Note from Kevin: This post is written by Paul Back of Earn A Living Blogging. Paul is a passionate blogger from Australia who has learned from some of sharpest minds on the web, and I’m thrilled to have him sharing his thoughts on a topic dear to my heart – making friends with influential bloggers. Read Paul’s ideas and, when you’re finished, be sure to leave him a comment!
You researched for hours.
Wrote your heart out, edited your prose until it was lean, powerful and actionable.
Your post isn’t as good as a popular blogger’s – It’s better. Clearer. More in-depth.
Your readers can implement your practical tips, without delay.
The problem is your blog’s a ghost town.
Your post goes largely unread. Unshared. Ignored.
You can’t figure out what went wrong.
But the problem isn’t with your content – it’s with your connections.
No matter how good your content is, without powerful friends to share it, it will most likely sink without a trace.
How to Win Friends and Influence People (in the blogosphere)
When you first start out, you’re essentially blogging to yourself.
You have no influence, no audience and no reach.
With the billions of indexed pages of the Internet, do you really think your first few blog posts will even be noticed, let alone read, shared or commented on?
Now imagine that you could show your work instantly to thousands of people, all of them in your niche and already interested in your topic.
I’m talking thousands, or even tens of thousands of eyes, eager to read your work.
Well, you can.
That’s what happens when a popular blogger shares your work.
They already have a large audience that loves them, and they command authority – when they speak, people listen.
So what do you think happens when they share someone’s work?
Building relationships with popular bloggers and getting them to share your work is the secret to becoming popular.
Build a relationship first, create something worthy of sharing and then ask them to share it with their audience.
The undisputed master of relationship building was Dale Carnegie.
The Dale Carnegie School of Blossoming Powerful Blogging Relationships
Let’s go back to 1936.
No blogs. No Twitter. Not even color TV.
Can you imagine? Sounds like the dark ages, huh?
Although some things have changed. Electronic communication, the internet, social media.
Others stay the same – our desire to have one-on-one human interactions.
This was true when world-famous author Dale Carnegie published his immortal book How to Win Friends and Influence People, and still is today.
Published in 1936, 15 million copies sold, it was translated into almost all languages, and 78 years later – it’s still changing lives.
Dale Carnegie was special, he made connections with everyone and you couldn’t help but like him.
And applying his five timeless teachings will help you form ironclad relationships with popular bloggers.
Step 1: Learn From the Blogger – and Let Them Know it Helped
Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
This was a quote that inspired Mr. Carnegie.
He used it to form a powerful, life-changing mindset.
You can use it too.
Usually, your first blip on a popular blogger’s radar is commenting on their blog.
It’s your opportunity to make a lasting first impression.
Most people waste theirs.
They argue with a blogger, write superficial one-liners, lay it on thick with false flattery or miss the point completely.
Don’t make these lethal mistakes.
You become another anonymous nobody. In doing so, you’re really saying, “You’re not worth five minutes of my time.”
Before writing a comment, read the blogger’s bio, read their top posts and sign up for their newsletter.
Look for things that grab your attention, something innovative, something beautifully explained or done better than you’ve seen before. Take time to understand their thinking, beliefs and their work.
Once you do, write a thoughtful comment on one of their posts.
A great commenter summarizes the “take-home” message but goes further. Share ways that you have applied the techniques or strategies in your daily life, and what sort of benefits it brought you.
An example of this in practice is in James Chartrand’s post.
Here I sum up the take-home message, include my personal experience, and then explain the benefits I got out of the potentially negative situation, using the mentality talked about in the blog post.
This got James’ attention:
Popular bloggers, like everyone else, want to feel their lessons and advice are worthwhile.
Make them feel this way, and you will get noticed.
Step 2: Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation Using Social Media
You want it.
That uplifting feeling that you get inside.
Your steps become lighter, your senses heighten, and you feel more alive somehow.
That’s the feeling we get from appreciation – when it’s authentic, it satisfies a primal urge for recognition.
Your next step is to discover something you can genuinely appreciate – and tell the blogger on social media.
Make sure to address the blogger directly, or it will go unnoticed.
A true compliment is rare, but a true compliment in public will make them smile.
And it’s simple to do.
Look for something specific and make mention of it. The study you put into the first step pays off in this step.
Nearly everything has a positive side to it. Dig deep; you’ll find something commendable worth mentioning.
Look at this example. It’s simple but authentic and hits the spot:
Think about the time and effort put into research, writing, editing and presentation.
It’s a lot of hard work.
And a genuine, kind word makes it all worth the effort.
Step 3: Let the Blogger Know They’re Important with a Sincere and Personal Email
Popular bloggers are important to your success.
Building relationships with them is a necessity, not a luxury.
They’re gatekeepers to your audience; win them over and your path is effortless.
Going in alone is an uphill struggle.
You may be the smartest, kindest and most talented blogger, but as far as your niche is concerned, in the beginning – you’re nobody.
Every popular blogger can relate, so your next step is to send a short email.
This adds a personal touch.
Make them feel important. After all, you look up to them and aspire to be like them.
Avoid shallow email thank-yous that fill a popular bloggers inbox, don’t ask anything of the blogger, and write from a position of genuinely wanting to add value to their day – nothing else.
Don’t take them for granted – reaching the top takes years of damn hard work, dedication, inexhaustible passion and lots of guts.
Be thankful when they create the mind-blowing content, and let them know you value it.
Popular bloggers get hundreds of emails a week, all wanting something. These people demand information, favors, or special treatment for free – it never crosses their minds how selfish they’re being.
Write a sincere email and you’ll stand out for being a decent human being.
For example Lynne Knowlton got this from a fan who just wanted to say thanks and share a little about themselves, he asked nothing and his only aim was to share his enjoyment:
Step 4: Show Genuine Interest with an In-Depth Interview
Dale Carnegie said it best – “People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner.”
Take a genuine interest in someone and they’ll love you for it.
One night, Dale Carnegie attended a party.
Having never met a botanist, he struck up a conversation. Fascinated, he sat at the edge of his chair and listened attentively.
Mr. Carnegie ignored dozens of other guests and spoke to the botanist for hours.
After leaving, the botanist lavished praise on Mr. Carnegie to the host – he was “most stimulating,” he was this, and he was that.
He concluded by calling Mr. Carnegie “the most interesting of conversationalists.”
The truth was Mr. Carnegie hardly said a word; his knowledge of botany could only fuel a five-minute conversation.
But he did this: He listened intently.
He listened because he was genuinely interested, and the botanist felt that.
That is the highest compliment we can pay anyone.
Your next goal is to organize a short interview.
Most people think an interview is for the benefit of their audience – it’s not.
An interview is the perfect way to connect with someone.
Having a good set of questions is vital, but it’s more important to speak on topics the blogger is passionate about. Don’t make the mistake in planning a tightly regimented script.
Have questions prepared that are of great interest to the blogger, and listen actively.
Don’t interrupt – it’s not about you. Add fuel to the discussion, but let the blogger do most of the talking.
Do your homework before the interview. Understand what makes them tick and where their passions reside.
Look through the bloggers most popular posts, and look at common questions in the comments – and DON’T ASK THOSE.
They would have heard those questions hundreds of times already.
Surprisingly, the usually loud and outspoken blogger Derek Halpern does this masterfully.
In his interview with Adam Braun, he clearly did his homework. He read Adam’s book, took notes, and asked all the right questions – at the right times.
You can hear Adam get enthusiastic as the interview progresses.
Derek clearly understood Adam’s passions. Derek fueled discussion in that direction, sat back, and listened.
Adam has an incredible story to tell, and Derek let him tell it. The icing on the cake was clearly how Derek was genuinely captivated and entertained.
Step 5: Make Sure to Have the Blogger’s Interests in Mind
After the interview, you’ve built rapport with the popular blogger that most people won’t have.
You’ve gained insight into what makes them tick, what makes them successful and what they’re passionate about.
Go back and listen to it again. And again.
Get inspiration – because you’ll use elements of this interview for an incredible post that you’ll ask the blogger to share for you.
Since it’s about the blogger’s interests and is relevant to both your audiences, they won’t have any reason not to promote it.
It could be something you discussed, an unexpected but welcome turn, or just something you want to learn more about.
If nothing else, write about what you learned from the interview, and then apply it to your audience.
Employ everything you learned from the previous steps – if it were easy, everyone would be popular.
Appreciate that you have a level of quality to live up to.
Just pandering to the blogger’s ego is not enough – in fact, it’s not recommended at all.
Instead, you must satisfy their audience, and live up to their levels of quality, or there is no incentive to share it with them.
By sharing your work, the blogger takes a risk.
Fail to meet this standard and they won’t share it for you, even if they like you, as this would breach their audience’s trust.
Deliver quality work. If needed, ask for feedback to improve your writing.
That’s your responsibility.
Following these principles before asking for favors ensures you don’t overstretch the relationship.
Remember, you have much more to gain from this – they are already successful and have an audience. You don’t.
Bulletproof Action Plan to Blossoming Relationships
Follow these 10 steps to build thriving relationships with popular bloggers:
- Identify 3-5 popular bloggers you admire, in your space.
- Subscribe to their blogs.
- Read their About Pages.
- Read their top posts.
- Write thoughtful comments 2-3 times a month until you get replies.
- Use social media to express genuine appreciation for their work.
- Send them a meaningful email that gives value.
- Organize a Skype interview – target their passions and actively listen.
- Ask for feedback and ask them to share your work.
- Start today.
You don’t have to apply all the steps outlined; sometimes it’s fine to skip a step or two depending on the dynamics of the relationship.
But using these steps will skyrocket you above hundreds or thousands of other bloggers scrambling for attention.
Break Out of Your Cocoon
To create popular content, you must care about others – so they can care about you in return.
Online, no one will even notice you, unless you put in the effort to build relationships.
Reciprocity – do something nice for others and they’ll return the favor.
This principle made the world turn back in 1936, and it still does today.
Be a truly engaged relationship builder.
Someone people LOVE to talk to and be around.
Someone that brings the best out of people and makes them feel great.
By applying these principles, you become this person.
Don’t tough it out alone; put in the effort that others fail to.
Don’t watch bloggers you admire from the sidelines; join them.
Break out of your shell. Make friends. Blogging shouldn’t be a chore.
You’re more than good enough to succeed. You just need to bloom the right relationships to help you on your way.
Anything is possible when you have your friends by your side.
Start today, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
Start by letting me know in the comments which influencers you admire the most.
Flickr Creative Commons Images via Flazingo.com.