Content Outreach Mistakes: 4 Things You Never Realized You Were Doing Wrong

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Since the recent Google updates, content marketing has become an incredibly important part of most companies’ online marketing campaigns. In fact, it was probably a hugely important part beforehand, too, but it definitely is now more than ever. The content you’re putting out there on behalf of your company (or your clients) needs to be relevant and well written, and it needs to be placed on relevant websites or blogs, too.

Content marketing isn’t easy. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s a long process that requires a lot of follow-through, chasing up, and analytics. However, by simply tailoring your approach to the very start of the outreach process, you can completely improve your chances of not only getting a reply, but also getting the all-important link.

Be Friendly, Not Efficient

I have been on both sides of the outreach process. I own several blogs where I actively seek guest bloggers using services such as Blogger Link Up and My Blog Guest. I never want to turn away contributions to the blogs because the content helps me out just as much as it helps them. However, having said that, there have been times when the emails I’ve received have been one of the following (and sometimes all three):

  • Short
  • Rude
  • Assuming

These three things will put me off a contributor more than anything else. I want to work with contributors who are friendly and can be trusted to deliver some excellent content, not people who clearly grabbed my email address somewhere, pasted in a rude message, and then moved on to the next email on their list. Maybe they think they’re being efficient and productive? Well, I don’t agree.

And, yes, there is nothing wrong with copying and pasting. Of course, you don’t always have time to write a personal email to every outreach contact, but you can still be polite. Find the editor’s name on the website and address him/her by it. If you can’t find a name, apologize for not using it and explain why you didn’t. You can certainly end the email with “Hope you have a great day!” Be enthusiastic about the content you want to write for the blog. This takes all of two minutes, and it will get you double the replies.

Be Personal, Not Generic

Like I mentioned above, I have no problem with copying and pasting well-constructed emails. We all do it. Actually “Ctrl + C” was my miracle discovery of 2009. You can still personalize an outreach email, however, and you can do it easily. Grab the editor’s attention in the first few lines by mentioning a previous blog post he/she wrote that you loved or maybe comment on how much you love the design of the website. It’s that simple really. Then the rest of the email can be something generic. It doesn’t matter because you’ve already got the editor reading, and he/she is already convinced you’re not sending spam.

Spell Things Right, Not Wrong

If someone had come up to you in high school and offered to take all of your exams (for free), you would have been all over it, right? Of course, you would have been. What if they “sed it lyke dis tho?” That might have been an entirely different story.

My point here is that in your outreach email you’re offering a writing service to someone in return for something that you need. You need to make sure that your writing in the email itself is well presented and does not have any spelling or grammar errors. If you’re approaching high-profile blogs and websites, this becomes even more crucial. These types of blogs probably pay their editors, and they are probably incredibly valuable to them. If you come across as sloppy in your email, they will assume your article will be sloppy, too. You’re not going to get links that way, and you’re not going to make any valuable contacts either.

Be Detailed, Not Vague

When you approach an editor of a blog, approach him/her with a topic already in mind. You don’t want to make the editor do all the work. You want the process to be as seamless as possible. Include three article suggestions in your email. This makes you looks conscientious and engaging (both good traits), and it also gives the editor maximum control without technically having to do any thinking or hard work.

In some cases, the editor may reject all three article suggestions, but by this point, you already have his/her attention. Simply follow-up with more suggestions or ask for advice on what might work.

Elle Rose Williams

Elle Rose Williams

Elle-Rose Williams is the Content and Social Media Manager at Electric Dialogue for clients such as No.1 Traveller. She also works freelance with Shop House,... Read Full Bio
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  • Sebastian

    I couldn’t agree more, as guest posting becomes more and more popular, the decrease in the quality of outreach is becoming increasingly evident.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    I’ve had to deal with short and vague, but never rude! I can’t imagine why someone would think a message like that is going to work. How does being pushy and rude make you look like someone they would want to work with? A blog owner is under no obligation to accept your post, no matter how great it is.

  • Julie

    This brings to mind a pushy email I received a week ago about a guest post on my site. There were spelling errors in the email which was a red flag in itself then she proceeded to email me every day asking me if I was “interested or what”? A little courtesy goes a long way. Then on the opposite side as well, blog owners that don’t reply at all are incredidly rude! Courtesy on both sides is whats needed.

  • Chris Green

    Being on the end of multiple “Here’s a blog, post it now” style emails, It continues to surprise me at how arrogant some people can be – I’d also like to see what their success rate actually was, not very high I’d guess. But that last point on the list is certainly a plus, if you’ve got an inbox full of guest posting requests you don’t want to be dictating titles for people too!

  • Colin

    Everyone has a different style, I personally preffer people that are short and to the point. Worst thing ever is when someone goes on for ages, is over friendly (we have never met before!) and starts going on about the content will add value to my site. No it won’t it! It could get the site penalised!

  • Elle-Rose Williams

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    Nick – I completely agree, you should never be assuming when doing outreach.

    Colin – I think short and to the point is great – but you can still be friendly too in a short and to-the-point message. I’ve found in the past that being friendly makes bloggers enjoy the correspondence – and means you can be cheeky and ask for more blog posts and follow-ups articles in the future. It never hurts to build relationships like that. You never know when that blogger could help you out with a future client, and if you’ve stayed on good terms with them – it makes things much easier.

  • Anthony

    In some instances, no matter how hard you try to find an editor or blog owners name, you simply can’t. Great advice about apologizing and explaining why you didn’t address them by their name. Never thought of that one before!

  • Elle-Rose Williams

    Hi Anthony, Chris and Sebastian – thanks for commenting! Glad there was some new helpful stuff in there 🙂

  • Brett

    Great advice, you will always catch more flies with honey than vinegar approach has always worked for me. Loved the part about spelling, you want to make your best impression and the same principles of a resume should apply.

    Thanks Elle