Be Genuine, Expert, Professional in Content Marketing

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates mean content marketing takes a front seat in online marketing campaigns. Truth be told, content marketing has always been important, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. If you’re trying to get your company’s or client’s content seen by more people online, keep reading for some helpful tips.

I want to give a tip of the hat to Elle Rose Williams, writing for Search Engine Journal, for the ideas I’ll be covering here. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you’re building a reputation as an expert in your field, and you’re reaching out to other bloggers and places where you hope to send guest posts. If you haven’t received a lot of positive replies, perhaps something in your approach put off your prospective editor.

I’m going to start with a tip that Williams didn’t include, but I think belongs on every list of tips for those who want to write guest posts: read the fine blog. You don’t need to read the whole thing, but please try to find the time to skim at least three posts. You need to get a sense of the blog; how else will you know if you can really write for it, and whether its audience will be interested in what you can share with them?

Once you’ve determined that you can write something worthwhile for the blog’s audience, you need to let the editor know. To do that, it helps to get the editor’s name, and use it in your letter. If you can’t find that name, Williams recommends that you apologize and explain why you’re not using it. That adds a personal touch to your e-mail, and will help you stand out.

You want to get across to the blog editor that you are a real person with something valuable to share, and that they want to work with you. To that end, Williams suggests that you “be friendly, not efficient.” Truth is, you can be both, but you need to strike a careful balance. I share her expressed perspective: “I want to work with contributors who are friendly and can be trusted to deliver some excellent content, not people who clearly grabbed my email address somewhere, pasted in a rude message, and then moved on to the next email on their list.” Show me that you took the time to understand my website and my needs; then show me how you can meet those needs.

One great way to show me that you understand my website is by making your email more personal. Remember my comment above about at least skimming a few posts? Williams suggests that one way you can get the blog editor’s attention is by “mentioning a previous blog post he/she wrote that you loved.” As a writer and an editor, I guarantee you that this will get your query letter noticed! At the very least, you’re showing that you’ve put some personal effort into it, so in the editor’s mind, your email has just left the spam category and proven to be from a real person.

Another reason you should write a personal letter to the blog editor, rather than going with something that’s mostly cut-and-paste, is that first impressions matter. In a case like this, if you give a poor enough first impression, you’ll never get the chance to fix it. If you met a dentist at a networking event, and there was something wrong with his teeth, would you start using him? I didn’t think so. Likewise, in your outreach email, you’re trying to convince the blog editor to use your writing services. That editor is going to make assumptions about the quality of your services based on the quality of your email. That email had better not contain any spelling or grammar errors – even if the blog itself is written in a somewhat “relaxed” style. This is how you show the blog editor that you’re a professional, and deserve the backlink you hope to earn with a guest post.

Finally, please remember that blog editors are overworked. For some of us, this is a labor of love, squeezed in between what we need to do to earn a living. For others, this IS what we do for a living, and it takes long hours to make it pay. Either way, if you really want to show that blog editor that you’re an expert in your field, propose a topic in your very first email. Williams recommends that you “Include three article suggestions in your email. This makes you look conscientious and engaging (both good traits), and it also gives the editor maximum control without technically having to do any thinking or hard work.”

If you keep these tips in mind, you should improve your odds for getting approved the next time you approach a blog editor for whom you wish to write a guest post. Good luck!  

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