Have you ever wondered what makes a blog editor say yes to a pitch? What makes an editor review and post a submission promptly? Here’s an inside look.
1. Pitch Perfectly
Make sure you know a bit about the blog before you submit. At the very least, you should check out what type of content the editor’s publishing and what she’s actively acquiring.
Here are some things to consider:
- Is the publication accepting submissions?
- Do you have expertise and previously published work in the necessary subject matter?
- Include 3-5 relevant links to previously published material, even if this is not required. It’s polite and helpful – plus, you should not assume that the editor knows who you are.
- Offer 2-3 specific pitches. Even if you offer to write on a 101 topic, make sure your angle is unique. Instead of “6 Digital Marketing Tips,” consider something that really sparks the interest of you and prospective readers, such as “6 Digital Marketing Lessons from Thor, My Favorite Superhero.”
- Include other helpful information, for example, “I have 13,000 Twitter followers and enjoy sharing my recently published content with them.” Editors have metrics to meet for their blogs, and information like this may sway them to more strongly consider accepting your post. You’re less of a risk if you can prove previous success.
- Include this magic sentence during the pitch process: “What do you need right now?” A blog’s needs can change rapidly; I often turn to writers who have shown a direct interest in our blog’s theme weeks and changing needs to make sure I get the right content.
Always use the editor's name and direct the correspondence directly to him, even if you have to use a contact form or general email address.
If the website doesn't list the editor, do some investigation on LinkedIn by looking up the company or publication name or call the company and ask for the name of the blog’s editor. Know that this works both ways – the editor may research you to see if you promote your content and have a substantial social following. Make sure your information is easy to find.
Assume that all of this will happen the moment your pitch hits the editor’s inbox.
2. Deal with Deadlines
Of course you want to get your work in on time. When that’s not possible, editors prefer honest communication to a string of excuses or no communication at all. I'd much rather have a guest blogger tell me she's just too busy to send in a post than see a promise unfulfilled.
In such cases, I thank the blogger for her time and ask for another post during a less hectic week. While dropping a commitment isn't recommended, editors understand what it's like to swim in a pool of content. After all, we live there!
If you're busy, there's nothing wrong with saying so in your communication before the editor assigns a deadline. I'd rather have a post on time delivered one month down the road than something late and haphazard by next week.
3. Polish Your Post
Beyond the editing basics, consider polishing your post for publication.
What did I change in this post as I edited?
- Changed words like ‘dealing’ to ‘deal’ to make them more actionable
- Made two paragraphs into bullet points for clarity
- Ran the headline through the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
- Added royalty-free images
- Read the post aloud (caught two typos) and asked a coworker for feedback
- Formatted the post using standard headers
By polishing the post, I hope to make the editor’s job easier.
As an editor, I’m more likely to feature posts I consider polished.
4. Submit with Success
Follow all outlined guidelines. It fills my heart with glee to see submissions with <<image markers>> in them because it saves so much time. And while I try to review everything in the order it's been received, complete submissions usually get processed first; I know I won't have to track down an author bio, profile image, etc.
Ensure the editor that you're accepting of edits. This can result in a second chance instead of a rejection.
5. Know About the Editor’s Inbox
Pro tip: the editor’s inbox is likely crazy. No matter how organized an editor is, a big part of the job is actually just managing chaos with poise. Some weeks, I scramble for content. Other times, I can barely keep up with the email flowing into my inbox.
It's okay to follow up. I prefer follow-ups five to seven business days after submission, especially if I have not acknowledged receipt (less if time-sensitive, for a holiday, event or theme week). It's not okay to follow up every day or every other day unless I'm failing an expressed fast turnaround.
Additionally, many businesses use Gmail for Business. That means guest bloggers’ constant ‘check-ins’ just go to the top of the inbox (also known as the bottom of the pile) because of how Gmail organizes email conversations.
Want to get published on that blog again?
Promote, promote, promote. Even if you only have 100 Twitter followers, the editor may notice and appreciate the promotional effort. Plus, you’ll grow your network and authority at the same time. You can schedule your promotional posts over a lengthy amount of time using Buffer.
Once you've published, make yourself visible. Have a portfolio website (I recommend pressfolios), a works published page on your personal brand site and a LinkedIn profile. You can also increase your chances of being found by participating in online communities and Twitter chats. Reach out casually on Twitter if you want to know whether a publication accepts unsolicited pitches. Most blog editors love it when the content comes to them, so ask!
Do you have more questions for editors? Ask in the comments for more feedback.
Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter and view her writing portfolio.