How to Build and Maintain Relationships with Bloggers
Relationships with bloggers and website curators are necessary connections to develop if you want to flourish in the online world. In today’s SEO scene, you can’t be seen without a guest post to your name and back links to your site, but how can you take that first step towards getting to know them? You see those people across the SERPS and you know you’ve got to talk to them. They have that killer blog layout and traffic for days, but how can you get them to notice you and your amazing draft of a guest post? If you want to succeed with developing relationships with bloggers, here are a few tips to get the conversation going and how to keep the intrigue alive.
Get their Attention
The most difficult part of any relationship? The beginning awkward phase, when figuring each other out is a new and exciting adventure. How can you get the attention of that special blogger you’ve been eying?
Be nice: It goes a long way! Try to use language that is easy to understand and has a respectful tone. Don’t demand that the blogger answer your prompts or threaten them in any way; it could backfire quickly. You should use a positive voice and avoid humor, as every person you email is an individual and can easily misinterpret sarcasm or derision within the text. You can’t force your way into their life or there will be an absence of respect and your chance of response will be very low if you try to.
Take it slow: It is perfectly fine to send out an initial email detailing what you liked about the blog or how you found the blogger without asking for something (i.e. a guest post). This method is slightly different in approach, because it circumvents a few of the main problems when sending out emails in order to guest blog or request links. By not including a link within the email, you have a higher chance of ending up in the blogger’s inbox, instead of the spam folder which can be set to weed out emails with links from unknown senders. If the blogger reads your email, whether or not they respond, they will see your name and associate it with a compliment about the blog which might possibly play to your favor later.
Overall, you want the individual on the other end of those emails to feel like a person that you place value in. Don’t be afraid to show them your winning personality! Just remember to go at your own pace, be respectful and always give back more than you receive.
Outreach and share via social media: What wins hearts more than a public display of affection? By taking your praise to the community, you are forcing the blogger to recognize you as someone praising them publicly. They might receive copious emails a day, but contact through other channels, not only shows that you took the effort to find them on social media, but that you operate in a similar niche circle.
Offer something useful: Why should they invest their valuable time in you? In your outreach, by offering something that is important or valuable to the blogger, you make yourself valuable. Can you provide an amazing and unique piece of content in the form of a video, tutorial or well researched post that will complement his or her blog? In addition, you can also offer a product as a way to get their attention. Everyone loves gifts! If you’re offering a product, it’s best to make sure that it doesn’t feel like bribery or that you are paying them for posting your guest post. No one likes to feel used.
Making it Work
After the swooning honeymoon phase might come the coasting phase. By now, you’ve developed a bond and feel that you have a mutually beneficial relationship, but the initial excitement of the outreach might be gone. You might also be beginning relationships with other bloggers at this point, but don’t want to forget who has helped you in the past and how they might be able to help you in the future. How do you keep the relationship alive in between the exchange of content or questions and avoid the walk of shame?
Share content from their website: By sharing not only the content you provided the blogger with, but other tidbits from his or her blog as well, you are showing that you can actively engage with the blog and it wasn’t just a hit and run. Make use of social media, forums and private emails to encourage people to check out what fascinating things your new blogger friend has to say. No healthy relationship can stay hidden forever!
Increase their traffic: Traffic is the life blood of every blog. This is how blogs measure themselves against one another and increase their subscriber counts and followers. If you can bring in viewers to a blog that is not your own, you will increase your chances of getting a guest post again. Make use of meaningful social media channels or add a link to content from their blog on another website. The more widespread the blogger’s posts get, the more widespread your post on the site becomes and the more valuable you in turn become.
Get personal: Happen to notice that the blogger is on instant messenger or that they include a phone number in their signature? Reach out and say hi! It’s easy to forget via email that there is a real person on the other end of those words. Sometimes you need to connect in a more meaningful way than simply chatting over email. While you don’t have to bare your soul and secrets, it can be a great way to get some answers about the work you are trying to accomplish as well as a way to deepen the personal information you share with the blogger. You don’t have to stay up late having pillow talk, but a quick hello can go a long way.
Offer free advice: Relationships work because we are all individuals with our own knowledge and experience and no two people are alike. If you have been communicating with a blogger for a while now, it might be time to let them know that you are happy to help them if you can. Perhaps you are in the SEO industry, or pride yourself on staying current on social media trends; politely let them know that you would be happy to answer questions that they have. This will keep you fresh in that person’s mind, should they actually need your advice on the topic.
Of course it is a two way street, so you should ask for his or her help on a topic they seem knowledgeable about. It could be something you picked up on in your earlier exchanges or you could simply ask them if they know about the topic (provided you have a reason to believe they might). Asking or answering questions is a way to not only build trust, but to develop a “go-to-person” mentality with each other so that in the future—should they need advice—they will think of you foremost and how you were able to help out the last time.
Send a “just because”: It’s always nice to receive a gift, but the best gifts are given when you don’t expect them. You should always thank a blogger after you work with them and show the appropriate amount of gratitude. However, a month or two later it might be nice to remind them just how thankful you are. You could send an email, e-card or real card, or you could mail over a coffee gift card, have donuts delivered to their house or send them a book you think they might enjoy. It’s crucial that this comes sincerely and isn’t a plea for something more. Whether or not you ever contact this person again, it is always a nice gesture to say thank you one more time. We all need to be reminded how much we mean to someone else.
Making the Ultimate Commitment
By now maybe you’ve been talking for awhile and you’ve developed a language and rhythm to your communications. If you think you’re ready to make the ultimate commitment to this blogger, how can you show it?
Arrange a meet up: Do you happen to live close to each other geographically or will you be attending a conference in the blogger’s area? Ask if they would be willing to meet for lunch or a cocktail before you head out to your next event. Recognize that their time is valuable or they may not be comfortable meeting up in person. It can be a huge leap to make a real life connection! Always approach this situation delicately and schedule to meet up in a public place to avoid potentially awkward or dangerous situations.
One of the most convenient ways to meet bloggers face to face is to attend their conventions. BlogHer sponsors a convention every year, as do many other blogging organizations and industry professionals. If you happen to have overlapping interests, it’s a great reason to get together in real life and develop a potential mutual friendship. If you can’t meet up face to face, try a video chat! You can keep it short and sweet, but putting a face to a name can cement a relationship much more quickly than emails can.
Donate to charity: While this may seem a little out of place among this list, we must remember to always be thinking about the other person. In your communications with them, have you gotten a sense for what kinds of things they care about or feel connected to? Rather than sending them a physical thank you gift, consider donating a small amount in their name or website name to a charity in their honor. Not only are you promoting wellness for others, but you are effectively enabling the continuation of help and thankfulness for what the blogger has done for you. Some bloggers will have more of a reaction to this than others, but a good deed unnoticed was still a good deed done.
Write about them: Has a blogger inspired you or taken time out of their days to develop a mutual relationship with you? Write about them! Mention them in a blog post for your web site and place a link back to their blog within it. Use them as a great example of a well-run blog or an industry expert and talk them up! Increasing positive credibility online for anyone is a personal endorsement of their abilities, and the whole world can read it. This would be the internet relationship equivalent to writing their name in the sky, so make sure that you mean what you are saying!
If you think you’re ready to begin a relationship with a blogger, I encourage you to take those first few steps and craft an outreach letter that will get their attention. The most important thing to remember while building a relationship, similar to any face to face relationship, is to always remember that there are two people in this space and you both hold the power to help or hurt the other. Always have respect for those you email!
Have you tried any of these tactics to build relationships online?
About Brynna Baldauf
Brynna is a Search Engine Optimization Strategist at Vertical Measures where she helps clients improve their organic search engine rankings. +Brynna Baldauf