Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now is hosting the next Nonprofit Blog Carnival with an April Fool’s theme, so I decided to share with you those times during my week when I am most likely to think, “This is a joke, right?”
This happens several times a week, as I review the email that comes from my blog’s contact form. Here are the three most frequent requests that make me think, “Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding,” along with some tips on getting a more positive response from the bloggers you may be approaching.
1. Can we do a link exchange?
Most of the requests I get are from businesses whose products and services have very little to do with the content of this blog. As if I would actually include a link to your online bingo parlor or travel agency on my nonprofit communications blog.
Sometimes the connection is clearer, but the request comes from someone I don’t know on behalf of a site I don’t recognize. It’s very unlikely that I would link to a site like that. After all, what’s in it for my readers and for me? How would my readers benefit from knowing about this website? How would having a link on their site to mine help me (I already have pretty good Google juice, so random links from unrelated sites don’t interest me).
Lesson: Don’t just ask for the link. Instead, explain all the goodness that my readers would find on your site. Tell me about your existing traffic. Invite me to explore so that I naturally want to link to you, and would even think about asking you for the link.
2. Will you write about me, print this press release, or pass this on to your readers?
I never reprint press releases verbatim. I rarely use them at all. With very few exceptions, I only write about products or services that I have personal experience with or that have been recommended by other people I trust.
This is not a “news” blog. It’s what I call a “tips and toolkit” blog. Therefore, if you want me to talk about your product or service, you are much more likely to get my attention if you offer yourself as an expert for a Q &A interview on a topic I’m likely to cover. Otherwise, don’t bother pitching your product to me unless (1) you have testimonials from lots of nonprofits along with it or (2) you can name-drop people I already trust as fans of your stuff.
Many people use a blanket pitch and then customize it by adding in my first name and the name of my blog. Unfortunately, people often work too quickly and forget to switch out the names in one place or another. As a result, I often get emails addressed to someone else, or addressed to me, but referencing a blog I don’t write.
Lesson: Understand what kind of blog you are pitching. Do you see the blogger frequently doing what you are asking them to do? If not, you need to customize your pitch if you really want to get that person’s attention so that it makes sense for the kind of blog they write. Double-check all customizations of names and blog titles.
3. Will you do my job for me?
OK, it’s not usually worded that bluntly. And I do encourage readers to send in questions, so I may be asking for some of this. I’m very happy to get questions that can be answered in a quick email or in a few paragraphs in a blog post. But don’t ask me to do more than that for free.
All too often, I get email from people who are asking for hours and hours of free consulting advice. Don’t ask me to develop a marketing plan for your fundraising event. Don’t ask me what foundations you should send your grant applications to. Don’t ask me to review your new product sales pages and tell you if they speak to nonprofits. If I offer to do the work for you for a fee, don’t give me a sob story about how you are a poor nonprofit (nearly everyone reading this blog is associated with a nonprofit so claiming poverty doesn’t make you stand out for special attention).
Lesson: Be realistic in what you are asking for. Make the connection both easy and worthwhile for both of us. Introduce yourself and develop a rapport before you start asking for favors.
If you write a blog, what tips do you have for people who pitch you? If you pitch bloggers, what works for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
P.S. Here are our next three webinars: