Hover your cursor over the ‘Contact’ option in our menu and you’ll notice a page entitled ‘Write For Us’.
Despite us going to the effort of putting this page together and having it linked on some high authority websites…
…we continue to receive the same email ‘mistakes’ from hopeful guest writers.
In this article, I’m going to reveal some of the worst emails I have ever received and highlight their biggest errors.
Before we dive into the heart of this blog, I need to make a promise…
…everything you’re about to read has genuinely found its way into my (or the general enquiries) email inbox. I haven’t tampered, edited or written any of the following communications.
If you’re new to content marketing, are receiving very few replies to your guest post enquiries or you’re just here to witness some seriously cataclysmic mistakes, this is going to be an eye opening experience.
BTW: All names, businesses and contact details have been blurred or cut from the following emails to prevent embarrassment! These emails have been included to highlight mistakes made in guest post pitches, not insult or belittle anyone!
‘I Know You’re Struggling…’
This is actually the third guest post email I’ve received from this person. Rest assured, the other two weren’t any better.
Let’s start by looking at the intro:
When somebody tries to be funny at the start of a guest post pitch, it comes across as cheesy, limp and cliché. Before I’d even got into the heart of the content I was already on the back foot.
But, just when you think it can’t get any worse…
…is that an insult?
Even if it’s not intended to be derogatory, it still comes across that way.
I’m not sure how they ‘knew’ we were ‘struggling’, but either way, we continue to publish unique content, grow our audience and are forced to fight hard to fit new authors into our content calendar…
…without their help.
Moral of the story: Don’t try to be funny and don’t write anything that can be perceived as an insult.
This email makes the list for several reasons. It actually made me laugh-out-loud (just a little), when I read it for the first time.
It’s a classic example of a bulk email sent to multiple editors. I don’t have anything against this strategy, but please, if you’re going to do it, spend some time personalising the email and completing your template.
Notice the mistake here?
They’ve sent me an email saying that they’d like to submit a guest post to a DIFFERENT website. We’re Einstein Marketer! Our name is in the email address you used to contact us!
But, this isn’t even the part that shocked me. Get ready for this:
They’ve either copied and pasted this email template from somewhere, or prompted themselves to write a ‘bullet point list of your article outline’, without actually doing it…
…and to make things worse, they’ve just left it in there!
At least they sign off with an informative summary:
When creating a guest post pitch, don’t claim or tell, show the editor who you are. This person should’ve at least informed me who they are a ‘professional content writer’ for (which business/brand) and proven their ability with at least one link to their content.
Moral of the story: If you use a template, make sure you personalise it for every pitch. And if you make claims, back them up!
‘An Enthusiastic Writer…’
Before I explain why this email made me groan the moment I opened it, see if you can spot the mistake:
Did you spot it?
To a trained eye, this email lacks any form of personalisation and talks about our blog in the broadest sense. Yes, this will instantly put you in an editor’s bad books, but the thing that gives this email from ‘an enthusiastic writer’ absolutely no chance of a response…
…is the fact that I receive two or three of these a week!
It’s a copied and pasted template, probably from a result on the first page of Google. They haven’t even gone to the effort of inserting a name, link or website.
Moral of the story: If you think you’re being clever by copying a template that’s online, you aren’t. In fact, you’re doing the same thing as 10,000 other people! And yes, I’ve read them all over and over again! And no, I won’t reply.
Another way to give yourself absolutely no chance of being published (by a sane human being) is to make ridiculous requests.
This email is short and concise, and while it doesn’t include much personalisation or interest in our blog, it isn’t the worst opening I’ve ever read…
…until you reach the closing paragraph.
Please bear in mind that this is a cold email from somebody I have never spoken to before…
…and yet, straight off the bat they request to ‘take a sneak-peak’ at my calendar.
Asking for something ridiculous like this tells me that either:
- They have no idea what they’re doing
- They want to do something sinister with my content calendar (e.g. copy it)
Moral of the story: Asking for an editor, content manager or director to take the time out of their day to consider your submission is more than enough! Don’t ask for anything else before you’ve developed some semblance of a relationship.
‘Why You Should Consider:’
When the first line of an email looks like this, I already know it’s going to be a bust:
Notice the small ‘i’, the use of ‘will’ instead of ‘can’ and the use of the word ‘free’. Not to mention that they haven’t introduced themselves or declared an interest in Einstein Marketer.
This poor opening is followed by another which rings (more) alarm bells:
Notice another small case ‘i’.
There are few things I hate more in a guest post pitch than somebody who asks for a backlink (especially in the first email!).
I go through all the guest post emails once a day and at least 50% of them ask for a backlink in exchange for a piece of content.
As a guest author, don’t waste space in an email asking for a backlink! You’re going to get it if you’re published (it’s a guarantee). It’s an amateurish move and tells an editor that you don’t care about the audience.
This guest pitcher then goes on to list 3 reasons ‘Why You Should Consider’. Let’s look at them in order:
100 percent unique content…OK, I was hoping for that anyway.
Quality content…good news…
How can anybody follow-up the promise of ‘quality content’ with a sentence like that?
Moral of the story: Always check your punctuation and grammar, especially if you’re enquiring about being a guest author. Never ask for backlinks, and if you’re going to include bullet-points make sure they’re specific and relevant to your pitch.
‘Casino and Forex Related Website’
I see this type of email A LOT and could’ve taken my pick from a whole heap of different examples.
As a blog that receives decent levels of traffic, we are regularly asked whether we accept payment in return for sponsored posts, (irrelevant) links or if we’d like to run native ads.
It only takes a few seconds to skim through our website to see that we don’t accept any of these things.
Our first priority is our audience. That means no dodgy links, no irrelevant content and most importantly, their needs at the heart of everything we do.
Admittedly, nobody in our team ever replies to these emails. If the enquirer cannot be bothered to research us, why should we bother replying to their bulk email blast.
The reason I selected this email (over the 1,000,000 others) is that at the end of this enquiry, they offer us the chance to hire them, followed by an unusual ‘J’ (which has nothing to do with their name).
Moral of the Story: (The majority of) content managers only want to receive content that is relevant to their audience (including links). If you’re using guest posts to build links for clients, at least take the time to research the website first.
‘Crisp & Clear’
Something that I see way too often from people who call themselves ‘writers’ or ‘authors’ is a huge overcompensation in their writing. For some strange reason, they use as many long words as they can cram into their ridiculously lengthy sentences.
This isn’t good writing. A skilled blogger, author or writer can communicate their ideas in as few words as possible.
When I see an enquiry like the one I’m about to share, it tells me a lot about the potential contributor (and very few of these signs are positive).
There is so much competition online (particularly in content marketing) that an audience’s attention span can be incredibly short. When an article is over-written, long-winded and comes across as arrogant (as this pitch does), it drives readers away.
The sad thing about a pitch like this is, you can tell that the writer actually takes pride in their work. Unfortunately, there are just too many unnecessary phrases. Any content manager would know that they’d have a nightmare trying to get through an article.
And just when you think things can’t get any worse, they ask for a do-follow link…
Moral of the story: Keep your writing as simple as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s an email, essay or blog. The easier an audience can understand the ideas in your writing, the more chance you have of winning readers.
‘…artistic flair in civilisation fantasies…’
Occasionally, we receive an email which is so left-field that it takes us all back. This example is exactly that…
…but before we take a ride into the depths of this guest post enquiry. I want you to see the email as a whole (try not to read it yet, we’ll look at the content in a few moments).
Other than the use of emojis, what’s the first thing you notice?
As somebody who receives a lot of emails, opening a message like this immediately makes me groan.
It’s too long, especially for a guest post pitch.
I have nothing against a 5 paragraph structure, but there’s just too much text in this enquiry. A perfect guest post pitch is about 50% the size of the (above) example.
Let’s look at a few of the mistakes in this email:
As mentioned in a few of the other email examples, the best thing you can do as a guest post enquirer is to show what you can do, not tell. Telling me that you have ‘a way with words’ and that I’ll be ‘truly amazed’, doesn’t prove anything.
Show me that you have a way with words by linking previous work. And if you don’t have any previous work, show enthusiasm for the subject, do not overcompensate by telling me how amazing you are.
The most obvious thing that’s wrong with this section is its total lack of relevance. When you’re writing anything (especially an email), you should always have a target reader in mind.
On this occasion, the target reader was me, and these two paragraphs have absolutely zero relevance or relation to what I do.
Despite not fitting my requirements from a guest post, I could tell that this emailer had made a big effort with his enquiry so I replied to this letter with a few pointers…
…and at least he closed the letter pleasantly!
Moral of the story: Keep your guest post email enquiries short and concise. Make sure you prove any claims and stay relevant.
The 8 emails in this blog were not included to belittle, hurt or insult anyone. They were included to highlight mistakes that all guest authors should avoid.
As a guest author, it’s integral that you show interest in the blog you’re targeting for publication, a dedication to quality and demonstrate your skills (without bragging about them!).
Anybody who’s considering submitting a guest post should always read the website’s author guidelines, research the content and personalise their communications.
Ask yourself, is it better to spend ten minutes sending out 50 emails and receiving no responses, or ten minutes writing one email that you’ll definitely hear back from?
I know what works for me.
If you’d like to learn more about writing guest post enquiries, check out A Content Director’s Guide to Guest Post Pitches…
…or take a look at our Write For Us page.