Blogger Outreach: 3 Brilliant Strategies and 5 Disastrous Mistakes
Carol Tice | 40 Comments

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 on “Blogger Outreach: 3 Brilliant Strategies and 5 Disastrous Mistakes

  1. Dave on

    Great post carol, these suggestions are very helpful. The blogging niche, definitely has a learning curve, Ill be applying these techniques in the near future. Thanks for suggesting it to me.

  2. Florence on

    Just stumbled across your post…oh, I know where it was! From Matthew Loomis! I’m reading one of his posts with a link, which brought me here. Anyway, this is a great post. I haven’t ever got up the nerve to contact a big name blogger, but if I did, these tips would be invaluable. I’m just a newbie. I take it back…I think I did do #1 recently & I never heard from the person. Thanks for an informative post that I’ll share.

    • Carol Tice on

      When you do a strategy once, don’t get a result, and then give up…you’re not going to get much traction. It takes a lot of perserverance to build blogger relationships. But it’s sooo worth it. 😉

      But…who is Matthew Loomis? Not familiar…what’s his blog name?

  3. Michael Pozdnev on

    Only today I found your blog and got to this article. You can’t imagine how much I like blogger outreach 🙂

    I’m just taking my first steps, but I’ve noticed that the more targeted your approach to a person is, the better are your results. Outreach is very much like flirting or getting to know your new friend. If you have common interests you pay a compliment, give something without asking anything back, and your relationships start to develop. It’s important to value other person’s time and respect this person. If you observe these conditions, your achievements in blogger outreach will be amazing.

    I’m a newbie, but blogger outreach helped me fascinate more than 6,000 visitors to my two posts (158 comments, 1,5k social shares). I even came up with the name for my technique: “BFF Commenter”.

    Thank you for new ideas and fantastic blog post. Now I’ve become your subscriber 🙂

  4. Obodo Charles on

    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.

  5. Moshe Chayon on

    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 on

      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.

  6. Matthew Loomis on

    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

  7. Pankaj Tiwari on

    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 on

      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!

  8. Brandon Mitchell on

    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 on

      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. 😉

  9. Milveen on

    Very informative post Carol! I’m new to the blogging world and would like to eventually guest post on other blogs within my niche. I’ve only recently started trying to engage with other bloggers in an attempt to “meet” folks and learn from those who’ve been doing it a lot longer than I have. This post is great because it highlights great ideas on how best to approach others and hopefully gain mentors down the road. Thanks!

  10. Todd on

    I emailed Carol Tice once! 🙂 She was super cool.
    I have also emailed Kristi Hines, and she was cool too. The trick, I think, is to be short and not ask too much.
    I have recently reached out to a few for a blog post and was delighted to get an answer from Noah Kagan. I flattered him by telling him I bought an ebook of his (not sure if it really flattered him) and asking for a quote. He sent me a short sentence.
    Also, I think we can take advantage of Ask Me Anythings in various forums. I recently got an answer from Guy Kawasaki using this.
    Nice post Carol!

    • Carol Tice on

      Worse, they’re happening every day. I wish I could say this stuff is anomalous or freakish…but it’s routine. I get emails like this every week…I can only imagine what’s happening at the REALLY big blogs.

  11. Katherine Swarts on

    I feel for you, Carol. Some of the examples here aren’t too different from things I hear regularly from the freelance editors on my network; they’re in it specifically due to passion for helping writers make their work publishable, and they have wonderful clients, yes–but also plenty who try to pay for the editing with a cut of the future sales (“but you’ll make tons more eventually!”), send out mass “help me create a sur bestseller [sic]” blasts, obviously haven’t bothered to read the editor’s how-to-contact-me instructions, send their documents in archaic software or from the Notes app on an iPad (seriously), or reply to all editorial suggestions with “You’re being ridiculous, my mom loved it this way!” (There was a discussion thread not long ago about how to tell the client-who-insists-on-publishing-the-original-mess that in that case you don’t care to be officially credited as editor.)

    The world is full of people who harbor such delusions of grandeur that they expect introducing themselves to a more successful party will automatically make the other eager to do “whatever I want.”

  12. Therese Kay on

    I love “shout outs” to other people and you gave some great examples on how to do it even better. I’m a firm believer in celebrating others successes and that there is room for everyone.

  13. Julia Daniels on

    Carol,
    I joined your Den because of your generous free content on your amazing blog! There are not enough hours in my day to sit in the Den and absorb all the spot-on resources. Your passion to help writers be profitable shines through. By my next comment, I hope to have up my business-to-business writer’s website and actually have samples prepared. Before working through your Den bootcamp on this topic, I totally lacked the confidence to do this. Sending you a huge thank-you!

    • Carol Tice on

      That’s awesome Julia — and you’re welcome!

      And I DON’T recommend sitting in the Den all day. Take a useful training — and then implement! Then, learn more. 😉

  14. Mandy Buffington on

    This is really good information especially if you plan on doing any blogging and I plan on sharing this on my Facebook fan page for my writing and Pinterest, which is where I found you originally, through last years market of the websites that pay. Lots to learn, trying to not get overwhelmed lol, but it’s something I want to seriously do too.

    • Carol Tice on

      Thanks for letting me know you found me on Pinterest! I’m trying to be more active on there — which reminds me to pin the graphic for this post! 😉

  15. Idellah Ashlie on

    Carol thank you for this post. Thank you for the acknowledgment under blog strategies. I didn’t see it until later in the day because I’ve been studying and getting as much work done on my online RE as possible so excuse the late response. I’m guilty of being one of those lone wolf writers who’ve tried to do it all without mentoring AND it has indeed taken me longer than needed even while transitioning from my day job into bridge job devote quality time to developing my writing career. This post and the new book have given me active motivation move deeper into making a real living as a writer actualized. Iam learning a great deal thanks to people like you who’ve been there and showing it CAN be done!

  16. Boon Ong on

    Love receiving your article to my email. Always had been excited to know that I am learning from your blog every time I visited here.

    Thank you Carol for this guidance.

    • Carol Tice on

      I was originally planning to try to create an ‘ultimate guide’ with lots of tips…but when I laid out all the examples I’d collected, I thought they should really just be spotlighted. They provide all the tips you need!

  17. Lisa on

    Thank you so much for the specific tips in both the “what to do” and “what not to do” category. Treating influencers with respect seems to be a solid take away! Thanks for a great post!

    • Carol Tice on

      You’d think it wouldn’t be hard to treat people with the simple courtesy you use in person (especially accomplished people you want help from!)…but apparently, on social media and email, it is.

  18. Chris Enns on

    Hey Carol,

    Thanks so much for including my email in the ‘done right’ category (and for letting me chat with the Den).

    “Mutual Admiration Society’ is a great way to describe how I feel about what you’re doing. I’m a huge fan, and this piece just pushes me further into fandom!

    Chris

  19. Gabriella Brillante on

    I haven’t really reached out to other blogs, but I do enjoy hearing feedback. And when I read an article or post that is wonderful, I make sure to let the author know I loved it.

  20. Julian on

    Hi Carol,

    Great post. I love how you show examples. I wish everybody can do that in their posts. 🙂

    Outreach is something I’m really into. Like REALLY into.

    I don’t know how much I’ve read on the topic.

    Lotta outdated info though out there, huh?

    Like the “link out, ask for shares” tactic.

    That’s probably like the most overused outreach tactic now, eh?

    Even asking for roundup participants straight up. I’ve read a lot of pros and influencers saying their getting tired of roundup requests because of “the question” being too broad (plus some other reasons).

    Yeah, well anyway, I tweeted out your post. It’s some good s***! 😀

    Have an awesome week, Carol.

    Cheers,
    Julian

    • Carol Tice on

      Thanks Julian!

      And yes, count me among those who are overtired of being asked to participate by strangers in big roundups that often, won’t even deliver much reader value — they are purely a social media marketing ploy and a bald attempt to get a lot of big-listers to share your content.

      And it’s their first introduction to you, that ‘Hi total stranger – please help me build my business.’ NOT the best way to connect with a popular blogger!

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