7 Tips For Writing Better Link Pitches


Hey, I know. Pitching bloggers, reporters and media outlets isn’t really your favorite way to spend an afternoon or build links (for yourself or clients). I get it. As a blogger, I hate receiving your pitch so I only imagine how much you detest writing them.

Though, I guess that’s not true. I don’t hate all pitches. I just hate link pitches that suck. Or that refer to me as a dude.

Unfortunately, that’s all I seem to be getting lately. I’m not sure if the hot sun is melting people’s brains, if the humans are on vacation and it’s the bots sending me pitches or if folks sincerely have forgotten all traces of people’s skills, but my inbox is not looking pretty. And I’m not even referring to that guy who tried to pitch OSM a guestpost on fire suits.

No really. Fire suits.

Below are seven tips for sending better link pitches. Because, let’s face it, pitching is an important link building strategy. And without links, well, there go your site’s search engine optimization efforts.

1. Be Personal

If you’re going down the road of pitching someone, it’s because (I hope) you’ve identified this person/site as being influential in its space and having an audience that you think could benefit from whatever you’ve got. And if that’s the case, give them the proper respect by learning their name, gender, and a factoid or two about them. Does this take a little bit of time? Yes. About three minutes. But I’m not even going to read your email if you address me as “Dear Sir” or refer to my company as “Out Spoken Media”. You didn’t read anything on our site, why should I waste my time with you?

2. Script Lightly

You’re mass emailing people using a script that helps you make the whole thing a lot less time consuming and costly. I understand that. But your entire pitch should NOT be a script. The only thing that should be scripted is the few lines where you’re “selling” me without selling me. The rest of your email needs to sounds human and like you were actually present when you wrote it. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.

Have a script; don’t die by it.

3. Be Brief

When sending out pitches, you should assume that you have someone’s attention span for only the amount of time it takes them to scan your message in their email’s preview pane, so use that time wisely. Do not think you’re closing the deal in your first email. Your first email is simply where you woo me. Drop me a few details about who you are, what you want and why my audience should care. That last part is the most important, by the way. If you’re able to make your case, I’ll inquire back and then we can start a conversation. I don’t need your headshot, social security number and names of all six of your children in our first contact. That weirds me out a little. Be brief. Get to the point.

4. Remove Buzzwords Before Hitting Send

The more buzzwords you place in your pitch, the harder it’s going to be for anyone to take you seriously. There is not enough alcohol in this office to play buzzword bingo with you so please don’t use the word “game-changer” to describe your Twitter monitoring tool. It makes me laugh at you.

5. Be Upfront

I understand that it’s customary to stroke my ego a little bit. It’s nice to mention a post you read of mine five minutes ago when you were doing research last week or comment on something I’ve recently tweeted. And that’s fine. White lies are necessary in any relationship. Put let’s not get carried away. Don’t get so lost in your fake flattery that you’re wasting both of our time telling me that I’m awesome and how you’ve been reading me for years. Instead, give me some proper respect by just being honest with me. If you’re pitching to me because I have a wide audience of the folks you’re trying to reach, you can just tell me that. If you’re pitching me because you want access to my 18,000+ Twitter followers, say it. I’ll respect you more in the morning for being upfront. And as long as you’re pitching something that’s worth it, I’m not going to be offended. I’ll be thankful you’re here.

6. Tell Me What You Want

Why are we having this conversation? Do you want to write a guest post on my site? Do you want me to write a post on your site and then pimp it out using my audience? Do you want me to write a story about something your company is doing? Whatever it is, tell me, exactly. Don’t make me guess because, no, I don’t want to have a conversation with your CEO to learn about how we could “help each other”. I just want to know what you want.

Later in the process you should also let me know the rules – If I’m to publish your content as-is, if I can edit anything, question links, etc. Many times us bloggers get into trouble with SEO people simply because we weren’t sure about what we could and could not do. So just let me know what you’d like. I don’t mind helping someone out whose providing value to my readers.

7. Don’t Make Email Your First Point Of Contact

Hey, sometimes you really don’t have a choice and that’s cool. But if you can, connect me with on some other social channel before you hit my inbox. The appropriate channel will be based on what network that person seems to prefer. For me, it’s obviously Twitter. Introduce yourself there. Say hello. Retweet something. Encourage people to vote for me in the Small Business Influencer Awards. Whatever. Just find some other way to get my attention because I’m going to be a whole lot more receptive to your email if I recognize your name.

Those are the seven very basic link pitch tips I wish everyone would follow when pitching as part of a larger link building strategy. What irks you? Any examples you’d like to share with the class?

Your Comments

  • Jerry McCarthy

    The link bots are enough to make me feel like ramming my head into a wall. I even wonder at some point how many valid link pitches I’ve tossed because their buzzwords or lingo was so cliche in the first two sentences it got 86ed “just because.” Should i feel guilty saying I even found it therapeutic when doing so? Sort of like my own twisted fantasy of anger management.

  • Mike Feiman

    Interestingly, this sounds exactly like the instructions a PR flack would follow to get picked up in traditional media. Not surprising though since 95% of SEO seems to be nothing more than digital PR.

  • Gil Reich

    Hey, I was 7 for 7 yesterday! BTW, nice post!

  • Emma

    Great post, and a pretty thorough list. One question, however ridiculous, lingers: is that Rodney Dangerfield in the picture?

  • Moosa Hemani

    Interesting post and I agree with all points!

    It was my 1st time when I asked someone for the interview and she was none other than Lisa Barone after reading this I figure out the little mistakes I did at that time but she was kind enough to answer me…

    The points I agree and follow while pitching for interview or guest writing is not to hit the inbox directly when you have social options available like twitter or facebook.

    Other than that stay nice, respect the person and do not take too long to come to the point increases your chances of positive reply and possibility to get a link or target you want to achieve.

  • Tea Silvestre

    Nicely done, Lisa. Must be why I’ve voted for you (I think 3x now?). You deserve it. One of the ways I’ve found creates more link love is the blog carnival. I used pretty much your outline to reach out to these folks with the ask. And most of the invites were accepted. Now I have 10 new link connections as well as 10 new friends/colleagues. So maybe another tip might be: have something to collaborate on? Or have an “event” you can invite them to participate in?

  • Jim Rudnick

    @Lisa….spot-on girl! I teach the “go-to-market” 5 day seminar at our local Innovation Factory to startups that are just at the launch phase…and I have covered this exact point re: how to ask for a link and it mirrors your own list above almost exactly!

    only thing I have added is that while I’m “doing the wooing” is that I try to always offer up some kind of “bang for the buck” for the woo-ee…I offer up something that just might sway them into giving that link by sending along a tip or an URL to something else….often it’s just a pointer on something that they have covered too…

    works. works well….but my secret tip that I offer my startups is — while emails work, what works almost EVERY time, is a hand-written snail mail letter sent directly to the webmaster….when was the last time YOU got a hand-written note…yup…that works very well indeed, eh!



  • Brankica

    Hilarious, because as I read this post I have these terrible flashbacks about the e-mails I am receiving lately, more and more of them.

    The first point, I am so annoyed to open an e-mail that starts with “dear webmaster”, “dear blog owner” or something like that. My name is all over the blog, only a blind person would miss it.

    I have had those that I have no clue what they want, I even sent a guy send me a guest post and my reply was “please, why are you spamming me with this”. I had no clue it was supposed to be a guest post, that is how bad it was. No name! No explanation, just a few paragraphs of text. I thought is was a pitch :)

    Anyway, loved this one, I can relate to each and every point, Lisa, and definitely adding this one to the next round up list :)

  • Syed

    #7 is a great tip and really effective especially if you are trying to hook that big fish!

  • Martin Clinton

    Thanks for this fantastic post, Lisa! I’ve had my share of “Dear //http://www….” pitches and always go for the personalized approach, even if it mean much more time. An experiment with (relatively) mass mailings was an utter failure, for this reason.

    One stumbling block I keep having is the Subject Line. I always try 3-5 variations and track results, but I’m convinced this is hurting my efforts. Do you have any subject line best practices?


  • James Chatman

    Thanks for the helpful article Lisa. I’d like to pose a question to everyone.

    Do you think it’s more effective to write a post first and then pitch it or is it better to pitch an idea for a post and then actually write it once a publisher has been confirmed?

  • Anonymous

    1. Keep the Pitch Short
    Describe the blog in one or two sentences. Any longer and an editor is unlikely to bother reading it.

    2. Good Contact Information
    An email signature is not enough. Leave some means of preferred contact as well.

    3. The Hook
    Every pitch needs a hook. Do some research. Find out what’s of interest locally and pitch some way the blog can help in that regard.

    4. No Form Letters or Press Releases
    This is pretty straightforward – don’t send them. Reporters don’t want unsolicited press releases, nor do editor want a form email sent out to a bunch of people at once. Personalize each email. The effort will be well worth the time. The email can certainly contain a link to a press release and previous press

  • Michael c. Craven

    Dear Lisa-
    As a divorce lawyer and a blogger I appreciate all your tips for writing. I will will try to use tip #3-be brief….
    Michael C. Craven
    Chicacgo Divorce Lawyer

  • Robert Cody

    Dear Lisa,

    Extraordinarily well written article. As a rookie in this discipline, I find these suggestions to be a smattering of precious stones. In addition, your writing style is very accessible, friendly, and helpful. It’s always beneficial to retain a good sense of humor, which you have done quite well. This field is utterly new to me, but this commentary gives me a measure of encouragement. I keep perusing it again and again, because there are so many practical ideas within this article. Thank you for writing this!

    By the way, I thought I would add my own question: In the event that you find a website which doesn’t include the webmaster’s name, what would be an appropriate greeting?