When you’re pitching a guest post to a blog for the first time, you have one chance to get noticed -- so you don’t want to blow it. At the risk of tooting our own horn, we frequently get hit up to feature guest blog contributions on this blog. And we're always thrilled to feature bloggers when they contribute thoughtful, original content that our amazing readers (ahem -- that's you) would love.
But that’s not always what we get. Sometimes, the pitch is thoughtful and personalized, but the post topic has already been covered comprehensively on our blog. Other times, we just get spam from people trying to “build links” rather than contribute engaging content. And these pitches? They go straight into the trash.
So if you’re ramping up your guest blogging program, you want to make sure the managers of the blogs you're targeting get your pitches – and love them. To help, we’ve surfaced all the worst parts of guest blogging pitches we’ve received and combined them to create the worst guest blogging pitch of all time. We'll analyze each individual mistake by telling you exactly what not to do -- and what to do instead. Ready? Brace yourself.
The Worst Guest Blogging Pitch Ever
How to Write the Worst Guest Blogging Pitch of All Time
1) Get the blog manager’s attention with a crazy subject line.
Do whatever you need to get the blog manager to open your email. Yell. Use exclamation points!!!!! WRITE IN ALL CAPS. How could a blog manager not open up an email with the word “epic” in the title?
Instead: Be descriptive and specific, yet professional. I'd suggest including the working title of the blog post you're pitching. Something like: "Guest Post: 20 Tips to Increase Your Facebook Page Reach." That way, the blog manager knows exactly what (s)he is getting when opening the email.
2) Don’t personalize the greeting.
Feel free to use “blogger” “company name” or “INSERT NAME HERE” instead of the blog manager’s name. If you want to go the extra mile here, you can even copy and paste the company or blog name from elsewhere in your email -- the blog manager will never notice the yellow background or purple font color.
Instead: Do a little stalking to figure out who manages the blog, then address that person by name. Many blogs will tell you on their guest blogging page exactly who to contact (to find out if they have one, try doing a Google site search for something like "guest blogging, company"). If they don't, check out some of the authors' bios, and search for them in social media. Chances are, the blog manager will say so in his or her LinkedIn or Twitter bio. Believe me -- that little bit of research can go a long way.
3) Don’t introduce yourself.
After all, Google is just a few clicks away! You’re doing them a favor by pitching them such great content. They should return the favor by putting in some effort of their own and searching for you online instead. You don’t want to work with lazy blog managers, anyway.
Instead: Explain who you are and what you do in a sentence or two. Provide a link to your Twitter profile, LinkedIn page, or blog as well so they can learn more about you and your writing. You don't need to write a paragraph about yourself, but you should give the blog manager an indication of who you are and why you should be considered to write for them.
4) Don’t read the blog first, or tailor what you're pitching to the blog’s readers.
There’s really no need to tailor the content you're pitching to the blog’s target audience. You want your post to resonate with as many people as possible, so the broader the topic, the better. You don’t want to limit your options by tailoring the content in your pitch to the particular blog you’re pitching.
Instead: Familiarize yourself with the blog's content before you email the manager. Read the posts from the last week (at least) and get a sense of who they write for and the topics that interest them by examining the post topics and language used. Is the blog geared toward beginners or advanced readers? Professionals or consumers? Star Wars fans, or Trekkies? Furthermore, conduct a Google site search to make sure the specific topic(s) you're proposing haven't already been covered. After doing your research, tailor your pitch and what you're pitching to reflect your newfound knowledge -- blog managers will be impressed to see you know what their readers want to read about and are proposing an original article they've never seen before.
5) Use buzzwords in the body of your email so the blog manager thinks you're smart.
Buzzwords work best in your pitch copy. Blog managers are always looking for phrases like “keyword rich” and “original content.” They are like primitive search engines -- without including specific, exact-match keywords, how will blog managers know you will write a high-quality post just for their blog?
Instead: Write like you're talking to a friend in the industry. It's okay to use jargon -- when necessary -- but otherwise, stick to words real humans would use. In the above example, most blog managers don't need to be reminded that you're going to include relevant, natural keywords in your guest blog post -- so just take them out entirely. While using buzzwords may seem like a great way to show the blog manager you know what you're doing, it actually ends up sounding like you don't really know anything at all.
6) Don’t pitch a specific idea.
Most blog managers are starving for content and have very little on their plates, so they’ll be happy to go back and forth with you as many times as necessary to identify the right topic for you to write. Your pitch essentially starts off the brainstorm, so don’t bother proposing a well thought-out, specific topic or two in your email copy. Your ideas should be broad and vague -- if you're pitching a social media blog, just tell them you'll write a post about social media.
Instead: Blog managers are busy, and they probably receive multiple pitches a day. So be as specific as possible. Instead of pitching a post about social media tips, pitch a working title that indicates a specific angle, like "10 Things You Should Never Do on Twitter." The latter is far more descriptive, and the blog manager will know exactly which direction you're taking on a topic, and whether it's a fit for their blog.
7) Make outrageous claims … like you invented the question mark.
Are you a wildly successful entrepreneur who can make any post go viral? Want 10 backlinks to your website within the copy of the post? Make sure the blog manager knows this right off the bat.
Instead: Let your awesome content ideas speak for themselves -- don't make guarantees or demands upfront, especially when they are out of your control. Most of the time, blog managers already have policies about guest contributions -- how many links you can include, how to size images properly, and even how they prefer to receive pitches. If you'd like to negotiate about the blog's policies, leave that for later in the email chain -- and be prepared for a no.
8) Don’t double-check your work.
Blog managers will understand if there’s a typo or two in your email. They know they’ll have to edit your post anyway before they publish it, and grammar and spelling mistakes happen to the best of us.
Instead: Your pitch is a writing sample in and of itself. As a result, that pitch, as well as all the content you put out on the web should be proofread carefully. A typo-ridden pitch gives off the impression that you're a sloppy, careless, bad writer -- definitely not someone a blog manager wants guest contributions from. A really great way to catch mistakes is to read your email aloud to yourself. It helps you catch those weird mistakes that your brain easily glosses over. It's true that everyone makes mistakes, but it's up to you to keep them to a minimum. There's nothing wrong with having a co-worker proofread it before you hit 'send' either.
Have you ever received a terrible guest blogging pitch in your inbox? Share your horror stories with us in the comments.