Writing the Perfect Pitch: How To Land A Gig Or Job Every Time

    writing the perfect pitch

    Hands up if you want to know a no-fail method of landing a guest post, magazine article, or perfect job?

    The key to success or failure is in the pitch.

    It took me a while to realize that I’m really good at writing a pitch. I only got the message when blogger friends kept on responding with, “You landed a guest post THERE?!” or, “You’re in touch with HIM?!”  or, “You’ve been invited to write for HER?”  I took success for granted – which is one reason I’m good at pitching.

    Many people see a pitch as an exercise in manipulation. That is, they focus on how to get the other person to do what they want. That attitude is sure to fail.

    The key to a successful pitch is honesty and respect.

    With your pitch you are building a bridge to another human being. And that bridge can only carry weight if it is built with integrity.

    Here are key points to writing the perfect pitch:

    • Remember that you are an equal human being. Acknowledge also that the person you are writing to has more experience, knowledge, or success.
    • Research the other person. If you are a blogger wanting to land a guest post, study the ‘About’ page and read many of his or her blog articles. The same goes for wanting a job. What are they interested in? What topic might be of interest to them? What is their passion at the moment?
    • Say what drew you to them in the first place. Be specific and name an article that made a difference to you. Again, be honest. Don’t say you like something, just to please. Here is an example. In a recent pitch I wrote:

    The reason why I’m so excited about reading your work is because:
    1. You write because you want to write.
    2. You write what you want to write about.
    3. You write with both depth and elegance.

    • Introduce yourself, but don’t make a meal of it. For example, I put my personal details in brackets like this in a recent pitch: (I’m a Zen master, psychotherapist, and published author.)
    • Briefly list previous gigs. You want to make sure that your recipient knows that he or she is in good company. Which well-known blogs have you been published in? Which relevant jobs have you held down?
    • Do some discrete name dropping. Instead of saying, “My guest post was recently published at SevenSands.com” you could say, John MacDonald recently asked me to write a guest post at SevenSands.com and it was well received by his readers.”
    • Your tone should be confident, straightforward, and respectful. Avoid toadying. For example, don’t say things like, “I’d be humbled if you would grant me…” or similar phrases. Instead, say things like, “It would give me much pleasure to write for your favorite blog”, or, “I’d be delighted to hear from you.”
    • Focus on how you can help the person you are writing to. Are they going on holiday and might need guest posts? Are they expanding their business and might need new staff members? Would their blog benefit from your proposed theme? Have they written a book that you could promote?
    • Use humor. See if you can make them smile.
    • Offer your article or work. You might want to say, for example, “I’d like to offer you an in-depth and value-rich guest post, called ‘zyz’. It would cover the following points…“Then list the main points of the proposed article in bullet form. I think it’s good to offer an overview first; don’t write the article and then simply throw it at the other person!
    • Show examples to your work. Link to your best articles or posts, saying, “You can see examples of my style here.”
    • State what’s in it for them. Why might they like to offer you a guest post, article, or job? Sometimes it’s difficult to find something to say. Here are two recent examples: “I’m sure this will be a very useful article. It will provide a roadmap to a happier life for your readers.” In one instance, I didn’t know what to say. So I said: “What’s in it for you? Well, maybe just the sheer thrill of it!” It worked!
    • Be audacious. You can’t lose by asking for what you want. I always encourage myself by saying, “If you don’t ask, you’ll get an automatic no.” (Check out Skellies excellent article on being audacious here).
    • Expect to be successful. A positive frame of mind will give you a strong voice. If you believe in yourself, the other person will believe in you too. After all, confidence is infectious.
    • Move on from failure and focus on your next opportunity. Sometimes you won’t get the desired result. Move on. The more pitches you write, the higher your chances are of landing your dream gig.

    As you can see, there are many things to consider in writing a good pitch. Let me remind you of the most important thing: Don’t try to manipulate; aim for a win-win solution.

    Let’s have a conversation. What’s your experience of pitching?

    What worked?
    What didn’t?

    I look forward to your comments.

    Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at Write to Done. Grab her FREE report How to Write Like an A-List Blogger. Mary has helped thousands of students successfully create outstanding and profitable blogs at A-List Blogging and is the blogger behind Goodlife ZEN.

    Image: Man writing courtesy of BigStockphoto

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • poch says:

      Wow ma’am Mary,
      I think it will take me a long while before I have
      the courage to submit here! No sarc ma’am 🙂

    • Josefine says:

      Why not getting a group of bloggers together, who write each other a guest post? For some bloggers it will be the first time, so it will motivate them. It could be fun.

    • Hi Greg!
      Thank you for adding this important point. You’re right – why should the person you are writing to give you a chance, if it doesn’t mean anything to you? Passion is important!

    • greg says:

      The best advice I ever got regarding pitching was, don’t pitch if you aren’t passionate. Especially in TV, where they are hiring you for something of a long term, it is vital that you come across not only as a person they’d want to spend a significant amount of time with, but also someone who is endlessly enthusiastic (but not insane) about their work.

    • Hi Jim!
      Great to hear that you like the title! Especially because I’ve honed in on the fact that my titles usually suck at GoodlifeZen.com and that I really need to study the art of writing titles. Good to know that I get it right some of the time 🙂

    • Wow. As a relatively new blogger with other writing experience under my belt I’ve been looking for a guide to guest blogging.
      The info here is clear, concise and helpful to me.

      Thanks for helping!

    • Jim Bessey says:

      Great title, Mary – couldn’t resist reading this one. (I’m a subscriber, but don’t always have time to stop in, knowing you’ll still be here when I do)

      Your points and proofs made great reading and offered me some fresh insight from the other side (being pitched), too. Have bookmarked this post all by itself to be sure I don’t forget your great advice. Thank you!

      ~Jim Bessey, associate editor for Home & Garden @ Helium.com

    • Amy Derby says:

      What an excellent post on pitching. I pitch new clients frequently and have had a good experience with it. Taking time to research prospects and their needs/wants is my biggest tip to getting it right. 🙂

    • Hi Nathalie!
      You might want to target newer blogs that are just developing for your first guest post. Once you’ve landed one gig, you’ll have more confidence to approach a larger blog.

    • Hmm. I haven’t tried writing any guest posts so far.
      This article should help me get involved in doing so much easier. 😉

    • This is a great article. I have yet to pitch for a guest-post, but this is very helpful. I have been working on honing my writing skills first, but I am getting more comfortable now with the idea of writing guest posts.

      Great information! 🙂

    • Hi Hunter!
      As a writer, I’ve tried it both ways: sending an outline, as well as sending a whole article. Now, as Chief Editor of WTD I’m seeing the other side of that. I find it helpful to know what someone might want to write about. Because I might have some other articles lined up that are too similar.

      Let’s say someone offered me a guest post and I’d never encountered that writer before. What would pique my interest would be to see an interesting outline. If the writer then said, “Would you like to have a look at the article and see if it would fit?” I would say ‘yes’. That wouldn’t commit me to anything – but it would enable me to have a good look.

      There are also two further important points:

      1. I take note of recommendations. So, a pitch delivered just after a personal recommendation will influence me favorably. Translated into strategy that would mean getting a friend to put you forward, and then sending a pitch a few days later.

      2. Regular commenters also have more chance of getting guest post slots. Here is an example: Someone recently recommended a gifted friend for a guest post at GoodlifeZen. I immediately recognized the name as one of an active commenter. In view of this, I agreed to have a look at a possible guest post – although I’m very choosy about other people writing for my blog. My rational was that this commenter knows the style and scope of GoodlifeZen really well AND comes with a recommendation from a fellow blogger whom I trust.

    • Hi Leslie!
      Rejection and being a successful writer go hand in hand. Only a person who has the confidence to keep on going will ultimately taste success.

    • Hi Allena!
      I agree with you. I’ve had some guest post gigs that weren’t really worth the effort. However, guest posts are handy in order to keep one’s profile up.

      I like the fact that as bloggers we work together. We write for each other; we share readers; we help each other to be successful.

    • This is great, Mary! The one part I have mixed feelings about is this: “I think it’s good to offer an overview first; don’t write the article and then simply throw it at the other person!”

      I’ve done it both ways, with and without an overview. Offering an overview first can possibly save you from wasting time or coming off as too presumptuous. But if you send the post without an overview, they see the value right there and it’s much easier for them to say yes (and if not, you can try someone else or post it on your own blog).

      If you tell someone you can write a value-packed post for them, they won’t necessarily believe you. If they see it, they know. It also spares them from saying yes to the overview and then worrying about having to say no if the post turns out to be no good.

      Having said that, I think writing an overview is a good idea in some cases. You have to consider the situation.

    • Leslie says:

      Great post, Mary! I can see that some of these suggestions would work very well for jobs other than writing as well. Your point about moving on from failure reminds me of a video I watched on dealing with rejection in theater. You go in, you give the best audition that you can, and then you say to yourself “Next!” You don’t want to pick it apart and dwell on all the things you could have done better, because you can’t do anything about that. You just prepare for your next “pitch” and if you get the part, great, if not, you’ve gotten some valuable experience and you’re already moving on to the next thing.

    • Al at 7P says:

      Hi Mary,

      Elevator pitches are basically the quick pitches one would give if they have just a few moments with a key person (such as bumping into a CEO in an elevator). Introduce yourself but don’t dwell too much on you, because you need to also say what value you can offer for the other person. Talk to that person as a human being and try to connect. Very important to also know that you only have a short time for the person’s attention, so you can’t make it too long!

    • Allena says:

      I wouldn’t spend TOO much time on unpaid guest posts in the grand scheme of things. This should be less than 10% of your marketing effort. The pitch takes time, the writing takes time, so make sure the time is worth it- time is money, after all.

      Also, make sure you’re targeting “the right blogs”– BUT what constitutes the “right” blogs is different for each person. What makes it right? Is it traffic? Is it genre? Why are you pitching this blog? Why are you spending hours on it? Be sure your answers are very clear.

    • Hi Al!
      What are elevator pitches??

    • Al at 7P says:

      Hi Mary – I like how you balance between describing yourself and describing what you can offer to the blogger. This approach also works well with elevator pitches, too!

    • Hi Writer Dad!
      It’s happened to me too when I first started out blogging. And it sucks. But what I did was to let six months go by. I hones my writing skills and then I wrote a new piece for the same blog. I put my heart and soul into it, and then hacked away big chunks, until I had something elegant and smooth.

      Then I went back to the blog that had rejected me and offered them the new piece. They took that one immediately!

      What I learned from that are two lessons:

      1. I am evolving as a writer – I just need to be patient with my own present limitation (and there are always a present limitation).
      2. Don’t take ‘no’ for a final answer if you want to become successful!

    • “To expect defeat is nine-tenths of defeat itself.” – Henry Mencken

    • Hi ‘Motivate Yourself’!
      Yes, manipulation is dangerous. Not only do we lose the respect of others, we also lose our sense of self.

    • @Writer Dad –
      Don’t just ask someone … ask tons of someones 🙂

      @Mary –
      Home run with this article. You listed so many good points I lost count. Thanks for the link to Skellie, I forgot about that gem of a post …

    • runbei says:

      Service, service, service, and yet again service. If you’ve had any success as a writer, you know how to take the client’s point of view. You know the joy of service.

    • I think it’s really important to move on from failure and get to your next opportunity. I believe there will be something better ahead of you even if you have failed. Failures can only make you stronger and develop you into something greater.

    • writer dad says:

      I’ve only had two experiences with guest posts. The first, I asked if I could guest post, worked hard on it, but it never amounted to anything. The second, I was contacted, I wrote it, and it posted two days later.

      Perhaps I should summon my courage and ask someone I respect for a guest post.

    • “Don’t try to manipulate” You said it there! Very good post, by the way.

      Like you said, they are more experienced than you and they will be able to see though any attempt to manipulate and lose any respect that they could have had for you.

      I read through your list and really enjoyed it, but will certainly keep it for future reference the next time I submit a guest posting request.

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