Getting your business, product, service or expert voice in a blog has just as much, and sometimes more, cache than getting featured in traditional news or trade media. So how do you earn that coveted virtual ink?
Whether you’re responding to a query or contacting a blogger cold, these key points can make or break your pitch:
Read the Blog!
This is so important, I’m going to say it again. Read the blog! It’s OK if you’re not familiar with the blog, which often happens if you’re responding to a query. However, before you send off an email in response to a guest blog post opportunity, for example, take the time to read the blog and learn about the blogger before pitching them.
Make it Easy
Be gracious, be humble and most of all be helpful. This is a credo I follow whether I’m pitching an assignment desk editor or a blogger. It’s professional and it gets results. Yes, media is a channel and a tool to get your message out into the world, but be sure to treat the people behind the tool with respect. In fact, if you think they are here to help you, practice thinking the reverse. You are here to help them. If you’re helpful and low-maintenance, you’ll be rewarded 10 fold. Be a diva and kiss future opportunities goodbye.
Here are three ways to be helpful:
- Offer additional sources — If you work with contractors or vendors that relate to your pitch, include them too. Sure, you end up sharing the spotlight with someone else but you help round out a blog post (or news story) plus your colleagues will likely return the favor.
- Provide photos or graphics — A word of caution: Avoid sending large image or graphic files willy-nilly. Send an email with a description first and request the best way to deliver what you have. If they are large files, you may need to post to an FTP site or send them on a CD/DVD rather than bogging down someone’s email inbox.
- Write your own author’s box — If you’re doing a guest post (or a by-lined article for traditional print media), write you own short bio. The author’s box appears at the end (sometimes the beginning) of your post. Write it yourself to save the blogger’s time and to control your unique selling position.
If a blogger or editor wants 300 words, don’t send them 400. A few words more probably isn’t a big deal but don’t push your luck. Be respectful of length limits and deadlines. If you see or discuss specifics like these, repeat them back in your correspondence to assure the blogger or editor that you understand, and will follow, their parameters.
Offer Valuable Content
It’s not enough that you, your business or your expertise is awesome. You have to package it in a way that helps a blogger’s audience. This goes back to reading the blog, because that will help you identify the challenges unique to the blog’s audience. How does what you do help them?
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
I recently responded to a request in Blogger LinkUp for guest posts on freelance writing. Here’s the initial query:
Blog or Website URL: http://freelancewritingsource.com
Need posts on freelance writing (tips, writing site reviews or anything general)
I need at least 300 words. Two external links are allowed that preferably point to websites in related niches. No duplicate content.
Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with this freelance writing blog. I thought this could be a good marketing opportunity, as well as an opportunity to add a sample to my portfolio. However, I had to read the blog first to confirm its credibility, confirm I had something valuable to offer and identify exactly what that offering would be.
Here’s my response, followed by an explanation of my numbered notes:
I saw your query on Blogger LinkUp for freelance writing posts (1). I have a post idea that I think would fit well in your Writing Resources category and may be especially helpful for new freelance writers who want to get their website up quickly and affordably (2). Something along the lines of: “DIY Website on a Dime”. The post would concisely outline hosting, domain and WordPress resources that can help your readers keep costs down and get online in a week or less, even if they’re not technically savvy (3). I’ve been a writer for 15 years and I’m a new freelancer who was fortunate enough to discover these three resources before I launched my business earlier this year (4). I’ll double check my figures, but I’m pretty sure I spent less than $200 to launch my own website. Business ownership is accessible to anyone thanks to the Internet. Isn’t it amazing? If you like this idea, I can write a 300-word post by next Friday, September 23(5). Just let me know!
- If you’re responding to a query, say where you saw the query
- Mention a specific blog category if possible and how you can help the blog’s readers
- Pitch a hook or headline and a brief summary of the post; you can refine this later, just don’t deviate from it drastically
- Include a brief overview of why you’re qualified to guest post, be interviewed, provide a quote, etc.
- Say clearly what you will deliver and repeat back any specifics
Anna published DIY Website on a Dime and has invited me to contribute again in the future. Follow these tips and you may become a go-to source or frequent guest blogger.