Do your blog writing pitches stink?
There’s an easy way to tell…you’re not getting ANY responses from editors or marketing directors.
That ever happen to you?
When you send an editor a rotten pitch for a blog post, there’s a good chance your approach makes you sound like a brain-dead zombie.
And there’s protocol for that in the Editor’s Universal Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse:
Hit delete. Writer may be infected. Quarantine inbox immediately. Warning, freelancer appears to be devoid of creativity, brain dead, unable to communicate with words. Do not engage.
If your blog writing pitch is so bad it makes an editor sick or triggers their zombie-response training to avoid you at all costs, it’s going to be tough to make a living writing.
So what are the telltale signs of a brain-dead pitch for a blog post? These mistakes will sicken an editor faster than the smell of rotting flesh.
1. The rotten-link pitch
If you pitch an editor with nothing more than a proposal to get backlinks to your site, you’re pretty much dead.
It’s a spammy, link-stuffing tactic that puts you on the rotten list right away. Some bloggers even offer to pay for link-stuffing. Never do this.
Here’s an example:
No sane editor, marketing manager, or blog owner will bite on this kind of pitch.
Why? The most successful blogs are built on things like:
- Developing relationships with readers
- Publishing on a consistent schedule
- Delivering valuable content about a specific topic
It’s a lot of work to attract readers and build a reputation. And reputation is everything on the Internet. You’ll never get through with this kind of pitch.
Tip: Pitch a guest post idea
If you’ve got a legitimate product or service related to a blog you want to write for, pitch an idea for a guest post that provides a lot of value. You’ll probably even get a link in your bio. Here’s a example by Kindlepreneur founder Dave Chesson.
2. The bloody-grammar pitch
It’s not the end of the world if you write a blog pitch with a spelling error, punctuation problem, or grammatical mistake.
In fact, six-figure freelance writer Linda Formichelli scored assignments with a mistake or two in pitches over the years. She’s even challenged writers to intentionally send a pitch with a mistake, just to prove it’s not a deal breaker.
But IT IS a deal breaker if your mistakes keep mounting as the editor reads your pitch. One mistake, two mistakes…an editor can overlook that if you’ve written a great pitch.
But more than that, and its basically like cutting off your arms and legs while trying to run a marathon. You’re not going to win over an editor if your pitch is a bloody mess.
Here’s an example. There’s at least 10 mistakes in this pitch:
When you’re trying to get blog writing assignments, your pitch needs to check the basic boxes to show an editor you:
- Understand their audience
- Get their blog-writing style
- Have great ideas
- Have the chops to craft great content and turn in clean copy
- Bonus if you know how to optimize a blog post to drive traffic
If it’s riddled with mistakes, your pitch is as good as dead.
Tip: Proofread your pitch
3. The arms-flailing pitch
Blog editors are busy. And for many, reviewing pitches via e-mail is a drain on bandwidth from the day to day.
So if you show up in an editor’s inbox flailing your arms, desperate for blog writing assignments, guess what?
You’re probably headed to the digital underground where poorly written pitches are sent to rot.
Here’s an example of a desperate pitch:
I want to write for your blog. Hopefully, you can help me make my dreams come true. Can I pick your brain? Do you have any assignments?
FYI…desperate is never a good look.
If you’re a newbie freelance writer, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to an editor to pitch a blog post idea. Everybody starts somewhere.
But reaching out to an editor expecting to get special treatment, free training and coaching, or assignments, without any attempt to study the blog isn’t going to work.
Tip: Prove yourself with a solid pitch
If you’re just starting out, you can absolutely pitch an editor without a big portfolio or a lot of experience. But you will need to pitch like a pro. Here’s how it’s done.
4. The brain-dead pitch
Fun fact: Make a Living Writing has published more than 1,200 blog posts over the last 10-plus years. But for every blog post that made it on to the blog, dozens more didn’t make the cut. And we’re always adding to a pile of blog post ideas.
That’s going to be true for any established or legit blog. If you’ve got a good idea for a blog post, editors want to hear from you. It’s that simple. Great ideas get assignments.
If you show up without any ideas, it’s almost always a “no.” You’re indirectly telling the editor you’re not creative, you haven’t studied the blog, and you don’t really care about their audience.
It looks like this:
Tip: Be an idea machine to get blog writing assignments
Maybe your blog post idea ends up being too similar to a recent post, or one just like it is already on the calendar. Guess what? If you show up with great ideas, editors notice. You’re a lot more likely to get invited to pitch again or get put on the short list for the next assignment.
5. The gutless-guidelines pitch
Ever heard of Writer’s Market? It’s a massive resource with submission guidelines for thousands of magazines and book publishers. Most blogs have submission guidelines too.
Study the guidelines, and you’ll get info from the editors about things like:
- The types of topics they’re looking for and NOT looking for
- Estimated word count for blog posts and articles
- Requirements for sources and references
- Article formats (like list posts, how-tos, tech tips, and more)
Study the guidelines along with past blog posts on the site, and you should be well on your way to coming up with blog post ideas an editor will be interested in.
So what if you don’t take the time to study the guidelines or read past blog posts, and pitch some random idea? Your pitch becomes completely gutless in seconds.
Here’s a gutless pitch that doesn’t have anything to do with the business and craft of freelance writing:
Tip: Study submission guidelines BEFORE pitching blog post ideas
It’s really not that hard. Study the guidelines. Read past blog posts. Pay attention to posts that get a lot of comments. Find out what type of blog posts generate the most traffic for the site you want to pitch. Do this before you dash off a gutless idea to an editor.
Get more blog writing assignments
If you want to get more blog writing assignments, going about it like a zombie isn’t going to cut it. No editor wants to work with a brain-dead freelancer. Fortunately, blog writing is a skill you can learn to get clients, move up, and earn more.
Have a blog writing tip or question? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultra-marathon.