The 4 Golden Rules of Outreach

The other day when I was doing research I came across an article titled 7 Mistakes Guest Bloggers Make. In the article, Susan says that she receives so many bad guest post pitches that she has stopped accepting posts entirely and wrote the article in response. Some of the regular complaints she has with bloggers are their not following directions, pitching off topic and writing like a robot.

The following day Dave sent us this example of a terrible pitch mistake, courtesy of Business Insider:

Cody1potentialI know most of these mistakes are obvious examples of just being sloppy but these articles tell us two things:

  • The admins are paying attention
  • They are actively looking for relevant content

In a profession that is saturated with spammers and robots with Gmail accounts, you need to be aware of how you are presenting yourself when reaching out to bloggers. Here are a few good ways to distinguish your pitch from the noise.

1. Don’t Be a Robot

In Susan’s article she specifically points to vanilla article text as a reason for excluding content from her blog, but bad dialogue in a pitch can sink you before you even get started.

robot3Email templates are a great way to be economical with your outreach but don’t just send out the same five sentences and hope for the best results. (That can also lead to mistakes like the example above.)Treat your templates like a Mad-Lib where you leave room to personalize your emails with more than just the recipient’s name and the type of blog they are writing.  For example:

Hello [Recipient],

I’m really enjoying your blog. The article that you published on [day published] about [topic of article] was a great read. I check in with [name of site] almost every day now. Keep up the good work!

By using specifics like the actual day the article was published rather than the date, you’re telling the reader that you took the time to actually take an interest in their blog. Using different templates will also teach you which approaches works best.

 2. Stay Brief and to the Point

Every writer should familiarize themselves with George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing. Here you will learn to tighten your pitches by being deliberate and brief. The important ones to consider for outreach are:

  • Never use a long word where a short one will do
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out

The people we are sending emails to receive a lot every day and don’t want you wasting their time with long drawn out messages. Keep the text short and let them know who you are and what you are offering. Always be efficient with your words and don’t include anything that doesn’t need to be said.

keepitshortcody2.7.133. Be Courteous

Even if a pitch doesn’t work out you should always be polite. Doing so will give you a potential contact in the future.  It’s best to always follow-up with someone, even if they didn’t accept your content for their site. Thank them for the consideration and tell them that when you have content more appropriate for their blog you will contact them.

4. Make Lasting Connections

Once you get an article posted, don’t just disappear into the void. Stick around and see how your work traffics. Respond to comments on the post and get into any available dialogue. This will bring more traffic to the article because when people see that an article is gaining interest they want to see what it is about. Some bloggers will ask after they post something for me to ‘like’ their page on Facebook or give them a nod in StumbleUpon or Twitter. It only takes a moment and doing so without asking will show that you appreciate those who help you out.

share.cody.2.7.13Building dense connections will put you in the mind of the blogger and allow for follow-up guest posting opportunities. If you need help building long-term relationships with bloggers read this article by Jessica Edmondson. She provides helpful examples for different situations that may arise when doing outreach.

Do Unto Others

Just be yourself and think from the other person’s perspective when reaching out. Follow these key points and you’ll be on your way to making a good name for yourself. Good luck.