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Your Emails Suck. Here's Why You Need to Add Charm and Humor to Finally Build Links

‘To whom it may concern

I recently came across your list of the best social media tools and thought it was fantastic. I’m a big fan and regular user of number 4 myself.

I wanted to bring your attention to Fancytool. Fancytool is an all in one solution to every problem you’ve ever had.

I think that your article would be better with Fancytool in it. I’d love it if you could include a link to us!

Thanks a lot for your time!’

Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of SEO knows that backlinks are important.

Anyone that’s tried ‘cold calling’ for backlinks or a guest post knows that it’s a tough business.

And sending emails like the one written above are only going to make the link building process harder for you.

Let me ask you this:

  • What’s memorable about that email?
  • What makes it stand out?
  • As the reader, what part of that makes you go ‘wow, I’m convinced’?

I’ll tell you what part. None of it.

Yet time and time again, so many of us receive emails like that - and chances are, you’re probably guilty yourself of sending an email or two like that.

For shame.


Well, if you’d like to change the way that you send cold outreach emails, you’re reading the right article.

Today, you’ll see one of the methods I use to build links to websites and get graphs in the Ahrefs dashboard looking like this:

To get started, you need to know a little background about your victim...I mean, email recipient.

The People You’re Emailing Have a Boring Job


I know, because I am one.

All the people who can help you build your SEO profile or give you a space for your guest post are weird creatures.

Digital marketers, marketing managers, CEOs, and founders all lead pretty bland, mundane lives.

Prove me wrong, fellow marketers, prove me wrong.

During business hours, most of us sit here in our own world.

Sure, every day is different in some way, sure, but rarely does something truly original and never before seen pop up in an inbox.

And that’s what you can change.

Why Charm and Wit Are the Paths to What You Want


So far in this article, you’ve read some stuff that you probably didn’t expect to read, correct?

Whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant.

What’s important is that you read it, and you’re still reading it now.

By writing emails in a humorous and memorable way (just like this article), you bring a little bit of joy to those laughless marketers whom you’re asking to help you out.

Humor is also the reason why you know who exactly who Robin Williams is and not the name of your elected local government representative.

So, when you email these people (the people whom you’re asking for a backlink, not your government representative), you need to cut through their busy (and boring) inbox.

What Do You Want?

Before going out of your way to ask someone you’ve never met to do something for nothing, you need to be darn sure that you know what you want.

If you can’t get your own story straight, no one’s going to want to deal with you. 

Why are you reaching out to this person?

  • To ask for a guest blog post?
  • For a backlink in an already published article?
  • To tell them that you like their hat?

It’s crucial that when you send your email (or emails) you have one single goal. By asking someone to do more than one thing ... well, you’re pushing your luck, basically.

Now that’s clear, you need to start with the hardest part — the subject line.

Subject: Guest Blogging

Never use a subject line like that.

It’s dull, and as you saw, the people you’re emailing already have enough of that in their inbox.

The role of our subject line is to be seen, and you only get one chance and a couple dozen characters to do that.

Subject: Remember me?

Subject: Your sports team will lose this weekend.

Subject: The best email you’ll read today - guaranteed*

If you got an email like this, would you open it?

You’d probably, at the very least, be curious, and that’s all we need to get our email opened.

Greeting Your Reader


  • Hey
  • Hi there
  • Dear John

My goodness no.

If your contact reads that after seeing your clever subject line, they’ll know they’ve been duped.

Your greeting has to be just as original as your subject line.

  • Greetings and salutations!
  • Aloha!
  • Well hello there

Say hi in a unique and interest way to keep your reader thinking ‘this is a weird email.’

The Warren Buffet Technique

Buffet is one of the richest guys in the world. He made his fortune from wise investments and savings (boring).

One thing he swears by is always addressing an audience with the bad news first. This presents you as honest and wanting to remove that uncertainty of dealing with the unknown.

Using this idea, bring to light the bad news immediately - and that is the fact that this person doesn’t know you from a bar of soap.

‘My name is John and I got your email from a really shady guy that was selling flash drives behind the liquor store last night. Just kidding - I found it on your website’

‘I’m Rowan and I used the Hack-o-tron 5000 to crawl government websites to get your email, along with what you had for breakfast. What I mean by that is that I got your email on LinkedIn. ‘

Build Your Body

Chances are that if your contact is still reading your email, you’ve written it well and they’re probably enjoying a chuckle. Or they’ve at least audibly exhaled.

As you read earlier, the people you’re emailing don't have a lot of time. So quickly make your request and be done with it.


‘I’m just going to come out and say it.

I want to write for your blog/I want you to link to my article’.

Pretty simple. You don’t need to ‘sell’ yourself, but you need to explain what’s in it for them.

‘We’ve had many an enquiry asking ‘why can’t you be more like [business of person you’re emailing] so I thought I’d come straight to you.

But seriously, we have an incredibly similar audience, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned with your audience’


‘Your readers come to your blog because they want to learn and be educated. By throwing in a backlink to my article, not only will you be linking to content that’s also educational, my partner might even see me as enough of a success to let me sleep on the couch tonight.

But seriously, I spent more time researching this article than I did searching for my mother’s birthday present. You’ll be linking to good quality, original and valuable content.’

Wrapping It Up

I’m a big fan of adding a little extra ‘value’ to the reader if they’ve made it this far into the email.

‘If you follow through with my request, I’ll come around and wash your dishes for a month.

I looking forward to your expletive-laden response.


That’s It

Send this email at any hour of any day.

I’m reluctant to send emails on a Monday or Friday because no one wants to update an old article with a backlink at either end of the weekend.

Keep in mind that you may need to send a follow-up or two. Each follow-up should be written in the same manner.

I’ve had a very good response after sending a series of four emails over the space of 10 or so working days.

You will need to do your own experimenting though.

  • Tweak email copy.
  • Find the right person to email.

It’s very unlikely that someone will respond with ‘ok, done’. You may have to offer a link exchange; you may have to offer them a position on your blog. You may even have to pay them.

Either way, by crafting emails like this, you can be sure that you and your company name will, at the very least, be remembered.

With your charm honed enough, you can start building relationships with other bloggers, build your SEO profile and get your name in front of a larger audience.

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Phil Forbes

Phil Forbes

I’m a bearded Australian living in Warsaw, Poland. Digital marketer at Packhelp, who enjoys helping and watching small ventures start, learn, grow and thrive. I take care of expatspoland.com and love my dog, Star Wars, heavy metal and my girlfriend – in no particular order.