The theme for this Pitchfest is: Audience. More on that — and the chance to earn $150 — to come, but first, here’s a quick tip to help you get to know a site’s audience quickly and how it’ll improve your pitches.
Every editor offering pitching advice will tell you, “Let me know you understand my audience and why your pitch is a good fit for them.”
The best way to gain that understanding is to become part of the audience. Read the blog, and engage with other readers. You’ll become familiar with the topics and voice of the site, and understand what readers look for in content.
That takes time. And, frankly, if you write on the subject, you’re probably already reading 800 other blogs about it. Do you really want to add another to your reading list?
Most pitchers approach this conundrum wrong. They want to pitch a lot of blogs, so they Google their topic and send a generic pitch every site on the first page of results — whether it’s relevant or not. When I ran a blog called DIY Writing, you wouldn’t believe how many pitches I got that started with something like, “Since you write about DIY and crafting…” Nope. No, I do not.
You can do better than that… without committing to reading a novel’s worth of blog posts every day before you pitch.
How to Get to Know a Site’s Audience Quickly
Here are a few places to check out so you can learn about a site’s audience in less than 10 minutes of exploring:
About page: A blog’s about page usually tells you exactly who it’s targeting, because its purpose is to let that reader know immediately they’re in the right place.
For example, Be A Freelance Blogger’s about page is literally titled “About You and Me” and is packed with useful nuggets about the audience, like “you like to write” and a list of exactly which goals the site helps them achieve.
Recent articles: Just perusing the headlines can tell you a bit about the audience. Straightforward, how-to titles probably suggest a no-nonsense audience with a clear goal. More catchy, elusive titles could mean a more general-interest audience.
A quick glance at the headlines gracing BAFB’s homepage (not to mention the name of the site…) shows almost all of them mention “freelance blogging.” Guess what the audience might do for a living?
Comments: Click into a few articles, and read the comments. How does this audience engage with content? Are they skeptical or forgiving? Passersby or die-hard fans? Social or focused on their own needs? You can do the same on the site’s social media accounts.
Advertising page: If you’re on a site with advertising info, you’ve hit the jackpot. This is more common for legacy newspapers or magazines, but some blogs or niche sites have them, too. To convince advertisers to part with dollars, these pages will break down reader demographics quite conveniently.
Contributor page: Don’t pitch a site without looking for its contributor page. If it’s not linked obviously, just Google “[sitename]” plus terms like “write for us,” “how to contribute” and “contributor guidelines.” Blog editors are usually generous with audience details, because they want to avoid irrelevant pitches.
The Easy Way to Define an Audience
My simple trick for defining an audience once you’ve done some recon is to create what I call a reader story. It’s a simple way to note who your readers are, what they want and why.
To create a reader story, fill in this statement about the typical person you expect to read the site you’re targeting:
As a [type of person], they want [some goal] so that [some reason].
You should do this for every site you pitch. Don’t include it explicitly in your pitch, but use it as a guide to demonstrate to the editor that you understand their audience. Here’s an example:
This post will help the stay-at-home moms in your audience learn to set up a blog for free so they can start building an audience for their parenting advice.
The type of person here is “stay-at-home moms”; their some goal is “start a blog”; and their some reason is “share parenting advice.” This sentence quickly lets the editor know you understand their site’s audience, while summarizing your article idea.
Also return to the reader story while you write to ensure you focus on what the reader needs — and what the editor, therefore, will love to see from you!
Alright, Let’s Get to the Pitching
In case this is your first, Pitchfest is a blog post pitching contest run on BAFB every six months.
I have the honor of standing in as guest editor this time around, so I’ll review and respond to your pitches and pick the winners.
In case you’re wondering who I am: I’ve been writing and editing for digital media for eight years, and I got my start as a freelance blogger (with help from sites like this one!). Now I’m an editor at The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance site, where I edit and coach writers from pitch through publication, and I write for sites including Inc., the New York Times and Slate.
How does Pitchfest work? You’ll pitch guest post ideas for this blog on the theme I chose — Audience — and we’ll select a few winners for actual publication and cash prizes.
How to Enter the Contest
To participate for a chance to earn up to $150 and be published on Be A Freelance Blogger:
Step 1. Read BAFB’s guest blogging guidelines, and study the pitches and responses in previous Pitchfests to see what we’re looking for.
Step 2. Tell us your blog post idea in the comments below by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, March 23, 2019. Anyone can enter; just remember two important rules:
- Your pitch should align with the theme “Audience,” however you interpret it.
- Your pitch should be relevant to freelance bloggers — help them increase income, build an expert reputation and regain freedom by blogging for hire. (‘hem, see above.)
What to include in your pitch:
- At least one headline designed to make freelance bloggers want to read your post.
- Between 30 and 60 words you’d use to open the post. You DON’T need to write a whole draft before pitching; we’d prefer to give you feedback first.
- Up to six key points you’ll make in the post, with a one- or two-sentence summary of each.
- Up to three sentences about why this is a great fit for Be a Freelance Blogger and why you’re the right person to write it.
Only ONE PITCH per person, please.
Technical details: Put your pitch in the comment box at the bottom of this page, and check the little box that says “Notify me of follow-up comments” so you’ll know when you receive feedback. Your comment might get held for moderation, especially if it contains links. Don’t worry if that happens; we’ll get to it and reply!
Step 3. I’ll respond to every pitch to offer feedback to help you optimize your idea and improve your pitching skills. You could also get feedback from other blog readers.
Step 4. You can revise (or completely re-do) your pitch with our feedback if you’d like. Just re-submit it by pasting it into a follow-up comment by the contest deadline.
Step 5. I’ll choose three winners and up to three runners up. If you’re chosen, we’ll ask you to send a draft of at least 1,500 words, so keep that length in mind when crafting your pitch.
I’ll announce the winners via comment on this post on March 30, 2019.
If I choose your pitch, plan to deliver your first draft to Sophie by end of April.
I’ll choose three winners and up to three runners up. Upon acceptance of your final draft for publication on BAFB, winners will receive:
- 1st prize: $150.
- 2nd prize: $75.
- 3rd prize: Kindle copy of “How to Pitch a Blog Post.”
- Up to three runners up: Unpaid guest post spot on BAFB.
The contest starts today… pitch away!