Don't Ask for a Guest Post. Offer an Interview.

Show of hands – who has spent countless hours on guest post linking only to receive limited responses from low quality opportunities, earning you a minimal link return on investment?  You are not alone.

The problem is that most of us are pitching bloggers who receive the same email countless times a day from people asking something from them.  Rather than ask for something, why not offer something?

Offer an interview opportunity.  If you really think about it, how different is it than a guest post?  You are providing content with actionable advice that is built for the blog’s audience.  The biggest difference is that bloggers rarely get offered these opportunities, so your outreach message is already more naturally appealing than most others.

Here is what you need:

  • Someone worth being interviewed
  • Queries that will uncover a footprint of past interview opportunities
  • The names of well-known people in your industry
  • An outreach message short, sweet and to the point


Someone Worth Being Interviewed

If you don’t work with/for a company that has something & someone worth sharing, this strategy is not for you.

What is worth sharing?

That could be a lot of things – are you always innovating? A thought leader? Do you have a unique culture? In general, if relevant bloggers are at least aware of your brand and perceive some level of value, you’ve already intrigued them with an interview.

Who is worth sharing?

You’ll need someone that people within your niche community would want to hear from: the company’s founder? A C-level employee? Marketing director? So long as they carry the right title and can add value with their insight, you can make this work.

Smart Queries with a Footprint

Much like guest post research, you want to run some advanced queries to find the footprint.  If a site has accepted one guest post, they’ll likely accept another.  The same goes with an interview – so let’s change the language of your search queries.  Here are some examples to work with:

“interview with” “keyword” expert

Try swapping “interview” with –

  • “Q and A”
  • “Q&A”
  • “Chat with”
  • “Discussion with”

Try swapping out “expert” with –

  • “CEO”
  • “Professional”
  • “CFO”
  • “Founder”
  • “Entrepreneur”

Stretch the keyword options as much as you can. Let’s say your keyword is for an email marketing company.  The first keyword you’ll likely explore is “email marketing.”

But don’t stop there.

  • Does general “business” return relevant results?
  • Is “small business” the company’s particular niche?
  • What will “marketing” return  when I remove “email” from the query?
  • A lot of “start ups” would probably want to know how they could better use email marketing, or even  websites that  focus on “entrepreneurship.”

Constructing the right query will require some fine-tuning and refining, but you will get results.  Add some intitle: & inurl: operators in there as well and see what you find.


Identify the Cream of the Crop in Your Vertical

By identifying the most well-known, recognized people in your space, you can follow in their path of successful interviews.  Who are the C-level employees for your competitors? Grab those names and throw them into the query options from above.

Beyond your direct competitors, who are some of the top dogs in your entire industry or similar industries? For example, if we looked at the SEO community, a popular choice for one of the top dogs is Rand Fishkin:

“interview” Rand Fishkin

The first 3-4 pages alone are ripe with websites interviewing Rand that could also be interested in a similar opportunity.

Don’t just stop at the names you can rattle off the top of your head.  Do a search of the “top (industry) professionals” and see what you come up with.  Did you find something with a list of names? Great! Grab it, plug in the names, and start all over again.


Create the Right Pitch Message

Once you’ve identified the websites that are relevant to your vertical and are a good fit with your interviewee, now you have to hit them with right pitch.

You already know they’ve done interviews in the past, so don’t waste anyone’s time writing a novel about how great an interview would be for all parties involved.  Matter of fact, take off your linkbuilding hat here and put on your PR cap.  We beg a lot as linkbuilders (those of you at LinkLove in Boston heard Wil cover this), but a PR rep is emailing with an offer.  That offer is the opportunity to interview an industry leader.

Here is an approach that we’ve used in the past.

Paragraph 1: Acknowledge you’ve read/listened to their past interviews (provide a URL) and suggest that you have a similar interview opportunity that their readership will find intriguing (2 SENTENCES)

Paragraph 2: Let the blogger know who you represent, and what type of niche experts you are offering.  Include position titles and name drop. If you have a link to the expert’s bio/background, include it here. (1-2 SENTENCES)

Paragraph 3: Tell the blogger that if they’re interested, your interviewee would be happy to share his/her expert advice & analysis.  You’d also be happy to answer any specific questions the blogger may have or discuss the opportunity in more detail. (2-3 SENTENCES)

This $!@% Works!

This pitch has been sent to 30 websites resulting in 12 interview links.  That’s a link acquisition rate of 40% on quality, relevant sites.   One was even mentioned in the Small Business section of the New York Times.

Give it a shot. Next time you are going to linkbuild for a guest post, try this method instead.  I’ve given you the blueprint, and all that I ask in return is the following commitment from you:  that you’ll stop asking and start offering.

Follow Ryan Fontana on Twitter