Not every blogger wants to work with brands, and that’s okay. But for those who do, I thought I would write a post about some of the things I’ve learned doing blogger outreach.
What is blogger outreach?
(I knew you’d ask.)
Blogger outreach is part of marketing to bloggers — it is reaching out to bloggers in an effort to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Generally speaking, it means a brand or PR firm is trying to find bloggers to feature or represent their products and services.
Blogger outreach is one facet of a brand’s social media marketing plan. Other elements include managing social media channels (such as Twitter and Facebook) and content creation for brand blogs and websites.
Blogger outreach can take many forms, but in my case, I am usually trying to find bloggers who want to review a product or participate in a brand-sponsored campaign. Currently I have one client of my own, Rose Romano’s Italian Gourmet Toppings, and I also work with Element Associates doing blogger outreach for some of their clients.
Over the past year or so, as I’ve worked with various brands to find relevant bloggers to review their products and share their messaging, I have looked at many, many, many blogs. Oh so many blogs!
And I’ve learned a lot — about what brands are looking for, what turns them off, and how difficult it is to find on those blogs the information that I need to report to my client and also to reach out to the blogger.
For instance, you would not BELIEVE how many bloggers do not have an obvious way to contact them. If you are a blogger and want people to be able to contact you — brands or readers or whoever — why, oh why, do you not have an email address in a prominent location!?? I do not understand.
In an effort to keep things brief, and we all know that brevity is not my strong suit, I decided to make a list of things for you to consider of you want to work with brands. I will expound on each one (naturally, expounding is what I do best, ha!) but you can scan down through this list and then take inventory of your own blog and see where you might be able to make some basic improvements to make your blog more attractive to brands who might want to work with you.
9 Things I Learned Doing Blogger Outreach
1. Design Matters
The very FIRST thing I see when I look at a blog is the overall design. It takes me about three seconds to decide if I want to click away or stay and poke around. If your header is blurry, or if it doesn’t fit the page correctly, or it is just plan ugly (sorry! some blogs ARE ugly!) I will almost always click away. A brand wants their products and services promoted on blogs that are attractive and professional, so keep this in mind when designing your blog.
Not everyone needs or can afford a professional blog designer (although I HIGHLY recommend one if you can swing it) but at least make sure that your header is not blurry or pixelated, and make sure it fits neatly into the space. It shouldn’t be too tall either, you want people to be able to see your content without scrolling.
Also, generic templates are generally a turn off. If your blog looks like 10 other blogs out there, it is not going to stand out to marketers. I have a tutorial on How To Design A Blog Header, for those who like to DIY.
Consider the overall color scheme of the blog. Is it pleasing to the eye, or does it make you want to run far, far away?
Is the sidebar cluttered or neat and organized?
Are there blinking buttons that make your head hurt?
Is there light type on black background (serious migraine trigger, folks! Do. Not. Do. It!)
Stand back and take a look at your blog like you’re looking at it for the first time. What does it say about you? That is what others think when they see it too.
2. Your Blog Name Matters
Sometimes I have a verrrrry long list of blogs to look through. If I just got back from a conference, and I have 500 business cards to sort through for a specific campaign, I will start by picking out the ones that the names sound most interesting and original. Not everyone can or wants to change their blog name once they’ve started, but if you’re in the position to rebrand or if you are just starting out, give serious consideration to your name.
(Note: This is a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do scenario I do not particularly love the name of my own blog; I seriously considered changing it recently because the words Musings and Housewife are both WAY overused, but I decided to keep it because it’s been my brand for so long and people know me for it now.)
3. Content is King
Even though design is the first thing I see, if I hang around long enough to read a post or three, I am not going to stick around for long if there are glaring typos, if you have copied and pasted press releases or company information off the website, or if it is poorly written.
Hint #1: Proof read, proof read, proof read.
Hint #2: Take time to develop your voice. Not everyone is a writer, but bloggers don’t have to be writers. Try to blog like you talk. Read your posts back to yourself out loud. Does it sound like something you would say? If you’re talking about a product, take the time to spin a story and share how it has made a difference to you and your family or how you used it. Make it personal.
Anything you can do to set yourself apart from the next person is going to get you farther in this space and get you more opportunities with brands.
4. Easy to Find Contact Information is Essential
People, if I like what I see and I can’t find a way to contact you, I will get very grumpy. Make your contact information highly visible. Put it in your header or navigational bar or at the very tippy-tip-top of your sidebar. Use an obvious word like EMAIL or CONTACT. Don’t be cutesy here. I am scanning the page, looking for a very obvious word that essentially says to me, “I want to hear from you!”
And PULLEEZE do not use contact forms. (This was actually news to me just a few years ago, and I took mine down after a couple of marketing friends told me that it is a huge deterrent to contacting bloggers because it is so much more time consuming than just zapping out an email. Now that I do blogger outreach, I so totally get it !!) If you do choose to use a contact form, also provide your email address so there is an option.
5. Social Media Icons Should Be Easily Accessible
Don’t make people hunt for your Twitter and Facebook buttons. Place them in a highly visible spot, ideally all together. You can download free social media icon sets in all sorts of fun designs. Place them in your header or at the top of your sidebar — that is where people typically look for them. (Google is your friend.) If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, you can see mine on my sidebar under “Subscribe and Follow”.
Most marketers want to know where to find you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. They want to see what your follower counts are and what kind of interaction and engagement you have on those platforms. Some blogger campaigns utilize those networks, or if not, it still gives an overall idea to your influence and reach.
Or if they are already working with you, sometimes brands want to promote your posts on their social media channels, and they want to link to you. I always link to the blog posts featuring Rose Romano’s products, and I like to include a link to the blogger. Sometimes it take me five minutes to find a Twitter handle.
6. You Need A Detailed About Page
I wrote a post, How to Write An About Page, and this pretty much says it all. PLEASE include your kids’ ages (estimates are fine) and what you write about and what you don’t. This helps immensely when pitching products for certain age groups.
And by all means, include a photo of yourself! Don’t be shy. People want to see who is talking to them. Ideally your photo should be on your home page, but at the very least, have one on your About page. I do both. I have my family on my About page so people (readers and marketers alike) can see who we are.
7. Know Your Stats
Your traffic numbers don’t necessarily make or break your opportunity to work with a brand, but they are important to know. Ideally, you’ll have a media kit you can send brands when they reach out to you that has your current stats, tells how you like to work with brands, and shows some examples of your best work. (You can see mine thru the link at the top of my blog)
At the very least, know your average monthly unique visitors and your average page views. The most universally accepted method for tracking those stats is with Google Analytics. If you’re not using it, start now!!
8. Accentuate the Positive
Along those lines, if you aren’t proud of your blog’s traffic stats, then focus on your assets. Perhaps you have a loyal following and your posts get lots of comments, perhaps you have a highly engaging Facebook page, perhaps you have a ton of Twitter followers or you’ve won awards for your writing or organized large events for local companies . . . where ever your strengths lie, focus on those. This information can be on your About page as well as in your Media Kit.
9. Be Professional and Dependable
Even if you’re at home working in your pajamas, be professional in all of your interactions with brands. Not all pitches are a good fit for you, but you can always respond professionally, or just delete if you truly aren’t interested in pursuing the conversation. Be up-front about your policies. If you agree to review a product or write a post within a certain time frame, keep your end of the bargain. Or at least give the brand a heads-up if things change.
If you want to be a professional blogger, treat blogging like a job at all times. Marketers are going to go back to those bloggers who they find dependable and easy to work with. That’s just a fact. Do you ever wonder why the same bloggers get all the gigs? They are the ones that brands have found they can trust to do a good job; and they are pleasant, professional and fun to work with. It’s that simple, really!
Of course, we are always looking for “new blood” so there is a space for you. Just make sure to be someone we want to work with!
I’d love to hear from you and see what you think. Did I miss anything? Does anything here surprise you? I’m ALWAYS happy to answer any questions you have. Blogging can be a really fun and rewarding part-time (or full-time) job if you want it to be. In fact, I highly recommend it!
If you want to learn more about making your blog the best it can be and improving your content, I highly recommend Melissa’s DIY Blog Critique eBook as well as her Content Brew classes if you want something more in depth. Check them out at MomComm!
30 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned Doing Blogger Outreach”
I found this all really helpful – thank you!X
Excellent post. I keep a VERY short list of articles bookmarked for sharing with others and this one just made the list. -S
I would love to work with more brands doing their outreach and social media. What are your recs for finding those brands that would be willing to take a chance on a blogger as their “voice”?
Melinda, that is great, I didn’t even think about THAT spin on this article. 🙂 When I first heard the term blogger outreach, it was at a blogging conference, and I realized that I would enjoy that type of work. I started telling everyone I knew and networks that I worked for that I was interested in that type of thing, and almost immediately I started working with Debbie. Then this Rose Romano’s job came about by way of a very strange and meant-to-be string of events, lol!! A lot of the PSMM ladies have clients they do facebook/twitter for and some blogger outreach, I think a lot of brands need that now that social media is becoming so mainstream, so the best thing to do is just share with everyone that you are interested, and things will start coming your way.
Great tips! Thanks for just putting it out there. PS – I’ve taken Content Brew class and it was wonderful.
Oh you’re preaching to the choir about blog name (mom-blog)! Now that I’ve bumped down to #2 in Google, it’s a harder sell. That said, I’m at the point where I want a little more work for people to contact me. I do have the proper pages and would appreciate if people contact me when they know I’m interested in particular food items only, mostly organic, no insurance co’s, etc. I’d rather have LESS contact, especially since the best projects I get through conferences, tip off’s and my blogger groups/associations.
I used to think that way too but I was convinced to make my contact info readily available b/c I don’t want to miss out on a paid opp b/c I am making things difficult. The way I figure it, I’m gonna get a bunch of junk no matter what. But at least this way I don’t miss out on something awesome. 🙂 I do try to keep my [email protected]… email out there and not my personal gmail – it all filters to the same account but the stuff from my blog is labeled and I can filter it out if I ever want to.
I’m curious about blog names. What do you consider a “great” name?
I love the ones that are a play on words or make you wonder what they’re about. I’m still bummed that A Cuppa Jo is taken — I would love to use that name for my blog!
I’ve been looking for ways to improve my blog and this list is the perfect starting point. Blogging for the past year has given me a good base of content and helped me define my writing style. I’m eager to work with brands and I’m positive that your tips will get me on the right track to do just that. Thanks for your insight!
Great tips Jo-Lynne. I know sometimes I struggle with whether I LIKE my voice! But it’s mine, no way around it. (But I do try to cut the run on sentences!) Some things have to go! Am working on consolidating my blogs but it’s going to take awhile.
Wow- you are brutal! But helpful! Thank you for your honest comments. I left your article twice to make changes on my blog – and I will do more! I appreciate what you’ve said. I have been working hard but have a long way to go. You have provided a lot of inspiration and encouragement. Thank you:)
Ha! I don’t mean to be brutal. But after looking thru hundreds of blogs with my eyes bleeding… LOL!!
I took a look at your blog, and it is really quite gorgeous! It made me want to scroll down and read and see what you have to say. You’re doing a great job. 🙂
This is a great list! I’ve recently been struggling with whether or not to change my blog name. It is unique and means something to me personally, but I find that when I say it out loud to others it feels a bit clumsy or difficult to explain. But, I’m afraid it’s too late in the game and a lot of trouble to change it now. Another thing that is difficult for me is stats – I’m still not totally comfortable with how to interpret them. I sometimes wish I could find a blog mentor to sort of coach me through a lot of the technical stuff related to blogging. Thanks for sharing this post!
This was very helpful as I get ready to move to WordPress and do a blog redesign. Off to check out Melissa’s ebook and Content Brew class.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m just getting started blogging and these tips are all very much appreciated! I look up to your blog as one I would like to be like when I “grow up” in the blog world, so I trust that you know what you’re talking about. 😉
This is a very helpful post. I do not work with brands, but it is still good information. I’ll use what I can now and file away the rest of the good info.
Thanks Jo-Lynne! Great post that makes you re-evaluate! It is super helpful and full of great tips.
Very helpful post 🙂 I’ve just begun to open myself up to the possibility of reviews and sponsorship (I’ve been getting a ton of junk mail lately for review requests, but some of it has actually been for interesting stuff so I’m starting to consider it) and have been making changes to my blog with that in mind. Your post has tipped me over and convinced me that it really is time to make my contact info readily available and that I really do need to work on my header!
Yours is one of the blog names that I Love. So clever. 🙂
Thanks so much! That means alot to me 🙂 It’s hard to come up with an original title for a gluten free blog these days, with so many wonderful gf bloggers out there already!
Great post. I’ve been thinking about what direction to take my blog and this list gives me plenty of food for thought.
Awesome post and incredibly helpful! I would caution to not judge a blog by its appearance. Maybe I shouldn’t say blog. I know of countless resource sites and e-newsletters that bring home the dollars, have a tremendous following and look like an infant made them. It not only baffles me, but drives me insane because I’m all about crisp, white and de-cluttered. A brand, businesses or product would be silly to pass up these folks because their reach is tremendous.
Yeah, if their reputation precedes them, then they definitely get considered. But sometimes you just take one look at a blog and you just KNOW it isn’t going to be a good fit, ya know?
Love all of your points and they are spot on!
Thank you so much for the tips and ideas! I know I have several things I need updated on my blog, just trying to save the money to get them done, as I dont have the patience for DIY!
I am slowly making my way through all of your blogging tutorials and they are all SO helpful, well-written and…well, helpful! I can see why you’re a professional 🙂 Thanks so much for the great tips!
I love this post…I’ve actually read this twice. It was helpful when I first started blogging (less than a week after you first posted this!) and it is even more meaningful to me now. I’m at that point now where I feel comfortable and confident enough to begin working with brands. Thanks so much for this great info!
That is awesome to hear. Best of luck to you!!