The very first thing to remember about sending your first email is that this step is crucial: it will actually determine if you ever hear back and if ever have the chance to get your post published.
Therefore, a guest posting pitch requires special attention.
1. Bypass the Spam Filters
Before you even get down to writing that email suggesting your guest post idea, bear in mind that the spam filter is your first enemy. If your pitch is caught in it, chances are it will never be noticed.
So let’s imagine that the opportunity is killer and that the blog owner would potentially love your offer – would you like to screw your chance completely by letting it never happen? I bet you wouldn’t.
Of course, spam filters are often weird and it is too hard to say why some messages get caught – but let’s at least take care of the obvious things:
- Avoid sending your pitch using a free email service (@ gmail is no exception). Create an email address at your own domain and use it to send all your (guest blogging) pitches: it both looks professional and increases your chances to get past the spam filter.
- Avoid linking to0 much from your email: links are red flags. Of course, linking to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn profiles as well as your blog might increase your following, get you closer connected to the author and let him know more about you (which is never a bad thing) – but remember if you link to everything you think is important, the blog owner might never even see your links (which make them absolutely useless). Keep your social media links for the second contact. For now just focus on your point.
- Avoid using CAPS LOCK or bold to emphasize your point. Avoid too much formatting overall.
- Always start with the name: even if the owner’s name is not clearly publicized on the site, spend a couple of minutes Googling, linking through Twitter and Facebook profile to find who you are emailing to.
- Avoid red-flag words even if you can’t do without them. A quick example here: I own a domain sexysocialmedia.com, and it’s a perfectly legit website. However, I avoid mentioning it in the first-time contact email for the fear of being spam-filtered.
- Avoid exclamation marks, especially in the email subject.
2. Make a Good First Impression
Remember, with most busy bloggers you have just a few seconds to make them read further. I, for one, receive 300 email messages a day (including automated notices like Google Alerts, Twitter notifications and Facebook friend requests, etc). This makes me scan emails rather than actually read them.
With that in mind, try to capture their attention within one second to make the blogger read further:
- Again, personalize (see #6 above);
- Make your email short and concise, yet don’t overdo: remember which details are worth adding.
- Make your email easy to scan: your sentences and paragraphs should be short and clear.
3. Make the Blogger Want to Reply
Yes, I have already mentioned that the email should be short, but there are a few details that must be included:
- Some personal details you managed to learn about the blogger (where you first heard about him; why you decided to email, etc). It can be a soft compliment, but avoid sounding too sugary.
- Your suggested post idea (and maybe why you think it would fit the target blog);
- A sample of your previous guest post (one link to a related post should be enough);
- A question or a call to action o conclude.
Quick note: Be sure to also go through the target blog guest posting guidelines (if there are any) and include any details they require.
Here’s a quick sample:
Congratulations on your blog anniversary. I learned that you have recently started accepting guest posts, and I decided to suggest my guest post idea.
I would like to write a guest post on the differences between Facebook “Like” button and “Share” button. It would be a great follow-up to your recent article on how to share web pages on Facebook.
Included is a post I did for Social Media Examiner a couple of weeks ago:
Please let me know what you think!
Note: I also often attach the actual guest post (if I have it already). But be sure to read through the guest post guidelines before you actually do: some bloggers prefer to see the idea first.
Over to You
I am sure you’ve been emailing back and forth for ages and have your own tricks! Let’s share ideas in the comments!