Even before Charles Ave Marketing became Charles Ave Marketing, I have been the Managing Editor of the Menuism blog. I’m proud to say Menuism has been a client for four years and counting.
In those four years, I’ve managed our team of writers, contributed my own posts, developed content partnerships, and worked with guest bloggers. I was even a guest on the Beyond Your Blog podcast, where I spoke about what I look for in an article pitch.
But in those same four years, I’ve received far more pitches containing what I don’t look for in a guest pitch. Here are some of the worst offenders:
Look, I get it. I might not be the only editor you’re pitching to. But you should act like I am! Don’t send a bulk email that doesn’t even try to hide being a bulk email.
I covered up the email addresses below so as not to publish them. But this person sent me and 39 other people a “pitch” (if you could call it that). My guess is his email provider wouldn’t let him add more. Don’t do this.
What to do instead: Personalize.
The more personal you can get, the better. Know the person’s name you’re reaching out to. Mention the section of the blog where you think your post would fit. Juliet White wrote a great pitch back in 2013 and we featured her posts on Menuism for almost three years, until she had to step away for personal reasons. She even mentions the Menuism mascot Foodha and his Foodhist philosophy on dessert. Here’s how she got in:
Not telling me who you are
Most of the pitches I receive are spam. But even some of the non-spam ones have spammish tendencies. One particularly egregious error is not telling me who you are. And if I don’t know that, why should I let you blog on my site?
Actual introductions I’ve seen:
- “This is James Hundson from Canada.” Oh, really, James? I’m not from Canada, that must be why I don’t know who you are.
- “My name is Louise and I manage the blog for SignatureCare. I’ve been a fan of your blog for some time and there seems to be some overlap between our audiences.” Louise neglected to tell me what SignatureCare is, what it does, or where the supposed overlap in our audience lies.
- “My name is Alex. I’m a business blogger on the rise. I noticed that a lot of entrepreneurs try their luck in the blogging industry, so I decided to also share my knowledge and expertise. I feel like your website could give me the exposure I need.” Yes, Alex, your needs come first.
The whole idea of a guest blog is to demonstrate your expertise on a subject. Not including relevant experience helps me determine you are no expert on blogging.
What to do instead: Make a professional introduction.
Don’t simply tell me what you want to write; tell me why you are the person to write it.
Here’s part of a pitch I received and accepted. The writer didn’t know my name, but the rest of his email worked well enough. It told me who he is and what he does, and offered some short but specific insights to demonstrate his knowledge of the subject matter:
My name is Andy Hayes, a Portland, Oregon-based food and wine writer, also founder of the blog PlumDeluxe.com. I couldn’t help but notice you don’t have any Portland content! I’d like to suggest an interesting article to start: A Tour of Portland’s Urban Wineries.
Portland’s urban wine scene is a leader of it’s [sic] kind – you’ll find similar wine trails now in Seattle, LA, and elsewhere. But Portland has the biggest and most variety of urban wines, both in terms of the style of wines as well as the type of tasting room / venue, particularly notable given the size of the city.
Andy’s email contained a typo, and the awkward phrase “biggest and most variety,” but I overlooked it because that’s what editors are for. You can check out the guest post on Portland wineries here.
Because most pitches I receive are spammers from foreign countries, the errors are a dead giveaway. Some examples:
- “My name is Sadi Turaev and I am food lover.”
- “Myself gracy from India wanted to become active partner by submitting well researched content for your website menuism.com. I have good experience in constructing innovative content related to health. The aim is to develop unique and interesting content which can attract the visitors. Our goal is to provide high quality content that can naturally attract traffic and links. This way we both win!”
- “Hi admin,
Hope you keeping well, we need guest post on you blog please tell me how much you will charge for per post.
reply me soon.”
Those are easy enough to spot. But sometimes actual humans don’t take the time to consider that the pitch email is a writing sample, too… and more than likely, it’s the only sample that I’ll ever read.
Here’s one example. The email looked promising; it had a logo at the bottom and came from what looked to be a reputable domain (turns out it’s a scraper site, but I didn’t find that out until many months later while writing this article).
The biggest problem with the email is the writing is so bad. Sure, it’s grammatically correct; the subjects and verb tenses match up. But when an entire email comprises six sentences, and four of them end in an exclamation point, there’s no other way to say this: you’re a terrible writer.
What to do instead: Write well.
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but if you call yourself a writer, you have to know how to write. It goes beyond spelling and grammar. Good syntax, sentence structure, and clarity are paramount.
Here’s a recent guest post pitch that I accepted. The email itself speaks to the quality of writing I can expect from a future blog. It uses colorful language that conveys passion for and proficiency of the topic.
For a pitch to work, it has to be personalized. It’s okay to start from a template, as long as you verify that each field works for each email. For those of you with experience writing messages on dating websites, it’s a lot like that – you have a basic intro paragraph that you copy/paste, but you customize each outreach by including a name, something that caught your eye, and where you think the attraction may lie.
Similarly, when you pitch a guest post, talk about the site you’re pitching, why your article is a good fit, and why you’re the person to contribute it.
Include your relevant experience. It’s not enough to say you’re a blogger or a writer. What is your blog about? What inspired you to start it? Don’t assume I’ll seek these details out myself – I won’t.
Treat the pitch as its own writing sample. Choose your words carefully. Keep it concise. Proofread.
Pitching is a numbers game; you have to be patient and pitch many editors. But looking at each site’s submission guidelines and following them exactly will be a more efficient use of your time than writing one boilerplate email and using the “spray and pray” method. You’ll see more responses, and from better and more reputable sites.