In my early and mid 20s, I was working my full-time gig as a graphic designer for a major retailer while side hustling as a wedding blogger. During the four years that I was blogging professionally, a lot of pitches came my way. Unfortunately, the cringeworthy ones outnumbered the good ones. Even though they tough to get through, it was a great learning experience for me. I learned very quickly what not to do. When I started focusing more on editorial styling with wedding vendor friends that I met through the blog, I was armed with a ton of media submission tips I had picked up from being on the receiving end of a pitch. Today, I’m going to share all of the rules I’ve followed that have landed me a perfect track record of landing my first choice publication with every submission.
Know Who is on the Other End
If I had a dime for every time someone misspelled my name when they were pitching to me or addressed the email to a different blogger, I could’ve retired at 27. We all make our email goofs, but do your submission a favor: triple check everything before you send your submission. You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.
Understand Their Brand, Not Just Yours
The content pitches that are most successful are made by those who understand that what gets approved is as much a reflection of the content creators as it is the publication. Bloggers and editors need to consider their audiences and what their readers’ expectations are in order to keep them coming back. If you have a rustic vintage styled wedding shoot that you’re trying to put on a blog with a handmade hipster vibe, your chances of success aren’t great unless you can find brand overlap within that aesthetic. It’s in your best interest to have your shoot be as aligned as possible to the blog brand you’re pitching to, as well; if readers aren’t interested in the content your submitting, they’re not going to be interested in you, either.
Make It Clear That You’ve Done Your Research
As a blogger, I frequently got pitches that made it painfully obvious that the person submitting to me hadn’t been on my site for more than five minutes. Occasionally, I’d have pitches where it was apparent they not only hadn’t been following my blog, but they had tried to mask that fact by lifting a fact or two from my “About Me” page almost verbatim. Needless to say, these pitches did not go over well. You want to make it clear that you take the submission seriously, that you’ve done your research, and that you’re serious about being associated with their media brand. Demonstrate that you’re being purposeful and invested in your submission by presenting your reasoning for why your pitch is the right fit for this blog. You don’t have to go overboard! Keep it simple, but specific. For example:
“Dear [Editor Name],
Hello! My name is [Name] from [Business Name] in [ City, State]. I’ve been following your blog, [Blog Name], for a long time and have been endlessly inspired by its airy, romantic aesthetic and dedication to simple but heartfelt details. Some of local vendors and I have been working on a styled photo shoot that is very much in the same vein as the content we so frequently enjoy on your blog, and thought it would be a great fit for publication…”
Most publications post specific submission guidelines on their sites that you should follow to a T. Every blogger or editorial team has its own workflow, and their guidelines are put in place for a reason. Some want all of the images up front; some want 5-10 at a time so they can get a sense of the shoot before making a decision and possibly requesting the full image set. If you ignore their guidelines, you’re not off to a great start with the person reviewing your submission. Some publications may even flat out reject it. It also gives the impression that you may be shopping around your shoot to more than one publication at a time, which brings us to…
Commit to One at a Time
Don’t try to maximize your chances of getting on a blog or in a magazine by submitting to multiple outlets at a time. It’s just bad form. Most publications require exclusivity. They will not usually take kindly to competition if you’re lucky enough to get more than one outlet interested in your content. You may cause one or more publications to withdraw their approval. Worse yet, the editors will likely remember what happened when you submit for consideration in the future. That will damage your chances of ever making it into their publication. Take it one at a time.
Reviews can take a while. Often, there’s only one person managing them and he or she is wading through an endless sea of pitches. Most outlets will post approximate time frames or set “hear by” dates that you can reference. Mark the date on your calendar. If you don’t hear back from them one way or another before then, you can move on. You may still be approved after that date, but it’s generally understood that if the outlet doesn’t stick to their own published dates, it’s not your responsibility if they have competition for your content.
Shoot for Your Target
If you’re working on a styled shoot instead of submitting a wedding, identify your target publication ahead of time and plan the shoot to be specifically catered to its style. This was always something I did. It helped me be very focused in how I develop my concepts, how I styled details, what vignettes I chose to include, and so on. Not only does it help ensure your shoot is well tailored for the publication you want to be featured in, it also helps narrow your scope so you feel less overwhelmed.
Research what the publication you’re targeting has been featuring lately before you submit. If your shoot is too similar to content that the publication has already featured in terms of tone, theme, or details, either move on to another similar publication or hold your submission for a few weeks. Editors are looking for fresh, differentiated content to continue to engage and inspire their audience. Rehashing details over and over again won’t offer its readers new ideas. If you pitch as submission that has too much overlap with something they’ve already featured – especially recently – your chance of being turned down will be quite high.
“Plus” Your Content
What’s better than a great submission? A great submission with bonus content! Make it doubly hard for an editor to say no by including additional bonus content in addition to the shoot. They get twice the amount of content out of your feature without being repetitive. You get two chances for exposure without additional workload. Great examples of bonus content are DIY projects, recipes, printables, or anything else that is still relevant to the audiences you’re reaching.
Remember Why Publications Exist
Editors are looking for content that helps inspire their audience. Include lots of ideas and details that can help their readers feel like they’ve taken something away from your content. It’s unlikely everything in your shoot will inspire a single reader. However, the wider of a net you throw, the more likely your work will be well received by both the editors and the audience alike.
I hope these media submission tips have been helpful. Do you have any more tips to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section!