This contributor post was written by Tiffany Han.
On Friday, August 23, I published a blog post announcing that I’m pregnant with twins (due in Feb!). On Saturday, August 24, I got an email from a stranger, asking me to participate in a program she was running. Later that day, I got a facebook message from a life coach I’ve never met asking me to help promote her new e-book. Neither mentioned my big news.
Now, I don’t expect everyone to be as excited as I am about the babies, but a personal touch goes a very long way especially when you are contacting a complete stranger asking her to do something for you.
Reaching out to strangers is a big part of running an online business. Here are some tips to help you do it successfully:
- Start personal. Yes, you might think that the best way to open the email is to let the person you’re writing know how much you love her work/have in common with her/are inspired by her, but what we all want to see in our emails is proof of a personal connection. Instead, start out by mentioning how much you love stalking her dog on Instagram (works every time!) or her new haircut or her latest DIY project (um. That flower ampersand. Did you die a little at how awesome it was?). When it comes to asking for help, flattery will get you everywhere.
- Keep it short and sweet. 3 paragraphs of 2-3 sentences each max and shorter than you think it needs to be. If there is a ton of information about the project you want to share, create a special page or section of your website to link to, including: “If you’d like to participate and want more information about this project, click here.” A concise email is much more likely to get read, and a read email is much more likely to get responded to.
- Link, don’t attach. Again, following the rule above, if there are graphics and/or images you want to include, create a link to them rather than including them as an attachment. (Exception: if submission guidelines for a certain site ask for attachments, send attachments – see next point.)
- Follow the offered guidelines. Interested in submitting a guest post to your favorite blog? Check the contact page to see if they 1. are accepting guest posts and 2. have submission guidelines. If they do have submission guidelines, follow them. To a T. Many editors and bloggers spend a great deal of time crafting their submission guidelines, so use that information to your advantage.
- Know their work. I get emails all the time from people asking to guest post on my blog, even though I rarely feature guest posters. Know how people typically publish and use that information to your advantage. For example, you’re much more likely to have Brittni share one of your DIY’s on her Friday roundup than write about your new 3D robot printing e-book. (Although a book about 3D printing robots does sound pretty rad, right B?)
- Promote them first. Make a list of your dream collaborators, promoters, and content sharers. The people you’d LOVE to get a mention from, and start following them all on twitter (hootsuite is a great resource for following lists!). Spend some time saying hello, sharing their stuff, and opening up the doors to conversation. Even though this may not end up with a share from them, there will be some reference when you finally do send that email.
- Look outside your niche. I am a coach. I have a lot of friends who are coaches whose work I believe in. Therefore, I am very unlikely to promote the work of a coach I don’t know or someone who I haven’t had any experience with. As you think about promotional opportunities, look beyond your niche and see who else might be able to help you (and who you could help in return!).
- Don’t neglect your own community. Yes, getting mentions from big-name bloggers can be a great way to grow your audience and promote your work. But you know what else works too? Putting time and energy into your own work and creating high-quality content that people can’t wait to read. Don’t put all of your energy into the other guys and don’t spend all your time hoping that someone else will notice and mention what you do. Instead, take that energy and put it towards your own work. Invest in your own blog and your own community. It might take time, but it’s the ultimate answer to success in this online world.
Your turn: do you have any tips or success secrets for reaching out to strangers? Share your tips in the comments below.
image credit: Hello Sunshine from Rifle Paper Co