Today I had not one, but three, three emails from friends and relatives who were all asking the same questions.
Which bloggers should I approach?
How should I approach them?
My answer to them in short form is, “You shouldn’t.” Bloggers are wonderful, small business owners are fabulous, but if you’re in the business of making sweet potato fries, my suggestion to you is that you make the best sweet potato fries you know how to make, and talk about it on your own site. In the first person. The folks at Label Daddy have done a great job of this, and you could certainly use them as an example of “how to”.
I almost always respond to these emails with, “I would caution you from reaching out directly to bloggers, but I would recommend ___, ____ or ____ to help you reach your goals. I like to recommend three different people (or agencies), in part because if things go south I’ve recommended a FEW, not just one. I also like to recommend three because I’ve worked so many amazing teams that I really do think my friends and family can benefit from more than just one of them.
If you absolutely insist on DIY blogger outreach do NOT blame me when it explodes in your lap.
Who to contact: Bloggers who want to be contacted probably have an “about me” page. If you hear a blogger’s name crop up over and over again in multiple circles you might want to think about contacting them, however, nothing is guaranteed. Once you have identified a blogger that is of interest to you, it’s time to make sure they are relevant to the discussion you want to have. Quantcast, Alexa and Compete will give you some data about bloggers. Recently I heard that larger firms are using comscore only, very few bloggers are currently found on comscore.
When you plugin the bloggers URL to any of these services you may or may not get results. If a blogger is hosted on a wordpress.com or blogspot.com site, it is virtually impossible more difficult to get data regarding their readership. You may have to ask the blogger to self report, or you can ask them to give you access to their stats.
For a blogger like myself, who is self hosted, it’s relatively simple to get demographics and data. If you go to Quantcast you’ll see that my audience likes politics, science, parenting, fashion, home & gardening, auto news & info, science and technology, babies and books quite a bit more than your typical internet user.
For example my readers are 1.7 times more likely than the typical internet user to visit categories and sites that relate to science, nature, parenting, fashion and cosmetics. If you were looking to buy advertising here I’m pretty sure a line of organic skincare would be a good match, right?
Further, check out my demographics. Y’all are old, educated and rich. Blogger outreach should take the audience into consideration, not just the writer. I’m writing to men and to women, I’m also writing to people who have been college and to grad school. There’s no need to dumb down a message here.
Similar information can be found at Alexa and Compete. Most of it is somewhat reliable, but I must stress the somewhat. Quantcast counts approximately a third of my traffic, as does Compete, Alexa has been more reliable at times, but everything seems to be an approximation.
With the amorphous nature of web reporting how would a sweet potato fry maker know who to target? Without being a part of this wacky little word, it’s very complicated for a small business to dive in.
I always suggest using twitter as a place to listen. If you are listening to what people are saying about you, and about your industry, you just might be able to have a conversation with them that is meaningful.
Understand that bloggers are not marketers. Few bloggers will have passion for your sweet potato fries, and of the three that do, only one will have reach that is relevant to your market.
Do you have a plan to deal with a blogger who does not like your product? Do you have a plan for the blogger who sees your pitch as spam? What is it that you expect to get from your relationship with a blogger? If you think that blog posts can directly translate into sales, forget it.
My question for you, small business owner, is: do you want to spend your days trying to find the blogger who cares about sweet potato fries, or do you want to spend some time making great fries?
I’ll continue my practice of connecting great people.