Can You Write a Better Guest-Post Pitch Than These #(&=*! Examples?

Would you like to see your writing published on the top blogs online? Today, I’ve got a tip on how to make that happen.

I’ve been on both sides of this fence. I’ve queried blogs and scored guest posts on Problogger, Copyblogger and others…and more recently, I’ve taken pitches from writers.

You see, a while back, I started paying $50 a post for guest posts. I posted my writers guidelines, which ask that guest posters pitch me a headline and outline for approval. Then I waited for the awesome posts to roll in.

I’m getting some great stuff. Being a paying market has definitely resulted in higher-quality guest posts, which was part of my intention. (The other part being just walking my talk about writers deserving to be paid.)

But there’s a catch.

I have to wade through a ton of email pitches that are just atrocious.

Today I thought I’d give you a peek in my email inbox to see some of the pitches I’ve gotten recently. Hoping these will help writers see what not to do.

I’m reproducing these without any corrections, word for word — just full names and company names omitted.

Hey there, I don’t know if your the right person for me to talk too but my name is Aubrey and I’m with (marketing firm). I’m contacting your site because I wanted to see if we can write a guest blog post for your websites blog. You can just email me back if this will work out for your website.

Hi,

My name is Becky and I would love the opportunity to write on makealivingwriting.com . I love to blog and prefer to do so on a variety of sites vs a single location. I just like the idea of reaching a wider range of readers through guest posting.

Please let me know if you ever entertain this type of thing. If you do, be sure to let me know your guidelines. I would love to hear more.

Thanks so much,
Becky

On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM, Carol Tice wrote:

Becky,

I am a paying market. $50 a post. Read my guidelines and then follow them –

http://www.makealivingwriting.com/why-i-pay-writers

I do not accept free guest posts and prewritten posts submitted will not be read.

– Carol

(And here’s what happens when I take the time to respond to this:)

Of course I would pay you $50. I love writing, thought your site was perfect and I just wanted to double check with you before I started putting the article together. I was thinking about making the guest post to be on the topic of writing of course, will give you a more specific outline once I get some free time on my hands. 350-800 words, include a do follow link along with 2 contextual links. Of course the links would be related to the overall guest post. Would it be alright with you if I sent a draft of the guest post to you for review?

Please let me know if you are interested or not.

Thanks so much, Becky

I really enjoy reading your blog, and I was wondering if you accept guest posts?
I can write on a number of subjects such as financial planning, budgets, proper use of credit cards, or anything you suggest.
I’ll write specifically to your readers, and I’ll link to your other posts too.

Here are some examples of my work:

I’d love to chat with you when you’re available!

Thanks, Teresa


I was just going through few sites and blogs yesterday and came across your site http://www.makealivingwriting.com too. I really liked the way you have presented your site. I was reading some of your content and really found them interesting and informative. So I was just wondering if I can also do something for your site.

I shall further explain how I would like to contribute to your site. Actually I am a freelance content writer and I love writing articles as a hobby on topics related to Internet and Technology. What if I provide you with a unique article as a Guest Post absolutely FREE!! I am sure I will be able to contribute an article that will be informative for your readers and would certainly make a good read. Further, you can be assured that the article will be related to your website and will be appreciated by your readers.

It would be great if you can add a small BIO of mine at the end of the article with my related site’s links. I guarantee you that the article will be 100% copyscape protected and will be of around 500 words.

Please let me know if this sounds good to you, so that we can start working on your article. I shall be waiting for your response.

With Warm Regards, Sara

As you can see, I couldn’t make up stuff this sad.

It’s incredible how many people don’t bother to locate my guidelines, or to put together a pitch with a headline and outline.

There really is an art to writing a query. I recommend taking the time to learn it — can really pay off big.

Are you guest posting? Leave a comment and a link to where you’re appearing.

P.S. - Want to learn more about how to win at guest posts and skyrocket your traffic? Check out this free training video with Copyblogger’s Jon Morrow — it’s only up until Friday:

  1. Samar says:

    Oh wow. And here I thought my email pitch was lacking when I sent you a guest post request.

    I’d suggest not responding to these emails at all. If the person doesn’t have the time to go through your guest posting guidelines or even read your reply properly, you certainly don’t have it either!

    I’m so riled up on your behalf right now.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, I’ve thought about simply deleting…but on the off chance that it is a real one of my readers, I always want to respond. Most never respond back once they realize the onus is on them to actually READ the blog and develop a headline and outline for a pitch.

      I set up my guidelines this way on purpose. Part of the reason I wanted to become a paying market was to help my readers learn how to pitch editors, since many haven’t had that experience. I didn’t realize how tough that would be for many!

      • Lisa says:

        Wow, Carol. That is discouraging indeed. Why is it that everyone thinks she can write? The latest beef I have is with publishers seeking writers who really are doctors, engineers, etc. I scratch my head. Most of them will write with an academic style. I knew a wonderful professor with a 50-year tenure who couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag. I guess he had dementia or something but it was amazing that he still had a job.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Well, the good news is I do get some real pitches with a headline and outline, on writing topics, from good writers. You do get tired of these b.s. pitches, though.

  2. Those are some really bad pitches!

    I get a lot of those too, and what frustrates me the most is when the “guest blogger” starts to emphasize the fact that she will be giving me a “FREE” guest post!

    The ones I love the most are those wanting to contribute a “technology-related” post to my blog “after doing a little research”.

    Obviously, the fellow asking for a dofollow link wouldn’t bother to ask if only she took some time to read your blog!

    Guest blogging works fine, but most people are doing it wrong!
    Bamidele Onibalusi recently posted..How to Leverage Other People’s Writings to Make Money

  3. I tried my best to connect with these pitches, but I couldn’t. It’s like these folks don’t even understand what guest posting is all about. The first thing is to network and build relationship with a blogger.

    And that begins with knowing the guidelines and abiding to it. But Carol, if you can provide a working template for aspiring guest bloggers, they would appreciate it. Thank you for always providing good stuffs, I look forward to knowing your audience more, before sending a post.
    Michael Chibuzor recently posted..Six Essential Steps To Make Money Online Writing For Clients

    • Carol Tice says:

      Oh, that is a great idea, Michael! I’m going to save the next few successful ones I get and do a followup on how to pitch.

      In the meanwhile, everyone should be sure to go grab the query template for guest posters that Danny Iny links to in the free webinar we did. That’ll be a good starting point. Think that video is going down in about 36 hours…so check it out if you’re interested: http://www.WriteLikeFreddy.com/site/webinar-carol-tice/

    • JC Torpey says:

      Michael Chibuzor said:

      “I tried my best to connect with these pitches, but I couldn’t. It’s like these folks don’t even understand what guest posting is all about. The first thing is to network and build relationship with a blogger.”

      You are so right, Michael, and there is a good reason they seem not to understand – they don’t understand. In my experience, the queries worded like the ones above are coming from people who could care less about the actual writing and haven’t read the blog. From the pitches I’ve received worded like these, especially those ending with, “Warn Regards,” I’ve noticed they are usually not written by a native English speaker (or writer).

      All these “writers” want is the traffic that may result from the post, and the value of the dofollow link. Chances are they’ve downloaded an e-book pushed by an “IM guru” that promised them that they can make a gazillion dollars by sending hundreds of similar queries a week. Unfortunately, guest blogging has become the gold mine of link building ever since the Penguin update.

      • JC Torpey says:

        I want to clarify my comment, since after re-reading it, I sound like I’m bashing non-English speakers – I’m not. I know lots of non-native English speakers who write in perfect English.

        What I meant to say was that I’ve received emails written ending with, “Warn Regards,” just like the examples posted, and in my experience, they are written by non-English speakers who are using translation programs to write them. I’ve also seen emails like this come from fill in the blank templates that someone promised would make the writer a ton of money by using them.

  4. You know, Carol— these ‘pitches’ sound more like SPAM.

    Just plain, sterile messages, like the wordy spam we have the Akismet plugin catch for us every day.

    I feel for you. :( Or better, I pity these people.

    Your guidelines are clear and concise, so honestly I can’t see where’s these people’s problem. Finding the guidelines page took less than a minute to me.

    ~ Luana S.

    P.S. I was thinking up a few ideas for your blog, but when I visited your page again you were fully booked already. ;) WOW! Call that bad timing, ahah!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well…I sort of always AM booked. If you have a good idea I recommend just pitching me. 4

      The good news is I’m so crazed I’ll probably be making more use of guest posts in the future, so hopefully I can use more of them and get through my backlog a bit more quickly.

  5. Wow…wait: Someone offered to pay you $50 to post on your blog?

    Carol, you’ve stumbled upon something big, perhaps even the next million-dollar idea: reverse guest posting.

    It’s exactly the same as a reverse mortgage. Only different.

    That is pretty awesome. I can’t imagine the *facepalm* that followed many of these prime examples! And I have to thank you for sharing, because the end result for me: inspiration. I can DEFINITELY do better than that…

    :)
    Mikalee Byerman recently posted..Kids Say — and, It Turns Out, BELIEVE — the Damnedest Things (and yes, that’s how you spell ‘damnedest.’ Trust me. I looked it up. I see that questioning look. Stop it.)

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah…pay-to-play guest posting!

      As a former rock ‘n’ roller, I about fell over when I got that response. Hey, I’m trying to keep you all OUT of that cesspool…but apparently you can’t help everybody.

      • Mikalee, Carol–

        Can you believe I was once paid to publish someone’s guest posts? That was $7 per post, if I’m not mistaken. I was like “Huh?! Is that for real?”. I made $21 from 3 of those posts (nicely written, I have to say). xD Incredible!

        There was a business behind the content I was asked to publish, though. I can’t believe *individual* bloggers would pay to get their posts published!

        ~ Luana S.

        • Carol Tice says:

          I can certainly believe it. The only thing you did wrong was not charging a lot more!

          Ghosting for others to place something in a free slot should pay $1 a word — have a friend who does $1200 articles for CEOs and places them in business magazines. It’s about building their reputation.

  6. John Soares says:

    Carol, I get about ten of these a week spread over my three blogs. Almost all of them are just looking to boost the SEO of some site that has nothing to do with writing.

    I rarely even respond, unless it’s a truly well-written pitch and it’s obvious they know my name and what my blog is about. Then it’s just a quick “I don’t accept guest posts at this time.”
    John Soares recently posted..Claiming Copyright Protection for Your E-Book

  7. Cathie Ericson says:

    I am laughing because I was like…oh, man, hope mine isn’t in there. LOL; I knew it wasn’t. I am a regular reader and had an on-target idea that just needs refining.

    Carol took the time to provide excellent feedback on my guest post pitch, which I am still working on…obviously, I had read the guidelines so my pitch had a headline (several actually), and an outline, and now needs to be honed.

    The good news in reading pitches like this is something Carol has mentioned on a blog here before…..most of our “competition” has no idea what they are doing; doesn’t apply the bare minimum of research, thought and care; and is not really “competition” at all! I used to hire entry level AEs at the firm where I worked and couldn’t believe some of the cover letters/resumes I would receive.

    So while that makes our queries and job responses stand out, it also means that our recipient might well be weary by the time they get to ours, having had to wade through a great deal of junk!

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s true. Most writers are so worried about all the “competition” out there…hoping this post gives a look at how wide-open it really is if you have a great idea and know how to write a headline.

  8. My eyes almost popped out when I read the pitches. Maybe the best approach is not to teach people to write better pitches, but learn to read guidelines and also improve their ability to write in general. I am a professional grant writer so my profession is dependent interpreting guidelines into wow programs. Learning to translate guidelines into a cogent concept is a challenge for people (myself included). It is a cognitive skill that is learned best through practice, but bad habits get reinforced as well. Therefore, people who secure guest posts are the ones who get more work. The ones who get rejected are set up for more rejection unless they learn something new.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Maybe I will need to do a how-to post I can link to in the guidelines and show some examples of successful pitches. I love that idea…putting it in my to-do list!

  9. Dale Eldon says:

    Number one rule before submitting to anyone, always obey the guidelines! This is something any writer wanting to become a success needs to remember. Not only should a writer double check the guidelines, but they should read it over and over to make sure they understand everything. The person in charge of the sub call didn’t have to have the call to begin with. Their call, their rules. Every author I know who has made it big (some very big) have done so by following the guidelines.
    Dale Eldon recently posted..Gary Brandner, Author of THE HOWLING

  10. I especially love the ones who promise to write on topics relevant to your site and of interest to your readers… as soon as you let them know what those topics would be. Because it’s such a mystery and a challenge to figure out.

  11. *cringes*

    Wow…just wow. These people didn’t bother to read the guidelines and a few of them mentioned subjects that they could write on…but those subjects weren’t appropriate for your website. Not one person actually pitched an idea! If a person can’t follow directions, then he/she will definitely not get the job.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah. This is what so many writers don’t understand. Ideas are the coin of the realm. Ideas are your ticket to the big time. Where are your IDEAS? Why are you not reading widely, creating string files and compiling scads of ideas all day long?

      That’s totally been the secret of my success. You can’t blog 3-4x a week for a client without being able to show you can generate tons of ideas. Yet people moan about how they can’t get the good-paying gigs.

  12. Lynn Hess says:

    Carol, I can’t even begin to tell you how heartening this post was for me. I’m trying to break into freelance writing and I go back and forth between being very confident and having moments of self-doubt about everything — my writing ability, my ability to market myself and appeal to people…just everything. But reading these pitches made me feel SO much more on top of it all! If this type of pitch is even somewhat representative of what I’m competing against, I’m in better shape than I thought :)

    The only downside to reading it was that the grammar in those pitches nearly made me faint!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but I think this is my first comment. I think you and your blog are fabulous and I’m very appreciative of all of the information you share!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Welcome to the blog, Lynn!

      You have to admire the courage of people who will submit illiterate pitches with grammar and spelling errors to a blog that’s about writing.

      Of course, I do get many that are a cut above this, but only so-so in the idea or execution. But if you’re interested, I have added a section on my guest post page with links to several of my recent successful posts. It’s all about studying your market.

      http://www.makealivingwriting.com/why-i-pay-writers/

  13. Josh Monen says:

    And I bet most of these writers will be quick to blame the “economy” as the reason why they can’t make a living as a writer…

    “Nobody’s hiring writers these days…the economy is REALLY bad!”

    Yes. That dang economy will get you every time Mr. Spam Writer…maybe you should sue the economy.

    Oh man, don’t get me started Carol! ;)
    Josh Monen recently posted..Copywriting Legend Eugene Schwartz Was Paid $54,000 for 4hrs of Work…Learn Why

  14. Guy says:

    Hi, Carol –

    Thank you for sharing these horrific and unprofessional examples. Your willingness to share your readers with guest bloggers is wonderful, but it is a true shame that you have to wade through so many mutts to find the purebred writers who will add value for your readers.

    Best wishes for continued success!

    Guy
    Guy recently posted..How You Can Really Listen to God

  15. joolsstone says:

    Hmm, ok, but aren’t these just inept SEO consultants trying to link build for free? Sure sounds like it to me. I’m generalising here of course.
    joolsstone recently posted..Pinteresting Train Pics

  16. SuzanneG says:

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for another strong article. It seems the inability to read and follow guidelines grows with each year.

    You may have found a way to fund your payments to guest bloggers. Your submission form could have two choices. “I want to pay you to post this.” OR “I would like you to pay me for this post.” Who knows? You might break even.

    I’ve just listened to the Danny Iny webinar you hosted, and have signed you for the Write Like Freddy course. How do I send you proof of purchase so I may receive the bonus you offered (“How to Write Headlines So Irresistible…”).

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Suzanne — congrats on snagging Danny’s course at the earlybird price! Just email me your receipt and I’ll send you the bonus webinar from Jon Morrow. It’s superb.

      But back to your question…I’m NEVER having writers pay me to post on here! Just goes against all my values. I came out of the world of pay-to-play in rock and roll, and I’d never do that to anyone. That’s just not how it should work. I started this blog to help writers learn how to earn from their writing…so that’s never going to be right for me.

  17. Matt E. says:

    On my aviation blog, I get emails like this all the time. My favorite was a request to run a post for some book that wasn’t even remotely related to my blog. “Your readers will love it,” they told me. I consider this just slightly less annoying than the spam comments about my ranking on Google.

    I always trash these things and don’t even waste my time responding, but I wondered what might happen if I did respond. I must say, after reading this post, I no longer wonder. Thank you for saving me the time. Although, now that I think about it, I might be interested in a person who is willing to pay me $50 to run a post (<—not serious).
    Matt E. recently posted..Glass Panels Don’t Increase Safety

  18. Marla Mayes says:

    OMG $50 for a blog post, WoW!!!

    Too funny – I’m sure I can follow the directions, so I’ll be back to give it go as soon as I actually develop some blogging skills worth guest posting about – LoL!)

    But thanks for the What-Not-to-Do grins.
    Marla Mayes recently posted..1st Wednesday: Insecure Writers Support Group Monthly Blog Hop

  19. Susan Silver says:

    Oy, I have made this mistake. It was really embarrassing and I am glad that blogger didn’t throw up my indiscretion. I am happy to say that I learned my lesson and guest posting has gone much smoother since.

    I just guest posted over at Here Women Talk for their nonfiction contest. It is my first time writing about family, instead of Social Media/Blogging.

  20. owenhyde says:

    hi,
    This is owen hyde, and I’m very interested in guest posting here at your sites/ blogs.
    I discovered you by your site. Checking out your site this morning, I was really impressed and wanted to get involved. i have a unique content about ” Fashion store” and i want to post as a guest post. so i send you my few ideas and you might be enjoyed.
    my title is ” How do i use the Fashion at Maurices “. this is the destination where they sell fashion traditional wear for everybody at lowest prices with high discounts. they also provide some printable and transferable coupons like Discount Coupons , Promo/Promotional Coupons with their codes, and you can find their code sources by their other sites and newspapers. they also on facebook and twitter so anybody can follow them.
    Please mail me so I can send you my guest post . let me know what you think i hope all is well.
    Thanks and regards,
    Owen Hyde.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Like I said, folks…I can’t make this stuff up.

      Um…Owen? I’m afraid this blog isn’t about fashion, in case you didn’t notice. It’s about writing for a living.

      If you’ve got a pitch about that, you can use that email envelope icon over on the right there to send me your headline and outline.

  21. Jenni says:

    Hi,

    Are you currently accepting guest posts on website ?

    My name is Jenni Roi and I am a freelance writer to help them reach new audiences online by developing content partnerships with good quality blogs and websites like yours.

    I would like to stress that the article itself will not be self-promotional – I strive to ensure each piece I write is unique, written exclusively for your website and offers value to your audience.

    If you are happy for me to do so, then I will include a reference to my client in the byline so that your readers can find out more if they wish.

    Does this sound like something you would be interested in?

    I look forwards to hearing from you.

    All the best,
    Jenni Roi

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Jenni –

      I’m not sure you read this blog post. Maybe you want to do that — especially click that link up top there, to my guidelines?

      Then you’ll know how to pitch me a guest post.

      Hint: I’m not accepting guest-post pitches in the comments of my blog posts.

      Also, you’ll probably want to send a pitch that doesn’t contain several grammar and spelling errors, like you’ve got in your comment above, if you want to get an assignment from me.

  22. Carol Tice says:

    I just had to come back to this thread to add the text of a pitch I got today — this is reproduced letter-for-letter (name omitted):

    My name is ____ and I’m novice freelance writer and proofreader.I ‘m really impressed with your writing and your bog layout.
    There I ‘ve found so many useful tips for freelancers.I noticed that you accept guest posts and I have seeveral ideas to write about:
    *How to reduce writers illiteracy via the internet
    *Online-education ,tool’s and tip’s for writers
    If you like these ideas, please, send me your requirements.
    Anyway,I want to say a big thank’s to your blog, cause your articles inspires me for self-development.Keep writing.

    Signed, _____

  23. Chuck Douros says:

    Carol, that one is so bad. Holy Carp. LOL.

  24. Michael says:

    Hi Carol,
    As a long time “occasional” reader, I have never commented because for the most part, most of the advice is bang on. My thinking is why beat a dead horse however I think something has to be mentioned about the query process in general.

    The examples shown in this post appear flat to me. The writers may be exceptional at writing but these examples lack personality. I read a blog post a few months back that offered advice on transferring style and tone of the piece into the query / pitch. The list post offered great tips but this tip called The Elvis Factor really got me thinking about the query process.

    After writing a good article or post, do writers somehow lose their minds when it comes to writing pitches? It’s like the creativity, personality and voice stops suddenly. While there are certain things to consider when writing a query which are important, does the creativity have to stop once the query process begins? I’m inclined to think it doesn’t.

    That’s where The Elvis Factor comes in. From the headline to the first sentence of the piece all the way down to the asking for the assignment portion, both pieces of writing should be unique.

    Isn’t that why writers become writers; to be creative and to have a voice?

    I think there tends to be so much cookie cutter information given about the query process, most new and experienced writers try to capture it in a formula which doesn’t technically exist. The query then appears flat.

    Maybe that is the reason the rejection pile is greater than the acceptance pile.

    Anyway, just my little observation about queries in general.

    Michael

    • Carol Tice says:

      Michael, we think robots generate many of these type of pitches I show in this post. Which is why they’re so wooden.

      I do always get writers asking me for the template they can follow to write a great query. But as you point out, that just doesn’t work. Each query needs to be written with a particular market in mind, based on your research of that market and your idea for them.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  25. Maria Jefferies says:

    Hello There,

    My name is Maria and I’m a professional blogger.

    I have over 5 years of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of topics about Fashion. I just came across your blog and would like to contribute some relevant, useful topics about Fashion on your blog at no cost.

    At this point in my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for your writing and I will write for free as long as you are okay with me adding a small author bio section next to each blog post about myself.

    Please let me know if you’re interested and if you’d like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.

    Thanks a bunch,

    Maria

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m just leaving this up here so my readers can respond and react to it. I get this basic, clueless pitch nearly every day, writers, so you can see why you really need to read your target blog carefully, and follow the guidelines.

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