How to successfully cold pitch top bloggers in your industry
In 6 months last year, I was published on 15 different websites, including Cosmo, MSN, The Good Men Project, and Business Insider.
The Cosmo post has almost 5,000 Facebook shares.
At the time, I had very few connections and very little experience. It’s not like The New York Times was funding a column for me. I didn’t know the ins and outs of what makes a viral post — and I still don’t.
However, I’ve mastered the form of the email pitch that got me those early posts and continues to get me more guest posts to this day.
I’m going to break down my email script piece by piece so you can use it to get more posts on influential sites in your industry.
While you will tailor each email to the recipient, this general structure works to:
- prove that you are credible
- show that you know them
- establish connections that you share
And that all adds up to getting guest posts, even on sites that have never heard of you.
Here is my script:
1. Get their attention
While the subject line is super important, it’s best to keep it simple. What tends to work well is the person’s name followed by a warm and easy compliment with light context. Something like:
- NAME, I love your work! 🙂
- NAME, I love your work + potential collaboration
- NAME, connecting via x, y, z
For the last one, mention any common connections you have. Maybe you reached out to them on Twitter, you have a mutual friend, or you recently saw them speak at a conference.
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2. Make them feel good
We all love compliments. So start your email with one.
This will prove that you’re not cold-emailing them because you saw that they have 10,000 Instagram followers and you want that traffic. Instead, you’re genuinely familiar with their work and you like it.
Tell them so: Mention how long you’ve been reading their site or your favorite podcast episode of theirs.
Then explain in another sentence or two what you specifically like about them. Perhaps it’s their down-to-earth, yet whip-smart tone, or their compelling how-to videos.
For example, this was my opening in a pitch to Andrew Ferebee of the Knowledge for Men podcast:
Then I went into more detail, mentioning how their work is similar to mine:
Being genuine pays off.
3. Make connections
Now highlight who and what you have in common.
You might reference a podcast episode they did with the entrepreneur you had on your own show last month. Or perhaps you mention how you’re guest blogging for a successful client of theirs.
In the email to Andrew (below), I talked more about Zan:
If you don’t have any strong shared connections, you can highlight a friend of theirs whose work you admire, even if you don’t know them personally. It still shows you have things in common, which makes them more receptive to your pitch.
4. Introduce yourself
Now that you’ve secured their attention, you can seamlessly shift the spotlight to you.
Start by sharing your name, your site, and what your business is. Then say why and how your work relates to theirs.
For example, I help men attract women by finding their “personal brand” and becoming genuinely confident rather than using cheap tricks. So when I contact someone whose work aligns with mine, I point out our common perspective.
In the email to Andrew, I mentioned this when I complimented his podcast with Zan Perrion:
5. Show them your best work
Next tell them who you’ve written for, hyperlinking to your best posts. This will prove your expertise.
Think about everything you’ve written so far: What stands out to you? What are you most proud of?
You want to pick three posts that have:
- a super-compelling title and introduction
- clear and helpful points that show your personality
- an overall tone that speaks to your audience in their language
It doesn’t matter where these articles are published. It could be your site, something from your site that you shared on LinkedIn or Medium, or guest posts.
Here is how I let Andrew know where my business has been featured:
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6. Pitch 3 article ideas
At this point, you’ve complimented them. You’ve mentioned your connections. You’ve proved that you know them and that it would make sense to work together. And you’ve shown them that you are credible.
Now that they’re interested in you, it’s the perfect time to pitch.
Set up your pitches with something like, “After getting to know your work, I feel any of these ideas would complement what you’ve already got going on at [name of their company].”
Then list 3 article ideas, either with just a title, or a title plus a description. Like this:
My general rule of thumb is that if they clearly ask for one or the other in their submission guidelines, of course follow that. But if you’re not sure, then customize to their personality.
If the person you’re pitching seems to have a more breezy, high-energy personality, you should be brief with titles only. If they have a more serious, reserved, thoughtful personality, you should give more thorough, detailed topic summaries.
7. Thank you and close
Lastly, close with something simple and gracious like, “Thank you, [Name]! I’m happy to be in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.”
Add your name and signature, proofread, and hit send.
Get your next guest post
When I started using this structure in my email pitches, I got responses like this:
Tripp, founder of TrippAdvice.com, accepted my pitch to do an interview on dating advice for guys.
This format worked so well that after recently pitching four sites, I had three quick and enthusiastic yeses within 2 days. One even said yes within hours.
I really admire these people. I was even scared to pitch some of them. Plus this was my first time reaching out to them — none had ever heard from me before.
Yet I got three guest posts.
When you follow the structure above, you will get more guest posts because you’ll connect with the blogger or editor. You’ll offer them something fresh and relevant, making it a win-win for you both.