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The Inside Scoop: 3 Secrets No One Told You About Pitching Guest Posts

Nadya Khoja

Formulating the perfect pitch takes a bit of getting used to.

The first email pitch I ever wrote was terrible, and looking back on it now it was too long, too preachy, and too pitchy.

As someone who receives a fair number of content pitches myself, it’s now easy to see what works and what doesn’t.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep your email short and direct.

If you’re looking to get started in the guest-blogging game, but you have little to no experience, and very few examples of past writing, you can quickly become discouraged.

Related Article: 6 Hacks to Turn Your Blog Into a Lead Generation Machine

But there is still hope for you. I’m going to share three of my secrets that I had to learn the hard way.

Fortunately for you, you will not need to endure the hardships I had to face when I first started guest blogging, because you've found this guide.

1. Aim High, but Not Too High

I don’t like telling people to aim low, because that goes against all of my beliefs, but that being said, it can be almost impossible to get featured on a publication like the Huffington Post, or Forbes if you have no proof of your previous experience.

You need to start off by building a portfolio that shows you can write well, and that lists the numerous sites you’ve contributed to.

Quantity and quality are important in this case.

To begin, get yourself access to a tool like Moz and do a keyword search that is relevant to the niche you want to write within. Look for sites between a 35 to 60 domain authority.

Usually these blogs are still doing well enough that they have a pretty big reader base, but they are still looking to test out different growth methods.

Build up a list of about 100 sites within this range that you would like to write for.

2. Do Your Research

The next step is to find out who the editor of the blog is, or who is the head of marketing.

These are usually people who understand the mutual benefits of guest blogging. Once you find out their names, enter them in your database and use a tool like Rapportive to track down their email addresses.

After you have done all the grunt work, start researching each person and make a little note in your spreadsheet about their previous writing.

Skim (or actually read) the content they’ve written (the content featured on their blogs). This will give you an idea of what they are looking for so you know what to pitch.

If the majority of the blog posts on the site are 700 to 900 words, you know that is what you should aim for in terms of content length.

If the language they use on their site is very conversational, don’t send them an article that could be it’s own academic dissertation.

Understand who you are reaching out to and be aware of what their preferences are.

3. Writing Your Pitch

Here’s an example of a bad pitch I received a while back. Keep in mind that I’m a bit of a hard ass when it comes to responding to pitches.

If I can tell someone used a merging tool to group me in with a bunch of other people, I ignore them. Again, that’s only if I can tell that they used a tool. A well crafted pitch can seem personal, even if it’s not just being sent to one person.

Example of a bad pitch sent to the author of this article

Now I’m not sure why he tried to send me an infographic about cheese. Although Venngage ranks for the term “infographic” it doesn’t mean we will publish any infographic. After all, the company is an infographic maker, not a curator.

Related Article: Up and Running: Quick Tips for Starting a Successful Blog From Day 1

Overall the pitch isn’t awful, it’s just obvious that the person didn’t do their research.

It’s important to know your audience. When you recommend a movie or a restaurant to a friend, you probably try to ensure that it’s something that will cater to their tastes, right?

If your friend hates horror movies, you aren’t going to recommend that they watch the "Human Centipede" or "Teeth" (the latter of which is actually kind of funny).

The same thing applies when pitching content to a blog. If the blog primarily publishes content about SEO, chances are you should pitch an article that falls within the realm of SEO tips and tactics.

Some Things to Keep in Mind With Your Email Pitch:

Keep your subject line vague enough to pique interest, but try to address the person by name right off the bat so that it still comes off as personal.

Addressing them with, “Hey there”, “Sir or Madam” or by the company name, “Hey Venngage” should all be avoided. It comes off as a lazy pitch that lacks much research and effort.

Your goal is to formulate such a great pitch that the editor or influencer you are reaching out to simply can’t say no.

  1. Greet them to show you are friendly, but keep it short and sweet.
  2. Introduce yourself at the beginning of your email, or simply sign off at the end with your name and company.
  3. Research the person you are outreaching to and make your pitch personal. Don’t just copy and paste a generic email template to everyone.
  4. These are experts after all and can definitely tell when you’re taking the easy way out.
  5. Your pitch or ask should only be a couple of sentences at the most. Don’t go on and on about your company’s philosophy, history or any of that extra information. Get to the point and get out.

Without much practice and experience in the realm of guest-blogging, it can be a scary process trying to get your foot in the door.

Related Article: Small Business Blogging: 5 Reasons It Works & Tips for Execution

As long as you remain focused and persistent, you will manage to build your portfolio and work your way up to the top.

Image Credit: NanoStockk / Getty Images
Nadya Khoja Member
Nadya Khoja is a Visual Content and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is part of the team at Venngage, an online infographic maker. Nadya has a B.A. with Specialized Honours in Devised Theatre and a Master's Degree in Digital Media with a focus on Audience Engagement and Immersive Experiences. When she has time, Nadya directs, produces and sound designs for experimental and interactive performances.