it impacted our credibility. Thoughts?

    • The Headline formulas That were added in the article are just a few examples…I agree that list post like “7 ways to x” is getting a bit overused in most niches.

      But the key is to find what type of post-work best for your niche and use it as inspiration.

      also, another thing to keep in mind is that most blogs publish mostly list post so at times if you want to get a chance of landing a guest post with them is to pitch list post for your guest post idea.

      List-post doesn’t have to be a list of vague tips. You can add value by providing actionable steps for each tip which will put you ahead of everyone else that is using list post.

      I also think that is one of the reasons list posts get so common and seems dated is that most list post provides little to no value…

      hope this helps.

    • Carol Tice says:

      If you use the same formats all the time, definitely, it would get stale. Gotta keep mixing it up! Take a look at a month’s worth of headlines here on MALW, and I HOPE you’ll see it’s not getting formulaic and boring. 😉

      And of course more to your bigger point, gotta keep bringing FRESH INFO — can’t be something a content mill is recycling off 3 other posts they saw on the topic online. That’s the big part many businesses miss about content marketing. You need something exceptional for the marketing to pay off.

  14. Beverly Coomer says:

    Thanks for the practical and applicable tips. Just starting out, so this info will be very useful!