April 13, 2006
DOES IT DO ANY GOOD TO EMAIL HIGH-TRAFFIC BLOGGERS? - UPDATED 4-14-06 7PM
(Following up on this post)
Be brief, be polite, and only submit links that clearly fit the high-traffic blog's theme. Ask yourself, "am I certain that [high-traffic blogger's] readers would be interested in this?"
Also, don't be offended if you don't hear back. Your e-mail was very likely read, but only so many of the dozens or hundreds received every day can be responded to. Don't take it personally. It's just that there are only so many hours in a day that can be spent writing, and those have to be split between answering e-mails & blogging.
Last week I took my own advice and e-mailed 30 high-traffic bloggers as follows:
SUBJ:What's the best way to send an e-mail that you'll read? (short, no reply required)
First, please forgive the unsolicited e-mail, but I'm doing some research for a post on blogging, and I'm hoping you can help me.
Someone recently remarked to me that bloggers with high-traffic sites don't read e-mails from - or link to - anyone except other high traffic bloggers. I don't think that's true. I think it's more a matter of having a tactful approach, and I wrote a post saying as much:
Now, I'm sure you have other subjects to write about, and if you have no interest in this topic, I understand completely, so there's no need to act on this e-mail at all if you don't want to.
However, it occurs to me that you probably get dozens of annoying "please link this" e-mails every day. Discussing my post would give you a perfect excuse to school your readers on the art of sending you short, on-topic, useful e-mails instead of rambling junk - a topic that would normally be off-theme for your blog.
Whether you decide to link to my post or not, you have my express permission to quote this e-mail in full or in part.
I thank you for your time.
Since this experiment was all about site traffic, I did NOT limit myself based on a blog's political leanings, so I tapped a few of the big left-wing bloggers, too, as well as a couple blogs devoted to celebrity gossip.
However, I was most interested in seeing whether a "cold-calling" e-mail technique would work, so I *did* go out of my way to avoid bloggers who might actually recognize me and link me as a personal favor, thus no Blackfive, IMAO, or Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.
Here's what happened:
Instapundit - Replied to my e-mail within minutes. Said that getting your e-mail read is a matter of timing - if he's away from his computer for a few hours, he gets too backlogged to even try to catch up.
Protein Wisdom - Replied promptly, saying he *does* read e-mails and responds if he has time.
AMERICAblog - Prompt reply, and I found one passage particularly enlightening as to why high-traffic blogs sometimes seem to be a closed society "I usually rely on emails from my readers for suggestions for links. And, big surprise, they usually send me links from the top blogs."
For some reason, I'd failed to consider that blogless readers send links, too, but I can certainly see how 10 e-mails that say "Look what Kos posted!" might carry more weight than a single "please link me".
VodkaPundit - Prompt reply AND a Vodkalanche! WHOO-HOO! Anyway, Stephen falls into the "don't have time to read it all, or respond to it, but I try" category. So it would appear that one key to getting your e-mail read is a subject line that's intriguing, yet doesn't sound like spam.
Right Wing News - Linked the same day. Also, he did what I had hoped - used the opportunity to share his own thoughts on e-mailing & site traffic in a thoughtful post. This is about as good as it gets when you send a link. Also, check his comments section for some good discussion.
UPDATE 4-14-06 7PM:
Outside the Beltway - linked the same day, and took the opportunity to add his own thoughts about how to get noticed. #4 surprised me a bit:
4. Make it easy. Give the blogger a two or three sentence–max–summary of the post if it’s long. Include a link to the post. Include the entire text of the post. Unless they are regular readers of your site and you have some sort of relationship, simply sending along a link to the post with the expectation that they will click through is not a great idea.
My initial thought was that including the full text would make the e-mail longer and thus less likely to be read. However, James is right. Saving your target reader the click and the wait for the page-load errs on the side of convenience. My suggestion is to put the text at the very end of the e-mail, AFTER the summary, the link, and (optionally) why you think the high-traffic blogger might be interested in the post.
(Note on the update: the trackback from OTB didn't work, and I didn't check to see if he'd posted on it. I apologize for the oversight)
Hugh Hewitt - Linked the same day, however I noticed that he also gave a Hat Tip to Right Wing News. Which makes me wonder whether he was planning to link me before he read the RWN piece, or if the fact that RWN blogged about it made him to decide not to dump my e-mail into his bozo bin. Either way, I'm happy. But this also makes me wonder what the "tipping point" is. How many high-traffic bloggers have to link a post before they all feel compelled to do it so that they don't miss out on a "hot topic"? Ah... the mysteries of interpersonal influence...
I'll also mention that although Hugh didn't reply to my initial e-mail, he DID reply to my "thank you" e-mail that I sent after he linked me.
Wonkette - Linked same day, later in the evening, and mentioned that if a high-traffic blogger isn't responding to your e-mail, it may be because you got caught in their spam filter. Lesson learned - don't brag about how your were born in Nigeria.
Seriously, though, you know what spam e-mails look like, so avoid ALL CAPS, excessive linkage, exclamation points!!!, and other filter triggers.
QandO - Responded after about 24 hours. He brought up an excellent point about why some of the more content-oriented blogs (rather than link-oriented) might not be quick to jump on your link: "I rarely link emailed stuff, simply because of my own blogging habits. I tend to write about subjects that I've been thinking about, or about which I have something unique to say. I don't really consider myself a "linker". So, unfortunately, while it's nice for me to get emailed links, I'm probably not terribly helpful to the people who send them. Usually, anyway."
I have to agree - if I can't find a fresh angle on a story, I may not post on a link I've been sent. I mean, if I can't manage to do more than echo the A-listers' opinions, I probably can't muster the enthusiasm to whip up a post on the topic - which is why I don't do a whole lot of blogging on the big headline news stories of the day.
Winds of Change - Linked after about 44 hours. Mentions the Right Wing News piece, mostly for RWN's great money quote of "Getting links isn't about a "Good Old Boy's Club," it's about the numbers game."
Here's something to consider. Right Wing News wrote a better post than I did (I'm being honest, not modest), but I still got a link and praise in the WoC piece. When it comes to crediting sources, I usually only mention the place I got the info from. I almost never cite "the source of the source". I wonder if WoC would've linked me (source of the source) had he not also gotten the e-mail?... again - the mysteries of influence.
UPDATE 4-13-06 5PM: Joe of WoC was kind enough to leave an explanation in the comments, and also points out that linking the source of the source helps improve the shelf life of your post should one of the source links eventually become broken.
The Jawa Report - First, my condolences to Rusty Shackleford on the recent loss of his friend. I would like to give him credit for setting his contact e-mail to autorespond, so I heard about this within minutes of sending my initial e-mail. To his further credit, he responded personally at about the 48 hour mark, to let me know that he's a "reads all, responds to some" kinda guy.
The Real Ugly American - Not one of the initial e-mail targets, but he posted within 12 hours as a secondary effect of the links by Right Wing News and Hugh Hewitt, and added his own thoughts to expand my "how to e-mail high-traffic bloggers" advice to make it inclusive of ALL bloggers.
The following are the
Pink Is The New Blog
Go Fug Yourself
Crooks and Liars
A Socialite's Life
Little Green Footballs
The Dilbert Blog
NRO: The Corner
Roger L. Simon
Outside the Beltway
Ace of Spades
This Modern World
» Technicalities links with: Big Blogger Experiement... The Results
» Right Wing News links with: Week-End Links
» dustbury.com links with: Who do I have to **** to get a link?
» Cigar Intelligence Agency links with: Emailing high-traffic bloggers
» Blogger Beer links with: E-Mailing the Bigs.
» Iowa Voice links with: Blogger Emails And Blogosphere Economics
» Riehl World View links with: E Mailing A Blogger
» New World Man - almost free links with: Does it do any good to e-mail no-traffic bloggers?