Blog Homework: Day 9

I’m away from technology for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging. So for 14 days, I’m issuing you some homework. That’s right — you get to work while I get to relax. You can follow all of the assignments here. If you have questions, feel free to post in the comments…It may take me a while to respond, but I’ll be reading everything when I return!

Over the 14 days, I’m going to assign you some tasks that I think will help you streamline, organize, market and ENJOY your blog a little more. For the first five assignments, you’ll be asked to review your blog itself. You’ll get the weekend off, then five more assignments that are focused on helping you build your readership and social media community.

One of the cool things about being a blogger — in addition to making new friends and getting to have a point of view — is the opportunity to work with companies.

Blogging With Brands

I’m a HUGE proponent for bloggers thinking of their sites as businesses (if you want to journal, more power to you — but when you start asking me about increasing page views, comments and more, you’re working at your blog), and as you start to make your site more sticky, you’ll have a chance to start making money from your writing.

Examples:

But before you can ever reach out to brands and companies — you need to be prepared.

Enter: the blogger media kit. I blogged about what goes in one here (“Making a Blogger Media Kit“) but what should you do once you’ve made it?

Step 1: Create a list of targets

Cold-calling (or emailing, or Tweeting) should be a last resort. In your regular blogging life, you probably engage with and interact with companies and brands. Start making a list of the people that you know, or the companies you love. Think about everything from the food you eat to the clothes you buy, the technology you use and more.

Put together a basic list or spreadsheet. Add to it all the time. Collect contact information.

Step 2: Get your packaging ready

You have your media kit, but is it updated with your latest numbers? Do you have a resume or testimonials you can share? Perhaps some high resolution pictures of yourself? Get it all together (in a .zip file, if possible) and keep it in an easy-to-access place. That way, you can look at it every couple of weeks and make sure all of the information is still accurate and relevant.

How does it all look? Consider investing in some graphics help to get a “look” for your documents that reflects your blog and appears more professional than something you whip up on your word processing software.

Step 3: Short pitch and send

You see the word short in there, right? Because if you send a long pitch to anyone, even a friend, it’s going in the trash (see “How to Pitch Without Striking Out“).

Think 600 characters. Example:

Dear NAME,

It was so great to talk to you at CONFERENCE NAME last week. It’s wonderful to see brands stepping up to support healthy living, and I can promise that it has influenced my buying habits.

I was hoping to talk to you about working together for an upcoming project on my website, “BLOG NAME HERE.” I am attaching my media kit and some testimonials, and if you’re available for a quick phone call this Friday, I can tell you what I’m working on. I think it could be a great way for you to connect with my audience!

Thanks again,

NAME HERE

CONTACT INFO HERE

Obviously, make sure you customize it to your needs. But keep it short, don’t make the entire ask in this first email, and make sure that you are polite and professional. Attach your media kit and then give it a few days (or weeks).

Step 4: Follow up

Tread lightly with this one. If you don’t get a response at all, consider a gentle reminder email after a week or so, giving the person an out. When I get pitches, I try to respond to them all, even when the answer is no. So it’s possible that your email got stuck in a filter (send the follow-up without attachments) or lost in the shuffle.

If you can, give a specific call to action. Ask if you can get 5 minutes of their time for a call on Day X at Time Z. And if they do say no, respond politely and make a note on your spreadsheet so you don’t go back to the same company later.

Ongoing:

Keep adding to your contact list, and stay meticulous about your records. When possible, go to events where you can meet people and share your business cards.

In a future post, I’ll get more detailed about how much to ask for certain tasks (you can get a head start by reading Hornet’s Nest, linked at the top).

For now — go get your kit together and start sending!

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Comments

  1. says

    Can you tell us more about what “sticky” means? I have heard this term tossed around before but have no real understanding.

    I think there is even a “Make Sticky” setting in WP. I haven’t used it, not knowing what it is.

    • says

      Hi Holly!

      Yes — “sticky” actually means two things in blogging, and I should have made it more clear.

      Context 1: “Sticky” means that it gets people to stick around and keep coming back. So if you have content that makes people want to check in or subscribe every day, you’re “sticky.”

      Context 2: “Sticky” means that you can assign a post or a page to always be on the front page of your site, no matter how many new posts you make. So if you have, let’s say, a comments welcome policy that you want to appear at the top of the list of your posts, you could make that post sticky in WP, and any following posts will go below. (That’s not a great example because you’d be more likely to put the policy as text in your sidebar or make it a menu drop-down, but I hope it still helps.)

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