We Need To Talk About Alan

Alan came into my life about a week or so ago. A message to Retro Garden – my retro gaming blog – landed in my inbox.

Alan’s email came from a generic Gmail address, but seemed to show passion for retro gaming, his avatar of the Psygnosis Owl that also stood him out from other people who are primarily looking for something. Also, something about his message was different to me. He seemingly broke all ten of the “how to pitch to bloggers” tips you see circulating on SEO Marketing Blogs. So I took my chance with him, half expecting an email back with a generic post embedded with links, that wouldn’t fit into my site.

However, Alan’s posts were superb. Well written, long pieces that showed a deep understanding of the genre. They were either fantastically well researched or they were games he played. One thing was noticeably missing from the posts, a link. Alan didn’t want a single bit of accreditation for the post. A bunch of emails back and forth (mainly my guilt trip) established that he was a chiptuner – a sub genre of electronic dance music that uses the original hardware to make tunes, so I linked to some of his work. It’s only polite.

So yes, as many of you who read this post do some sort of blogger outreach, let it be known is this is what you are up against. My blog is decent, though isn’t huge, but still get a fair amount of traffic to it and is one of those sites that gets a fair amount of requests. In fact in the past week this is what I get for Retro Garden (offers that generated a response are starred):-

  • Alan’s email*
  • 3 press releases for various Computer related stuff in the UK.
  • 5 press releases for gambling.
  • 1 Pitch to Alpha Test a PC game on Kickstarter*
  • 10 press releases for gardening equipment.
  • 16 RIMjobs – RIMjobs stands for “Relevant & Informative” Marketing Jobs. Poorly worded guest post pitches that contains the words “relevant & informative”, two words that make me close your guest post pitch quicker than a door on a double glazing salesman.
  • An unsolicited guest post on “When You Should Plant Petunias In Your Garden?” (seriously)
  • A request for a paid placement on the site*

Alan’s post you may think are one offs but it’s not the case, there are plenty of writers, particularly in fun niches, who are just looking to write out there. Often these are more attractive than your pitches.

As such, if you’re pitching to me, that is what you need to stand out from, and many other bloggers are the same. Quite a lot, in all honesty. So how do you do it? Well in short it is adhering to three simple rules.

It’s About Me

The amount of people who pitch their content to me like it the literary bastard child of Harry Potter, The Art of War and The fucking Bible is unbelievable. Also they focus on themselves, or their client, like I should be grateful that I’m being even graced with an email from them.

They then usually use the RIMjob phrase of “relevant and informative” as a way to describe their latest scribbling.

Newsflash for you folks: a “informative and relevant” piece of work is all relative. What you may have slaved over for the morning I may not like. Second newsflash for you: many “informative” blog posts are in fact not going on blogs designed to inform, but rather opinion pieces. Reviews are opinion pieces. I’ve never played more than the first 2 Grand Theft Auto games because I’m not a huge fan of them. I’ve also never played Resident Evil too. That’s not saying they’re bad games, just I’m not a fan of the genre or the game play or whatever. That is just my opinion. Retro Garden is 90% reviews.

I can understand why you are shying away from “opinion pieces”. They are controversial and could land you in hot water with the client. Try and think of offering your opinion rather than just a bland piece, maybe if you can get your client involved. Then, and only then pitch an “informative” piece. Pitch to me with the knowledge Retro Garden I have had probably only one real “informative” guest post, and that was a guy who tore apart a Japanese Super Famicom for a guest post. Unless you’re willing to go to similar lengths (and expense!), then it’s probably not a good idea to pitch an “informative piece” to me.

tl;dr: Read the guidelines, before kissing my arse & telling me it tastes of ice cream. You need to prove to me why I should give you an opportunity. Selling your content like my blog is worse off without it isn’t one of those things. Pitch ideas!

But Don’t Lie or Patronise To Me

This is a big one for me.

Look, I know why you are contacting me. I know why you are after giving me content, but don’t pretend it’s “just a little link”, don’t pretend you “are after editorial exposure”, and – worst of all to me – don’t pretend you’re a woman. I grew out of speaking to pretend women on the internet when Yahoo! Chat folded.

Be honest with me. That’s all. A bare faced liar annoys me. Don’t expect me to do work for free either.

tl;dr: Tell me who you are, tell me what you are offering, tell me what you want.

Make It As Damn Easy As Possible

This is the final thing about me – I’m lazy.

Yes, shock horror! But lazy isn’t a bad thing. Lazy people as pointed out by Bill Gates are the sort of people who find an easy way to do a hard job. I’m of the opinion that I spend 2 hours finding a way to do a 4 hour job in an hour is a good use of time.

As such, when it comes to running my site, I want the maximum results for as little as effort as possible. You may write the greatest analysis of a video game ever, but if I’m chasing you for images and corrections, then I’m unlikely to post it. It’s shocking as well how many times people don’t read the guidelines as well. Often (at least with me) guidelines are laid out on the “write for us” page usually, so if you don’t follow them, then don’t expect me to be very forthcoming with a response.

Final point about this – I’ve a lot of sites, some still going, some dead. Many use the same email address. If you contact me with an email saying “I want to guest post for your site”, at lease name the site as well!

tl;dr: Don’t make me work for your guest post. Trust me, I probably won’t bother.

I may come across as a bit of a dick with this (which is something I admit), but as a site owner, I get frustrated when marketers come to me peddling the same cookie cutter emails (often they are RIMjobs) for responses.

I know this isn’t everybody, and actually I’m quite open to many pitches. Furthermore I’m not the greatest outreacher in the world (there are so many more talented people than me at this!). Please just be honest, explain what you are going to do, work hard and butter my ego. It’s not that difficult, trust me!