Pitching a Guest Post? 7 Ways to Stand Out in an Editor’s Inbox

Pitching a guest post: Stand Out in an Editor’s Inbox
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Editors receive hundreds of pitches each week. When so many of them sound exactly the same, they all start to blend together in the inbox. If you’re able to capture an editor’s attention, there’s a much greater chance you will actually get an assignment. That’s where creative pitching comes in.

Creative pitching — using unusual, imaginative ways to pitch a piece — helps your query stand out in a sea of bland guest post requests. A creative pitch can be funny, visual or collegial, depending on the target audience. By engaging editors instead of boring them to death or, worse, using gimmicks like ALL CAPS or over-the-top claims (“this will be the most-read post you’ve ever put up!”), you help ensure your pitch won’t get buried in the inbox.

While creative pitches won’t work for every site — don’t send them to serious outlets with very strict writer guidelines — they’re a great way to help you stand out. At the very least, you’ll have fun writing them! Here are seven ideas to spice up your next pitch.

1. Play with odd or funny subject lines

Pique the editor’s curiosity by using something truly surprising in your subject line. I have a friend who follows up to blogs she’d like to write for with subject lines like “Earth to [Blog Name], do you read me?” These follow-up emails almost always get a response!

It can be as outrageous as you want, within reason. Swearing or being crass may not win you any points — unless you’re pitching a blogger who’s known for that kind of voice, like Ash Ambirge at TMF Project.

Check the contributor guidelines first, since some blogs specify that pitches should have a certain subject line.

2. Tell a joke in your email

Jokes are a fun way to open a pitch because they can brighten an editor’s day and break up the monotony of sorting through their email. This approach is also a great way to show you’re a real person, not a robot or spammer.

I am not the funniest person in the world, but I enjoy a good dad joke or funny pun. You could try starting a the joke in the subject line and finishing it in the email body — at least it might get them to open the email, right?

3. Use an image in your pitch

By including an image, graph or chart you plan to use in your post, the editor can get a better feel for what you’ll write. This is especially helpful if you’re promoting an infographic or have the design skills to create nice visuals to accompany your piece.

When I recently promoted a time-sensitive infographic about distracted driving (April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month), I found that including an image drastically increased the number of responses I received.

4. Include a TL;DR summary

TL;DR is internet parlance for “too long; didn’t read.” Many editors lack the time to read through an entire pitch. Adding a TL;DR summary that makes your pitch in one line might elicit a smile from editors who tire of long pitches when really they just want a short summary — and earn you a response.

5. Offer a critique

This strategy doesn’t mean you should tell someone their blog sucks. Rather, point out something that you think is missing and offer a solution.

For example, maybe a blog you’d love to write for has outstanding information about running and racing, but there’s no information on cross-training. Mention that in your pitch and suggest a few cross-training posts you could write.

6. Explore your common ground

Do a  quick “background check” on the editor you’re pitching. Did you attend the same college? Have you written for any of the same blogs? Do you share an abiding passion for pug dogs? Open your pitch with a reference to your mutual interest and you’ll stand out from others in her inbox.

7. Reference a recent post on the blog

Bloggers hate getting pitches that are vague and show zero knowledge of their site. Demonstrate that you understand what they’re all about by referencing a recent story and why it worked. That establishes your bona fide interest in this specific site and helps you stand out from all the mass queries.

I like to show that I am not just throwing out a million identical pitches; I’ve actually read, liked and followed this particular blog. For extra credit, I try to comment regularly on blogs I’d like to write for, and I’ve found that editors are far more likely to reply when I’m already a familiar name on their site.

You might not win over every editor using these tactics, but you’ll make your pitch hard to ignore. Of course, once you’ve landed the assignment, writing a great guest post is up to you.

How have you used a creative pitch to get an editor’s attention?

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Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who frequently covers social media and PR. Catch up with her on Twitter or check out her blog.... .

Pongra | @adrienneerin

Adrienne Erin
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Comments

  1. Hi Adrienne,

    Your post couldn’t come at the right time. I am busy creating a guest blogging plan for next month. Though i tried pitching before I never had any of my queries accepted. But I do understand that sending winning queries is something that one has to learn, practice and get better at. I will make a copy of this post to remind myself some of the things you shared. Thanks.

    One question though, how much time do you spend preparing a query?

    • Hi Emelia! I’m so glad that this post was so well timed for you. :D

      I’ve had a lot of practice pitching editors and journalists (I’ve worked in PR!) but I still try to take my time when a pitch is really important to me, and especially if you’re struggling to get a response, I’d take your time. Referencing a recent post on the site (#7 above) can help you get in the editor’s good graces, especially if the post you refer to was written by the editor.

      But I’d say the most important thing to take your time on is the topic you are suggesting. Really examine their site to make sure that 1) that topic hasn’t already been covered in great detail and 2) you actually have something new to say about it if it has, and 3) the idea you’re pitching actually makes sense for their audience. When all things are said and done, the editor just wants content that will suit their audience, so if you can prove in advance that the post you plan to write will provide value for them, you’ve already got your foot in the door.

      • Haha I just realized I never said HOW LONG I take to prepare a pitch. It honestly varies a lot. Sometimes ideas jump out at me, and other times it’s really a struggle, because I know I can bring something good to them but I just need to figure out what. If you can get writing a pitch down to 10 minutes (or even less if you use templates in a smart way!) you’re probably good.

  2. Lots of wonderful tips! I’ve personally used #5 to pitch a magazine and was fortunate to get a contract.

    Next month I’m writing my first guest blog post for someone who approached me. I’m nervous, but hoping it will open the door to other guest posts.

    • Thanks for your comment, Elke, and that’s great that you were able to land a contract! Congratulations!!

      Don’t worry – if they invited you to guest post, they already respect you and your writing ability. Just be yourself and do the good job you know you can do! :)

  3. I’ve always found the subject line you use in your pitch email to be the most important — it’s got to be clear and unique, but not too weird to give off bad vibes.

    Editors get a lot of emails (and a lot of pitches), so making it clear out of the gate who you are, what you have to offer and why it matters to them is key.

    • Exactly. They’re going to do a sweep of their inbox and delete many emails without ever opening them. If you can catch their eye with a subject line they can’t resist clicking, or at the very least that stands out from newsletters and other junk, you’ve already won half the battle.

  4. Love your tips, never thought of using an image though. I will absolutely try that in the future. Great post, thank you!

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