I don’t like to humiliate people in public.
But I wish bloggers everywhere would start sharing screenshots like the one above to shame companies that spam us with generic, cookie-cutter pitches for guest blog posts. I didn’t have to read past the subject line to know that the sender has no idea who I am, what I do, how to get to my blog, or the type of content my readers value.
On a slow day, I find at least three of these in my email. Most of these pests are fishing for a link back to their websites. They usually aren’t experts in their field, just writers who will pump out content about any topic that comes their way. If you say yes, you’ll most likely see a shallow article that you’d be embarrassed to publish at your blog.
I’ve been burned by these generalists more than once and ended up doing major surgery on their guest posts. Or I’d send them a long list of questions so I can weave the answers into the first version of what they sent.
I finally wrote this detailed list of instructions on how to pitch a guest post for The Publicity Hound’s blog. The problem, however, is that the list assumes they’ve visited the blog and they know about the guidelines. In the example above, the company scraped the web address for my blog from an ancient database, never realizing that the blog has a new address.
Do’s and Don’ts for Pitching Guest Bloggers
- Address the blogger by first name. I see a lot of “Hi publicityhound” which is a dead giveaway they didn’t visit the blog.
- Know whether the blogger is a man or a woman. My friend BL Ochman, a prolific woman blogger at What’s Next Online who has less patience than I do for these pitching mistakes, has been addressed as “Dear Mr. Ochman” more than once. See BL’s guest blog post “Personal Details in Your Pitch is Your Ticket to Publicity.”
- In the first sentence, let bloggers know you know what niches they’re in. Example: “I’ve read your blog posts on how to prepare for media interviews and the importance of knowing your key message. That’s why you might be interested in…”
- Explain who is going to write the guest post and what makes that person qualified to do so. In the pitch above, the writer isn’t named. The company isn’t either. I did a quick search on LinkedIn and discovered it appears to be a company in the UK. The Linkedin profile photo shows a woman wearing sunglasses and what appears to be a bathing suit.
- Let the blogger know you are offering original content.
- If you pitch only one idea, the blogger has a choice between “yes” and “no.” Pitch three ideas and give the blogger a choice of “yeses.”
- In the salutation, don’t refer to morning, afternoon or evening. I assume the reason the writer said “Good Afternoon” is because it was 4 p.m. in the UK when she sent the email at 9 a.m. my time.
- Dispense with the fake niceties like “I hope you’re having a good day” or “I hope this finds you well.”
OK, I’m done ranting.
Sample Pitch and Template for a Guest Blog Post
Here’s a fictional pitch that I could send.
3 Ideas for a Guest Post at Be Your Own Publicist [Few people suggest more than one idea.]
I love your PR and marketing tips on Twitter [Already, I have her attention] and they helped me discover your Be Your Own Publicist blog. I have shared many of the videos on your YouTube playlist “Market Your Books on the Cheap” to the 4,000 readers of my weekly email tips. [I know what she writes about. And I not only know the name of a YouTube playlist, but I share the content. And I have a big audience.]
I’m a publicity expert and former newspaper editor who has written more than 2,000 blog posts at https://PublicityHound.com/blog. I know you publish guest posts and I hope you’ll consider these three ideas, all original content: [More credibility. Also, I’ve read her blog and know her guidelines.]
- How to increase the chances that media outlets will mention your website address when writing or broadcasting a story about you. My 9 tips will almost guarantee your website will be mentioned.
- How missing contact information at a website and on marketing materials affects a company’s profits. I’ll identify more than a dozen places where contact information is imperative and what it should include.
- Why “the inverted pyramid” style of writing press releases is dead and why storytelling is far more effective. It’s accompanied by a graphic I created that explains the inverted pyramid. [I’m offering an image to dress up my article so she doesn’t have to hunt for one.]
Please let me know if one or more of these ideas would be a good fit.
Joan Stewart [Email signature includes full contact information]
The Publicity Hound
Port Washington, WI 53074
Phone: 262-284-7451 (Central Time)
More Help for Authors
You have 19 opportunities to pitch journalists and broadcasters, freelancers, bloggers who you’d like to participate in a blog tour, an expert who you’d like to interview for your book, book reviewers, a book club, a corporate executive who can buy your books in bulk, a bookstore that can carry your book, a library that can buy your book, an expert who might give you a valuable book blurb, and a book club where you want to speak.
All the pitches must be different. Don’t guess!
I’ve done all the work for you and created “19 Quick & Easy Ways to Pitch Your Book.” It’s a bundle of 19 pitching templates that make it easy to recruit an army of people to help you sell books. The package includes a 116-page guidebook that walks you step-by-step through my 5-part formula on how to pitch and trims weeks off the chore of finding the right people who will welcome your pitch.