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One of the most important ways to enhance your link portfolio is through guest blog posts. Finding a relevant blog with an engaged audience can be a daunting task, but the return on investment is potentially significant. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs on the internet, but how do you create a relationship with a blogger for a quality link opportunity? What is the best way to make first contact? As a blogger who has both received requests and pitches, and one who has pitched other bloggers, I’d like to give a few tips for reaching out to bloggers.

Be informed:

Read the first few blog posts and the writer’s “about me” section. If the site has a search bar, see if the topics you are hoping to have posted about are in line with other content on the site. Be familiar enough with the blogger to personalize an email to them, and always address them by name. Nobody wants to get an email that begins with “Dear influential blogger” or “To whom it may concern.”

Make contact via email or social media:

Many bloggers work from home, and those with kids are not always in a position to take a phone call. Check the blogger’s “Contact Me” section, which should say their preferred method of contact. If a blogger doesn’t accept promotional content, it is often noted in this section. Some bloggers like contact initiated on Twitter or a Facebook fan page. Sending an email is often the most effective way to get a timely response.

Be concise:

Nobody likes to get a long-winded email, especially when it’s from somebody they don’t know. Be personal. Explain why your product or service is relevant to their blog’s topics/focus. Explain why you have specifically chosen this blogger to promote your product or service. Give a detailed explanation of what you are hoping to have the blogger post for you, and how soon you need it. If you plan to compensate the blogger with money or product trade, the initial email is a good time to do so.

Be prepared:

If you plan to ask a blogger to post guest content, have it ready to send. Don’t expect things to be done for free. Ask if they want to write their own content, or have it written for them. Create a contract that specifies what is expected of them, when it must be completed, and how they will be compensated.

Keep the door open:

Sometimes a blogger is very interested in the chance to connect with a brand or cause, but the specific pitch is not a good fit. If your pitch is declined, it’s appropriate to ask if they are interested in being contacted for other opportunities. Because the bloggosphere is a tight-knit place, ask if they know another blogger who might be interested. There are many bloggers who are eager to begin creating a relationship with a brand, but just need an introduction.

With these tips in mind, create a base template for your first-contact email. I have a template that I begin almost every blog pitch with, and I add in details for the specific pitch and the recipient. The bloggers who respond and work with you often will be interested in future promotions. Approaching a blogger with a personal touch will yield the best results, and may lead to great guest blogging opportunities in the future.