“I’m looking for a mind at work.”

That should be your first criteria if you’re drowning in pitches from strangers wanting to write a guest post for you. 

There are pros and cons to everything — new ideas in the air, but people shouting in the square. Guest posts are the same — they can be a win-win for your site, but only if they’re done right.

Here’s what you get out of a guest post and how to judge whether that person behind the email is an urchin or a woman — or man — of revelation.

Angelica, remind me what we’re looking for? Free content! New audience!

I hold these truths to be self-evident when it comes to guest posts: You get free content on a topic that’s interesting to your readers, and the contributor gets access to a new audience and referral traffic with a backlink to their site — or vice versa if you’re doing the contributing. 

The guest post is cross promoted on the contributor’s site or social media, which means you also get access to their audience, and hopefully new readers or clients.

Google loves those backlinks and if the other site has higher domain-authority, that can boost your own domain authority. Basically, Google is looking for links that add value, and its algorithm picks up on that.

But look around, look around for spammy emails, crappy writing

In order for all this to go smoothly, you need a contributor who’s an expert in a topic related to your site — not a person who is actually full of shit and just writing a fluff piece.

Most times pitches will flood your inbox from people you don’t know and have never worked with before. 

When you’re reviewing pitches, look at whether the person has written a personalized, coherent and interesting email. That will give you an idea of their writing style and whether they have a unique perspective your audience would be interested in. Don’t hesitate to ask for more details, either.

If the email pitch is not personalized or even relevant to your topic, then it should go directly to your trash. Do not hit reply, do not waste your time. 

Listen to my declaration

If you’re open to guest posts, you can help the process along and weed out a few bad pitches by including a section on your site that lets people know how they can contribute to your blog and what areas might be of interest.

And if you’re looking to write a guest post on someone else’s site, use the same tips as above, only reverse them. Just remember that people are flooded with pitches, and a lot of them are crappy. After the ump-teenth generic pitch, the site owner feels like this:

Don’t let yourself be another annoying fly buzzing around people’s inboxes, even if it takes more time to write personalized pitches. 

There is only one way to get your foot in the door … you don’t want to be throwing away your shot. Rise up!