The ability to talk with a network of bloggers — and maybe even some high profile ones — is an incredible boon for any blogger. Dialogues with other bloggers can result in good advice, answered questions, links, opportunities and some very interesting conversations. Unfortunately, many bloggers have a habit of approaching relationship building with other bloggers in entirely the wrong way.
In this post, I want to share everything I’ve learned about talking to bloggers, whether they’re Brian Clark or one of your most loyal reader.
Be intriguing. Bloggers will be much more likely to talk to you if they believe you have something interesting to say. What aspect of you or your blog would be of specific interest to them? There are a few things bloggers enjoy hearing about:
- Successes you’ve had as a result of practicing what they preach.
- Interesting conversations you’ve had about them with others.
- An unusual time/place where the blogger’s name came up (for example, at a conference you attended, or unexpectedly through a family member).
- A short anecdote relevant to something they’ve written recently.
If you’re not sure you have anything to offer the blogger you’d like to talk to, then you can try being intriguing.
Be useful. Perhaps the most powerful way to connect with a blogger, proving useful to them means that in some small way, they owe you one. Here are some different ways you can make yourself of use to other bloggers:
- Watch over the blog. Let the blogger know when you see factual mistakes, spam comments or broken links appearing on the blog. Bloggers are always eager to correct this stuff and often rely on readers to let them know when a problem has arisen. As long as you avoid sounding like you’re chastizing the blogger, they’re likely to be quite thankful to you.
- Correct design flaws. Bloggers are not always code gurus. Design elements can display incorrectly or not display at all — or look funny in certain browsers. If you have some skill with HTML/CSS you can point out any issues and, most importantly, suggest an easy to implement a solution. Providing a solution is the icing on the cake — the thing that will truly put you in the blogger’s good books.
- Spread their ideas. If you’ve written a post sharing some of the blogger’s ideas, make sure to email them about it. This method helped attract Seth Godin to my blog (he even left a comment, which I don’t think he does often. Too busy kicking-butt, I guess.)
- Leverage your skills. If you really want to get on a blogger’s radar, use your skills. If you’re a Photoshop ninja, offer to design them a new logo, or to customize some graphics on their site. If you’re a fitness fanatic, offer to consult with them about an exercise plan. Put a twist on your skills, make them useful, and offer them for free.
- Write guest-posts. Bloggers like guest-posters, because a guest-post means they don’t have to worry about writing content for a day. Saving a blogger one or two hours is always very much appreciated. If your post is just as popular as something they wrote would be (or even more so) you will be especially appreciated.
Develop name-recognition. Pitching to bloggers who don’t recognize your name is a little like cold-calling. Once you develop a pattern of regularly commenting on their blog and have linked to an article they’ve written once or twice, the blogger will start to recognize your name. Bloggers really prize engaged readers and are likely to have a lot more time for your communication efforts.
Earn their favor. The amount of traffic you have the potential to send the blogger will influence their eagerness to correspond with you. By submitting their posts to Digg with good titles and descriptions, or by discovering their work on StumbleUpon, the blogger will start to recognize your ability to send them traffic.
Be brief. One of the single biggest mistakes you can make in talking to bloggers is to send long emails. If the blogger you want to talk to is widely read, you can guarantee that they get dozens of emails every day. Long emails require a time sacrifice that bloggers are unlikely to make. If you can’t make your email any shorter while still covering everything you need, break it into points and send just the most important one. Once you get a response, send the second, and so on. Busy bloggers prefer back-and-forth short emails over elephant-sized exchanges.
Be clear. If you’re offering something to the blogger, explain what it is. If you’re asking for something, explain what it is. If a blogger can’t determine what kind of action you want them to take as a result of you’re email, they’re unlikely to take any action at all (and will probably file it for a ‘later’ that never comes.) If you find yourself having to preamble and qualify everything you say, it usually indicates that you’re asking for more than you should.
Don’t be difficult. View your proposed correspondence from the perspective of the blogger. Would your question take longer than a few minutes to answer properly? If your answer is yes, you should think of an easier question, or break your question down into smaller parts. You might really want to know what would be required to make $5,000 a month from your blog, but is that a question a blogger could answer in a few minutes or less? If your correspondence is too difficult, you can expect it to be ignored.
Don’t take more than you give. For a blogger to be eager to talk with you they need to feel that it’s an equal relationship. If you’re constantly asking for links, attention, time and advice and not offering your skills in return, your dialog with the other blogger won’t last very long. A good golden rule to follow: only ask for something when the blogger stands to benefit from what you’re proposing, or if they owe you a favor.
Don’t take advantage of your connection. Once you’ve started an amicable dialog with a blogger, it can be all-too-easy to wear out your welcome by being too eager and monopolizing their attention. There’s no reason to email a blogger more than once a week, unless you’re resolving something. If your correspondence turns to clutter you’ll find they respond to your emails less and less.
Be memorable. Ideally, you want bloggers to enjoy talking with you, and to open your emails ahead of others in their inbox (maybe even look forward to them).
Make every message you send memorable in some way and always cut out the fluff.
Be friendly without fake flattery. If you’re talking to a blogger far more popular than you, it’s easy to start talking to them like you’re not worthy of their time. If you put yourself across that way, some of that viewpoint may rub off on the blogger! If you give as much as you take, you have no reason to act as if they’re doing you a favor.