As a senior writer at my place of employment, I frequently receive inquiries from hopeful freelancers asking to write content for the company blog. Some of these want to drop links for companies they work for and others just want to see their work published on a blog that gets around 15k visitors per month. Either type is fine, as long as they meet our requirements.
The emails that I receive usually go something like this:
Hi Brittany. I was just looking over the _______ company blog and think that I could offer some great content for your readers! Let me know if you accept guest posts. Thanks!
Needless to say, emails like that don’t really do a lot for me. Now, since a lot of you are freelancers or at least freelance hopefuls, I want to use this post to 1) show you the right way to contact strangers, and 2) why you shouldn’t feel bad about sending cold emails.
Our basic requirements are as follows:
- We’ll need to see 2-3 writing samples
- You may not include affiliate (paid) links
- The content must be 100% original (barring any direct quotes)
- You have to suggest a couple of suitable topics
- You remember that we are not internet or marketing stupid
Let’s break into the reasoning behind each requirement so that you can understand why each one is so important.
Samples help to show how skilled you are when it comes to writing. When selecting a sample to include, try to choose one that has a topic related to the business you are contacting. Always send at least 2, and no more than 5. Make sure that if they were published, the site they are hosted on is reputable, there are no spelling mistakes, and that any and all links work. It’s also best if the post is actually attributed to you and not someone else.
Affiliate links are not “the devil”, but if you’re writing content for a business, it’s underhanded and unprofessional to try to scrape a profit from their readers. Never include an affiliate link in an organic post unless you have been given permission.
Original content is an absolute must. I don’t want to get dinged for duplicate content, and I also don’t want your recycled information. If you wrote a post for a business and it fell through and never went live, that’s one thing, but if your blog post was published elsewhere you had better think twice before asking me to give it to our readers.
Suitable topics are another must. Spend time reading any content that the business has on their site. Skim some of their blog posts and peruse a few of their articles. When you send your email, include 2 or 3 topic ideas that you really think will work for them. One of the worst things that you can do is to suggest a topic to me that would never fit with what we currently cover.
For example, I was recently contacted by a potential guest blogger who suggested, specifically, maintaining a pool. This was about a week ago and we’re on the verge of snow here in Canada. That topic is not timely, and it is far too specific for me to use since we cover much more general real estate content.
We’re writers and marketers, we know about the internet. We know that you want to get in some good backlinks, we know if you are actually talented when it comes to SEO, and we know when your writing skills are subpar. We aren’t dumb, we know the motivation behind your content is completely selfish, but so is our reason for accepting it—we like free content. So be honest and don’t bother trying to butter anyone up too obviously.
A Good Cold Email
That being said, I will judge you on your initial email, and it greatly affects my reply. If you frequently send out cold emails to businesses or individuals, I would suggest trying something like this:
I’m a *insert writing profession* and came across your blog through *insert where you found them*. I thought that your post *insert interesting post name related to what you want to write for them* was very *insert an adjective or two of your choice*.
I am writing to ask if you accept guest post, and if so, what your guidelines might be. I have attached some writing samples in order to give you an overview of the topics I have covered in the past and my writing style.
I thought that a post about one of the following topics would be both a fit for your blog and beneficial to your readers:
*insert topic 1
*insert topic 2
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I look forward to hearing from you.
*insert name (example: Johnny Awesomesauce)
Are Cold Emails Bad?
No. They aren’t bad. Although most businesses will be savvy to the fact that you are only contacting them to either get your name in print or promote a client, we appreciate when you at least make a good effort to be polite, clear, and thorough.
Sometimes you may not get a response at all, other times you may get a short and direct “No.” But once in awhile, you’ll come across someone who wants to give you a shot and who, even if they do say no, will tell you why. I try to be that person as often as I can because as a writer I know that we are expected to accept rejection without an explanation, and it can be very tiring.
So if you’re trying to break into the writing profession by sending out a few cold emails, good on you. Take note of the tips in this post and understand that no matter how good you are, you are going to hear the word “no” often. But sometimes, you’ll get a “yes”, and when you see your post go live to thousands of readers, it’ll all be worth it.
Do you send out cold emails? Do you look for guest posting opportunities often?
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