How to land a guest blogging pitch

In my role as Director of Content for a digital media company, I receive countless pitches for guest blogging. I would estimate–conservatively–that for every 15 pitches I receive, one is worth pursuing. And of those that I pursue, roughly half fall apart because the writer never replies to my response, the writer submits shitty copy that’s unsalvageable, or because the writer misses the deadline.

All the rest of the pitches–14 out of 15 or so–never even make it far enough to have the chance to fall apart.

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you know that if you pitch a website, part of being a successful freelancer includes finishing the assignment, doing it well, and turning it in on time. Let’s skip those should-be-obvious points.

Instead, let’s focus on securing the gig in the first place.

Here’s how to land a guest blogging pitch in 3 simple steps:

  1. Learn the publication before you pitch. Seems, I don’t know, logical. But somehow this step gets overlooked far, far too often. Read the website, and not just the single most recent post. Read the About and PR pages. Read the staff bios. What topics does the site cover? Not just generally–a website about dogs–but specifically–a website about training retrievers. When you write your pitch, indicate that you’re familiar with the site by citing specific examples or suggesting the appropriate category or column for your piece.
  2. Find their contributor guidelines. Please don’t just send an email that says something like, “I’d love to contribute this story I thought of for your website. It’ll be a great fit! Do you have any guidelines you’d like me to follow?” You should 100 percent know for a fact that they do or do not have guidelines online. Search the site. Search Google. Check repositories like mediabistro.com. Our site’s guidelines are in a dropdown menu on the top nav bar. What happens when someone emails me to ask if there are guidelines? Delete. Why? It shows that they didn’t follow point one above and don’t know the site, and it also shows that they’re not willing to take the two minutes required to do the research. That makes me think they won’t be a responsible contributor.
  3. Get the editor’s name right. No “Dear Editor” or “Hey, Websitename Team!” Again, it would take a minute or two to click on the team bios page, skim them, and identify me as the editor. Maybe that seems small or petty, but it demonstrates to the editor that you’re willing to take an extra step or two and that you’re a courteous pro!

Nobody’s perfect. Mistakes happen. But, considering how many freelancers are competing for the same few opportunities, it pays to take the time to demonstrate your professionalism. These three tips, when performed together, might just be the thing that gets your pitch greater consideration–rather than quick delete.