Content marketing is one of the best and cheapest means of promotion for small businesses. In this post, you’ll find tips on how to share your brand with bloggers and journalists.
Katherine Raz is the founder of Small Craft Advisory, where she provides marketing guidance to e-commerce businesses trying to grow their online traffic and sales.
Blogging has changed a lot in the past ten years. While getting your products featured on blogs used to be about building long-term relationships, today most bloggers are like professional journalists: busy. I talked to Brad Bennett, editor at the fashion blog Well Spent and founder of the PR firm BDBCreative, about how the changing blog landscape affects your ability to get your products featured on a website.
“There are very few independent sites left,” he says. “Anyone who had a blog in 2006 either sold it or has figured out how to monetize it.”
While that doesn’t mean all blogs are “pay to play,” meaning you won’t get an editorial feature unless you pay for it, today there are fewer blogs looking for good old fashioned editorial content, and those blogs are highly selective.
But an endorsement from a popular blog can be a make-or-break moment for your business. An inbound link from a blog helps your SEO and provides a long-term free source of high-converting traffic to your site. So while it’s difficult to get a product feature (Bennett compares it to an actor trying to make it in Hollywood), it’s worth the effort if you have even a single breakthrough.
So how do you find bloggers and media outlets to pitch? And how do you pitch them in a way that gets your products featured?
How to Find Bloggers
While there are go-to lists of bloggers and media outlets you can use to pitch, you usually have to pay a lot of money to access them. Rather than spend money on a list that might not be relevant to you, create your own list by doing research.
Look at your competition
One of the easiest ways to find bloggers and press to cover your products is to research who has covered your competition. List 10-15 brands that are similar to yours, then run that list through a Google search to find blogs publications that have written about them.
Find similar websites
Run the list of blogs that have written about your competitors through a tool called SimilarWeb and view the list of similar sites to find additional places to pitch.
Google your generic product name + review keywords
Let’s say you’re selling bike messenger bags for women. Try combinations of your generic product name + review keywords to find blogs that cover your products.
- “women cycle gear reviews”
- “messenger bag review”
- “top 10 messenger bags for women”
- “best bike gear women”
Search Twitter bios for bylines
Freelance journalists usually cover a beat for several media outlets. If you know your products are a good fit for a certain publication, use a tool called Follwerwonk to search for it inside people’s Twitter bios. This will turn up freelancers who write for that publication and they’ll likely include other publications they write for in their bios as well.
Once you’ve generated a list of blogs and media outlets, track down contact information. The easy way to do this is to check out the publication’s contact page and hope the info is there. If it’s not, here’s a short guide to tracking down contact information and pitch guidelines for bloggers and journalists.
Pitching Bloggers and Journalists
When you’re pitching, remember that ideally you’re providing someone with information that will make their job easier.
“Blogs thrive on content,” says Bennett. “If we get a pitch for a product that fits the site, we are thrilled.”
Key rules for pitching:
- Most bloggers and journalists prefer to be pitched via a particular channel, so use that channel to get in contact. Most of the time it’s email, but sometimes it’s a Twitter DM, Instagram or Facebook message.
- Know the author’s name and address them personally. Don’t use a generic greeting unless you absolutely can’t find a person to address at the publication.
- Find your angle. Why are you pitching your product to this blog? Be sure to say in your pitch.
- I saw that you recently wrote about _______.
- I love your annual roundup of _______. I wanted to tell you about our ____.
- Keep your pitch short. “Get right to it,” Bennett says. “You don’t need to include background information like, ‘I was working in a corporate job, but I really just wanted to make buttons.’” Unless your founder story is important to the publication, leave it out. In other words: pitch products to product publications and pitch your story to entrepreneurship outlets.
- Create a press page on your website that contains the resources you’re including in your pitch, like press releases and images. Link to that page in your email and don’t send attachments.
- Do embed a small image (under 40 KB) of your product in your email to offer a preview, Bennett suggests.
- Always include your phone number.
- Offer to send samples of your product for review. Don’t assume a blogger will write about your product in exchange for free stuff.
- If you have an affiliate program — and Bennett strongly suggests having one — mention it, but don’t lead with that information.
- If you don’t hear back, check to see if the blog has posted your story anyway. Many blogs are too busy to confirm an article and publication date, they just post your stuff and expect you to be savvy enough to notice.
- A single follow-up email, 72 hours to one week after the first email, is totally acceptable, if not fully expected. Any additional follow-ups after that are harassment, though, and could wind up permanently blacklisting you from a site.
- Give lots of lead time for date-specific stories, like holiday roundups.
- Don’t pitch a blogger who has just written about a similar product with a “me too” pitch. If your competitor just got a big feature, a blog isn’t likely to write an article about you just because you do the same thing. You need to offer a different angle.
- If you’re pitching multiple people at once, don’t cut and paste your email. You’re likely to make mistakes. Though it takes extra time, write pitches individually and you won’t run the risk of addressing someone by the wrong name.
It’s a Numbers Game
You might send 70 emails and get one reply — or no replies at all.
“We post 10% of the pitches we get at Well Spent,” Bennett says. That’s a lot of pitches that go nowhere. Don’t take the lack of a response as a personal rejection. Just like an actor auditioning, you have to keep putting yourself out there to hit big. If you continue to build your list, reach out, and improve your pitch, you’re increasing your chances of getting a coveted blog endorsement. You just have to keep doing the work.