6 Tips for Better Blogger Outreach – From a Blogger
I crossed over to the dark side. I’ve gone agency.
I started out as a travel blogger and freelance writer. After moving to London I started looking at how I could transfer my skills and passions to something more…stable. In a very exciting development, I was taken on here at Tug to create content and do SEO (Hello, everyone – I’m Alyssa!).
Being on the other side of the computer screen, however, has taken some getting used to. I’m learning so much about what actually goes on behind those emails I’m occasionally sent and that fellow bloggers constantly complain about.
As a show of good will, I’m going to share some tips to help endear you to bloggers. These will go beyond the basics: I would hope that by now you know you have to personalise your emails and explain how it will benefit the blogger. To help illustrate my points, a few bloggers have sent me their PR pet hates.
Here are some things you should consider before and while crafting that unique and personalised email you write to each and every blogger you contact…
Tip # 1: Connect Beforehand
The bloggers you want to work with have made it their business to get people to connect with them. Be one of them. Follow me on Twitter and re-tweet one of my blog posts (with some commentary, preferably), comment on my blog (seriously, I don’t think it’s weird!), or hit like on something I posted on my Facebook page.
I don’t think it’s shady if an agency suddenly starts following me on Twitter – it shows that you’re engaged in the community. Brownie points if other bloggers are following you.
Doing this gives you an opening, so you can go from generic lines like:
Let’s work together on a promotion/link placement.
Could you tell me a little about your site, ideas for our potential partnership, and your pricing?
To something like this email I received from Ruth at White Horse Digital after corresponding via Twitter:
Nice to meet you! Saw that you are pretty interested in Snapchat – we wrote this a while ago
[Included link to blog post]
We would be delighted if you could write an update to that – what brands are working well with it in the UK and abroad? Saw you had those good examples…
Let me know if you are interested? We will of course write up your profile and link back to your site etc.
And I did. Building a relationship is key.
Tip # 2: Do Your Research
Most bloggers know their worth and therefore have Advertising/Media/PR pages. These pages should be your first stop on a blog. If they say, “I do not accept sponsored posts” then don’t ask them to pretty please make an exception for you. Figure out what they do and work with that.
After that, make sure you know what their blog is actually about. There’s usually this section called the “About Me” page where they write…about themselves. They usually also define their niche.
I have a travel blog where I write creative narratives, about the personal experience of living abroad, as well as culture and history. I frame it as an ‘expat blog’ which is basically a way of saying a ‘whatever interests me blog’. I then received a pitch asking if I would write about a ski break. I’ve never written about ski holidays or going skiing. In fact, despite being Canadian, I’ve been skiing twice. And I hated it. At least the pitch was travel related.
If you’re organizing an event and looking to invite them, make sure he or she lives locally.
Finally, check to see if they’ve mentioned the brand you’re doing the outreach for. Then you can at least show you’ve have a look through their blog and that they have some interest what you’re working on.
Your brand has to be on target for the blogger.
Tip # 3: Have Something to Offer – and It Better Be Good
I thought Vanessa from Suitcase Scribbles put it best when she said, “My philosophy …is you volunteer for a charity, not for a business.”
This one is a biggie. Bloggers know their blog is valuable – that’s why you’re contacting them in the first place.
It doesn’t always have to be monetary but you need to think what value you’re giving to the blogger and their readers. You should be a source of information, kick-ass content, or coupons and swag they can’t get elsewhere. Otherwise, you’re going to have to pony up some cash and expect that the blogger is going to hide that content from their readers.
Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere says, “Most people who contact me just want free publicity and provide me absolutely no incentive to do it. They have never talked to me before, will never talk to me again and provide me no reason to do it other than it would be great for them.”
Don’t be that person.
Tip # 4: Be Transparent
Once you’ve explained to the blogger how this will benefit them, you need to show that you’re credible.
Tell us who you’re doing the outreach for. “Well-known travel brand” or “top financial company” isn’t going to cut it. If it’s a matter of not trusting me with knowing who the client is, you shouldn’t be emailing me to begin with. Just save everyone some time and be upfront with the name.
If there’s an infographic, include a screenshot. If you want to do a sponsored post, attach links to previous work to show someone else thinks you’re worthy of writing for a blog.
If you’re not doing the writing, tell me. For my blog, I’d much prefer to do the writing myself than get quarter-arsed content from an outsourcing site. In general, blogs are quite personal so having someone co-opt it can be somewhat unsettling.
Tip # 5: Offer to Promote the Work I’m Doing to Promote Yours
I will be much more open to you if you offer to promote what I’m going to write.
Chances are the brand you’re doing outreach for has a larger following that the bloggers you’re contacting. It makes a big difference for a lot of bloggers. If they’re going through the effort to post an infographic, tweet about you, or write a full blog post, please reward them.
When I did a food tour in London, my tweets were re-tweeted and the blog post I did afterward was posted to their Facebook page. It resulted in excellent engagement and more exposure for my blog and the tour company.
Sending followers and traffic to the blog is a pretty good deal – especially if the brand is very much in line with the blog. That will make the blogger happy and they will be much more likely to write about you again.
The worst thing you could do is ask for us to do your job for you.
Raymond from Man on the Lam, said “I had one company offer me a press trip, asked me to come up with a detailed outline of intended exposure, and then when I submitted it said, ‘We would love to offer you the trip, if you can recruit 4 of your friends to pay full price.’”
Tip # 6: Be Professional
Sorry, I won’t be writing about your awesome infographic just because you said pretty please, used lots of smiley faces and a cat GIF at the bottom with x’s next to your name (true story).
Yes, be friendly, but still be professional. A lot of bloggers consider themselves entrepreneurs, and take it very seriously. When you ask for an exchange of services, it becomes a business interaction. Treat it as such.
Please, no typos in your emails – especially if you’re asking to write a guest post!
Get us what you promised on time. Of course, delays with content happen – we can understand that. But let the blogger know. Many bloggers schedule their content in advance and not having a piece in on time can throw it off.
Just keep these in mind as you’re planning your outreach. It’s time consuming, but the results will absolutely be better. If you can hit the above points, bloggers will want to work with you. At the very least, they won’t ignore you, badmouth you (we talk, people), or hit you with a #prfail on Twitter.