If you don’t have time for the whole post, don’t let me keep you. You probably already do this. It’s one of the most important steps of querying: Being personal and specific in your customized pitch – as in sending a well-targeted, well-tailored query to the right person and not bulk-querying haphazardly.
By now, this tip should be saying like vampires have fangs. Common knowledge. It’s not. It is, for some reason, blissfully ignored by a number of bloggers and writers. How do I know it? From the impossibly generic guest post pitches I’ve been receiving since I launched my blogs.
I don’t generally accept guest posts for my sites. I don’t advertise for guest posts. Because I can’t pay writers at the moment, and I don’t think it’s fair to ask, especially when I distinctly prefer to write for sites that pay.
That said, if a writer was completely OK with this fact, didn’t need the money and had something he couldn’t wait to share with my audience, something that was right up this blog’s alley, I wouldn’t necessarily turn him down.
But even though there are no pages or posts here (or any other of my blogs) that ask for guest posts, I frequently get pitched by e-mail and I can’t believe there are so many bloggers/writers out there who don’t seem to have read any tip on pitching someone, ever. Apparently, they have read all the titleson the benefits of guest posting, however.
I’m saying “titles” because they haven’t gone through the entirety of any solid article on guest posting (or querying) either. Because almost all of them underscore similar things. Some of the shared tips are: Address to the right person, make sure you read the publication and show this in your pitch.
I tend to get several generic pitches a month for the different blogs that I run. Some pitchers haven’t even tried: as in they don’t even have my blog’s name, my name or even the blog’s URL in the pitch. I still read them anyway because I want to give them the benefit of a bad subject line. I also like providing myself with material for future posts.
Some spice up the generic up , and add my blog’s URL in the subject line. Not the worst move but it screams “bulk” and that’s never good. The glaringly important issue here: My blog URLS and my blogs aren’t the same. It might not be the smartest SEO move on my part but trust me, there was some strategy involved in it. Anyway, the pitcher was too lazy to write (or even possibly check out) the blog’s name. Ouch. Seriously.
One blogger, the most recent pitch that prompted this post, has taken bulk-pitching to a whole new level. The subject line doesn’t mention anything about me or my blogs. The greeting doesn’t include my name. The post doesn’t have the name of the blog the writer wants to write for. I know which one through an educated guess because she has at least mentioned the topic.
She has, however, proposed a relevant topic with a suitable title, using a decent language.
I haven’t returned the e-mail. I don’t think that will hurt the blogger’s feelings much since she probably has sent the email to a couple hundred other bloggers as well. Besides, I don’t want to mess up with the statistics. When the pitch is generic, you will most likely get no response.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind. Editors, some of them are also writers, are busy people. Many are busy to the point they can’t even respond to the to-the-point, personalized and timely pitches if it’s not what they need at the moment.
It’s kind of funny. You’d think that it’d be common sense to check out the name of the person you are querying. And my name isn’t a secret. It’s even in the e-mail I use for writing-related correspondence. It’s also on the About section. Even on blogs where I have occasionally accepted guest posts (from writers who pitched well and for blogs I unfortunately can’t always produce content regularly for), my name is on the 98% of the posts.
I’m not going to say that all publications make it easy. They don’t. They post almost encrypted guidelines or don’t post at all. Editors’ names might need some minor detective work like calling the publication or asking other writers. Some publications ask you to contact for questions but often don’t return with the information you requested. But when it’s right out there, and you don’t use it, it’s on you.
Grammar and spelling are important. A creative subject line can work, so is crafting a concise message. But it all starts with at least trying to hide the fact that it’s a bulk offering. There might be several publications that cover similar topics with similar angles, but it’s up to the writer to make each pitch sound personal.
The upside of these e-mails, in addition to inspiring post ideas (and/or case studies), they help you get in the shoes of the editor/publisher, and show you why you have to work diligently on your pitches. Not that we didn’t know before, but boy is their job difficult…:)