How to Write a Pitch That Gets Accepted (+ Real Examples)
Wanted to get your content published on your dream publications? Here’s the 6-step process on how to write a pitch that editors want to receive and respond to.
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The radio silence’s unbearable.
Alas, that’s the nature of pitching.
Or is it?
In this guide, you’ll learn a six-step process on how to write a pitch that editors want to receive and respond to.
Need examples? I’ll also share successful pitch examples featuring freelancers and small business owners.
Let’s get you that dream byline!
Step 1. Identify dream publications
First up: Think about the publications or blogs you want to write for.
Next, create a list.
Daniel Daines-Hutt, Chief Marketing Nerd at Amp My Content, curates his top 100 dream sites in a spreadsheet including the URL, notes about the publication and its guidelines, and the editor’s email address.
Keep this document close by, as you’ll want to add a sheet to track each guest post’s status. Accepted, (knock on wood) rejected, pending, or processing, this spreadsheet will help you stay organized.
Update the list regularly.
Review your list before submitting a pitch. Publications may have stopped accepting pitches, their submission process may have changed, or editors might have left. Our editor, Keri Morgret, hasn’t worked at Moz in several years, and they haven’t accepted unsolicited guest post submissions in almost as long, yet she still receives pitches for posts on the site!
Check the submissions page to see if your dream site’s looking for submissions from guest authors.
Source Grow and Convert, a content marketing agency, adds a note below the headline that it has stopped publishing guest articles.
Or, look at the most recent blog post. Has the company been acquired? Shut down? Not published a new post in three years? These are all signs that you should remove the site from your list and move on.
Be careful about using lists from other websites. Always take these “Top 100 lists” with a grain of salt. Better yet, double-check them using the tips above.
Back in 2019, I unknowingly bought an outdated 70+ list from a media company. It turned out to be an old list full of errors. The only thing it updated was the year on the first page. I know, lazy!
Step 2. Follow publication’s rules
Great pitches get “Yes!” from editors.
A surefire way to write a pitch these gatekeepers want to receive? Research the publication’s target audience.
Go through the about page, submission guidelines, and media kit to get a clearer sense of who these readers are.
Let’s look at Smart Blogger’s about page. Read the first few lines, and you can tell it targets freelance writers who want to blog for a living.
With this information, you’ll know how to position your article idea for this specific audience.
Reminder: Make sure you follow the rules in the submission guidelines.
Some publications require full drafts, while others ask for a pitch. Case in point: The Muse won’t consider a pitch if it doesn’t have all the necessary information listed on the right.
Source Imagine forgetting to send writing samples when you checked the remaining boxes — that’d be a bummer!
What if your article idea is already published on the blog?
You have two options. Either move on to the next publication in your list or look for gaps.
Step 3. Look for gaps
Hey, don’t worry!
It’s not the end if your topic has already been covered.
Read it and think about how you can expand it or share a different perspective.
When Michelle Lewis, CEO of Visibility Vixen and Founder of The Podcast Pitch Kit, saw Kajabi already had various branding articles, she decided to expand on one of the core themes: Color psychology.
She emailed her pitch, and the editor approved it.
Here are three useful tips on positioning your guest post as an excellent fit for the site:
- Look at the publication’s popular articles in terms of search, social shares, and comments.
- Assess their competitors’ trending articles.
- Check community sites like Reddit and Quora to discover trending topics.
Note: For #1-2, you’ll have to use SEO tools like Ahrefs and BuzzSumo. These tools show you top-performing content from a backlinks and keywords perspective.
Let’s explore how #3 looks.
Imagine you’re pitching an article on content strategy. While researching on Reddit, you notice an increasing number of questions surrounding content briefs.
With these insights, you might change your story idea and the focus of your original pitch from:
“… I’d like to pitch a beginner’s guide on content strategy.”
“… while researching Reddit, I discovered a ton of questions surrounding content briefs — a topic that hasn’t been covered on Magazine A. So here’s what I’m thinking….”
See the big difference?
The original pitch shares a generic and dull topic. The editor will likely ignore it.
Whereas the improved pitch? It shows a relevant and timely idea that’s valuable to readers and searchers.
Step 4. Locate the gatekeeper’s email address
Most of the time, the guidelines or a quick Google search is all it takes to find the best contact.
But what if the publication isn’t actively seeking guest contributors and *gulps* doesn’t share their email address on the website?
Get on social media.
Stacy Caprio, Founder of Her.CEO, reached out to a connection on LinkedIn.
Note her specific request at the end (“Wondering if you can connect me to the blog editor”) and how it adds value to the recipient (a post from a buyer’s perspective on doubling a new site’s revenue is exciting to readers):
What if you don’t have a connection who works at your dream publication?
Consider this tip from Sharon Bolt, Founder of Get Free Publicity Today: Check the publication’s Twitter Lists.
Often, publications share a public Twitter List of its staff members.
Go through the lists and check out the profiles. Who knows, you just might find the right email address or be able to send a DM.
Alternatively, skip hunting altogether and use EmailScraper.
This web-crawler-slash-email-scraper finds email addresses from websites and social media.
If you’re looking to create a database with emails from your dream blogs without plowing through each website, check it out.
Grab the Email Scraper lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $19.99.
Step 5. Write that winning pitch
A great email pitch captures attention and adds value to the editor.
Here’s an excellent example by Amit Raj, CEO of Amit Digital Marketing, that best illustrates what I mean:
Note how he starts with a humorous subject line and opens with an intriguing first-liner (“I won’t make the mistake of kissing up, like you mentioned in your ‘Winning over tough editors’ article.”).
Right away, the editor can tell he’s familiar with their work.
The name-drop of a fellow contributor (“like David, who I’ve worked alongside…”) also establishes rapport and shows he’s a long-time reader.
Amit then demonstrates his credentials in the next paragraph by sharing relevant writing clips from similar websites.
Next, he goes in deep. He uncovers gaps in the publication’s current posts and shares his three ideas.
Source The editor ended up picking Amit’s second article idea.
Want to use a similar template for your pitch? Here’s one for handy reference:
[Prove you’re familiar with the publication’s work, e.g., “I know you’re tired of receiving irrelevant pitches (your recent post on ‘Pitches That Make Editors Roll Their Eyes’ was enlightening and hilarious), so I want to assure you that…”]
[Mention gap and pitch what you have in mind, e.g., “I noticed Oliver wrote a post about user interviews but nothing in-depth regarding the interviewing frameworks. Is this something of interest? If so, here’s what I’m thinking:”]
[List story idea(s) and brief description(s) on what’s it about, e.g., 5 Interviewing Techniques For SaaS Startups – This article explores the different frameworks a marketer can use when interviewing customers. For example, what to ask before building a product vs. after creating a product]
[Demonstrate credentials. List relevant clips in bullet points]
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Step 6. Follow up
Even great pitches go forgotten, so make following up a habit.
Based on what I’ve learned from these freelancers and small business owners, there’s no set rule on the best time to follow up.
Daniel from Amp My Content keeps it simple. He sends a follow-up email after five days:
To boost your chances of getting a response from the editor, reinforce your credentials (e.g., “… My blog posts for [Similar magazine] boosted web traffic from 15K per month to 350K. I’d love to do the same for you with this story idea. Looking forward to hearing from you!”).
We’ve written a lot about follow-up emails on Sumo. Check them out here for a quick refresher:
- 6 Proven Follow-Up Email Samples You Can Use To Get Replies Today
- Follow-Up Emails: Everything You Need To Get a Reply
Write Your Pitch Today
Guest posting creates dozens of attractive benefits for your business.
It proves your credibility, helps you gain exposure to an untapped audience, and attracts high-quality prospects to your business.
Ready to put what you’ve learned into practice today?
Here’s a quick recap:
- Identify dream publications
- Follow publications’ rules
- Look for gaps
- Locate gatekeeper’s email address. Grab the EmailScraper lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $19.99.
- Write that winning pitch
- Follow up
Send your pitch today and get that byline in your dream publication!