How to Write a Pitch that Works

By: | Updated: December 10, 2020

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Can you name an unwanted side effect of having thousands of people reading your blog? Here’s one – complete strangers emailing you about their new blog, website, book or business and asking you to help them promote it.

The first time I got a pitch email like that I was actually pleased. Like most new bloggers I was desperate for my blog to be read by someone who wasn’t a friend or relative, and getting a pitch email let me know that I’d somehow got on someone’s radar. That first time, and many times after that, I replied to pitch emails with a polite email like this:

“Thanks for contacting me. So sorry I can’t help you this time but my blog isn’t about remote control cyborgs so I don’t think your product will interest my readers.”

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Times have changed. Now a cursory glance is all an unsolicited pitch email gets before it ends up in my email trash can.

Even though I’m the kind of person who replies to all my emails (yes, it’s an illness, I’m self-treating) I don’t feel bad because some of the pitch emails don’t even seem to come from real people, or at least not people who have real communications skill, real passion for what they do or a real idea about how to get people to say yes.

How Not to Write a Pitch Email

Let me show you a few samples of pitch emails I’ve received to give you an idea of the suffering innocent bloggers and business people like you and me are being put through. Take this as an example from a pitch email that recently turned up:

“Hello Rich,

I have been trying to reach you regarding…”

Unfortunately, this company plundered the domain name registry to see who registered my blog address and came up with my husband’s name Rich, not my name Annabel. Getting someone’s name wrong or misspelling it is bad enough but actually reassigning their gender is heinous.

This is a prime example of how not to write a pitch email and also includes an example of stilted writing in the use of “I have” instead of “I’ve”. I’m not sure if this email was actually written by a robot or just seems to have been.

Call me old fashioned but I still think “Dear” followed by their first name is the ideal way to start an email or letter to someone you don’t know. Unless you don’t know their name in which case find out what it is before emailing them. If you really can’t unearth a first or last name then you should either brush up on your detective skills or go with “Hi there,” as a last resort although I can’t recommend that.

Most people prefer to be called by their first names these days but I try to respect my elders and if I want to be formal, which an unsolicited email pitch calls for, I’d use a title and start the email “Dear Mr. Candy”.

Here’s another bad pitch email which shows that anyone can make mistakes.

A fellow web copy writer contacted me as part of a mass mailing via LinkedIn recently. This interesting email pitch case study highlights the dangers of mass mailings. Please bear in mind that I’m a professional web copy writer too and had connected with this copy writer on LinkedIn to support her endeavours. Then she sent me this:

Email Subject: Your LinkedIn Profile Needs Help!

That got my attention so I opened the email and read this:

“Why is your LinkedIn profile so weak?

I have to give this woman credit for being proactive in seeking work and her offer of $50 to rewrite a LinkedIn profile seemed like a good deal too. So good in fact, I might have even forwarded it to a few people if I hadn’t felt so insulted at being told my profile was weak. But my ego’s still intact because I decided she probably hadn’t actually read my profile – for starters it wasn’t that bad (admittedly not a Pulitzer prize winner but at least average) and it did at least say that I was a writer which would have been a red flag for her not contact me with her offer if she’d taken a moment to read it.

Even if she did mean to contact me I don’t think it’s a good plan to insult people and make them feel like idiots in a pitch.

To add injury to insult the entire email was in heavy bold lettering, with a lot of hideous italics thrown in. I’ve left it that way so you can see how unpleasant it looks.

The final nail in the coffin came when, because I’m inherently nosy (I am a writer after all) I decided to check out her LinkedIn profile to see what was so good about her profile writing. Sadly there was no link to it so I’ll never know.

How to Write a Pitch Email That Works

I could share many more bad email pitch examples but let’s move on to how you should write a pitch:

  1. Don’t pitch strangers by email or any other way. Build a relationship with them first on Twitter or by commenting on their blog.
  2. Be sincere and personal.
  3. Get your facts right, show them you’ve read their blog.
  4. Mention something you’ve done for them – linked to their blog, left comments, shared it on Facebook, subscribed to their newsletter, or bought their latest product.
  5. At the very least find out the person’s name and spell it right.
  6. Use the normal language and abbreviations you’d use if you were speaking to someone so you don’t sound like a robot.
  7. Be formal and use Dear as the opening address. Unless you don’t know their name in which case you’ve not got much of a chance.
  8. Avoid using exclamation marks in pitch or emails. They never inspire confidence in a business situation.
  9. Don’t insult the person you’re trying to win over.
  10. Always include a link to your blog and other social media profiles like Twitter and Facebook.
  11. Don’t do a mass mailing – you waste everyone’s time.
  12. Make sure the email isn’t all in an ugly font or bold lettering.
  13. Be brief. This isn’t the time to write an essay. Emphasise the benefits and let them know the best way to move forward.
  14. Thank them for taking the time to read your email.
  15. Don’t pitch at all.

How to Write a No Pitch Email Pitch That Works

I want to mention two books I’ve recently found out about, both written by blogging friends. Both the authors write great books and great pitch emails that follow all the rules above including the last one: don’t pitch.

These authors just emailed me saying they’d like to send me a copy of their book. They didn’t ask me to write about their book, they didn’t request I review it and they didn’t pressure me in anyway. They never emailed my husband instead of me. They never asked for anything. Which made me actually look forward to getting their books and open to reading them.

Well, actually they did ask for one thing. They asked me if they could send me their book. So I agreed. How could I not? I like to read. One of the authors didn’t even have to ask me for my address because he had the intelligence and consideration to look for it on my blog and he found it all by himself. Who is this polite, respectful genius I hear you ask? What does he write about? Where does he live? How can I meet him? Is he married?

I’m happy to reveal it’s the one and only Rob White, who writes about success, lives in Boston and can be encountered regularly here on Twitter. Yes, he is married but unlike some of us he doesn’t seem to witter on about his personal life or divulge any of the little snippets of information I like to winkle out of people on his blog. I had to look on the inside cover of his book to find out his marital status. Hmmm, I wonder if that reticence is the reason for his success or a symptom of it…

But I digress. The point is that all these successful ‘pitchers’ actually did was ask if they could send me their book and then send it. Clever isn’t it? So that’s why I say the secret of successful pitching is don’t pitch and I’m happy to tell you about these two books.

180 by Rob White

180 is an impressive hardback book. It’s the kind of book you could keep by your bed and use as a personal weapon if an intruder snuck in on you, yet Mind Adventure writer Rob White sent it to me in Australia all the way from the USA.

180 contains 90 lessons for you to follow over a 90 day period to create a 180 turn around in your life. It’s stuffed with stories, quotes and illustrations that will inspire you to reach your full potential, change negative beliefs, stop worrying, feel happier and be more successful. It asks if you’re you ready to make a 180 degree turn around in your life and if you are, or know anyone who is I recommend it.

180 would make a brilliant gift for a young person on a special birthday, someone going through a mid-life crisis or anyone who wants to change their life for the better and is ready to make that their focus for 90 days. Check out 180 here.

Upgrade Reality by Dirk De Bruin

I call him Diggy and you will too when you get to know him. Diggy’s been writing about personal development at his blog Upgrade Reality for over a year and he’s got some great insights and stories to share.

His first ebook, also called Upgrade Reality will help people with improve their confidence, motivation, relationships and just about any area of their personal and business life.

What’s the best way for someone to pitch you?

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Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives, Michael and Flyfshrmn98.
Author: Annabel Candy
by Brett Helling
Brett has been starting, growing, and monetizing websites since 2014. While in college, he began to learn about digital marketing. After graduating, he continued to build a diverse portfolio of websites while working a full time job. After years of building the portfolio on the side, he made the jump to run his websites full time.

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