Connecting with Influential Bloggers in Your Niche
Now that you know which influencers you want to work with, it’s time to connect with them and pitch your brand. Before you dive in gung-ho and start throwing out emails, read our advice on connecting with and reaching out to bloggers.
In this blog:
- 3 Simple Ways to Connect with Bloggers on Social Media
- What NOT To Do When Sending a Pitch Email to a Blogger
- Writing Blogger Outreach Emails that Make Bloggers <3
- What To Do If a Blogger Pitches to You
- How to Avoid #BloggerBlackmail Scandals (the Mutual Benefit Equation)
- Bonus Tips for Smashing Blogger Outreach!
There’s an art to pitching and negotiating with bloggers, and part of that art is knowing what makes them tick. Before you even think about sending out emails pitching bloggers a giveaway with your product, make sure that what you’re offering means they’re getting as much benefit from running the competition as you are. Otherwise, you may as well just forget it now. How high profile the blogger is should factor into what you’re offering.
If you’re confident that the blogger is going to be getting a pretty sweet deal through working with you, then it’s time to think about what you need to know to make this collaboration — whether it’s a sponsored post, product review, giveaway, or something else — set the house on fire.
1. Check if the Blogger Has Run Product Reviews or Hosted Giveaways Before
See what kind of brand collaborations this blogger has done in the past. If a blogger has previously hosted a giveaway or run sponsored content, then it’s more likely that they’ll do it again. Some blogs will have a section specifically for reviews or giveaways, and on others you might have to use the search bar. See what products they’ve featured and whether yours match up or better them. If you can’t find anything, that’s not a dealbreaker. Sometimes bloggers will still be responsive to the idea of working with businesses, but use your noggin — think about the blogger’s style and what opportunities they might be interested in.
2. Have They Written about a Competitor Before?
It’s always worth knowing what your competitors are up to — and you can bet that the savviest among them have some kind of blogger outreach going on: whether that’s sponsored content, sending out review products, or running giveaways. If you find a blogger has covered a competitor, then this is a good sign that they like products in this market and are willing to collaborate with brands. Even better, you can check how many post comments and social media shares were generated by the post to get an idea of the impact working with them could have for your brand.
3. Is their Content First Class?
The best results we’ve seen from competitions are thanks to bloggers who make a real effort with their blog content. A really good write up will get an audience excited, and that means they’re going to be clicking to win! You don’t want bloggers who are just going to throw any old thing up on their blog just for the free product. A blog post on “How to Create a Fantastically Colourful Kitchen (+ Coloured Mug Giveaway)” is much more captivating for readers than a blog post simply titled “Giveaway: Win Colourful Mugs”. The better that blog post, the more likely you are to get lots of readers entering and sharing — and that means more exposure for your business.
Note: While bloggers will often want to write their own blog content, some will be happy for you to provide the blog post to feature because it means less work for them, it all depends on the blogger.
4. Do You Actually Like ‘em?
This is probably the question that very few brands actually ask themselves! Do you actually like this blogger’s content and style? Probably you do if they’re still on your outreach list at this point. But once you’ve sent them an email, did you think their response was fair? Did they come across as likeable? You might go around badgering editors in order to get guest post content published, but when it comes to bloggers, you want to be working with responsive and efficient ones. If they’re a hassle or make unreasonable demands in the beginning, that won’t improve. In which case, cut yourself loose now. If they’re lovely, crack on.
3 Simple Ways to Connect with Bloggers on Social Media
When you’ve got a shortlist of bloggers who you want to get in touch with, head to their social media profiles and give them a follow or a like. Don’t leave it at that though. You also want to interact with them in some capacity so that they will notice your business’ profile and will have a look around your company website. Here are some ways that you might do that:
“Like” some of their updates: Pick updates that you actually do like — don’t just hit like on the first three posts you see. You want to look for updates and posts that resemble the kinds of interest your business and brand has.
Share or Retweet some of the posts: If there’s a post that you think would resonate well with your own social media followers, then a really great way to get a blogger on board is to share or Retweet some of their content. Be selective here. You don’t want to Retweet too many blogger’s posts all in one go. This will clog up your Twitter profile, turning off both bloggers and potential customers.
Leave a comment: Ideally, you’d send the blogger a Tweet or leave a Facebook comment on a recent post. Steer clear of writing anything promotional about your brand though — this isn’t an opportunity for you to advertise! Avoid any generic comments like “nice post” or “interesting topic” as well. Instead, try to add something valuable to the discussion. It’s good to show your human side.
Don’t be tempted to discuss opportunities for collaborating together over social media or on a public platform. If you Tweet that up in front of everyone and the blogger turns you down, it’s not going to look great to your followers. Not to mention that sending 140 character messages is not the best way to convey any ideas about what working relationship you had in mind. You only want to use social media to put your business on the blogger’s radar.
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What NOT To Do When Sending a Pitch Email to a Blogger
When it comes round to emailing a blogger, you’re going to need to invest a little bit of time in getting this right. There are lots of companies and digital PR folks (they’re not ninjas) who are sending out lousy outreach emails. Lousy outreach emails will be an absolute flop, and so there’s absolutely no point sending them out whatsoever. There’s even less point paying someone to send them out for you.
While you may take more formal approach to corresponding with editors, bloggers tend to be more personable in their approach to collaborating with businesses. Sending out well-written and personalised emails to bloggers will garner positive, or at least polite, replies. Sending out press releases or blanket emails, on the other hand, will elicit negative responses or no reply at all. Before even thinking about sending an email to a blogger though, you should be sure you want to work with them. Get to know their blog style and the kind of content they write and connect with them on social media.
Let’s take a look at some examples of blogger outreach emails and see what they did right — and more importantly, what some of them did wrong.
Blogger outreach email #1: unknown travel brand
I am writing to you today about an opportunity to work with my brand. We’d be really pleased to let you work with us on our exciting opportunity relating to travel. We’re sure that you and your readers will love our services! You can email me back and let me know if you are interested.
What They Did Wrong
- They have not said anything to show that they understand who the blogger is and what their blog is about.
- The blogger has no idea who they are. Not giving the name of the brand is suspicious stuff — is the brand awful? They don’t trust the blogger enough to say who they are? Are they a secret underground organisation? It’s also annoying as it requires an extra back-and-forth to establish key info.
- We have no idea what they’re actually offering.
- They’re very presumptuous — it’s not likely the blogger will love their brand or that they’ll speak soon with that kind of outreach email.
Blogger outreach email #2: branded shoe shop
My name is _____ and I recently began working with a shoe shop, called [brand name], that is attempting to increase their online presence.
I came across your site (_____.com) and think it would be a great fit for my client. They are looking for you to put a sponsored post on your website including a link back to their website.
Please let me know if you have any information on your sponsored post rates.
What They Did Right
- They said the name of company — good, now we know who we’re talking about and the blogger can look them up.
- It’s brief and to the point.
- They are upfront about being prepared to pay the going rate.
What They Did Wrong
- Not personalised at all.
- Putting in the _____.com URL of the blogger’s website instead of the name of the blog indicates that this is probably a generic email template.
- Asking for a “little link back” sounds a little bit weird, maybe some people can pull that off though.
Blogger outreach email #3: voucher for unknown business
I’m here to tell you about an amazing opportunity for bloggers like you — yes, you! — to get involved with our giveaway to win an amazing [product]!
Kick off the new year with £500 worth of [brand product]! Wow! Interested? To enter, post the attached image to your blog and make sure to link back to [brand website]!
Then ask your readers to follow the steps to enter. For each blog post you share, you will get additional two entries into the contest. If you post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and reference [social media account] you get another entry! If your readers share your blog post, you get even more entries! The blogger with the most entries wins!
What They Did Right
- Used the blogger’s name — woohoo!
What They Did Wrong
- Why are they using so many exclamations marks!!!!!!!?
- It starts off very patronising as though they’re doing the blogger a massive favour with this…
- What are they actually talking about? Looks like they’re asking the blogger to give the company free promotion on their blog and then get readers to share it with only a very slim chance of winning.
- The blogger isn’t guaranteed to get anything out of this competition, so there’s not much benefit to them to put in the work.
Blogger outreach email #4: unknown travel brand
I just want to say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog, its so, so amazing! I would love to work together in some way. What do you think? Do you have any ideas about how we can collaborate?
Looking forward to speaking with you,
- I followed you on Twitter too.
What They Did Right
- They used the blogger’s name.
- They asked the blogger’s opinion.
What They Did Wrong
- Their complements were so OTT that they seemed kinda fake.
- There’s no information here whatsoever.
- It’s good practice for the company to let the blogger know quite specifically about what opportunities are on the table and discuss from there. Open ended emails are hard to interpret.
You might think that these examples seem a bit extreme, but trust me here; they’re not. There are plenty of people sending out pointless blanket emails like these to bloggers. A blogger will automatically delete an email if you do any of the following:
- Don’t use their name — Dear Blogger or Dear Sir/Madam is not going to cut it here.
- Don’t include an email subject — who is this spammer anyway?!
- Don’t “reveal” your company name in the email — shifty, their company must be awful.
Successful blogger outreach is not about sending out emails to as many bloggers as you can, as fast as you can. There’s software that does that, and guess what? It doesn’t achieve anything.
Writing Blogger Outreach Emails that Make Bloggers
Now that you know what not to do, let’s look at what you should do when sending a pitch email to a blogger. You should have hand-selected the bloggers who you want to approach and you should therefore tailor your pitch emails accordingly too. When you’re emailing them, you should of course know their name, but you should have also read some of their recent blog posts.
A personable but professional approach is the way to go when you’re emailing. Here’s a foolproof structure for a concise, friendly and informative outreach email:
Introduce your company:
One or two sentences should be enough to introduce your company and what they sell.
I’m writing to you on behalf of [company name], a unique yoga-wear brand. All of our yoga pants and clothing range are made from sustainable bamboo and the patterns are inspired by elements of the natural world.
Say something nice but don’t go OTT. If relevant, discuss a recent blog post or social media update that you liked on a personal level.
We’re really fond of [blog name] and we thought your recent post on the hot yoga trend was really awesome. I’m into hot yoga myself and am just getting to grips with some of the postures you mentioned.
What are you going to give the blogger and what do you want in return? Make them an offer that is relevant to them, their blogging style, and their audience.
If you like our designs, [Company name] would love to send you a complimentary pair of yoga pants for you to feature on your blog. Would you be interested? Please have a look at our product range and let me know what you think!
Keep it short and sweet.
Really looking forward to hearing back from you!
Let’s see that structure in action from a couple of different businesses:
Blogger outreach email #1: clothing brand
How are you? I’m currently working with Retro Fox Clothing and wanted to see if you would be interested in collaborating with us.
I’ve been checking out some of your autumn fashion blog posts on [Blog Name] and can see that you have some very stylish lookbooks which I think our clothing products could work really well in.
We would be happy to send out any of the following products for you to feature as part of a blog post and maybe a couple of social media posts:
- Winter boots
We’d like to ask for you to include at least 3 photos and link to [brand website] in the post. If this sounds like something you would like to go forward with, just let me know which clothing items you like most and the sizes you require!
Blogger outreach email #2: travel company
Pleasure to e-meet you! I’m Jay and I’m working with Super Adventure Travel Tours, an adventure travel tour company who are based in Europe.
I can see from your awesome photos on social media (I loved that one of your dirt biking in Sierra Nevada!) that adventure travel is something you’re passionate about.
We’re asking our favourite travel bloggers to share blog posts on their top 10 travel destinations in Europe and what to do there. In exchange for mentioning us in the blog post, we’d be happy to provide a sponsored content fee or a discount to your readers.
Is this something you’d be interested in? If you could let me know by Friday so we can iron out some details, that’d be great.
Blogger outreach email #3: coffee seller
Ed here from Tiny Batch Coffee Co — we’re a new, fair trade coffee seller on the market, buying green beans straight from the source and roasting them on-site in our own specialist roaster here in the UK.
I’ve been following your foodie adventures on [Blog Name] for a while now and l can see that you appreciate a good brew as much as I do. Perhaps you would be interested in trying out some of our coffee?
We’d love to send out a couple of bags of our coffee to you and get your opinion. If you like it, then it would be great to organise a giveaway on your blog so that your readers have the opportunity to win some as well. What do you think?
I’ve followed you on Twitter as well — and you can check out some of the stuff Tiny Batch Coffee Co get involved with.
What’s great about these emails is that the companies who are writing them are friendly from the onset and give all the necessary information up front. Putting your offer on the table and being clear about what you would like in return not only shows the blogger that you’re honest and easy to work with, but it also gives the blogger time to weigh up their thoughts.
What To Do If a Blogger Pitches to You
It’s not unusual for bloggers to reach out to brands that they really like to see if there are any opportunities to collaborate. It’s rare for bloggers to send their own pitches unless they really do personally like you’re brand, so if you do receive one you should take it as a compliment!
However, it’s still important to weigh up whether working with this blogger would be of benefit to your brand. Maybe they absolutely love your products and would like some free samples of your new product range for review, but perhaps their blog doesn’t reflect quite how you want to position your brand? In this instance, the best thing to do is send an appreciative reply but politely decline their offer.
In some instances, you may like the blogger but feel their demands are too high to justify. It’s absolutely okay to negotiate in a friendly and polite way with the blogger. Make them a counter offer and let them know what’s feasible for your business. If the blogger sends an unfriendly reply, then they weren’t worth working with anyway! More often than not though, the blogger will likely be happy to accept a lower offer.
The one thing you shouldn’t do though is to try and get this blogger to promote your brand for free! This would be seen as cheeky, if not rude, by any blogger. Remember that any blogger contacting you is likely already a customer (or at least a potential customer!) so you should treat them with the same level of customer service as anyone else.
How to Avoid #BloggerBlackmail Scandals (the Mutual Benefit Equation)
When approaching influencers, you want to ensure that both you and the influencer are benefitting. You want to promote your products to a relevant audience who are going to see them and go “Oh, wow! I want that!” However, remember that influencers have spent endless hours building their audience and reaching like-minded people. They can be very protective of that fact. It takes time and effort to create a blog and build an audience, so bloggers won’t want to take on any work that they don’t feel they are really benefitting from.
If you were browsing on Twitter back in August 2015, you might’ve seen a trending hashtag #bloggerblackmail that went viral after a blogger and a business had a communication breakdown. The commotion started after a foodie blogger approached a London bakery for some free macaron samples in exchange for a review. Unfortunately, the blogger hoped to get quite a few more macarons for review than the bakery wanted to give away and the situation exploded.
In response, the blogger made the very unprofessional decision to post some negative Tweets, Instagram updates, and a blog post about the situation with said bakery, which caused a huge backlash from others within the blogging community who said that this was “bad practice” (which it is) and felt that it reflected badly on the blogging industry as a whole.
Clearly expectations and reality didn’t match up for the blogger or the bakery on this one. While the business clearly wouldn’t be able to (and shouldn’t) front the cost of the high demands for macarons from the blogger, the situation was definitely a result of a massive miscommunication between the blogger and the business. They both had different ideas about what would be a fair return for them and needed to set out clear expectations before any agreements were made.
Getting embroiled in a sticky situation like this doesn’t benefit anyone involved — no business wants a bad review and no blogger wants to write one. It happens rarely, but the situation above goes to show that sometimes it does. Mess like this can be easily avoided by being selective about which bloggers you chose to partner up with and by agreeing on a mutually beneficial working relationship with a blogger beforehand. You can always negotiate in a friendly and informal way until you find a deal that works well for both of you.
What to Expect and How to Approach a Blogger
Here are four questions to ask yourself when reaching out to a blogger:
- Is this blogger relevant to my brand?
You should be selective about which bloggers you choose to work with. Don’t be tempted to send out a huge amount of stock to bloggers left, right, and centre. Instead, look for bloggers in a similar niche to your business who share similar ideas and values. How can you tell what their ideas and values are? Have a quick read of their blog! The most effective blogger outreach work happens when everyone is working towards the same goal.
- Are my expectations reasonable?
Businesses need to appreciate that bloggers put a lot of time and effort into building their blog and social media. Bloggers need to feel that the businesses are giving them enough for providing a review to be worthwhile and should never be asked to compromise their integrity by providing a “positive review.”
- Are the blogger’s expectations reasonable?
Equally, bloggers need to be aware that businesses work hard to produce awesome products and services too. Businesses are the ones who have to front the cost to provide complimentary products and services, so it needs to be a fair exchange for you as well. If you feel that a blogger is being too demanding, politely withdraw your offer and move on.
- Am I approaching this the right way?
Collaborating with bloggers can generate amazing exposure for your business, but always make sure that you’re doing it the right way. Organising successful collaborations means putting in a bit of time to find bloggers who you genuinely would love to work with and corresponding with them to find an arrangement that benefits you both.
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Bonus Tips for Smashing Blogger Outreach!
- Get it in writing! We always recommend reaching out to bloggers by email and keeping a copy of the agreement which you came to during your conversations. Sometimes this might take a little back-and-forth, but it’s worth it to avoid any undesirable situations and as a reference point for both you and the blogger.
- Offer a little bit more. Getting coverage from bloggers is becoming increasingly competitive, especially in the beauty and fashion niche. The complimentary product or service is great and in some cases that will be enough, but if you can offer a little something extra to sweeten the deal then you’re more likely to reach an agreement with the bloggers you’d really like to work with. Offering a preview of a product before release, offering a discount code that readers can use on your website, offering affiliate links for the blogger to use in their blog post, or sponsoring a giveaway are all awesome ways to increase your chances of getting fantastic coverage from bloggers.
- Cultivate your relationships. Don’t approach a blogger like you’re entering into a formal business agreement where once it’s through that’ll be the end of it. When you approach them, be friendly and conversational. Even better, comment on their blog posts or join in discussions on their social media before reaching out to them. Don’t be tempted to write spammy comments advertising your business or generic comments like “great post” either. Engage with what they’re saying, ask questions, and leave insightful comments.
The result of well-implemented product reviews or features where a business has partnered up with a very relevant and likeminded blogger, whose audience are genuinely engaged with the blogger’s content, can be amazing. For just a free product, a one-off taster session, or something similar, you can gain some big returns at a low cost.
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