I've written a few articles for Social Media Today on guest blogging, the most recent being what to ask from potential guest bloggers. And, since writing a little bit on guest posting, I've been asked what writers looking to contribute to other blogs can do make themselves stand out, even if they've just started looking to guest post. Some sites have a bad case of 'experience needed' syndrome, where they only want writers with a portfolio stacked with contributions to big-name sites, effectively scaring away entry-level bloggers. Writers with a stack of guest posts under their belts don't need advice on wooing potential blogging partners, but if you are a writer just starting to make a name for yourself, or a business owner trying to increase the exposure for your brand, how do you make enough of an impression to get blogs and other outlets to actually want your contributions?
Gussy Up Your Personal/Business Blog
Your personal blog will never reject your posts. Because of this, there may be some less-than-professionally written articles floating around it. When looking at potential blogging partners, I always read through either their personal blog, or the blog run by their business. Doing so gives me a good idea of how well they write, and what their areas of expertise are. If a blog I'm looking at is full of scattered, irrelevant content, or if it looks like a giant, multi-page résumé, I usually send a 'thank you but no thank you' email back. If your blog is one of the only outlets you write for, take some time to clean it up. Delete any posts that sound like advertisements, or are no longer good examples of how well you write. You can then pitch your best posts and not have to worry about anyone stumbling on crummy content you never got around to fixing.
Look for Content Holes
You are, most likely, trying to pitch yourself as an expert in a particular field, and are looking at outlets that cover that field. So if you are, let's say, a 'marketing expert,' you'll probably be pitching yourself to blogs like HubSpot, Unbounce, or SocialMediaToday. Before you reach out, go through some of their posts and, if they're missing areas you find critical to discuss more about, pitch a few topics related to that area. Chances are they know what categories are a little light, and if you present yourself as willing to contribute specifically to that area, your pitch is much more likely to get picked up than if you just sent a standard, blanket inquiry.
Remember This Process is a Numbers Game
Your first pitch, no matter how well crafted it is, will probably not get picked up. Nor will your second, or third, or fourth, or even fifth. Blogs, especially the more well-known ones, get a lot of guest post inquiries. Don't worry - there are plenty blogs out there that you can pitch to and get a couple of yes's from. The more you contribute to other blogs, the stronger your portfolio, and the more likely other outlets will want you to write for them. Just keep at it and, whatever you do, don't stop writing, even if those posts are only going into your personal blog.
Putting yourself out there as a guest writer can be nerve-wracking, and it will be filled with more rejection than you'd initially expect it to. If you are just starting out, don't be surprised when your first choice at Forbes passes over your pitch. There are plenty of smaller blogs and outlets that will be happy to feature you. Don't brush them off just because they don't have tons of traffic - every guest post you write, no matter who publishes it, will expose you to new readers and, ultimately, new outlets. Just be courteous, appreciate where you do end up, and keep on writing.