8 Things To Avoid When Pitching A Website Or Print Publication

jaws4242Tips & Tricks14 Comments

Guest Post By Sarah Cottrell of Housewife Plus

I am no stranger to the art of the pitch. Not only have I written hundreds of them, but I also receive quite a few for my House Guest series at my newspaper blog. I have learned that while there may be numerous strategies for writing a successful pitch tailored to speak directly to a specific editor, there are also some universal mistakes that every writer will make at some point.

8 Things To Avoid When Pitching A Website Or Print Publication - Beyond Your Blog Guest Post By Sarah Cottrell

If you want to create a polished pitch letter then make doubly sure you have avoided these eight mistakes:

1) Emoji’s Are Lame
When I open a pitch from someone I do not know and they are asking me to publish their work on my site, I immediately delete their email when I see an emoji face in place of words. If you cannot use words to express your ideas, wants, or feelings then you are not showing me that you can write well. OWN YOUR WORDS.

[bctt tweet=”If you want to create a polished pitch letter, make doubly sure you have avoided these 8 mistakes @housewife_plus “]

2) You Are Not That Humble

There is something awkward and low-class about receiving an email peppered with phrases like, “OMG, I would love you if…” or “pretty please” or even “it would be such a humbling honor if”. Begging is unprofessional and manipulative. If you truly are humble then show by the structure of your pitch letter by expressing respectful language and following basic etiquette.

3) Rambling

Get to your point as quickly and clearly as possible. Tell the editor who you are and what you want in fewer than 100 words. Then paste your BEST links – no more than three at the end of your pitch. Be sure to leave a friendly yet professional- NOT lovey-dovey – salutation with a call to action like, “I look forward to hearing from you soon!” BOOM. Done.

RELATED: Pitching Perfect: How To Pitch Your Writing To Publications

4) Proving You Have No Idea Who The Editor Is

Do not tell the editor you are pitching that you found them by Googling the Internet. Take the time to actually read the site you are pitching and get a feel for who they are, what they publish, and take note of how you might be able to contribute in an innovative way. Then take the time to express that to the editor!

5) Clips With Broken Links Are Worse Than Not Sending Clips  

If you send a few clips of your work then make sure that the links you use actually work. Do not make the editor email you back asking for workable links. First of all, most editors won’t bother to ask, they will just delete your email. Secondly, if you start an editorial relationship by making your editor do the leg work to find out about you then you are immediately telling that editor that your work is sloppy.

6) Pitching The Wrong Material

Do not pitch a site with a story that clearly will not work. For example, my blog is a non-political, non-religious humor site for moms, so imagine my surprise when I got a pitch from a right-wing religious woman who wanted me to share her list on why housewives need to accept Jesus in their hearts to be better wives and mothers who serve both God and their husbands. NOPE. This woman clearly has never read my blog. Ever.

7) Be Patient, Dear Grasshopper

Do not be impatient while waiting for a response. It is customary to wait at least 7 – 10 business days before you send a brief and super polite follow-up email. Make sure you read the site to see what they say about follow-up emails and general contact guidelines. They may ask you NOT to do this.

8) Slap Dash Emails Are Lazy

Do not take 5 minutes to write a pitch. TAKE YOUR TIME! I cannot tell you how many emails I have received that were full of spelling mistakes or smashed up sentences that looked like the person was sending me a drunk text. Polish your pitch. This is the first point of contact and it should reflect that you are a solid writer, so use your big kid writer words.

[bctt tweet=”#8 Your pitch letter should not look like a drunken text @housewife_plus”]

REMEMBER: When you pitch a magazine, a website, or another blog you need to be polite, professional, and brief. Make your point boldly

cottrell_headshot_housewifeplusTo learn more about Sarah Cottrell’s writing services, publications + books, PR, or to inquire about having a book reviewed or guest posting for her newspaper blog please visit her website, Bangor Daily News blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest pages.

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14 Comments on “8 Things To Avoid When Pitching A Website Or Print Publication”

  1. PR should read this, too, because I get some awful pitches for PR on my blog that violate some of these in a pretty big way. Clearly knowing nothing about my blog is the one that irritates me most. You talk about getting a pitch for a “Jesus” post on a non-religious blog; I get the opposite. I have a very conservative Christian blog and, no joke, within about three days I got pitches for a gay magazine, recreational marijuana, and divorce lawyers — clearly not good advertising fits for my audience. This not only wastes the time of the person you’re pitching; it’s a waste for the person doing the pitching — your article or ad is not going to benefit you in a poorly-matched outlet.

    1. Hi Rachel, I’m a copywriter with a background in PR and marketing (and also write press releases). Sadly, the art of the pitch, especially for PR practitioners, has gone downhill. I think a lot of it has to do with laziness. When I worked with self-pubbed authors and assisted them with marketing plans, I always told them to be very proactive and conduct extensive research when it comes to the media and online publications. It’s a huge pet peeve and as a professional writer, I always try to do as much research about the publication and editorial team before I pitch. I mostly write for companies but also write for a few niche blogs and online publications.

      Thanks, Sarah. Great article.

  2. Dear Editor of Housewife Plus,

    I couldn’t find your name in Google, and I’ve never read your page, but I have a friend who says you’re page is totes legit. 😉

    I’d really like to right for you. I’m a mom and writer and I have some really really good things I’ve written for my local gardening newsletter here in rural Kentucky. OMG it would be such an honor if you’d read them and let me know what you think and if you’d think about publishing them on Housewives Plus.

    Here’s my link to my favorite thing I wrote. Let me know if the link doesn’t work. http://www.com

    If you could let me know in the next hour if you want to print my stuff in your newspaper, that would be really helpful. I have to go to the grocery store and I’m not sure I can focus if I have to wait for you.


  3. Hi Sarah, after almost two years of blogging I’d like to start pitching some of my posts for publication, but I really have no idea how to go about it (added to my ‘To Do’ list for the New Year). Your post has helped me get a rough idea of what not to do, which I am sure will help me no end.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Or how about, “I’m a professional journalist and I can write about this … or that … or just about anything. I just want a link to my site associated with the blog post.”

    Before you pitch a guest post, read the *#*@!! blog!

  5. Pingback: The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2016

  6. Pingback: Eliminate This One Phrase That Weakens Your Pitches | Beyond Your Blog

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