Blogging Etiquette ~ the Do’s and Don’t’s of Pitching Your Business to Craft/Design Blogs

I get quite a lot of pitches (or, if you prefer, submissions) these days, and honestly, it usually only takes me a few seconds to deduce whether a pitch is the right ‘fit’ for my blog (Epheriell Designs).

“A few seconds?” I hear you say. “How can you make a judgement so quickly?”

Easily. I, like you, have eleventy-billion emails to sort through, and, like you, I’m busy with my own businesses, too. I also know my blog – and my blog’s aesthetic – very well, so I can tell very quickly if your product is something that is in-line with that.

So, when a new pitch comes in, I open it up and have a quick scan. Some pitches are a dream – short, sweet, to-the-point with nice pictures. Others… not so much.

I see people making the same mistakes over and over again, so I thought I’d take the time to put together this little ‘do’s and don’t’s’ post to help my fellow crafters out – and, hopefully, help you get your stuff seen on more blogs!

If you have any additional points, I’d love it if you could leave them in the comments.

Do address the blogger by name.

Most bloggers have their name available somewhere on their blog – usually even on the main page, but almost always in the ‘About’ section. Take the extra minute to find out the blogger’s name. We’re a lot more receptive to emails that say ‘Dear ….’ than emails that say ‘Hey’ or ‘Dear Blogger’ (ugh). Of course, it may be the case that you just cannot find their name, either on their blog (or, if you’re a good investigator, on their twitter/facebook/flickr/pinterest). In that case, go for a polite ‘Hi there’ or something similar.

Do take the time to spell the blog’s name correctly!

I know my blog has a bit of a weird name (yes, I made it up!) but really – how hard is it to copy/paste if you’re not sure how to spell it? I cringe every time I get an email that spells Epheriell incorrectly. It just tells me that the person emailing me doesn’t even care enough to check.

Do make a specific comment about my blog, and why’re you’re contacting me.

Whenever I send a pitch (remember, I’m on both sides of the fence here!) I always make a point of starting off my email with a brief compliment/comment specifically about the blog of the person I’m emailing. This does two things. One, it shows the blogger that I actually do know what their blog is about – that is, I’m not just randomly emailing bloggers willy-nilly; actually, I that I think their blog will be a good fit for my work.

Two, hopefully it will make them feel more kindly towards me! Let’s be honest – everyone likes a compliment, and I’m hoping to start off on the right social foot by being polite, friendly, and respectful of the blogger’s work. Because man, running a successful blog is a LOT of work, and it’s really nice to hear from someone who genuinely enjoys reading it.

Do give me a link to your blog/online store so I can investigate further.

I have gotten so many emails where the person tells me all about what they do… they’ll even attach photos… but then – no website!! How am I supposed to find out more about you? Your website is the MOST important piece of information in that email. Do not forget to include it.

Do tell me if you’ve been featured anywhere prominent.

If you’ve been featured before in magazines/big blogs, do let me know – briefly. One sentence will do! That tells me that you’re working hard to promote your business, and that others have been impressed by what you do. It also allows me to do a bit more reading about you if I want to!

Do give me 3-5 low-res pictures representing your work.

Photos are crucial when you’re pitching a product. Make sure they are good quality, bright, low-res/small sized images that will load quickly. Basically, they should have loaded by the time I’ve read your 1-2 paragraph pitch, so I can see what you’re all about! Oh, and hey, a picture of you can’t hurt either – I like to see your face!

Do use proper spelling and grammar.

Okay, maybe it’s just me who’s stuck in the dark ages of still using the capital ‘I’, but I think it’s disrespectful to be lazy about spelling and grammar when you’re emailing someone. I’m the sort of person who actually won’t read a blog if it uses small ‘i’s’ and no capitals because it honestly grates on me. You never know what someone thinks about this very simple little thing, so best to err on the side of caution and make the effort to do it ‘properly’.

Do follow up 1-2 weeks later. Once. Politely.

If you’re super-keen to get featured on my blog, I have absolutely no issue with you sending a brief follow-up ‘Hi, just wanted to touch base again regarding the email I sent you about my business (etc). Thank you for your time, and for considering my work.’ Or something along those lines. Short, sweet, and polite, and it will act as a memory jog for me. Chances are, your initial email has just fallen down lower in my inbox, not that I’m ignoring you deliberately! Many times I have been reminded of a good submission by this follow-up email.

Okay, so that’s a whole list of ways to make it more likely that I will read and respond to your email.

Now, let’s look at some of the things that will make me more likely to either not read it at all, or to actually delete it altogether.

Don’t tell me your life story.

Remember – you are trying to get my attention and tell me about your product. Please don’t write 10 paragraphs outlining your life story/creative history/motivations etc. If I want to blog about you, and if I want to include that information, I’ll get it from you later. For now, just be short, sweet, and to the point. You want to capture the blogger’s interest and attention, and encourage them to find out more about you.

Don’t attach humongous photos that will take an hour to load.

Chances are, I will not wait. I might click on your website and have a look that way if I like what you’ve written, but just make it easier and attach small pictures.

Don’t harass me.

This might sound harsh… but if you’ve sent a pitch and a follow-up email, the ball is in my court. I might get back to you tomorrow, or in a month (yes, I have blogged about people months after they’ve emailed me!) or, unfortunately, I might never get back to you, as bad as I feel about that. I always try to send at least a ‘Hi, thanks for telling me about your biz’ email, but I’m very human, and very fallible, and sometimes I’ll forget. However, if you keep bugging me, it will only make me feel frustrated, and your chances of being featured drop rather drastically.

Don’t go off-topic.

This kinda goes with the ‘don’t tell me your life story’ bit. Sometimes, an email will read like an outpouring of random thoughts, and I’ll sit there confused as to just what the sender is trying to tell me. Decide what you’re pitching, and why, and stick to that. Again, if I want more info, I’ll get it from you down the track!

Don’t email 50 bloggers at once.

Bloggers usually dislike it when they end up featuring something at the same time as someone else. It makes someone look like they’re copying, and no-one wants that. Make sure, if you’re pitching the same product/products, to only email maybe 2-3 bloggers per week. Start with the blogs you really want to get featured on, and work your way down the list.

Don’t send me a generic press release.

I will give that about 2 seconds of my time. I’m not a newspaper desperate to fill space, I have a whole internet full of groovy things to feature, so I’m going to give my time to someone who cares enough to email me personally over a generic press release.

Don’t add me to your mailing list without my express permission.

Don’t ever, ever, EVER add someone to your mailing list without their express permission. It’s not only rude, it’s actually against the law (in the US, anyways). I will immediately unsubscribe – and though I hate to do it, I will also sometimes hit the ‘report spam’ button if this happens. Just don’t do it.

Please don’t take it personally if I decide not to feature you.

Honestly, there are so many reasons why I might not feature your work. It might not be a good fit for my blog. It might not be photographed to the standard I need. I might simply forget. Please, please, do NOT take it personally. Just get out there and send the next pitch! You will find bloggers who are happy to feature your work.

Phew, that was quite the list, wasn’t it? If you’re a crafter or a blogger, I’d love it if you could share your thoughts/experiences with this in the comments.

I really hope this helps make pitching your work to blogs a bit more straightforward! Remember – your aim is to grab the blogger’s attention and interest, so keep your email short, sweet, and interesting! And – especially in this business – the old adage about pictures telling a thousand words is absolutely true, so make sure your pictures are the best you have!

The numbers to look at when you’re buying blog advertising for your crafty biz

advertising-numbers

For many of us with small online creative businesses, blog ads are a big part of our advertising strategy.

Rarely can we afford magazine advertising, and since our customers are online, it make sense to advertise to them online, too.

There are a number of different options available – we can use google adwords or facebook ads (the latter I would recommend) – but the most popular choice seems to be buying sidebar ad space on crafty/lifestyle blogs.

There are so many out there – and so many that offer ad space – that it can be really tricky to decide where to spend your limited ad budget.

As someone who both buys blog ads and who has sold them for years now, I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learnt about what makes for  a good blog to advertise on. Specifically – which statistics should you be focussing on when making your decision?

First…

Before you even look at the numbers, make sure the blog is somewhere you think your customers will hang out – not just your peers/colleagues. Of course, for many of us our peers are our customers, too – but make sure to think about that before you go any further.

Probably no point advertising your knitted scarf business on a blog that’s all about how to knit… because the majority of people who visit want to learn how to knit a scarf themselves rather than buy a finished product. You’re better off finding a lifestyle or more general handmade blog whose visitors like to look at (and buy!) lovely handmade things.

The numbers…

Let’s first outline the core numbers you may come across, and explain what they are:

  • Subscribers – this might be RSS/feed subscribers, google followers, email subscribers. Subscribers are people who receive the blog posts either in their feed reader of choice, or direct to email.
  • Social media subscribers – facebook, twitter, pinterest etc. These folks will find their way to the blog via links on social media – so when they read the blog post, they are actually coming to the blog to do so, as opposed to the rss/google followers who read the blog posts from their feed reader/dashboard.
  • Visitors. This is the number of individual people who visit the blog in a defined time period.
  • Pageviews. This is the number of times the blog is viewed by visitors in a defined time period. Some visitors might only visit once and view one page, whereas your regular readers will view many pages throughout the month.

So, which are most important to you?

Okay. I rank the above numbers in order from most important to least important as follows:

  • Visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Social media subscribers
  • RSS/Feed subscribers

But wait! Why am I putting blog subscriber numbers last?

Because – as I mentioned above – people who are subscribed via RSS do not come to the blog to read the blog posts. Unless they’re a weirdo like me, who always clicks over to the blog when I see a post in my feed that I like. Most folks read blog posts right in their reader.

That means they are not seeing your ad!

If you were doing a giveaway or had a feature on the blog, I would reverse those numbers. BUT when we’re talking a sidebar blog ad, you want to focus on how many people will be seeing the ad. And that equals visitors and pageviews.

The more eyeballs on your ad, the more clicks it’s going to get. So, contrary to what you might have thought in the past, make sure to focus on visitors and pageviews rather than subscribers.

Social media subscriber numbers are important too, especially if the blogger is really great at driving people back to their blog – but, of course, anyone coming through from social media will just show up in the visitor/pageview numbers, so they really are key.

How to choose?

This is the process I follow…

First, put together a spreadsheet (hang on, stay with me here!). In the spreadsheet, list the name of the blogger, their blog url, and the range of their blog ad prices (so, if you were listing me in the days when I offered advertising over at Epheriell Designs it would be – Jess | http://EpheriellDesigns.com | $20-$65 -).

This will not only help you decide between blogs, it means you now have a handy-dandy media list that you can keep coming back to! No more thinking “gee, what was that blog I advertised on that time?”

Now, go through the advertise/sponsor page on each blog and look for the numbers I spoke about above. If the blogger doesn’t list them publicly, just email them and ask for the numbers.

If they are not willing to give them to you, run away.

Any blogger who is offering advertising should be open and honest about what you will be getting for your money.

All other considerations aside (such as the blog is your fave, it has your perfect target audience, they are a friend of yours) you want to choose the blog that has the highest visitor/pageview number with the lowest advertising cost.

That way, you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck!

Of course, you also want to consider additional perks – like, if you buy the large ad do you get a sponsor post? That’s a huge perk as it not only will go out to those RSS subscribers who might never see your ad, but it stays on the blog forever, driving traffic to you.

One final tip – when I do blog advertising, I usually choose to advertise on a whole stack of blogs at the one time (in one month, for example) rather than advertising on one or two occasionally. Most folks who read blogs in our niche will travel in similar circles, and by advertising across a number of blogs with the same image, you’re more likely to capture their interest.

 If you have any further questions on this, please just leave them in the comments and I’ll reply!

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