As a blogger and an online marketer engaged in blogger outreach, I have a unique perspective on the best way to approach bloggers. Sometimes, we learn best by knowing, first, what not to do. Following are a few approaches that left me shaking my head.
1. Off-topic – A blog about midlife crisis men is not interested in reviewing a play in Chicago or promoting an Alzheimer’s information portal. If a blog invites guest posting, read the guidelines. Mine are very specific about the topics I feel are of interest to my readership. In the past, I responded to these emails, but now state that “off-topic” website link requests will be ignored. Oddly enough, I rarely receive link requests from other bloggers in my niche.
2. No personalization – My name is easily found on my blog. In fact, my name is all over the Internet. It is sheer laziness not to click on the “About” page and learn to whom they will be addressing their request. Blogging is my personal creative expression. If you want me to be responsive, it helps to address me by name instead of “Hey!”
3. Irrelevant to Me – Many link requests come with the promise of a reciprocal link or why their link will help with my rankings. (I guess they didn’t read my About page and don’t know I’m a Web marketer.)
I don’t need any more links. My 6+ year-old blog has earned thousands of incoming links, so this is not a selling point. If you take the time to actually read my content, you’ll learn that I like to support causes, for example. Or hit me up with something funny or thought provoking like Hugh McLeod’s, GapingVoid widget.
4. Challenging My Editorial Decision – Once I agree to provide a link, whether it’s a guest post or a book promotion, do not send a follow up email stating that I used the wrong anchor text or didn’t follow your guidelines. If I grant you coverage, I’m going to exercise my creative license and promote the topic in a way I believe is most relevant and interesting to my reader. Remember, I’m doing this for free.
What Can & Does Work with Blogger Outreach
Simple. Do the opposite of all of the above.
I read recently that the best link builders come from a sales background. Having started my career in national advertising sales, this resonated with me. I was trained to find the common ground between what I was selling and the needs of the advertiser’s audience. I framed every interaction to answer the question, “What’s in it for them?” It was my job to show them why there was a fit.
I frame each email I send to a link prospect as a request: Would you be willing to consider…? I never assume in advance that they understand the value of linking to my (or my client’s) Web property. I include a line or two of what we have in common and how our connection might be mutually beneficial to our respective audiences. This demonstrates that I’ve actually read their website and have given some thought to the logic of my request. I address the website owner by name, and I always send a follow-up email expressing my gratitude.
In the old days of face-to-face selling, food made a great introduction. In the digital age, “please” and “thank you” work quite well.