I thought, for a bit, that I should really title this post ‘How To Network With Bloggers’ - because, you know, SEO and what not. But the word ‘networking’ feels intimidating and overwhelming and slightly gross. Eating subpar appetizers while someone shoves their business card in my face and shrieks their elevator pitch? No. Sharing super useful advice/client referrals/traffic/cream cheese wontons with someone who I connect with, like, AS A HUMAN BEING? Yes.
Really? Networking is mostly just making friends. And if you approach it as such (and think about what you can bring to the table, rather than what you can get from an interaction) you’ll be befriending bloggers left, right, and all over Twitter.
If there are any bloggers you’d like to collaborate with/pitch/take to coffee, here are a few things that you should do before you drop into their inbox.
* Leave productive, smart, helpful comments on their blog
No matter how big and famous they are, bloggers read their comments and if you’re regularly saying awesome things, they’ll start to remember you. Of course, some blogs and posts engender better commentary - it’s hard to leave a mind-blowing comment on an outfit post. But personal essays, tutorials, or thought-provoking posts are an opportunity to chime in.
Also: make sure that the icon that shows up when you leave a comment matches the headshot on your blog and the icon for your Twitter profile, otherwise it’ll be hard for the blogger to recognize you.
* Interact with them on Twitter
Respond to the comments, answer their questions, ask them questions, send them links you think they’d like. Just the same way you’d do with a friend.
* If you like something they did, link to it
We’ve talked about how oddly successful/useful link round ups can be. Readers love ‘em, they’re a great way to share a bit of traffic love with bloggers you like, and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like writing, they’re a clever way of creating content without writing 500 words. When you include someone in a link round up, make sure to @mention them on Twitter so they’ll know you’re talking about them.
If you don’t have a blog, tweet links to bloggers’ content or retweet their links.
* Share things you think they’d like
My readers know my painfully, awkwardly well. Three different people sent me a link to this inflatable cat unicorn headband and two people sent me links to Macklemore’s Thriftshop song. And I loved it. And I totally remember who sent me those links. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you like and admire with information that you think they’d find helpful.
* If you’re going to pitch them, triple check that what you’re pitching is a good fit
Do they host guest posts? Do they offer giveaways? What is the monetary value of those giveaways? Do they review products? Do they use c/o items in their outfits posts? It would be a pity to waste your time (and theirs) crafting the perfect pitch email and then sending it to the wrong person or the wrong type of blog.
* Avoid doing any of these annoying things
Just like in real life, sometimes friendship is about Not Being Annoying. I promise I’ll pay you that money I owe you, I won’t share that secret with So-and-so, and I won’t have four drinks when I promised to be the designated driver.
Here are some things you should avoid doing:
- Misspelling their name
- Sending them a template email
- Asking them about anything you could google
- Asking them to locate a post they wrote
- Writing an email that is more than two paragraphs long
I’d love to hear from you, bloggers! How do you like to be treated? How do you network and befriend other bloggers? Small businesses, tell us about your interactions with bloggers!
photo by Сергей Лепехин // cc
My biggest pet peeve when being pitched is: not being told within the first e-mail exactly what it is they want from me.
I’ve had a few e-mails from PR companies who ask me about doing sponsored posts. But fail to mention what they want the sponsored post to be about. First time I said ‘sure’ it turned out to be James Bond related and I hate James Bond. They also didn’t want me to include the disclaimer that these random links throughout the text (they were random) were sponsored. On yer bike.
I’ve ignored all vauge PR e-mails since. On the assumption that if you’re not putting it on the table, it’s because it’s not something I would post about and you probabaly realised that anyway.
This seems so obvious and simple, but I can’t tell you how often I receive pitches that don’t reference WHICH blog they want to submit for. I am primary author of three blogs, and editorial for a couple of others, so pitches that don’t tell me which “amazing, insightful” blog they want to post on get filed in the trash.
I love the part about “no emails longer than 2 paragraphs.” Sometimes, I’ll get an email that takes me ten minutes to read. By the end, I don’t have the energy to respond.
I also will say that I have a form template for pitching guest posts but I always personalize the first paragraph. Saying something that shows that you read their blog (like “I have insatiable wanderlust too” or “I can’t wait for your XYZ series every month!”) makes them want to be mo’ friendly with you. Or at least it works on me!
I am a small blog writer who is really passionate and I believe in my vision and abilities, but struggle to connect and find other blogs that may have similar messages. Partly that is because I am resistant to fitting into just one niche. For now, I operate under the philosophy ‘your audience will find you.’ But there are times when I want to be more proactive about it and have a hard time knowing where to start. And always, with new endeavors come mistakes and mishaps, which make your posts that much more important: guidance.
+1 to this!
It’s really not that hard. Be a nice, decent, friendly person. That’s all it comes down to.
Brilliantly written… Although I am not a professional blogger, still whatever tips you have provided, are as useful to a profession as to someone, like who uses her blogs as a hobby… thanks a lot Sarah… brilliant post…
I like to write about how much of a crush I’ve got on ‘em on my own personal blog (I’m still waiting for Beyonce and Lady GaGa to get back at me). Letting someone know how much you like them goes a long way.
I’ve also found that networking with bloggers offline goes a long way in forging a genuine friendship. I think the trick there is keeping the conversation positive and valuable – it can get easy to fall into the vent-y side of the blog world when dishing in real life.
Thank you so much for this! Great advice for a newbie!
(My hubs and I saw Macklemore perform at a music festival this summer - wasn’t familiar with him previously, but yep, “Thrift Shop” is great, haha!)
THANK YOU for mentioning the faux pas of misspelling someone’s name! It annoys the crap out of me when someone doesn’t take the time to look at my name and spell it right, and think it’s no big deal to misspell, then ask me for something! Attention to detail is a lost art…
Anyhoo Great tips. I love guest bloggers and guest blogging! It brings new perspectives and I’ve made some great friends over the past 4 years getting to know my readers!
I’d add to this that if they are coming to your area, ask if they would like to meet up - after all, that’s how I met you Sarah Von! Hot chocolates at Sylvia Park Mall for the win. Seriously though, if they are visiting your area they might be keen for your advice on things to see, places to go, and it’s a good basis for starting a friendship
Agree with all of this! One of my pet peeves that I’ve had happen to me several times in the last few months is someone sending me a message on Etsy saying they have a “great opportunity for my shop on their blog!”, and could they please have my email so they can message me about it. So I give them my email (even though they could just give me the info right THERE) and they send me a link to their advertising page and rates and try to get me to buy advertising. That’s not how it works!
Regardless, some of my best friends have been made through blogging. It’s a great way to find people who “understand” you and your love for the internet world
If you are friendly, positive, professional, and genuine, then I think you are on the right track.
As a clothing retailer, I often get pitches from fashion/style bloggers, and these are the qualities that I seek. Businesses can usually see through the overly “sweet and praising” emails. Be yourself. Be genuine.
Make sure to do your research and ensure your blog’s brand aligns with the business’ products.
Be professional, humble and positive. Nobody wants to tie their brand to a constant complainer, negative-nancy or big ego.
Oh, and please proofread and spellcheck!
Thank you SO much for this advice. I am pretty new to the PR industry (I handle book publicity for fashion and design titles at my company) and I just know I have broken some of these rules when I was still very inexperienced at interacting with bloggers. I’ve learned to be straightforward, friendly, and transparent…and it’s been working great so far at actually connecting with bloggers I find.
Keep the pointers coming!
As a blogger I’ve gotten many of these vague form letter pitches, and I often feel so stressed about how to respond. I want to know up front what they expect of me, and what they are offering. Its really tough to back out of something that I don’t want to do or that wont fit my blog after I’ve already (unfortunately) agreed!
And on the other side, as a blogger I have never reached out to a company who I’d like to work with. I’d really like to, but I’m just so nervous about what I’d write.
I really do wish that we could all become, and behave as friends, and have an open platform for discussion!
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