Need Online Exposure? Asking Bloggers For Help

Recently I posted a tip on Facebook regarding the wrong way to contact bloggers for exposure after being “cold call” emailed myself. The cliff note version is that a marketing person sent me a form letter asking for book exposure, and supplied 4 attachments that contained book covers, press releases, links, etc.

This prompted some discussion on Facebook and in email about what the protocol is for contacting bloggers or website owners for a promotion opportunity, especially if one does not have a strong online presence and so can’t reciprocate (such as trading guest posts). I know reaching outside one’s comfort zone to ask for help can be a difficult thing to do, so based on my personal experience from both sides of this fence, here’s some tips on how to ask!

1) Do your homework 
I’ll be honest…nothing bugs me more than to be contacted by someone who has looked at my blog’s SEO score or glanced at my traffic meter (which is way off the mark anyway) but knows nothing about The Bookshelf Muse. Asking me to review business software, jewelry, iPad products or anything else that has nothing to do with my blog’s focus is NOT going to win me over. So, when you are looking for online exposure, research blogs to understand what they are about, what they typically post, and only add them to your list to contact if you see a strong fit. This means knowing YOUR audience before you get started. Also, if you are looking for a book review, make sure the people you wish to contact actually DO REVIEWS, and if so, that they REVIEW YOUR GENRE. If they have instructions for contacting them, follow those instructions.

2) Show respect 
First off, while it certainly is easier to send out a cut-and-paste email to 50 or so blogs or websites asking for help, what saves you time will cost you in exposure. Anyone with any measure of success online understands that relationships are paramount. If you did your homework in step 1, you have researched the person you are contacting. Personalize email by introducing yourself and demonstrating that you have visited the person’s blog, and understand & enjoy the content. Be authentic and friendly, and respectful of their time.  

3) Offer information, but don’t go overboard
Whatever exposure opportunity you’re asking for will require some specific information. Be clear and concise about what your offering, be it a book, product or service. Convey why your product is a good fit for the blog/blogger and their audience, showing you have knowledge of this person’s site. Provide a link if needed to the product online, or lacking that, links to how to reach you. DON’T send them your book or product proactively, or a bunch of press release attachments and book covers or promotional information. Would you send your manuscript along with a query letter to an agent who has not asked for both? No. So offer to forward these things if the blogger wants them and welcome the chance to answer any questions they may have.

4) Provide value, not promo
Your goal is to get a YES when it comes to asking for an exposure opportunity, so make it easy for them to do so. When you approach a blogger, know what you are asking for. If it is a review site, then ask for a review and in turn offer something of value. A free book to the reviewer will be expected, but consider also offering one in a giveaway. Giveaways usually increase traffic, so the expense will be worth it if you have chosen a site that exposes you to your ideal audience. If it is a product or service, or book exposure that is not a review, consider what this audience might find valuable. Can you guest post on a topic that fits well with this blog’s focus? Can you offer your expertise in a way that readers will find helpful (a Q & A about something you know a lot about, for example.) A freebie of some sort, or something else? Whatever you can offer, lay this out. Offer a few options (for example, list out a few ideas you have for a post), but be flexible and open to whatever ideas they have for you, too. Exposure is an opportunity to CONNECT with an audience and build a relationship with people interested in what you have to say, not a way to spam people with promo. Always add value in all that you do.

5) Be easy to work with
Bloggers are busy people. The bigger bloggers especially have a lot to juggle, because they are likely active across different social media platforms, plus have their own lives and work to attend to. Once you’ve secured a guest post or exposure opportunity, make sure you send them whatever is required in a timely manner. Also, don’t just “dash something off” (especially if you are a writer!) Write something you’re proud of and make sure it offers insight and value. Check carefully for typos and grammar. Bloggers appreciate it when you do a good job the first time so they don’t waste time sending it back to you for editing. Provide links that are easy to follow for the audience, and make sure there is a way for readers to find out more about your product. Include a small bio about yourself and where you can be found (twitter, facebook, website, etc.) so the blogger doesn’t have to spend time looking for these things themselves.

6) Show up, interact and share
The day your post goes live, stop in and interact with people in the comment section. This is your opportunity to make yourself memorable to people who took the time to read what you had to say. Thank your host for having you. Continue to add value by answering questions, both the day of the post and a few check-ins afterward (some people won’t see the post until the next day or so). Wherever you are online (even if you only use Facebook, or Twitter, etc.) make sure you share your post with people who might be interested in the content. When you ask someone for exposure, you thank them by trying to drive people to their blog however you are able to. Don’t spam, but do share the link with people who you feel might be interested.

7) Keep on asking
Maybe you might strike out a few times, but that’s okay…keep going! I know asking for things can be intimidating, but here’s the thing…most people are caring and helpful and want to build relationships. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t blog, or be on facebook or twitter. So try to set your nerves aside and be genuine. When you are, it comes through, and often leads to a Yes!
 

Other posts you might find helpful: 

Our Path To 10K In Sales: Strategy, Luck & Mistakes

Blogging: Know Your Audience 

Marketing for Introverts

Making Your Book Launch Stand Out

 

Any tips on contacting bloggers that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

This entry was posted in Book Review, Marketing, Platform, Promotion. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Need Online Exposure? Asking Bloggers For Help

  1. This was GREAT! And wonderful examples. I know I was guilty of this very thing when I first started on twitter. I “copied” the wrong people, but now how made some twitter friends and it’s much more fun. Once I stopped thinking about “how to get” and just starting giving, checking out other’s sites, commenting, sending thankful DMs, RTing, it got much more fun! Thank, I will share this with my writing group 🙂

  2. lisavoisin says:

    Hi,

    Please count me in! I’d love to participate! You’ve all helped me so much. I’d love the chance to help you out.

  3. So helpful! Asking other bloggers/authors for help is something I’ve always considered, but wasn’t sure how “kosher” it was. Thanks for the help, you ladies are always so awesome. Can’t wait for another webinar!…and of course the next thesaurus!

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  5. Lydia Kang says:

    I get spam emails constantly asking to use my blog for exposure to their product. They go in my spam folder and stay there because they are almost always generic emails and they clearly don’t know me or my blog.

  6. I bookmarked this blog post. XD I think this will be very helpful for me in the future. Especially if I end up asking you for help. Eh? EH?? 😉

  7. Thanks for the post. Asking for promotions is just like querying I guess.

  8. Hugh says:

    Hi Angela, thanks for this great advice. Do you suppose people don’t follow it because its the Internet? After all, IRL you wouldn’t just walk up to a total stranger and demand something of him or her, would you?

  9. I am so glad this info is helpful. 🙂 Thanks everyone for the great comments and suggestions!

  10. @Marcia, I really like that. Just add value. It keeps the focus on the other person instead of on what you can gain. Very insightful.

    @Stina, that’s the way to look at the positive 🙂

    @Angela B, this is why it aggravates me to no end to get these form letter requests. I know how much time it takes to personalize and make sure you’re a good match for whoever you’re contacting. When I don’t have time, I don’t send the request. It’s that simple. *grumble*

    @Donna, this tends to be my response, too. I think that Angela, like @Rosi, at least replies with a no thank you, which is probably the nicer response. But my thinking is that if they didn’t take the time to do their homework and are contacting me cold like that, then I shouldn’t have to take my time—which is surely as valuable as theirs— to respond.

    @Angela, it does feel good!

    And @Bonnie, I have the same response. I know I usually end up not reading those blanket emails. I have to think that when the guilty parties receive those kinds of messages from others, their response is the same. I bet they don’t read them, either. This is why I think it’s so important to examine our own responses to different promotional efforts. If their turn-offs for us, definitely don’t go and inflict them on others.

    Great post, Ange!

  11. bonniedoran says:

    Thanks for the post. I’ll keep the info in mind when I approach bloggers. I get annoyed when someone puts a blanket email on the ACFW loop.

  12. These are very consise and helpful points, Angela. It’s sad to see some authors (and not only authors) keep throwing a wide net without making an effort to actually build the relationships with the bloggers first. Most bloggers don’t get paid for what they do, they just provide their valuable service to the public for free. So remembering that is my first priority. I always offer my help, books, swag etc. to them, and I make sure to tweet, Facebook etc. about their own posts, especially when they are promoting someone else and not me 🙂 Paying forward is not only the right thing to do. It definitely feels great!

  13. Rosi says:

    Very useful post. I have learned to say no to those who clearly haven’t been reading my blog. This post is full of good tips. Thanks for this.

  14. These are great tips, Ange! Thank you!

  15. Good suggestions. I’ve been approached cold like that. If I’ve never had any contact before, I tend to delete them without responding.

  16. Angela Brown says:

    The tips you provide require “taking time,” something many folks would rather not do. And the personalization can help because it says that you’re taken the time to get to know before sending that cold call communication.

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  18. At least now that I’m not longer on the SEO charts because I had to start over, I won’t be getting anymore of those requests to be on my blog by people who have nothing to do with what I post about. Yay!

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  20. Marcia says:

    Wonderful tips. My favorite is “always add value.” If people remember just those three words, it would make such a difference.

  21. Julie, I am glad it was easy to join in last year. That was a big event to coordinate, and i am so appreciative of everyone who participated to give it wings. I would love to do it again!

    mrkohler1, I think the scary things that I see this happen with marketing departments and publicists, and know that someone has paid them money to get their book or product out there. It’s unfortunate, because often that means money down the drain. People need to be wary of companies that promise to get your content seen by large numbers of blogs and websites, because how they do it could potentially alienate buyers in the process.

    Thanks Matt! Hope you had a great summer!

    Natalie, yes a presence is good. For us it isn’t a must, as long as the quality of writing is there. If you can write a strong guest post, then we’ll consider you, that sort of thing. But the guest post has to be strong, and not something that’s been written about to death. We like unique content and strive hard to bring it here to our readers. 🙂

    PK, it could have been the same person–who knows? It was from a big organization, one I was surprised to get a form letter & attachments in that manner from. Their loss, because had they simply asked and personalized a request, i would have had the organization on my blog.

    Gwen, yes the tweeters. Every once in a while I watch the stream for everyone, and it is saturated with promo screaming. IMHO, a person stands out these days by not pointing to amazon and their book’s profile!

    Thanks Jeff! *waves*

    Jemi, us as well. Especially because we have a form page for guest post requests, and if a person is sending me a direct email, they haven’t even bothered to look at my site enough to see I have a form. I wish we didn’t have to do the form, but Becca and I got so many requests that didn’t even make sense for our blog’s audience, we had to go that route.

  22. Jemi Fraser says:

    Agreed! I’ve ignored multiple ‘requests’ that were more like demands or felt a little slimy 🙂

  23. JeffO says:

    Great tips, Angela!

  24. gwenstephens says:

    Wow – that’s just rude. The same can be said for the folks who Tweet nothing but spam several times an your. The louder they shout, the less I’ll listen.

  25. Pk Hrezo says:

    This is so ironic, because I got email yesterday from someone doing this exact thing. No one I’ve ever met or who has commented on my blog. She sent me all her attachments and requested I feature her. I think I’ll respond with a kind word and link back to this post. It may even be the same person who prompted you to write this.
    I might add, I concur with you %100.

  26. So agree, Angela. The giveaways really do help bring traffic.

    I get lots of requests too and one of the first things I do is look to see if the person has an online presence. If they haven’t done their homework like set up an author page on Goodreads or a website, I wonder what they’re offering. This is really an issue with some self-published authors that I sadly have to say no to.

  27. mrkohler1 says:

    Great post! I did PR and marketing pre-internet days. And I realize not everyone has training in PR, but you’d think common courtesy would dictate how to conduct business, even on the internet. However, it seems there needs to be more education on this subject or else people are self-defeating in their presumptuous requests.

  28. Julie Musil says:

    I saw your post on Facebook yesterday! Thanks for this great advice. I especially like the part about making it easy for the blogger. You guys made things so easy for us when ET came out. Other authors that I’ve had on my blog have done the same…included links, edited content, friendly chatting with followers who leave comments. All of that is so great!

  29. @Jenny, I agree. In fact we had so many people hit us up with a form letter, or splatter us with promo, or simply ask to blog but have no idea what to blog about, we created a form. It can be incredibly time consuming to work with some people who want to do a guest post, so it’s better to be respectful of their time and really think it thought right up front.

    @Bish, I agree. I have made some amazing connections with people because of guest posts! It is worth the effort and if you really show courtesy and authenticity, you never know where it will lead.

    Michael, I agree, but it means that those who are courteous stand out, right? All the more reason to be this way. 🙂

    Tracy, so glad this helps! Thanks for the shares, too. 🙂

    Beginingsinwriting, that is a great point. I often share proactively long before approaching a blogger, and I try my best to share posts that come before and after with people who will find those topics interesting, just to continue to add value to the site who hosted me. Definitely courtesy doesn’t have to start and end with the post!

    Melody, it’s definitely about relationships. as I said to Bish, I have met and become friends with some amazing people that started out as a post request–either theirs to my blog, or mine to theirs. 🙂

  30. Thanks for outlining this etiquette! I hope your blog becomes the handbook for such things. As a blogger, I love the oppprtunity to showcase people’s gifts and talents and even products, but ultimately it’s all about people, and it is a relationship, even if an email one.

  31. Another tip: Offer to assist them with stuff ,before you need their help. Some folks call it “paying it forward”. I call it “Helping those I like.” I also don’t worry about if they can help me out later on.
    To be honest, when I help promote the places, and things I like, I see it as a great chance that the creators will make more stuff I like. I’m kinda selfish that way. 🙂

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  34. Thank you so much for this! It is now bookmarked in my marketing folder and i’m about to spread links across the universe 🙂

  35. Courtesy is lost on most people these days. I blame parenting.

  36. Bish Denham says:

    Yes, it can be hard to ask, but no doubt about it, bloggers tend to be very helpful. Certainly I know this first hand.

  37. Right on, Angela! I hate when people do this. Whereas, if they just asked me, I’d find a way to give them some exposure.

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