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?