Give me 31 Days and I’ll Give You a Better Blog… Guaranteed

Check out 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Give me 31 Days and I’ll Give You a Better Blog

Check it out

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…

FREE Problogging tips delivered to your inbox  

How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips

How-To-Pitch-To-BloggersOne of the challenges that many bloggers face once they become established and grow a profile in their niche is that they become the target of ‘pitches’ – or people emailing to ask them to do ‘stuff’.

These ‘pitches’ can be on any number of fronts including:

  • announcing new products/services in the hope of being linked to or reviewed
  • link exchanges
  • asking for permission to use content
  • exploring potential partnerships
  • suggesting links to posts on other blogs
  • story ideas
  • asking for books to be reviewed
  • asking for guest posts
  • asking questions
  • request for an interview

The list goes on. Some bloggers get ‘pitched to’ hundreds of times each week (some get hundreds per day!) and so if you’re looking to approach a blogger with some kind of pitch it is worth thinking carefully about how you do it.

Here are a number of things to consider when pitching to bloggers. Some will relate more to pitching around product releases, others are more relevant to those looking to suggest links/stories for other bloggers to look at:

1. Comment First Pitch Later

Become a genuine and active member of the blog that you are pitching to before you make personal contact. Yes this doesn’t help if you have something to pitch today – but I find bloggers are much more willing to interact with you if they can see that you’ve gone to the effort of interacting with the content that they’ve written. Be genuine in these interactions, add value to the conversation happening on the blog and show that you’re not just there to ‘take’ but to ‘give’. If a blogger has a genuine connection with you they are much more willing to respond positively to you than if you approach them cold. The longer you interact with them the better.

2. Personalize it

Nothing is a bigger turn off to most bloggers than an auto generated email (or one that lacks any personal touches). This is a turn off in most aspects of life – but blogging is a personal and relational medium so tailor your first point of contact to the blogger you’re writing to. Use their name, mention their blog, show that you’re not sending out an email to thousands of people but are talking directly to them.

3. Get their Details Right

Another turn off for bloggers is being pitched to by someone who gets the personal details wrong. I’ve been on the end of many of these – where the person pitching the idea has gone to the trouble of copying and pasting unique details into an email – only to forget to change a detail from the last email on some important part – like my name. Get the person’s name and URL spelling right for starters.

4. Show You Know Who they Are

This is really going beyond adding a personalized detail or two (anyone can really do that) and showing that you really do know who you’re pitching the idea to. Mention something that they’ve recently written, compliment them on something unique to them, ask them a question that shows you’ve dug a little deeper than finding their name and email address in preparing your pitch.

5. Introduce Yourself

Quickly introduce yourself with your email. This might sound too basic for a post like this – but I’m amazed by the ‘out of the blue’ nature of many pitches. Us bloggers are generally relational beasts and like to know who we’re talking to. This doesn’t mean you need to give a full bio – just a sentence saying who you are and what you do would be fine. Also consider reminding people who you are and how you’ve interacted with them before if you’ve had contact with them previously. They may remember – but they may not.

6. Keep it Brief

I know that if I open an email from a stranger that is longer than 2-3 paragraphs that in most case I’ll mark it for ‘later’ (and sometimes later never comes) unless I’m given some real reason for reading on in the opening paragraph or two. Get to the point, ask your question or pitch your idea quickly and if more detail is needed give it in a followup email (or provide a link in the email where the person can go to find more).

7. Highlight Benefits

Whatever you are pitching – it’ll have more chance of success if there’s something in it for the blogger you’re pitching to. Clearly outline what you’re asking for and how it will benefit the blogger, their blog, their readers etc

8. Keep it Simple

I had an email recently where the person asked me if they could chat with me on the phone. They needed ‘just two hours’ of my time and required that I ring them (paying for the call myself) at a specific time (which just happened to be at 3am my time here in Australia). Needless to say – I passed. If you are asking for someone to do something for you – provide them with some simple, achievable and clear steps to respond.

9. Research Your Question

– many of the questions that people ask bloggers could be answered by simply taking a moment or two to look around their blog. Look on their about page – see if they have a FAQ page and do a search of their blog to see if they’ve written on the topic that your question is on. You don’t need to spend hours on this – but you might just save yourself (and the blogger concerned) some time with just a quick search for answers. Similarly – if you’re pitching a story idea – check to see that they haven’t already written about it by scanning their last few weeks archives.

10. Consider Time Zones When Calling

If you’re calling the blogger concerned – check to see where in the world they are and what time it would be in their time zone. Also consider that it might be the weekend where they are while it could be business hours for you. Also consider this when you’re emailing – I’ve had a few people email me just as I was going to sleep and sending rude emails 8 or so hours later complaining that I’d not responded.

11. Don’t Stalk

Obsessively emailing a person multiple times in a short period of time to ask question after question doesn’t tend to go over well. If you think you’ll have multiple things to ask – hold off on sending an email until you have them all in the one place.

12. Be Persistent

On the flip side of the obsessive stalking is the pitcher who gives up too quickly. Don’t be afraid to send a reminder email asking if they got your first one. I don’t mind getting these myself as I do find it difficult to respond to everyone on the first try.

13. Avoid Press Releases

I must have hit ‘delete’ on thousands of press releases over the last few years. While I do occasionally use them – it is generally only when they are right on target for my niche and quite often when I go searching for them. I’d much rather be pitched a story idea that is tailored to my blog. This need not be long or detailed (in fact it’s best if it’s not) but if someone shoots me an email that says ‘here’s a story you might be interested in and here’s why it’s relevant to your blog’s readers’ I’m much more likely to read it. If you do have a press release it might be more effective to not send it – but to give a link to where it is hosted online so that if the blogger wants to refer to it (and link to it) they can.

14. Keep on Topic

If you’re pitching story ideas you can do yourself a lot of damage by pitching irrelevant stories to bloggers. If their blog is about digital cameras, don’t send them information on TiVO (you know who you are).

15. Be Polite and Courteous

Making demands, assumptions and being overly familiar can sometimes lead to people binning your pitch. I’ve been left shaking my head numerous times of late at the arrogance and demands of some. On the flip-side though – some pitches come across as so polite that they seem sterile. I guess there’s a fine line to walk here. Keep in mind that cultural differences come into play on this too.

16. Free Stuff Works, But….

Sending schwaag, review copies, samples etc can work well with bloggers – however you need to be a little careful and learn from the mistakes that others have made in this area. My personal preference would be to require bloggers to disclose any benefit that they’ve received from you (particularly if it’s of any high value). Transparency matters. I would also recommend asking the blogger if they want to receive what you’re sending them before you send it.

17. Mention Your Blog

Most bloggers are wired to be on the look out for other bloggers. If you have a blog, mention it in your pitch (your introduction). If you don’t have a blog – why not?

18. Link Up

One quick way to get on many blogger’s radars is to link to them on your own blog or website. This shows that you know who they are, might send them some traffic and is a show of good will that can help to break down those initial walls that can be hard to get through with a blogger. Keep in mind that larger bloggers get a lot of links from other sites and blogs so this may not have a massive impact in all circumstances – but it can’t hurt.

19. Give an exclusive

Bloggers love to break stories. It helps them build traffic, establish credibility and profile and gives them the perception of being more connected in their niche. Offering some sort of exclusive angle on a story, access to interview a key person or even given them the exclusive rights to be first with a story is something that might help you get your story featured on a blog. A quick warning though – if you tell someone that they have an exclusive but in fact end up offering it to numerous others you could end up doing more harm than good.

20. Don’t Include Anything You Don’t Want Blogged in your Communications

I’ve seen a number of companies burnt by sending emails out to bloggers that included both the official press release and pitch – as well as other information that they didn’t want to go out – the whole lot got blogged about. This can happen either because the blogger didn’t realize and just copied and pasted everything OR because the information that wasn’t meant to be blogged was too juicy for the blogger to resist publishing (even though they knew they probably shouldn’t have).

21. A word on Embargoes

Some companies approach bloggers with information in advance of product launches on the condition that the story can’t be broken before a certain time. This enables the blogger to digest the information before launch and have something prepared to write about that goes beyond rehashing a press release. The downside of this is that some bloggers either don’t understand embargoes or don’t like them – some blatantly break them to get the exclusive. I personally respect them – but would rather a company approach me in a relational way and work with me on a coordinated release of information that isn’t a hard and fast embargo – but a more relational and trusting exchange of information.

Obviously incorporating all 21 points into your next pitch of a blogger might be a little too much to ask – but as both a blogger and someone has done my fair share of pitching I would recommend at least attempting to incorporate some of the above.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • The test of a great Blogger would be to separate the news that would appeal to their readers as well as attract new quality readers – REGARDLESS of how well the pitch was done.

    In other words, seeing through the marketing and getting to the jewels

  • Hey Darren,

    Awesome tips… I’ve been having problems recommending other peoples products without sounding over kill.

    Thanks for the tips!

    Carlo Selorio

  • >>This can happen either because the blogger didn’t realize and just copied and pasted everything OR because the information that wasn’t meant to be blogged was too juicy for the blogger to resist publishing (even though they knew they probably shouldn’t have).

    What do you mean by “probably shouldn’t have”? Information is only off the record if the source says so _before_ they say it. More properly, they should _ask_ if it’s okay to go off the record, so the blogger/journalist has the right to say ‘no’ if they would rather not hear the privileged information.

    An email that contains an official press release and background info and no discussion of what they can and can’t use is by default all up for grabs. This reinforces your original point that you should not send info you don’t want blogged but for a different reason – the fault does not lie with the blogger.

    As for embargoes, I respect them too but by definition an embargo is no longer valid once the information is out there. So if someone else breaks the story, I am no longer bound by any embargo. (Which is one reason why I would be very wary about signing an NDA as I would then still be legally prevented from publication ).

  • Go info to know, understand and utilize.

  • The reps from companies that have had the most success pitching articles and products to me are the ones that have done their research regarding just what my niche covers. If they are polite and to the point, I am usually glad to mention what they are offering. The difficult part is dealing with those whose products aren’t best serviced by my blog and its readership but still keep pitching away.

  • Thank you very much for this Darren.

    I’m actually afraid to make direct contacts with famous bloggers like yourself because I might make a mistake and just ruin my first impression. But this post of your has taught me a lot of things. Thank you again for this.

    I will definitely use this! :)

  • Thanks Darren. As both a PR professional and a blogger I found these spot-on from both sides of the story.

    Well done, you’re really on with this post!

  • All really useful stuff Darren. I’ve never pitched to any bloggers yet but funnily enough I plan to do so at the end of this week so this comes at a good time for me. :p

  • Understood and points will be implemented and put into work.

  • These are great tips Darren. Pitching others is very difficult for most people. People hate to sell themselves.

  • Excellent tips there Darren, helps a lot but its hard to implement many of these :)

  • Great list. Good to know that there are already a lot of things I keep in mind when I contact other bloggers.

  • Great tips! I have tried to follow most of them, and some of them hadn’t crossed my mind, so I will put them to use. I also try to be personal in my correspondence with the heavy hitting bloggers, but keep it concise and simple in the details that I am asking, wanting, etc. I know your time is as valuable as mine!

    ps… so when are you calling me to give me the advice on the pitch…you haven’t responded to me in 23 minutes! LOL! :)

  • Well .. first of all dear Darren ..

    I’m one of your very loyal and frequent readers who really trust your words .. but this is my first time to comment on one of your posts ..

    For this one, .. all are really good points and an ideal strategy of approach .. however, unfortunately I don’t think they do work in many times ..

    Well, it may be because just some people do not like these strategies .. or may be it’s like luck wasn’t on your side in picking up the right person to address ..

    Anyway .. Lots of thanks for your continued flow of quality and useful posts ..

    Regards,
    Ahmed

  • that was so awesome Darren and right on time..

    I will be completing 1 year of my blog by the end of this year. I have ended up timestamping articles until 31st december and now I plan to take my blog to next level. I plan to get a custom theme and logo and then interview many bloggers.

    I have been working hard on the questions which I should ask and will release the interviews in the new year..that will help me create the buzz!!

    I had been thinking on how to approach the bloggers (that includes you too) as I dont want my email to be deleted just after reading few lines..

    it was truly on time..

    kudos to you Darren….you read my brain well :)

  • Greetings –

    I don’t want to fill up Darren’s inbox with unwanted requests, but we just had an email exchange yesterday and I must say, for someone of his stature within the blogosphere, Darren was tremendously insightful, professional, and courteous when replying to my inquiries.

    Best,
    Mark

  • Because of the nature of my blog (fashion/shopping) we get hundreds of pitches a day. Some publicist (like the folks at Pierce Mattie) get how to pitch to us and others have no clue.

    The problem is (was) that publicist didn’t really have much training in how to work with blogs (this is big business for anyone looking to consult) and more importantly, how to weed through the 100+ million blogs to find the ones that actually have influence. The big pr firms are just now starting to develop training programs on how to work with bloggers.

    Also a lot of bloggers have no clue how to work with publicists. The job of a publicist is to be pushy and get as many solid hits (placements) for their clients as possible- that is how their clients assess value to their relationship.

    Many bloggers take this pushiness too personal. I find, it’s best to develop a dialogue with the publicist, rather than just binning it. Email the publicist back and tell them how you like to be pitched to and when you write about their products/service, send them a link to the post.

  • Darren,

    Great list of suggestions. You might improve the quality of your incoming email if you leave a prominent link to this post on the main page.

    http://five.sentenc.es/ might be a good rule of thumb for step 6 (as long as the sentences aren’t run-on sentences).

    @ McBilly – I suspect prominent bloggers like Darren **go through so much email** that they wouldn’t remember you a month later. Unless, of course, stalking was involved or the emailed pitch was particularly memorable!

  • Hi Darren,

    Excellent information. There will most likely be a time when we will be approaching bloggers for some reason or another, more so than we already have. These tips are to have when the time comes!

    We actually have approached another big time blogger in the affiliate marketing field to see if he was going to be at an upcoming convention. He was more than cordial, very quick in responding and was very gracious when we said we wanted to meet him to shake his hand.

    We are relatively new to blogging, but it has been our experience that the bloggers that we have reached out to have been tremendous, even if they are super busy, like the rest of us.

    We have even had limited contact with you (Facebook), and you were great! We hope to have the opportunity to converse more in the future.

    Another great post! You are truly one of the great bloggers and we do gain a lot of insight from you.

    Thank you and keep up the great work!

  • aag

    Another one:

    If you are emailing a group, use BCC instead of CC.

    Not every blogger wants his/her email given out to a whole list of folks that he or she may not even know.

    :)

  • Awesome advice, Darren. I was just thinking about the best way to approach Professional Bloggers like yourself.

    John Chow is a local Pro Blogger in my town, and one other thing I did was to spend some time researching and getting to know the person before pitching anything. I also wrote an article called “7 Things I Learned about John Chow” on my blog linking to multiple articles he’s written recently and in the past so other people can get to know him a bit better as well.

    For example, #6 on my list of things I learned about John Chow was that he does NOT budget. :) I think by really getting to know the blogger first yourself you stand a much better chance of “speaking his language” prior to approaching him or her.

    Thanks for the article.

    Paul

  • this coming just two days after an unceremonious advertising request on my blog, can’t but agree to all of it. I especially liked the way .. we bloggers are relational beasts…. there couldn’t have been a better way to put it..

  • Right on. I got pitched a while back from a PR firm that didn’t have a clue. They could have used this post. I blogged about the experience and suggested five things they should have done which seem to line up well with what you’re saying:

    1. Remember that bloggers are individuals not organizations.
    2. Be direct.
    3. Don’t be a spammer.
    4. Bloggers would rather make and break news than react to news.
    5. Study the individual blogs you hope will work with you.

    Here’s the entire post:
    http://tinyurl.com/2qts2z

  • I’m a new blogger and I’m all excited about building a readership and sharing links with other like-minded bloggers. So when is it over-kill? When have I posted too many links in my blogroll?

  • Sue

    Darren,
    As a corrolary post to this, perhaps you could write something about how to approach non-bloggers to contribute to your site. I just got through sending an email to one, who probably has no idea what blogging is. And I have contacted another person asking to talk with him about his experiences (to which he agreed, but at a later date). But a post by you might address such things such as:
    How would you explain it (blogging) in a short email?
    Would asking for an interview be better?
    Which would work best, phone or email if interview was preferable?
    How to personalize it so it wouldn’t seem like a spammy request.
    And so on. I can send or have you post a copy of the letter I just wrote, as a possible example, or better yet, it can be critiqued.

  • hello darren, another great tips, i wonder how many people copy your idea and paste in their ebook. Then sell to newbie..hm

  • Completely agree with the personalize it.

    If the person doesn’t use my blogger name,
    I discard the email immediately.

    I figure if they don’t care about me enough to find out my name,
    why should I care about them?

  • Great tips here, Darren. Especially useful for me, since my day job is in marketing, and pitching to bloggers is something I’m probably going to try doing in the near future.

  • Thanks David, sorry, I meant Darren for the great tips.

    What perfect timing, I’d been biding my time and trying to find relevant and useful things to comment here and build up some sort of “relationship”, before contacting you to ask whether you’d be interested in reviewing (or even just reading) my very first book about being able to live and work from anywhere as Location Independent Professionals (for which there is an affiliate program).

    I’ll go through your list and see whether I’m ready to do so now!

  • Steve

    Nice list. But you couldn’t have used PAPELBON as the picture?

  • Right on target. Even as a new blogger I have already received emails asking me to link to other sites. The one’s that take a few moments to introduce themselves, talk about both of our sites and explain the benefits and relationships we could have get my attention to investigate further.

    The one’s that just say “please link to my site” with a link get nowhere with me.

    Just like using good manners and networking skills in person, I think the same thing goes when you are on the Internet.

  • Funny how out of all the pitchers you could’ve chosen, you picked a picture of Chien-ming Wang. Now, Wang is a ground-ball pitcher rather than a strike-out pitchers, so that means relative to other pitchers, his balls are more frequently hit than the other pitchers. So yeah, more hits than misses, if you are implying that. Then again, it takes someone that loves baseball and loves to stretch metaphors (me) to infer that, so probably not that many people did… :-P

    “Mention something that they’ve recently written, compliment them on something unique to them” You know what’s better than mentioning something a blogger has recently written? Mentioning something they’ve recently written AND something they’ve written a few months ago and how the two posts associate. This shows that you are a long-time reader… even better!

  • So will you tell everyone about my new blog? will you? will you? huh? huh?

    kidding. Thanks for the greats posts. I’m linking to you now.

    Thanks, Jason

  • Thanks for the remarkable roundup, Darren! Like the way you started out with types of pitches. All very helpful for me as a PR consultant/PR blogger.

  • Lessons learned on the back of thousands of pitches (perhaps tens of thousands!) — I couldn’t think of a better source of advice on this.

    The worst mistake I’ve made when pitching is length. It can be an exercise in minimalist expression to try and fit important information into one or two short paragraphs, but I’m getting better.

  • Great, great points to go by, Darren! I found one that more popular bloggers like people to follow nearly more than anything is being quick and precise.

    It’s easy to start typing a novel when you’re trying to pitch someone that matters, but this is generally not a good move if you’re trying to get their attention. Write emails like a good Digg post title – grab ’em, but don’t keep them too long.

    I must have done something right, and I invite all of you to head over to my blog tomorrow as I will post a recently conducted interview with Mr. Rowse himself!

  • Looks like Darren is feeling the burden of being famous… this is always happen when you’ve become someone.. if you’re no one, nobody care…

  • Many bloggers hate to be thought of as journalists.

    Yet I’m amazed at how many of your tips also apply when pitching journalists at newspapers and magazines.

  • This is great advice and it’s applicable to other types of writing pitches, including cover letters for freelance gigs. I’m bookmarking this one :)

    -Melissa Donovan
    Writing for Writers

  • Good Stuff Darren. Congrats on your getting your PR back. :)

  • To be honest, I am always trying to pitch bloggers. This is a good list and maybe the next time I pitch, I can use some of the tricks here.

    I do have some successful attempts of getting the replies I want from bloggers. Maybe I shall keep my efforts up and use these tips to increase my success rate.

    Nice post, Darren.

  • I find this article particularly fascinating, seeing as I’m both on the sending and receiving ends of this.

    I’m a blogger, I receive pitches for techy, marketing or general “girl goodies” like Roxy perfumes a few weeks ago. But I’m also a marketing/PR person for a startup, and I’m so weary of sending anything remotely looking like a press release to a fellow blogger.

    A few of your tips will most definitely help me feel more at ease next time I need to go through this process. :)

    Thanks again for the great posts, Darren!

  • I love the practicality of these tips. They’re especially helpful to new bloggers who don’t know what established bloggers deal with everyday.

    But I think they reduce themselves down to one idea: Love other bloggers as you love yourself.

  • Darren, this is an EXCELLENT article – as a new author (who wasn’t blogging yet) marketing my book in 2001 I made a lot of mistakes. I think the primary one for new authors or writers is assuming that everyone should care – “Look at what I created!” So, your point about being specific, both about what you are asking for and what you are offering, are very pertinent. Keep it simple, keep it genuine, keep it generous. Don’t assume people care and don’t expect them to care! If you have something you think they might care about, tell them why, and seek to make the relationship reciprocal. Thanks!

  • Darren, this is an amazing post. I’ve already shared it with about a hundred people. The value of this post stems from a pro-bloggers experience and how you respond to certain emails and calls.

  • Joan Stewart commented on this briefly above, but I also have to say that the worlds of blogging and print publishing are really not so different in this respect.

    I’ve only recently begun focusing on blogs as a major platform, but I’ve been sending pitch letters for years, and also took an excellent class (Writing for NYC Magazines and Newspapers) in which the second half of the semester featured guest mag & newspaper editors, discussing exactly what they were looking for in a pitch.

    This post is so spot-on. It’s amazing how many freelancers will make the easy-to-avoid mistake of getting an editor’s personal details incorrect. As far as the meat of the letter, I’ve learned to start off showing that I am familiar with and respect THEIR work, rather than focusing on myself. Only after I have established such a connection is it okay for me to, deferentially, go into my own idea, and why I would be the perfect writer for the job.

    As for e-mail stalking…geez louise…you have to realize how much is on their plate. Aside from the multitudes of e-mails they’re receiving from others just like you, they’re trying to put together a gosh-darned publication. I’ve been on that side too, when working at an academic book publisher.

    This comment is getting ridiculously long. I apologize. Great post Darren!

  • Ditto on the kudos! All bloggers and website owners should post a link to this from their own “Contact” page.

    You nailed so many important points… it’s as if you’ve received a few pitches yourself, Darren! :-)

    Bloggers like you are so generous, I suspect people tend to take advantage of you… tend to “de-personalize” you and other bloggers, thinking of you as a “resource” rather than a real person with feelings, desires, needs, likes and dislikes.

    I’m sure this post will help everyone — bloggers and pitchers alike. Very well done!

  • Thanks mate~
    I’m a newbie to the blogging world, and can’t believe the vast array of info. :-)
    Loved your bd celebration, (that’s how I found out about you) fantastic opportunity to learn about your blog, other businesses, and meet new folks.
    Hope your healthy & well,

    =Tamra=

  • Loved the tips list! Thanks for sharing. I’m planning to jump into the blogging pool soon — here’s to a warm reception!

    Linda M. Lopeke

  • Chris Anderson (author of the popular book The Long Tail and also editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine) took it up a notch yesterday on this topic. He wrote a post on his blog where he posted the email address of every person who’s sent him inappropriate pitches and had banned from his email. Here’s the post:
    http://tinyurl.com/ysk996

Rea​dy to Improve Your Blog?

Receive FREE Weekly Updates with our Latest Blogging Tutorials

chevron-down