If you want to write for a popular blog, you might be quick to second guess your chances of getting published. Don’t do that, OK.
Why? There’s an estimated 500 million blogs on the internet, and many of those pay freelancers $100 to $500+ to write blog posts to engage readers, drive traffic, and generate sales.
Right now popular blog editors in every niche need freelance writers. And they’re flooded with pitches. Only most are bang-your-head-against-the-wall terrible.
For example: “I like to read and I’m passionate about writing. Will you hire me?” It’s like spraying my eyes with toxic chemicals. Never…Ever…Ever…send a blog editor a pitch like this.
So how do yo pitch editors for popular blogs and get noticed? Study the guidelines and read the blog before you pitch an editor. That’s a good place to start. Duh!
Most editors also have a wish list of what they’re looking for when they review a pitch, along with a trigger finger for certain types of gaffes and mistakes.
Want to write for a popular blog? Avoid these mistakes to get an editor’s attention.
Rejected: 4 pitch-killing gaffes to avoid
Maybe you’ve got your sites set on writing for a popular blog like Business Insider, Huffington Post, LifeHacker, or others on this list of blogs that get millions of visitors.
Maybe you’ve made a list of dream clients, a goal-setting task Carol frequently recommends in the Freelance Writers Den.
Or maybe there’s a niche blog you want to write for to boost your portfolio, get paid well, and get in front of more potential freelance writing clients.
How do you break thru, get an editor to notice, and land an assignment for a popular blog?
Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do.
Why? Ask any editor for a popular blog about reviewing pitches, and you’ll hear a common theme…most suck.
As in delete…delete…delete. Sometimes it’s literally that fast if your pitch really stinks.
Here’s a little sample of what my inbox looks like most days:
Dig a little deeper into this festering problem, and the gaffes that make editors feel like going postal on their keyboard are kind of universal.
Want to write for a popular blog? Don’t make these mistakes when you pitch the editor.
1. You’re not really pitching anything
When you send an editor at a popular blog an email, they’re generally looking for one thing…a good idea for a blog post.
Here’s an editing test straight from my inbox.
- Any blog post ideas here?
- Would you give this writer an assignment?
“Hello Team ,
Hope you are doing well. I was poking around your website for articles and found your posts awesomeness! I’m a passionate blogger who loves to write and understands the value of good content. Can I be a regular contributor?”
It’s a NO for me. Nothing here that tells me this writer actually knows anything about the site, the audience, or has any ideas for blog posts.
Sometimes an editor might be nice enough to point writers like this to submission guidelines. But usually it’s enough to trigger delete-finger twitching spasms.
Editor’s Wish List: Show off your blog post ideas when you email an editor. And keep it brief. An editor is looking for great blog posts to put on the planning calendar, and doesn’t have time for babysitting.
2. Your pitch has nothing to do with (niche)
Let me illustrate this gaffe with a little story.
Let’s say you wear prescription glasses. Your Grandma Cookie comes over and starts complaining that she can’t see very well.
“It’s OK Grandma, you can use my glasses,” you tell her. “They help me see really well.”
Grandma Cookie puts on your glasses. Takes a blurry step forward, trips over the rug, and breaks her hip on the way down.
It’s crazy, right? Giving Grandma Cookie your glasses doesn’t make any sense. Please tell me you wouldn’t do this.
When you send an editor a blurry blog post pitch…
It’s an epic fail. It’s an epic waste of time for you and the editor. And it’s one of the fastest ways to get rejected.
Every editor has to sift through this problem. At Make a Living Writing (news flash: this blog ONLY publishes posts about the business and craft of freelance writing), I get pitch ideas from writers about:
- Real estate investing
- Binary stock trading
- Vacation destinations
- Automotive parts and manufacturing
- Multi-level marketing, and more
Editor’s Wish List: Let me be very clear about this (see what I did there?). When you pitch an editor, make sure your idea aligns with the blog and the target audience. Show the editor you get the voice and style of the site and know the niche. Anything else is just a blurry mess and broken hip waiting to happen.
3. Your working headline reeks of laziness
Here’s another mistake too many freelance writers make when they pitch an editor at a popular blog…lazy headline writing.
If you’re following old-school journalism rules, you might think the summary headline is the way to go. But that’s a dying practice.
Popular blogs depend on wicked-smart headlines to generate clicks, likes, and follows, drive traffic, and generate sales.
Yet, too many writers with a great idea for a blog post, don’t take the time to write a great headline.
Are you a lazy headline writer?
If you have a great idea for a blog post with a weak headline, you might still land an assignment. But if you want to stand out, and really get the attention of an editor at a popular blog, write a great headline.
Here’s how freelance writer Liz Careathers explains the power of headlines at SmartBlogger:
If you want to write a great blog post full of clarity, conciseness, and conviction, spend some time crafting a quality headline that sets a clear destination, lures readers in, and leaves them eager for your advice.” -Liz Careathers
Check your headline writing skills
When you pitch an editor a blog post idea do you:
- Study the length and style of the blog’s most popular posts?
- Identify the key phrase being used in those headlines for SEO?
- Find a key phrase that’s getting traffic to write the headline for your post?
- Make sure your blog post headline is the right length for search results?
If you answered, YES to all of these. You’re killing it. If you’re not, now is always a good time to start. It takes practice. But can totally develop your headline writing skills.
Check out the iterations of the headline for the last post of 2019. Five rewrites. Not bad. Sometimes it’s 10 to 20 to get it right.
How much will a great headline set you apart?
Think about it this way. I’ve edited and published more than 400 blog posts for Make a Living Writing, and reviewed thousands of pitches. Only a few writers have followed the headline writing steps above. And I’m sure that’s similar for other popular blogs.
Editor’s Wish List: Pitch blog post ideas with amazing headlines. Seriously, this is one of the best ways to land an assignment for a popular blog.
4. Your pitch is way too formal
Guess what? The days of business letter formalities are over, especially for freelance writers.
And that’s a good thing for busy editors. All the editors I know are always swamped with emails, the blog post calendar, managing freelancers and designers, and trying to stay on top of it all.
When you send an editor a pitch stuffed with a lot of formal language and conventions, you’re on the fast track to getting deleted after the first sentence.
Seriously. If a pitch for a writer isn’t going to make the cut, sometimes I can tell in the first couple of words. Don’t start a pitch this way:
- Dear Sir or Madam
- To whom it may concern
- Dear Mr. Ms., Mrs. (last name)
- Dear Mr. Ms., Mrs. (first name)
- Dear (and the editor’s name is spelled wrong)
- Dear Editorial Department
Other gaffes that can kill your pitch in a hurry include things like the old-school Roman numeral outline, lawyer-ee language about working together, or anything else that just sounds like it’s all business.
Just be yourself. Say “hi.” Keep it friendly, even casual/conversational. Obviously you need a good idea and solid writing skills, too. It’s a much better way to get your foot in the door.
Here’s an example:
The casual approach to earning $135K as a freelance writer
When freelance writer Jen Miller realized she wasn’t doing enough pitching to reach her income goals, she reached out for help.
Miller got advice from content marketing pro Jennifer Goforth Gregory, and then got busy…really busy pitching editors.
Miller used a conversational style to send out 500 pitches in one year. And it worked.
The result: She earned $135,000 from freelance writing in one year, and explains how she did it here.
Editor’s Wish List: Use a casual, conversational style when you pitch editors. And forget about all those formalities you learned in English class.
Get assignments to write for popular blogs
If you want to land assignments for popular blogs that pay well, don’t make these mistakes. Instead, fill the editor’s wish list. Study the site, audience, and popular posts. Come up with a great idea. Write a great headline, and pitch your idea. And if you want to pitch a guest post idea for Make a Living Writing, start here.
Do you write for popular blogs? Share your pitching tips in the comments below.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultra-marathon.