Write a guest post for I Will Teach You To Be Rich

This is a detailed guide to writing an effective guest post for high-traffic bloggers. These tips work because I’ve used them myself to write on sites like The Four Hour Workweek blog and Get Rich Slowly, resulting in hundreds of thousands of new readers, tens of thousands of new email subscribers, and thousands of books sold.

While many new bloggers write content and pray for others to come, proactive bloggers reach out to others in their field, write amazingly good content, and quickly build a name for themselves.

I’m surprised why more people don’t do it: You get exposure to new readers on massively popular blogs, create tons of links, and get new subscribers to your blog’s RSS and email subscriptions. When done right, traffic increases in a powerful step-function, and when done regularly, guest posting is one of the best techniques for getting more and more qualified readers.

step-function-guest-post
 

An overly simplified visualization of how effective guest posts drive traffic.
For example, I did this when I launched I Will Teach You To Be Rich in 2004, and even with a readership of over 250,000/month, I used extensive guest posts (linked below) to help make my book a New York Times bestseller.

So here’s the deal: Each week, I get multiple pitches for guest posts, and most of them are absolutely horrible. They’re often “me-too” posts that contain nothing new, list-y articles that make everyone’s eyes glaze over, or weird rants about Ron Paul and gold.

What I’m looking for

I’m thrilled to send lots of traffic to people with interesting ideas — especially up-and-coming bloggers. I’ll speak for myself, although many high-traffic bloggers will tell you the same thing: If your guest post is simply a rehashed old point, it’s dead in the water. Here’s what I look for.

  • Original content that tells my readers something new. This is simply the most important factor of all.
  • Posts that are backed up by research, charts, data, and expert quotes, not your opinion. It’s easy to write what you think. It’s much harder to produce data that backs up an argument.
  • Substantive discussion. Short posts usually get rejected (though there are exceptions).

Common mistakes with guest posts

  • Writing the guest post before you pitch me. Please send me multiple story ideas, with bullet-pointed sub-points, and let me suggest the best one for my audience. See sample pitch below.
  • Not doing your research. Here’s a 2-part suggestion: (1) Note how I format my posts, then copy it. When I submitted to Tim, for example, I noticed that he uses a large image with a small caption, then long, detailed posts. Here’s my guest post for him. (2) Writing something called “Credit cards are evil!” also reveals that you’ve never read my site and its key messages. Educate yourself. Here’s an over-the-top example of doing research before submitting a guest post — and it works.
  • Not sending writing samples. Bloggers are lazy and risk-averse. I don’t want to invest a bunch of time in back-and-forth email exchanges if the end result turns out to be a crappy post that I can’t use, and I don’t want to disappoint you by saying “no” after you put in all that work. If you don’t have writing samples, get some — start by guest-posting on smaller blogs. Always include writing samples — preferably ones written on other blogs — so I can see if your writing style is a good fit.
  • Limiting yourself to guest posts in your domain. There’s no reason to. My site isn’t just about personal finance, it’s about entrepreneurship, optimization, lifehacking, etc. If you have an interesting guest post on how you altered your car to make it drive longer, or how politicians get policy wrong, I might be interested.Check out Tim Ferriss’s take on this:

    “Trackbacks from diverse leading blogs and guest posts on popular sites like Huffington Post. To the first point, I write on a diverse range of topics, so I can get linked to from more social circles. From muscle building to ultralight travel, I tie it all into a larger concept of ‘lifestyle design.’”

    This is a classic application of the Kevin Bacon game, who was the most-connected actor because he had acted in high-value movies, low-value movies, and everything in between (whereas Tom Cruise mostly acts in high-value movies only).

  • Submitting trite linkbait. Here’s an example of a post I will never run: “23 reasons equities are doomed!” 99% of list-y articles are idiotic link-bait and will be forgotten by the next day. High-traffic sites, for the most part, want great articles that will stand the test of time.
  • Making the blog post all about your opinion. Nobody cares about you. Use research, charts, and expert quotes to back up your argument, and create an interesting thesis. Not convinced? Witness the citations in the back of any Malcolm Gladwell book as evidence. And he’s Malcolm Gladwell. Yeah, it takes work.
  • Underestimating how long it takes to write a good post. My post on Tim’s blog (see below) took over 18 hours to write. It sold hundreds of books in 24 hours.
  • Including your affiliate links. Just don’t do it. In fact, if you’re linking to another Amazon book, you should add myAmazon code (see next bullet point) to make my life easier.
  • Making me do additional work. When you submit the final guest post, it should be fully ready to be inserted into WordPress and it will just magically work. This means you should write your byline, format your post, add images on your own server (but also attach them to the email), and otherwise make it 100% ready to go. More on this here.

Guest posts I’ve written

Here are some examples of guest posts I’ve written on other blogs. They take me, on average, 12 hours to write each but produce excellent ROI — the other bloggers are happy because they get fresh new content, the commenters get something interesting to talk about, and I get cross-traffic. Spending an extra few hours to make a guest post shine is what makes the difference between a mediocre response and over-the-top success.

Steps to writing a guest post on a high-traffic blog

  1. Read my blog. Leave several thoughtful comments so I get to know you.
  2. Have your own blog. This isn’t necessary, but 100% of my past guest posters have had their own blog.
  3. Send me a quick note with your pitch. Here’s an example:

Subject: 3 guest post ideas: Rebalancing, automation, & eating out

Hi Ramit,

My name is Mike and I run mikesfakeblog.com. My site hosts about 25,000 readers/month and I’m trying to grow it by reaching out to other bloggers. I’ve been reading your site for 3 years and I’m a big fan (my favorite post was your $28,000 question on weddings…so true how we all delude ourselves).

I’m interested in writing a guest post for you — something you’ve never posted on — and I have 3 ideas that I think your readers would love:

REBALANCING
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 1
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 2
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 3

AUTOMATION
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 1
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 2
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 3

EATING OUT
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 1
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 2
- Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 3

I know you’re busy, so I can write everything up and send it to you in one document, which you can drop right into WordPress. I’ll handle all editing, bylines, etc (feel free to edit) so this is super-easy for you. Plus, I promise the guest posts will get your readers thinking and talking to each other.

What do you think?

Thanks,

-Mike

If I agree, write up the article and send it completely done. Here’s one of the best guest-post emails I’ve ever received:

guest-post-will-chen.001

The results of effective great posts

There are tangible and intangible results of effective guest posts. The first is traffic, but most importantly, it’s targeted traffic of people who care about hearing what you have to say. Next, you build relationships with bloggers, who’ll be far more likely to run future guest posts of yours. Third, you start to become better-known in your community, whether it’s personal-finance bloggers, fitness fanatics, etc. As you build a reputation, this intangible result becomes increasingly important.

Specific must-dos for guest posts

Be specific: SHOW, don’t tell. Writing a guest post that says “Spend less than you make” leads to two things: Me wanting to kill you, and my readers saying “Tell me something I don’t know.” If you have an interesting technique for saving, earning, automating, or investing money, show us how you did it. Use screenshots, spreadsheets, and examples. Here are 30 tips with tons of tactical content — they are good examples to start with when thinking about writing a guest post.

Create a Catcher’s Mitt. This one gets overlooked a lot. When you write a guest post and it gets accepted, make sure your site is ready to accept new readers. Think about it: If a bunch of new readers come to your blog and see your last 5 posts have been about your cat, microwave, and favorite cereal, they’re never coming back. I like to create what I call a “catcher’s mitt,” or some way to gently receive new readers. This might be a “Welcome, I Will Teach You To Be Rich readers…check out my top posts” box, or something similar. Just remember to engage new readers, because it’s trivially easy to leave your website. This is the last mile.

Ready to submit a guest post idea?

Please contact me and put “Guest post idea” in the subject line.