Blogger Outreach: 3 Brilliant Strategies and 5 Disastrous Mistakes

Carol Tice

Blogger Outreach: Brilliant Strategies & Disastrous MistakesWant to know why most blogs never really take off?

I discovered the answer when I reviewed about 100 readers’ blogs earlier this week on a free-feedback day.

What’s the big stumbling block? Most bloggers are writing all alone.

No mentors. No collaborators. They’re not guest posting, and there are no guest posts on their blog.

They’re blogging in a vacuum. That means you don’t know the best practices, the trends, the sweet little design tricks and shortcuts that help you get more subscribers.

Don’t blog alone

Loads of bloggers are trying to connect with big influencers — but few do it successfully.

Recently, I got three spectacularly great reach-outs from bloggers that really stood out from the constant stream of inept connection attempts prominent bloggers are subject to every day. (And in the world of ‘popular’ bloggers, I’m like the tiniest microcelebrity ever! I can’t even imagine how much junk the giants get hit with.)

Let’s view those examples, so you can see how to succeed at this:

Blogger outreach done right

First, you want to do something nice for the person, and just give them a chance to get to know you. There are many classic ways to do this — comment on their blog, share their stuff in social media, connect over your hobbies.

Here are three approaches that get a bit more creative:

1. Create a tribute

I recently came across this wonderful Pinterest pin that author Idellah Ashlie created with an excerpt from one of my inspiration-driven blog posts.

Carol Tice quote - your dreams are not puny

Now that’s a social media marketing strategy that works. What a touching tribute!

Even better, Idellah has yet to ask me for anything. She didn’t even tell me she had done it — I found it myself, poking around Pinterest.

If she did ask, I’d certainly be interested to help her out.

She’s built rapport before she needs anything. That’s key.

2. Cite and promote them — without a request

Every day, bloggers get emails bearing the news that a small blog has mentioned them and given them a link. We haven’t talked beforehand or anything — this is the first I’m hearing of it.

These always end with:

“Please share it in social media and post about it on your blog.”

Well, I might, if I think it’s interesting…but it’s annoying to constantly be nagged and told what to do with this information. Which is why this email from Andrew Wise at WiseStartupBlog was so refreshing:

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 3.54.20 PM

When I took a look, it turned out he had made my About page on this blog his #1 example of how to do an About page right.

Now it can be told: Popular bloggers are susceptible to flattery.

I was charmed and helped him, even though you’ll note that he accidentally put his OWN name in the salutation instead of mine!

He could do not wrong — because he wasn’t asking me for anything. Just letting me know he featured me on his blog, in case I want to see my mention.

I was so impressed, I shared it on Twitter (even though his site didn’t have a Twitter button, which usually makes me give up):

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.01.54 PM

This strategy is so simple, and just one tweak away from what many bloggers do. Simply omit the ‘ask,’ and you’re set.

3. Start a Mutual Admiration Society

I was fascinated to get this email recently — talk about a breath of fresh air:

Chris Enns: Just wanted to write and say that I really love your site. I’m not a writer (gasp), but I’m an artist (opera singer… double gasp), and I love sites like yours that give artists the tools they need to earn more, and earn better.

I write my own blog specifically about the personal finance challenges that artists and storytellers face making a go at life as freelancers (.

I just wanted to connect and share my admiration.

Have a wonderful December how ever you choose to spend it!

This note, which simply gave me some positive feedback and noted what we had in common, led me to check out his blog, RagstoReasonable. There, I discovered he has some great resources for any creative type trying to make a living, including writers.

I thought he’d make a great guest on my Freelance Writers Den podcast — so I invited him. He was recently part of a session we did about cash flow for freelancers, and had an opportunity to offer a “Den deal” discount to our members on one of his products.

Blogger outreach done wrong

I wish I could say that most bloggers are creating the types of friendly, non-salesy blogger outreach messages that you’ve just seen above.

But unfortunately, these three examples stand out in a sea of annoying blogger outreach.

I thought I had already run down all the ways you can bungle this, but recent emails made me want to share more instructive examples of what not to do. All I can say is, bloggers — you can do better than this!

1. Publish untruths, and ask for shares

I often get emails notifying me that I’ve been included in a roundup of top freelance writing sites, would I please share and post about it… and it’s the first I’ve heard that would happen. The blogger never talked to me.

When I go to the site to check it out, what’s being said about me isn’t even accurate. Here’s a recent bio I found, with my corrections in parens:

Carol Tice is a full-time freelance writer who teaches on the side.’ (True until about 2014, but not now.)

Carol Tice began her blog to give back to the profession that has paid her bills since 2005 (the early ‘90s, actually), and her 12k (17,000) subscribers prove she is doing something right.

Her passion? To leave a legacy behind by creating work that does more than just take up space on a screen or paper. (Actually, my passion is to help freelance writers earn more, and my legacy is my 3 kids.)

Though Carol does offer advice on how to write, she makes her living from freelance writing (Not true since 2012 or so. Though I do still freelance for a few select clients including recently Intuit and Freshbooks, the bulk of my income now comes from my blog-based businesses).

This experience gives her that extra finger-on-the-pulse authenticity that her audience appreciates. It also makes for advice that is both current and tried, so you can expect results when you follow it. (OK, finally, something that’s true.)

Moral: Check your facts! Bloggers’ About pages are not always completely up-to-date. Don’t make assumptions, either — most of what this blogger wrote is not even lifted from my site. Not sure where it came from.

2. Ask an overly broad question

Another recent favorite is to ask me a question that would need a book-length answer, such as:

Q1 – What’s the future of content marketing according to you?

Big tip: Think sound bites. That sounds like a topic that could make for a best-selling business book…but what can I answer for you in a few sentences? Most roundups only give you that much space, anyway, so don’t ask for something you’d just have to edit way down.

3. Have an elaborate process

When you reach out to a super-busy, popular blogger you don’t personally know, let them shoot you a quickly reply and be done. Don’t do this:

I just wanted to personally invite you to participate in an expert roundup post I am putting together for new(er) freelancers.

Could you spare a moment to respond by completing a short Google form?

>> [link to Google form]

(It’ll take less than 10 minutes… probably 7-8… I swear!)

On this short Google form, I’ll be asking you two questions:
What is your best source of new business?
What’s best tip for setting your prices?

I get that using a Google form makes it easy for you to compile this post. But you’ll get more responses by making it easy for your subjects. If you’re just asking two quick questions (one is better), don’t make me go visit a website and fill out a form.

4. Use a stranger to make a paid product

Continuing on with the same request as above, it gets cheekier as it goes:

The second question will be included in an upgrade to a premium roundup post (PDF) for $9.

While answering the second question isn’t mandatory, you’ll have the option to obtain an affiliate link to promote the expert roundup post… and purchases made to unlock the upgrade through your affiliate link will earn you a 75% commission.

(Pretty easy sale.)

Sending a cold email asking to partner on a paid product that you will profit from…that’s just sleazy. Don’t. Go. There.

The affiliate offer does not make this right.

5. Give a short deadline

The final nail in the coffin of any small blogger’s attempt to get help from a popular blogger comes when you give them no time to get back to you.

Big bloggers are busy in a way that other people probably can’t imagine — like, too busy to pee or wash our hair. Forgot-to-eat-lunch busy. So don’t say this:

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be publishing this expert roundup post on X date — so I’ll need your answer(s) on or before (2 days from now).

Would you walk up to a total stranger, in person, and say, “Hi there — would you do something for me? And please — hurry it up?”

No, you wouldn’t. So don’t do it online! There’s a real person behind those pixels, and if you’re just needy, needy, needy in your first interaction, you’re not going to form a relationship.

Instead, be giving. Get creative. Connect now, not when you want something. You’ll find yourself growing a network of high-powered people who can send your blog traffic and guide you to make your blog better.

Have you reached out to a top blogger? Comment and talk about your approach.

Small Blog, Big Income: Earn Money from your blog!

 

40 Comments

  1. Obodo Charles

    Hi Carol,
    This is a fantastic write-up, bloggers outreach is essential for a growing blog, there is always the need to network and connect with other bloggers.

    But bloggers commit a lot of blunders while reaching out to influential and bigger blogs and sincerely I guess am guilty of some bloggers outreach mistakes you talked about.

    I have certainly learnt a couple of new ways to do it right the next time I do a blogger outreach. Thanks for the info.

  2. Moshe Chayon

    I understand how annoying all those requests are. But some people just don’t know any better. I’m a new blogger myself, And I have not reached out to any other blogger for the simple reason I don’t have anything to offer them at the moment.

    I focus on the information that would have helped me when I was younger, hoping to do the same for others. With a small following like mine on social sharing someone else’s post will not really help them. (And I would prefer not to do something just to show look I shared your content).

    Thanks for the advice I’ll come back to this article when I have something to offer more seasoned bloggers.

    • Carol Tice

      It’s not true that as a new blogger, you have nothing to offer, Moshe. In the Small Blog, Big Income ebook, I go over several ways to connect with top bloggers, and even get them to mention your blog and give you a backlink.

  3. Matthew Loomis

    Hi Carol,

    These are excellent examples that we all can learn from. Thanks for giving us a peak in your inbox.

    I get four to six strange emails a week. Mine are normally templates they have obviously sent to many folks, stiff, business-like, formal, the equivalent of a cold call.

    The negative example you gave of the affiliate links program is one I received as well…I have developed a relationship online with that person over the past 18 months, so I was okay with it and participated. I probably would not have if I did not know that person, like you. I did think having to go fill out a form was a bit much though. I agree with that.

    Anyway, it really is all about connecting. No different than the offline world. Many new bloggers don’t know this though, so I will be sharing this post.

    Have a great weekend,

    Matthew

  4. Pankaj Tiwari

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your website accidentally, and I am shocked why this twist of fate didn’t happen in advance! I bookmarked it.

    • Brandon Mitchell

      Take some time and visit some of the other pages here. They are packed full of rich content to help guide freelancers in the “write” direction! Also be sure to read through her “100 Freelance Writing Questions Answered” book. Will definitely help you create a plan and build on it. Carol is super nice and is an expert in the field, having been elbows deep in the sector for roughly 20 years. Her content is great and her advice invaluable, priceless, and inspirational!

    • Carol Tice

      Wow, thanks Brandon!

  5. Brandon Mitchell

    Carol,

    This posting is amazing. I have read several of your other post about blogging and writing as a freelancer, and would love to say, you have helped me structure plans and keep them growing. The tips and knowledgeable suggestions of improvement are amazing. I have not gotten directly into blogging at the moment, but have managed to get a few great clients using some of your strategies. As always your postings are full of rich content that is to the point and not surrounded by a sea of unnecessary fluff. Look forward to the your next post.

    PS. Wonderful job laying all this out in an extremely organized fashion!!!

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks Brandon! We do work our butts off around here to provide better-than-usual content, so it’s great to know it’s appreciated!

      I actually started off wanting to create an ‘ultimate guide’ type post…but once I laid out all the examples, I thought it was better to just focus on these real-life situations.

      Also, I feel like there are so many 5000-word, endless posts out there these days, and I try to keep mine under control length-wise. 😉

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