Posts tagged ‘blogging’
Note: this post was originally published on One Degree.
At a night club recently, I felt the need to tell a guy that I was taken. He then looked at my friend and said, “OK, what about her?”
It’s something I call the “Supermarket Approach”: if you knock enough products into your cart, eventually, one with a honey nougat centre will fall in.
I’d never think it a good plan to dump a bunch of things into my basket and hope the one I wanted would be there. Just as it might to be the best course of action to randomly target single girls.
Or send emails to every blogger in Canada.
“Hey, I like your blog and I want to tell you about a totally irrelevant product” and “Your [cut and paste] blog exists so I thought you, [your name pasted here] would be interested. You guess why.”
And while that’s not a targeted approach, if you do it enough, you will get some results.
“I do think that many marketers tend to think of bloggers as a sort of digital grist-mill, which is a big mistake. A lot of the time, in my particular context, the best pitches and experiences I’ve had have been with artists who are reaching out personally. They understand that marketing through blogs is a partnership, and that it should be mutually beneficial. We’re both after a bigger audience, after all!”
While it is time-consuming to research each blog/blogger and individually tailor pitches, doing so increase the likelihood that she/he will respond – and write about what you’re asking her/him to write about.
A personalised touch is respectful, sets a better tone and will help her/him view you (and your company) in a positive light. The best responses I’ve received as a marketer have been to pitches that focused on why she/he might like the product rather than on the fact that I’d love it if they wrote about it. And I’ve been most responsive as a blogger to pitches that were targeting me based on what I was actually interested in.
So how can you best do this? Let’s assume you’ve done some research and have a list of bloggers in mind for your outreach. Here are some of my suggestions, based on what I aim to do when I pitch. And, to avoid the continuous use of the generic term “blogger”, for the suggestions below, let’s assume her name is Jeanne.
To guage interest and how to tailor, you should try to read:
- A number of Jeanne’s posts. It will give you a better idea of her style and the topics and products she tends to write about. This might provide an angle for your pitch.
- The About and Contact pages along with the FAQs/ Pitch policy ones. Beyond her name and email address, these pages might provide insight as to whether Jeanne is in fact the proper person to pitch for the campaign. (For instance, say the product is location specific: an ice cream available only in Canadian supermarkets. A search leads you to her blog and a number of 2008 posts where Jeanne showcases her unique dessert creations and writes about how much she enjoys living in Winnipeg. Her love for baking might be enduring – but the About page informs you that she’s recently moved to Las Vegas for a job opportunity. Or that she’s since sworn off dairy and sugar. Or, maybe, that she’s not interested in receiving pitches.
When crafting your pitch:
- Make it short, easy to scan – and to the point. Describe the product in a way that doesn’t sound like the description’s been copied and pasted from the press release.
- Address Jeanne by name. Avoid mail merge – or be sure to double-check the fields. (As an aside, my favorite bad pitch had the following greeting: “Dear Author of ‘Monica Hamburg Presents: Your Dose of Lunacy’”. If only there was some way of determining who was writing this blog…)
- Be sure to introduce yourself and mention how you are involved with the company/project. It makes the pitch friendlier, more human and more transparent.
- Make clear very early in the pitch why you are targeting Jeanne specifically. Blogging is a community – and bloggers within niches or cities might know each other, so a templated “I know you’re revered in the foodie world” etc. might not be too flattering if Jeanne later finds that the same pitch was sent to many other foodie bloggers.
- Address the value of what you are proposing. What’s in it for her? You might choose to offer Jeanne a few products so she can run a contest for her readers. Many bloggers appreciate your providing something for their readers more than a treat you are willing to offer just them.
- Address what it is you’d like her to do. Don’t just tell her about the project and hope something will happen. (E.g. You might offer to send her the product so that she might write a review.)
- Create and link to a Media Kit/Page created for the product. This will allow you to write a brief and to the point pitch – and Jeanne to learn more, if she wants to.
Indeed, it is a more involved process than sending out a slew of the same pitches to a large group of bloggers. But it helps you learn about the people you are writing to.
And leads to more contacts with honey nougaty goodness.
Here’s the presentation on “Finding Your Online Voice” that I’m giving at Northern Voice today (wish me luck 🙂 ).
To read other posts I wrote on this topic, click here.
Updated: For the video of my talk, click here.
Truly, “Be Yourself!” is a tall and painfully vague order. I remember this advice from when I was young(er, er) and just starting to date. And before job interviews. And auditions. And. And. And.
And therein lies the problem. Sometimes who you are, really, is not readily apparent to you. Sure, you have a vague idea, but do you really know? (For instance, recently, at a friend’s wedding, the groom made a toast and described me as having a very big heart. Sure, he was drinking at the time, but descriptions like that floor me.)
We all have an image of ourselves. Further, there are things we want to project and aspects we are uncomfortable showing. And some traits which we come to value more over time. For instance, my sense of humor has only recently been any public use to me at all. Being funny isn’t something we tend to encourage in women. One of my friend’s remarked (quite profoundly, I think) that if you saw two people on a date, and it was the man who was laughing at what the woman said, it would strike you as odd. Women aren’t the ones expected to be funny. (To that effect, there’s a recent article that talks about this in the latest Scientific Mind.) I am also aware that being caustic has implications in how people perceive me. I occasionally have to make an effort not to censor myself too much to avoid those judgments.
We are frequently encouraged to stifle our personalities and silence our voices. It’s certainly been the case with some aspects of my personality and my experiences. In fact, I think for many of us, who we are, is to some extent not who we were supposed to be.
So we want to write smarter, have people believe we are [insert characteristic here (upbeat, professional, charming, together etc.)] I tried a few times to be be poised, because I think women who are, are lovely. I can’t hack it though, and it becomes really painful…
Now, how do we get to who we really are… Of course, write, write, write (Oh, noes…). Also, ask your friends what they think of you. No, really. Just tell them to tell you the stuff they like.
With regards to suggestions, let’s begin from there:
- Ask your friends how they would describe you. Try this: Your best friend meets a new co-worker that she thinks would gel perfectly with you. She says, “Oh! You have to meet my friend!” He says, “Really?! Why?” She responds, “well, she’s just like you, she’s _____. “ What would your friend say here? Use any many adjectives as you can. This will give you some idea of your positive (or, at least, enjoyable ) traits.
- Read other blogs. You’ll learn what you like, what inspires you and, as Dave Taylor notes in this brilliant tip: “One of the best ways to learn your blogging voice is to read a lot of other bloggers and ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with their writing style, whether they seem to be a friend chatting with you or some self-important twit pontificating, and which you find most appealing. Then be inspired by that and try to create a writing persona that matches what you believe are the best practices.”
- Did you particularly enjoy writing a specific post? Or feel proud of it? Look at why: is it more “like you”? Did you enjoy the way you approached it? Sometimes it’s that one post in which you find your voice.
- If you are interesting in writing content that is more intimate, more revealing, take a look at Isabella’s book recommendations and this blog post on “Blogging Yourself Home“. (With respect to journaling privately, I also enjoyed her post on “using your negative voice“.)
- Even if you don’t consider yourself “a writer”, you can find the authentic “you”. To make the process less daunting, take Matt Crowe’s advice on how to finding your voice as a blogger: “Think about what do you absolutely love doing more than anything else in life and blog about that.”
- Jean Berg-Sarauer also suggests journaling: “When you let yourself write about anything you want with no intention of ever showing your words to another living soul, it feels safe to be real. And the more you let your authentic voice come out in your private journal, the easier it will get to bring it out for your readers.”
- Additionally Jean advises that bloggers let their writing suck on initial drafts – to be cleaned up later. I understand how difficult it is to allow yourself to do so, but she’s right, it really helps. You can forget about proper spelling and grammar for a moment, and give yourself permission to leave blanks when you can’t find the words (trust me, getting stuck on trying to find that elusive word can be time-consuming and inspiration killing). You might feel like a dolt during the process (“Wow, I can’t even formulate sentences… What an idiot,” but allowing yourself to just write without censoring, just as it pours out of you can be very eye-opening – and freeing.
Note: I’ll be posting the slides for my talk tomorrow on this blog, and on Slideshare.
On the survey I sent to bloggers, I also asked:
“Why Do People Care About Your Blog?
What do you think (or have you heard as feedback) that makes people read your blog?
There are many, many blogs around. The fact that a blogs has any audience at all beyond the blogger’s immediate family is often a testament to a blogger’s persistence (sticking around, continuing to blog, and allowing their voice and audience to develop). Oh, and there’s also that ever important content thing.
The feedback I get is mostly with respect to my Your Dose of Lunacy blog. People tend to read it because they think it’s funny. I also hear: because “you find the weirdest things” (some people can walk tightrope, noticing the freaky appears to be my gift). Another popular response is that they have the same raunchy sense of humour, or taste in inappropriate, but (for obvious reasons) feel they should resist making that aspect of themselves public. So my blog appeals to them. And is an outlet.
Basically, people read that blog because it’s funny. If it ceased to be, I would lose my audience. They go there for amusement. That’s fine with me because it gels with why I write the blog – fittingly, it’s to amuse.
Here are a few reason the bloggers provided for why people read their blog:
|As a business blog we are read by all sorts of clients – past, present, and future along with people in our industry from other photographers to wedding planners and the like. We’re also often surprised to hear that we have a lot of readers who fall into neither category – girls who don’t even have a boyfriend following along with our wedding work because the images themselves resonate with them.
Our blog allows people to get to know us as people more than our work on its own ever could, and I love that!
|Classifies her blog as:
The Style Spy
| Classifies her blog as:
|Monique Trottier||The feedback and comments are usually from people who want to thank me for sharing a particular book or insight. They care because they’re interested in the same sorts of books, or they want to share what they find interesting. It’s nice.|
|Classifies her blog as:
Book blog, with a bit of technology, marketing, tap dancing and party tricks
|I write about chocolate.I was going to leave it at that, because that’s probably one major reason people read it. Other reasons include the curation factor: that I’m sourcing chocolate and talking about issues so that other people don’t have to look for that information themselves. And also that I present an expert opinion – my background in science and chocolate makes me a credible source.And, the voice thing. People like my voice. I like to think that I make an esoteric topic (artisan chocolate, science) accessible and fun.|
| Classifies her blog as:
Food (specifically chocolate, often science, sometimes pastries/sweets/candy)
I asked a few bloggers I knew to fill out a short survey. One of the questions was:
“Did you have any difficulty finding your online voice? If so, how did you discover it? Do you have any tips on that for new bloggers?”
(Yes, these are three separate questions I asked as one. This made the form look shorter and hence. more likely to be filled in, and I apologize to no one for that! No one!)
Here are some of the astute responses:
I’m currently prepping for my Northern Voice talk on “Finding Your Online Voice“. This post is the first of the series.
Since I figured saying, “Well, you start blogging and then, after a while, you find your online voice” might not be very inspiring to participants, I wanted to ask other bloggers (via a survey) about their process. Tomorrow I’ll be posting some of the cool responses I received.
As for me, my process was really trial and error (for both blogs – especially the humour one, which, as I’ve repeatedly stated, I nurture and feed much more consistently).
For Your Dose of Lunacy:
I really didn’t know what I would write about. I just knew that it was necessary to have a blog if I was to consider myself a person in-the-know about social media/technology. I had fancied myself a writer since I was a kid – and that wasn’t entirely an asset. My early writing was a bit too stilted and pompous (as far as I’m concerned), a little too long, and not very natural in tone.
I tried to write about the wacky occurrences that I had had in my life, and there’s still some of that in my blog, but I also realized that there were things I liked to rant about, and that I did that in general, in real life. And so I found myself ranting, but I really didn’t realize the theme until I read a description a friend of mine had written about my blog which described it as (something like) “amusing weirdness from the net”. I thought: “Really?! Well I guess I do write about that kind of stuff alot. OK then…” And an (admittedly very loose) theme was born.
For this one, Me Like The Interweb (which I started after the other, in order to somewhat separate the raunchiness from my business thoughts):
I originally considered doing (and probably did to some extent) what I thought was “de rigeur”. At the time, most seemed to be blogging about what they attended (be it conference session, webinar etc.), what they thought of it and what it made them think about on the topic. Also many would comment on items that were popular at the time. While that can be very valuable for those bloggers and their readership, especially if they had something astute to say on the subject, I really felt this wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. For one, I don’t have something smart to say about everything that happens – and certainly not succinctly. And secondly, I am too obsessive (and possibly long-winded) to put together a “quick” post that is still interesting and well-written. As such, writing is time-consuming and I have to pick my priorities.
So, unless I am really inspired to blog by a talk and/or feel there is something monumental to discuss about an event I attended, I won’t. This blog tends to be a bit of a brain dump – albeit it far more hygienic and organized than the inside of my head. I write more when I have a talk to give. Hence, these posts.
I can say that my Your Dose of Lunacy voice sounds much more like me – if you know me well, and catch me on a ranting day. (Also, I’m a little nicer in real life) This blog is my other half: more how I sound at talks, and when I’m being professional or introspective.
A critical thing I want to mention is: I never expect anyone to read my blog (at least not consistently) because of me. I really believe in the importance of the content, and overall write under the assumption that no one cares about who I am, and that the post better be interesting (or funny) even if they don’t know me or care anything about me.
What about you? Did you have a path to finding your online voice. Or did it just come naturally? Any tips?
P.S. I have a few comedy articles on Zug.com. The general theme of these concern FAILS in my life – and your reading will prove that they didn’t occur in vain…
I’ll be presenting at the Vancouver Financial Services Marketing Meetup next week – and I figure I’d address some “best practices” in my talk. Here are a few (note: I wrote this originally for an online interview).
1) Communicate with people, don’t just use the sites as a 1-way bullhorn.
2) Be honest – if you’re affiliated with a product/company don’t pretend your endorsement comes out of the blue
3) Check out what people are saying about you and your company using Google Alerts and other tools
4) If you’re on Twitter, take the time to get to know people, to help and communicate. Self-promotion should be only a very small part of what you put out there.
5) Make social media a part of your life rather than trying to fit it in (e.g. make twittering and posting a natural extension of how you communicate)
How has Social Media helped me?
I have been asked to speak at conferences because people have come across my blogs. I’m excited when they’ve read my blogs beforehand because gives them an insight into who I am. Oddly enough, I’ve had a few people say they were booking me just as much for the fact that I’m funny as for my knowledge – they wanted someone who could brings humor to the presentation.
1) Ignoring it altogether – hoping it’s a fad
2) Seeing it as advertising rather than communication
3) Revealing too much – or two little (it’s beneficial to give people an idea of the person behind the business)
They allow themselves to be 3-dimensional. They reveal some aspects of their personality and admit their mistakes. They naturally like people and genuinely want to have discourses and meet others. They give and add value to the community. I think a sense of fun and playfulness also helpful in the space.
Tips for success
1) Structure: You have to commit to whatever site or site(s) you’re networking on, commit to going there, to posting, and to communicating on a regular schedule. If you disappear for a long time people will figure you’ve left.
2) It takes time. You won’t suddenly get people throwing money at you. But if you invest your time you will eventually see the results of your efforts.
3) Think of it as networking at an event or party. You let your hair down a bit, and meet people and chat. Using the same example, parties don’t always lead to a business deal that evening, but nurturing the connections might eventually bear fruit.
4) Try to have fun with it – even though it is, in a sense, marketing. If you enjoy the communication, it will be less of a labor and more easy to incorporate into your life.
If I had to pick only 1 social network
Twitter. It’s faster and easier to communicate and generally more people see the message. Also you can incorporate other elements (link to pictures, blog posts etc.) I think you still need a blog, but you can communicate every day on Twitter, whereas you may not have the time or energy to write daily in-depth posts on your blog.
How to use
Use YouTube to showcase yourself briefly and to give others a chance to see “real life” you. Use Facebook as a general communication tool – it allows you to update your status, post videos, talk to people, organize events etc. Plus, most people are on it. Use Twitter to communicate a few times a day. Your blog is great for ideas, thoughts about your business/industry, to allow clients to keep up with you and your work and activities and for general longer-form communication than microblogs (e.g. Twitter).
What tips do you have re: best practices, that you think I should share?
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P.S. I recently did an interview with the Casual Encounters blog (primarily about my other blog)