You have a brilliant idea for a blog post.
You know how to pitch.
You’ve read the blog’s masthead, contact page, and About page.
You’ve worked out which editor to pitch to. Your fingers are twitching to type out your pitch and send it right away.
But you don’t see their email address listed on the site, and you have no clue how the fudge you’re supposed to find it out.
Don’t fret, and don’t give up hope of getting your pitch into your dream editor’s hands.
I’ve been through this challenge myself, and I found some simple online tools that helped me get the email addresses I wanted.
Here’s a quick walk through the 6 tools I find the most helpful, and how I use them.
Step 1: Confirm the email domain
When I try to find an email address, I generally start with RocketReach.
This is a cool search platform that comes with 5 free ‘look-up credits’ per month. (To claim them, you’ll need to create an account, and that’s free too.)
I only use a look-up credit if every other humanly possible way falls flat, which is rarely the case.
RocketReach usually provide the best professional plus the best personal email address of the editor you’re trying to get hold of. Mind you, it has happened that they delivered a choice of 6 possible email addresses of the guy I was trying to suss out, rather than give me one that the bloke was surely using. And that cost me a look-up credit.
But hey, I’ve discovered that I can make the most out of the platform without having to pay a fee. 😉
Because after typing a name in the search bar, they virtually never fail to find that busy editor I’m looking for. At this point, RocketReach don’t reveal the complete email address yet, so simply typing a name in the search box doesn’t cost you a look-up credit. But what they do offer right away is tremendously useful: the domain – the part after the @-symbol.
With the domain and an editor’s name, you have all you need for the next tool to work.
Step 2: Feed what you have into an email address permutator
An email permutator is a tool that creates a big list of possible email addresses for the person you’re trying to reach.
And all you need for an email permutator to get cracking is the part after the @-symbol, and the person’s name.
(If you’ve looked EVERYWHERE on the site but still didn’t find the name of the editor you need, google ‘editor blog X’, ‘contact blog X’, or just ‘email blog X’. This will also help you confirm the domain.)
If you want to use the same email permutator as I do (it’s an Excel file that’s self-explanatory), you’ll need to save your own copy. There’s a large red arrow that points to the instructions on how to do just that. They’re highlighted in red, too.
What I want you to do after saving your email permutator spreadsheet is enter the name and domain in the yellow cells of the Excel file.
Then the spreadsheet does its thing, and all you need to do is copy all 46 email addresses it churns out.
Now that you’re armed with lots of possible email addresses, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 3: Check which email addresses actually exist
I use Contacts+ for Gmail to see which email accounts are the best bet. (To use this Google Chrome extension, you need to have a Gmail account and Chrome browser.)
Add the Chrome extension, click on it, and sign in with your Gmail account. Then, click ‘compose’ as if you were about to write an email.
Now paste all 46 email addresses that you copied from the email permutator into the ‘to’ address field on your email draft.
Next, hover your mouse over each address – but slowly! You don’t want to miss any sign indicating that the account exists.
On the right in this screenshot, you can see a small LinkedIn symbol. This means that the person in question used this email to sign up on LinkedIn.
Well, there’s no guarantee the editor hasn’t changed the email account in the meantime, but chances are it still exists.
Be that as it may, Contacts+ can find *every* email account that people have used to sign up on social media; no matter whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, or multiple other platforms.
And if there is no social media result, there’s one more hint.
See that suitcase or bag symbol in the image above just below the LinkedIn logo?
I’ve noticed that it doesn’t pop up often when you hover over e-addresses in the address field. Fuck knows what it means, but I gathered it’s a sign the email address exists.
And I’ve been proven right. More often than not, I didn’t get an error message from the mailer demon after emailing addresses with that icon.
Sometimes, there’s even a nice photo of the editor in the address field when you hover over the e-addresses. (And sometimes I’m not too sure they intended the public to see that photo. This always brings a victorious smile to my face.)
Safe in the knowledge that I’ve triumphed, I then proceed to make them happy with an outstanding query or submission. And they reply each and every time…
…I wish. Of course finding the email address doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a reply — but it’s better than never sending a pitch in the first place!
Since we’ve talked about your Gmail account, let me introduce you to another Google Chrome extension that works with Gmail and makes freelance writing so much easier.
Step 4: Double check LinkedIn
Just like Contacts+, the LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a Chrome extension. That means you need a Gmail account plus a Google Chrome browser to use it.
Unlike Contacts+ though, which keeps an eye on many social media platforms, Sales Navigator only finds out if people have used a certain email address to sign up on LinkedIn, as the name suggests.
Just add the extension to your browser, open it, then copy and paste the email addresses into the address field as you did when you checked out the previous tool, and hover over them once again to see what pops up.
Now and then, you won’t be lucky with Sales Navigator. And at other times it’ll be Contacts+ that will not provide any results, even if Sales Navigator managed to link the LinkedIn account to an email address. That’s why it’s good to have both Google Chrome extensions.
Try them out. All tools I’ve been talking about are free to use – except RocketReach, which gives you 5 free look-up credits per month but charges a fee if you want more.
And if you don’t stumble across any helpful clues after a few minutes using these tools, it’s time to give one more thing a shot. It’s free, too.
Step 5: Find email addresses on Twitter
To use this tool, you need to have a Twitter account and log in on All My Tweets with your Twitter handle.
Then, you can type any Twitter username and view all their tweets, provided they didn’t protect them.
Occasionally, you can find an old tweet where an editor published their precious email address – usually back in the day when they didn’t think some sharp bloggers would one day scan their tweets.
And if this doesn’t help you get the email address you need, we’ll just ask the giant who knows everything – almost.
Step 6: Guess and Google
Yep, it’s time to hit a search engine and type stuff in just to see what happens.
The first thing I type when I’m trying to guess an email address is [email protected]
If I don’t get any results, I’ll try the same combination with (at) and (dot) instead of the usual symbols.
On the search engine results page, there’s often a link to either a RocketReach listing or an old article where the editor was so kind to publish their email address.
If my first guess was to no avail, I try other combinations such as the first few options the email permutator has provided me with.
Should I happen to have been googling completely in vain, I just fire off pitches to the email addresses I’ve found even if I can’t confirm their existence… but only as a last resort, and I still send my pitches one by one, never as a mass spam attack!
And if the mailer demon doesn’t come back with bad news, I know that I’ve struck gold. If there’s no error message, then the email address you tried probably exists, and your pitch has already arrived.
Okay, time to find out that damned elusive editor’s email address so you can finally pitch your blog post.
No excuses – the next step is to prepare your pitch and send it out!
Do you know more efficient ways of sussing out editors’ email addresses? Share your thoughts in the comments, I’m eager to read them!