How to Pitch and Write a Guest Post (Some Best Practices)

10 min read

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How to pitch a guest post | Photo of a laptop on a bed, next to a wooden tray of a coffee mug and a croissant. There are some pillows in the back.
This article is on how to pitch a guest post and write one. For this blog and others too.

I’m not sharing this from the point of view of someone who sends pitches but from the perspective of someone who receives a lot of them instead.

Also, I have recently opened up guest posting opportunities on The Side Blogger, so now’s a good time to tell you what tickles me and what goes straight to trash.

If you want to write a guest post for The Side Blogger, click the link above to read the pitching guidelines.

But also read this article, so you know exactly how to improve your chances of getting picked.

While this post is definitely geared toward those wanting to write for The Side Blogger, the main points will apply to any quality website you’re planning to pitch. So, pay attention.

How to pitch a guest blog

First, if you’re new to the concept of guest blogging, I highly recommend you start by reading this beginner’s guide to guest blogging. It also has a long list of high-quality websites across various niches that accept guest posts, to make your life a little easier.

Alright then. Let’s talk about pitching, and specifically, pitching this blog.

Step 1: Find the pitching guidelines

Assuming that you’ve decided a certain website would be perfect for your guest blog post, the first thing you want to do is find their guest blogging guidelines. You’ll likely find them in one of these places:

  • The main navigation menu of a website
  • The footer area
  • The “About” page
  • The “Contact” page

If you do not find guest blogging guidelines in any of these places, then try the website’s search function to look for these keywords:

  • Write for us/Write for [website name]
  • Guest blog
  • Guest post

If you still do not find anything, then there’s a high probability that the site doesn’t accept guest posts.

There’s one last thing you can do before giving up: You can Google [Website name]+Write for us/guest blog/guest post.

If you still don’t find anything, you can do one of two things: give up, or, send a cold pitch.

Until recently, I didn’t accept guest posts so I had no page or post with specific guest posting guidelines. And yet, every single day I would receive multiple guest post pitches. Go figure. So yeah, cold pitching is definitely an option. There were times I was close to accepting a post because someone pitched something amazing, but, in the end, I didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with external submissions, quality checks, editing, and the rest that comes with managing guest posting while maintaining the writing tone and standards I have set up for this blog.

Pitching guidelines for The Side Blogger: The guest posting guidelines specific to The Side Blogger are listed on the footer area of this website. You’ll also find it on the “About” page (link text says “Write for The Side Blogger.” Or, just click here.

Step 2: Research and come up with a topic (or topics)

Do not send a pitch just asking if you can write for them.

Send specific topics, or better yet, send the proposed titles/headlines.

In my pitch form, I ask folks to give me a title instead of topics. The title tells me (or it should tell me if it’s well-crafted) exactly what the blog post is about.

Before you send over titles, however, do your research.

  • Find out the blog’s niche(s).
  • Figure out who the blog’s ideal audience is.
  • Brainstorm some topics that would be useful to this audience.
  • Make sure the post(s) you’re pitching are unique (or have a unique angle). You do not want to pitch something that has been covered already unless you can convince the publisher that your post will be much more valuable with additional talking points or more relevant and newer/updated information.

Step 3: Send the pitch

I cannot stress this enough: follow pitch guidelines to a T.

If someone asks you to submit a form (as I do), then submit a form. If they ask you to email, send an email. If they want you to use a specific word in the subject line, use that word.

Please, READ the submission/pitch guidelines THOROUGHLY.

Now, as someone who gets a lot of pitches, a vast majority of them plain awful, let me highlight what a good pitch is really like. I’ll use the form I have set up to go through the steps.

Even if you’re pitching a different blog and they do not have a form set up like I do, I recommend that you use the same talking points in your email to craft a pitch that’ll stand out from the junk we website owners and publishers receive on the daily.

My guest post pitch form has 10 fields. Let’s go through each of them:

Guest post pitch form fields 1, 2, and 3: Name, email, confirmation that writer has read the guidelines.
Guest post pitch form fields 1, 2, and 3: Name, email, and confirmation that the writer has read the guidelines.

Fields 1, 2, and 3: The introductory basics

These are the basics: in the first field, I ask for the writer’s full name. In the second field, I ask for their email. In the third, I ask them to acknowledge that they have indeed read the guest blogging guidelines.

If you’re pitching a blog that asks you to send an email, you should start with the basics as well. Tell them who you are briefly. Your name and intent to pitch a guest post should be sufficient.

Guest post pitch form field 4: Writing samples
Guest post pitch form field 4: Writing samples

Field 4: Writing samples

In this section, I ask writers to share two (2) writing samples. When I say two, I mean two—not one, and not three.

These samples can be posts you’ve written on your blog. They may be other guest posts. Or just Google Doc links with sample articles. I ask for this so I can figure out your writing style. I do not require you to submit a pre-written blog post, so, before I ask you to labor away, I need to know you can write at the level I expect.

If you’re pitching a different blog via email, then it’s in your best interest to share some writing samples. Let them know what kind of writer you are. I get so many pitches daily where the sender doesn’t bother to share writing samples! Do they think I’ll let anybody write something for my website? The callousness of some pitchers is mind-boggling.

Guest post pitch form fields 5, 6, and 7: Post title, talking points, and intended audience.
Guest post pitch form fields 5, 6, and 7: Post title, talking points, and intended audience.

Fields 5, 6, and 7: The post you’re pitching

These fields deal with the exact post you’re pitching. Now, some website owners/publishers like it when you pitch multiple topics. It’s legit; it gives the publisher the opportunity to pick the topic they like.

Personally, I only want one topic at a time. For a couple of reasons: To make life easy for me and to understand if the pitching writer is serious (when you’re allowed to pitch only a single topic, you’ll need to do your research to make sure it’s a topic that hasn’t already been covered in the blog, and that the topic will actually fit the larger narrative of the blog.)

If you’re pitching someone via email and they haven’t specified how many topics they want you to pitch, then feel free to send two or three of them.

As for my form, I ask for three things:

  • A headline/title of the blog post. Make it good! If you don’t spend time crafting a good title, then I won’t have the confidence to ask you to write something for my blog.
  • The main talking points. Think of it like a rough outline. You should already have it if you’re pitching me a blog post. If you do not know what you’ll be talking about, then you’re not really ready to pitch me (or anyone) anyway. Be detailed so I know exactly what you plan to cover. Without this knowledge, I’m not going to bother working with you.
  • Who will this blog post benefit? This is where you share who the ideal audience is for the article you intend to write. I kid you not, recently I had someone fill out this form, and their response was: “This will benefit YOU!” Like… WTF!? The motivation behind this question is for me to understand if you know who this blog’s audience is. And if you’ve done your research and you know what you will write about, then you should have no trouble clarifying this part.

Even when you’re emailing a different website owner/publisher, you should clarify these things. Most guest post pitches I receive say nothing about headlines, talking points, or the ideal audience. That’s not a good pitch, guys! Do it right! Instead of copy-pasting pitches to random websites, understand the sites you’re pitching to first—their niche, voice, tone, audience, etc. I’m sure there are some poor-quality websites that will let anyone write anything for link-building scams, but quality blogs (mine included) wouldn’t stand for that.

Guest post pitch form fields 8: Past students
Guest post pitch form field 8: Past students

Field 8: Past students

This is specific to me.

I have, in the past, taught a blog writing workshop. In that workshop, I teach attendees exactly how I write my blog posts. So, naturally, if a past student were to pitch me a blog post, I’d have more confidence in working with them because they’re familiar with the style and tone of The Side Blogger.

Similarly, I have an SEO blog post template that I sell for folks who do not attend the live workshop but want to learn how to write a search-engine-optimized blog post (specifically the kind that I write on this blog.) This template should also give folks a feel for how to write a blog post ideal for The Side Blogger.

So, if the person pitching me has either taken the workshop with me or bought the template, then I’d like to know that and would prioritize working with them because they should already be familiar with how to write for The Side Blogger.

→ Note: Yes, I will prioritize past students and buyers, but publication is still contingent upon a good pitch, a good topic/title that will help the readers of this blog, and a well-written blog post. If anything, I’ll hold these people to an even higher standard given they’ve learned from me!

Guest post pitch form fields 9 and 10: Writer's affiliation with The Side Blogger if any, and final acknowledgement of other details.
Guest post pitch form fields 9 and 10: Writer’s affiliation with The Side Blogger if any, and final acknowledgement of other details.

Fields 9 and 10: Affiliations and acknowledgments

You don’t need to cover these in your email pitches to other websites (unless they ask for them.)

However, I do ask for them in my form for a few reasons:

  • “Have you written for The Side Blogger before?” I ask this because if anyone has already submitted anything to me before, I can go check out their writing style. In your email pitches to other websites, you needn’t bother with this part if you have never written for them. However, if you have written for them, then it doesn’t hurt to share that information.
  • Acknowledgments: Finally, and these are specific to my pitch form submission, I ask writers to acknowledge that they should wait for 7 days to hear back via email, and if they don’t hear from me, they may assume that I have passed. I also need them to acknowledge that even if I like their pitch and ask them to submit the completed blog post, publication isn’t guaranteed. That’s because someone may have a good idea, but if they do not write a good blog post, then I cannot publish it on my blog.

Pitching via email

Do NOT pitch me via email; pitch only using the form you’ll find on this page ↓

But, if you’re pitching some other website via email, then pay attention to every detail they ask for.

Here’s an example of a good pitch (similar to the ones I have considered in the past); feel free to use this template but make sure to modify this to meet a website’s pitching guidelines and requirements.

Dear [publisher name],

I'm Jane, a freelance writer. I'm writing to pitch 
a guest post on your blog [blog name].

After reading some of your articles and checking 
past topics, I've come up with the following 
headlines that I think will be great additions 
to your blog:

- [Headline # 1]
   - The main talking points
   - Target audience / takeaways
   - Target keyword
- [Headline # 2]
   - The main talking points
   - Target audience / takeaways
   - Target keyword

If you like any of these, I'll be happy to send 
over the completed article.

And finally, here are some links to blog posts 
I've written in the past:
- link 1
- link 2

Waiting to hear back from you.

A crucial tip for these email pitches: Always find out the name of the person you’re pitching to. Do not start an email with “Dear team,” or “Dear sir/Ma’am.” It’s just bad. I stop reading emails that start with these words.

Also, unless the website is asking for a full submission (HubSpot, for example, asks for full article submissions), I recommend that you only send a pitch—with titles, talking points, and ideal audience—and not a fully written blog post. 

That concludes my guide on pitching guest posts. Of course, if you want to learn more about the entire guest blogging cycle, you should read my guide to guest blogging as it has more of the nitty-gritty stuff about the whole process.

A Few Words on Writing the Blog Post

Once your pitch is accepted, it’s time to actually write the blog post.

Ideally, all websites will want a high-quality blog post that will appeal to their audience. They’ll also likely want the blog post to be search-engine optimized. So, before you start pitching, make sure you know how to write a good blog post.

Writing content/blog posts is very different from writing essays or academic papers. Online writing is a genre on its own and has specific rules—do’s and don’ts.

Additionally, each website has its own style. When you’re writing for a certain website, keep in mind that your style and tone must reflect the style and tone of the blog you’re writing for.

Content writing isn’t literature. You may prioritize your own style in your literary writing, but in content writing, you must prioritize the website you’re writing for and its particular tone.

So, for that purpose, I will always prioritize working with my workshop students and the buyers of the SEO blog post template. That doesn’t mean I will not work with other writers (I definitely will work with those who send me great ideas and pitches), but it will simply be easier for me to work with a writer who already knows what my expectations are.

In conclusion

If you want to write a guest post for The Side Blogger, do this:

  • Check out the guest blogging guidelines. Read this page thoroughly.
  • Come up with a stellar topic and post the title. Think about what you want to write, who the post will help, and how.
  • Fill out the pitch form (you’ll find this form in the link above).
  • Wait for seven (7) days to hear from me. I’ll email you if I like your pitch with further instructions.
  • If you do not hear back within 7 days, assume that I’ve passed. No need to follow up. You may pitch a different topic at this point if you want.
  • If your pitch is accepted, write a great blog post. Understand that even if I accept a pitch, I won’t publish your blog post unless it’s well-written. You may consult my SEO blog post template if you wish to know the format I expect from guest bloggers. At the very least, read some of the articles on this website to understand the formatting styles, the voice, and the tone I prefer.

Once again, here’s my guest blogging and pitching guidelines:

If you’re pitching another website, most of the advice I shared here will still apply.

So, good luck!

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