Being a successful writer is not just about how well you can turn a phrase–it’s also about being a good salesperson. In order to get your writing and research published on other websites, you need to master the art of the pitch.
You might send a pitch to a reporter asking them to cover a study you have published on your website. Or perhaps you contact the editor of a popular blog offering to write a guest post for them. But no matter whom you’re reaching out to, the rules for writing a good pitch are basically the same. In addition to the tips listed below, check out this guide on choosing a professional email address and make sure that your emails don’t get deleted right away!
Ensure what you’re offering directly relates to what the reporter or blogger covers
This should be common sense. Don’t ask a reporter who specializes in urban poverty to cover your study on how CEOs succeed. Writing that pitch is a complete waste of your time. The news item you want a reporter to cover should fall within their specialty.
Pitching a guest post? The same rule applies. For example, I created a site called SleepZoo where I focus on sleep tips, purchasing mattresses online, etc. So if I’m reaching out for places to guest post about how the mattress industry is being redefined, I need to think through who has an audience that would want to hear that message. It probably wouldn’t be a blog covering the tech industry, for example.
Don’t send BCCs
BCCed emails are impersonal and look like spam. If the recipient sees that you have BCCed them, your email is probably going right in the trash. Even if you send very similar pitches (don’t make them exactly the same—more on that next) to multiple people, take them time to send individual emails.
Personalize the pitch to show you follow the person’s work
Sending individual emails is not enough. You should also include at least one detail in your pitch to demonstrate you actually read this person’s work. Refer to one of their news stories or blog posts. Even better, give them a complement.
Try to make the person think you are just as much a fan as you are a self-promoter. At the same time you are selling your own work, you should also communicate that you admire or respect the other person’s work. This increases the likelihood that you will form a connection.
Keep your subject lines short
Your recipient will decide whether to open your email based on your subject line, so it should get straight to the point. Six to ten words is a good subject length. It’s enough to communicate the gist of your email, but not so long that words will get cut off, especially if a recipient is reading the email on a smartphone.
Immediately explain why you’re emailing
If the recipient has to read past the first paragraph to figure out why you’re emailing, they won’t finish the email. Just as you would when writing an article, get straight to the point. Structure your email so the important information comes first.
Ask them for something so they have a reason to respond
Obviously, you want people to respond because they are interested in your offer, but they might be on the fence, so give them another reason to respond in order to keep the conversation going. Ask them to send you their guidelines for guest posts, if they have any. Or ask them to tell you what new stories they are currently working on.
I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t get a response the first time I sent a pitch, but did get a response when I emailed a second time. Oftentimes people miss your first email, or they intend to respond but get distracted by a more urgent task. Following up is an easy way to increase the number of responses you get. The follow-up does not have to be long—just enough to draw the person’s attention back to your original message.
A good pitch is often the difference between landing a guest appearance on a blog with a big following and missing that opportunity. If you want to expand your online presence and build your brand, focus on improving your pitches.