Guest Post Outreach: Lessons from sending 1000 emails

Guest Post Outreach: Lessons from sending 1000 emails

Payman Taei

Payman Taei

Co-founder at Respona

Guest Post Outreach: Lessons from sending 1000 emails

Guest posting has been on the pedestal as the #1 link building strategy every since its inception.

But, in 2024, is it still worth trying your luck with “Write for Us” pages?

We contacted 1,000 websites with one to find out.

Link building cheat sheet

Link building cheat sheet

Gain access to the 3-step strategy we use to earn over 86 high-quality backlinks each month.

Download for free

Our Approach

For our research, we used our own tool, Respona, to find 1,000 websites that accept guest posts, as indicated by having a “Write for Us” page or equivalent.

More specifically, we used Respona’s tailor-made guest posting campaign template:

respona guest posting campaign template

It speeds up the outreach process in four ways:

  1. By generating search strings and applying search engine operators like intitle:”write for us” to your target keywords for you
  2. By generating additional keyword suggestions with AI (should you choose to do so)
  3. By applying an email template for you
  4. By finding the most relevant contacts at your target websites

For our research campaign, we have looked for websites with “Write for us” pages in the SEO, digital marketing, and content marketing niches.

We used the following email template:

respona email editor

Hi there,

Would it be ok to send over a few topic ideas for your blog?

I’d love to do keyword research and find what terms your competitors are ranking for, but (website) isn’t.

No strings attached if you didn’t like the topics.

P.S. Here’s an example of a piece I’ve written recently: respona.com/blog/guest-blogging/

For finding contact information, we have also used Respona’s built-in contact finder and verifier, set to find 2 employees for each guest posting opportunity, responsible for quality content, SEO, and partnerships, at all seniority levels.

email finder settings

We have also skipped any catch-all domains, and enabled generic emails such as “[email protected]” as a failsafe in case no employee email is found for a website.

Now, let’s get into some exact statistics of our outreach campaign.

Campaign Statistics

Overall, we reached out to exactly 1,000 guest posting sites – split over 4 campaigns.

Out of that thousand, we got 205 replies, meaning our reply rate was just above 20%.

open/reply rate statistics

Not bad at all for link building emails!

When it comes to opens, the average open rate for 4 campaigns turned out to be 60.5%.

This is surprising – a 20+% reply rate is very high for cold outreach, whereas a 60% open rate is very… average.

Pun intended.

But, as you know, not every reply is a resounding “Yes!”, so let’s talk a little bit about the actual kinds of answers we got.

Our Findings

There were three type of replies that we got:

  1. Sure, you can write a guest post for us (55/205)
  2. Sure, but you have to pay us (137/205)
  3. No, absolutely not (13/205)
reply statistics

Despite every website that we contacted having a “write for us” page, the most common reply that we got was “Sure, you can write for us, but for money”:

email asking for money

In fact, almost three times as many guest posting sites required an “editorial fee” for publishing our guest post than those open to doing it for free.

So, should you pay for guest posts?

Ultimately, it depends on your goals.

But, please keep in mind that Google is very much against backlink building and guest blogging in exchange for monetary compensation:

google link spam guidelines

Despite this concerning statistic, out of the 1,000 emails that we sent, we got 55 websites that were open to the idea of us publishing a guest post for completely free.

That’s a 5.5% success rate for a relatively low-effort outreach email.

So, should you invest time into reaching out to websites with a “Write for us”, “Submit guest post” page, etc.?

In our opinion, yes, and no, at the same time.

Let’s elaborate a little bit.

Pros of Guest Post Outreach

If you’re already using tools like Respona, this kind of outreach can be very lucrative.

Mainly because of two reasons:

  1. There are tons of websites that openly accept guest posts
  2. The email pitch (at least the exact one we used) doesn’t require a ton of personalization 

In fact, setting up a 1,000-contact campaign for guest posting only took us 20 minutes or so, and resulted in 55 free guest posting opportunities over the course of a couple of weeks it took to send the actual messages.

Cons of Guest Post Outreach

But, please keep in mind that we reached out to guest posting sites in a very large niche – SEO.

If you’re working in a smaller niche (such as coworking management), the pool of prospects can be much smaller.

write for us pages in google

Additionally, if you don’t have access to tools like Respona, you won’t be able to reach out to them so quickly.

And then, of course, you have the fact that 3 out of 4 websites will ask you for money to publish your guest post.

Should you pay?

Definitely not.

You should never pay for links or guest posts, because Google will quickly devalue them, meaning your time and money will be wasted.

The Verdict?

Reaching out to guest posting sites that have an explicit “Write for us” page can be lucrative, but only if you have access to blogger outreach tools like Respona that allow you to really scale up the process.

Guest Post Outreach Strategy 1 – Look for “Write for Us” Pages

The first approach to finding guest posting opportunities is very straightforward.

All it takes is Google search with a single search operator: “intitle:”write for us””.

google search for write for us pages
Image source: Google

This tells the search engine to only pull pages that have “Write for us” in the blog name.

Then, simply add your niche keyword, and it’ll find relevant websites that are actively seeking out guest contributors.

For example, if your niche is SEO, just type in ‘intitle:”write for us” + SEO’ into the search bar, and voila – a list of every website in your niche that has a write for us page.

To find even more results, we recommend experimenting with the search string, also running searches with “intitle:become a contributor”, “intitle:become a guest author/” “intitle:”guest blogger guidelines”, etc.

Most of the time, these pages will have an email address ready for you to ping or a form that’s just begging for your pitch.

write for us page openly listing a contact email
Image source: Vlaurie

Go ahead and bookmark he potential targets that catch your eye for outreach (or add them to a Google Sheet).

Pro tip: avoid pages that advertise themselves as a paid “guest posting service”. All of your guest post collaborations should be natural and free of charge. Additionally, we encourage you to conduct your own outreach versus hiring a blogger outreach service/link building service.

Now, if you’re thinking, “But wait, isn’t there a tool to speed this process up?” – you’d be right.

Respona’s dedicated guest post outreach campaign template will help you automate the entire process – from prospecting to finding contact information and even personalization.

respona guest post outreach campaign template

To use it, simply fill out two fields: the general topics that you’d like to write about, and a recent example of your writing.

The first field will be used to set up your search strings while the second will be pulled straight into your outreach email sequence.

When ready, click “Use this template” and you’ll be brought in to the campaign editor.

email sequence template

The neat thing here is Respona’s already ahead of the game with an email outreach sequence lined up for you, but don’t forget to add your personal flair – we’re talking spam checks, unsubscribe links, and nudging that follow-up timing to just-right.

One more thing we recommend doing is adding an AI variable – the Icebreaker.

adding an AI variable

It’s more than just a simple “first_name” – it’s an actual, AI-powered variable that will generate a unique personalization for every single guest post opportunity in your campaign.

Respona comes with 2 AI variables by default – the Icebreaker, and a “P.S”, but you’re also more than welcome to create your own, custom AI variables and modify your prompts.

Here’s the full guest post outreach template:

Subject: Suggesting content ideas

Hi {first_name},

[Icebreaker]

Would it be ok to send over a few topic ideas for your blog?

I’d love to do keyword research and find what terms your competitors are ranking for, but {Website_name} isn’t.

No strings attached if you didn’t like the topics.

P.S. Here’s an example of a piece I’ve written recently: [Example content URL]

[Signature]

At the end, let’s also add an unsubscribe link to provide our prospects with an easy way to opt out of further communications if they’re not up for a collaboration.

adding an unsubscribe sentence

When ready, click over to the next step – finding guest blogging opportunities.

content search strings in respona

Respona will automatically apply the search operators mentioning the most common “write for us” page title variations along with your target keywords, and run several Google queries, at the same time.

Click “Continue”, and set some additional SEO filters to only pull websites that meet your criteria.

adding seo filters

Click “Continue” again and you’ll see that the contact search is already set up for you. Respona will automatically seek out the content and SEO managers of websites that you want to get links from.

setting up contact search

In the next setting, you can provide additional guidelines for your AI variables.

ai personalization settings

We like ours to use short, choppy sentences with minimal use of commas, and keep the reading level at around 5-th grade.

After all, emails are meant for quick communications, nobody likes a novel in their inbox.

And, of course, not all of our recipients might be native English speakers.

Last but not least, let’s enable the last option and turn the campaign into a recurring one.

enabling recurring search

Respona will then automatically re-run the search every few weeks and keep our campaign topped up with fresh opportunities in case a new website publishes a “write for us” page.

Click “Run automation”.

As soon as you start it, Respona will do three things at the same time:

  1. Find guest blogging opportunities for you
  2. Find contact information associated with these websites
  3. Personalize your emails with AI (as long as you have used AI variables)

As soon as results are found, they will start populating your screen in real time.

results being found in real-time

You don’t need to wait for the whole automation to finish – once at least some results are found, you can move right on to the next step – review & launch.

Here, all variables will be populated – both regular and AI.

review & launch stage

All you really need to do is review each email to make sure everything looks good.

But, despite the power of artificial intelligence, we still recommend giving your emails a personal brushup.

Additionally, Respona pulls LinkedIn profiles of your prospects, which provides you with another touchpoint to further increase the success rate of your campaign.

contact's linkedin button

Before sending any emails, Respona will also perform a few pre-launch checks to make sure you’re not trying to reach out to anybody that’s on your unsubscribe list (or anyone that you have recently contacted), as well as triple-check your emails for empty placeholders.

pre-launch verifications

From here on, all that’s left for you to do is monitor Responses and write your guest posts!

While we can’t help you with the actual content creation, Respona’s shared Inbox will bring all of your inboxes into a single interface, so you no longer need to juggle several tabs just to check your emails every day.

respona's shared inbox

Speaking of several inboxes, we recommend running your campaigns from multiple sender emails set to a reasonably low daily email limit (15-45/day).

This will help you maintain high email health while not missing out on any volume.

Let’s move on to the second guest blogger outreach strategy, which is less reliant on cold email outreach and leverages existing partnerships.

Guest Post Outreach Strategy 2 – Keyword Gap Pitch

Picture this: You’ve found a site that’s like a hidden gem, no ‘write for us’ sign, but trust me, that doesn’t mean they’re not game for a good guest post.

What we like to do is wrap up a link collaboration, and afterwards pitch a guest blog to our partner with the keyword gap pitch.

This is where you’ll need the help of an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs.

Plop your prospect’s website into the Keyword Gap tool of either Semrush or Ahrefs.

We prefer Semrush because it auto-picks their competitors for you. With Ahrefs, you’ll have to find them yourself.

semrush keyword gap

Then, hit “Compare” and navigate to the “Missing” tab.

Here, you’ll find all of the keywords that your prospect’s competitors are currently ranking for, but they are not.

missing keywords

Pick a few and come up with several article ideas that would help them plug that content hole.

Then, write your pitch!

content gap pitch example

In it, make sure to include a screenshot of the missing keywords as a proof that you’ve done your research.

Here’s an example of an email template that has landed us dozens upon dozens of guest posts on sites that didn’t openly advertise that they are open to guest posts:

Subject: Re: original subject line

Thank you, {first_name}!

Would love to collaborate more in the future!

By the way, I was playing around in Semrush and noticed that your competitors [list 2 competitors] are ranking for [keyword] but you aren’t.

I actually happen to have a writer in house who is a [keyword] nerd and would love to write a high-quality piece of content covering that topic for you.

Let me know if you’re interested?

[sign-off]

Now, why does this approach work so well?

First off, you’re dishing out value on a silver platter.

You’ve done your homework, you’ve found the gaps, and you’re ready to fill them with quality content that’s got SEO juice.

All of these things are solutions for your prospect, not just a plain old “Hey, I’d love to write for you!” – we’re all tired of these pitches.

Also, with a smart keyword gap pitch you’ll often be able to completely skip the queue that plagues websites with “Write for us” pages and get your guest blog post published within a few days rather than weeks or even months.

The keyword gap strategy is our favorite guest post outreach strategy out of the two simply because of how effective it is, and it eliminates the need for separate guest posting outreach efforts, allowing us to leverage existing link collaborations and turn each one of them into a guest posting opportunity.

Link building cheat sheet

Link building cheat sheet

Gain access to the 3-step strategy we use to earn over 86 high-quality backlinks each month.

Download for free

Now Over to You

So, to sum it up, the overwhelming majority of websites that openly accept guest posts only do so for money.

The best way to secure guest posting opportunities in 2024 (at least, in our experience) is to start link building collaborations with other strategies (link insertion, skyscraper technique etc.), and then pitch a guest post using the content gap strategy.

Looking to publish some guest posts of your own?

Don’t hesitate to start your 14-day free trial of Respona to see how we can help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is guest post outreach?

Guest post outreach is a content marketing strategy revolving around the process of contacting bloggers or website owners to propose writing content for their site. This is often done as a way to build relationships, increase your website’s exposure, and gain backlinks for SEO purposes.

How do I find websites to guest post on?

Start by researching blogs in your niche with active audiences and content relevant to your expertise. Utilize search engines by typing in keywords related to your niche followed by phrases like “write for us” or “guest post”, or use social media and networking to identify opportunities.

What should I include in my guest post pitch?

Your pitch should be concise and personalized, indicating that you’ve read their content. Include a brief introduction, why you’re a good fit for their target audience, a few topic ideas with an outline, and your writing samples or a link to your portfolio.

How do I write a guest post that gets accepted?

Understand the host blog’s theme and audience, ensuring your content is relevant and adds value. Craft high-quality, unique, and well-researched content that aligns with the host’s guidelines and style. Engaging headlines, a strong introduction, and actionable content will improve your acceptance rate.

Can guest posting help improve my SEO?

Yes, guest posting can help with SEO by generating high-quality backlinks to your website, which can improve domain authority. However, ensure you focus on writing valuable content for reputable sites, as search engines like Google have grown adept at identifying and penalizing low-quality or spammy link-building tactics.

Payman Taei

Article by

Payman Taei

Payman Taei is the co-founder of Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity. He’s also the founder of Visme, a DIY platform that allows everyone to create and manage presentations, infographics, reports, and other visual content.

Read Similar Posts

What Does “rel=noopener noreferrer” Mean for a Link?

What Does “rel=noopener noreferrer” Mean for a Link?

In the previous article, we’ve discussed what link juice is. However, there’s more to backlinks than being “nofollow” or “dofollow”. Besides those two, the most common link attributes you’ll see are ‘noopener” and “noreferrer”. In this article, we’ll...

Payman Taei

Payman Taei

Co-founder at Respona

“Link Juice” – What the Heck is It?

“Link Juice” – What the Heck is It?

Link juice is a term that gets thrown around in the SEO community a lot. However, despite its common usage, the exact meaning behind it can seem a bit vague – especially to beginners and non-SEOs. In this article, we’ll do our best to define link juice and address some...

Farzad Rashidi

Farzad Rashidi

Lead Innovator at Respona

Get started
with Respona

  • Earn quality backlinks on relevant publications
  • Recruit top-performing affiliates
  • Get featured on popular podcasts
  • Earn press from industry publications

Start for free

No credit card required

Get started with Respona