When I first started out, there were a ton of opportunities to guest blog. I was able to land some of these, and others, I was not. One of the things that frustrated me at times was finding what I thought was the perfect guest blogging opportunity and then never hearing back. Not only was I failing to land the opportunity, but I was not receiving any feedback. I was struggling with what to say, how to say it, and how to land the opportunity. I’ve learned a lot over time!

If you’re just now starting to look for guest blogging opportunities or are running into some challenges, I’ve put together a checklist for you that will help you as you seek a guest blogging opportunity. It covers what you should say and how you should present yourself in a way that’s going to make you really, really attractive to the people that you’re pitching.

Research the Opportunity

Don’t ever apply for a guest blogging gig without doing your research on the platform. A lot of times you’ll see people in groups who will share, “Hey, I need guest posts over here” or “I’ve got a podcast coming up next week—here’s what I’m looking for.” Don’t respond to those without clicking through to the site and learning what it is actually about. Research allows you to communicate clearly why you’re the best person for their blog post or podcast. There are thousands of people looking for guest bloggers. Some are free, and some are paid, so it’s important for you to know what you’re getting into.

Ask Good Questions

One thing you will want to ask is: Is this a paid opportunity? Don’t be timid and avoid asking at all. Ask! Read the copy, read what they’re saying and ask. Is this a paid position? You need to know how it’s going to benefit you. There are times when a free guest blogging opportunity makes sense and there are other times it does not. You need to know upfront before you spend a lot of time trying to land this guest blogging gig whether or not it’s worth it to you.

What Are Their Stats?

This might make some people nervous to think of doing, but it’s useful information. Ask about their ideal client. Ask about their readers. “About how many readers do you get each month?” Or if they say they’re going to send the blog posts out on their email list, ask how many people are on their email list. If a guest blogger is not in the center of your niche and they have only 200 fans on their Facebook page and only 10 or 20 people on their email list, it’s probably not going to benefit you a whole lot to write that unless it’s a future collaboration and we’ll talk about that later. Don’t be afraid to say, “I saw your guest post opportunity—could you give me an idea who your audience is and how many people you reach?” It’s totally professional. Don’t feel like you’re putting them on the spot or you’re being difficult to work with.

Who Is Their Ideal Reader?

Once they’ve expressed to you who their ideal reader is, you need to ask yourself who is your ideal reader. Think about who is on their blog and how it’s going to benefit you to write for them. Being published online is not hard to do—there a lot of places for anyone to submit guest blogs. What really helps you is to become known as the expert in your niche. To do that, you’ve got to be highly visible in your niche. Let’s say you’re a finance blogger. There are lots of different places to guest blog. Some may not be accessible to you just yet. You can look for a mommy blogger and see if you can guest blog on her site talking about money. Think about positioning—how is this article going to position you as the expert?

Collaboration and Future Growth

There have been times I’ve done a blog post, podcast or face-to-face event knowing I wasn’t going to get much out of that event except the connection with the person who organized it. Sometimes the best collaborations come down the road after an initial collaboration. So if you’re going to participate in someone’s podcast, and they don’t have a huge audience, there’s a cost. There’s the energy output involved with creating the podcast. But perhaps that helps them understand what you really do and to refer you to other people or to invite you into a bigger project. Maybe you can take a bigger role and cohost something together in the future. Don’t be short-sighted. Play the long game and recognize that there are going to be some costs you incur right now that will pay off bigger in the future.

Track Your Blog Opportunities

I do a couple different things to keep track of opportunities that interest me. One is paper and a clipboard. I write down when I see publications that I want to be published in. Then I write down events I want to speak at. It’s my dream list. I’d encourage you not to just write down ones you see in newsfeeds or Facebook groups, but go big! When you see an advertisement for a conference that costs $1000 to attend and it’s in your niche, write it down as something you want to do someday. Start collecting those ideas.

The other thing that I do is save links on a Trello board—whether it’s links about blogs I want to guest blog for or magazines I want to write for, or another kind of opportunity. Maybe right at the moment I see it, the timing isn’t right. The platform isn’t big enough, or I have enough guest blogging opportunities on my plate and I can’t really take on more right now but see something cool, I will save it on my Trello board. This is really important when you’re going into a season when you’re launching a product like a book or a course or whatever it may be. You’re going to want to be as visible as possible. So if you already have a list of 20-30 places that you want to blog or guest post or build some kind of collaboration with, keeping track of it simplifies the process to have this information available when you’re ready to approach the person about the opportunity later on.

Set Up Your System

When you contact someone about guest blogging, you’re going to do it through email, through Facebook messenger, LinkedIn or one of the other social media platforms. You’re going to say the same thing each time, so take the time right now—just pull out a Word document or Evernote or however you save your stuff—and write a couple emails. It doesn’t need to be your full bio or six paragraphs about all the places you’ve been and all the things that you’ve done. This is just a couple of lines, like your elevator pitch, where you can say something like: “Hey, this is Angela. I’m a strategy coach for Christian entrepreneurs and I have a really cool article about blogging and I wonder if you’re looking for guest bloggers. I think your audience might be interested and I’d like to share it.” Those are some of the kinds of things you might say. Do 2 or 3 of these. Do what’s natural and what sounds like you, so that if you get on the phone with this person, they recognize that you were actually writing and talking and it’s all consistent with who you are. Save those in a document, in a Trello folder, in Evernote or your preferred place so that when it’s time for you to approach others about opportunities, you can cut and paste.

Have your head shot, your bio, and everything prepared. It’s good to have a bio that’s a couple of different lengths. If you have something that’s just one or two sentences, that’s great for using on social media. If you have something that’s 10 sentences, that’s better for using at the end of a blog. Maybe you have one that’s 30 sentences—it would be best used when you have a full page in a conference portfolio or something like that. Another thing to add to this file to make it super easy later on is if you have an ad, a lot of places, when you come to a conference instead of paying you, they’ll give you free ad space for attending their program. Develop a couple of ads or at least have the copy written for a couple of ads so that if you happen to have an opportunity at the last minute, you will be able to give them your information very quickly.

If you’re looking for places to guest blog, come into the BOLD Christian Women In Business And Ministry group where we post a collaboration thread as well as other opportunities on a regular basis.