Guest posting on large sites like TechCrunch and The Next Web can be a massive boost to both your name and business. Not only do you gain some more credit as an authority on your topic and a great copywriter, but the exposure to their large audiences can send a lot of traffic back to your site (and any others which you link to).
Getting published on there, however, is understandably difficult if you don’t have a plan of action. Not only do the site owners need to trust that you’ll do a good job to even get past the pitching stage, but if you come out of nowhere you may well get pushed out of a slot by one of the more regular contributors.
With four posts on TechCrunch and five on The Next Web (and counting), I’ve got some experience in getting through to these big sites. Through trial, error, and educated guesses I’ve managed to overcome these challenges, and I’m here to share what I’ve learned to help you get published on these bigger sites. Let’s get started.
Have Quality Content under your Belt
If a stranger walked up to you in the street and handed you a manuscript whilst asking if you’d be willing to publish it, you’d likely (and understandably) refuse. If your favourite author asked you to publish their next book, however, that’s a different story; you know they have a good pedigree, which in turn makes you more comfortable interacting with their future content.
The same is true with guest post pitching to any site, be it TechCrunch or a personal blog. You need to have proved your worth in order for the people you pitch to have some faith in the quality of the upcoming post. No faith means no acceptance, because why would they risk their reputation and pedigree on an unproven source?
For us, this meant doing our homework, looking at every source we could find to grow our blog, optimizing our writing process, and improving the overall quality of our work. If we guest posted on other sites (which I’ll get to in a moment), it had to be the same quality as a TechCrunch post, otherwise we’d be selling ourselves short.
Once we had a couple of posts which performed well and a steady increase in interest for the blog, we were in much better standing to take the leap to the bigger sites.
Guest Post to Smaller Sites first
Instead of going straight for the big guys, you need to interact with and post on smaller sites first. This mirrors the idea that you won’t be accepted without a proven pedigree; you’ve already got some quality content under your belt on your own site, so now you need to prove that you can be trusted equally when writing for external sources.
Search for blogs relevant to the areas you’ve produced content in before, but stick to smaller ones to start off with. Make sure that you don’t rush your posts or sacrifice on quality just because you’re writing on something other than your own site – remember that this is still linking back to you, and any content writing mistakes will reflect your ability poorly.
Once you’ve successfully posted on a couple of lower authority sites, it’s time to go back to go back to the drawing board and search for some higher authority ones, then repeat the process. For example, we repeated this process at least 3 times (with a minimum of 5 posts in each stage) in order to build up a solid reputation in terms of quality guest posts before reaching out to TechCrunch or The Next Web. There is, however, one more tactic we employed before pitching them (which I’d highly advise you to employ)…
Identify and Interact with an Onsite Influence
With a solid and reliable background in producing quality content both on and off your own site, the final thing to do before pitching the big site you’re aiming for is to make your name familiar with the contact you’re going to pitch. To do this you need to both identify the influence you’re going to contact and interact with both them and the site.
Identifying your future contact is easy; you just need to go onto the site, take a look at the frequent writers, then choose one which you both enjoy the posts of and is relevant to the field you want to write in. Once you have a rough idea, go ahead and read through some of their more recent posts. Leave a comment if you feel like you have something to add, or if you just genuinely enjoyed their content.
The idea here is to naturally make your name familiar to them, and the site in general. That means that you shouldn’t comment on every single post in the same day, nor should you interact with a post if you weren’t engaged by it. Doing either will arouse suspicion in the site’s team, and you’ll only hurt your case when you eventually pitch.
Instead, take it slow and interact with maybe a post a week. Follow them on Twitter, but don’t spam likes and retweets. Bring some value to their comments by starting a discussion if you’re actually interested in the topic. Whatever you do, focus on making your name familiar, and not in a bad way.
The final technique you need to employ in order to get published on a larger site like TechCrunch is to be persistent. If you don’t get a reply within a couple of days, send a follow-up email. If your finished article has been sitting in their inbox for a week or more with no word, gently press them for some feedback.
The key here is to remember the reason why you want to be guest posting on their site in the first place; the size of their audience and authority in your sphere. Their size means that they will have a huge number of posts and guest posts to run through, check, and approve, and human error can strike at any time – your email may have just slipped through the cracks amongst the hundreds of others clogging up their inbox.
Remember, however, that “persistent” does not equal “annoying”. If you email every day to ask if they will accept your post, or to see their opinion on your article, you’re going to get blacklisted quicker than you can say “pitch”.