Hi all – Today I wanted to do something a bit different. I’m still burnt out on personal finance basic books, and I’m hoping to find some new material at FinCon next week (woot woot!!!). I haven’t done a Saturday post in a while and I was thinking this would be the perfect weekend subject for other bloggers, advertisers, PR folks, etc. to read over the weekend. So I decided to write about writing-specifically about how not to pitch a personal finance blogger, and seven tips to do it right. Why? Because this is a subject that’s increasingly ticked me off lately.
Anyone who’s been writing in this space for any period of time has gotten messages like these (or worse ones) trying to pitch sponsorship, guest posts, or something else. Almost always this is in exchange for the whopping sum of…nothing. I suppose that I’m just going to be so honored that they reached out to me that I’m going to just put up whatever they want for no compensation.
Sorry random people – CMO has standards over here. Although I’m happy to accept a guest post, it has to be something that I would imagine readers of my site would be interested in. And if you want to give me money in exchange for advertising or sponsorship, sure we can talk – but not if you address your email to me to “admin”. So in the interest of amusing folks who might want a behind-the-scenes look into the kinds of pitches I hate (and why I can’t stand them), and guiding people who might want to pitch a guest post/sponsorship opportunity, I thought I’d share.
Here’s some examples of bad pitches I’ve received, a list of things I will never respond to, and some tips on how to make your pitch to help you succeed.
How Not To Pitch A Personal Finance Blogger
Here are some random examples of pitches I’ve received that I wanted to call out to you all to show you exactly what’s wrong with them.
- Pitch: Hi There, I am trying to contact the person responsible for managing the content on this webpage: https://chiefmomofficer.org/2017/06/03/top-seven-books-money-books-for-recent-graduates/ . I’d like to recommend adding a link to TheSimpleDollar.com’s guide to teaching your children about money, which would be a nice addition to the information on that page. Here is the link for your reference: [link redacted because I’m not linking to this]
- Why it’s bad: This is one of the dreaded “I see you have a link to X, please add our link to Y” emails. Sadly this is a strategy recommended by Search Engine Optimization sites (SEO). You’ll notice too that there’s no offer to pay me for adding in this link-for some reason they think I’ll see this and say, “You know, this page was missing a link to The Simple Dollars guide! Let me just go on and add that in.” These people often send me multiple e-mails – sometimes the same one over and over, and sometimes the follow-up emails are very aggressive. Frankly you have no right to get aggressive or sound annoyed if I don’t respond to your pitch. Particularly when you’re asking me to do something for you for free. I found this one sad because I used to love The Simple Dollar. Trent, what did you do????
- Pitch: Hi Team, Hope you are doing great. We have best unique content on”Business/Startup/Finance” which we would like to publish on your site as a guest post.Once our content will publish on your site then we will not share it with any other site. Do let us know if we can send the article to you for review. Looking forward for a positive response from you.
- Why it’s bad: First the written English is horrible. You’re not writing for my site if you can’t properly write a pitch. Second, it’s very generic. Although I wish there was a “team” here (maybe someday if my dreams come true!) it’s really just little old me right now. Which is made clear ON MY CONTACT PAGE.
- Pitch: Hi, Few of the posts on your blog ( chiefmomofficer.org ) caught my attention. I truly appreciate how each of these posts reflect the true essence of the topic. I’d be glad to share few of my posts if they meet your quality guidelines. May I send a topic for you to review? Please feel free to share your views in reply. —
- Why it’s bad: Generic again. Popping in a mention of my website address does not count as personalizing your pitch. And really, “…how each of these posts reflect the true essence of the topic.”??? What does that even mean.
- Pitch: Hi, I visited your site,its really commendable. I am looking for some valuable sponsored posts for your site ( chiefmomofficer.org ) . I was wondering if you accept guest posts on your site, I am willing to share my ideas with your audiences through my unique article. So, please let me know your thoughts in this regard. Looking forward to hearing from you. — Thanks and Regards
- Why it’s bad: Generic. Plus there’s no mention of what the guest post would be about.
- Pitch: Hi Liz…I am the marketing manager at [redacted]. I am reaching out to you because I saw you posted an article on credit card debt https://chiefmomofficer.org/
2017/05/26/embrace-your- frugal-weirdo/. I found your post interesting and decided to create an investigation of my own. In my analysis I found that: [detailed analysis removed]. If you want to see the complete analysis, you can find it here: [link redacted]. Since I am no financial expert, I would appreciate a few lines on your thoughts on my article. If you find my article (or parts of) interesting I would be more than happy to provide you with the data and graphics I use. I look forward to hearing back from you. Have a fantastic day/weekend!
- Why it’s bad: Well at least you included my name, thanks for that. But your entire message was generic (AGAIN). I also find it funny that you think that article is about credit card debt. Despite whatever SEO tool you’re using might have told you, it has absolutely nothing to do with credit card debt
- Pitch: Dear Admin, Hope you are doing well. I am [X}, a finance blogger who loves to write about financial topics. You can check my writing at my blog basicfinancecare.com. I’ve been following your blog chiefmomofficer.org for quite some time now, and I love your content and the lessons you share with your readers. I’m reaching out to see if you’d allow contributing me a guest article on your blog. I believe I can add value to your audience on different topics. Look forward to hearing from you.
- Why it’s bad: Generic yet again- the killer of a pitch. No specifics on the guest article. No mention of exactly what he supposedly likes about my site, or what he would want to write about. I can tell he Copy/Pasted this.
Things I Won’t Even Entertain
Here are the top things I’ve seen this past year that really annoy me and make me hit the “delete” option on my email faster than a speeding bullet. I will not:
- Add your random link to one of my pages. Don’t tell me “I saw you linked to X, could you add our link to Y.” First of all, I’m not adding links to anything to my site unless you are paying me for advertising in cold hard dollars. Second, even if you offer said dollars I’m not adding anything unless I (1) find it to be a value-add for my readers (a real value add, not a fake “we only promote products we love”), (2) it’s high quality, and (3) it actually fits in with the article. I don’t understand why you would even pitch adding a link about essential oils into my site????? No. Also I know you didn’t really read my article and see my links. There are tools that give you this information
- Why do I get these? For those less familiar with blogging, it’s because the more sites that link to a page, or a website, the higher it will appear in Google and other search results. And believe it or not, I’ve actually seen this strategy advocated by websites on SEO. This is a bad and annoying strategy.
- Advertise your product or service in exchange for you “promoting it to our thousands of followers on social media!”. First of all, I also have “thousands of followers on social media,” so it’s not like I’m going to be impressed by this. Second of all, you can see my above point about cold hard dollars. And third, your product has to again fit in with the site. It has to be something I have used, would use, recommend others use, or something else along those lines. If so, happy to talk dollars.
- Advertise your product or service that has nothing to do with my site. I once got a pitch trying to offer me window blinds for free in exchange for promoting them. I’m not sure why they thought my readers would be interested in window blinds? See also: comment on essential oils above.
- Let you do a guest post when you send me a random generic pitch, or when your pitch doesn’t have anything to do with my site. If you just send me something that says “Admin – I read your site, I want to do a guest post” the answer is no. Also if you can’t tell me what you want to write about, or how your pitch actually relates to my site and content, the answer is still no. I’m happy to give an opportunity to a new blogger-just like others have given me those opportunities. But a random generic pitch will never work.
- Respond to your generic email. If you can’t even be bothered to put in my name (it’s right on my contact page!!!), or something more specific about my site, I’m going to just delete your email. Some of the above examples are obviously copy/pasted. I don’t mind if part of your pitch is obviously generic, because I’m sure you’ve spent a lot of time crafting how you’re positioning your product/service/request. But the opening and first paragraph should be personalized.
- I’ve gotten generic messages before from well-meaning first time bloggers asking if I would “take a look at their site and give them feedback”. Sorry, I’m really too busy, and the generic-ness of the request puts me off. But if you have specific questions just for me please drop me a line. I’ve connected with several now-friends in the community this way, like Mama Fish Saves and Laurie from Three Year Experiment. They both wrote to me to ask specific questions and I was more than happy to respond.
- Let you “pick my brain”. Broke Millennial recently posted about this on Twitter, and I heard something similar the other day from Kylie Travers – and I know for a fact they both get a ton more requests for this than I do. But I still wanted to put it out here. Don’t ask someone for a ton of their time and effort in exchange for nothing. People in the personal finance community are often very helpful, and are likely to help you with specific questions. But they’re busy (especially the very successful ones!) and you need to be respectful of their time. Make sure you have very specific questions just for them, ask it in a customized way. Show that you’ve already done your research and why you’re looking for their help. Keep it very brief, and perhaps you’ll get a response. Do you really need more of a one-on-one coaching session? PAY THEM MONEY.
I’ve covered some of the things I won’t do, and some of the bad pitches I’ve received. So lets talk about the good side now. What would I do, and what would be a good pitch?
What I Might Consider
- Reviewing your book. I love to read books. All sorts of books. So I might consider reviewing your book, as long as its good. Want to mail me a book, or give me an ebook? Sure. As long as, again, it’s related to this site. So something about money, work, frugal family life, teaching kids about money, financial independence, breadwinning mothers, millionaires, etc. I’m even interested in books that might improve your overall life, in the vein of Designing Your Life or the books Tim Ferriss writes. I’ve read thousands of books, and hundreds on finance, so I’m a good judge of accuracy of content and who the book would be appropriate for. So I’m a near expert on books. Hit me up!
- Letting you guest post – If you’re a new blogger or fan of the site and you want to reach out to me to do a guest post, don’t let my above about guest posts scare you off. When I first started out there were other bloggers who took a chance on me, a total unknown, and let me write for them. So I’d love to give back. Just first take a look at the below on a good pitch. Note that my guest post standards are different than other site-you’ll want to be familiar with the content of a site and its target audience, and show how your proposal relates.
- Advertising your product or service – If it meets my standards (related to this site, something I would use/have used/think is useful) then I’m happy to partner on an advertisement. After all, this is currently a passion project for me, but we all have to make money. I won’t just advertise your product solely to make money (I’m looking at you, Bluehost, since you keep emailing me). Lets make it a real collaboration.
- Doing an interview – Want to interview me, quote me in an article, or have a post on your site featuring/mentioning me? Sounds good. Just make sure to use all the same elements of a good pitch. I’m even usually happy to do this one for free. I’ve been featured in a few articles and magazines over the past year and would love to share more.
Seven Keys To Writing A Good Pitch
Here are the seven key things to a good pitch – whether you’re seeking an interview, guest post opportunity, sponsorship/collaboration, advertising, book review, or anything else.
- Include a name. You know, or can very easily find, my name – it’s on my Instagram, Twitter, and my About page, so I’m not making it hard to find. It’s even on my Contact Me page! I’m not hiding it. When you address your email to “admin”, “webmaster” or something else like that, it goes in the trash. If you’re writing a pitch and don’t know the persons name, try an opening like: “Hi – My name is (X) and I’m writing to the person in charge of content on (Y) site.” Then write as if you’re speaking to the person. But before you go generic, really look for the name. If it’s an anonymous blogger, then address it to the name they use online.
- An opening (and ideally closing) that talks about specifically what you like about the site and why you want to collaborate with them/sponsor them/guest post for them. You don’t have to make your entire pitch customized every time – although you really need to do that if you’re pitching to a much bigger name site than mine. It’s fine to use a generic template if your pitch is the same site-to-site. You need to really focus on your opening, and make sure it grabs the readers attention and lets them know that you’re not going to be wasting their time. They’ll often remember your closing as well, so you likely should customize that.
- A passing familiarity with content and the kind of writing on the site. Send me a condescending note about how I can share all my “little mommy adventures?” using your product? Trash. Send me three harassing messages demanding I put up a link to your site? Trash, and eventually I’ll send you a note that says “No, remove me from your mailing list” if you keep bothering me. A note congratulating me on my recent one-year blogging anniversary and award nominations, and a mention of something you liked from one of my articles? I’ll at least read what you sent and likely send some kind of response, even if I’m not interested.
- If you’re pitching a guest post – make sure it’s something the readers would want to hear. Are you a breadwinning, six figure, or millionaire mom and want to share your story? Great! Are you a breadwinning, six figure, or millionaire woman-not a mom-and want to share? Also great! Are you a mom or woman seeking financial independence and/or early retirement? I’d love to hear your story. Not female? No problem. I love to post things like book reviews too-you could write about the financial books that changed your life. Or maybe there was a strong woman in your life who inspired you that you want to tell me about. Perhaps you’ve overcome a medical or other sort of crisis-that fits right in. Don’t be shy about reaching out, I’m very friendly and I do want to help you get started on your site/ continue to grow your audience. I’d also likely love to write a guest post for you in exchange.
- Not trying to pitch specifically to me? Take a look around the site you want to pitch. Maybe they have written standards somewhere-if so, follow those. If they don’t have written standards, read the site and figure out who their audience is, the kind of content they usually put out, and tailor your proposal to fit that.
- Be specific. After your customized opening, you’ll want to put the specifics of your proposal out there. Don’t just say you’d “love to guest post” or “want to work together”. Say exactly what your guest post would be about, or what you want to work together on-and why. When I first started writing I was actually shy about this, because what if they read my specific idea and thought it was bad? But now that I’ve been doing this for a year I can see why it’s important to do that, rather than have the person you’re writing to come up with ideas. If you’re shy about this or worried about being rejected, make a few different proposals. When I’m pitching a guest post I try to come up with at least two (if not three) solid ideas. Interested in pitching a sponsorship or collaboration? Be specific about what exactly you’re proposing, and why. Want to ask someone a question? Make sure the question is clear.
- Be brief. No one has time to read long, rambling emails. Make sure your first sentence after your opening says exactly what you’re proposing and why. Then have a few paragraphs of details-not more. If you’re pitching a sponsorship, make sure to include links where I can go to get more details if I want to. Organize the information so it’s easy to scan. If you’re writing a busy person with a question, don’t ramble on for many paragraphs.
- Make it high quality. Your pitch should be well written because I’m going to judge the anticipated quality of your proposal by the quality of your pitch. If you’re doing a guest post, make sure it’s the best darned thing you’ve ever written-the person is trusting you with their audience, and you need to respect that. If you’re pitching a sponsorship, make sure it’s concise and written very well.
Pitching Personal Finance Bloggers Is Easy – But Take The Time To Make It Good
We were actually talking about this subject on Twitter earlier this week, and I mentioned I was thinking about writing this post. My friend Felicity from Fetching Financial Freedom recommended this article about doing a good pitch from XO Jane. I thought it was awesome and highly recommend checking it out if you want some more in-depth advice. Thanks Felicity!
What’s the worst pitch you’ve ever seen? What else would you recommend be part of a good pitch? Let me know in the comments.
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34 thoughts on “Bad Personal Finance Blogger Pitches – And The Way Into My Heart”
I hate when I receive a generic pitch! I usually delete the email after reading the first couple sentences.
I like the points you made on how to properly pitch a PF blogger. I’ve been reaching out to a few bloggers and sponsors recently and you helps spur a few more ideas I could use in my pitch. Thanks!
Ha ha, I hit the delete key too! The worst is when they send something generic and then send aggressive follow ups, sounding annoyed that I’m not responding. Um, you couldn’t even take the time to put in my name. Why are you annoyed that I’m not responding?
Glad to hear it was helpful! I hope others might chime in with some tips too
Hahaha, those pitches were hilarious 😂 😂😂.
I did get the same guest post pitch from basicfinancecare.com, but he did address me by my name. However he didn’t specify the topic or title of the guest post. And when I asked for more details, he never replied back.
I’m thinking maybe some actually do it to get people to visit their website and get some free pageviews or something?
99to1percent recently posted…Our Biggest Money Fight and 9 Lessons Learned..
I agree, I’ve also gotten requests to “look at my site” which just seems to be wanting to increase page views. But really, I don’t think that’s a good strategy. Instead, if you ask someone advice on a specific topic, they’ll usually pop by your site themselves to take a look. And I’m not surprised you got the same thing-I bet a lot of us did! 😀
Its actually amazing that you have had to write this post, since most of the advice is bleedin’ obvious IMO. But your last paragraph says it all, it takes time to pitch properly. It makes me wonder whether these people are actually getting results with the dumb scatter gun approach? And then I feel sad because it must be working, and so who are all these bloggers putting this shoddy material out there?
That’s what I wonder. Is this actually working? You would think that they’d stop doing it if it failed all the time.
I’ve seen some pretty bad pitches before, but those examples take the cake! It’s so not hard to personalize a message, too, at least to the barest of degrees. I’m almost considering having a code word on our about page, like, “Want to pitch a guest post? Email us with the subject line ‘aardvark sweaters.'”
The “link to x” strategy could be okay in certain situations, imo. Less so articles, though, and more resources like calculators or other tools — and only if it makes sense in context. Like, if I’ve linked to some retirement calculator and mentioned it wasn’t perfect because it didn’t let you adjust the withdrawal rate, I’d absolutely be interested in playing with a calculator that better fills my needs, and I might even link to it!
Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen more bad “link to x” strategies than I have good ones. Nothing wrong with sharing a new calculator or tool with people. If they get excited about it, and it’s good, then they’ll share it on their own. Otherwise, if you want to guarantee placement on the site, you need to pony up some $$$
This was an instant must-click/must-read for me (and all bloggers hopefully). Great topic choice! The first few appear to be scripted/automated(bot), don’t they?
I guess I didn’t think much of it, but if someone sends me an email which is meant to appear like a personal note to me, but it’s actually a generic or templatized email where they’ve just changed the pronouns (my name, site, etc), I casually stop reading and delete it.
I’m not very good at pitching yet, so I can’t say what I wish they’d do. The only pitch I’ve ever taken has been one from J$ on RF, and his was a broadcast email.
I don’t think I’m a pitching expert by any means, but I just try to treat it like I’m at work sending an email to someone higher-up I’m asking a favor of. I would never send a long, rambling, totally generic e-mail, or one where the reader can’t tell what you are asking. Remember that the person you’re emailing to is just a person at the other end-probably a busy person who gets a lot of junk. You want to be short, concise, and stand out from the crowd.
So did you get the one from the American Cornhole Association yesterday about sponsored posts? “I’m with the American Cornhole Association and we’d love to purchase one or more sponsored posts from you if possible. Is that something you offer?” Funniest one I’ve received yet!
I did NOT get that one, but now I’ll be on the lookout for it! Maybe there’s a personal finance version of the game they want to sell? Lol
I put a specific contact form on my site for guest posts. It has criteria like “read our about me page,” and “make a few comments on my site so I get to know you a little first.” It also has a specific entry for their post idea.
I just wish someone would use it.
I’m planning to link to this article from my Contact page, and then shake my head at how few people read it!
Lol. That last part may not be quite clear. In that I still get pitches weekly. Not that I’m actively seeking guest posts.
Thanks for sharing good examples as well as the bad. I’ve found bloggers in the personal finance space to be some of the most supportive to those who are not yet at the same place in the blogging journey. Sometimes I think those who find success have to go “left” when everyone else is saying to go “right.” That’s not easy to do because there are well known and trusted people of influence who may recommend a strategy (such as the broken link)…however, the way to go about it makes all the difference! There was a time this year when some very successful bloggers were doing the “oops, wrong link” in their emails and I could see it was a tactic… it felt dishonest and I made a mental note to go left:] Thanks again for this insight!
Thanks for stopping by! I agree, lots of these things are recommended “strategies” for SEO or for getting your name out there. I think they figure that if it works a small fraction of the time, it’s worth it. And I hope you find the tips helpful! What I keep in mind is, how would I approach a person with this question or request in real life, like at work if I was making a request to someone high up in the organization? Then I try to do it the same way through email. 😀
You need a guest post policy. Put a link to it in your email auto reply and on your contact. Then just ignore anything that doesn’t comply with it.
Good idea WCI. I’ve read your guest post policy before, and thought it was very comprehensive. Do most people comply, or do you still get a lot of people ignoring it?
Haha, great post! We all get those emails! On my contact page I write that people shouldn’t bother me asking if they can write a guest post. I do occasionally. Just write one and will take a look. Yet, I still get requests by email that ask “do you publish guest posts?” If people can’t even follow simple instructions on how to to contact me then that’s a bad sign. Another bad sign: if I can spot bad English (as a non-native speaker). Sometimes you get a decent one but the topic is way off. So in 1.5 years I have published only 3 guest posts!
I hear you! I’m happy to entertain a guest post if it’s on-topic, fits with my site, and is well written. But otherwise, no thanks!
Great and helpful post! Thank you. I’m guilty of doing some of the pitfalls myself. (but not quite egregious) As a new blogger, I feel like I’m going in 10 million different directions. You’re bang on about writing “quality”. I often rush through to get it “out the door”, but my best work has been re-worked several times. This will help me in both submitting and receiving potential pitches in the future. Thank you. 🙂
Glad to be of help!
Generic pitches always annoy me the most, at least take two seconds to get the correct name off my about page before hitting sending.
I have a Mark Twain quote at the bottom of my about page and the number of emails I get addressed to Mark makes me laugh (and cringe). I’m sure it’s just an auto-grab program most of the time but it’s just so dumb. It took me awhile to figure out where it was coming from but now those get a fast delete.
Ha ha, that’s so funny! I agree with you on the generic part. It doesn’t take long at all to customize a message.
Killer post Liz. I have no experience on this field as I am the new kid on block, not receiving this kind of stuff, neither tried to pitch others with guest post ideas yet, but I have bookmarked your post and will definitely use it as a guideline when the time will come 🙂
Glad to be of service! Don’t worry-before long you’ll be hitting “delete” on bad pitches too. Lol.
I’m pre-launch on my site, but this is great advice for when I get up and running. I just discovered your blog through some FinCon recaps and so glad I did. I love, love, love the your series concept on badass women and will be diving in tonight!
Awesome, thank you! I hope you enjoy.
I will be using this overtime I write a request for my podcast! I realise now that I would benefit from being more professional!
*Everytime. I apologise for the typo.
“While surfing the internet, I stumbled upon your website jumpstartfromscratch.com and I feel your content is really engaging and I like the different topics and stories you cover plus the style of writing on your site.Every time I read a post, I feel like I’m able to take a single, clear lesson away from it. Quite commendable.”
This was in a random email I got today.
Did they even look at my site? You could say all of this to any blogger. Not one detail.
Nope, I can pretty much guarantee no one ever looked at your site. They probably used a program and scraped your URL into the text. I get the same exact things, except for Chief Mom Officer (sometimes-other times they never mention the site name at all).
Sometimes I ask questions, and know the answer already. It’s a teacher thing.
As soon as I read those words, I had to go back and find your post on the topic. Hilarious.