Skip to main content

How to Pitch and Write a Guest Post in 7 Steps

Build credibility and grow your audience with this essential public relations tool.

How to Pitch and Write a Guest Post Hero Illustration

Many people struggle to identify what’s newsworthy about their business. And in the case of some service businesses like design, technology, marketing, or innovation agencies, client confidentiality might mean you can’t publicize some of your work. This can make it hard to do your own public relations (PR).

But even if you don’t have breaking news or you can’t promote a project you've completed, all small business owners have opinions and expertise worth sharing. That’s why writing a guest post is one of the most powerful publicity tools for any entrepreneur.

Sometimes described as thought leadership, an opinion piece, or simply a guest blog post, this PR tactic involves writing about something you know for someone else’s website. Everyone benefits—your business gets exposure and theirs gets content. Plus, it builds credibility and expands your reach.

Pick the right platform and topic

Before getting started, you’ll need to decide what you want to write about and which websites or publications might be the best fit for your particular area of expertise. Consider the audience you’d like to reach and what type of content you’d like to contribute. For example, you might use your guest post as an opportunity to:

  • Share your opinion. Most newspapers have a comment or opinion page, so you could seek out a platform that will allow you to share an opinion pertaining to your business expertise. If you have an artisan shoe company, for instance, you might write an opinion piece about why you believe every person needs a custom pair of shoes.
  • Provide expertise. You could write an article for another business in your industry that publishes content marketing pieces. Think about businesses that share your audience but aren’t your competitors and consider pitching an article to them. (This article you’re reading right now is, in fact, a guest post.) Or, you could pitch an article to a relevant industry publication, like a niche magazine or website.
  • Get personal. If you’re willing to share personal stories, you could create compelling content by relating them to your business. Often this means talking about adversity you overcame, opening the door to publications that source human interest stories. Perhaps you started a business in a time of personal grief and your dedication to your business helped you through it—writing about an experience like this can help people connect with you and gravitate towards your business.

7 steps to a perfect pitch

You don’t need professional experience to pitch and write an article. The key is to just break it up into manageable tasks.

  1. Read other guest posts and guidelines. Before you create content for a business or publication, you need to know what they typically publish. Read other guest posts on their platform and try to get a sense of what’s consistent about them. Perhaps their guests’ posts always offer expert tips, or maybe they focus on personal stories. Search the site (or use a search engine) to find contact information and submission guidelines for the posts they solicit and accept. Don’t write an article and then try to place it—the content accepted is different everywhere, and you don’t want to rewrite your piece. Instead, make a list of 3 dream publications and 3 more approachable blogs or industry publications you’d like to pitch, and research their guidelines.
  2. Send an email with a clear subject line. Your subject line should be both formulaic and tailored. It should contain everything an editor needs to know immediately. Follow this formula: “Pitch for: Name of publication, name of the column and/or short headline.” For example, “Pitch for: Mailchimp Learning Resources, How to Pitch and Write a Guest Post.” You want to demonstrate that the pitch was written specifically for them and that you have read the publication. Write a clear, concise headline for your proposed post that you believe will grab their readers’ attention.
  3. Introduce yourself. Write a friendly and straightforward introduction for the email. Rather than asking how the recipient is doing, get to the point and tell them who you are, what you do, and what you’d like to write about. Be certain that you spell the contact’s name correctly and you include hyperlinks to your website.
  4. Share ideas for a post. You don’t want to bombard someone with too many options, but it’s a good idea to provide 2 or 3 ideas for a guest post. This allows them to give feedback and editorial direction—and increases your chances of getting a pitch selected. Write 3 short sentences at most about each idea. Format them so that they can be read quickly—offset each idea with a bullet point or as its own paragraph.
  5. Give samples of your writing. If you haven’t contributed a guest post to any other sites, that’s okay; you can share links to blog posts on your own website or to social media channels that feature your writing. Of course, if you do have professional links, you should send your best 2 or 3. Make sure that your pitches don’t read like an advertisement for your business—audiences want to know about the business challenges you face, your point of view, and other things that appeal as human interest stories.
  6. Demonstrate wider expertise. At the bottom of the pitch, you can include any other details about why you’re the right person to write this post. This might mean sharing other experiences you’ve had or relevant credentials that prove you have valuable knowledge to offer. Don’t write your life story—this part of your pitch should be extremely brief.
  7. Tell them how to reach you. Make sure your email has a signature that contains your email address and phone number. It’s likely that your email will get forwarded, and you want to make sure you’re easy to reach. When you do hear back, be prepared to respond quickly.

Before you send your pitch, use this checklist to ensure it’s the best it can be.

  • Is your subject line tailored for that publication?
  • Did you spell the editor or business owner’s name correctly?
  • Do your topic suggestions fit the format of that publication?
  • Have you demonstrated your writing ability?
  • Have you read your email out loud to check for errors?
  • Have you included your email address and phone number?

Once you hone the practice of pitching guest posts, you can start doing so on a regular basis. This is a great way to raise your profile, drive awareness of your expertise, and showcase your personality. In a world where shoppers often make buying decisions based on the people behind the brand, a strong opinion article can be more useful to your business than an advertisement. And unlike advertising, which only lasts for as long as you’ve paid for it, a guest post lives indefinitely.

Don’t be discouraged if your pitches don’t get accepted immediately. You can always submit an article on LinkedIn, Medium, or on your own website to get practice and demonstrate what you know. Take time to develop your editorial voice and writing style, and before you publish anything, always read it out loud to make sure it sounds like you.

I’ve secured a post. Now what?

When a publication commissions your pitch, make sure you understand what they expect from you in return. Ask how long (in word count) they’d like the article to be, when it’s due, and what their editorial guidelines are.

Then, you can work on your post. Start by gathering any research and organizing your thoughts into an outline. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive, and you don’t have to stick to it, but a simple outline will help you make sure you don’t forget anything you meant to cover. When you’re ready to write, seek out an environment that inspires your best work. And don’t procrastinate—you’ll be glad to have extra time to review and rewrite your piece as needed.

Be sure to keep in mind that the process doesn’t always end when you submit your piece for publication—some editors will ask you for additional revisions, while others will make the edits themselves. But after your post is finalized and published, you can share it across all your social channels and reference it in future pitches.

Once you start publishing and sharing your work, you’ll generate new topic ideas. Pay attention to responses on social media and elsewhere—this can lead to new topics to explore and a broader conversation to join. Business owners who talk about their business attract more business, so be sure to share your pieces (but be careful not to seem over the top or opportunistic).

Guest posts can often spark debate, lead to speaking opportunities, and open the door for future writing projects. But most importantly, it’s a way to promote your business and broaden your audience.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start writing.

Written by Lucy Werner for Mailchimp. Lucy is an expert in PR for small businesses.

Share This Article