The life of a content editor is not an easy one. Apart from making sure that the content is well formatted, free of grammar and punctuation errors, not plagiarized and based on facts, he also needs to ensure that the style meets the publication’s guidelines. And that’s just a few things that the content editor needs to pay attention to.
Content editors can have their hands full every time they get a piece of content in their hands (or inbox). Add to that a constant barrage of emails from guest contributors who want their content published on the website the editor is in charge of and you get a good picture of what an editor needs to deal with almost on a daily basis.
It’s no wonder that editors are often quick to reject pitched content, even if the content writer thinks that this is his best work ever. In fact, I bet this happened to you at least once. You get an idea for a guest post, find what you believe is a suitable blog to publish it on, send them a pitch and they reject you. Or they don’t get back to you at all (which is even worse). It stings, I know, so I’m going to teach you how to pitch content to editors and never get rejected again.
Find the Right Match for Your Content
Would you pitch an article about cars to a healthcare and medicine blog? Of course not. It’s vital to find the right match for your content and that takes a little research. You need not only to find websites that cover the same (or at least similar) topics that you do, but to also find as much as you can about their audience, content style and how many people you can reach through them.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Do you have the same audience? Hopefully, you know your target audience by now. Look where they get their information, what they read the most (besides your site, of course). Identify publications that are particularly strong, with a good reach and engagement on social media (you’ll be thankful for this, believe me). You need to find a publication whose readers will appreciate your content and find it useful. Otherwise, you’re wasting your (and the editor’s) time.
- What is their style? Every blog and website has (or at least should have) it’s own, unique style. Some are playful, with a fun tone and voice, while others have a serious and professional style. Plus, there’s everything in-between. Find out what style the publication prefers and make sure your article matches it before you “sell it” to them.
- What kind of content do they like? Are they like Buzzfeed and publish only listicles, or do they prefer how-to articles? Perhaps a op ed would do better? Or how about something evergreen? Also, should you write a short piece or a long one? It’s likely that the publication does more than one of these, but you should take a good look what those are exactly. You don’t want to pitch something that they can’t use on their site.
- Identify your goal(s). Is your goal to increase the number of your subscribers, reach a larger audience than you currently have, build more leads or something else? Finding the right publication to pitch will help you achieve that goal.
How to Pitch Content to Editors the Wrong Way?
Pitching your content idea to editors isn’t an exact science, but there’s the right way and the wrong way to do it. The proposal email needs to clear, with a personal note and the subject line enticing enough.
Here’s and example of how NOT to pitch content to editors:
Subject Line: Blog Post
I have an article that you can post on your site. I’ve attached the article below. Do respond by tomorrow 6PM.
Ugh, such a short pitch and yet there’s so many things wrong with it. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
First, the subject line is far from appealing. Based on it alone, you can bet this email won’t even be opened and the editor will promptly hit spam or delete it immediately. He won’t even bother to open it to check what’s inside. So, that’s mistake number one.
Mistake number two is the obvious lack of any effort to find out at least who it is pitched to. Who is that “hey” addressed to? Editors have names. Find out the name of the person you want to propose your article to and use it in your introduction (make sure you spell it correctly, of course). An introduction like this is not only impersonal and impolite, but is also something you might see from people who try to send the same submission to multiple websites and then wait to see if someone responds.
The body is vague and rude. So you have an article and you want the editor to post it on their site? Well, how about telling him what the article is about, why would it be interesting and useful to the site’s audience? This tells him nothing (and is, quite frankly a bit rude).
Speaking of rude, have you seen that deadline? Talk about disrespecting the editors time. I guess he should just drop everything and get right on it?
What to Look for in Your Pitch and What to Avoid?
Once you’ve found the right publication, it’s time to prep your content pitch. It’s a bit of a delicate process, so stay with me, while I go through some tips for you.
- Does the site accept guest posts?
Find out if the site accepts guest posts at all. If they have a section on their site that says something like “Write for Us” or “Guest Posts”, you’ll just have to refer to it on how to pitch your content to them. Many don’t have this section however, but will still accept a guest post if it is good. Just send them an email asking if they accept guest posts on their site and if so would it be okay to pitch one? If they say that they don’t (or if it already says so somewhere on the site), then that’s it.
- Pay attention to the guidelines
The publication guidelines include things like the style, format, what font to use, how many headlines to include, how many links, images, can you link your blog in the article itself or in the separate bio section and a lot more. Never start writing an article for someone else without knowing these things first. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that you’ll do it all wrong and get an otherwise awesome article rejected. What a waste.
- What’s the right way to pitch to them?
For instance, on this site, I like contributors to pitch a few topic ideas so I can pick something that I think will suit my blog and audience the best. Somewhere else, they’ll ask you to submit a whole article, a concept for one (like a general idea) or an excerpt from one.
- Edit and proofread your article like crazy
If you got to the point where the editor says, “okay, send me your article”, don’t ruin all that effort with terrible grammar, punctuation, blatant plagiarism and a complete lack of fact-checking. Edit the article rigorously before you send it to the editor and ensure it is tip-top. Come on, don’t be lazy with this.
- Ask and listen to the editor’s feedback
Journalists are especially notorious for having a huge ego. Tell them something is wrong with their article and they often don’t take it very well. Don’t be that guy. Fortunately, that’s not the case with most freelance writers. Ask the editor for a feedback on your article and listen to it, whether good or bad. That will actually help you improve your writing for the future.
One final note. Use this to build a good relationship with another publication and not just as a one-time deal. It will be much easier to submit and get your future articles accepted if they know who you are already then if they don’t and you’ll have a better idea of their style and audience.
Did I miss anything important on how to pitch content to editors? Let me know in the comments below if you have anything to add or ask and don’t forget to share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.