Not hearing back from brands after you pitch? Work through a few questions to analyze and improve your chances to earn an income from your blog.
The first time I cold-pitched a company it was pouring rain. Seattle has a
monsoon rainy season and I landed in the city during a downpour. As I opened the door, I looked at my shaking hand and realized I was terrified.
I had years of experience presenting to CEOs, VPs, and directors of Fortune 100 companies, and this fear was new to me.
Looking back, I see what it was: a fear of sales. I went from spending my days as a “project manager” to being in “sales” and held onto the stigma so many have about it. Many clients have that same fear and it stops them from winning business for their blogs. But it’s not the only thing…
The Reality of Pitching
Let me start this off by saying you won’t hear back from everyone you pitch. That is completely fine, should be expected, and is actually best for everyone involved. Why?
Not every brand is right for every blogger and not every blogger is right for every brand.
But being scared, aiming for perfection, or waiting for sponsored opportunities to show up in your inbox is going to lead to a whole lot of nothing.
There are affiliate links in this article, which could mean I may receive a commission if you purchase something. To read more about boring, yet legally-compliant policies, see my full disclosure here.
In the influencer space, I find people don’t always use the same terminology, so let’s define a few terms.
- Pitch – a touch base, inquiry, or initial contact with a brand. Often times, pitches are used to determine if a proposal is needed or whether a brand works with influencers directly.
- Proposal – the work you will do, creative ideas, and price. You can gain sponsored work by sending these first or after a pitch and I use (and recommend clients to use) both methods.
- Review – a description of the product, it’s features and/or benefits; you compare the product to others like it. Boring as heck to read unless you’re weighing options on a purchase you KNOW you’re going to make.
- Advertorial – presenting a product with personal anecdotes, usage ideas, and the most important of the content marketing skills: a story. Sometimes, the disclosure is the only way a reader knows it was a sponsored piece. #winning
Not Hearing Back from Brands? 8 Reasons and Fixes
If you have been pitching, let’s take a few moments to analyze some reasons you are not hearing back from brands. For each reason, you’ll find at least one fix.
1. Do you blog consistently about the same topics?
If you’re all over the place, it can seem like an unclear target audience to the brand. One thing about the folks doing intelligent influencer outreach: they know their audience. Do you really know your audience or are you guessing? Working with clients, this is the biggest problem we tackle when trying to grow traffic, develop a product, or even work with brands.
If you’re not hearing back from brands, learn more about your audiences. Yes, you have two: your current audience and your ideal audience. Starting with your current audience can help you more narrowly define your ideal targets.
Get the Beyond the Data survey supplement to Identity (free) or pick up Identity today and get the entire ideal audience workbook.
2. Do you blog about different topics but have one media kit?
This is a consistent problem I see on lifestyle or family-focused sites, but this discussion can apply to any blogger who caters to multiple topics. For these split-focused sites, one media kit does not do a great job explaining or highlighting you or your audience.
Create a media kit to target niches and subsets of your audience. If you do not know about these subsets, consider a 2-5 question survey to identify a few traits about each.
My latest favorite find: this keyboard for laptops. No more hunched shoulders!
3. Are you sending the same generic pitch template to everyone?
There’s nothing wrong with expecting your media kit to ‘sell’ you, however, it had better make one heck of an impression!
Media kit-driven pitches can be great to land sponsored posts, however, I will tell you what you already know: no one likes being sent the same letter. You don’t like it when the “SEO companies” pitch you about putting their client’s “editorial content” on your site for do-follow links, right? It’s the same thing with PR reps – they see 100 of those types of emails a day.
Stand out. Work on your sell. If you need help with that, I’ve included the supplement, “How to Find Your Sell” in the Pitching Perfection workbook. Psst: it’s on sale right now. Yay!
4. Grammar or Formatting
I understand typos and missing commas, but there is a point I stop reading some blogs I come across because it’s obvious it was NEVER edited. Additionally, if you have a black background (or a cluttered one) with a weird, small, or a lightly colored font, I’m gone. And so might be the sponsors.
If you are not hearing back from brands and you think your grammar could use some work (and we all can, to be honest), consider investing in Grammarly OR try their FREE version. Additionally, try to solicit and be open to constructive criticism about the design and formatting of your site.
Above all else, consider the user’s experience when writing and formatting your piece. Headings, summaries, and images help to make someone absorb information and share it.
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5. Do you want to be paid?
Do you always send a price with your pitches or conversely, never indicate you want to be compensated beyond product? There are times when both are advantageous, and one of the skills in working with sponsors is when to probe and when to propose.
Try changing up your pitch letters. If you don’t know if a brand works with influencers, ALWAYS ask in a probing pitch first. There’s no sense in sending all of your well-thought out proposals to a brand if you don’t know they work with bloggers.
6. Are you going in blind?
I’m going to address this in two parts: audience and relationship.
Audience: Just because you want the product (or the income), doesn’t mean it’s a good match. If you are not hearing back from brands, consider whether you should be pitching them in the first place.
The Fix, Audience
Know YOUR audience and take the time to learn the brand’s audience, as well. Think about a single aspect of their target market and try to find a correlation between your audience and theirs. If you can’t find a strong one, move on.
Relationship: Getting the right contact is only part of the research you should be doing. Sure, you need to find out if the brand works with an agency, only through aggregators (like TapInfluence), or with bloggers directly, but there is so much more!
The Fix, Relationship
Follow the brand, engage in their social media feeds, and even mention them in your own feeds (yes, unpaid!). Whether you attribute it to karma or a brand contact’s amazing attention to detail, I recommend doing this for any opportunity you really, really want.
Psst: this is where a contact and work tracker can really come in handy. Need one? I’ve got you covered with this free pitching and sponsored post tracking sheet! Get it in the Resource Library (or sign up below).
Get Free Access to Our Resource Library!
7. Is your previous work worthy?
Ugh, it’s truth time. Do you write with a focus on mentioning the product (review) or do you try to create a piece weaving the brand in as just another part of the fabric that is your story? Unless they’re after a comparative review, this advertorial-style is beneficial to the brand, you, and your reader.
Influencers have raised the bar with sponsored posts, making sure to offer the reader a wonderful experience in addition to the mention of the brand, and if you’re not hearing back from brands, this is a BIG consideration.
If you don’t have any examples of story-driven (advertorial) sponsored posts, link to a few non-sponsored pieces which demonstrate you CAN tell a story that appeals to readers.
8. Are you scared?
I’m going to tell you a secret: most bloggers I work with are scared to send pitches. When we start working together, they will spend 10 days crafting “the perfect pitch email.” It’s heartbreaking when I tell them… It might not be about the pitch email at all.
What do I mean? If you’re sending a ton of pitches that aren’t resonating, are you scared to actually investigate it or get help with making them better? It’s hard to ask for help sometimes but this is your income, your job.
Get help if your pitch letters are not working for you.
Ahem, I can help you. #shamelessplug If you can’t work one-on-one with someone like me, turn to your tribe and ask them to troubleshoot your pitch. Ask them to share brands they’ve worked with so you can get your feet wet. Or pick up Pitching Perfection (on sale now) and gain the confidence!Ad: Pitching Perfection again
If you can’t work one-on-one with someone like me, turn to your tribe and ask them to troubleshoot your pitch. Ask them to share brands they’ve worked with so you can get your feet wet. Or pick up Pitching Perfection (on sale now) and gain the confidence!Ad: Pitching Perfection again
If you can’t work one-on-one with someone like me, turn to your tribe and ask them to troubleshoot your pitch. Ask them to share brands they’ve worked with so you can get your feet wet.
Or pick up Pitching Perfection (on sale now) and gain the confidence!
Working with brands is like anything else in blogging. If you’re not hearing back from brands, start with these 8 common problems and fixes for pitch letters. Please pin this to your favorite blogging or blogging income board on Pinterest.