5 rules for pitching your content to editors

Editors of online publications offer great opportunities for thoughtful leaders to publish their writing and draw bigger audiences. Here’s how you can earn editors’ attention.

Before you can start building relationships with editors at your favorite online publications, it’s important to learn how to pitch your content—and yourself.

Here are a few key elements of effective email pitches that will start you off on the right foot:

1. Use a descriptive subject line.

If a publication accepts guest posts, its editor probably receives hundreds of pitches each week, and the first part of the pitch she sees is the subject line. So keep it short, compelling and accurate. An email with a subject line that tells the editor what to expect and gives her an idea of the article’s content is one she’ll want to open.

2. Start with a friendly, personal introduction.

Addressing the editor by name shows that you care enough about the relationship to take the time to research her and get her name right. Feel free to get personable and ask how her week is going or throw in a friendly greeting. After addressing the editor, briefly introduce yourself, your company, and why you’re contacting her

I emphasize “briefly” here because you don’t want to dive right into your article without introducing yourself, but you also don’t want the bulk of the email to be all about you, either. Keeping your introduction genuine and to the point creates a great opportunity to start building trust with the editor.

3. Include a (brief) article summary.

In the body of your email, provide a concise summary of the article you’re pitching. In it, be sure to include the key takeaways and something that will pique the editor’s interest. By doing this, your email will be easy to read, will save the editor time and will enable her to quickly assess whether your article will truly serve the publication’s readers.

4. Offer exclusive, nonpromotional content.

Editors don’t want content that’s being published by competing publications; they want readers coming to their publication for content that can only be found there. It’s important for you not to pitch multiple editors the same content and to make it crystal clear to the editor you’re pitching that the content you’re sending is exclusive to her publication.

You also want to ensure that your content isn’t too promotional. According to “The State of Digital Media 2018,” 79 percent of editors say that overly promotional content is one of the biggest problems with the guest content pitches they receive. Remember, these editors want content that educates their readers and gives them a new perspective, not sales pitches for your service or product.

5. Show respect for the editor’s schedule and preferences.

Your email should acknowledge the editor’s busy schedule, illustrate your willingness to cooperate with the other items on her agenda and propose a date by which you’ll follow up. This will deepen the trust you began building with your personal introduction and exclusive content, and it signals your accountability for the content you pitch.

An example of a poor pitch

Every editorial relationship has to start somewhere. Below is an example of the kind of email that would fail to set you up for a mutually beneficial relationship with an online publication editor:

Subject Line: Article

Hello,

I have attached an article submission for you to publish on your site. Please respond before 5 p.m. tomorrow. My article is attached.

Meagan

What’s wrong with this email? Let me count the ways.

  • The subject line isn’t enticing. Editors receive hundreds of pitches every day. A generic subject line doesn’t give an editor any reason to even open the email, let alone encourage him to accept your pitch for a guest post.
  • The introduction is impersonal. In your research, you should be able to find the name of the section editor to whom you’re pitching your content. If you can find it, use it. Failing to include the editor’s name is impolite, and it signals that might be blindly sending this email to any editor or publication.
  • The body of the email is vague. If you don’t offer any summary of the article, the editor has no way of quickly assessing whether this content will be a good fit for his publication and be valuable to its readers. He is likely to move on to the next pitch in his inbox for someone who did.
  • The deadline is unreasonable. Requesting a review that soon after you pitch your content is disrespectful because it implies that you think this article is more important than anything else the editor is doing.

A better option

Here is an example of the kind of email that will show a publication editor you’re a thoughtful, respectful and knowledgeable contributor:

Subject Line: Exclusive Contributed Article Submission: Reaching Out to Editors

Hi Natalie,

I hope you’ve had a great start to your week! My name is Meagan Nolte, and I’m a publication strategist at Influence & Co. I have written an exclusive, non-promotional article for The Knowledge Bank.

In my article, I offer advice for how content marketers can reach out to editors to get their content published online. I’ve included actionable tips about how to write the email so it’s more appealing for a busy editor to read, and I’ve provided examples of both good and bad emails.

I think this article would fit perfectly on your site. It helps further the conversation presented in another article published a few months ago and will help provide your readers with a more well-rounded knowledge of this topic.

My article and headshot are attached for you to review. Feel free to make any editorial changes that you see fit, or let me know if there is anything else you need from me. I understand that you’re busy, so I’ll touch base with you on Monday if I don’t hear back from you by then.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Meagan Nolte

Meagan Nolte is a Publication Strategist at Influence & Co. Follow her on Twitter @MeaganNolte. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co. blog.

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