How I Managed to Get the Support of Millionaires (And Why Rejection Shouldn’t Scare You) By Vincent Nguyen on September 4, 2013
They say everyone’s biggest fear is public speaking. That’s scary and all, but I honestly think the fear of rejection is the biggest. It’s the worst of all fears because if you let it, the fear will seep into everything you do.
It will make you turn the other way when doors potentially open for you. It will make you miss opportunities that should have been yours.
You probably feel this way every time you think about guest blogging.
When I first started out, I was deathly afraid of getting a rejection letter. What if I spent my time pitching and brainstorming only to get shut down? My ego! My self-confidence in my writing abilities!
My first few guest posts were for very small websites. I didn’t dare email the blogs that were getting over 1,000,000 visitors a month. I didn’t have a name, after all. Why would they trust my writing?
As expected, my first posts failed to generate traffic for my site. At the same time, I was beginning to doubt my ability as a writer.
Then I got the validation I needed. Several days after my self-doubt, I pitched an article to a website that gets 1,000,000 visitors a month. At just the right time, they contacted me and asked me to come on as a consistent contributor.
After that, I became more fearless. I started writing for larger websites. Then larger. Larger.
Now you’re thinking, “Sure, you got lucky. You had validation. You established credibility after a while. Of course guest blogging isn’t a big deal for you anymore.”
You know what? Guest blogging is still scary. Pitching articles is still something that makes my brain race at the possibility of rejection. It’s not something you get over, but instead you learn to ignore and push through.
Last month I did something insane that I thought would be completely ego shattering. I can’t get into the details of the why just yet, but I basically reached out to influencers, millionaires, and very successful people to get them to help me on a project.
All I did was shoot them an email asking them to record themselves for me with my name somewhere in the video. That’s it.
I told them what I needed, why I did, and sent it over. I didn’t mention my name. I didn’t mention places I’ve been featured, although I did namedrop (more on that later.)
I put myself out there expecting a 100% rejection rate. The response? Almost 40% of these busy, busy, busy people said YES and sent me their video. The rest either politely declined or didn’t respond.
All in all, I had 16 people help me out. Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, John Saddington, and Michael Hyatt are examples of who got involved. Recognize any of those names?
I didn’t think I’d hear back from anyone. Yet, that 40% response rate happened, didn’t it?
Like I said, I didn’t write about what I do or even say anything along the lines of “In exchange, I’ll help you with…” All I told them was my name and then asked for a little bit of their time.
Check out a screenshot of what I sent to Michael Hyatt:
See? Nothing extravagant. I didn’t offer to swap favours (something that may get you ignored or viewed as sketchy.) But there are several things that I want you to learn from this that you can apply to guest pitches.
Be transparent and personal. Like I did in the email, I was honest. The one who would benefit from this was myself. What does Michael Hyatt get out of doing this for me? If anything, he’s actually inconvenienced by this. He doesn’t even know me.
I didn’t lie to him by talking about how he’d helping a great cause and how he’d be able to sleep better at night knowing he has helped make a difference in a stranger’s life.
Part of the reason I had so many people agree to help was because I was honest.
I’m not saying you should make the email all about you, but don’t try to make it sound like you get nothing out of this.
They know that it’s a huge benefit to you by featuring you. Why else would you offer to write for them? Don’t beat around the bush. People are attracted to honesty and they will trust you more. Establishing long-term relationships with other bloggers is important. How can you get there without honesty?
With that said, make sure you talk about how you can benefit them too. Their audience gets a new perspective. They also get a lighter workload by having someone else write for them.
I was also personal and avoided being generic. Every single email I wrote was written specifically for them. Although some of the emails sounded similar to others, there was no copy pasting or generic language. It was all personal and handwritten—uh, I mean typed.
How do you make it personal? The easiest step is to greet them by name. Talk about what you know about their audience. I didn’t explicitly do this in mine, but it is implied that I at least know about him and didn’t just pick his name from a hat.
I get pitches all the time and the biggest mistake I see is they don’t take the time to even look up my name. Starting an email with “Hey,” or “To whom it may concern,” is a huge tip-off that the pitch is going to be terrible. It usually is.
Take advantage of namedropping if you can. You’ll notice I did this a few times. I mentioned a mutual friend in the first paragraph to increase my chances of being read.
Now you’re probably thinking that the only reason why I did so well was because I had connections with everyone I reached out to, but that’s not true. This was the only time I was able to namedrop like that. Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, and everyone else responded even without this sort of “social proof.”
At the end of the email I mentioned who I already had onboard. This helps, but you don’t have to need to do this. We all start from somewhere, so don’t let lack of social proof discourage you.
If you do namedrop other blogs you’ve been on, I would do it in the first paragraph. I wanted to break convention by doing it in the end.
If you let your fear of rejection stop you every time, you’ll never get anything done. When I first thought of reaching out to these people, I was scared. I kept thinking I’d waste hours of my time doing this and have nothing to show for it. What got me through it?
I went for it because I knew that I had nothing to lose.
Even if every single person said no, nothing bad would have happened. There’s no ban from the internet. Neither is there anyone conspiring to make sure I never get work anywhere again.
The worst-case scenario when you decide to take the risk is that you don’t get what you were after. Maybe some time wasted, but you lose nothing else. You only have things to gain. Don’t be haunted by asking yourself over and over “what if?”
So remember that the next time you look at a website and want to write for them. Don’t let your fear of rejection make you skip the email pitch. You don’t need fancy credentials. You don’t need to be well-known.
All you need to do is remember what I told you above and you’ll be further ahead than the people too scared to hit “Send.” If I could get the attention of millionaires with nothing but an email, you can find the courage to guest post.