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The Absolute Worst Ways to Pitch a Guest Post
Posted on December 26th 2013
Like many, I jumped on the guest blogging bandwagon and for good reason — increased traffic, more subscribers, more authority in the digital marketing niche, and so on.
After wrapping my head around the guest posting process, I decided to start taking guest post submissions for My Social Game Plan.
While the submissions haven’t all been bad — in fact, I’ve had some amazing guest bloggers and built great relationships — I almost always wake up in the morning to some horrible guest post pitches in my email.
I know I’m not alone in this.
If you’re attempting to get guest posting spots on big name blogs, you must avoid the following mistakes in your initial pitch.
Sending Automated Pitches
This is by far the most egregious mistake.
If you can’t take five or ten minutes to write an email that outlines your guest posting idea, why would I take time to reply to your email?
Automated pitches are beyond easy to spot. The language always comes across as a general “salesy” template and there’s rarely a detailed description of the guest posting idea.
If you want your guest posts accepted, sit down and write a real email. I don’t like replying to bots and neither does anybody else.
Lack of Personalization
This one baffles me, though it mostly arises from the first mistake of automating guest post pitches.
My face and name are plastered everywhere you look on my blog. In the sidebar, on the About page, at the end of posts, and in the footer.
If you’re submitting a guest post to a blog that is clearly operated by one or a few people, address your pitch email to someone specific.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve opened an email and the first line is, “Hello Webmaster.”
Don’t get me wrong, being called master isn’t so terrible, but those email pitches do get deleted immediately.
I know they’re not genuine pitches, because the person couldn’t be bothered to spend an entire 14.3 seconds looking around the site to recognize, “Hey, this Jonathan Payne guy might be someone to talk to, because, you know, he’s the Founder of the blog.”
Not Reading Guest Posting Submission Guidelines
Most blogs that accept guest posts on a regular basis will have a page outlining requirements for guest contributor pitches.
READ THIS PAGE!
The whole purpose of that page is to weed out people who aren’t willing to put in much effort.
Again, if you can’t take five or ten minutes to skim those guidelines, why would I take time to reply to your pitch?
Not Referencing Any Past Writing or Expertise
I’m not incredibly difficult to please when it comes to guest posts and I fully realize that everyone has to start somewhere just the same as I did.
However, if you’re pitching a guest post, adding a couple references to your past writing puts you miles ahead of most guest post pitches.
Providing some indication of your expertise and credibility goes a long way toward getting your post accepted.
Making Rude Requests and Lacking Etiquette
Last week I received this guest post pitch.
Aside from the obvious referencing of a different website and the poor grammar, they mention, “The best part is I won’t be charging you for content.”
Wut? Well, duh!
Why would I be charged for placing my reputation on the line and providing you a platform to reach my audience?
The next line requests “just one (back)link within the article.”
This is a person I’ve never had any contact with and, in their first interaction, they’re pretending they’re doing me a favor by not charging me and they’re demanding things from me? That’s terrible etiquette in any scenario, online or offline.
On a side note, I address how I handle backlinks in guest posts on my guest posting guidelines page:
If you have content or a post on your own blog that ties in very well with the guest post, I have no problem with you including that link in the body of the post.
If it’s obvious you’re guest posting primarily for the purpose of dropping in an unrelated link, that won’t fly here. All links are published at my discretion; if I deem it bad for SEO for either party, I’ll remove the link.
Clearly some people are too cool to read.
Hey, maybe I’m too cool to reply to your email!
What Does a Good Pitch Look Like?
You may have seen Ben Taylor’s recent guest post here about social media disasters.
Ben did everything right when he reached out to me for a guest post.
Some of the things Ben did right:
- He personalized the email. That’s a huge factor right off the bat.
- He clearly didn’t use a template.
- He outlined his post idea.
- He referenced his past writing. While there are no direct links, I was able to connect the dots using a couple Google searches based on the information he provided.
- Although he mentioned the desire for a backlink, he did it in a passive way that wasn’t demanding or rude.
That’s a pitch email I’m happy to respond to.
This pitch was great for a number of reasons:
- Again, it’s personalized to me.
- Jasmine explained how she found me and was also kind enough to feature one of my posts on the Inbound Marketing Agents blog prior to sending the pitch.
- She provided two clear post concepts.
- It’s brief and straight to the point.
Key Takeaways If You Want Guest Posts Accepted
What these two guest post pitches and most other pitches I accept have in common should be clear: they’re authentic.
There are obvious signs they took time to research my blog and then wrote a genuine email addressed to me.
The tone of their pitches implied they wanted to work together for the benefit of both parties. They exhibited qualities of great marketing and understood who they were trying to “sell” to.
On the flip side, the first pitch I mentioned was very self-serving — they demanded a backlink, they were doing me a favor by not charging me, and so on. This pitch exhibited the qualities of terrible marketing and that of a stereotypical used car salesman. “Buy, buy, buy! I need my commission!”
As with just about everything related to social media and digital marketing, the key to success is to be authentic and human.
If you wouldn’t behave a certain way in public, why would you behave that way online?
After all, we’re just a bunch of people here communicating with each other. The medium is largely irrelevant.
Just because we’re communicating with keyboards doesn’t mean we have license to act like robots.