When you’re sending pitches to blogs big and small every day, it can feel like screaming into the wind. Most editors won’t even grace you with a response, and many of the ones who do offer little more than a form rejection.
Freelancing is a tough game to play.
Maybe you’re a great writer, and your pitch just needs sprucing up to catch an editor’s eye and garner that response you’re looking for: a big, fat, enthusiastic Yes!
Would-be bloggers and content creators send me emails all the time with generic guest post pitches for the DIY Writing community blog I manage, seeking links back to their website (or, more likely, to their client’s site). But every once in a while, I get a pitch that is so irresistible, that shows so much respect for the work I do, that is such a perfect fit for my community, that I can’t wait to get it on the site.
I recently received one of these perfect pitch emails from a WritersBucketList reader. With her permission, I’m including a copy of her message in this post to show you exactly why I loved this pitch so much.
You can make every one of your pitches just as irresistible as this one, by sticking to a few principles of pitching.
Note, these tips apply whether you’re pitching for a free or paid post. In either case, the editor is looking for the same thing: a great post her readers will clamor to read!
Suck ‘Em In with a Strong Intro
Here’s the email I received last month, interspersed with some notes about why I love it. [I've changed her name and some details to protect privacy. Links are mine.]
[Jane Doe] here. I’m a freelance writer specializing in blog posts, press releases and web content for online businesses. You may have seen me hanging around in the Writer’s Bucket List Facebook group and commenting your blog. (BTW, thanks for creating such a wonderful writing group. I’m really happy I found your community.)
Here are the elements I adore in this intro:
- The writer explains who she is and what she does. This helps me understand whether she’s qualified to write on the topic she’s about to pitch.
- She mentions where we’ve been in contact in the past. Making a real connection with an editor is key! Go beyond a canned email, and show her that you are someone who matters. In this case, the writer has been part of our DIY Writing community, but this is the first time she’s reaching out directly to me. Showing she’s a member of my community also lets me know she’ll understand what my readers are looking for.
- She compliments the work I’m doing—and means it! Meaning it is as important as saying it. Only reach out to blogs you truly respect (why would you want to be published on one you don’t, anyway?), and you won’t have to fish deep to add some genuine flattery to your pitch.
Clearly State Why You’re Writing
I know that you accept guest posts on your site, so I’m reaching out to pitch a topic that I think would resonate with your audience.
After convincing me with her intro that I should keep reading, “Jane” explains exactly why she’s writing. I cannot stress enough that you need to do this before launching into your pitch and credentials! It’s not only good manners; it also helps a busy editor get in the right mindset to read your pitch.
In addition to leading with your intention in the body of the email, also be sure to clearly state “Guest Post Pitch” in your subject line — don’t think “Hi” or “Love your site!” is a clever way to get an editor to look at your pitch. It will only lose you points for being devious and disrespectful of her time.
Jane also does something in this sentence I haven’t seen in a single other pitch: She points out that she knows I accept guest posts. That lets me know she reads my blog and has probably checked out my Contributor Guidelines already, which earns her big bonus points over the myriad pitches that come in because someone simply found the keyword “writing” on my site.
Make Them Love Your Article, and Explain Why Their Readers Will, Too
I’m planning to write an article entitled “[Suggested Title of Article]“
Here’s a quick outline of the post to give you an idea of how I plan to flesh it out…
I always recommend suggesting a title for your guest post, because it can demonstrate that you know how blogs work. If a writer pitches a title that’s better-suited for a short story than a blog — where titles need to catch the attention of both the reader and Google — that tells me she may not have a strong understanding of how to write a concise, informative, and easy-to-digest blog post.
Jane goes on from here to include a brief outline of her proposed post. Check a blog’s guest post guidelines to determine how much information they want about your post within the pitch —they all vary. (At the time this pitch came in, I requested an outline in my guidelines.) Some editors prefer a very brief email (think Five Sentences) and will request more details if they like your idea. Some prefer a detailed outline. Whatever it is, do it. Don’t disrespect the guidelines; that’s a surefire way to kill your pitch, regardless of the brilliance of your idea or skill!
Share Samples of Your Work (and Skill)
I’m also sending you a couple of links to my writing samples to give you a glimpse of how I write:
● Link to article A on Top Blog 1
● Link to article B on Top Blog 2
Links to previous work are also something I specifically requested in my guidelines, but I recommend you include these whether they ask or not. These clips let an editor know you can write; that’s a pretty top priority!
If they’re at a blog other than one you manage, they’ll also let her know that other editors have appraised and accepted your work; and that you can work within a blog’s guidelines, meet deadlines, and accept edits. If they happen to be clips at top blogs in your niche —as Jane’s are— they carry even more weight! (But don’t fret if they’re not.)
Close with a Direct Ask
Please let me know if you think the topic would be a good fit for your blog, and I’ll get right on it.
Another key that many writers miss: Close your email with a direct ask. “Would you like this article for your blog?” or “Can I send that article your way this week?” are even more to-the-point; choose words to fit your personality.
Closing by directly asking for what you want lets an editor know exactly how to respond to you.
I’ve received pitches that describe an interesting blog post but don’t explain they’re pitching a guest post. I’ve actually had to respond to some bloggers to ask, “Is this a post you’ve published somewhere and want me to share a link; or are you proposing to write a post for WritersBucketList?” Many editors won’t be so kind as to follow up; they’ll dismiss an unclear email outright.
Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you!
Finally, I appreciate a friendly sign-off, especially from a member of my community. Simple touches in email correspondence clue me into whether or not someone will be easy to work with. Especially if you’re hoping for a long-term relationship with an editor, that’s probably as important as your ability to write and your grasp on the subject.
The most important elements Jane showed me through her email are that she’s real and she can write for my community.
Get to know the blog you’re pitching, and develop a relationship with the audience before you pitch, and you’ll be an editor’s dream!
Image: Joe Shlabotnik