How To Write An Email That Gets Read

 

As with most things in life, blogging is not a self-contained operation. Maintaining a successful blog is more than just publishing posts to your platform, as high-quality as they may be. So many other elements come into play if you want to grow your publication beyond the readership of your friends and family. Bloggers who have high traffic volume, a large number of followers, and relationships with brands have all mastered (or at least gotten comfortable with) the art of communication.

 

In the digital space, the most important form of communication is probably email. True, it can take on a very informal tone, and its almost instantaneous nature lends itself to speaking casually, but as a blogger you're essentially running your own business, and need to approach your initial communication with a professional attitude.

 

As a blogger, I've had a fair amount of experience exchanging emails with everyone from fellow bloggers to readers to PR firms and fashion brands. Responding to an email is a piece of cake – you only need to echo the tone with which you were approached. The difficulty, I find, lies in constructing an initial email – one that gets read, and responded to.

 

Based on past experience, my mother's etiquette advice, and some light reading, here are my best tips for putting together an effective email:

 

Subject Line is Key

 

  • This is one of the most crucial elements of an email. You need to employ all your powers of editing and word choice to put together a quick 2 to 5 word subject line.
  • Aim to make the subject of your email exactly that – determine the bare bones of your message.

Be Personal

 

  • No matter if you're reaching out to a brand, a blogger or a reader, address the person by name. At all costs avoid general greetings such as “To Whom It May Concern,” or heaven forbid, “Dear Blogger.”
  • I don't believe it's essential to start every email with “Dear;” a salutation of “Hello” or “Hi” followed by the name is friendly and appropriate.
  • Do a little research beforehand and include a quick, personal anecdote or something specific about the person that will indicate that you have put thought into what you're saying, and to whom you're saying it. It will also clue them into why you are reaching out. Find a way to relate.

Keep It Short

 

  • I usually start by introducing myself, and if I've been referred to this person by someone else, I state that as soon as possible. It may be relevant to include your job title or the name of your blog in your introduction as well.
  • Be friendly, but don't be long winded and overly-explanatory. Take John Mayer's advice and just “Say what you need to say.”
  • It's safe to assume the person you're contacting is fairly busy, so get to the point as quickly and efficiently as you can.
  • Break up your email in to small 2 to 3 sentence paragraphs so that it can be easily scanned for the important points.

Be Specific & Direct

 

  • If you're emailing to make a request, be straightforward. As politely and kindly as you know how, ask for what you want.
  • Don't put doubt in this person's mind that you are not worthy of their time and attention. Avoid self-deprecating phrases like “I know it's a long shot but,…” or “I don't want to bother you, but…” Your reader will not take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously.
  • If you're reaching out to introduce yourself (perhaps to a peer blogger), give a good reason! Do you have something in common with this person? Do you admire them? Do you live in the same city or attend the same events?
  • If you're making a proposal, clearly outline the project, and state what the receiver stands to gain, or how you can both benefit from this amazing project you have so cleverly envisioned.

Wrap It Up Gracefully

 

  • Concluding an email can be tricky, but try to find the sweet spot between professional and friendly. I always say thank you in some way, and that I look forward to hearing from the receiver.
  • Don't be too stiff. “Regards” is really one to avoid in my book. I usually stick with my tried and true favorites like “All The Best,” “Thank You So Much,”ย  and the classic, “Sincerely.”

Proofread

 

  • I've realized that perhaps my biggest pet peeve among bloggers and those of us who are fluent in socializing in the digital age is a lack of grammatical attention. We're so much more casual and informal (which can be great!), but it can lead to putting spelling and grammar on the back burner. Computers are pretty smart, but so are you. They won't catch everything so put that noggin of yours to use.
  • Just because these messages are being delivered at rapid-fire pace doesn't mean you have to create said message at the same speed. Be thoughtful, and take care with what you say and how you say it.
  • If you're not confident in your own proofreading skills or your ability to know when you use “affect” and “effect” or the dreaded there / their / they're, don't be afraid to ask for help. Send a draft to a coworker or friend to have them look it over before sending it. They may see something you missed!

 

Also, here are some helpful articles to further advise you on effective emailing, from more professional sources than myself:


 

Are you already an expert email-writer? Leave tips for the community in the comments below!

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20 Responses

  1. Tashina

    I loved this post. I’m working on trying to improve my e-mail communication skills now, so this came at a perfect time. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Daniel Dunt

    This is a fantastic post; I personally get a little bummed out when I read an email which someone has sent me and it readers “dear blogger”, as this instantly gives me the impression that it’s a copy and pasted email from a company or label who are looking for a large amount of people to work with, in addition to a select few, which of-course takes that ‘I’m kinda special’ feeling out of the whole thing. A simple “hello, how are you?” or “hi, I hope you’re well!” is perfect and I admire how casual and friendly it is, whilst still professional. – Daniel

    http://www.tsnewyork.com

    Reply
  3. lisa

    Very good points, all of them. I get a lot of canned press releases, and if nobody has bothered to address me by name (hello, “Lisa” is in my blog banner, you don’t even have to look too hard) or put in an informative subject line, chances are I’ll just delete it.

    P.S. Taylor, just practicing what you’re preaching re. grammatical correctness. I noticed a wee typo in this section:

    “In the digital space, the most important form of communication is probably email. True, it can take on a very informal tone, and itโ€™s almost instantaneous nature lends itself to speaking casually”

    I’m pretty sure that should be “its.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  4. pinkfashioninja

    Wow, I’m actually in the process of creating a few emails for networking opportunities. It’s even more challenging for me since I moved to another country so I have to worry about my tone AND language barriers.
    But whatever doesn’t kill me just makes me stronger! Thanks for the wonderful and perfect timing advice!

    Reply
  5. Emma Farrell

    Such a good post! The amount of emails I get from people that don’t address me is unreal. My email address has my name in it, so there is no excuse, just pure laziness.

    I have even had people email me and compliment other peoples work and then proceed to ask me how to get started in the industry…I kind of feel like saying go and ask the people that you admire ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  6. Samantha

    Ive also wondered about some of the things mentioned and it makes more sense now.

    I think I can be a bit more direct in my approach now I understand the best way to do it.

    Thanks, this was so helpful

    Sam
    http://samanthacolelondon.com

    Reply
  7. alyssa

    Great advice! I tend to get wordy in my emails, especially when I don’t have a direct message in mind (or if i’m intimidated to be reaching out to a blog-crush/fashion celeb/etc.)

    thanks!

    Reply
  8. Amanne

    By day I work in PR and believe me if your e-mail is too long it will be deleted. PR people don’t have time to read through an easy. Keep it short and to the point. If their interested they’ll ask for more details.

    Reply
  9. Debbie

    This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’ve been trying to write an email to someone important, but I didn’t know what to put and didn’t want to sound idiotic or juvenile. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  10. La Perle

    I love this post. It has everything that should be said on the topic – in an organized fashion, grammatically correct – just like the emails we send out ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think one major thing is to reread the email out loud. This always helps me find any errors, but also helps with the rhythm and flow. Also, it irks me to no end when people send me emails that were obviously copied and pasted from an email to another person.

    Reply