Why Your Guest Blog Pitch Went Straight to My Trash

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We get a fair number of guest post requests every week. Usually, marketers stumble upon our guest blog guidelines, where we expressly invite guest bloggers to publish their practical insights from doing online marketing (which includes, but is not necessarily limited to, SEO, content marketing and online PR practices). We invite guest posts because we believe in the value outside voices add to our own point-of-views, if the contributions are of real practical or strategic value. After all, online marketing is one of those disciplines where a healthy conversation about the do’s and don’ts helps everyone do a better job in the field.

Last week, I received two guest blog pitches on the same day which could not be more different, a very compelling one, and a terribly off-putting one, representing the high and low in terms of content outreach. I would like to share both emails with you and explain what worked and didn’t work for me as their recipient.
FeaturedImage_GuestBlogPitch

How NOT to Write a Guest Blog Pitch

This is the email I received from “Jessy Grace” (name changed, but very close to the original), who used the email address “jessygrace269@gmail.com” (email changed, but very close to the original).
 
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Subject line: Request for a Guest Post

Dear Blog Owner,

It is a great pleasure that I found your blog through one of the search engines and I was really impressed by the quality of your blog. I read through some of your articles and was really attracted by its content. It is at this juncture that I thought to write a guest post. And the heading of the post which I am planning to write is this “Sure Fire Way To The Top Of Search Engines”. So if you find my proposal to be good enough then get back to me. Looking forward to your reply

With regards
Jessy Grace
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Now, first of all, both the name and email address seem generic and indicate a fake identity. Using a free mail account does not help matters. How this apparently automated mail still managed to bypass my junk folder is a mystery to me. But even after taking that particular hurdle and cutting right to the chase in its short subject line (which is perfectly alright, I daresay), the mail lost me with its impersonal greeting.

“Dear Blog Owner” is just content outreach at its laziest. Apart from making the effort to research the name of the relevant contact person, the person who automated this mail, should have used an outreach tool like, for instance, linkbird to at least personalize it smartly (see screenshot below).

outreach tool

The bulk of Jessy Grace’s mail showcases the type of elaborately phrased English which immediately points to a non-native speaker. And the spare content is written in a key as unspecific as possible, but not specific enough to convince anybody. There is not even a mention of the blog website, the content marketer wants to do a guest post on. Suffice to say, I get no idea at all from the mail who the sender actually is. And to add insult to injury, the title of the proposed guest article sounds terribly redundant: “Sure Fire Way to The Top of Search Engines” sounds like a parody of a blog post. Hence, mere seconds after receiving this quite remarkable guest blog pitch specimen, I threw it straight into my trash folder. So remember:

 
5 things to avoid in a guest post pitch:

  • Never send an automated mail with no personalization!
  • Never use a free mail account or a generic name other than your own.
  • Never propose a redundant blog topic nobody would be interested in reading.
  • Never send requests with unspecific or false data.
  • Never send a message that reads like it is coming from a machine.

Having covered this off-putting example, let’s have a look at a successful and appealing blog pitch…
 

How to Write a GREAT Guest Blog Pitch

This is an email I received from Jeremy Reeves who used his own personalized email address (jeremy@jeremyreeves.com) to contact me. The mail reads:
 
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Subject line: Interested in becoming a single, then periodical writer

Hey Asokan,

I’m interested in doing a guest post for you guys.

I’d like to first do a single article, then if all goes well, turn it into a more regular contribution.

Here’s a 10 second summary of “me” to see if it might be a fit…

  • I’m a sales funnel specialist, but not the typical surface-level stuff you normally hear. I get much more into the actual strategy of building funnels.
  • I’ve written articles for CrazyEgg, KISSMetrics, Ontraport, VWO, Grasshopper, BidSketch, Firepole Marketing and a bunch more.
  • I’ve been interviewed on podcasts like Entrepreneur On Fire, Branding Summit and have my own podcast called “Sales Funnel Mastery”.

Let me know if you think your audience would benefit.

My focus would be a bit more on the “conversion” side of things, but I think your audience needs that part of the equation, rather than just
getting traffic.

If you think we might be a good fit, I’m happy to send over a few topics.

And of course if you don’t think it’s a fit, no biggie!

Just let me know either way if you don’t mind.

Keep up the great work and talk soon!

Jeremy Reeves
www.JeremyReeves.com
Guest Blog Pitch Email Signature
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Now this is how to do it. First, Jeremy clearly states his request in the subject line without it reading too generic. Then, he addresses me directly by first name and creates immediate familiarity by calling us “you guys”. Note that he does not try to get on our good side by gushin too much about our blog. That’s a valid, but not a necessary strategy. Instead, he puts the focus on his value as an expert for our blog.

His 10-second-summary offers us a fast and smooth overview to judge whether he might be, as he so eloquently puts it, a good fit for our blog. In a few sentences, Jeremy mentions his professional skills and his unique approach, cites several impressive references of other blogs he made contributions to, and even lists some podcasts where he was interviewed. I would be downright foolish to pass up an opportunity to have such a committed marketer on my blog.

Finally, he goes on to explain his specific value as an expert to my blog audience and offers me “a few topics” to choose from. He doesn’t come on too strong and doesn’t promise me too much. He just wanted to reach out and has no hard feelings if I were to decline. Just let him know, though, for his record. He caps it off beautifully with a compliment and an invitation to enter the conversation. And to put a friendly face to the request (a picture says more than thousand words, yada yada), he has a good-looking email signature with a picture and a helpful bit of info on his workflow.

So to take a page from Jeremy’s example, here are

 
5 things to focus on in a guest post pitch:

  • Be friendly, open and likeable.
  • Be complimentary, but don’t overdo it.
  • Cite your past references and your unique approach.
  • Be giving, be flexible, be modest.
  • Add a friendly face to your request.


When I asked Jeremy if he’d allow me to use his example for this post, he did not respond at first. After further probing via mail and LinkedIn he relented that he was a “bit behind on email 😉 I actually had like 8/10 people respond back saying yes to a guest blog post, so a bit in the weeds!” Now that’s what I call a conversion rate to beat!

So what are your thoughts on how a great guest blog pitch should look? Let me know in the comments!

Also check out how to do blogger outreach with linkbird here:

Blogger Outreach

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Asokan Nirmalarajah

Asokan Nirmalarajah

Dr. Asokan Nirmalarajah heads the Inbound Marketing team at linkbird, a software company for SEO management and content marketing. He has written numerous articles on SEO, linkbuilding, content marketing and inbound marketing. His passions are film, tv, literature and his wife.

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  • Thanks for mentioning my “pitch” as a good example! The big thing in doing this is figuring out what they want to hear, and making sure they hear it (as long as your skills live up to the hype). Make it easy for people and it’s hard to say no!

    In case anyone is interested, there will be a guest post here from me soon 🙂

  • No biggie, it was one of the best guest post pitches I received, so it was earned. That’s a good outreach strategy right there: saying the things the decision makers are most likely to respond to. Looking forward to your guest post! 😉

  • Hi Asokan,
    This really a great post for person like me who are just fresher. I have never done guest blogging before I only have wrote for my company’s site or some of my friend’s site.

    I was always confuse and little bit hesitate about guest blogging because I did not know much about it.

    I am honestly saying that your post and previous conversion from our mail did clear a lots of doubt from my mind.

    I am hoping very soon I will write a guest post for your site all I am waiting for a perfect topic. 🙂

    Thanks,
    Umesh Singh

  • Thanks, Umesh! Practice makes mastery! 😉

  • Faizan Tariq

    Excellent write-up Dr. Asokan! Bookmarking this into my personal list of the best link-building practice guides.

    Personalized emails always work, and the way Jeremy Reeves has composed is email is surely a bright example of how it’s done.

    Cheers,
    Faizan.

  • Thanks, @disqus_FiBsSarhMq:disqus! @Reeveso:disqus sure did a good job. It’s all a matter of getting to the point and putting your references in the proper light to be successful in guest post pitching! 😉 Incidentally, looking forward to your next contribution on our blog! 😉

  • Faizan Tariq

    That’s coming very soon 🙂

  • Funny that I have the same thought/strategy in high school whenever I join interschool writing competitions: to write what the judges want to read… and it works. Everybody needs something and it’s just a matter of you providing it. Looking forward to reading your guest post, Jeremy! Really great pitch, congrats.

    Thanks for creating this article, Dr. Asokan. I’m inspired!

  • Happy you could get something out of it, @Mariel! 🙂 And that it reminded you of your high school years! 😉 I’d be happy to receive your guest blog pitch some day: press@linkbird.com!

  • Thank you, Dr. Asokan. I’ll make sure it is a good one. 🙂

  • Paweł Nowak

    Very good post @anirmalarajah:disqus. Illustration through good/bad examples, short and sweet.

  • Thanks @pawe_nowak:disqus! 🙂