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Successful Blogger Outreach – What to Do and What to Avoid

This week at Affiliate Summit West, I definitely learned some great things from the sessions, and I thought I would share one that is pertinent to my audience: blogger outreach.

Blogger Outreach for Businesses
Blogger outreach – a powerful way to connect! Photo Credit

Blogger outreach, when done correctly, can be a powerful way to get your name or product out into the blogosphere and in front of your target audience. Done incorrectly, however, and it can really annoy the heck out of other bloggers and put you on their crap list.

Ways NOT to Do Blogger Outreach

As the recipient of a lot of really, really bad emails from businesses and PR agencies looking to get some publicity for their products or their client’s, here are some examples of things that will make me put you in my “PR People” filter which goes into a Gmail label that will rarely, if ever, get checked. I only keep it as something to help me if I am searching for emails about something specific – if a bad PR pitch is the only info I have on it, I might resort to it.

Anyway, here are the big two no-no’s when it comes to reaching out to bloggers to help spread the word about you, products, or services.

This week at Affiliate Summit West, I definitely learned some great things from the sessions, and I thought I would share one that is pertinent to my audience: blogger outreach.

Blogger Outreach for Businesses
Blogger outreach – a powerful way to connect! Photo Credit

Blogger outreach, when done correctly, can be a powerful way to get your name or product out into the blogosphere and in front of your target audience. Done incorrectly, however, and it can really annoy the heck out of other bloggers and put you on their crap list.

Ways NOT to Do Blogger Outreach

As the recipient of a lot of really, really bad emails from businesses and PR agencies looking to get some publicity for their products or their client’s, here are some examples of things that will make me put you in my “PR People” filter which goes into a Gmail label that will rarely, if ever, get checked. I only keep it as something to help me if I am searching for emails about something specific – if a bad PR pitch is the only info I have on it, I might resort to it.

Anyway, here are the big two no-no’s when it comes to reaching out to bloggers to help spread the word about you, products, or services.

Mass Emails

It becomes glaringly obvious, once you’ve received a few of these, that someone is using some cut and paste template or software that is sending one blanket email to thousands of people on a list while just replacing the name and website information. It’s worse if your template sucks and the email comes through as “Dear {First Name}” I have visited your website at “domain.com” and think it would be a great fit…

Off Topic Pitches

Another thing that is noticeable is when a blogger receives a pitch for something that does not fit their audience. I have seen some that are so far off base, I just wonder if they used an automated keyword search, found that I mentioned NFL once in passing, and then let then decided my site must be a great fit for a sporting goods store.

So now that you know what NOT to do, let’s look at what you should be doing.

How to Do Blogger Outreach

These are some great tips from the Blogger Outreach session at Affiliate Summit West with Chris Brogan, John Chow, Eric Schechter, Greg Rollett, and Jonathan Volk. Enjoy!

Research

Take a little time to research the blogs you are considering reaching out to. Look at their latest posts, archives, comments, and social engagement. Check out their blog on Postrank to see what topics get the most engagement.

My Tips: Want to know another way to see what a blogger’s community wants? Setup a search for their @username mentions in a Twitter management tool like HootSuite. This way you can see not only what is getting retweeted, but what things a blogger’s community is asking them about.

Between the tweets and reading the blog’s comments, you should get an idea of something that the blogger’s audience wants, and may be able to give value to your pitch by saying that the item you are trying to promote will help the blogger’s readers with their questions about XYZ.

Interact with the Blogger Before Reaching Out

Don’t make the “Hey, can you write about my product” email the first communication that a blogger receives from you. Instead, try to become a part of their community by engaging with the blogger and their readers in the comments, sharing their posts on Twitter, or becoming a fan of their Facebook page and interacting there. This will show the blogger that you are interested in their content and providing value to their audience.

Make Your Pitch Personal

When it comes to your pitch to the blogger, it shouldn’t be something that could be sent to every blog in that particular niche. Make that blogger know that the pitch is just for them.

My Tips: Be sure that the customization of your pitch is evident in the first sentence / paragraph of your email reaching out to the blogger. That’s generally about all I read of email campaigns, so if I see something like “I just read your post on HootSuite for Bloggers and think that your readers would also enjoy learning about XYZ” then I know you’ve actually been on my blog and I’ll probably continue reading.

Don’t Make Every Communication a Pitch

This one should be relatively obvious, but try to mix up your communications with bloggers so that every email you send isn’t “Do this for me, do this for me, do this for me.”

My Tips: If you have gotten to know your blogger through research and interacting with them on their blog and via their social networks, you will know what things interest them and what doesn’t. Maybe send them occasional emails or tweets of things that have nothing to do with your pitches, such as “Hey, just read this post on XYZ – thought you might like it.” In my case, since I have a weekly roundup, I am extremely grateful to those who send me a heads up to something that would fit well in one of the topics I cover.

Give the Blogger Benefits

Overall, you will want to make sure that you are giving your blogger benefits. I don’t mean paying for posts (because while some bloggers expect it, others are against it). I mean making sure that the content you are asking them to promote will generate a positive response from their readers. If possible, give the blogger something to give to their audience. Promote the blogger on your own network. The blogger is helping you, so be sure that you are helping the blogger as well!

Blogger Outreach and Guest Blogging

Blogger outreach is not just for businesses. Do you contact other bloggers about guest post ideas? Then you are doing some blogger outreach of your own by pitching your guest post ideas.

Keep the above tips in mind, as researching a blog is essential to making sure you are not sending a blogger something off-topic that they and their audience is not interested in. Look at the blog’s level of content – if they write for a more advanced audience, they are probably not going to want content geared toward beginners.

Your Thoughts on Blogger Outreach

I’d like to hear from both bloggers and business / PR people on this one. Bloggers, if you have received amazing or atrocious pitches, share your experiences. And businesses, what challenges do you run into when doing blogger outreach? Share your thoughts in the comments!

By Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and ghostwriter who specializes in business and marketing topics.