If there’s one part of content marketing that really makes my workmates and I cringe, it’s that awkward moment when one of us receives an outreach email for a completely unrelated guest blog subject. I’m talking as unrelated as cat food is to the health and beauty industry (at least I think so anyway – I can’t keep up with fad diets nowadays).
Recently the campaign for one of our newest clients (an office furniture and design company) has really started to step up and as a result we’re seeing more and more outreach emails flow in, with next to none of them good! On the other hand though, it’s made me even more aware of the content I put into my own outreach emails and given me enough examples to slot into a post for you guys.
So without further ado, here are the best of the worst examples of how not to secure a guest blogging spot, and how you can at least receive a reply from your guest blog target.
Don’t act hungry for links
I’d be here all day if I talked about all of the things wrong with this example, so I’ll bring the most important to your attention. Rule number one of guest blogging – never talk about or ask about links in the initial outreach email! This clearly demonstrates that you’re after a link and nothing else, and completely goes against the whole ethos of guest blogging. It’s about building relationships and trust, getting your content in front of more eyes and helping out the site you’re posting to with great quality content in the process.
Don’t set your own rules
While the grammar in the above examples could do with some improvements, it’s the brazen attitude that makes me chuckle the most.
More often than not, the blog you’re hoping to contribute as a guest is going to have guidelines in place for the pieces they accept. Don’t set your own rules for things like word counts or, like in the first example, say that you need at least one link within the body of the article. As well as sounding a little desperate it’s incredibly off putting and tells me that you’re only doing this for personal gain. I’d also refrain from telling recipients they won’t have to pay you for the post. Even industry big shots don’t request payment for their contributions!
Don’t send any old article to any old site
Now, I’ve already mentioned that this particular client is an office furniture supplier, so just imagine my disbelief when we received an outreach email for a post about baby proofing the home! It’s clear to me that the sender is either automating their outreach or is just plain desperate, and clearly hasn’t visited our client’s site to read the blog as they claimed. Then there’s the “if you guys are still interested” part. This is meant to be their first email, so even if we were interested we’re certainly not now! They even sent a follow up email with the wrong original email pulled in!
While the main body of text is identical, this email was clearly meant for another guest blog target as the time the email was sent (oh dear) and the post title they’ve mentioned (double oh dear) are completely different from the first email we received. If that doesn’t prove you’re operating an effortless, semi-automatic outreach campaign then I don’t know what does. They even had the cheek to ask for another guest post spot after we’d delved deeper and asked about their success rate!
If you’re going to mass send an outreach email like this, the blogs you do get accepted to won’t be worth their salt at all.
Don’t advertise your untrustworthiness
There are so many things wrong with this outreach email, so I’ll start with the most minor. Firstly, Comic Sans? I don’t know about you, but to me it just screams high school project! Secondly, never sign off with something like “The BLOGGER……….” Chances are you aren’t actually an enigmatic blogging superhero.
Now for the worst offender – this person has come right out and told me they’re a dangerous link farm. There’s no way I’m going to even reply to an email from someone claiming to own more than 400 good quality, trusted, high ranking websites. It’s a blatant Black Hat strategy.
Don’t admit you’re trying to trump Google
This example has been sent purely to build links, not for the author to get their work out there or be associated with a respected industry blog. ‘Cross blogging’ as suggested in this example is just a sly way of reciprocal linking, and is something that Google’s algorithms are more than capable of working out. Anyone who swears by ethical and, quite frankly, successful SEO techniques isn’t going to go within a mile of a blogger who subscribes to reciprocal linking.
While these outreach examples might seem too unbelievable to be true, they’re far more common than the genuine article! And while this does make it harder for great outreach emails to poke through the mess and get noticed by bloggers, it also makes them all the more impactful when they do.
So what can you do to at least receive a reply to your outreach email?
1) Be personal. Address the blogger by name and don’t be afraid to write less formally. Add exclamation marks if relevant and, if they’ve mentioned something that they love or hate on their blog, work it into your outreach email.
2) Tell them about yourself. Mention who you are and what you do so you aren’t just seen as an automated outreach machine.
3) Mention how you found them. For example, “I saw you on Blogger Link Up so I thought I’d shoot you an email” or, “I came across your post ‘How to Write the Perfect Outreach Email’ via Twitter.” Follow this up with what you thought of it, using words like ‘insightful’ and ‘helpful’. Wouldn’t you like to hear that your post was insightful and actually helped somebody?
4) Make things easy for them. You’re the one willingly offering them your work, so make the process easy for them. Outreach with a couple of post titles instead of just one so they have the liberty of choosing what to accept, and you have doubled your chances of piquing their interest. Just remember to keep the guest blogs audience in mind when generating post titles.
5) Send examples of your work. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to include an example of your previously related work. This way the blog owner can quickly check whether your writing style, tone of voice and subject matter is as suited to their site as you claim.
6) Plan it, write it and re-read it. You should see this message as an extension of your blog post, and put just as much effort into it as you would your final piece.
At the end of the day, I’d say the secret to a great outreach email is just a dose of good old fashioned common sense. It’s no secret that link-mongering and bland, automated emails are outdated and frankly, laughed at in the current SEO landscape, so don’t do it! Put the effort into creating valuable content and a great outreach email that utilises the steps above and you’ll reap far more rewards in return.
Just remember to keep the relationship with your guest blog target as healthy during and after the email process as before. Ask questions in your emails to keep the conversation going and get to know the recipient a little better, and don’t fall into silence if your post gets accepted. Email to say thank you, respond to any comments you receive and tweet more of the bloggers articles. As well as building a really strong relationship that could lead to more guest blogging opportunities it’s just, well, nice!
Have you received any particularly bad outreach emails or crafted a really successful message yourself? Tell me about it below.