If you’re going to cold email various blogs for guest posting, you have to know how to do it right — otherwise, you’re just going to waste your time.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking to increase your blog’s domain authority by building backlinks via guest posting. And before I continue, let me just say congratulations — you’re headed in exactly the right direction.
That said, we’re far from across the finish line. If you actually want to make those guest posts happen, then you’ve got to make the right connections.
To make the right connections, you’re going to have to reach out to people who have never heard of you in their entire lives — and you’re going to have to do it confidently.
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a very wrong way to write a cold email looking for a guest post. Let’s get into it and learn how you can write emails that really pique the interest of blogs.
How Do You Create Great Cold Emails for Guest Posts?
In order to effectively find opportunities to create content for other people’s blogs, you’re going to need to learn to create a great first impression in your emails. A good cold email can mean a lifetime of opportunity!
Creating these cold emails is an art, truth be told. However, don’t convince yourself it’s too hard — it’s actually quite easy. So bear with me, and we’ll get through this together.
1. Dissect a Bad Cold Email
We’re going to start off by looking at an email done wrong so you can understand why this article exists. Some of my dear readers may recognize patterns of their own handiwork in this example, and if so — sorry for the tough love. But we’re going to fix you up!
Irina Maltseva, Head of Marketing at Hunter.io, published a series of posts on LinkedIn discussing the dos and don’ts of cold emails for guest posting (that’s actually what inspired me to create this post), and presented this beauty as an example of what NOT to do:
Can you see what went wrong? Irina certainly can:
- The author performed zero research on the topics covered on Hunter’s blog. If they did, they would have known their prospective guest post on financial audit services wasn’t exactly a good fit for a blog covering sales and marketing.
- Glaring lack of personalization. If you think that just including someone’s first name is enough personalization to pique the interest of a serious blog, I have news for you. Believe it or not, people in this space have a knack for knowing when an email they’re receiving is handcrafted or one of many thousands.
- The email is transparently self-interested. It’s pretty obvious that the author of that spammed-out email only cares about getting a backlink rather than providing genuine value to Hunter.io’s audience.
- The author made barely any effort to convince Irina of their credibility. They left it up to the recipient– the person they want a huge favor from — to take initiative out of their own time to decide if their background communicated credibility. Pretty darn presumptuous, no?
Let me tell you a secret for outreach: if ALL you care about is getting backlinks from the people you’re emailing, you’ll find your emails and outreach directed to the spam folder more often than not.
However, if you care about providing genuine value to your recipients, backlinks will naturally pile up like a butterfly resting on your shoulder.
Now that you know how to do it wrong, let’s learn how to do it right.
2. Learn Email Deliverability
Before we get fully into proper etiquette, we need to lay the groundwork for our cold outreach campaign by optimization our email’s “deliverability,” which Irina defines as “the art of getting emails delivered right into the recipient’s inboxes.”
This topic gets a little technical, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
“Warming Up” Your IP Address
This heading may sound a little strange, and no, I’m not asking you to heat your email server in the microwave. However, I am discussing a very serious topic.
I actually don’t see a lot of people in this space cover this topic, even though it’s incredibly important (maybe they don’t even know it exists?).
You see, here we’re basically trying to convince the various systems employed by email delivery service providers (such as Google, Microsoft, GoDaddy, and more) that we are indeed a serious and reputable email writer.
If those services like us, we will land comfortably in the “primary” inboxes of our prospective recipients and enjoy optimal response rates.
If those services DON’T like us, we will find ourselves in the “promotions” tab, or worse — the spam box. Trust me, those conversion rates are NOT pretty compared to that sweet primary inbox.
We “warm-up” our IP address by building a portfolio of emails for our ESP’s consideration.
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind before and during conducting outreach campaigns:
- Pick a reputable ESP: Use an email that ends in your domain using a good service like Google Workspace or Microsoft’s professional solutions over something that ends in “@gmail.com” or “@outlook.com”
- Carefully craft your outreach templates: Create warm, welcoming templates that leave room for lots of message personalization. We’ll get more into this later.
- Consider an alternative outreach domain: Don’t be afraid to register another (identical) domain specifically earmarked for outreach if you’re worried about sullying your primary domain’s reputation.
For more on this topic, I highly recommend Hunter’s excellent article on the subject.
3. Craft Interesting Subject Lines
If you want people reading your emails, you’re going to need them to open them first when cold emailing for guest posts. Thus, we are going to explore the science of the subject line.
Keep It Short and Sweet
For obvious reasons, don’t make your subject line an essay. You want to quickly pique your recipient’s interest and inspire them to actually open the email for more information.
In the “good” example, I told the recipient skimming their emails that I have a brief guest post proposition that will not take much of their time.
Ask a Question
Asking a question in your subject line is also a great way to pique recipient interest with a low-key call to action.
Consider making a subject like such as “Interested in a Guest Post?” It’s not mandatory, but it’s something to consider.
4. Create an Outline
Any cold emailing guide will tell you to create an outline for your guest posts, and the reasons are obvious. You need some sort of blueprint to ensure you’re consistently delivering quality emails that fully communicate everything you need to.
However, most people take this blueprint and turn it into a boilerplate, wasting their time and ruining their first impression with a new contact.
The person reading your email is a real, breathing person that decides how far you go with whoever you’re contacting. You need to be respectful of their time by not sending them a low-effort template.
I’m going to teach you to build a rough outline that leaves lots of room for personalization. Let’s unpack this cold guest blog email I wrote for your pleasure:
Take careful note of everything I included there:
- A very warm introduction
- A customized, sincere message thanking the recipient for something of theirs I found useful
- Complement on blog quality + off of contribution/guest post
- Example work
It’s all about sincerity and brevity (shorter emails always do better). Keep all these things in your outreach emails and you’ve got a recipe for success. Just remember that this is a blueprint and not a boilerplate. Every email should be unique.
5. Keep It Personal
As I mentioned before, if you hand out boilerplate emails the only response you’re going to get is having your emails being marked as spam. You need to make your cold email as warm as possible!
In Irina’s aforementioned blog post, she includes an example of an excellently personalized cold email (not a guest post inquiry, in this case) which I’ll include here:
To be blunt, it’s a work of art. When I read this email, I feel like I’m talking to an old friend even though I’ve never met or heard of this person in my life.
When writing any cold email, take the time to illustrate that you’ve taken a personal interest in the subject matter. The little details make a huge difference.
Giving real personalization to your emails will also accomplish the goal of sounding like a real human rather than a soulless spambot.
6. Keep It to the Point
Now while I do need you to keep your cold outreach emails personal, I do not need you to write a love letter.
Go back and take a look at the good examples I’ve provided in this article; they’re all as to the point as possible. Try to keep your emails under 100 words if you can.
Keeping your outreach emails brief and to the point shows you respect the recipient’s time.
I’m going to teach you a lesson in keeping things brief and to the point by keeping this section brief and to the point (I’m not just being lazy)!
7. Practice Efficient Formatting
Make sure your emails are probably spaced out rather than crammed into a wall of text, like this:
Imagine actually trying to read that (or maybe don’t). Horrifc! Take time to properly format your emails like so:
Ah, much better.
The art of writing to someone who you’ve never met like they’re an old friend is just that, an art. For some of you, this may be an entirely new concept taking you way out of your comfort zone — if so, good! We have to push ourselves sometimes.
With this guide, I hope I’ve made things very clear to you and have provided you with a solid foundation you can build your entire outreach program upon.
You now know everything you need to make your cold emails a lot warmer. Now with that said, never be sorry for reaching out cold! It’s okay to have a little chutzpah while still remaining polite and cordial.
Now get out there!
Have I helped you with this article? What tips do you keep in mind when you’re doing email outreach? Find my page on Facebook and let me know.