One of the biggest obstacles freelance writers face is keeping their pitches out of the slush pile. But when you’re sending your query to firstname.lastname@example.org you’re competing with hundreds of other folks who do the same thing. If you want to find an email address for an editor that she’s sure to check, follow this surefire method from beginning to success.
Maybe you don’t write for publications but are pitching the marketing directors of large businesses. The same process will work for you. No matter who you are trying to find an email address for, this will work. In fact, just this week an editor sent me the contact information for a few sources he wanted interviewed. Several of the emails were info@ or sales@. I just knew those weren’t direct emails and that this editor simply snagged what he could find off the companies websites. Using my method, I found the direct email addresses for the person I wanted to contact.
A Surefire Way to Find an Email Address
The tools to use
Before beginning this exercise, you need to download a few tools to use.
- ContactOut–This tool is an add-on to LinkedIn.
- Hunter.io–You can download this as a Chrome extension or just use from the browser.
- ContactsPlus–This tool is an add-on for Gmail.
Start with LinkedIn
I begin my email search with LinkedIn. Of course, the best thing to do is to connect with the editor on this platform before pitching. If she accepts your connection request, and you start commenting on her posts, then your name is familiar when you send that query.
Never just hit the “connect” button and be done. Always include a note. This is what I say:
I’m a freelance writer in the home remodeling space. I’ve worked with Family Handyman, Shed Builder, and several regional publications in my area. I thought we should connect.
If the editor connects with you, then follow up with a thank you. If you build a relationship with the editor this way, chances are your query letters will get her attention. In the follow-up, say something like this:
“Thanks for connecting, Donna! Does Log Home Living work with freelancers for their online content? I have an idea to pitch. Could you tell me the right editor to reach out to?”
If you don’t get an email address from being friendly in this way, then try ContactOut. This Google Chrome Extension works with LinkedIn to get you the person’s email address. Here’s how it works:
- Open the editor’s profile page
- Click on the ContactOut icon on your browser. (You would have to have downloaded it first.)
- Click “Find work email.”
- Your options will appear.
Let’s take a look at an example. I want to pitch the editor of BobVila.com. I find her on LinkedIn and this is what I see when I use ContactOut.
The ContactOut box is in the upper right-hand side of your screen. There, I see a Gmail address and a Hearst address. Personally, I’d only use the Gmail address as a last resort. Some editors are a little protective of their personal information and you don’t want to start off offending.
The second address is for Hearst. But I look it up and Hearst doesn’t own BobVila.com so I’m suspicious of this address. Scrolling down her profile, I see she worked for Hearst prior to BobVila so I know this address is no longer valid.
On to the next step.
Hunter is great for finding the usual pattern for email addresses within a company. Some companies use email@example.com. Others use firstname.lastname@example.org. The number of patterns is endless, including all kinds of combinations of initials, names, dots, and dashes.
This screenshot shows that the pattern for BobVila.com is email@example.com.
Under this shot is a list of email addresses Hunter found on the web for this domain. My editor isn’t there. So, the next step is to …
To use ContactsPlus, I have to hotfoot it over to my Gmail tab. Since I’ve already downloaded this extension to my account, the icon is located in my right sidebar.
I click on this icon and up pops a box with a bar that says “Name or Email Address.” I put the email I’m assuming is correct, based on the pattern I found on Hunter and click “Check Email.” If it’s correct, the person’s photo, job title, and social media account icons will come up.
And that’s it! Easy peasy. Well, almost. But, I’d say this method works about 90 percent of the time. If it doesn’t, I keep digging or try a few of the following tips.
Other tips to successfully email editors and marketing directors
If the pattern you found in Hunter doesn’t work, play around with other patterns in ContactsPlus until you find what you’re looking for.
Perhaps, Hunter doesn’t show any email addresses for the domain you’re looking for, it’s possible there is a parent company over the business or publication and that is the domain used.
Everyone is on the alert for spam. Increase your chances of going into your target inbox and not their spam folder by removing all links from the body of your email. That includes your signature line.
Instead of links in your signature line, create a graphic to use. Here’s a screenshot of what I use.
Use a tracker to see if the person opens your emails. If it’s not opened in a week or two, try again. A few trackers I’ve used are MailTrak, a Gmail add-on, and HubSpot.
And that’s it. If you don’t find an email address using these tips and tools, I suggest picking up the phone and calling the editorial office.
Have another tip I haven’t mentioned? Please share in the comments.