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A Week In The Email Life Of A Professional Blogger

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"too much e-mail" in red, in front of lots of "@" signs
Here’s a fun weekend read! OK, not really, but I thought some of you might be interested in part of what it takes to be a professional blogger. A lot of people think it’s just writing a post and publishing it. But in addition to promoting posts, invoicing, dealing with plugins, keeping abreast of new programs and updates, staying current on best practices, networking, applying for jobs, dealing with contracts, and producing images and videos, there’s also email.
I was involved in a huge private group discussion recently that devolved into a PR-vs-Blogger fight. I won’t go into details, but I think a lot of PR people (the people tasked with getting media to cover something for free) don’t realize just how crushing their off-base pitches are, and how much time they take to deal with. I get so many pitches that start off, “I know you don’t write about this, but…” Any email that starts off that way just shouldn’t be sent.
But at least those people bothered to read my contact page. Most people who pitch me haven’t even looked at my blog for more than five seconds, if at all. They’ve gotten my name from a list that they found online, or that they bought. They’re probably emailing hundreds or thousands of bloggers at a time. We call that “Spray and Pray.”
[bctt tweet=”Professional blogging isn’t just writing a post and hitting publish. ” username=”AmyOztan”]
I can totally see how someone who isn’t in my position might say, “Yeah, this probably isn’t a good fit, but sending it can’t hurt.” I’m telling you, it can. Dealing with emails takes up way too much of my day. And when I get behind, I miss important ones, because they get buried beneath pitches for baby toys, celebrity appearances, and iPhone apps.
In that same group discussion my friend Vera posted an example of a day of pitches that a typical blogger gets (well, a typical superstar blogger, which Vera is; seriously, she was on The Today Show this morning). Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’ve totally stolen her idea. I kept track of a week’s worth of blog-writing-related emails: everything that came in that was trying to get me to take some kind of action on behalf of a brand.
I did not include emails for projects that were already in the works – negotiating for a job can involve a dozen emails. I also did not include work-related emails that weren’t trying to get publicity for something in an actual post. For example, no back-end stuff, no services, no emails about past projects, no sidebar or video advertising, etc. Just new stuff where somebody wanted me to write something on my website or social media.

Keep in mind, I’ve been doing some things in the past year to reduce my email load, and it’s worked. But irrelevant emails are still a huge problem. It’s like the least fun game of Whack-A-Mole ever: as soon as I unsubscribe to a list, I get added to two more.
Most of what I deal with falls into one of the following categories:

Press Releases and Newsletters

Completely not personal, and rarely relevant. Sent out to giant lists of people. Unsubscribe and delete.

Unpaid List Pitches

These are pitches that look personal (Hi Amy, how are you?), but are actually sent out to a big list of people. Honestly, I don’t understand why they bother personalizing the email when it is so obviously a form that’s probably populated from a spreadsheet. I don’t usually bother responding, I just unsubscribe and delete.

Unpaid Pitches

Similar to above, but they look like they maybe, possibly weren’t sent automatically to a ton of people. These are the ones that I try to respond to, since there’s no unsubscribe button.

Paid Pitches

These are pitches that offer money, either for a post, or a personal appearance, or social media, or some combination.

Opt-In Pitches

These are from groups that hire bloggers to work on projects, where I can see what the project involves and (usually) see how much it pays before applying. If it’s not relevant, it’s not the sender’s fault – I signed up.

Review Pitches

Pitches where cash payment is not offered, but a product is offered for free to facilitate a review.

Paid Review Pitches

Sometimes I’m offered money to review a product. I then have to explain that if I’m paid, it’s not a review, but a sponsored post.

Unpaid Event Pitch

Pitch where I’m invited to an event. No money is offered, and usually, no requirements are listed. The unwritten hope is that I will write about the event and/or share it on social media. These are usually presented as fabulous, free opportunities for me and my family. Little do these people know that I hate leaving my house, and my kids don’t want to go to anything having to do with my blog. Unless there’s a MAJOR celebrity involved, or some kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’d never be able to get access to on my own, it’s going to be a no.


I would define these as the opportunity to attend an event or go to a place where I would be expected to publicize something, but the event really is actually for my benefit, even if it wouldn’t pay me. This could be a tech trade show, where I would get tons of content in one place, or a networking event, where I could possibly secure future work, or a TV appearance where my blog’s name would appear on the screen. The good ones are very worth it.

Charity Pitch

I hate turning these down, but I do anyway, almost every time. There have been a dozen or so charities that I’ve worked with, sometimes for pay, sometimes not. I know that this is a sensitive subject for some bloggers. Many insist that we shouldn’t take money from charities. That doesn’t work for me. Either the PR person is getting paid to reach out to me by the charity, or the PR person is working on the account pro-bono but still, presumably, getting a paycheck from her company. So while I’ve had a few great unpaid relationships with some wonderful charities, I tend to treat these pitches just like any other. If that makes me an asshole, feel free to come over and do the work for me, in my voice and up to my standards, as well as do all of the promotion. It’s real work, y’all, it takes real time. Most of the time, if it’s a cause I’m interested in, I’d rather just write a check from a personal account and leave my blog out of it.

A typical week

So here’s what a typical week for me is like when it comes to dealing with emails. I don’t really expect anybody to read this. But by simply scrolling down, your finger will be exhausted and you’ll get the point.


I hadn’t answered any pitches since the previous Thursday, so these emails did not all come in on Monday. Many of them came in on Friday, and a few came in over the weekend. So this is really four days’ worth.

Unpaid list pitch to share something with my readers for free. Unsubscribed and deleted without replying. Wasn’t something I had any interest in writing about, but wasn’t wildly off-base (wasn’t a baby product or anything). Just something that I had no interest in, either on my blog or in real life.

Paid pitch to attend an event and write a post about it. Replied that I’d love to do it.

Unpaid pitch to write about a charity. Replied that it wasn’t something that I was interested in writing about at this time.

Pitch that didn’t have enough information, but the sender wanted to schedule a call with me to talk. Nuh-uh. I hate the phone, partly because I’m just awkward, but mostly because then I don’t have a record of what was discussed. I replied asking if this was a paid opportunity and for more specifics about the campaign. (Received a reply later in the day. It was an unpaid opportunity, but I would have received cosmetic procedures for free. Pass.)

Unpaid list pitch. Unsubscribed (positive I’d never signed up for it) and deleted without replying.

Review pitch for a product that didn’t fit my blog. Replied that it wasn’t a good fit.

Unpaid event pitch…that I might have had to pay to attend? This one was so confusing I’m not really sure what I was being invited to. Also, bonus points (not) for calling me a “mommy blogger” (grrr). Replied with a request to be removed from the mailing list, a list I don’t remember signing up for in the fist place.

Unpaid pitch to write about a product, share a campaign on social, and possibly run a giveaway (something that I charge for all on its own, but this email seemed to imply that offering me products for a giveaway was sweetening the deal). Even though the email made it fairly clear that they were not offering money, I replied asking about a budget anyway. Mostly because I couldn’t believe that they were asking for so much in exchange for a few inexpensive products. (They haven’t replied.)

Unpaid pitch to review a product. Replied with my rates for a sponsored post instead, because it’s not the kind of thing that I would want to review. There are some products that lend themselves well to reviews, but there are a lot of others where there just isn’t much to review. It’s mostly a matter of “Do I like it?” not “Does it work?” or “What features does it have?” Things that are simply a matter of taste are, in my opinion, boring to write about. So to flesh out a post about a product that doesn’t have much functionality, I would only want to do it as a sponsored post.

Review pitch. The way it was worded (“Respond if you’re interested!”) gave me permission to delete without answering. I try to reply to as many as the personal emails as I can, but I’m always looking for an excuse not to, because there are just so many.

Opt-In pitch from a company that NEVER sends me any good offers. Finally unsubscribed. I’ll now have an extra 30 seconds several times a week. I might take up a very small hobby.

Review pitch for a product that would actually fit my blog, but would be boring to write about (boring for me, hopefully not for my audience). Replied with my sponsored post rates.

Opt-in pitch with a bunch of opportunities. I applied for two that were good fits.

Opt-in pitch that was not relevant to my blog, so I didn’t apply.

Invitation to a trade show that I would actually like to attend, but the date isn’t good. Not a personal invitation, so deleted.

Unpaid event pitch to an event that was not a good fit. Not a personal invitation, so deleted.

Unpaid pitch to promote a contest. Deleted.

Unpaid pitch to write about a study, as long as I included the name of the company behind the study. Had no interest in the topic. Unsubscribed and deleted. (Positive that I never subscribed in the first place.)

Review pitch for a product for my daughter. Held that one so that I could ask my daughter if it was something she’d like to help me review. She has a bad history about following through when my blog is involved, so it’s usually not worth the trouble for something that isn’t paid – I expend a lot of energy chasing her down. But I’ll gauge her interest, and if it seems like something that she’ll gladly review, we’ll go for it. She has an Instagram account now, so it’s time she learns about disclosure.

Press release from a PR firm that was completely irrelevant to my blog. Unsubscribed (for at least the second time, I think) and deleted.

Unpaid pitch from someone I keep saying I’m going to unsubscribe from, because he sends a LOT of stuff, but every once in a great while there’s a gem in there, so I’ll stick it out. For now.

Press release for something I wasn’t interested in. Deleted.

Unpaid charity pitch to do something on video that I simply would never do. Deleted.

Charity pitch for so little money, it was basically unpaid. Deleted. It wasn’t a cause that I had any particular interest in anyway.

Review pitch that sounded interesting. Asked for more info, but explained that I couldn’t guarantee coverage. Sometimes I can’t tell if something will be interesting to write about until I try it. The products that are “fine” fall into this category. If something is really bad or really good, I can make an interesting post about it. If it’s OK, fine, meh, and if I don’t have any similar products to compare it to, I probably won’t write about it.

Advertising pitch for things that I say right on my contact page that I don’t do (text links and guest posts). Marked it as spam and deleted.


Unpaid pitch with a press release that was completely irrelevant to my blog. Did not reply.

Press release for something I didn’t want to write about. Deleted.

Unpaid event pitch that not only was I not interested in, but a close reading of the invitation made me wonder if it was even a private event. I was definitely invited as a blogger, but it looked like the public was invited too. There’s nothing wrong with going to crowded events that are open to the public, but I’m definitely not going to go as a blogger to promote your product for free if I have to wait in line. Look, I wouldn’t have gone to this one even if it had been private. But if I’d been interested enough to go and cover it, and then I’d gotten there and found out that it was open to the public? I’d have been pissed. That’s not entitlement, that’s using my time wisely. (Also, I got the invitation on the day of the event. Nothing says “We value you” less than asking me if I’m free in two hours. Sorry that your numbers are looking low. Maybe offer to pay people for their work next time.)

Unpaid event listing request. Deleted. There is NOTHING about my blog suggesting that I list local events.

Invitation to a trade show that I have no interest in attending. Unsubscribed and deleted. The tickets cost money, but even with free tickets I wouldn’t go.

Charity pitch about a collaboration with a product that I would never write about. Deleted.

Unpaid pitch for something local that I don’t want to attend or write about. Declined.

Opt-in pitch that wasn’t a good fit. Didn’t apply.

Unpaid pitch for something completely inappropriate for my blog. Unsubscribed, even though I swear I’ve unsubscribed before.

Unpaid pitch for something I would never write about. Declined.

Opt-in pitches that I didn’t apply for. One wasn’t appropriate for my blog, the other was but wasn’t offering nearly enough money.

Press release for something I have no interest in writing about. Deleted.


An email asking me to put a link on an old post. Actually, the fourth email from this person asking me to put a link on an old post. And it’s not even a link that would make sense in the context. I get really pissy when someone I don’t know and never worked with hounds me to answer emails that I never asked for. So I’m being petty and ignoring this one. Again. If there’s a fifth time I won’t know, because I’m now using the filters on gmail to route that sender straight to spam.

Press release for something that I have no interest in. Unsubscribed and deleted.

Email that I couldn’t really figure out. It might have been for an ad network, like sidebar ads, but it also could have been for another opt-in network for sponsored posts. Asked for more details. (Got a reply that it’s for both. Considering it.)

Press release for something I have no interest in writing about. Deleted, and got annoyed that there was no unsubscribe button.

Unsubscribed from a conference email list that I should have unsubscribed from a long time ago.

Press release with a personal message at the top. Asked to be removed since it’s not something I would ever write about, then deleted.

Email with resources that I have no interest in. Unsubscribed and deleted.

Charity pitch. Sort of. Someone asking me to write about her personal plight with a disease and a movement it seems like she’s trying to start. Declined politely and wished her luck.

Product review pitch that looked interesting, but didn’t mention a review unit, only a demo. Those are problematic because there’s nothing that I will get out of a demo for most products that I couldn’t get out of a press release or video. Also, it would involve leaving my house. I don’t like doing that. It takes a lot of time. In order to actually review something well I need to physically have it and use it for a while. That’s why my reviews don’t suck. Replied that it looked interesting and to please let me know if review units become available.

Email regarding a post I put up today asking if I would add a link to my post. Since the link would basically be advertising, I declined, and since it’s not a business that I have any interest in promoting, I didn’t bother sending my advertising rates.

Opt-in pitch that didn’t offer nearly enough money for what was being asked. Didn’t apply.

Press release for something I have no interest in. Unsubscribed and deleted.

Offer to review a product I have no interest in reviewing. Unsubscribed from a list I never signed up for, and deleted.

Invitation for something off-base. The list started out relevant but over the years shifted, so I finally unsubscribed and deleted.

Pitch for an affiliate program for a product I don’t want to write about. Declined.

Opt-in pitch for a product that isn’t a good fit. Didn’t apply.

Unsubscribed from a new newsletter that I most definitely didn’t join, and deleted.

Opt-in pitch email that had several good opportunities that I would have applied for, but one I was too old for, one I didn’t have a big enough audience for, and one I had a conflict with.

Unsubscribed from a newsletter I’m pretty sure I never signed up for about a business I would never write about, and deleted.

Received a “save the date” for something I probably won’t attend. Deleted.

Opt-in pitch for a product that wasn’t appropriate for my blog, and didn’t offer anywhere near enough money. Didn’t apply.

Unpaid pitch from a non-profit that just wasn’t right for me. Didn’t respond.


Got what looked like an email from Amazon about a product. Didn’t think it was a work email until I went to unsubscribe from the list (which I absolutely hadn’t signed up for), and discovered that the email was from a PR company. Deleted it. Then I undeleted it and marked it as spam instead. Disgusting tactic.

Press release from a company that rarely sends me anything interesting. I’d been hanging on for the few interesting things, but today decided to unsubscribe and delete.

Got a request to spread the word about a local event. Explained that I don’t list local events and asked to be removed from the distribution list.

Received unsolicited articles that I should “feel free” to post. Asked to be removed form the distribution list.

Unpaid list pitch that I’m still sticking with, waiting for something good. Deleted.

Unpaid list pitch for a topic that I actually would write about under different circumstances, but can’t do it in conjunction with the company sending the pitch, because it would be in conflict with a paid business relationship I’m currently in. Did not respond.

Ad pitch for something that I could use on recipe posts to make either ad or affiliate revenue, not sure. Kept it to check it out later.

Review pitch for a new live show. Declined. I discovered years ago that I just get aggravated taking free tickets in order to review shows. I’d much rather pay for the tickets myself, choose my schedule, choose my seats, and not have any obligations.

Opt-in pitch for a product that sounded a little bit scammy. Did not apply.

Unpaid list pitch for promoting a D-list celebrity. Deleted.

Invitation (and an ask to spread the word) to a trade show that I have no interest in attending and unsubscribed from a few days ago (this was from a different sender). I deleted it.

Survey request for a paid campaign to see if I would be a good fit. Filled it out.

Product review pitch from a company that never offers anything I’m interested in. Unsubscribed and deleted.

Unsolicited guest post offer. Deleted.

Unpaid pitch to share an infographic. Deleted.

Spammy inquiry about guest posts. Deleted.

This was a twofer fail: a request to submit a guest post to my site, and they had the wrong name and site: I’m not a radio station. Deleted.

Unpaid pitch to mention something that my husband had already talked about taking the kids to. If we do, I’ll probably mention it on social media (but I would have done that anyway, without this email). The problem for the company, of course, is that a sponsored Facebook post or tweet about the event would have been sent out in advance of the event, giving people time to plan. If I put it out there on my own it will be AT the event.

And I stopped there, late on Thursday night, since I’d started with Friday morning’s emails. Seventy-eight emails, only ten of which were at all interesting and appropriate for my blog. And only one of those is something that I’m definitely doing.

So, as you can see, I spend a lot of time dealing with emails that don’t amount to anything. But I have to keep trying, since that’s where a lot of the opportunities come from.

Have a great weekend! I’m going to try to ignore email until Monday.

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Some people think that all there is to blogging is writing a post and publishing it. But in addition to promoting posts, invoicing, dealing with plugins, keeping abreast of new programs and updates, staying current on best practices, networking, applying for jobs, dealing with contracts, and producing images and videos, there’s also email. A LOT of email.

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Paula Kiger

Sunday 26th of June 2016

Amy, this is great! Thanks for meticulously sorting through a week of emails and explaining them in this way. The post should be required reading for anyone in PR who is about to delegate to someone "send out this mass email" or any PR person who is about to press "send" to a mass email list.


Saturday 25th of June 2016

Oh lordy this is gold. I was tired after just reading Monday's list and remembered I haven't looked at my email since Wednesday.

It's a shame but I doubt any pr that read this will change their tactics.

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