How to Land Guest Posts on Authority Sites Through Cold Email

Sujan Patel is the founder of Mailshake, a sales engagement software used by 38,000 sales and marketing professionals. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.
  • September 5, 2017

Landing guest posts or even guest podcast spots on high authority sites isn’t quite as easy as it once was. Bloggers are more aware than ever of how valuable raising their brand awareness, driving more traffic to their websites, and earning a quality link back to their sites are these days.

We’re also facing email overload in our everyday lives. According to research from McKinsey and Company, people spend an average of 28% of their workweek reading and answering email. You may feel like you can’t stand out from the competition with all of that white noise going on in people’s inboxes, but it’s possible if you know what to do.

The real secret to writing a great email to land a guest post is all in how you ask. I get a lot of emails from people asking for favors, and most of them are not executed very well. The ones that grab my attention and are more likely to get some kind of a response. I also use a similar formula when I’m reaching out to ask people to post on Mailshake’s blog or asking for a favor. Here’s what to look out for and how to get started.

Offer a Compliment

It sounds simple, but it works. Opening your email with a compliment and showing how enthusiastic you are about their business, blog or product can go a long way toward getting the ‘yes.’ Of course, it’s important to be authentic and stay on point. Although this is an email I sent to recruit someone to write for Mailshake, the concept is still the same. The email was short, to the point and I opened with a quick-but-genuine compliment:

Resist the temptation to lay it on thick. It’s unlikely that referencing how you worship this person will be taken as anything other than slick marketing speak. Keep it genuine. If you’re not sure what to write, mention how something this person wrote helped you with a problem. And keep it brief: there’s no need to go through a laundry list of all the reasons you like this person. The point is to get them hooked and keep them reading.

Brag (Just a Little)

There’s nothing wrong with a little bragging when it comes to trying to land a guest post, or even to recruit people to your own blog or podcast. But bragging takes some subtlety to pull off. Use some social proof and point out other people you’ve worked with. Bonus points if you can find people in their network who have already worked with you or posted on your site.

The brag isn’t so much to talk about how awesome you are but to gently nudge them into understanding you’ve done this before and have been vetted by the pros already. It makes the recipient’s job easier if they can see that someone has already taken a chance on you and thinks you’re worthy of a post.

Show You Know Your Stuff

When’s the last time you got an annoying email in your inbox that asked for too much and made you resentful that the sender was taking up your time? There’s nothing worse than getting a bunch of generic emails that all say the same thing. Busy, successful people don’t have a high tolerance for getting tangled up in what is essentially junk mail.

The first thing you need, obviously, is the person’s exact name and email address. Don’t just send your correspondence to a generic inbox, where there’s a good chance it will never find its way to the correct person – and even if it does, it’s unlikely to give the recipient the impression that you put any time or thought into it. Use a service like Norbert that can pinpoint anyone’s corporate email so you’re contacting the right person from the start.

Stand out on their radar by doing some research in advance. Show how your idea relates to something this person has already accomplished or done. It’s also smart to get specific about your idea, how it relates to the recipient and their audience, and anything you can cite to back it up. There are countless studies, statistics and case studies that can help you better shape your email and show them how much homework you’ve done.

Offer Some Titles or Headline Ideas

A compelling headline or title can go a long way in helping someone understand your idea. The Copyblogger site has mastered titles and headlines. They report that on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will actually read the rest.

The same thing goes for the person you’re emailing. Those headlines and title suggestions ultimately keep the person you’re emailing engaged and reading your correspondence. Try using one in your email subject line to get them to open your email. Once they do, offer up some ideas on what types of titles and topics could work for the authority site. But leave it open-ended and let them know you’re wide open to ideas. In other words, don’t tell them these are the headlines and titles they get to choose from.

Give Them a Sample

A cold email from someone unknown isn’t enough to entice a ‘yes’ from most people. They need to see what you can do and get a sense of your tone and style first. Start by giving them samples of other guest posts or podcasts that went well and relate to the person you’re pitching.

It can also sweeten the deal if you can show statistics behind those guest posts or podcasts. A tool like Buzzsumo can show you how often a piece of content was shared. A helpful feature for content marketers is the site’s ‘View Backlinks’ section, to see who linked to a particular piece. This can give you clues to other people who might want your content and will share it.

Image: Buzzsumo

Recognize They’re Incredibly Busy

At the end of the day, the people you want to contribute content to are busy, and it’s a stretch for them to consider your request and say ‘yes’ in the first place. You’re already interrupting their day just by showing up in their inbox and asking them to read through your email.

It’s more important than you think to always offer flexibility in your ask and give them multiple options to simplify your request. If you’re hoping to guest post or do a guest spot on a podcast, let them know you can turn something around in a week or can make room in your schedule to call into their show at specific times during the week. The easier they can see exactly how you can fit into their schedule, the higher your chances are of hearing the answer you’re looking for.

Make It Super Easy to Say Yes

This is a big one. Don’t make someone jump through hoops to give you that guest post or podcast spot. For example, telling the owner of an authority site that you’d like to see your post live in a week to fit your needs is not a good idea. It’s likely they have their own agenda and promotional schedule and have specific ideas on what content they want to run. You should also skip the demands for someone to use a specific bio or images you want to see on their own site. It’s fine to suggest something that would work well, but it’s ultimately their site and their decision. Make it easy to say ‘yes’ and offer to help in any way you can.

Getting the ‘yes’ you’re looking for to raise your exposure on authority sites isn’t difficult – but it does take the right level of enthusiasm, respect and persistence. Here’s an outreach template I recommend for people trying to master cold email and nail it the first time.

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