5 tips to guarantee your guest blogging pitch doesn’t suck

Want to guest blog for a great site? Here are 5 tips for your successI see a lot of guest blogging pitches. Most of them are simply ignored because most of them are really, really bad – sometimes they’re so bad they make my brain hurt.

But every once in a while, someone manages to make their pitch stand out from the cesspool that guest blogging has seemingly become. What’s their secret? They get “it”.

What is “it”, and how do you get “it” if you don’t already have “it”? Let’s find out by looking at some actual examples of emails I’ve received from people who want to write for my website.

Are You the Keymaster?

At some point, you’ve probably read a story about how editors are the “gatekeepers.” Well, I’m one of those gatekeepers.

Considering that Search Engine Watch (SEW) is the longest running site dedicated to covering the latest developments in all thing search, naturally it attracts attention from people in the search marketing industry – and sometimes from even people beyond SEM. During a week, we may see anywhere from 25 to over 100 requests from people who want to write for SEW.

Like many sites, SEW has a pretty straightforward page for people who are interested in writing for SEW, fittingly called “Write for SEW”. If you’re so inclined, you can click on that link and go read those simple rules, which aren’t there just for SEO purposes. These rules are meant to explain to potential contributors exactly what we’re looking for so we can avoid wasting each other’s time.

Still, so many people seemingly go to that page and fill out the form fields and click submit without bothering to read the guidelines, or even put much thought into their pitch.

Rather than talk in generalities, though, let’s look at a few examples of guest pitches that suck, so you can know what to avoid and increase your odds of guest blogging or becoming a regular contributor for a website you really want to write for.

1. Don’t Tell Me Where You Write, Show Me

Actual email: “I would like to see if you have an opening for a writer! As a full service digital agency, I write for [REDACTED] on SEO, UX, web development, kiosks, media production, mobile, and social.”

Why This Sucks: Too generic and not nearly enough information here to stand out from any of the 100+ pitches I’ll see this week, all from people with the same/similar skillsets (and many of them also have a “full service digital agency”).

Tip 1: Don’t tell me where you write, show meLink me to awesome posts you’ve written or at least to a bio page on another site. Trust me, gatekeepers at authoritative sites generally won’t make the time to hunt you down if you obviously haven’t spent more than two minutes on this form.

Additional (real) examples of things not to do:

“Please see my sample posts and let me know if you need anything else.” (No sample posts or links included.)
” ” (No, that’s not an error. More than one person has left the message where he/she should have included additional details, such as maybe a potential topic or links to previously published posts – or anything really!)

2. Your Pitch Isn’t About You

Actual email (excerpt): “[REDACTED] would love to expand his expertise by join SEW’s writing team. He is interesting in contributing articles that focus around SEO, social media analysis, content marketing and their relationship with new business.”

Why This Sucks: I’m instantly put off by someone who thinks that writing for my website will grow HIS expertise. (Remember: I don’t know you yet, so don’t expect me to fall in love and jump into bed with you (metaphorically speaking, of course) instantly!)

SEW wants to feature contributors who share their expertise with the greater community. SEW’s mission is to help marketers (our core audience) do their jobs better. If you need to grow your expertise by writing for us, you aren’t writing for SEW. The same will be true with other quality publications, regardless of the niche/vertical.

Tip 2: Your pitch should focus on the site you’re targeting: Show me how the post you want to write for SEW will help our readers, not you. Show me you’ve done some kind of research and we aren’t just a notch in your guest blogging bedpost.

Additional (real) examples of things not to say as your “pitch”:

“I produce a ton of good content. I’d love to become a contributor for SEW.” (You and 1,000 other people.)

“All I would ask is to be able to place 1-2 relevant do-follow links back to my client’s reputation management website.” (Asking for links is just asking to be ignored.)

“Kindly allow me to write here.” (Kindly, no.)

“I’m willing to become a regular contributor here at SearchEngineWatch.com. I have been following this platforms since many years and it would be really a good achievement for me to be a part of the platform I have been admiring.” (You may be willing, but I’m certainly not!)

“I am primarily looking to get my word out and write about something i have much passion in.” (Your word, eh?)

“I have been a reader of SEW for several years now, and would like to be a contributor on a bi-monthly basis. Thank you for your consideration. Looking forward to your response!” (But that first guy would “love” to be a contributor…you only would “like” to? ;))

“It has always been a goal of mine to write on a regular basis for a quality source of information and SEW is, in my eyes, perfect for me.” (So, are you expecting me to start singing “Call Me Maybe”? Because I just met you, and this is crazy.)

3. Grammar and Spelling Count, Big Time!

Let’s stick with the same email excerpt from the previous section for a minute.

Another Reason This Sucks: Just as typos or grammatical errors will get your resume thrown in the trash, so too will a pitch with just wording as “by join SEW’s writing team” and “He is interesting in contributing articles” get your email deleted. If you want to write for a site, you better be able to, you know, show that you are able to write.

Tip 3: If you really want to write for a website, check your spelling and grammar before you send that email or submit that form. First impressions count. If you can’t get your pitch right, I assume everything about your content will be suspect, and you definitely aren’t worth the risk.

Additional (real) examples of bad grammar that kill you dead:

“Please let me know if you can allow me writing a guest post on your blog and I will send you my article for review.” (There’s a difference between can and won’t.)

“All of the content I provide is unique and written to a high quality ” (This is a huge warning sign that your content will actually be the opposite.)

“I writes passionaly about social media in reliance on marketing tactics, technique and on my marketing education.” (Passionaly? More like painfully.)

” I’m be interested in writing for searchenginewatch…” (Work on mastering writing first, OK?)

” I would like to contribute as a write to your prestigious portal” (Funny, I want to keep it prestigious.)

4. Your Contacts Have Names

Actual email (excerpt): “Hello Admin…”

Why this Sucks: My name is not Admin.

Tip 4: Do a bit of research: Find the “About Us”, “Staff”, or “Contact Us” page on the website or blog/publication you want to write for. There, you’ll likely discover an actual name of a staff member, editor, or webmaster. Show the blog owner or editor a signal that you know who they are. Make it personal.

Additional (real) examples of things not to say as your “pitch”:

“Hi {NAME}” (Wow. Just wow.)

“Dear Sir/ma’am” (My facial hair doesn’t give away my gender?)

“I’ve been reading your blog on searchenginewatch.com since long.” (Don’t use a domain name…use the publication, website, or blog name. Not to mention don’t use terms such as “since long”.)

“I was just checking out your blog…” (Obvious way to show you don’t know the website.)

5. What Are You Going to Write About?

Some people simply link to their writing samples. While linking to published content is helpful, by itself it is useless.

Tip 5: Clearly explain what you want to write about: If you’re targeting a search marketing publication, you should have some expertise in SEO, PPC, social, analytics, local, mobile, or video. What topic do you want to write about?

Even better, pitch a headline and blurb (teaser). This will be another indicator that you’ve given some good thought to your pitch.

Even better, do a site: search and make sure the post you’re pitching hasn’t already been written about. Identifying a hole in your target site’s coverage, or perhaps offering to update/rewrite an existing article, are two quick ways to potentially get your foot in the door.

You Can’t Game a Gatekeeper

Think of gatekeepers as if they’re Google. Google’s algorithm determines a website’s ranking based on more than 200 ranking factors and signals. So when you pitch a blog post, you can’t just focus on any one of the above areas, or even other “intangibles”, and expect success.

Spammy guest blog pitches will be wiped out of inboxes in the same way Google removes spam from its index. Sending editors all the right signals won’t guarantee success for any number of reasons, but you will definitely improve the odds of getting a reply to that email you’re waiting for.

Bottom line: Don’t be selfish. Be human. Be polite. Be smart. Be specific.

 

About the AuthorDanny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin is the Editor of  Search Engine Watch, the longest running search industry publication dedicated to covering the latest search and social news and trends, as well as providing how-to guides and actionable advice for marketers and advertisers of all skill levels. You can find him on Twitter.

photo thanks to Rachael Towne (stockerre)

Learn how to write content that both Google and readers love! Check into becoming certified in SEO copywriting best practices today.

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10 replies
  1. Jonathan Allen
    Jonathan Allen says:

    Great article!

    Everyone take note, editors are humans too who work very hard. Flattery really can get you everywhere – letting people know you are a fan and why – acknowledging what great work a journalistm writer or editor is doing to bring you all this juicy content candy also makes the entire editorial team interested in working with you. Content development is hard!

    So, as Danny says, a bit of research into what the sites about and what the editor is trying to do will always get you noticed. If you sound like you’re talking to a person and not a dead mailbox, then you’ll probably make an impact.

    Reply
  2. Chris Mayhew
    Chris Mayhew says:

    Great advice Danny. Getting people to accept your guest blogging advances is very difficult because of the negative stigma attached to SEO and the fact that everyone is now scared and being punished for spam content.

    These tips should help anyone get their point across though and hopefully website owners will start to realise there are plenty of people out there who are doing this the right way and providing great content in the process.

    Reply
  3. Leah
    Leah says:

    This is excellent advice and it applies to so many aspects of SEO/Social. I have a client who refuses to grammar check his Facebook posts and I can’t convince him to use a content calendar, so lots of my time is spent editing poor grammar, punctuation, & spelling just so he doesn’t look ridiculous to his customers.

    My favourite guest post request came for my Plumber client last year.

    [Actual post] “[client] is always the one I call when I need something fixed on my roof and I’d love to write for your site. please let me know if you’d be interesting.” ((eyebrow lift))

    Wasn’t sure where to start with that one, but we all got a good laugh out of it.

    Thanks for the tips – I may take your advice and see if I can’t get through the gates one day. ;)

    Reply
  4. Danny Goodwin
    Danny Goodwin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Leah! That’s pretty brutal. Any business needs to convey professionalism, and indeed bad spelling/grammar is no doubt costing that client business.

    Haha, that is a great request. Lot of plumbing on the roof to be fixed? ;)

    Good luck busting through the gates!

    Reply
  5. Keith Sims
    Keith Sims says:

    Interesting post, Danny.

    As a somewhat older writer, I find interesting the number of younger writers who think that putting a few cogent, coherent sentences together is due no more effort than rolling out of bed in the morning. I blame an education system that has so greatly under served an entire generation of learners. The term self-taught has never been more aptly applied to post-boomers and beyond. It is by long study and practice that effortless prose makes its way to the page. Likewise, it is only when one realizes the beauty, expressiveness, and fluidity of the English language that it’s full power can be brought forth.

    Reply
  6. John Nicholson
    John Nicholson says:

    This is a great explanation but I really expected to see an example of a perfect pitch, or how to say, the ones that do get your attention and have the “it”, at the end of your article. But all in all, you’ve explained pretty well why crappy content is obvious even from one email. Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  7. Danny Goodwin
    Danny Goodwin says:

    Hi John, thanks for the comment. Funny enough, I almost added that part but decided against it last second due to how long the post already was. Below is one example of a pitch that grabbed my attention.

    While it does bend/break a couple rules from above, his pitch showed he had looked through our guidelines, and the topic he pitched was quite specific to our site/audience and detailed. (And he’s still writing for us today.)

    —————

    Hello,

    I read through your guidelines and would be interested in contributing as a website design & SEO expert on a regular basis. I understand that you do not prefer "one-off" guest blogs, however, I think you might like my latest article that I’d hope to publish on SEW.

    It’s titled "Webmaster Tip: Using Footer Links to Diversify Your Backlink Profile".

    The article details an ingenious strategy I have been using to avoid a Penguin algorithm penalty and gain a little extra exposure in the SERPs with a few modifications to the footer links on all of the websites we have built.

    Here is a link to the blog on Google docs (take a peek): (link was here)

    Reply

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