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How to Get Guest Posts on Big Name Blogs and Land Dynamite Interviews

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Therese here. Please welcome returning guest Ollin Morales, who’s here today to talk with us about approaching big blogs for guest stints. Ollin posted with us in March about the purpose of writing [2], and it was so well received, we wanted to have him back. Ollin’s blog {Courage 2 Create [3]} chronicles his journey as he writes his first novel, offering writing and strategic advice along the way. His blog was named–along with Writer Unboxed–as one of The Top Ten Blogs for writers by Write To Done [4] in 2011, and has been featured on The Huffington Post and Colorlines.com [5].

Enjoy!

How to Get Guest Posts on Big Name Blogs and Land Dynamite Interviews

I’m just like you.

I’m a writer with a dream who’s working on his first novel… and hoping that one day it’ll get published.

It’s almost two years since I started my author blog, Courage 2 Create, and already I’m getting closer to my writing dreams than I ever imagined I would.

This past year, I’ve even landed guest posts on Write To Done, Jane Friedman’s blog, Good Life Zen, Ghost Writer Dad and Problogger. I’ve landed interviews with people like Porter Anderson (an experienced journalist who’s worked for CNN) and with Leo Babauta (author of Zen Habits—a Top 25 Blog in the world according to Time Magazine).  Finally, more recently, my blog reached a milestone and was featured on The Huffington Post.

As my readers know, I’m not one to hide the “secrets” to my success. So here’s exactly how I’ve managed to get guest posts on big name blogs and land dynamite interviews:

First of All: There’s No Magic Formula

Now, to be honest, there’s no “magic formula” for landing a great interview subject or being featured on a big name blog, but here are some tips that have worked for me. I hope they help.

Focus On The Blogs and Interview Subjects You Really, Genuinely Love

Don’t waste time on a blog, or prospective interview subject, who you don’t believe in, or who you really don’t care about, just so you can get their fans to drive traffic to your blog. When you genuinely love and are interested in the people you’re going to interview (or whose blog you will be featured on), you’ll be driven to exert the necessary effort and conduct the necessary research it takes to land the gig.

Do Your Research

You should spend at least a few months getting acquainted with your prospective interview subject or blog. You want to deeply understand their purpose and take note of the logical progression of their ideas. This will help you see what “blanks” you might want to fill and what places you might want to take the subject (or blog) next when you create content with them.  When you do this kind of preparation, you’re able to take the blog, or the interview subject, to a place they’ve never been before—but that they were probably going to explore eventually. And they’ll appreciate that.

Be Audacious

I know. Big name blogs and big interview subjects are intimidating to approach. So? Just ask anyway. What’s the worst that’s gonna happen? They say no? Most often than not, people will simply not reply to your request. (Which is just a polite way of saying “no,” I’ve learned.) If you don’t hear back from them, follow up with the blog or subject in two weeks. If there’s still no reply, just let it go and move on.

Modesty Can Hurt You

If you’ve earned some awards or have some dynamite experience to your name, don’t hold back. Let the blog or interview subject know—in a professional manner—who you are and why you’re someone they should take the time to work with. Providing context to someone who doesn’t know you very well always helps.

Work Your Network

I got to know some big names simply by being on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. These sites are incredible “training grounds” for interacting with big names and authorities. Be careful, though: the worst thing you can do in this situation is “plug yourself.” If you approach the blogger, or prospective interview subject, instead of plugging yourself, share with them links to articles that would be incredibly useful to their readers. Show the blogger or prospective interviewee that you genuinely love and care about the work that they do. (And, if you followed rule number one, then you don’t need to fake it, because you do care.) Then, later, when you’re ready, you can approach the blogger (or prospective interview subject) and ask if they want to work with you.

Be Professional and Create Great Content

If the big name blog or interview subject wants to check out the work you do, make sure you’ve already laid out a professional blog that reflects who you are and your strengths. I guarantee that, after you ask to work with the blog or interview subject, they’ll be checking you out to make sure you’re the real deal. So be prepared.

Don’t Ask: “What’s In It For Me?” Instead Ask: “How Can I Contribute?”

This radical mind shift will make you approach interview subjects and big name blogs in a whole different way. This type of “interdependent” mindset will make it absolutely clear to the prospective interview subject (or blog) that you’re genuinely trying to contribute to their community—a community that they’ve worked with their blood, sweat, and tears to create.

Writing “The Pitch”

If you’re looking to guest post for a big name blog, or looking to interview someone, you typically send him (or her) a “pitch” first. In this “pitch” make sure to only give a working headline and an outline of the topics your post, or interview, will cover. If you’re going to guest blog, don’t write up the whole post. (Big name bloggers dislike it when you’re vague about what you want to write about, but they also don’t like to read through an entire post before they decide on whether it’s a right fit for their blog—you don’t want to come off as being presumptuous.)

In the pitch, make sure to introduce yourself, mention what your blog is about, mention any awards you’ve received, and then mention why you’re passionate about the blog’s material, or the subject’s area of expertise. Make sure it’s clear that you know what their blog is about—and, for interview subjects, make sure it’s clear that you’re familiar with their background.

How Not To Blow It When You Do Land The Gig or Interview Subject

When you do land the gig, or subject, make sure to congratulate yourself first. Then, make sure you listen to any questions or concerns the blogger or interview subject has, and respond to them quickly. Big name blogs often have strict guidelines, and if they ask you to make a hard edit on your guest post, then they probably have good reason to do so. Respect their request unless you have a pretty darn good reason not to honor it.

When The Guest Post (Or Interview) Goes Live

If you’re guest blogging, be ready for the possibility of finding out that your guest post was still edited heavily even after you made a lot of changes to it. The headline of the post might have been changed, or the picture you originally provided for the post might have been replaced, or the formatting and subheadings might have been tweaked.

The blogger knows their audience more than you do—and they know what gets their fans excited. Believe it or not, by tweaking your post a bit, the blogger was working to ensure that your post was as successful as it could be. In the end, a wildly successful post is good for both you and the blogger.

Lastly, if you’re guest blogging, and your guest post goes live, make sure to actively participate in the discussion, leave comments, share your post on social networks, and interact with their readers. Show the big name blog that you “get” what blogging is all about—it’s about community engagement. If the blogger sees you interacting and responding to their readers in a positive manner, then the blogger may be eager to have you over for a second or third time.

Afterwards

Afterwards, don’t forget to say thank you to the blogger or interview subject!

Practice, Practice, Practice… Practice!

The best way to keep getting guest posts, or great interview subjects, is simply to keep trying over and over again—and learn from all your mistakes.

If a blog doesn’t accept your pitch, or if you don’t land that desired interview subject, don’t take it personally and move on. If you really want that opportunity, maybe one day you can try it again, when you’ve gotten better at pitching your ideas.

Now, will you land every interview subject you approach, and will get on every big name blog you send a guest post pitch to? Of course not. I didn’t. You won’t either. No one does.

But even though you might not land every single gig, even though there will be many times when you feel the hot sting of rejection, even though the process will seem as if it only gets harder when you think it should be getting easier—know that this process is the best learning experience a writer could ever have.

Because when you finally start looking for a dynamite literary agent to represent you, or start looking for a big name publisher to publish that book of yours, you’ll say to yourself:

“Oh, I’ve been through something like this before. Piece. Of. Cake.”

What are your tips for writing a great guest post pitch, or landing that desired interview subject? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Thanks for a great post, Ollin! Readers, you can learn more about Ollin by visiting his blog [6], and by following him on Facebook [7] and Twitter [8]. Write on!

Photo courtesy Search Engine People Blog [9]