Andy Capaloff
November 29, 2018

Guest Blogger Outreach: Here’s What Not To Do (And Some Tips)

Guest Blogger Outreach mistakes and tips

I get it. You want to further your blogging career by way of guest blogging. It’s a great way to get in front of a new audience. And of course, if your article meets the requirements of the blog you pitch, it’s good for them also, as they have some excellent content to publish.

There are, however, far more bad pitches than good ones.

The majority of guest blogger outreach emails meet two or three basic formats. And anyone who has read enough of them simply doesn’t want to read a pre-written, formulaic email. It honestly doesn’t bode well for the care that might go into the content you will ultimately send.

Some Important Things For You To Consider

Just to step back for a moment or two, blog editors who have been ‘on the job’ for a while receive lots of emails every day – more than just guest blogger outreach emails. We’ll get all or most of the following pretty much every day:

  • Non-specific advertising requests
  • People wanting to publish sponsored posts, but who say nothing about the business they want to publish for. They want to pay peanuts but require dofollow links to be included. Do they know or care that Google has said businesses could be sanctioned if they do these? Seriously, these people annoy the hell out of me! NO! We will not risk falling foul of Google rules for $40!!!
  • “Collaboration” requests. Collaboration means you give something and you get something. It does not mean only the other person gives. Don’t use the word when you are only asking for something. IT’S ANNOYING!
  • “I saw your article [insert link – or more annoyingly no link here]. I wrote a far more comprehensive article. Please add the resource to your article.” Two or three of these come in each day. Yes, if it comes from a good website, there is an SEO boost to be gained. But that’s typically not the case. And honestly, it’s rarely worth even the time it took to read the email if the article being pointed to is old.
  • Broken Link Building outreaches. Yes, we like these!

Then there are the guest blogging outreach emails. And oh boy, are some of them doozies!

Why Your Guest Blogger Outreach Emails are Usually Ignored

Here are a few of the email types that will guarantee a very small response rate – and an even more minuscule positive response rate:

1. Adopting an English-sounding Moniker

I was told by a Ukrainian contributor that many blog editors ignore emails from people who have foreign sounding names.

I find this short-sighted, and frankly, ignorant of the blog editors who do this And in the case of every Ukrainian we’ve ever published, they’re also missing out on excellent articles written by brilliant people, in language that puts some Americans and Brits to shame.

But there is an unfortunate side effect to that ignorance:

There are many people who are from Eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent who adopt English sounding names – often absurdly preternatural English names.

I’ve said this before: If your name sounds as if English is not your first language, I will cut you some slack for imperfect English. (But of course, I don’t have sufficient time to spend 2 hours editing your piece, either!)

But if your name is Felicity Jones or James Dickens, your English had better be pretty damned good. If your outreach (or article) suggests that you are non-English speaking, but your name suggests otherwise, you’re guaranteed to annoy virtually everyone you email. More on this later…

Catch me on a bad day, and I’ll put your name in quotes when I respond to you.

2. Have You Honestly Read Our Blog For Years?

Please! Don’t tell us you always read our blog, then prove the lie by proposing articles for an entirely different audience.

Your attempts at flattery will not soften up any editor.

We’ve all seen it before. And we all know that 90% of the time, it’s a lie.

Quite contrary to your presumption that you’ve appealed to our vanity, false flattery puts our backs up instead. If we didn’t click off of your email or delete it, the rest of it needs to make up for the deceit in your opening.

A Few More Things NOT To Do!

  1. Don’t buy or leverage from a formulaic outreach template. It’s a formula. We’ve seen it. We know it’s not sincere.
  2. Don’t call yourself an expert. Have you looked at some of the people we’ve previously published? Some amazing names and great writers there. And they didn’t have to call themselves experts. We knew that’s what they were… and they proved it with their content. Let your content do the talking!
  3. Don’t promise the world – especially if you’re also guilty of any of the above! Do you know those letters you receive that scream their importance and urgency on the envelop, and then there’s nothing you ever needed to see? Well, there’s an analogy there. Most emails that scream of the writer’s brilliance and originality, lead to articles that are poor rehashes of oft-written subjects.
  4. Let’s be perfectly frank here. There’s little that you can write that we haven’t seen. Strive for original presentation. Don’t promise us 100% unique content.
  5. How many bleeping journalists are there, anyway! And since when did most of them not know how to write? Stop with this nonsense already!
  6. Don’t ask us what you should write. That tells me that you will learn a subject as you write. And for all except the absolute best writers, it’s really obvious when people are doing this.
  7. Don’t tell us you love our content on a subject we never write about.
  8. Don’t mention an article you liked without linking to it.
  9. We actually had someone tell us they loved an article of ours but linked to a page instead. No, we weren’t impressed.

Here’s What You Should Do

Throw out the advice you’ve been given on how to write a guest contributor outreach. If one person had great success with it, that doesn’t mean you will. And if something looks like most other emails we receive, you start out in a big hole.

There’s only one of you, and your outreach should reflect that. Be nice. Maybe be a little funny. But definitely, be sincere.

Definitely include samples of previously published articles. It isn’t mandatory, but by all means, link to articles geared towards different niches and audiences with varying knowledge levels. But make sure you include at least one that demonstrates some knowledge of the niche served by the blog you’re pitching.

READ THE GUIDELINES! At least half of the people who submit articles to us prove they skimmed them, at best. How do we know this? They don’t suggest article titles. They write things we’ve seen 1000 times, that are way off niche and/or to a level far junior for us to publish. Or they submit articles via Google Docs although we specifically request for them to not do so. (Images cannot be saved and formatting them on WordPress can be a major drag.) They submit an article without a bio or Twitter ID – two of the things we request…

In Closing

Again, throw away the advice you’re reading. As with all advice telling people a strategy was successful for them (“This is how I got a million followers in 6 months”), you will never replicate anyone’s success by copying. Your business isn’t the same. You are you, not them. And only they were original!

I Purposely didn’t include email examples as we never look to name and shame. But if you recognise yourself in any of the above points, please take them to heart. You’re probably a very good and very well-meaning person. And I’m sure: your emails are mostly ignored, and you had no idea why. Well, now you do!

One last thing. If you’re invited to write for the blog you pitched, you are not certain to be published. Just as surely as a lousy pitch will exclude you, if your article opens in a trite manner, such as…

“Social Media has become really important for Business”


“More and more businesses are finding they need a blog”

(yes, some are that bad!) … many will stop reading. And those who don’t will have formed an immediate negative opinion.

Over To You

What have your experiences been as a wannabe guest blogger?

What things can other blog editors add to the above list of no-nos?

Please leave your comments, below. Thanks!


You may also want to readHow to Use Guest Blogging to Build Your Business

Guest Blogging Guidelines: How We Compiled Ours

Guest Blogging Outreach: How to Pitch an Article No One Will Turn Down

7 Things No Editor Wants To See In Your Guest Contributor Pitch

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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.