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 Sheep and Pirates: How to Play the Guest Post Game and Win : Blog PromotionThere are two types of guest posters, sheep and pirates.

Sheep write great content, give it away, watch their traffic spike for 3 hours and start all over again.

Pirates use guest posts to lure away readers, double (even triple) pageviews, create fans, and make money.  By the way, bloggers love Pirates, because pirates understand how the guest post game is played.  In the end, Pirates create win-win deals for their hosts.  Sheep get played.

Guest Posting Like A Sheep

Almost everyday I get a guest post request from someone using an outdated playbook.  They send me a poorly written form-letter email that makes three delete-worthy errors:

1. They talk about what I can do for them
2. Offer topics guaranteed to bore my readers
3. Waste my time by asking me to validate their ideas.

Here’s a sample email (I’ve rewritten it slightly to protect the innocent).

“Hi Stan,
I’m a fan of Pushing Social and would like to guest post on your great blog [Nice but impress me by getting to the point].

I can write on three topics: How IT Can Build Business Value [I hate IT], How to Accurately Footnote and Source Online Articles [WTF?] and “The Impact of Smartphones on Education” [Hand me a gun so I can pistol whip this guy].

Please review the topics and tell me which ones will work best for your audience. [Or...do my job for me].  I look forward to your quick response [Yep, I’ll jump right on that - I have nothing else to do].

The sad thing is that someone paid get money to learn how to write this worthless email.  They’ve been encouraged to make long lists of blogs and send this “guaranteed to work” email to everyone with a pulse and email address.

Sometimes the person gets lucky and has their post published on someone’s blog.

From there, there fumble and waste the opportunity to build their blog.  Even though they can scratch “Guest Post” off their blogging bucket list, the only thing they accomplished was attract a few curiosity clicks.

Sheep get nothing out of the guest posting deal.  The only people that win are the ones that sell obsolete guest posting advice and a few bloggers who take the sheep’s content and get a day off.

Guest Posting Like a Pirate

Pirates understand that Guest Posting is free advertising.  Done right, the pirate sees a permanent bump in their blog’s traffic and popularity.

Pirates play the guest blogging game by:

1. Selling their traffic generation ability.  Top-notch bloggers hunt for traffic and amazing content is a crucial part of their growth strategy.  Pirates “sell” their ability to attract attention, stimulate conversation, and write spreadable content.

Gregory Ciotti surprised me with a clear plan to promote his guest post on Pushing Social.  All I needed to do was tell him when I published it.  He was true to his word plugging the post like his life depended on it.  A classy and effective Pirate move.

2. Solving Content Problems:  Pirates look for out-of-reach content itches that they can scratch with their guest posts.  For example, I know that fresh blogging topics can fill out the content roster for many social media blogs.  I start my guest posting pitch with a focused presentation of how my content solves problems for them and their readers.

Recently, I noticed that Freelance Switch hadn’t offered its freelance readers any solid strategies for getting clients through blogging.  I offered them a fully written post that made Freelance Switch look like a rock star.  The post was accepted AND they paid for the submission.

3.  Converting Visitors into Readers: Pirates try to convert every guest post influenced visit into a subscriber.  Take a look at the byline from a recent guest post by Ryan Holiday, on Copyblogger…

About the Author: Ryan Holiday is media strategist and advisor to many bestselling authors and multi-platinum musicians. He is the Director of Marketing at American Apparel, where his work in advertising is internationally known. His new book, Trust Me, I’m Lying is available now from Penguin Portfolio.

See the last sentence.  He’s using Copyblogger’s platform to advertise his book Trust Me, I’m Lying.

Here’s the byline for the last guest post I did for Copyblogger

About the Author: Stan Smith is Founder of Pushing Social, where he’s obsessed with teaching businesses how to beat the competition and boost profits with breakthrough blogging. You can jumpstart your blog with his free 7 Minute Blog Strategy Guide and get a few bonus goodies too!

The first link takes people to Twitter to follow me. The link in the last sentence has delivered over 200 subscribers in two months.

Sheep are happy to just get a link to their homepage of their blog.  Pirates know better.

4. Excite and Entertain:  Pirates know that the parrot, peg-leg, and eye-patch is good branding.  Take a page from their book and write a post that puts your unique voice on display.

Don’t….Please Don’t….mimic the voice of the blog hosting your post.  Instead, turn your style up a notch a make a distinct impression.  Your goal is to convince readers to visit your blog to continue the experience.

Sheep Rehabilitation

I spent a year being a sheep until I realized that guest posting is a marketing tactic with three parts: 1) The Pitch, 2) Impressive Content and 2) An Invitation.  The goal is to convince a blogger to let you audition for their audience, show your personality, and woo readers back to your blog.

Ready? Tell me what you think in your best pirate voice.


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  • http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/blog/ Jenna Markowski

    Thanks for this post, Stan! This is an incredible resource for anyone trying to get guest blogs published. I especially like how you noted that guest bloggers need to offer fresh content that solves problems and fills in the gaps. And the call to action in the byline is critical! Without it, what’s the point? Again, excellent work!

  • http://www.kronikmedia.co.uk/blog K.Singh – Kronik Media

    A great post indeed and a breath of fresh air from the usual how to guest post content the blogosphere is exploding with. I have been working on my blog for 3 years now. I have now come to a point that I have to start taking advantage of this technique to go any further. Your advice has been priceless.

  • http://actuallykatie.com Katie McAleece

    And you’re in the business of training some serious pirates!

    • http://onlineincomelab.com/ Trent Dyrsmid

      That’s true Katie. Stan is really the pirate guy.

      Stan, you have showed the clear comparison between sheeps and pirates here. Thank you.

      • Stanford

        Yep, I’ve got saltwater in my veins :)

    • Stanford

      That’s my goal. I don’t want you folks wasting time on junk that doesn’t work.

  • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

    Ahoy, matey! Really love this, Stan. I almost want to send this post to every person who sends me the lame form email you outlined. I’ve now realized that it doesn’t take a whole lot to stand out because there are so many BAD pitches taking place. If people just take a little time to follow these tips, they will have no problem finding blogs who would LOVE to have them as a guest. I know I would! ;)

    • Stanford

      I plan on including a link to this post on my contact page. Hopefully this will cut down on some of the lazy submissions

  • http://www.boomerwizdom.com Patricia

    You are absolutely hard-core Stanford. Doesn’t matter what I read of yours, it is always so on point. I want to be able to do that when I grow up.

  • Marc

    Stan, this is brilliant. It’s given me a bunch of great ideas. Thanks!

  • http://www.gemwriting.co.uk Georgina @GemWriting

    I’ve missed you!

    Love the imagery of the sheep and the pirates. Guest blogging is a great strategy and if you secure the right gigs it can get you fantastic results. Some great tips here for maximising your byline but also for pitching your post. Love it :-)