Bloggers are undeniably a precious gift to marketers and businesses (including major brands).
Ted Rubin — a social media strategist and the man who coined the term “Return on Relationship (ROR™)” – has at least 12 significant reasons why bloggers are important.
According to Ted, “bloggers are compassionate, committed to a cause, and natural givers”, and “They know how to grow audiences, build communities, and tell it like it is”.
Bloggers are an incredibly passionate bunch of skilled, articulate, and bold individuals who jump headlong into the great self-publishing movement. Most bloggers don’t even blog for monetary expectations. Some bloggers refuse to feature ads or anything that takes their readership away from them. Did you happen to notice Seth Godin’s Blog? It’s been the way it is for years. All he focuses on is to share what’s on his mind (not to mention loads of inspiration, advice, and insights).
For some businesses, marketing outreach programs with bloggers got them unprecedented responses which traditional marketing and even other ways of online marketing would not have been able to deliver. See how a successful blogger outreach program did for Grasshopper – the virtual telephone company based in the U.S. You could alternatively hear from Dirk Hoag about FireHouseSubs and how it got an avalanche of visitors to its store in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Blogging relationships pay well. Here’s how to do it:
Be a Guest Blogger on their blog platform
The best way to create a relationship with bloggers is to make an emotional investment on them. Emotional investments, however, are incomplete without some sort of “altruism” on your part. When your altruism has some sort of payback, suddenly “giving” has a reason. Relationships with bloggers always have payoffs.
The best way to start relationships with other bloggers is to write guest posts for them. Not ordinary guest posts, though. These posts don’t come with a pre-defined word limit (unless your host blogger has such requirements). Your guest posts sometimes are of better quality than those you’d publish on your own blog. Danny Iny, for instance, worked up the courage to approach CopyBlogger.com with a humongous list of 38 books that he thought every blogger should read.
Danny did have to wait for a long time before he pitched CopyBlogger with more blog posts, and then he moved on to other successful blogs. He reached out to some striking names in business and publishing such as Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, Danny Brown, Marcus Sheridan, and Mitch Joel to publish his famous book Engagement from Scratch. Ultimately, he came to be called as the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”.
Guest posting like Danny is unquestionably hard to do. The rewards, however, are astounding.
Who are you reaching out to now?
Communicate with them often
All traders worth their salt know how “hustle” works in business. Yet, bloggers don’t hustle as much as they should. You’d have probably heard the names of bloggers who “hustle” by now. The unknown bloggers are the ones that don’t “hustle”. Unlike traditional businesses, hustling doesn’t have to be manipulative or aggressive. It can be as simple as connecting with bloggers on one of the many social media platforms or sending out a friendly, custom email to other bloggers.
Keeping in touch with others is the hallmark of good networking principles in any area of life; blogging isn’t different. You don’t need to be a big name blogger, entrepreneur, investor, or a celebrity. You just have to action and write out that email, a direct message on Facebook or Twitter, or leave comments on their blogs consistently.
What happens if they don’t respond? Nothing ever happens. It’s just the way it is. Much like the rule of numbers in sales where you know that only 1 client buys out of the ten clients you send out proposals to, the game of communication works on the principle of numbers: try to connect with 10 people, and one would surely get to know you better (we can safely assume that this principle works better for communication than for sales).
Meet and greet
The Internet is incredibly awe-inspiring because you can connect, trade, do business, sell services, motivate, inspire, and educate millions of people all over the world while you work off your pool or a kitchen table using your blog alone. You could have raving fans, millions of visitors, and a million-dollar business all for yourself. You’d do this without ever meeting a single person, ever. You’d never have to meet someone over coffee to pull it off because the Internet also provides for anonymity. Sometimes, any random two bloggers never meet each other, but they’ll co-author a book.
Yet, anonymity could hurt your chances of making long-term relationships with bloggers. It doesn’t hurt to meet bloggers in person. Some successful bloggers do “go out and meet other bloggers”. Cody McKibben, founder of Thrilling Heroics and a prolific blogger, meets hundreds of other bloggers on his travels. You’d only have to read a few posts such as this list of 20 incredible, super human folks who live location-independent lifestyles, for instance.
Try to connect with bloggers in your neighborhood or those who blog from the city or town you reside in. Attend blogging events and signup with meet ups in your area where both veteran and rookie bloggers meet regularly to discuss blogging. Get to know as many people as you can from online communities and make an attempt to connect with them offline. If you travel, you can meet many more bloggers when you visit new places.
Appreciate and share their great work
Who doesn’t like appreciation? I bet you aren’t one of them. Over a weekend, create a list of all the phenomenal bloggers you’d like to grow relationships with. Make sure to subscribe to their blogs, and follow them on each of their social media profiles. Keep watch on their respective activities. They’d publish, hustle, promote, pitch, voice out their opinions, rant, and do their bit to inspire others. Take a few seconds out to “retweet”, “like and comment”, share it on other platforms, and even write out a blog or two to promote “their” work or “spread” their messages to your own audience.
Sean Ogle is a popular lifestyle design blogger. His post The Year of Scale mentions Chris Guillebeau (a global travel, author, and a smashingly popular blogger) and Dan Andrews of Tropical MBA (who now partners with Ian Schoen). Mentioning other bloggers, referring to other blogs, and promoting their interests ahead of those of your own is a traditional blogging best practice because it just works, and it never gets out-fashioned.
It doesn’t cost much to appreciate others’ efforts. It’s great to let the world know how awesome some people are. If you find bloggers with great services or products, or bloggers who blog for a noble cause, fire away on all cylinders to share their work. If possible, go join them in the crusade.
Create a work opportunity together
No business can run all by itself. You always need more than one person to create a sustainable business. Yet, honest partners with a strong vision, passion towards innovation, and those who can match your singular obsession to create a legacy are rare to find. Hence, another great way to form long-lasting relationships with other bloggers is to pitch great ideas and create work opportunities for each other.
Find other bloggers who are just as passionate as you are. What blossoms as a simple, mutually beneficial guest posting relationship could very well grow into a business partnership, book co-authoring, or an online business. Even if you don’t want to go the full mile, creating opportunities often opens up doors for opportunities that fall into your lap.
Consider this: the Internet marketing niche, by itself, is fraught with shady tactics and questionable business ethics. The IMVille is full of bloggers (who are affiliates or Internet marketers) trying to form “Joint Ventures”.
Joint ventures are a great idea; just don’t join hands with anyone with a reputation that puts veteran scammers to shame.
Make an offer to create scalable business opportunities to other bloggers without either of you risking much to begin with. Co-authoring blogs or books; finding opportunities to sell products or services for each other; creating a business together by joining hands to render closely related services are a few great ways to create profitable relationships.
Invite them to contribute on your blog platform
Most guest bloggers are inward-focused. Typically, you seek host blogs with the intent of creating targeted blog posts to be used as guest posts that will be published on host blogs. Guest blogs help guest bloggers capture new audiences, create a precious link back to their own blogs, and possibly help stream some traffic.
We forget, however, that host bloggers have needs similar to ours. They would love to expand their audience, get links, and get traffic. So, why not invite them to reciprocate your guest posting efforts? Why not have them write up guest posts for your blog? You might think that they are too big or busy. You’d not know for sure until you ask them. Dogged determination, hard work, and following-up will usually get their attention.
Don’t, however, offer to pay. This was supposed to be mutual love and respect and not an economic transaction.
Shower undulating praise. Give plenty of support
Praise those who you respect, adore, and follow. It’s free to do so. Keep your ego aside and you’ll find a swarm of reciprocated praise and support that’ll come your way too.
While you don’t want to shout it all out aloud, you could still be persistently supportive. You could shower praise towards every blogger or business owner you’d like to build relationships with. Take your pick across social media networks, Q & A sites, communities, forums, and on your own blog. Go out on a limb and dedicate entire pages, posts, or resource pages listing your favorite bloggers.
Every time you make a mention, shower praise, or write up a blog post that feature their business, blogs, or names, let them know. Send out an email, deliver a tweet with their twitter handles, and let the world (including your blogging divas) know that you adore these bloggers and that you are following every word they say.
Befriend on your social networks
Social media is a great channel for working on relationships with other bloggers because it offers a non-restrictive, resistance-free, and low-barrier access to anyone with a presence on any of the popular social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn. Some of the very popular bloggers such as Darren Rowse or Chris Brogan might not even respond to your twitter mentions. Some social media users just ignore your efforts to push their content on social media or any mentions. Some, fortunately, don’t.
Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.org and Danny Iny will personally email you back. Mari Smith is an expert on Facebook marketing and she does take time out to at least respond to your comments on her popular Facebook Fan page. Kim Garst is a social media expert and she does make it a point to thank you on Twitter or even manage small talk with you.
Sometimes, little conversations lead to great success stories. Maintain an active presence on social media, take the effort to connect with others, and push yourself to make these connections. It’s an easy way to make connections (despite geographical distances and time zone differences).
How are you working on your relationships with other bloggers? What ideas do you have for creating rock solid relationships with other bloggers?
Pratik Dholakiya is the Lead SEO & VP of Marketing at E2M Solutions, a full service internet marketing and SEO consulting company. He’s a serial guest blogger and so far has contributed in Search Engine Journal, SEOmoz, ProBlogger, SearchEnginePeople and many others. He also writes at E2M Solutions blog. You should follow him on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.