How to Guest Post on Big Name Sites.
As part of your journey to becoming a coach you’ll soon realise that you not only have to practice the coaching skills, you also need to learn how to run a business and this may not be something that you fully realised when you first decided to become a coach.
You’ll no doubt invest in some sort of business or marketing training, which will tell you the importance of growing your list. One of the ways that is often suggested to grow your list is to post on other websites. The first thing I would say is this isn’t the quick win you might expect it to be. Some posts do go viral on big name sites and even then it does not necessarily mean that they are growing the list of the writer.
To be honest I don’t guest post as a way of growing my list. The main reasons I guest post are to establish my credibility as a leader in the coaching field, because I love to write and because it feels really good to have your writing accepted by a big name site. I also love how it has led to links with some great people. Any new subscribers are for me, a bonus.
So if you’re still keen to guest post, I’d like to share with you my suggestions for starting off.
The first thing is, I really believe a lot of people get the whole process of guest posting backwards. Let me explain.
A lot of people write a post about something that interests them and then say to themselves, ‘I wonder where I can send this off to?’
I really suggest that you first ask yourself where you want to feature.
For inspiration look at the websites of people in your industry that you admire and see where they have posted or simply ask yourself where you would be delighted to be featured and start there.
Then go first to find their submission guidelines, before you ever write the piece. Make sure you understand exactly what they require. They may want a personal story included, a quote, a photo, and a certain word length.
Then have a look at the site and have a look at some of the articles that are being featured. Can you imagine your work on there? Do you like the way the site looks? How much of a following does the site have? How respected is it in your industry?
Only when you have done this research is it time to put pen to paper or open up a blank document on your computer.
At this point I start with a title as inspiration or you can use a photograph for inspiration or a theme. Don’t be too worried about knowing exactly where you are headed with the piece. Sometimes a piece can end up being about something different to what you expected.
If you get caught up with creativity at this point I suggest reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert or ‘Do the Work’ by Steven Pressfield. If you are in a real creative slump you probably need to work through the programme in ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron.
If you’re going to write you need to let go of it being perfect.
In the writing process give yourself structure. Many sites like lists of things so if you’re feeling stuck a list type post is a really good place to begin, and I think it has a better chance of being featured.
Draft your piece and then check it. If you get it proof read by someone make sure it’s someone who’s supportive and tell them exactly what sort of proof reading you want. If you only want a light touch grammar and punctuation read through say so, if you want them to talk about the theme you have written about, tell them.
Personally I check my own work. I send in the best copy I can knowing that it won’t be perfect. (Nothing ever is)
Then when you have your draft send it in with the extra bits the site requires. This may include:
A high res photo (please make sure you have permission to use any photos you use and attribute them if this is required)
A short bio – Say who you are, what you do and add in a fun fact. Say what your opt-in offer is and where people can find it.
Your social media links.
Then when you have all these things parcel them up in an email adding the bits and pieces as attachments.
In your email say:
Who you are.
What the name of the piece you have written is.
Any other places your work has featured (or if it hasn’t say anything else that gives you credibility as a writer for them). You might say what your social media numbers are if they are healthy or simply that you blog regularly and whatever you help people with.
Make the tone of your email warm and friendly and add something about how you would love to be featured on their site.
If you have written to them before say so and if you interacted with people in the comments tell them that too. It’s in their interest if you are engaged with their audience.
Do a final check against submission guidelines. Send the email with the name of the piece in the subject line and ‘Guest post.’
Then the most important thing of all to do is to click SEND at some point.
You’ve put the work in. You’ve done your research. Imagine that you have parcelled up a special gift just for them and now you are sending it to them.
Going through this process is the equivalent of asking someone what they would like for their birthday and then giving them that.
Writing the piece and then sending it to whoever you fancy without doing the research first is like buying your aunty who is not into fishing, a fishing set.
Here’s a handy checklist to summarise:
- Choose where you want to feature.
- Read their submission guidelines. (ask for them if you need to)
- Look at what they are publishing.
- Overcome creative angst to write something that’s not brilliant.
- Redraft until it’s slightly more brilliant. Make sure any sources of quotes are properly credited and that if you send a photo with the piece that it is yours to use and again that the photo is properly credited.
- Get it proof read or use your inner teacher / editor.
- Get the other things they need aside from the post ready.
- Write the email to them.
- Attach all the bits.
- Make sure that somewhere or other there is a link included to your opt-in and a reason why people should want to go and get that opt-in. Say who you help and what you help them with.
- Overcome angst to press the send button.
- Make a cup of tea.
- Do other fun stuff and wait a week.
- Follow up if you have not heard from them in about ten days.
- Move onto the next piece before you hear back about the first piece.
So you might still not have submitted anything?
Are you telling yourself you can’t? That’s you making the rules up and rejecting yourself before you let anyone else get the chance to.
Truth is I send posts out that are not accepted. It took three attempts to feature on Huff Post. Rejection is part of the gig as a writer, indeed it’s really part of any creative act. I got used to rejection by writing two novels and having them rejected a lot of times. Now it doesn’t bother me so much.
You might be telling yourself you are not expert enough. You don’t have to be an expert to post, you just need to use your individual voice and share something that people will want to read. This does not mean everyone will want to read it. It’s impossible to have everyone like your work.
You might be telling yourself that it’s all been said before. Yes it probably has, but it hasn’t been said in your voice and that’s what people need to hear.
You might be telling yourself that you need to be further along in your journey as a coach to guest post for a big site. This is a limiting belief. In fact if you post for a big name site first it can make it easier as saying that you have posted for the big name site will open other doors. I think that saying you have been featured on a big name site definitely helps your work to be considered seriously when you pitch a piece somewhere else.
So what do you do if your piece is accepted?
First celebrate. Happy dances are totally allowed. You might want to take the time to thank whoever got in contact to say the piece has been published. Nice manners never hurt. Then get onto sharing the piece on your social media. If people make comments on the piece it’s good to respond in the comments on the site.
If the number of likes and shares is high that’s amazing but don’t get despondent if it isn’t. Your piece is still valuable and if it helps even one person you have made an important difference.
What do you do if your piece isn’t accepted?
Keep writing, keep doing the work and never give up. Get some help if you need it. Don’t make the rejection mean anything personal about you or anything definitive about your writing.
Guest posting is a fun way to communicate with people who wouldn’t otherwise read your work and it is a great way of establishing credibility as a coach. If you want to seriously begin guest posting I’d suggest beginning with writing two guest posts per month and submitting them and then try for one per week. Make your criteria for success that the post was submitted rather than whether it was accepted or not.