Oh yes, guest posting. If you want to rank high in search results, guest posting on other websites is a necessary evil. Some people don’t like to do it, but guest posting can help you establish your authority in your field and help build high quality backlinks. The problem? How to make a perfect guest post pitch.
I have written guest posts for numerous websites throughout my career. I have also received a countless number of pitches from people wanting to post on my blog. I have used my experience with both to come up with surefire ways to get rejected while pitching a guest blog post.
Wait, what? Yup, I said it!
If you want to get rejected by blogs and websites when pitching them guest post ideas, you will want to make sure to do any or all of the following. These are surefire ways to make sure to have your pitch email wind up deleted or in the spam folder of the webmaster you are contacting.
1. Not Personalizing Your Pitch
The first thing you need to do when you engage in blogger outreach is to address the editor personally. Don’t just address them by name, show them you understand something about them.
I receive so many pitches that begin with “Dear Sir or Ma’am” which tells me they know absolutely nothing about me or my blog. I don’t even read beyond that introduction as it’s not worth my time.
One of the best guest post pitches I received started like this:
Hello from Texas. Hope you’re not getting too much snow up there in Indiana.”
That introduction catches my attention. I could tell the person sending the email actually took the time to find out more about me (or at least read the “about me” page of my website).
Above anything else you do, a template introduction that does not address the webmaster personally is a great way to get rejected or ignored when requesting to guest post.
2. Pitching a Site That Doesn’t Accept Guest Posts
Unfortunately for the pitch I showed above, I do not accept guest posts on my website. How can you tell? Simply look at my blog. You will not see anything posted by someone other than myself. You will also not find a “contributor guidelines” or “submit guest post” link. This is the first sign that I don’t accept guest posts.
When you pitch a site that does not accept guest posts, don’t plan on getting a response. Very rarely will a site that does NOT accept guest posts decide to make you their first one.
Just like finding blogs that do NOT accept guest posts, it is easy to find others that do. Again, simply look at the blog and see if multiple people have posted content. Look for guest blogger guidelines or anything that would lead you to believe they would review a guest post pitch. There are also sites that compile lists of websites that accept guest posts.
3. Pitching to a Dormant Website
In this case, don’t plan on your guest post pitch getting rejected, plan on it getting ignored. If the blog you are pitching to is not active, the chances of being accepted are slim to none.
The easiest way to tell if a website is dormant is to look at the blog and find the date of the last post. You can also look at the homepage and see the copyright (most webmasters update the copyright year). These are all indications that the blog is no longer active.
4. Not Understanding the Blog You Are Pitching
Here goes the most damning sentence you can ever write while pitching a guest blog post.
“I have read your blog and …”
The “and” is usually followed with something like “I would love to submit a guest post about XYZ.” The only problem, the “XYZ” they mention has NOTHING to do with the blog niche. As my site is called “Legalmorning,” I receive pitches all day long that go like this:
“I love your blog on Legalmorning and was wondering if I could submit a guest post on how to find a criminal lawyer in San Diego.”
Guest what? My site has nothing to do with law unless you are looking to market your legal firm. It is obvious the person who “read [my] blog” did no such thing. These emails also go right in the trash bin and blocked so I don’t have to deal with their spam in the future.
Here is one of the best examples which comes from a blog post on TINT. The blog is specific to marketing and technology but that didn’t stop one spammer who failed to read the niche. After receiving a guest post that started with the classic “I read your blog,” the editor asked for some specific topic ideas. Here is what she received:
If you are going to write a pitch that doesn’t get rejected, you need to make it personal to the website. Here is a great example of how I would send a guest post pitch to myself to guest post on Legalmorning:
“I read your blog and particularly love your article on why people need to use LSI keywords in their content writing. I also think it’s important to vary anchor text. I see you currently don’t have content that talks about anchor text and was wondering if you would like me to write a guest post that talks about this topic.”
This blogger outreach pitch would tell me that the person read my blog, knows the content I have and don’t have, and is pitching me a specific idea and not just a category. Which brings me to my next way to get your guest post pitch rejected.
5. Pitching a Category and Not a Specific Idea
The last thing a webmaster wants to see from someone pitching a guest blog post is someone saying they will write anything “related to SEO” or that they can submit articles “about content writing.” You and everyone else are writing for these categories listed on the blog. Why else would you be pitching them?
So what makes you different from the other 50 emails received pitching the same category? Pitch an actual idea.
Instead of saying you can write anything related to SEO, give the webmaster some choice topics. For example:
Topic 1 – “How to Vary Anchor Text for Link Diversity”
Topic 2 – “Why Google Hates Your Backlink Profile”
Topic 3 – “5 SEO Methods to Stop Using Immediately”
When you pitch specific ideas, the person receiving your guest post pitch will know you took the time to look at the blog and review the different stories already published. Hopefully you are pitching some ideas that have not already been covered on the blog as this is a good way to get accepted, instead of rejected.
Giving them three choices also allows them to counter-pitch. I have pitched guest blog posts to websites with three topic ideas, only to have them turn around and give me a 4th or a variation of the first three.
Guess what? I’m not offended as my pitch was not technically rejected and I still get the opportunity to submit a guest post.
6. Using a Generic Subject Line in Your Email
This should go at the top of this list, because using a generic subject line is a great way to get rejected or even sent to the trash bin without being opened. If you are familiar with email marketing, you know that subject lines are the most important thing. Without a catchy subject line, people will not even open your email.
Why do you think it would be different for blogger outreach?
I am the worst with subject lines but thankfully I have a copy editor. Even if you don’t get help from someone, at least be a little more specific than “guest post inquiry” or “request to submit content.”
One idea that I see people using quite frequently is using the potential article title as the subject line to their pitch. Personally, I now use something funny or a specific fact about the person I am writing to (e.g., where they live, where they graduated from).
7. Sending a Guest Post Pitch Contrary to Contributor Guidelines
This is one that has to drive editors crazy. When you send a pitch but do not conform to the guest post pitch guidelines, you are surely going to be rejected. It shows that you don’t pay attention to detail and that you failed to take the time to see what the site is about (two things previously covered in this article).
Had to throw this email in. It was received exactly one week after this article originally published on my blog. Unfortunately for Andy, he did all the mistakes that I talk about in this article. Sorry, Andy. Maybe you should have read this first.
If the guidelines say to send them three topic ideas, then do so. Sending an email void of topic ideas will surely get you ignored. If it says use the site contact form, then use the site contact form. Some sites want you to pitch ideas while others want you to submit complete articles. Pay attention to what they want. It’s their house so play by their rules.
Final Thought on Guest Post Pitch Rejection
The idea is obviously NOT to fail. If you are doing any of the things listed in this article, you are decreasing your chances of success. As someone who pitches (regular accepted) guest post ideas, I can swear by the methods I write about. I can also tell you from the experience of receiving blogger outreach pitches which ones go directly in the trash.
What are your experiences (either as a writer or editor) with requesting to guest post? Have any horrible pitches you want to share? How about some tips that may not be included in this article?