Networking Guide for Bloggers: Simple Roadmap to Networking (Part 7)

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All right, since it is the final part of the “Networking Guide for Bloggers” series there’s no time to beat around the bush here – straight down to business.

networking for bloggers

So far in the series we’ve talked about many different things: methods of communication, main channels of contact, crafting a subject line, selecting an email address, writing an email message, and many more. Now it’s finally time to discuss a roadmap of online communication and networking for bloggers.

Here are the steps that many online relationships have in common.

Quick note:
This post is a part of a series titled – Networking Guide for Bloggers. Here’s the complete list of the entire series.

Step 0. Linking to someone

Step zero. The most basic groundwork to do. This is something that’s not really mandatory, but it always helps. Linking to someone (placing a link on your blog pointing to their blog) is the first acknowledgement of their work you can give.

Contrary to common belief, bloggers really do notice who’s linking to them, especially if it’s being done constantly. This is the first thing you can do to get on someone’s radar.

How to link to someone

Bear with me, this isn’t as obvious as it seems.

Basically, you can link to other people’s blogs from every one of your posts. There is no upper limit on how many links you can place in a blog post, so just use common sense. And you shouldn’t be linking away from your site every other sentence because you still want to keep your readers on your site, right?

As for the linking itself, every blog focuses on a specific range of topics. If we take Hongkiat.com as an example it’s all about online tips for designers and bloggers. So once I have a new post ready for publication, I would select one word or phrase from that post, go to my Google Reader and search for that phrase on Hongkiat.com. The most relevant result I find gets included as a link in my post. It’s as simple as that.

This is great practice for at least two reasons. First of all, you’re linking out to your “target.” Secondly, you’re giving your readers a relevant resource they can read to get even more information about the topic you’re describing in your post.

Step 1. Comments and forums

Commenting on other people’s blogs is probably the best way of getting on their radar.

First of all, you can be sure that blog owners read your comments because most of the time these comments require their approval to be posted. Secondly, many bloggers respond to every comment they get, so you get confirmation that they know of your existence.

commenting
(Image source: Shutterstock)

That being said, don’t write comments just for the sake of it. If you don’t have anything to comment, don’t. People can really see through sentence fillers or empty fluff. If your comment is too obvious or not bringing anything into discussion, trust me, they will notice.

Some blogs, usually the more popular ones, have in-house forums for their readers to discuss various matters and get in touch with each other. This is another great opportunity to latch on. However, posting on forums is a little more time-consuming than mere commenting.

There had been situations where the most active of forum members have been invited to write a guest post for the blog. But that’s not to say that you have to become the most active member. You just need to make your presence felt.

Of course, if you are not willing to go through all of that, there are other ways.

Step 2. Offering a guest post

This may be a bit trickier. To be frank, offering a guest post can be difficult if you’re not on the radar. People are simply hesitant to respond to someone’s offer if this is the first time they have heard from your. That’s why being on the radar can make this step a lot easier.

Alright, back to offering a guest post. I’ve been researching this a lot lately. And even though I have my own strategy that has been working exceptionally well, different people share different advice on this. I will introduce the different approaches here, and leave the final choice to you.

Elements of a guest post pitch

1. All elements of an universal email.

(I send you over to the previous post. In essence: saying hi, introduction, why you’re contacting, a signature.)

2. Something about yourself.

This is the first controversial element among bloggers.

There are people who are not interested in your story at all. What matters to them is that your name sounds familiar and that you’re proposing a nice post. On the other hand, there are others who like to learn something more about the person who is offering to do the guest post.

For me, the safest approach is to use 1–2 sentences and say something about yourself. Just some basic information like:

My name is Karol, I’ve been writing about {the topic of the blog} myself, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in a guest post.

Then you can share 3–4 links to your previous work. You shouldn’t expect that someone will actually read all of them, but this is great for the evil practice of name dropping. If you have sites like hongkiat.com, sixrevisions.com, problogger.net on your list then it can really help in getting some additional attention.

By mentioning the topic of the blog briefly, you’re acknowledging that you are familiar with the blog, and that you’re not just simply blasting the same email to 50 different blogs at the same time. Those few words can be really effective in giving personal touch to your message.

3. Pitch the post.

This part varies a LOT among bloggers. Some bloggers like to receive finished posts along with the initial pitch. Some like to get only the basic ideas, so they can decide whether they’re interested or not early on. Sending the post along with the initial message sounds like a good idea, but it creates yet another danger – you might get caught up in the spam filter (just because it’s your first email and it contains an attachment).

Here’s what I usually do if I’m contacting someone new. I write them saying that I’ve written a post titled {something}, and that it’s X words long. Then I give a short summary of the post, not the attachment itself, yet. One very important thing you must do here is to make the post sound interesting. This is the moment where you want someone to be interested enough to send back an email saying “Sounds great, send it over for a review.”

Now, why not send the post along with the email? Because this may seem a bit aggressive. It leaves very little place for someone to decline your offer. This might sound like a good thing but it isn’t. Remember that this is the Internet, and if someone simply doesn’t feel comfortable with your message(s) they won’t tell you this; they will simply ignore you, completely.

Here’s an example of a guest post pitch, one I actually sent to Hongkiat.com a while ago:

The post is called “The Unseen Dangers of Being Perfect” and it’s 1,600 words long. It explains how pursuing perfection ruins the whole process of designing and creating a website (or any other product for that matter).

It’s up to you to judge whether it’s interesting or not, but it worked, and I got the guest post spot.

Step 3. Offering an interview or a Freebie

You can try doing this earlier, but it creates a lot less confusion if done after having secured a guest post. The thing is, guest posts are rather common to the blogging community. Bloggers are expecting other bloggers to contact them with some guest posting offers. However, offering something more is not a traditional approach, therefore it’s a lot better to build it on top of your previous communication.

Interviews are rather straightforward. You simply contact someone and propose an interview topic. If the person is interested in the whole idea, and agrees to the interview, send a set of questions intended for the interview. Depending on the person’s schedule they might set an audio interview, or simply respond to your questions via email.

There are two main benefits of hosting an interview with someone popular. The first is that the person is often keen to promote the interview themselves and thus will share it with their readers. This gives some attention to you and your blog. The second benefit is that you’re starting to create a personal relationship with someone famous. You are asking questions, they are responding, you comment then keep the conversation going. This is an experience that might become valuable with time.

Freebies are basically anything you can give away for free (in essence, a guest post is a kind of like a freebie), things like pieces of software, membership offers, packages of resources, and so on. Bloggers usually have nothing against receiving a freebie, but they are much more likely to respond positively if they already know the person offering it. Let’s face it, when a complete stranger offers something for free, there’s no telling what their agenda or expectations are.

Step 4. Maintaining further contact

This is a rather straightforward: stay in touch.

Tell me, do you have a certain group of people (friends or relatives) who contact you ONLY when they want to ask you for a favor? Everybody has… Don’t you hate these people? This step is all about not acting in such a behavior. Thanks to tools like Twitter, keeping in touch is not that difficult. Simply follow the people important to you, and engage in conversations with them.

Step 5. Repeat steps #2, #3, & #4

Notice that steps 2–4 are all about giving. And that’s exactly what you should focus on. Creating any kind of relationship online is similar to relationships you might have in the real world. You have to be prepared to give a lot before you can (or even decide to) start taking.

Step 6. “Can you help me” email

Asking for help can be a tough thing to do. You might be worried that you will burn your relationship by asking for something. But let me tell you just a couple of things.

First of all, at this point asking for anything shouldn’t feel awkward. If you have a real relationship with someone then they will be happy to help you, so there’s no need to feel awkward about it. Secondly, if the person is not likely to help you at this point then chances are they would never be willing to. It’s better to find that out now.

Whenever asking for anything, keep in mind this small set of tips:

  • Don’t explain why you’re asking for something. Just ask.
  • State plainly and simply what is it that you want. Make sure to explain exactly what is the next step the person should be taking.
  • Be confident and sound natural, like there’s no possibility that the other person might say no.
  • Say thank you. Upfront, just like that.

The roadmap ends here. If you navigate between steps 2 and 6 wisely there are a lot of cool things that might happen to you.

Conclusion

Let me just remind you the initial piece of advice I gave in this series: you are making friends here. I know that what I’ve been describing is a rather technical, emotion-free approach, but I’ve only described the tools, so to speak. How you use them is up to you. What I advise is to only reach out to people whom you would reach out to anyway, the ones that are interesting to you for whatever reason. Then use the techniques and methods described in this series to make your life just a little easier.

Finally, what do you think about the whole guide? Also, feel free to share your own techniques and your own roadmap for contacting other bloggers. I’m really curious to learn your tactics.

Author:

Karol is a blogger and writer, passionate about entrepreneurship and using the internet as a business tool. He's part of WebNet Hosting - one of the leading providers of FFMpeg hosting. To find out what he's up to, you can also visit him at newinternetorder.com.

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