Wouldn’t it be great if you checked your email one day to find a message from a leader in your niche? And I don’t mean their latest email newsletter – I mean an individual email with free blog content they wrote, exclusively for your blog?
When I first started blogging, I had a hard time catching the eyes and ears of other bloggers. I was the new kid on the scene, and even back then, there were thousands of other bloggers out there, also vying for the attention of the top names in my niche. But if you can make a big-name blogger aware of your content – and that content is great, of course – they might share it with their followers. So I was frustrated. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, just hoping to get noticed.
But there’s a fool-proof way to get almost any expert out there not only to notice you, but also to send you free content – and even promote it! Who doesn’t want that?
My Secret Way to get Free Blog Content Exclusively for Your Blog – FROM EXPERTS
Ready for the secret? It’s actually a pretty simply concept – but first let me tell you what DOESN’T work:
- Asking for guest posts – most popular bloggers are way too busy to write content for you
- Publicly tweeting at experts – it’s rude to put people on the spot publicly when you ask for a favor unless you know them well
- Post an excerpt from their work – you can do this (as long as you abide by fair-use laws and properly credit the work), but the posts won’t be exclusive for your blog
What does work? Are you on the edge of your seat? Okay, here’s my secret: Tell the blogger you’ll be featuring them on your blog and ask for an email interview.
Doing interviews is no secret, but if your experiences have been anything like mine, when you email popular bloggers or companies and ask for interviews, a lot of the time, you won’t even hear back. You have to spin your email the right way. I don’t just recommend asking for an interview, which is easy to ignore.
Here’s how to go about writing an email that is much harder to ignore:
Step One: Identify leaders in your niche who need promotion.
At any given time, there will be people in your niche who are hungry for promotion, and they’re more likely to give you the free blog content you really want. Maybe they just launched a new company. Maybe they got some bad press recently and need to set the record straight or tell their side of the story. Maybe they recently published a book. Whatever the case may be, there will be certain people in your niche looking for press. Those are the people you want to target. (For example, I interviewed Rick Kats from Pinerly, since they recently launched a new Pinterest-related company.)
Pro tip: If the person you’re interview is an extremely popular blogger, I recommend trying to find out who their “people” are and email them instead. Virtual assistants, managers, and others who work directly with your target interviewee are more likely to answer your emails. That might actually be their job. So work with them directly if you can. Assistants love when you actually send them an email directly because it shows you’ve done your homework and you know who you’re supposed to be emailing. These people spend every day answering emails addressed to their employer; sometimes it’s nice to read an email addressed to you.
Later this week, I’ll be publishing a post specifically about working with these “gatekeepers” in your niche, so make sure you’re subscribed to our blog if you don’t want to miss that post.
Step Two: Start the email with what you will do for them, not asking them to do something for you.
Popular bloggers get several requests every day, and they just can’t answer them all, even if they want to. Unless you know one another, an email that says, “Hey, would you do an interview with me for my blog?” is not a good idea. Yes, you’re getting free blog content, but that’s not what you want to highlight in your email. I have no motivation to help you, if you send that kind of email. Instead, here’s a better example of what you can say in your email:
Hey Joe Blogger,
I’m a huge fan of your work, and I’d love to feature your new book, How to be an Awesome Ninja Guru Expert Rockstar Blogger, on the BlogWorld blog next week. Our community is filled with bloggers from over fifty different countries, and I think they’d really love to hear about your book, since they’re always looking for advice about blog monetization. Would you have time to answer a few quick email questions about your work and where they can buy it (or we connect on Skype if that is easier for you)?
I do not recommend that you copy this example word-for-word (yes, even if you change out the specifics). When you send an email with a request, the person deserves and individual email, in my opinion. But the take-away concept that I’m trying to show is how you should focus on what you can do for the blogger, not what they can do for you.
A few other things this email does:
- Show that you know their work by mentioning their work and what it is about.
- Use their name. (Many PR companies don’t take the time to do this.)
- Tell them something about your readers/community so you can show how this will benefit them.
- Make it clear that your questions will only take a few minutes to answer.
- Reiterate in some way that this is for their benefit, talking about money/sales if possible. (For example, in my sample email, I talk about sharing how readers can buy the book.)
- Give the person options for answering your questions.
- Give a deadline passively. Avoid demanding a reply by a certain deadline, but make a time reference. (For example, I noted that I’d like to publish my feature “next week.”)
Follow up with this email if you don’t receive a reply, but wait at least a week for it to be answered. In my experience, 90% of the time, you won’t have to follow up at all. I’ve never not received a reply with this kind of email, and usually I don’t have to follow up at all.
Step Three: Watch your email like a hawk.
The moment you receive a reply, respond with your questions or set up a time to chat on Skype (most people prefer emails). If you can catch the person while they are still at their computer, your interview questions will be less likely to fall through the cracks. In fact, if you catch the email the moment it is sent and are prepared with your questions, you might even get a response right away.
From there, also post the interview as quickly as possible. Sometimes, it makes sense to hold the piece (for example, posting at 4 AM on a Monday morning might not make sense), but in general, the sooner you can post it, the better. People don’t want to spend time replying to your questions only to wait to reap the benefits.
Don’t forget to email the link when the post is published or tweet the link with an @ reply when it’s published. You need to somehow alert the person that the content is live on your blog. And definitely do work to promote the content as much as possible through social media channels and your email list. If you do your part, the person you interviewed will likely help as well.
Why This is an Amazing Source of Content
So why is a “few quick questions” an amazing source of content for your blog? Because people love to talk about themselves. If you ask interesting questions (not the same old stuff that everyone is asking), people will send you LONG answers. Most of the time, when I send five to seven interview questions, I get 1000+ words back in return! And this is all exclusive content for your blog, as good as if the blogger had written a guest post for you. So don’t be afraid to start sending out email interview requests, even to bloggers who haven’t taken notice of you in the past. There’s no better way to get free blog content from the experts.
And as a side note? Email interviews with leaders in your niche are awesome, but video content is even better. In just over a month, experts across several niches will be gathering in New York for BlogWorld’s East Coast event, which makes it possible for you to connect with people like Peter Shankman, Jenny Lawson, Jim Kukral, Tim Street, and tons of other content creators who might otherwise not have time to reply to emails, even using the above technique. If you’re going to the event, set up interview times with these people now to make sure they can fit you in.