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10 Top Tips for Pitching a Guest Post or Getting a Blogger to Review your Product

handshakeI get lots and lots of requests every day, via my contact form or email, to accept a guest blog post from somebody. I also get requests to accept books for review on my personal book review blog. Although I’ve written in more depth about being a good guest blogger, I think it’s worth putting down a few points here to help people get the most out of their pitch to get a genuine and useful guest post or review on a blogger’s website.

Because … I reject about 98% of requests for a guest post after the first email.

So, here are my Top 10 tips for pitching a guest post or getting a blogger to review your product

1. Before you even start, think about the relevance of the website you’re contacting.

I get so many queries that have nothing to do with my website in the slightest. Things like, “I love your [editing] website, would you accept an article on real estate in Texas?”

Now, on rejecting one of these a while ago, I had a back-and-forth with the pitcher. She was determined that I would benefit from having her totally non-relevant content, full of dodgy links, on my website. I ended up saying to her “No reputable website would take this as a guest post”. Her reply, “You’d be surprised, LOL”.

The thing is, Google is adjusting its search algorithms all the time. It already specifically works against backlinks (a link to your content on someone reputable’s website which ups your credibility in the “eyes” of the search engines) which are in lists of random links and content which is full of keywords but no useful content. In time, your link to your bead firm on a blog about wind farms will impress the search engines less and less.

You’ll get far more hits as a genuine person seeking to place guest posts on a website if you target appropriate and relevant hosts.

2. Give detail.

If I get a generic, one-line email asking for a guest post or review that doesn’t give me any other info, that’s going straight in the reject pile. You might get my standard email response if you’re lucky.

If’s fine to keep it short, but make sure there is some information in there.

3. Show you’re familiar with the target blog / review site

I am looking for you to  have actually read my blog and know a little bit about what I do. Just a mention of the URL isn’t enough: you can cut and paste that. I want to  know that you know what I do, who my readers are, what topics I cover.

4. Watch out for mail merges / cut and paste carefully.

I’m putting this here because without fail, emails requesting guest posts start with “I have been reading URL INSERTED for some time and love your content”. This doesn’t work so well as a hook if you re-use an email and include the incorrect blog title or URL!

5. State what you want to do.

The target will want to know what you want to do – send in a blog post, pitch some ideas, post them a sample. Put this clearly early on.

6. State what you want out of it.

If you want a book review, say so. If you want your website address included in a guest post you’ve written, say so. If you want to include links that you’ve promised your customer to get onto several reputable websites, also say so – because your target is likely to notice this further down the line and get a bit cross with you.

7. State what the target will get out of it.

State clearly the benefit for the target. Yes, they might be desperate for content – if you see they haven’t posted for a while, this is OK to mention. Will you be helping their readers, bringing a new but related audience to their blog? Tell them. One useful offer is to do a reciprocal guest post – i.e. you will host a post from your target on your website on a similar or related matter.

8. Show you know who your target’s audience is.

I want to know that you’ve thought about who this will reach. An example when pitching to me might be, “I would guess given your writing on dissertations that your audience includes students. This product helps students to bind their dissertations so might be useful to that part of your readership”.

9. Give links and reviews.

If you’ve got examples of your work or product on other websites or you can showcase your own writing on your own website, include links. If your product, book, etc. has been reviewed on other websites, include links.

10. Keep it simple, keep it correct.

If you’re pitching a guest post, make sure to write clearly and grammatically – a reputable blogger will not want to either edit your text for hours or hosts something of lower quality than the content they usually post up. If you’re pitching a product, make sure you are clear and knowledgeable and point to a well-designed and informative website. Will your target want to embarrass themselves pointing their readers to a terrible website?

A good example

This post was triggered  by two things – one, another request but with another company’s URL in the message – d’oh! The other was an excellent pitch from an author asking me to review her book. I’m going to go into specifics another day, but she included …

  • A greeting using my name and a farewell using hers
  • A note confirming that she had read my blog, mentioning something I’d talked about on it recently
  • Details of her book title and the fact she was asking me to review it
  • A few sentences about the book
  • A link to its sales page and a review by a reputable reviewer
  • A polite request to consider taking a review copy

And do you know what? I’ve got a review copy of that book sitting in my To Be Read pile right now.

In summary

If you’re serious about pitching your content or product to reputable websites where their presence can do you some good, make sure that you give your target blogger information about both what your pitching and your own credibility. I’m not saying that you will succeed every time, but your target blogger is more likely to read your email and consider your pitch if you do.

I hope you’ve found this article enjoyable and useful. If you have, please take a moment to share it using the sharing buttons below, and I always appreciate relevant comments!

Relevant posts on this blog

Guest blogging 1: how to be the host with the most

Guest blogging 2: how to be the perfect guest

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Blogging, Business, Marketing, Writing

 

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Editing and the Table of Contents – for editors and writers

This article is all about what happens when a document that includes a Table of Contents (and a Table of Figures and/or a Table of Tables) is edited. There are a couple of pitfalls which I have encountered as an editor, and I wanted to share them with fellow editors AND writers, to help other people avoid them.

Scroll down to the bottom for a summary of advice to editors and writers if you’re not worried about the detail.

Please note that there are more detailed instruction on updating a Table of Contents in this article.

What’s the problem with Tables of Contents and the editing process?

If a document with an automated Table of Contents is being edited, the editor has two choices (and the writer will find that their editor has done one of two things):

  1. Mark any changes to headings in both the Table of Contents and the actual heading in the main text
  2. Mark any changes to headings in just the actual heading in the main text, then someone updates the Table of Contents

Let’s look at the risks with these in turn.

1. Mark any changes to headings in both the Table of Contents and the actual heading in the main text

Issue 1 – Awkwardness for the editor. To do this, you will have to have a split screen with the contents page in the top half and the text in the bottom, or you’ll have to whizz up and down the document and make sure you make the same correction in both places.

Issue 2 – Keeping things consistent. a) The editor will have to make the same change in both places, and b) the writer will have to make the same choice to reject or accept the change in both  places.

As an editor, if I do this, I place a comment linked to the words “Table of Contents” reminding the author to make the same choices here and in the main text.

If the Table of Contents is not automated, I a) suggest that the author creates one (or has me create it, if appropriate) and b) I place the comment above by the words “Table of Contents” to remind the author to keep it consistent.

2. Mark any changes to headings in just the actual heading in the main text, then someone updates the Table of Contents

If the Table of Contents is automated, this is what I tend to do.

There are two options here:

Option 1 – The writer wants a “clean copy” not one with tracked changes marked: the editor can update the Table of Contents once they’ve done their edit and accepted all changes. Everything will now match.

Option 2 -The writer wants (or needs, in the case of students) to see the tracked changes and make their own decisions on what to accept and reject. In this case, the writer will need to update the Table of Contents once they’ve gone through the changes.

Option 2 is the most common in my experience.

If the writer needs to update the Table of Contents themeselves, I always add a comment to the words “Table of Contents”:

“Please remember to update this Table of Contents after you have accepted or rejected all of my changes, to make sure that the table reflects the document accurately. Please choose Update entire table rather than Update page numbers only”.

An important choice – what to update in the Table of Contents

This information is for editors and writers.

Whether the editor or writer is updating the Table of Contents, once you’ve clicked on Update Field, you are given the choice of Update page numbers only or Update entire table:

update page numbers or all fields

It is vitally IMPORTANT that you choose “Update entire table”. This will update any changes to the headings and any changes to the page numbers. If you click on “Update page numbers only”, and any headings have been changed in the text, this will NOT be reflected in the Table of Contents.

For authors: updating your Table of Contents when your work has been edited

  • Always update your Table of Contents when your work comes back from your editor, unless they have told you that they’ve already done it
  • Always choose “Update entire table” to make sure that everything in the Table of Contents matches your actual document

For editors: updating or instructing on editing the Table of Contents

  • Always leave a note for the writer explaining what you’ve done or what you need them to do
  • If you are updating the Table of Contents yourself, always choose “Update entire table” to make sure that everything in the Table of Contents matches the actual document (I would still leave a reminder for the writer to do the same after they’ve made any final changes)
  • If you need the writer to update the Table of Contents once they have dealt with your suggestions, leave a note explaining that, and make it clear that they must “Update entire table” when doing so

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This article has discussed issues around updating a Table of Contents when a document is edited. if you have enjoyed this article or found it useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Other relevant posts on this blog:

How to create a contents page in Word

Tables of figures and tables of tables

How to update a Table of Contents, Figures or Tables

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Errors, New skills, Word, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Stevie Maiden

Small business chat interview two mugsWelcome to another Small Business Update with Stevie Maiden from Maidens Fayre. We first met Stevie in June 2013, when she was busy running a small business Facebook group and building up her jams, chutneys and pickles business, and did an update in July 2014. At that point, this was her plan: “I’m hoping to start to supply tea rooms and restaurants who understand the value of a good, homemade product. I already have a few interested, but I won’t jinx it by saying who :] I’m hoping this will enable me to cut down on events, give me a set time to cook, and maybe give me a day to myself during the week. Sigh: I can always dream.” It’s really difficult to cut down when you’re self-employed and carve out that time for yourself, so let’s see how she’s been doing …

Hi again, Stevie! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I’m not quite where I wanted to be a year ago. I supply a couple of tea rooms and more shops, but I’m still eventing almost every weekend.

However, I now realise that this is where I do a lot of networking, so it’s probably for the best.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

What has stayed the same? There are still not enough hours in the day! I’m working at least 6 days a week, although I try REALLY hard to take a day off. I rarely get a whole one.

My perspective has changed. I love my work and still really enjoy it. Although I have had to accept that a social life is out of the question right now.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I have learned to take costings into account. I can no longer just make something because I want to. It needs to be cost effective. It’s made me a little bit sad.

I’ve also learned that the negative attention I was attracting last year doesn’t go away. In fact, the more successful you become. the more of a magnet you are for this kind of attention. You just have to put your big girl pants on and not get involved.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Hints & tips? When booking an event always ask about advertising what the footfall is expected to be etc. I run an online community called ‘The Second City Craft Group‘. We are always happy to try to answer any questions you may have about starting out. Also, be NICE to people. You may find you’re spending most weekends with the same people.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

This time next year I hope to be making more effective use of my time.  Being your own boss IS fantastic, but it’s also completely exhausting. I also hope to be talking to you again!

I’m glad we ended on a positive there! It is hard work being your own boss; I’ve written lots on here about how to refine your client base and say no, but it’s hard when you rely on getting out there and selling to shops and on stalls – I’d welcome input from other people who do this and have some hints about how to make it work WITH your life instead of INSTEAD of your life!

You can find Stevie online on the Maidens Fayre Facebook page and get in touch with her there.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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How to update your Table of Contents, Table of Figures or Table of Tables

This article explains how to update the Table of Contents (Contents Page) or Table of Figures or Table of Tables in your Word 2007, 2010 or 2013 document, which could be a report, dissertation, thesis, book or anything else. To find out how to create a Table of Contents in Word, please refer to this article. To find out how to create Tables of Figures and Tables of Tables, please refer to this article. We’ll refer to it as “Table of Contents” in this article, but this works for all kinds of contents listings.

Why would I want to update my Table of Contents?

If you create a Table of Contents for a document but then change the actual document, it’s likely that you will also change …

  • One or more headings (maybe swapping between Title Case and Sentence case or just changing the wording)
  • What page a heading falls on (and all the other headings after it) (maybe by adding text or just moving a heading to join its text on the next page)

Although a Table of Contents will update to match the actual contents “automatically”, you have to tell it to do so. This is how to update your Table of Contents so that it matches what your reader will find in the actual document.

How do I update my Table of Contents?

First of all, hover your cursor over the Table of Contents. It should be highlighted in light grey. Right click on any part of the grey area:

update contents page word

This will give you a menu – you need to select Update Field:

update contents page - update field

Once you’ve clicked on Update Field, you are given the choice of Update page numbers only or Update entire table:

update page numbers or all fields

Choose wisely – see below! Once you’ve chosen, click OK and your Table of Contents will update!

When to update page numbers only in your Table of Contents

You might want to Update page numbers only if …

  • You are absolutely sure that you have only changed what text / heading is on what page (but you could still Update entire table anyway, just to be certain)
  • You have manually amended your Table of Contents (e.g. one heading was too long to fit on a line and you shortened it) AND you know you haven’t changed any heading text in the actual document.

In the second case, when you’ve manually amended the contents page, if you choose Update entire table, it will over-ride your manual change and replace it with the exact text that is in your heading in the main document, and you’ll have to manually update it again.

Apart from the case where you have manually edited the Table of Contents, I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you always choose Update entire table.

When to update entire table in your Table of Contents

I highly recommend that you always use this option. In this way, your Table of Contents will match the text of your document.

This is especially important to remember if someone else has amended and edited your document.

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In this article, we have learned how to update a Table of Contents, Table of Figures or Table of Tables. If you have enjoyed this article or found it useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use –  Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here

Other relevant posts on this blog:

How to create a contents page in Word

Tables of figures and tables of tables

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Suzi Zobair

Small business chat update – Suzi Zobair

Welcome to another Small Business Update – this time with Suzi Zobair of The Smart Bear Digital Consultancy, who joined us back in June 2014 for her first interview. At that point, she’d been going for just a year, being another person, like me, who started a business in her 30s. She was already doing well, with her website design and web optimisation services proving popular enough for her to start needing some admin support – and she was looking at getting that in place by now, saying at the time, The way things are going, in 12 months’ time I’ll probably need someone to help me – whether that’s subcontracting my admin/sales/PR or hire someone to be in-house. I’m reluctant to hire someone for the actual website-building as this is the part I love most, but if there’s more work than I can handle, I might have to source someone who has a similar style and ethos to my own!” It is very hard to know how to cope with the workload and work out whether to expand when you’re a one-person business – I went through the same process and decided to concentrate on the areas I enjoyed working in and stay small, as, like Suzi, my business is based around my own services. But it is a decision you have to make at some point, and Suzi had to make it earlier than many of my interviewees! So, how’s it going …?

Hi again, Suzi! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, I am where I thought I’d be – I do need help with things like admin! I’m currently looking into either an apprentice or a freelance junior. I’ve also started working with a fabulous project manager from Assist Marketing.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The type of clients I’m getting has changed – it used to be small jobs (which I actually liked, as each day was different) but now, I get bigger/longer projects in. This might have had something to do with my mind-set changing. I no longer look eagerly for the next job and I’m not willing to take just anything. I prefer not to take jobs where they try to bargain over price, as I don’t feel they value my services.

I’ve also changed the services I offer – for example, due to changes in Google’s Algorithm, all of my websites are now responsive at no extra cost.

My website has changed, as well – I changed the URL to www.thesmartbear.co.uk (although the old URL redirects to this one, of course!) I’ve been trying to drop the ‘creative’ from Smart Bear Creative and be The Smart Bear Digital Consultancy but it’s stuck, I think!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I wish I’d learnt to say no more but when bills need to be paid, it’s very hard to turn down work.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Learn to value your services – if you don’t value it, no one else will and you’ll be working for nought. Charge what you’re worth and you’ll attract the type of clients you want to work with.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

In a year’s time, I definitely want to be in a position where I’m not as busy – either because I’m working less for the same money (i.e. working smarter) or I have some help.

It IS hard to say no (and I’ve written about that here), but it is important to get used to saying it. The way I’ve dealt with that is by having good, recommended people who I can pass prospects on to if I think they’ll be a good fit, helping the prospect, helping my colleague and making myself look good in the process. I do recommend this approach as it works very well. It’s also hard, as I said, to know how to grow your business – I do have some advice and case studies here if anyone reading is interested in that area at the moment. Best of luck to Suzi as she moves forward and I’m sure she’ll be where she plans to be this time next year!

You can find Suzi and Smart Bear Digital Consultancy online at www.thesmartbear.co.uk, and all of the relevant contact info can be found here. Suzi’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ too.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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How do I delete a Facebook group?

In this post we’re going to learn how to delete a Facebook Group. It’s the only way, and seems a bit weird to me – I spent ages looking for buttons to press and options to choose before finding out! So hopefully you will have found this article easily and I can help you do it more quickly!

For more basic information about using Facebook, see my article on Facebook for business.

Why might I want to delete a Facebook group?

The reason I wanted to do this is that I had a group based around a general election that there was no point keeping up with now. There are lots of reasons why you might want to delete a group, though – it might have got out of hand, you might not have time to run it, it might be time-dependent and out of date, like my one was.

If it’s a matter of not having enough time, consider making someone else the Admin for the group – you can see how to do that later on in this post, as well.

Note, you do have to be the owner or administrator of the group to delete it.

How do I delete a Facebook group?

To delete a Facebook group, you need to remove all of the members, then yourself. This makes the group go away.

In your group, locate its Members area:

Facebook group members area

Click on the Members link and here you are with your list of members:

remove member of facebook group

For each member, click on the cog under the member’s name and click Remove from Group. Note that this is where you can make them an Admin instead.

Facebook will ask you to confirm.

remove member from facebook group check

Do this for each member of the group.

Lastly, remove yourself from the group in the same way. You will get this confirmation message:

Facebook delete group

This is the same error message whether you’re just leaving the group or you’re the last to leave – just choose Leave Group.

The group should now disappear. If it doesn’t, your best bet is to contact Facebook. Click on the arrow marked here:

4 report a problem

… and select Report a Problem from the dropdown.

If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful, please share it using the buttons below! Thank you!

You can find more resources on social media in my blog resource guide (link takes you to the social media section) and read about using social media for your business in my book on growing your business.

Related posts on this blog:

Facebook for business

How to delete posts and block users from your Facebook page

How to add an administrator to your Facebook page

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Business, Facebook, Social media

 

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How do I remove a member from a Facebook group?

In this post we’re going to learn how to remove a member from a Facebook Group. For more basic information about using Facebook, see my article on Facebook for business.

Why might I want to remove someone from my Facebook group?

The most common reason is that they have been spamming your group or behaving in another way that’s not acceptable.

Sometimes, a group member might not be sure how to leave a group and might ask you to remove them.

How do I remove someone from my Facebook group?

Go into your group and look for the Members area:

Facebook group members area

Click on the Members link to get into the Members area:

remove member of facebook group

Click on the cog under the member’s name and choose Remove from Group.

Facebook will ask you to confirm. At this point, as you can see, you can also block them from joining or posting to the group again:

remove member from facebook group check

And they’ve gone!

If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful, please share it using the buttons below! Thank you!

You can find more resources on social media in my blog resource guide (link takes you to the social media section) and read about using social media for your business in my book on growing your business.

Related posts on this blog:

Facebook for business

How to delete posts and block users from your Facebook page

How to add an administrator to your Facebook page

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Business, Facebook, Social media

 

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