How to successfully cold pitch top bloggers in your industry

In 6 months last year, I was published on 15 different websites, including Cosmo, MSN, The Good Men Project, and Business Insider.

The Cosmo post has almost 5,000 Facebook shares.

At the time, I had very few connections and very little experience. It’s not like The New York Times was funding a column for me. I didn’t know the ins and outs of what makes a viral post — and I still don’t.

However, I’ve mastered the form of the email pitch that got me those early posts and continues to get me more guest posts to this day.

sarah email to andrew

Click to see the entire email.

I’m going to break down my email script piece by piece so you can use it to get more posts on influential sites in your industry.

While you will tailor each email to the recipient, this general structure works to:

  • prove that you are credible
  • show that you know them
  • establish connections that you share

And that all adds up to getting guest posts, even on sites that have never heard of you.

Here is my script:

1. Get their attention

While the subject line is super important, it’s best to keep it simple. What tends to work well is the person’s name followed by a warm and easy compliment with light context. Something like:

  • NAME, I love your work! :)
  • NAME, I love your work + potential collaboration
  • NAME, connecting via x, y, z

For the last one, mention any common connections you have. Maybe you reached out to them on Twitter, you have a mutual friend, or you recently saw them speak at a conference.

2. Make them feel good

We all love compliments. So start your email with one.

This will prove that you’re not cold-emailing them because you saw that they have 10,000 Instagram followers and you want that traffic. Instead, you’re genuinely familiar with their work and you like it.

Tell them so: Mention how long you’ve been reading their site or your favorite podcast episode of theirs.

Then explain in another sentence or two what you specifically like about them. Perhaps it’s their down-to-earth, yet whip-smart tone, or their compelling how-to videos.

For example, this was my opening in a pitch to Andrew Ferebee of the Knowledge for Men podcast:

Then I went into more detail, mentioning how their work is similar to mine:

Being genuine pays off.

3. Make connections

Now highlight who and what you have in common.

You might reference a podcast episode they did with the entrepreneur you had on your own show last month. Or perhaps you mention how you’re guest blogging for a successful client of theirs.

In the email to Andrew (below), I talked more about Zan:

If you don’t have any strong shared connections, you can highlight a friend of theirs whose work you admire, even if you don’t know them personally. It still shows you have things in common, which makes them more receptive to your pitch.

4. Introduce yourself

Now that you’ve secured their attention, you can seamlessly shift the spotlight to you.

Start by sharing your name, your site, and what your business is. Then say why and how your work relates to theirs.

For example, I help men attract women by finding their “personal brand” and becoming genuinely confident rather than using cheap tricks. So when I contact someone whose work aligns with mine, I point out our common perspective.

In the email to Andrew, I mentioned this when I complimented his podcast with Zan Perrion:

5. Show them your best work

Next tell them who you’ve written for, hyperlinking to your best posts. This will prove your expertise.

Think about everything you’ve written so far: What stands out to you? What are you most proud of?

You want to pick three posts that have:

  • a super-compelling title and introduction
  • clear and helpful points that show your personality
  • an overall tone that speaks to your audience in their language

It doesn’t matter where these articles are published. It could be your site, something from your site that you shared on LinkedIn or Medium, or guest posts.

Here is how I let Andrew know where my business has been featured:

6. Pitch 3 article ideas

At this point, you’ve complimented them. You’ve mentioned your connections. You’ve proved that you know them and that it would make sense to work together. And you’ve shown them that you are credible.

Now that they’re interested in you, it’s the perfect time to pitch.

Set up your pitches with something like, “After getting to know your work, I feel any of these ideas would complement what you’ve already got going on at [name of their company].”

Then list 3 article ideas, either with just a title, or a title plus a description. Like this:

My general rule of thumb is that if they clearly ask for one or the other in their submission guidelines, of course follow that. But if you’re not sure, then customize to their personality.

If the person you’re pitching seems to have a more breezy, high-energy personality, you should be brief with titles only. If they have a more serious, reserved, thoughtful personality, you should give more thorough, detailed topic summaries.

7. Thank you and close

Lastly, close with something simple and gracious like, “Thank you, [Name]! I’m happy to be in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.”

Add your name and signature, proofread, and hit send.

Get your next guest post

When I started using this structure in my email pitches, I got responses like this:

Tripp, founder of, accepted my pitch to do an interview on dating advice for guys.

This format worked so well that after recently pitching four sites, I had three quick and enthusiastic yeses within 2 days. One even said yes within hours.

I really admire these people. I was even scared to pitch some of them. Plus this was my first time reaching out to them — none had ever heard from me before.

Yet I got three guest posts.

Kong and Jessie started Simple Pickup, a dating advice site for men. Their YouTube channel has a following of 5mm+

Kong and Jessie started Simple Pickup, a dating advice site for men. Their YouTube channel has a following of 5mm+

As for the no, he got back to me two weeks later thanking me for reaching out. And he asked me to get back in touch in the next couple of months when the timing is better.

So even though he doesn’t want my post now, I still started a relationship with him and will reach out in the future.

That’s the power of an awesome pitch.

When you follow the structure above, you will get more guest posts because you’ll connect with the blogger or editor. You’ll offer them something fresh and relevant, making it a win-win for you both.

Now it’s time to get your next yes.

In the comments below, share how you plan to pitch your next guest post. Share who you are pitching and how will you show them that you…

  • Know them
  • Have similar connections
  • Are credible

Post your comment, and I’ll let you know if you’re on the right track.

There Are 22 Comments

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Great post and the results are impressive; sure you have an intriguing value proposition which helps but the script is stellar. I have tons of email scripts, from Ramit, Appsumo etc – and sometimes refer to them.

What I specifically liked about what you posted is that it makes total sense,
while some of other scripts are useful, they seem more of engineered rather than organic like yours which I prefer
+ it makes it memorable – really curious about the response I’ll get from it.

I looked quickly through your articles and feel really bad that I didn’t come across it in my early twenties. While really more of an ambivert, I need people & alone time, I always struggled presenting my introverted qualities to women in an effective way and had to rely on the “life of the party persona”. Now I’m four years with my girlfriend, who actually appreciates those qualities more than my extroverted ones and I think that’s more satisfactory than if it was the other way round. I actually have a friend in a similar position (who’s also my accountability partner), who is actually single and travelling the world, will surely share the link with him.

Concerning outreach I’d have 3 quick questions and it would help me a lot to get your perspective on it:

– Numbers game – What was the rough percentage of pitches which became published post?
Are we talking 10-30% or more 3-10% ? If you have precise number even better

– Mechanics – Did you just use manual lists and gmail or some outreach tool?

– Targetting – The pitch is one half of the equation – how did you go about targeting blogs/platforms? Given the spectacular results I certainly assume there was at least a rough startegy behind – how did you go about it?

Hi Guilherme,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Here are my answers below:

(1) “What was the rough percentage of pitches which became published post?”
Lately, it’s been 60-70% yes’s. That’s mostly due to (a) the quality of my pitches, (b) the growth of my “resume” — connections and where I’ve been published, and (c) the quality and resonance of who I pitch.

(2) “Did you just use manual lists and gmail or some outreach tool?”
I use a Google Spreadsheet and Gmail. :)

(3) “How did you go about targeting blogs/platforms?”
I googled around for people in my niche, and I started with a huge list of people, at least half of whom I wasn’t even excited to pitch because I didn’t really like their work even if they were “bigger” than me. Over time, I found that it works better to only pitch who I really like, even if they’re way more established than I am. Reason being, there’s a reason for the resonance, and it usually goes both ways. Also, their audiences respond more enthusiastically to me too, so it’s the win that keeps on winning. 😉

I hope that helps! Any follow-up questions?

yes, back to question one, I figure that it gets up with time but how was it in the beginning when you had no portfolio, connections etc or just a couple and nothing impressive yet?

+ how must we imagine those lists,
was it more like 50 blogs and then you went mostly over recommendations/introductions/contacts or did you work yourself through an initial list of 500 blogs? A number, even if rough, would be interesting.

it’s a very pragmatic question, you gave the pitch formula. The quantification will help people who get into the game to have the right expectations.

Hi Guilherme,

Great point. The snapshot of today is not the same snapshot as two years ago!

Even still, it started at 30%+, even when I had no guest posts or connections to speak of. Reason being, I reached out to people who I felt would be a truly good fit. The guys I reached out to last week, even though I liked them two years ago too, it wasn’t the “right fit” yet because it would have been RIDICULOUS for them to have me on their show when I barely knew what I was talking about. I was just beginning!

It was less about, “I don’t have enough credibility to reach out yet,” and more about, “I’m not developed in my teaching and style enough yet,” which was just an honest assessment. That takes time. So it really is a feeling-out process as to who you pitch when as you grow as a teacher.

As for my list, it started with 1 blogger, then 2. 😉 It just grew over time, but it felt “big” when I got it to 40 or so.

At the end of the day, the point is to GET STARTED in a way that feels sincere and self-aware. That way, you can trust yourself at each step because you are being genuine and smart.

My daily motto is, “Be smart, and don’t be weird.” Not, “Don’t be quirky weird,” which I really enjoy being, but, “Don’t be needy / non-self-aware weird.” It works for me, but I gotta tell you, it is literally a daily reminder! 😉

(-> reposting this as I’m not sure my first comment went through. I didn’t see a confirmation or a note about waiting for moderation.)

Hi Sarah.
Thanks for a great post.

I was thinking about how you suggested 3 post titles with no description.
Two thoughts come to mind:
1. Is there a reason behind this? Have you found that it wasn’t worth the trouble of detailing each post until you got an answer?
2. Are these posts already written?

I’m asking the second question because It can take me over 15 hours to write a good post (and I like to let it sit for a day or two when writing). If I only had a working title for a post and the person I reached out to asked me to send it over, it would take me at least a few days before I could email it.

So my last question would be: What usually happens right after a positive response?
(Are you asked to send a first draft? Do you work together? etc.)

FYI: My approach so far has been to write the full article, prepare it to fit the site I’m pitching, and send them an html file so they can see it “in action”. From reading your post, it seems like this might be unnecessary work holding me back from spending more time reaching out.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Hi Tristan,

Yes writing a full post before it’s accepted is definitely unnecessary work unless the blogger specifically asks for it in the submission guidelines, if any.

Otherwise, focus more heavily on the connection as I outlined in my script, and then “tease” them with topics so they can lightly choose what appeals to them most.

If they’re more thoughtful and serious, I go ahead and include descriptions under each post suggestion, but I never write a full post when it’s not requested.

Does that help?

It does help. Thanks.

I’m going to try it out right now. Afternoon objective.
I’ll report back with results as soon as they come in.


ps: after that first positive response, how long does it usually take before the post is up?

Hi Tristan, when it’s a great fit, it takes anywhere between an hour to a couple days. After that, give it a week, and then send a, “Hey, I know you’re busy, so just floating this to the top of your inbox in case you’re interested. Thank you!”

Tristan, I just realized I misread your question. My answer about an hour to a couple of days was in response to the un-asked question of, “How long does it take for them to respond?”

In terms of how long it takes from them saying yes to the post going live, that process is about 2 weeks for you to write and 2 weeks for them to publish after that, on average in my experience so far.

In terms of entire pitching to published process, it goes like this:

1. Research who you’re pitching (anywhere from 15 min to 2 hours, depending on how “big” they are and how familiar you are with their work at this point).
2. Pitch ->
3. Hear back (0 to 2 days, if not float to top of inbox in 7 days) ->
4. 1-2 emails nailing down specifics for you to start writing ->
5. Have your draft to them in a week or two ->
6. They publish it in a week or two after that.

Does that help?

That’s EXACTLY what I wanted to know.
Thanks a lot for coming back to that question.

This changes everything for me. No need to write posts in advance + having a week to write if there is a fit = ability to pitch so much more.

This is fabulous! It reminds me of how I got started pitching people to interview for my Soul Fire Summit.

I made sure to only invite people I genuinely was excited about, told them exactly why it would be amazing to work with them, and made sure each “pitch” was customized to who they are. Then I copied and pasted the “nitty gritty” details below my personalized note.

And I LOVE your comment to GUILHERME about only pitching to sites you feel excited about and how that resonance goes both ways. So true. If it feels off to you… that’s a huge sign. Intuition for the win!

So excited to start publishing 😉

xo Laura

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for such a great post! I’m trying to learn how to reach out for guest posting, and after reading your experience, I realized that a lot of people make things too difficult for themselves. You don’t have to make stuff up to impress people. It’s far better to let your business grow organically, like a person does. I heard somewhere that you should think of your business as being a person separate from yourself, and that has really helped me put things in perspective. If I wouldn’t expect a 3 year old to be on Broadway, then I shouldn’t expect my two month old business to be running perfectly yet. People–and businesses– grow at their own pace.

I just wanted to add what crystallized for me while reading this. Really, it’s as simple as “honesty is the best policy.” Just tell the truth. Like you said in one of the comments, “it works better to only pitch who I really like.” I have found a couple blogs in my niche that I just plain out didn’t like. So I don’t have to bother with them! Easy as that. Thanks for pointing it out so simply. :)

And thanks for the great comments! It was like having a scrumptious dessert after an awesome meal. xD

Aww, yay Abigail! You made me laugh with delight at the end there. :)

I love your takeaways! Like you said, honesty is refreshing: honesty about (a) who you really like and don’t like, and (b) where you are as a business now and being frank and confident about relating from that place.

Excited for you! Enjoy the process, and let me/us know how it goes!

Great article! I am actually just starting to send my pitches and someone from the Accelerator program pointed me to this article, I am super glad he did because it is really eye opening to how organic and natural your pitch sounds like!

For the longest time, I was wondering how to balance between building a relationship with major influencers and asking for an opportunity from them… now it is clear that I should just be honest. I can be flattering and genuinely impressed and also be truthful about my intentions.

Aww yay, Celina!! I’m so glad this was helpful for you. YES, honesty feels best on both sides, and it’s the most effective all around.

Happy pitching! <3

Hey Sarah,

This article is great! Reading your pitch, I thought to myself “I would totally book her!” Your way of pitching feels so easy and natural, thank you for sharing!

Loved this Sarah!

I was saving it to read until I hit “outreach” phase, which I’m finally at (I’m also in Accelerator – hi Celina!).

I coach authentic offline dating techniques, so it feels great to know I can translate that authenticity to my outreach process as well. So much more fun and rewarding.

Another big takeaway: I have a list of 300+ sources I’ve been accumulating over the past year and I’m going to systematically eliminate the ones that don’t fully resonate with me. The world is huge, and life is too short to focus on things that you aren’t genuinely aligned with.


The Psychology of Business

Beyond awesome post. Thank you so much! The step by step guidelines were so easy to follow. I’m drafting up my own email pitch now. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thank you so much!

Thank you.
What has worked best in terms of generating income: the high profile but generic websites like Business Insider or something more small and niche?

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