10 Things You Must Know Before Cold-Pitching Big Publications

10 Things You Must Know Before Cold-Pitching Big Publications

Even if you haven’t written for any major websites, make sure your pitch includes a list of your qualifications and links to any content you have had published online. I’d recommend having at least 3-5 strong published posts before pitching to a large website. If you don’t have any live posts anywhere, you’re going to need to create a website and start publishing some high-quality pieces. I always email a person. If you wish to contribute to a publication, the job titles you’re looking for are Editor, Contributing Editor, Managing Editor, Assistant Editor or Associate Editor. Here’s an example of how this looks in an email: It’s not perfect, but it gets to the point, it’s personalized and it shows a good track record of writing for established publications. I get hundreds of pitch emails a week for my web design agency publication, many of which contain an impersonal, low-quality pitch, then they never attempt to pitch or follow up again. People rarely make time to go out of their way and show their appreciation for anyone, especially editors. When my first post on Entrepreneur was published following five months of back-and-forth emails and numerous revisions, I emailed this to my editor: Expressing gratitude will go a long way towards building a genuine relationship and connection with people, not just building a contacts book. It may not be Entrepreneur, but sooner or later, the person you contact at a website or publication will turn you down – or simply not respond to your numerous emails.

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10 Things You Must Know Before Cold-Pitching Big Publications

It goes without saying that getting something published on a big site like Entrepreneur can be massive for your brand and business.

It can open doors you didn’t know previously existed, boost your brand awareness and give you some serious SEO traction.

But how do you make that happen? What steps should you follow?

In this article, I’ve laid out the 10-step process that has helped me get published on Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, The Next Web, Elite Daily and many more.

It’s not a short process, but it does work.

Here is an infographic I created that summarizes this process for the visual learners:

Cold Pitching Publishers - Infographic
Infographic co-produced by Venngage Infographics and X3 Digital.

1. Have a track record

One of the first things editors are going to look at is whether you can actually write. They receive literally hundreds of submissions and most of them are from rubbish writers. If you want to get their attention, they need to know that you’re a good writer.

How exactly can you do that? By showing off your track record.

Have you written for any well-established publications already? Ideally, they will be related to the niche you’re pitching. If you’re pitching to Shopify, for instance, it helps to demonstrate that you’ve written about website builders and eCommerce before.

Even if you haven’t written for any major websites, make sure your pitch includes a list of your qualifications and links to any content you have had published online. I’d recommend having at least 3-5 strong published posts before pitching to a large website.

If you have absolutely nothing published online, don’t despair! You have two options:

  1. Bring other value to the pitch. This might be social share numbers, hard-to-get interviews that you can obtain or industry connections you have. Don’t pitch just for the sake of pitching. If you can’t show a valuable track record, then quickly explain your history, and how your perspective and experience means you can add value to the publication’s audience.
  2. Start your own blog. If you don’t have any live posts anywhere, you’re going to need to create a website and start publishing some high-quality pieces. Then pitch to smaller sites with the pieces you’ve written on your blog to showcase your ability. After you’ve guest posted on smaller sites, you can climb the ladder higher to bigger sites like Entrepreneur.

2. Build strong relationships

It can dramatically increase your odds of getting published on a popular website if you cultivate relationships with their editors or contributors.

How do you build relationships? Here are a few simple ways:

  • Engage with them on social media
  • Repost their top social media content
  • Comment on their blog posts
  • Backlink to them in your blog posts
  • Genuinely read their content

The goal is to make them aware of who you are and establish yourself in their circle of contacts. Building trust is key here.

After using the above tactics for a while, consider reaching out to them personally via email. If they’re an editor, send a professional email asking them if they are open to pitches. If they’re a contributor, ask them how they got started and if they can share the contact info of an editor.

On Neil Patel’s podcast, Marketing School, Neil suggests that building relationships with authors by providing advice that could help them with their own career is a valuable tactic. Did the writer make a small typo somewhere? Do you have a few pieces of content research that they might find useful? Let them know.

By going out of your way to help someone else, you stand a better chance of being noticed and appreciated as a result of your action.

3. Email people, avoid forms

Many websites or publications will ask you to fill out a contact form or Google form. This is okay when it comes to getting the attention of smaller sites, but I’d advise against doing it for larger publications.

The reply rate is nearly non-existent, and the success rate is even lower. Hundreds of emails pour in through these contact forms – making it extremely likely that yours will get buried under an avalanche of enquiries.

Personally, I make a point to never email ‘admin’, ‘hello’ or ‘support’. I always email a person. The odds of getting a response are astronomically higher if you contact an actual person. And not just any person, but the right person.

If you wish to contribute to a publication, the job titles you’re looking for are Editor, Contributing Editor, Managing Editor, Assistant Editor or Associate Editor. Check out the publication’s masthead, About page, team page or LinkedIn profile to find these people’s names and titles.

It’s easy to find email addresses using web tools like MailTester, Rapportive or FindAnyEmail.

Whatever you do, don’t start your email with ‘to whom it may concern’. Show that you’ve done your research or the editor will immediately hit the delete button. Acknowledge that they’re busy, tell them about your track record and the value you could add to their publication.

Pitching is selling, so act like it. You need to convince the editor that you’ll add some serious value to the lives of their readers. Don’t be wishy-washy about this. Keep your email short, sweet and concise.

Place a solid call to action at the end. Specifically, ask the editor to get back to you. Put some healthy psychological pressure on them to respond.

Here’s an example…

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