Recently, we provided helpful tips on how to stalk editors, get their attention, and secure a cushy guest blogging gig on their website. But now that you have their eye, what’s next? Unless the editor is the type to assign ideas to their bloggers, you’ll have to pitch articles if you want to write. This process is just as important as the actual writing, if not more so. If you pitch poorly, expect a polite rejection at best, and total silence at worst.
To increase your chances of getting an article accepted, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Provide a Clear, Easy-To-Understand Title
Let’s say you’re pitching to a gardening blog. Entitling your article “The Great Tomato Famine of Next Month,” while certainly original, is not going to tell the editor anything except that you don’t know how to convey your thoughts. Your title should be straightforward and simple for both editor and reader to grasp. Offer up “How to Grow the Perfect Tomato Plant” instead, and you’ll have a far happier editor on your hands.
2. Briefly Summarize the Article’s Message
A title can’t tell the whole story, obviously. So the next step in the pitching process is to summarize, in a couple sentences at most, the article’s purpose and premise. If your goal is to teach people how to grow tomato plants, say so; if you also want to debunk myths about tomato plant growing, mention that as well. Tell your editor everything, but do it as quickly as possible.
3. Highlight Every Point You Plan to Make
As we all know by now, writing your article in list form is the quickest way to ensure people read it. So if you have five great ways to grow the greatest tomatoes in history, let the editor know about all of them. Offering up 1-2 sentence summaries per point lets the editor know that the point has something to say, and a reason for existing.
Even if you don’t want to write the article as a list, there will still be important points to make, meaning the same rules apply. Whatever the format, don’t hide any ideas from the editor; it’ll only annoy them and make your pitch weaker.
4. If it’s Factual, Include Links to Sources
Not every article is factual; some are opinionated, some are comedic, and so forth. But regardless of format, if you have any factual information to share with the audience, provide the source links to your editor. That way, they’ll know that studies prove playing soothing music around your tomato plants helps them grow, and that isn’t just something you quickly conjured up during halftime.
Even if, for whatever reason, the editor doesn’t want to include the links in the actual article, they’re still good to include in the pitch, in case they wish to fact-check prior to approval.
5. Be Cordial and Grateful
This applies to everywhere, really, but too many people forget about it while on the Internet. Paid or unpaid, a blog’s editor is giving you an opportunity, and you need to show your gratitude. Thank them for their time, every time. Whether it’s your first tomato-related or your 51st, make sure they know you appreciate what they’re doing, and how much you want to keep working with them going forward.
Don’t forget to thank them again should they accept your piece, but also thank them if they don’t. It shows the editor you’re not haughty and ungrateful when things go your way, nor are you irksome and childish when faced with rejection. Always be professional, even if it is “just the Internet.”
6. Allow a Week Before Following Up
Most writers will tell you that the worst part of the job is waiting for a response. You want to expose your tomato-growing expertise to the world as soon as humanly possible. However, the editor likely has a lot on their plate, like other jobs, a family, and just life in general. Even without all that, they may simply need time to decide if the article is right for their site.
The general standard in cases like this is to wait at least one week before politely following up on a pitch. That’s more than enough time for an editor to mill over your idea, and a gentle prod might be all it takes for your idea to become #1 on their list of priorities. Plus, it shows that you care about your work enough to see the pitching process through to the end.
Follow these steps every time you pitch, and you’re sure to have a long and successful career in blogging. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to eat anything we can find with even a hint of tomato. We’re hungry.
Jason Iannone is an editor and writer for all of your favorite websites. He thinks tomatoes are OK.