Writing a Killer Email Pitch
When you are a new blogger, pitching can be one of the hardest things you ever do. Hey y’all, I’m Natasha Brown, and I want to take away the fear that many new influencers and micro-influencers have when it comes to reaching out to brands. It can be difficult to ask for the things that we want, especially when it comes to money. But once you get over that fear, there is nothing and no one you will be afraid to pitch to!
What is pitching?
Pitching is the blogger term for “offering to write a sponsored post”. If there is a company you are eyeing or a trip you want to take, you pitch to these companies to see if they will sponsor you or provide some other incentive for you to write about them, or your experience with their product or service.
Why would I want to pitch?
If I can be real with you, if you are looking at becoming a full-time blogger, then you need to make money right? A lot of times companies will try to comp you with only a free product in hopes of getting a blog post, social shares, photos and even videos.
If they don’t work for free, then neither should you.
As newbie bloggers or micro-influencers, a lot of times you will be tempted to say well this will give me the experience I need, so I’ll do it. Get that thought out of your head right now. Products don’t pay the bills. Not only that, you are selling yourself short.
I don’t know about you, but even when I was part-time and hobby blogging, it took a lot of work:
- writing blog content - 1.5 hours (at least)
- creating images and taking photos - 2 hours
- scheduling - 20 minutes
- social shares/promoting - 20-30 minutes each time
Keep in mind this is across ALL social platforms, and a lot of times brands will require socials shares of 2-3 a week for a month.
Whether you are a newbie, hobbyist, part-time or full-time blogger, you always need to charge your worth and account for the time that it takes for your come up with your content.
I repeat: do not sell yourself short.
To help you out (and hopefully alleviate some of the fear you may have about pitching) I am going to walk you through step-by-step on how to pitch: the doss and don’ts, and the pluses and minuses. I am going to give you all of the tools you need to be successful at pitching and to start cashing ‘dem checks. It’s up to you to implement them.
There are a few rules to pitching that we need to address before we get started. While these may seem like common sense, let’s just say all sense ain’t that common. So instead of assuming everyone should know this, I am just going to spell it out. (Feel free to jump ahead if need be).
- If you have a branded domain email address, send emails & pitches from it. While there is nothing wrong with sending an email from Gmail or Yahoo! if that’s all you have, try to keep the email address professional. The last thing a brand rep wants is an email from Babygotback69_387@gmail.com. That’s just tacky (and if you are over a certain age, childish). If you’re pitching, I am going to assume you are an adult. Please have an email address that represents such.
- Do not auto send pitches from Mailchimp or ConvertKit. Automated is a big no no.
- Do not add the brands to your subscriber list. This is illegal. You can’t just add people without their knowledge or permission. If you ever expect to work in this business, just don’t.
- Follow up on emails. Just like you would if you were to send out a resume, it’s always best practice to follow up if you haven’t heard back within a certain time frame. I like to give it 5 days at the very least. Do not start emailing the reps after six, 12, or even 24 hours, and don’t bombard them with emails either. If I don’t hear back after my five-day follow up, I may send one last email a week after that. Then I just assume it is a no.
- Know the person’s name you are emailing. Try to make it personal. Don’t send pitches stating Dear Sir or Madam. A lot of times you can find out the person's name just on the brand’s website. (I have seen people inquire via Twitter about this, however, I am not completely sold as to this being a good method.)
- Make sure you have your contact info listed. If you don’t, then they won’t know how to reach you.
Writing the pitch
Every pitch has to include a few basic things and follow the same basic format. Make sure to create an amazing first impression.
- Have your contact information listed first.
- Keep the pitch short and straight to the point. Brand reps do not have time to read a 1500 word pitche. If you have an idea, state it and make it brief. Don’t try too hard, because it will come across in your writing. Also, make sure you are clear with your pitch. If they have to work to figure out what the hell you are talking about, more than likely they are going to pass on you.
- Include links to your blog and social media. Much like ensuring you have included your contact information, be sure to include your blog and social media. Companies need a chance to check you out.
- Be specific. Yes, this is listed twice because it is so damn important. Do not tease your rep with a good time. Meaning, don’t half ass your idea in hopes they will say yes. If you are pitching to a brand for a certain product, tell them which product you are interested in. If you are pitching travel, you have to make your wanderlust stand out from everyone else's. Make brands want you. No one want’s to feel as if a relationship is one-sided. Much like you would on a first date, (ad)dress to impress.
- Show your stats. If you want them to work with you, you are going to have to show some numbers. As a micro-influencer, this can be very intimidating. Even if you don’t have 100K page views, pitch your heart out. Just because you have a small following or reader base does not always mean you're an automatic no. This is why you have to sell yourself in other areas as well. Someone with one million followers or page views may not always have as an authentic base as someone with 5,000-20,000 views or followers.
- Show your work. Much like you did in math class, you are going to have to show examples of your work, so make sure it is your best. Make sure that this isn’t the only time you do good work, that you are consistent with your content, and always go for quality over quantity. If you have done sponsored work for a competitor, do not use that as an example of your work. That’s just in bad taste.
- Marketing plan. Let them know how you plan to promote if they choose to partner with you. How many social shares will you do weekly and for how long? Be sure to make it worth their while. If you have a low follower count, you may have to promote on all of the social media sites that you are on. This is extra work, but until you get your follower count up, you just may have to make it work.
- Tell them when you plan to go live. Brands are going to want a completion date, so make sure you give it to them. If they are paying you, they are going to want to make sure you deliver in a timely fashion. Make sure you are upfront with them about how long it will take.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew. Starting out, don't do more than one sponsor at at time. Once you get the flow of things, you can do two or three at once. I can’t say this enough: quality over quantity. Don’t become so money hungry that your work and relationships with brands suffer.
There are plenty of bloggers who are only in this game for the free stuff. Don’t be them. The lack of quality in their work shows, and you don’t want that to be you.
What about a media kit?
Media kits are generally sent out with pitches. They tell the story of your work, and give your stats. If you don’t have one already you need to get one made ASAP. [Editors note: we'll have a post about creating a media kit soon.]
This is where a lot of people get nervous. As a mentioned before, please don’t work for free product. That’s just not going to benefit you at all in the long run. Moreover, it becomes a bad habit that is hard to break (if all you are concerned about is getting free things).
When talking to reps about your rate, it’s important to be honest, respectful and to remember to value your work. I will tell you first-hand, a lot of brands are pulling the whole "We don’t have a budget" card. Well then, respectfully decline to work for them until they do.
Brands have been known to email back with counters as far as payment is concerned. While some people say stick to your guns, if the price difference isn’t ridiculous, then I say it’s okay to accept it.
My current rate is $225-$300. If I tell a rep that my rate is $300 and they want me to work for $175, they will either have to cut back on the amount and length of time of social shares. If they are not willing to, I pass.
Yes, I pass up money. You may think I am crazy for doing so, but I know my worth, and my time is precious.
Pitching doesn’t have to cause you severe anxiety. At first, prepare hear "no" more than "yes. It's okay. Whatever you don’t do give up, and most importantly: don’t sell yourself short.
Natasha Brown is a blogger, as well as a founder at 1983 Publishing, which provides content creation and social media marketing services for photographers, bloggers, social media influencers, entrepreneurs and creatives.
Natasha says, "My goal is to empower families to spend time together outside of the digital environment, and to empower women and mothers to live life to its fullest."