More and more companies are beginning to get aggressive with their guest posting efforts, but it doesn’t take long to realize that contributing guest content isn’t as easy as it seems. You have your sights set on all of the blogs you’ve always been reading, but when you try to submit a guest article to those sites, you get a big “no thanks” in return. You learn quickly that you have your work cut out for you.

What usually seems the trickiest, however, is the idea that the tactics you used on the higher end blogs typically work fine for other, lesser-known blogs. This leaves many companies to wonder: What do I need to do differently if I want to hang with the big guys?

Top 5 Things You Should Do Differently When Pitching Articles to Authoritative Blogs

The best thing you can do is begin your guest posting strategy by pitching to smaller scale blogs first. Find other blogs that have a PR of 3 or 4, and then move on to those 6s and 7s. This will give you practice talking with editors and help give you a feel for how guest posting works. The best thing you can do when it comes time to talk to authoritative blogs is be prepared—working with smaller blogs first will help you get there.

Once you are ready to talk to the Mashable’s and Forbes’s of the world, there are a few things you should do differently when you finally make your move:

1. Offer examples of your past work.

This is one of the biggest reasons that it helps to post on lesser-known sites first—it gives you a portfolio. Authoritative blogs like to see samples of your writing, they like to see that you have been published on the web, and then like to see that you “get it” when it comes to SEO and the importance of visibility. When you send an email or fill out a form to become a guest contributor, include 3 or 4 links (yes, don’t forget to link!) to some of your absolute best previously published work. Choose samples that are not only well written, but published on a website that you know is solid (it doesn’t have to be a high PR, but if it look spammy and unorganized, don’t send that sample anywhere).

2. Put a lot of thought into article topics and pitch them.

This is oftentimes what catches an editor’s attention. You have to remember that you’re trying to get through to someone who likely sees 40 or 50 different pitches everyday. It’s the article topic ideas that can set you apart from the rest and make you unique. An editor might skim the information where you introduce yourself, but if they see an idea they like, you have a much better chance for a response. Put a lot of thought into these—research past articles on the site, see what is trending, and be prepared to explain the angle you would take with a give article.

3. Take your time and form connections, and then use those connections.

As with most things in business, who you know will come in handy. Authoritative blogs want to see that you have made connections to other important figures in the industry (or even in their specific company). If you can name drop, I highly recommend it. If someone ever follows me on Twitter, I check out his/her site and then make a note about it so that when I pitch that site, I can say that I found it because [insert employee name] found me on Twitter. I also spend time commenting on the blog where I hope to guest post so that my name becomes familiar and I have a better chance of connecting with someone “on the inside.”

4. Don’t give up. If you get ignored after a few follow-ups, wait a few months and try again.

I’ve come to learn that being ignored is typical when it comes to many authoritative blogs. The key here is to send your one follow up email (usually one week after your first email), and then give it some time. That blog might have an influx of email at that point, but this doesn’t mean you should give up. Sending over a pitch every few months is not annoying, but it does give you a better chance of getting a response.

5. Do your research and read the directions.

This really goes for whenever you are guest posting. You want to make sure you have a solid understanding of the focus of the blog and the type of content that the blog likes best. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not reading the directions. Look around for a “write for us” or “guest post” page, and then follow the directions. This will tell you exactly how to get your email a response.

It’s also important to realize that it’s not just what you say or how you say it, but it’s how it looks. In other words, because editors of high-end blogs are so used to reading pitches, you want to make sure your pitch is easy to follow and easy skim. I often set up my pitches like a blog post with bolded headings and bullet points.

Why Authoritative Blogs Require a Different Pitching Strategy

It’s important to understand that all of these things will work great for smaller blogs as well. You never want to treat a website differently just because it is less established; however there is no denying that these blogs don’t need all of this evidence to show you’re a good writer. A smaller blog has the time to read over and entire article and make a decision right on the spot, but sometimes higher-end blogs don’t.

It’s simple: Higher end blogs have more content to choose from, which means they have less time to spend on writers who are not serious. This is why your pitching strategy might differ form time to time. It isn’t because those smaller blogs deserve less; they just have different needs and different opportunities when it comes to content.