Just like I mentioned in my previous post, as website owners or bloggers, we often find ourselves on both sides of the guest blogging barricade, so to speak.
One day, we are the ones sending guest post pitches, and another day, we’re the ones being pitched to. It’s only natural. These days, guest blogging is so popular that hundreds of businesses decide to take a stab at it, with better or worse results to show for.
So the case study I have for you today discusses the latter – pitching a guest post the wrong way.
This is the pitch I got a while ago:
I didn’t respond.
And I didn’t respond to the follow up message either.
Here’s why this is a very poor pitch, with all the sins explained one by one. Plus, what you can do to make your pitches soooo much better than this.
Sin #1. No name
The email doesn’t mention the recipient’s name anywhere (in this case, my name).
I have a somewhat secret rule about responding to guest post pitches. I never bother to pay attention if the person fails to mention my name in the email.
It sounds a bit douchey at first, I know, but there’s a very good reasoning behind it, and I know that many other bloggers have a similar rule too.
The reason is this: If you want to guest post on my site then I like to believe that you’ve spent a while poking around and trying to get an idea of what the site is and what purpose it serves. And when you’re doing it, finding out what my name is is rather easy. I share it right on the homepage.
So if someone fails to acknowledge it, what it means is that they most likely didn’t even bother to visit my website.
Lesson #1: Always personalize your email. Mention the recipient’s name right at the beginning.
Sin #2. Bad grammar
I’m not a grammar freak. For the most part, I believe that the story is what carries a good post. And even if the grammar is not 100 percent right, the final effect can still be great.
It’s a different story with outreach email. When you’re sending a pitch, you have only 50-100 words to convince someone that you know your stuff, that you’re a great writer, and that you can deliver.
So if there are some brutal grammar issues with your email, how is anyone supposed to believe that you can actually write?
Lesson #2: Proofread the hell out of your email pitches. You need to make sure that the pitch is 100 percent correct.
Sin #3. Topics terribly unrelated
I’d say that the no.1 rule of guest blogging is to make your post in tune with the topic of the blog where you want to get it published.
For example, there really is no point in trying to get a “How to Potty Train Your Dog” -article published on a marketing blog. It will never fit and it will never be accepted.
Note. What you can do is get creative and find a topic that combines both niches – dog training and marketing – into one article. For instance: “How to Market Your Dog Training Business,” but that’s a completely different story.
Going back to our main example:
As you can see, the articles that this person was pitching were about VoIP – something I have never mentioned on my site. Really, there’s not a single instance of the word “VoIP” on my whole website.
Lesson #3: Pitch only article ideas that are in tune with the blog in question. There are no exceptions.
Sin #4. Email not customized altogether
This goes back to some other sins on this list – not using a name, pitching unrelated articles – but here, I want to talk about the overall impression that your recipient gets when they first open the email.
The impression you’re going for – as a person pitching something – is to make the recipient feel that the email is meant for them personally.
Basically, if the email looks like it could be sent to ten different people at the same time and still be somewhat okay(ish) then it’s a bad email.
For example, if I get an email like the following then I know it’s for me:
I just saw your recent post – the one on using paper to-do lists instead of apps. That’s a really cool concept! I will make sure to test it out soon.
Anyway, [the rest of the pitch]
It’s customized, it mentions some of my stuff, it makes it clear that the person had to visit my site and spend at least a couple of minutes there.
But when I see this:
I feel like I’m one of 10 or even 100 other people who got the email.
Lesson #4: Always customize your email. The goal for the first part of your email is to connect with the person you’re sending it to. Talk about something specific that they do – something that’s close to their heart.
Sin #5. The “grab it while you still can” approach
My favorite part about that pitch is this:
This is perfect. A prime example of someone thinking that they’re calling the shots around here.
Here’s the core of the problem. As guest bloggers, we’re rarely the ones in control. We have to rely on other people resonating with our messages and making the step to give the green light to our content. Not the other way around.
In other words, if you really want to use the “grab it while you still can” approach then your name better be Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki, or Tim Ferriss. Because that’s the only scenario I can imagine where bloggers would trip over one another to have the opportunity to publish your work.
Lesson #5: Don’t assume that the blogger is going to be overly excited about publishing your post. You need to give them room to make the decision, instead of starting off with some scarcity-based approach.
How to do things properly
Writing a great pitch vs. writing a crappy one is all in the details. When you look at it, it wouldn’t be that hard to take the pitch above and turn it around with some tweaks here and there.
I encourage you to go over the lessons presented in this case study and check your own guest post pitches against them. Make sure that you don’t make some of the mistakes mentioned here.
And as always, if you need a hand with your guest blogging projects, we’re here to help.