A link builder’s guide to working with bloggers

As a ‘traditional’ PR professional who made the move to a purely digital role six months ago, working with bloggers had never been quite as important to me as it is now.  What I’ve learned at Leapfrogg, is that link building with blogs, especially the more influential ones, can be an extremely powerful way of gaining a stronger external link profile, as well as delivering the PR benefit from the coverage. Whilst traditional media still remains important, links from blogs can offer longer-lasting value as they tend to have a slower archive rate.

Approaching bloggers however is completely different to traditional media outlets. First of all, blogs are a labour of love; often written in spare time alongside a day job. Unless it’s a corporate blog, bloggers do not get paid for running their site and writing content, unlike professional journalists, meaning the approach must be much more personal. The most important thing is to demonstrate you have read the blog and know a bit about the writer, remember that bloggers are real people (not news sites!) and take the time to find out about the blog topics and audience.

Most recently, I’ve been working closely with mummy bloggers around a client’s nightwear launch and with travel and food blogs for a client specialising in tailor-made holidays.  This has included attending Travel Bloggers Unite, an annual travel blogger event.

So applying everything I have learnt in recent months, here are a few tips to consider when approaching bloggers. Whilst there might be guidelines specific to certain industries or sectors, I’d say the points below apply regardless of sector or blog topic:

  • The first rule of thumb is not to inundate bloggers with press releases, which they do get sent a lot of on a daily basis. They do not want to be treated as news feeds; they want their content to be unique and personal. However, a blog might be open to publishing your press release if you pay them to do so!
  • Bloggers are more often than not very open to selling their ‘retail space’ on their blogs for content that is relevant and useful for their readers. The preferred method is usually paid guest blogging, running over a number of months. This gives them a subscription based income and regular content onto their site and you get regular links from a relevant domain in return
  • Product reviews work very well for both bloggers and brands – who wouldn’t want to be sent free stuff! However, ensure the product you’re offering fits with the style and audience of the blog and make sure you’re offering bloggers products you genuinely believe in
  • For travel bloggers, press trips can still be few and far between, so if your blogger can get time away from work or their family, expect a positive response if you can offer bloggers places on one…and in return get a fair bit of coverage!  You have to bear in mind however, that your coverage will be honest and ‘as seen’ by the bloggers you send.  You can’t expect a glowing review just because they attended the press trip!
  • Competitions generally aren’t a great link building tactic as once they’ve run, the pages tend to be taken down (online magazine sites being an example). However, blog competitions stay archived and it’s a great way for bloggers to invite interaction from their readers and attract new ones
  • Honesty is key. If you’re speaking to a number of blogs about the same topic, tell them (they usually all know each other anyway!) and always follow through; if budgets are cut or the plans have changed tell the blogger – keep the relationship honest, open and nurtured

As with any media, establishing good relationships with bloggers is the basis to securing great results and being a successful editorial link builder!

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