It’s a strategy every top blogger tells you to pursue: Contact successful bloggers and ask them for a guest post, link, or interview. But blogger outreach isn’t quite that simple.
Now that every blogger is constantly hit up with requests, you’ll have to be a bit more sophisticated than shooting them an email that is essentially just, “Hi total stranger, would you do me a favor and help build my blog career?”
To help you avoid wasted time on blogger outreach that goes nowhere, I’ve pulled together three recent examples of outreach gone terribly wrong in pitches I received. There’s also one terrific example of outreach done right.
Wondering what basic mistakes to avoid? Read on:
Blogger outreach–in bulk
I’ll let this email pitch, screenshot here in its entirety, speak for itself. I posted it on my Facebook page for discussion, and include those comments here as well.
Keep your eyes peeled in those comments for the first tip that I offer by way of contrast, on how to do blogger outreach the right way:
In case it’s not obvious, bulk-mailing your blogger outreach — and announcing that you’re doing it — is a bad idea. Please. Just. No.
And the most basic rudiment of an outreach is that you have to propose something concrete. Not just “gimme a link,” and we don’t even know to what. Come on!
Please promote my competing product
I’m sorry to report that I seem to have mislaid the screenshot I took of this one, but I’ll give you the gist:
Hi, you don’t know me but I’m a big fan of your blog. I’m a recent Columbia journalism school grad who’s created a course for writers. I was wondering if I could ask you to recommend it to your audience?
A few things here:
- Don’t ask for promo help first. Many bloggers (including me!) only sell products and services from people we know. Since this blogger is a stranger to me, this is a non-starter. Ask for something smaller off the bat.
- Sales help costs. There’s a thing called an affiliate program. If you want to sell a course and want popular bloggers to promote it, offer them a cut. That’s just…how it’s done. This blogger didn’t think it was rude to ask me to bust my hump to make her sales for free. But she was wrong.
- Pitch complementary blogs, not competitors. This blogger was shocked, shocked to learn that a freelance writing teacher and coach would be loathe to promote a stranger’s freelance writing course — especially, a stranger who was patently unqualified to teach given her lack of experience. Instead of pitching your direct competitors, find related niches, where their products are dissimilar and yours would complement what they’ve got. If you look above at the blogger outreach win I mention, it’s a perfect example of a complementary pitch — Dave Chesson’s audience is e-book self-publishers, mine is freelance writers. Not exactly the same, but related. Perfect.
This should be obvious, but as an aside, you shouldn’t create a course in a topic where you have no experience…and then expect that others will do the marketing work for you. Influencers don’t generally make the online-earning dreams of charlatans come true. Good luck.
Spicing up outreach with bribery and lies
This outreach angle was new to me…and I think it stinks. Reproducing the pitch in its entirety below. The bold area spotlights the unusual twist here that I think takes the help request someplace you don’t wanna go.
Hi Carol —
I enjoyed your article where you talk about guest posting. So much so that I added it to my Flipboard magazine, as it’s a really great fit and I’m sure our followers will find it a great read!
Last month, I published a 7000-word guide on the best Guest Posting Sites for 2017 and I think it would make a great addition to your article.
Would you consider adding a link to it?
I realize that it is a pain to go in and change the article so I’d like to attempt to return the favor: I am building this huge resource list of Best Blogs To Follow in 2017 and I’d be happy to include your blog as well!
Let me know if you’re interested and we can give it a go!
An excerpt from my response:
Wendy, thanks for this wonderful example of how not to do blogger outreach.
As a policy, I don’t add links to old posts at the request of link-seekers. I’m not the Ministry of Truth, going back and altering the past — see the White House for that.
I’m curious if you disclose to your audience that your ‘best blogs to follow’ list is in reality a list determined at least in part by the sites you successfully blackmail into link-stuffing for you, with the carrot of an appearance on this list–or not. The latter would be unethical.
Take me off your list — Carol
Besides this being a ‘do me a favor, total stranger’ pitch, this blogger immediately revealed themselves as morally compromised. They’re telling their own blog audience they have a ‘best of’ list which is actually nothing of the kind.
This makes me not want to have anything to do with you, ever. Like, I’m not going to retweet your posts. Nothing. As Kevin O’Leary says on Shark Tank, you’re dead to me.
And in the same breath, they’d like me to help build their business…for free. (Some at least offer a little money for the link, not that I’d ever accept.) Overall: Eewwww.
This ‘add link to old post’ request is extremely common. I guess they think it’s an easier request than asking for a link in a new or upcoming post.
Bulletin: Most bloggers care passionately about every square inch of their blog, and aren’t about secretly inserting new links in old posts, just to please someone they’ve never met.
Blogger outreach still works — final tip
Despite these sad examples, it’s still a great idea to network with popular bloggers! I don’t want to discourage you from doing it. In fact, here’s my second tip on how to build connections — check out this recent email I got from one of my LinkedIn connections:
It is an honor to be connected to you and to be in your network.
That said, it has been a considerable time since we last talked.
As I am certain I have told you in the past, I am committed to being of help to you in any way I can to help you meet your objectives. Let me know if there is anyone in my Linkedin network you would like to meet or if there is something else I can help with.
In the meantime, have a great second third of 2017.
Was that so hard? Truly, you’ll get better results if you do blogger outreach in a classy way. Remember to offer something useful first, build a relationship, and then make a request.
You shouldn’t need to mass-mail influencers, pitch direct competitors, or promise inclusion in a phony best-of list to make it happen.
Have you done blogger outreach? Share your approach on my Facebook.