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Why I Deleted Your Guest Post Pitch (With Awful Outreach Examples)

Mike Essex

by Mike Essex on 27th June 2012

DeleteSay hello to the recycle bin! After placing a listing on a guest blog site as an experiment, whilst some responses were great, around 80% of the guest blog requests I received went straight in the bin. Mistakes ranged from simple errors, to downright laziness and even potential lawsuits. Today I look at the worst offenders and what they should have done better.

Do you want me to get fined?
By far the most outrageous guest blog request I received was this one:

Guest Blogging 5

Let’s put aside the fact that Wonga got a warning earlier this year for a blog post advocating similar daft uses of student loans in an attempt to rank well. Ultimately this is about lazy keyword research. Yes people search for “payday loans” and “mortgages”, but please don’t put them together in an article title in an attempt to nab some traffic.

If you’re going to pitch me a guest post title then at least think about whether the article is:

a) Good content
b) Something people want to read
c) Not going to get the blog owner in trouble
d) Ethical / legal / something you’d want your family to read and action

Sticking together two keywords in the hope of some traffic and a quick link just isn’t worth it anymore. It’s no longer an excuse to say you wrote something just for SEO, especially as blog owners have to put their name alongside the content you provide. Rubbish content may fly on generic article sites, but it’s not what blog owners want.

The above article did end up being about using payday loans to improve your credit rating, but even then there are much better (cheaper) ways.

Copy, paste, copy, paste
Another symptom of “let’s write as much as we can and get as many links as we can” is that so many outreach emails are just dire, often feeling exactly like any other type of web spam. If your outreach email seems of the same quality as “we would like to wire you $100 million from our country’s Prince” then you’re doing something wrong.

Copy and paste email

Which is why the above email is so frustrating. We’re called Koozai not [http://www.koozai.com], which just smacks of lazy copy and pasting or automatic form filling. It’s also very easy to find the name of someone to address the email to. The email is specific enough to reference that we do SEO so that’s a start, but ultimately there’s been very little research in to who we are. Mail merge should stay in Word.

Did you do any research?
I’m not suggesting that every pitch I get should have read my backlog of posts, and researched my family history, but it’s so frustrating when people see my guest post request and go “Oh he accepts guest posts, I’ll try my luck”. The listing I placed listed exactly what I was after, and the second you hit my website you know the content I’d like.

So this type of email is just lazy.

Lazy email

In other words; “As you accept guest posts, here’s one completely unrelated to what you do”

In what reality was that ever going to work?

It’s the same with this example which offers no details.

No information at all

I just don’t understand the logic. Perhaps they believe it is better to send out 200 general spam emails and get 5 responses, than sending 20 great emails and getting the same response; but ultimately is it worth making hundreds of webmasters angry, or damaging your image in their eyes?

When I get a nicely written email that I can tell is specific to me I always keep a good impression of that person. If I see you on Twitter I’ll likely start up a conversation. If you send me questions in the future I will answer them. That’s a good investment in time.

When I get an email that clearly took no effort then anything you send me in the future is likely to go in the trash bin. End of.

Woah can we at least go on a date first?
If you come on any stronger I’ll have to call the police. Good outreach is like a slow dance. Both of the people performing the dance work in harmony. You ask if you can guest post and send me some ideas, I say yes, you write it and I publish it. The below example is the equivalent of rushing over to me on the dance floor and kissing me there and then.

Here is a guest post please publish it

This is outreach, it isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey.

Whilst it’s great when people know the article they’d like to pitch, it’s going too far just to send it over in the first email. Aside from my name and their name the above content was the entire email. Far too strong for a first contact and it was a very easy one to hit the “delete” key on.

Seriously, do you want me to get fined?
If you’ve taken the time to pitch me a blog post and I’ve said yes, please don’t ruin it by sending over stolen content. One of the articles sent to me was discovered – thanks to Copyscape – to be stolen in a matter of minutes. Even a quick Google search with speechmarks found the original source, and it was clear as day that the author who had sent it to me had not written it originally. He didn’t even change the title of the blog post…

The most insulting thing of all was what he wrote on the original email with the article:

Stolen content sucks

Interestingly this was a writer claiming to be from a big website. It was a case of outsourcing SEO and finding that one of the writers wasn’t as ethical as he promised. Thankfully when I reported this to the brand, they found the person responsible and changed their SEO strategy, but I’m sure they aren’t having much fun now going back through everything he ever submitted and making it right.

Better Outreach
Great outreach takes time and there are lots of studies, positive approaches and step by step guides exploring the topic further, but my point is simply that good, even average outreach isn’t hard. Even sending good emails isn’t that hard.

It takes minutes to read a website and write a nice fresh email that’s targeted correctly to the blog owner. Doing good keyword research means your post will perform better when it’s live, and with fresh original content you’ll stand out. Had I accepted the above requests I have no doubt the content would have been poor, especially if it was a reflection on the lack of time put in to the emails sent to me.

All of the above emails have forgotten the golden rule. That outreach isn’t about you, it’s about the blog owner. They have to be happy and get something in the process. Blog owners (the ones with blogs worth targeting anyway) want amazing content that will get them more traffic. If you can give them that, then they will listen.

As a side note, we’re now accepting guest posts on Koozai! If you think you can avoid the traps above then send us an email; I can’t promise we will accept every post but we will certainly read them all.

And if you have any of your own experiences with bad outreach please leave them below:

Image Source

Computer keyboard – Red key Delete, close-up via BigStock

Mike Essex

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

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  • Jim Seward 27th June 2012

    Hey Mike

    Nice post, I think it’s worth noting though that not everyone on myblogguest is operating as you suggest above.

    I’ve found it to be a really useful resource and a great way to connect with bloggers and get targeted guest posts published on high quality blogs.

    Of course, as with any community, there are some bad apples that can spoil it, but I think we need to stress that that is down to the poor outreach of individuals rather than the mechanism they’re using which truly is a great resource.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 27th June 2012

      Thanks for the feedback Jim. You are correct, the 20% of good responses I got from MyBlogGuest were excellent and I’d definately use the service again. I also rate MyBloggerLinkUp.

      Reply to this comment

      • Jim Seward 27th June 2012

        not seen mybloggerlinkup….I’ll give it a look

        cheers mate

  • Elle-Rose Williams 27th June 2012

    Hi Mike, really enjoyed reading this post.

    I’ve actually just written a really similar post – but from the other side of the spoon (is that the right saying…?) I’ll have to send you a link when it goes live – it’d be quite interesting to read alongside this one.

    Anyway – great post! :)

    Reply to this comment

  • Alec Sharratt

    Alec Sharratt 27th June 2012

    Great post Mike, unbelievable that people would think that those kinds of messages would pass scrutiny… Especially when you would be expecting these people to write good engaging content for your website.

    It reminds me of the spammy emails offering SEO services from some hotmail address!

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 27th June 2012

      Thanks Alec, yep crap email = crap article. Although in some cases I got good pitch emails and awful articles. So it was probably a case of a “good SEO” doing the outreach and them then outsourcing the actual article.

      Reply to this comment

  • Jackie Hole 27th June 2012

    hehe – love it – I am sure there were some tastier examples that you can’t show for legal reasons – can you do a hidden article? ;-)

    I will deffo be having a look at both blogger places you mention – thanks for the tip – cracking post!

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 27th June 2012

      Thanks Jackie. The main legal issue is that we can’t name any of the email senders, although I’m not in to outing specific people so that’s ok.

      The worst offenders in this post – stolen content guy and payday loans guy – were emailed weeks ago with some “gentle advice” on how they should do outreach better, which seemed better than naming and shaming.

      Reply to this comment

  • Stephen Logan

    Stephen Logan 27th June 2012

    As a writer of content, and therefore a prime candidate for being one of the poor unfortunates sending these emails, it isn’t always easy knowing how to approach the subject of submitting a post. That said, these are pretty awful examples.

    First and foremost, if you are claiming to be a writer of great articles, you should at least be able to cobble together a half decent email. Most of the above look like they have been passed through a translating service 7 different times. Be polite, be professional and be personal, but make sure you don’t make silly mistakes.

    I like the dating metaphor too, because it can be a clumsy process leading up to the first date/published post. You have the initial exchanges, perhaps some pleasantries, work out the finer details of what time is best for both parties and then finally the big day comes around. Equally, just like dating, there’s no guarantee of success and you might well find that you are stood up at the last minute.

    The only trouble is that the same spammy SEOers that were churning out spun content and firing it out onto any article site that would accept them are now attempting to turn their attention to this far more human and natural method of building links and reputation. Rather than handpicking a few top targets, they send the same requests to dozens of blog owners in the vain hope of getting a few bites. If their emails get trashed, it’s no skin off their collective noses. Not that this is about us vs them, but I think these kind of techniques are unhelpful particularly as it is likely to deter some from ever considering guest posts.

    Anyway, a very good post and one more to add to my list of 37 online marketing mistakes.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 27th June 2012

      Thanks Steve, always good to get feedback from the copywriting side of the fence.

      Love the comment about translation. People doing outreach should have good English and be the better members of a team. It’s not a job to palm off on juniors to “save time”.

      Reply to this comment

  • Lisa Myer (@La_Raconteur) 27th June 2012

    Mike, such is the nature of “writing” writing these days. It’s getting ridiculous. Right now, there’s a couple of dudes bitching on HuffPo because Amazon took down the masses of ebooks they put up. What was in them? Automatically-generated compilations of YouTube comments for Justin Bieber videos. I couldn’t make this sh*t up if I tried.

    I won’t bore you with my “Back when I was in print …” (yes, I realize I just dated myself) speech, except to say that there are too many people like your aforementioned for whom spinning, plagiarizing and subcontracting out contracted work, and they have become par for the course. There’s a default assumption that everyone who can spell and construct sentences can write. But very few people can grasp the notion of original, quality content. It’s all about the sell. There is a reason I chose traditional publishing — the only assumption I want made about my writing is that it made it through the highest bar.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 27th June 2012

      Thanks for the comment Lisa,and don’t get me started on eBook spam and PLR. Glad to see Amazon are at least finally starting to clamp down.

      You are correct that not everyone can write, although we found with the Koozai team that everyone could write when given adequate time and feedback.

      However with outsourcing outreach and articles you never know who you’ll get or even if English is their first language. The drive to write quickly also really pushes down the quality.

      Reply to this comment

  • Kyle 27th June 2012

    Great post, Mike. My Blog Guest, while a great tool for making solid connections with most bloggers, has a select few that conveniently pop up in nearly every category and commit the cardinal sin you mentioned: off-topic post requests.

    While it’s hard to filter all that out currently, I’m sure Ann Smarty will make some great improvements to it down the road.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 27th June 2012

      I’ve got a lot of respect for Ann and My Blog Guest and look forward to seeing what is next. On the whole it is a good service and I still use it. It’s pretty much impossible for MBG to filter out the muppets. It’s just fun to laugh at them here…

      Reply to this comment

  • John 3rd July 2012

    Dear Mike…thanks for the information….I know I have done everything you have said not to do…and probably still am…as I’m still in the process of learning…..there is so much to try and stay on top of. What’s what…who to listen to? What works.? What are the. Rules….if I spent as much time blogging instead ofreading this stuff will searching on google…lol …..I might actually get somewhere. Regards….adding good content……so it’s ok to add comments about information as along as its good content….but I can’t copy/paste the information and add it as part of my own content…..unless I quote it……..as I state where,who from…?
    I enjoy blogging…..it can be spur of the moment stuff….and that it can be about anything you like…hobbies, interests..etc…

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 3rd July 2012

      Hi John,

      The main advice I can give is that the mentality of sending lots of almost identical letters to lots of people is no longer one that makes sense. It’s better to spend the time reading a site and crafting an email that the owner would want to read. Almost all of the problems above are from people who rushed their emails and rushed their blog posts.

      I’d also suggest that when you get spur of the moment ideas you should write them – or at least jot down notes – as you think of them. Then when you need to do outreach you’ll have lots of ideas.

      Reply to this comment

  • Melissa Page 21st January 2013

    Hi Mike,

    I love the article! I’ll definitely share this with my fellow guest bloggers.

    Reply to this comment

  • Alessia 18th April 2013

    Happy to see someone who agrees with me. I had a very frustrating episode when the then social media manager called out on me in front of the whole office for taking 1h to write an email that should have taken me 10 minutes and then be turned into a template for all the following outreaches.
    The reason why it took me so long was that I researched the website and tried to craft something that showed we valued their collaboration in what we were asking them to do. I can’t tell if the impersonal pitch would have had no effect because I never sent something like this, but that email and the others I sent had enthusiastic responses so I can feel I did the right thing following my morality code.
    Hearing the perspective of someone on the receiving end makes me feel a lot better. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post.

    Reply to this comment

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