How to Ask a Blogger for Help

08 Feb 2010

kanzashi projects2

This being the Internet Age, a whole lot of you have projects, businesses, charity efforts, sales, exhibits, and such going on. And naturally, you want to get the word out about them.

It's no secret that one great way to promote your project is to contact a lot of bloggers and ask them to blog about it.

In fact, I receive a lot of these requests every week. And for the most part, I don't mind. I do like learning about cool things going on in the craftosphere.

But you know what? Some of the pitches I receive, I read and respond to. And others I delete unread.

What's the difference? Well, there's a real art to asking a blogger for coverage. And there are some simple tactics that can make or break your email pitch. As a public service, I thought I'd share them.

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First, make sure you're barking up the right tree.

This has happened more times than I can count: a guy with a movie-cataloguing website goes to Google and looks up "movies." He stumbles onto a post I wrote three years ago about Christmas movies to craft with. And he decides I'd be a good person to blog about his website.

Except, I'm not a movie blogger, I'm a craft blogger.

If you're planning to approach a blogger you've never met, at least do him or her the courtesy of reading the blog for a few weeks. Make sure that whatever you're promoting would actually be a good fit with the blog's readership.

...And be very specific here. Just because I write a craft blog and your project is craft-related doesn't necessarily mean we're a match made in heaven. If you read my blog for a while, you'd likely see that, while I do write about craft business conceptually, I rarely blog about specific craft businesses or online sellers. You might notice that I rarely blog about craft fairs going on in other parts of the country.

You don't have to be a big fan or even a regular reader of my blog to pitch me - but I appreciate knowing that you've at least done your research. I get fake-y pitch emails all the time that say, "I love your blog, CraftyPod. I particularly enjoyed your post about [yesterday's post topic]."

Heh - I'll bet you say that to all the bloggers.

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Be brief and well-structured, and for pete's sake, ask.

Sometimes I get pitch emails, and I can't even tell what they're asking for. Some fledgling marketers feel so uncomfortable in that role, they'll send out vague, rambling emails that never really get to the point of asking for the coverage. This isn't effective.

I respect the fact that you have a project going on and you're excited about it. I'd like to hear about it. But I get dozens of pitches every week, so I'd be grateful if you'd respect my time by making your request succinctly. Make it clear why you think my blog is a good fit, send me the links to your project, and explain what you need from me.

Then, I can decide on a course of action much more efficiently. If your email is long, vague, and rambling, I'm probably going to set it aside - and I may not get back to it for weeks.

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...But be personal!

Just to contradict myself, then, I'll mention that the worst possible way to ask a blogger for coverage is to send her a press release with no attached note.

The second worst way is to send an obvious form email addressed to "Dear Blogger."

I delete this kind of stuff unread all the time. If the marketer couldn't take the time to find my freaking name, then he obviously doesn't care all that much whether his project appears on my blog.

So, yes, it's very wise to address a blogger by name. And also, if you've had some contact with a blogger in the past, then mention it in your email. We all meet a lot of people online, and may need reminding that we chatted with you at last year at the Sock Summit. Plus, this personal touch gives your email a much better chance of being read.

(In fact, I could also make a case for putting some effort into building a relationship with a blogger long before you make your pitch. If you comment a few times on the blog, or strike up a conversation on Twitter or Facebook, this really can affect the way your pitch email is received. That is, as long as you're being genuine about it.)

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Don't just hammer the popular blogs.

So many times, I've seen folks who want to spread the word about their product just make a list of what they see as the "biggest blogs," and then they send the same email pitch to all of them.

There's some old-school marketing thinking here - "let's reach as many eyeballs as we can."

But again, with this approach, it's clear that the marketer hasn't done his or her homework, and doesn't particularly care whether the project is a good fit with all these bloggers' readers. Trust me, bloggers can spot a pitch like this a mile away, and we rarely respond to them.

If you have something to promote, take the time to seek out bloggers who write regularly about the subject you're promoting. Even if their audiences are somewhat smaller, your message will land on much more interested ears, and have a much better chance of gaining exposure.

Remember, if you make the effort to send your pitch to the right places, it will be welcomed as a service, not ignored as just one more dang marketing email.

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Make a reciprocal offer if you can.

Think of this: when you ask a blogger to write about your project, what are you really asking for? You're asking for publicity, yes, but you're also asking for access to the blogger's carefully cultivated audience. Every blogger with an audience has worked hard to earn its trust over time. So when you ask a blogger to write about you, you're really asking for a lot.

So, what can you offer in return? I am always amazed by the number of pitches I get that make no reciprocal offer at all - especially when I've never met the person making the pitch. Would you walk up to a stranger on the street and ask to borrow her house for the weekend?

And no, I am not suggesting you offer money in exchange for a blog post. But I'm guessing it's in your power to offer something. A review copy of your project, for example. A link. A giveaway prize. Or even, some content that's really useful to my audience.

If you think I'm being crass, wondering what's in it for me, well, consider this. In old school media, where you had publicists and advertisers and editors, much of the content happened because money changed hands.

In this new-school online media world, there's still currency changing hands - only it's not money, it's trust. I need to trust you if I'm going to blog about you. I need to see that you and your project are worthy of my time and attention.

Your reciprocal offer says a lot to me. It says that you respect the hard work I've put into building my audience, and you understand that your request for coverage is significant. It also says that you understand that the online community is built on relationships, and you're interested in forming one.

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What it comes down to, then...

It's a fact of life that, when you're marketing your project, you will always care about it more than the people you're pitching to. This doesn't mean it's a cruel world. It just means that, when you reach out to a blogger to ask for coverage, it's wise to look at your project through his eyes. What would he find most interesting about it? How does it fit into his blog?

As with so many things in the online community, it's not about you. It's about them.

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Comments

Just the kind of practical advice and realistic approach that I look forward to reading. Thanks SisterDiane! The nuts & bolts of marketing in the craft world doesn't often get talked about...almost as if marketing & promotion is "beneath" the craft business. So I always love to hear how people are adapting and using these business strategies effectively (because for now my blogging is all play, but someday I might just get that little side business going!)


Thanks so much!


Hi, Danielle -

Thanks for stopping by. That question of the etiquette of linking to
other people's blogs is a tricky one. There's no universally agreed-
upon procedure.

For my blog, you're always welcome to post links, and there's no need
to ask my permission. If you wanted to republish one of my images, or
any part of my post, however, I would want to be asked in those cases.

Hope that helps! And, welcome to the blogosphere!


Great post! Thanks!


...oh... and I LOVE Carina's suggestion for the reply email; maybe a few answers like that would 'politely' send the message that marketing tactics need to be changed :)


all great points, very well written :)


Thank you, Jessica! I agree - I've seen so many marketing posts based on the marketer's perspective. Thought it might be time to have something out there from a recipient's perspective. :-)


I wish you great success with your efforts, Chrissy!


Thanks, Katie - I so agree: marketing is kind of a sticky subject, and
yet sooner or later, if you want to make your craft into a business,
you have to go there. :-) Luckily, the internet age opens up so many
smarter and more useful ways to do it.


Loads of good points! I tend toward the nervous, never get around to the point, type of marketing approach so I will reread this next time I feel the need to make a pitch! LOVE seeing all the older projects :-)


Thanks, Mimi! Glad you found it helpful. I kinda liked seeing the old
stuff again, too! :-)


Blogging is another way, people find us to send unwanted emails;) All they do is look for key words for what the want to sell and latch on. I do not open mail that I do not know where it came from or forwarded mail, better to be safe.

Debbie


Thank you, Hallie!


Thank you so much! You're right - in all the marketing information
I've read, I've so rarely seen any instructions to "read your stuff
through the eyes of the person you're sending it to."


Thank you Sarah!


Such great blogging etiquette...everything here is so very very true!


Thanks so much for stopping by, Erin! Hope to see you again!


Hmmm.....I'm new to the blogging scene so the whole blogging ettiquette this kind of eludes me but some things are just common sense. I plan to link to A LOT of other web sites through my blog. For example. I find this article perfect for someone new like me. I would like to link to it. Do I need to ask you first?


You're so kind, Cynthia. Thank you for the vote of confidence. I adore this community, too!


Very timely article! I'm about to be in the exactly that position (developing/marketing a community/blog focused around sharing children's fashions), and while most of it boils down to simple common sense and common courtesy, it was great to hear your thoughts first hand. It never ceases to amaze me how people can write correspondence without asking themselves through the writing process what they would think of it were the roles reversed.

In summary, excellent post Diane, definitely some good food for thought, thanks! :)


Great post! Just before reading this I got a pitch that said "Hi, How are you?" Sadly, it was the nicest opening for a PR pitch that I've ever received!


Thank you, Kimberly! Yes, I've received some real doozies as well. :-)


Wow! A friend in my etsy group sent me a link to your blog and its great! I am hooked and ready to read more. I am very new to blogging but have been crafting and working in aromatherapy for a long time. Thanks very much Diane!


Just love your ideas and I totally agree with your blogging philosophy! Now where to start!


Great article, I'm stashing it away in my brain for when I'm ready for something like this. Nice tip on blogging etiquette in the comments too. I'm pretty new to the whole putting yourself out there online and wow it can be overwhelming. I want to say thank you for helping others go further in the crafting/blogging community. Its great to be part of this community!


What a great post! It also comes at a great time for me as well as I recently started pitching to other bloggers to help promote my art work.

It was also very reassuring to me as I was actually able to check off things I was doing correctly versus all the things I was doing wrong. Since I"m new at proprositioning people I've been very uneasy about it too.

Thank you for sharing!


Thank you, Jennifer! It really is an uneasy thing, pitching. I never
feel totally comfortable with it myself. So I wish you all the best
with your efforts!


Great, Beth -
I'm so glad it'll be of help! All the best with your grand opening!


Hell and Yeah!
Recently, I got such an email addressed to "Dear sewing and Craft Blogger"...oh my. And it was a pretty well known manufacturer of something sewing related. Delete. I contemplated writing a snarky reply, but didn't. :-)

However, maybe someone should start poiting out to these companies that (most) bloggers can see through their marketing emails. Maybe they think we get completely bowled over because they have Noticed us. (OMG!) And we'll be so flattered we'll blog about whatever it is..

And the 'I/we think your readers would be interested in Whatever...' line is just stupid, especially if they can't even be bothered to use your name.


Boy, AGREED, Carina! I have to agree - craft-industry companies are
some of the worst offenders when it comes to poorly-crafted pitches.
They seem to want to treat bloggers the same way they've always
treated traditional media. Except we aren't.

For my part, I'm considering sending a link to this post in future
when I get these kinds of pitches.


Thanks, Mandi! :-)


Thanks for posting this - it's really timely for me since I am just starting to think about these things, and nice to hear from the recipient/blogger perspective.


Thanks, Jolie - I'm happy to be of help.


Thank you for this post, Sister-Diane! Sounds like a whole lot of good common sense rolled into an informative blog post!


Thanks, Deb!


Oh if everyone did that, maybe they would get the message!

"Dear Marketing Title"

Thank you for your email, which I haven't read, because 'Blogger' isn't my name and I don't read other people's emails. I hope you will find this Blog Post valuable for emails you send in future.

Have a great day."

;-)


"dear marketing title" - that is so excellent. :D


Well said! I always appreciate the personal notes - even if the form email is attached below it. I completely agree with contacting blogs that might have a smaller readership. I think those smaller blogs have a larger audience for interest in certain products. Plus, smaller blogs like to feel special, too.

I love Carina's idea of replying to the pitch emails with one of your own. :)


Thanks for chiming in! I think there's a vast untapped resource of
medium and small-audience blogs out there. Most marketers seem to
focus on the same handful of blogs, but there's so much more potential.


Thanks for yet another great post, Diane! It's very timely for me, as I try to get my head around putting together my first crafty product. I'll be coming back here to soak in this excellent advice when the time comes to start doing the marketing thing. (You're right ... it is a sticky area!)


Thank you! I wish you great success with your efforts!


Hear! Hear! Great post Diane! I'd also add that it would be nice to craft your email the "old fashioned" way - introduction, this is what I'm asking for, a polite goodbye and your name/business links etc. Emails that come across like their speaking to me via Twitter really rub me the wrong way. There are more than 140 spaces for characters in an email - please use the space wisely.


Thanks, Patricia! You're right - people can err on the side of being a
little *too* brief. Sometimes I'll just get an email with a photo
attached and a three-word message like "For Your Consideration."

...For my consideration for what purpose? Blogging about it? Hanging
it on my living room wall?


this is well written, thank you for spelling it out this way. I think so many of us get these anonymous, mass-feeling emails asking for goodness knows what, and it really makes no sense. Little did they know they were wasting their time.


Thank you, Blair!


I was just doing some research about PR. This is a great post. Glad it popped up in my twitter stream! Thanks for the very helpful information.


So happy to be of use, Kelly. Thanks!


Preach it, Sister! Great post.


Heh - thanks, Jen! I'm guessing you've been on the receiving end of
more than a few of these yourself. :-)


Yes, yes, YES! I hope everyone reads this helpful piece of awesome. Thanks so much for writing this. I'll be linking.


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