Being published on industry-related blogs and high authority publications provides an incredible amount of value, both in terms of search engine optimization and personal brand building. When done correctly, you can experience SEO gains, driving more organic traffic to your website and helping to position yourself – and your business – as a thought leader.


My agency helps secure guest posts and editorial links and mentions, but some individuals and companies want to attempt it in-house and at scale, only to quickly realize just how hard it is to get editors and publications to accept pitches.


Why are we so successful with placements and those who attempt to start on their own tend to fail miserably? It all comes down to relationships. My agency has spent years building these relationships and rapport with editors at a wide variety of publications.


Relationship building and establishing rapport sounds easy, but it’s extremely challenging – it’s much easier said than done, which is why most brands and individuals who set out to land guest posts end up hiring my agency.


However, I think transparency is very important, which is why I decided to write this blog post. I want businesses and individuals to understand what it takes to build strong relationships with editors – the type of relationships that result in getting pitches accepted and guest posts published.


You could have a great idea for a strong or have access to incredible data to share, but if you don’t present your pitch as a win-win situation it’s highly unlikely you will land the guest post, let alone receive a reply.


Stand Out and Understand the Challenges Ahead


First, stop referring to “guest posts” in your pitch and outreach effort. Most editors cringe when they see the words “guest post,” “guest blog,” or “do-follow link.” If a website has a large audience, high traffic stats, and appealing domain authority and SEO metrics, they are receiving pitches daily.


Even though they are constantly bombarded with pitches and guest post offers, the truth is they need this type of content. It gives them “filler” to add to their in-house content written by their staff writers.


More content (if written well) means more organic traffic and visitors, which means more impressions and advertising revenue. Many publications are struggling to generate revenue, which is why some are starting to gate their top-tier content behind a paywall.


Many that take this approach use their “filler” content – guest posts – as publicly accessible content. Tip: publications that have a paywall and publish contributor content that isn’t gated are the easiest to crack, and should be the first targets you approach.


Not all publications are SEO-savvy and they think if they link to your website in an author bio it will potentially harm their search visibility. Google is very gray when it comes to this, so if a publication seems to have this view, don’t press for the link – instead, use these placements as brand building and thought leadership opportunities.


Let’s dive into, and explain, the three pillars of editorial relationship building that you need to master in order to have a chance at securing guest posts on the top websites and blogs.




1. Showcase Your Writing Ability & Professionalism from the Beginning


Editors receive pitches, proposals, bribes, and unsolicited guest post submissions on a daily basis. It would be physically impossible for them to thoroughly comb through each one in its entirety. Doing so would leave them zero time to do their actual job.


Remember, user-submitted content and contributor posts are just a fraction of most publications’ editorial calendars. While there are some blogs that are 100% contributor content, most have full-time staff writers and journalists, and that is the content that receives the most of editors’ time.


How do you make sure you stand out amongst a sea of emails? Be direct and to the point, while also displaying perfect grammar and showcasing your ability to communicate clearly and effectively through words.


It sounds simple, right? Most people are very poor communicators through email. Text messaging and pure laziness have contributed to this. From using abbreviations such as “u” instead of “you” to not knowing how to properly use commas and punctuation – these are all ways to quickly have your email deleted and a mental note made, basically blacklisting you.


If you cannot put together a professional email and make a great first impression you aren’t going to get through that first layer of defense, which is done to weed out the garbage from the beginning. Be professional, set the tone from the beginning, showcase your writing ability, and be sure to drive your point across without added fluff.


You also want to display a human tone, and not sound like a robotic pitch machine. Most people are lazy and will send copy/paste pitch requests. Editors can smell these from a mile away. If you cannot take the time to craft a custom pitch specifically for each editor you are approaching with a proposal you might as well just quit before you even start.


Editors, as well as the readers of their publication, want to see a human side. People connect better when they feel that human tone and connection. This approach also instills confidence in your ability to connect with the publications’ readers.


These outlets aren’t publishing guest posts just to be nice – they are doing so to put out more content, to attract more traffic, page views, and ultimately more advertising revenue.


Be sure to also acknowledge that you understand they are busy and that you appreciate their time. Something as simple as this goes a long way, and you will see that the extra effort – and human compassion – will help you land more accepted pitches and at the very least at least a reply rather than just a ‘delete’ and straight to the trash folder.


It is also important that you follow through on any timelines and dates that an editor puts in front of you. This shows that you are professional and are serious about the relationship. If they ask for a detailed outline or rough draft by a certain time, deliver on time or earlier if you feel it will help make a better first impression.


Also, use spell check and the Grammarly Chrome extension if needed – whatever it takes to ensure that every communication you send is free or simple errors that could immediately ruin any potential relationship.



2. Establish and Nurture Each Relationship According to the Situation


Every editor you come in contact with is going to have a different personality, thus you need to be sure you work on building a strong relationship with each individual according to that unique personality.


Some will be easier to talk to than others, whereas some will respond better to comedy or when you mention their favorite sports team, etc. The trick is to spend the time to discover what makes each person tick, and nurture that relationship according to the personality you are dealing with.


This is something that is often overlooked, and if you don’t pay attention to the little details you will miss out because there will always be someone putting in the work to find out what makes someone tick – and that extra effort is noticed, appreciated and rewarded.


There are a few stages to focus on before you will have a solid rapport with an editor, and you need to put the time and energy into each stage to ensure the best possible outcome. I can’t tell you how great it is when you have a solid relationship and you can shoot over an email and get a pitch approved within minutes.


If you execute the following three stages correctly that can become a reality:


Initial Contact: Your initial contact will generally be a brief overview of who you are, what you want, and the actual first pitch. Often times you will include the first draft of your pitch submission.


How you approach this will depend on several factors. If the publication’s guidelines are public, write your article 100% according to them, send it, and make it clear that it was written specifically according to those published guidelines. This shows that you are serious, take initiative, and follow instructions.


IF there are no published guidelines you can ask for them in your first outreach. Some editors will send you specific guidelines and formatting to follow while others will just tell you to send it over and they will dive in.


Be brief and show that you don’t need babysitting or special attention. If you ask too many questions they may feel you will be a nightmare to work with. The less attention they have to dedicate to your requests, the better.


The best relationships are when the writer can simply send content that is perfectly formatted and the editor simply has to upload it and hit the publish button. Make an effort to make their job easy.


Relationship Progression:


Just because your first pitch gets accepted and published doesn’t mean the relationship building is over. You need to continue to build over the course of the next few submissions. If an editor thinks you are one-and-done it will tarnish the reputation and make it difficult to get more articles approved down the line.


You want to wait a couple of weeks after your first article is published to circle back around and make your second attempt. If the editor asks for content sooner, by all means, go for it. But, you don’t want to pester them and you also don’t want them to think you are just trying to slam a lot of content through without much thought behind it.


Take your time to learn as much about how a particular editor operates and what they respond best to during your first few pitches and submissions. Your relationship building will progress significantly over the course of your first few articles.




Through regular communication, checking in, follow-up, and new submissions, your relationship will become stronger naturally. Building a relationship with an editor is no different than building a relationship with a friend in real life.


Over time the editor will become more comfortable with you, as well as more familiar with your writing style and areas of expertise. Be sure to express your gratitude for the opportunity. Sometimes a simple ‘Thanks’ goes a long way.


This is something that cannot be rushed. Some relationships will become strong after a couple of weeks, while others may take several months before a high level of confidence and trust is established.


Once you have a strong relationship established, you cannot just sit back, which takes us into the next and final pillar – providing value.



3. Provide Value and Benefit: Always Over Deliver


Many people build relationships with editors that are a one-way street – they provide nothing in return. They feel that simply providing them with content is enough and act as if they are doing the publication a favor.


This is a horrible take. Why? Because these editors have no shortage of potential contributors. If they feel like a contributor is taking advantage of their generosity the relationship can become ruined quickly.


Focus on delivering value, and that value depends on many factors. If you have a large social media following – personal and business – be sure to share not only your content but other posts from the publication.


This is something that can be done within seconds and it just shows the media outlet that you value the relationship. Value doesn’t just mean giving something tangible or analytical. Staying up to date on current events and keeping your editor informed can go a long way.


Remember, you are the expert, so there will be times when you have information to share that an editor will deem valuable and it not only shows that you are serious about strong communication and building a professional relationship, but it also opens the door for additional pitches.


By always providing value and over-delivering you create a stronger bond that has a more ‘friend’ vibe, which just helps you secure future pitches. We have some relationships with editors that have more of a long-lost friend feeling than an editor-agency relationship.



Final Thoughts


Relationships are an important part of every business, and content marketing is no different. By taking the time to build meaningful relationships it can help you not only secure an initial guest post but also lock in long-term relationships and regular columns.


Many business owners have leveraged contributor profiles, posting on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, resulting in driving website traffic and sales. Social proof is powerful, and when a consumer is deciding between two companies, one that has a presence on notable websites is going to naturally appear to be more appealing and trustworthy.


My agency has built strong relationships with editors at some of the largest online publications. It’s not something that was accomplished overnight. We have spent years building professional relationships.


What questions do you have regarding editorial relationship building? Drop them in the comments and I will try to answer them all. Are you going to attempt to secure some guest posts in 2022?

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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