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How to Pitch Your Content to Editors: 5 Elements of an Effective Email

Updated on June 28, 2018. Blog post originally published on Oct. 15, 2014.

Every brand, thought leader, and individual contributor is different, and their content strategies are unique to their goals, expertise, and resources. Still, no matter what you're using content to achieve, guest-contributed articles play an important role.

The value of guest posting as part of your content marketing strategy is undeniable. If you're looking to reach new audiences, build trust, position yourself as an expert, earn third-party validation, boost SEO, or even drive traffic to your site, guest posting should probably be part of your content strategy.

Download your interactive content marketing strategy checklist to create a content strategy that works for you and your company, 

The concept behind guest posting is simple: You identify an online publication whose readership aligns with your target audience, craft content that provides value to that audience, and pitch the editor your content to be published.

Now, you may be wondering, “How do I actually do that?” 

Finding the Right Publications for Your Content Marketing Strategy

By researching a publication’s “About” page or media kit, you can find information about its readership, and spending some time on its site can give you an idea of what types of content it publishes — and, often, how that content performs with its audience.

Want to know which online publications your audience is reading? Take our publication quiz to find out.

With this information in mind, review your own content strategy to determine whether your expertise aligns with this publication and would be valuable to its readers.

Findings from our annual research, which includes insights from editors at online publications across industries, reveal that fresh perspectives and expert insights are the biggest reason editors accept guest content. For you to deliver that to an editor, your expertise has to align with what a publication covers and provide value to its audience.

And according to our research, there's a lot of opportunity to do exactly that: 76 percent of editors publish between 1 and 10 guest posts each week, and 94 percent of editors report planning to increase or maintain the current amount of guest content they publish this year.

Check out "The State of Digital Media 2018" to learn more about what editors want to see in the guest content you pitch.

The right editors and publications exist, and they’re looking for engaging, relevant content — you just have to do your homework first.

The 5 Elements of an Effective Pitch Email

Before you can start building relationships with editors at your favorite online publications, it’s important to learn how to pitch your content — and yourself — to them. Here are a few key elements of effective email pitches that will start you off on the right foot:

1. Descriptive subject line

If a publication accepts guest posts, its editor probably receives hundreds of pitches each week, and the first part of the pitch she sees is the subject line. So keep it short, compelling, and accurate. An email with a subject line that tells the editor what to expect and gives her an idea of the article’s content is one she’ll want to open. 

2. Friendly, personal introduction

Addressing the editor by name shows that you care enough about the relationship to take the time to research her and get her name right. Feel free to get personable and ask how her week is going or throw in a friendly greeting. After addressing the editor, briefly introduce yourself, your company, and why you’re contacting her.

I emphasize "briefly" here because you don't want to dive right into your article without introducing yourself, but you also don't want the bulk of the email to be all about you, either. Keeping your introduction genuine and to the point creates a great opportunity to start building trust with the editor.

3. Article summary

In the body of your email, provide a concise summary of the article you’re pitching. In it, be sure to include the key takeaways and something that will pique the editor’s interest. By doing this, your email will be easy to read, will save the editor time, and will enable her to quickly assess whether your article will truly serve the publication’s readers.

4. Exclusive, nonpromotional content

Editors don’t want content that’s being published by competing publications; they want readers coming to their publication for content that can only be found there. It’s important for you not to pitch multiple editors the same content and to make it crystal clear to the editor you're pitching that the content you're sending is exclusive to her publication.

You also want to ensure that your content isn’t too promotional. According to "The State of Digital Media 2018," 79 percent of editors say that overly promotional content is one of the biggest problems with the guest content pitches they receive. Remember, these editors want content that educates their readers and gives them a new perspective, not sales pitches for your service or product. 

5. Respect for the editor’s schedule and preferences

Lastly, your email should acknowledge the editor’s busy schedule, illustrate your willingness to cooperate with the other items on her agenda, and propose a date by which you’ll follow up. This will deepen the trust you began building with your personal introduction and exclusive content, and it signals your accountability for the content you pitch.

The Wrong Way to Pitch Online Editors

Every editorial relationship has to start somewhere. Below is an example of the kind of email that would fail to set you up for a mutually beneficial relationship with an online publication editor:

Subject Line: Article

Hello,

I have attached an article submission for you to publish on your site. Please respond before 5 p.m. tomorrow. My article is attached.

Meagan

Now, what’s wrong with this email? 

  • The subject line isn’t enticing. As I mentioned earlier, publication editors can receive hundreds of pitches every day. A subject line like this doesn't give an editor any reason to even open the email, let alone encourage him to accept your pitch for a guest post.
  • The introduction is impersonal. In your research of the publication, you should be able to find the name of the section editor to whom you’re pitching your content. If you can find it, use it. Failing to include the editor’s name is impolite, and it signals that you could have blindly sent this email to any editor or publication.
  • The body of the email is vague. If you don’t offer any summary of the article, the editor has no way of quickly assessing whether this content will be a good fit for his publication and be valuable to its readers, and he'll move on to the next pitch in his inbox for someone who did.
  • The deadline is unreasonable (and disrespectful). Requesting a review that soon after you pitch your content is disrespectful because it implies that you think this article is more important than anything else the editor is doing.

The Right Way to Pitch an Article to an Editor

By analyzing the elements of an effective email and learning what makes one bad, we can start to create a great one. Below is an example of the kind of email that will show a publication editor you’re a thoughtful, respectful, and knowledgeable contributor:

Subject Line: Exclusive Contributed Article Submission: Reaching Out to Editors

Hi Natalie,
 
hope you’ve had a great start to your week! My name is Meagan Nolte, and I’m a publication strategist at Influence & Co. I have written an exclusive, non-promotional article for The Knowledge Bank.
 
In my article, I offer advice to thought leaders and marketers about how they can reach out to editors to get their content published online. I’ve included actionable tips about how to write the email so it's more appealing for a busy editor to read, and I’ve provided examples of both good and bad emails.

I think this article would fit perfectly on your site. It helps further the conversation presented in another article published a few months ago and will help provide your readers with a more well-rounded knowledge of this topic.

My article and headshot are attached for you to review. Feel free to make any editorial changes that you see fit, or let me know if there is anything else you need from me. I understand that you’re busy, so I'll touch base with you on Monday if I don’t hear back from you by then.
 
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Meagan Nolte

Acting as the liaisons between content creators and publication editors, members of the Influence & Co. publication team use the elements of effective email to build and maintain trustworthy relationships with editors at more than 1,500 online publications.

What makes our team unique is our ability to develop these mutually beneficial relationships to consistently deliver high-quality, fully edited, non-promotional content to industry publications. At its core, however, is the use of these email tactics.

Want to know more about the kind of content editors want to see from your pitches? Download your copy of "The State of Digital Media 2018" today:

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About Meagan Nolte

Meagan Nolte is a Publication Strategist at Influence & Co. When she's not reading content, she's immersed in books, surrounded by food, or dedicating her free time to volleyball. Follow her on Twitter (@MeaganNolte)!

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