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pitching your shop

Your Opinion Wanted: Getting Found

yowpaintHello! Last month Rahul of Book Makes wrote to me saying:

“I’ve basically been making a lot of handmade notebooks and then I had the idea of selling them online. The problem I have at the moment is that no one really knows about it and I have been trying to get some word of mouth going around.”

He wants to know how to get more exposure for his business. I suggested we ask you so you can help each other by sharing your stories of getting found by your target customers. Please share your stories and tips in the comments!

 

5 Ways To Be A Guest-Post Blogstar

March2013

I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now, and I began guest-posting fairly soon after I began.  Now, in my instance, it happened quite organically, suddenly & happily.  I sort of fell into becoming a Contributor for a pretty big blog and from that one experience grew other wonderful opportunities for me to get myself and my budding online business out there.  Guest-posting is a great way to introduce yourself to a new group of readers, reach a wider audience, practice your copywriting skills and generate a little marketing for yourself.

I don’t presume to be an expert in this, but in my short blogging life I have learned these 5 tips that should help you on your way to becoming a Guest-Post Blogstar!

1) CHOOSE WISELY

Research the sites and blogs that you’d like to guest on.  Choose them wisely.  They should be professional.  They should be established or known to you… starting out on some smaller blogs of friends or bloggers that you know is a great way to get some experience. It’s not necessarily the case with blogs that you aren’t familiar with and where it isn’t that clear what their level of experience of being an editor is!  The blogs should be at least somewhat relevant to what you’re doing.  It’s a lot easier to put yourself out there if you’re comfortable about what you’re blogging about!   Once you’ve gotten a few guest-posts under your belt and gained some exposure, you can then start thinking about straying further afield.

2) GETTING TO KNOW YOU…

Become familiar with the blogs that you’re hoping to guest-post on.  Research their About Page and find out how they prefer to handle these types of inquiries… many will have a Submissions page or Guidelines to read, at best.  Jot down the Editor’s name – correctly! Get involved with the community within that blog & make some friends!  Read through some posts, comment on them, introduce yourself, share some ideas and spend some quality time in their blogging community.  By quality time, I don’t mean an hour or so… give it a couple of days, weeks or months.  I didn’t reach out to anyone in my first Contributing blog until I lurked around for a couple of months!  Get the gist of what the blog is trying to accomplish.  If you’re dying to write a DIY tutorial and the blog you’re looking at currently has NO DIY posts, then maybe another blog might suit your needs better.

3) THROW A GREAT PITCH

I was very lucky in the fact that aside from one blog that I currently contribute to, (I regularly contribute to 4, but have guest-posted on a total of 5), I was asked to become a guest-poster.  I’m pretty sure this is in large part due to my active participation in their blogs and communities, reaching out to support them when I could, and having my own blog.  By having my own blog, they were able to see the kind of posts that I could potentially do for them, as well as having a link to the other blogs that I guest-posted on!

Now that you’ve chosen your blogs & spent some time getting to know them, it’s time to send them your post idea!  Try to keep your emails short, to the point and somewhat personally professional. What I mean by that is show them that you’re a human while retaining a level of professionalism.  DO NOT send a blanket email to several blogs.  This is a surefire way to not only get your post rejected, but you could also actually alienate some blogs by this.  Show them that you’ve been following them for awhile and that you actually do know what kind of blog they are by linking back to a few of their posts that you really liked… “see, I really do read your blog and therefore should be taken seriously!”.  Remember when you jotted down the Editor’s name during your research (or whoever the particular blog would like you to send your pitch to)?  Well, NOW’s the time to use it. See? Personally professional. Also be sure to follow any of their guidelines that they’ve taken their precious time putting together for submissions just like yours.  Now is NOT the time to show how creative you are by doing it your own way and disregarding their wishes!  If they’ve asked that you submit things a certain way, I’m sure they have a good reason, so respect that and you’ll have a greater chance of your post getting chosen.

4) CREATE AN AWESOME POST

A great way to get asked back to do another guest-post (or even better, to become a regular Contributor) is to create a “knock-your-socks-off”, “wow-’em”, “have-them-gasping” post.  Make sure it’s relevant to their blog… if you’re an avid DIYer and you’re submitting to a food blog, incorporate their core audience by offering a recipe card tutorial or offer great organizing tips for that small kitchen.  Use your talents.  Put a little extra effort into it.  Make it professional-looking.  Double- and triple-check your grammar and spelling.  If you have a certain way of writing that utilizes capitals, bold & italics, try submitting using a Word or Pages or TextEdit or Notepad document (if it adheres to their guidelines).  If you want to use a specific font for a header, submit it as an image and send it separately.  Remember, though, this is for their blog and not yours so chances are they will want to use the existing design elements on their blog!  Use great images; try to use your own and ones that are of exceptional quality.  Make it unique.  Don’t use it for yours or someone else’s blog.  Sure, it’s easier to simply dress up a post that you’ve already done and some blogs are okay with that, but wouldn’t it be better to show off your talents with something new?  Just for them? Make them feel special…

Even if they don’t ask for it, send a little bio over with a pic and ALL of your social media links… they’ll generally put this at the end of the post to let all of their readers know who wrote it!

So, you’ve chosen your blog, done your research, written a professionally personal pitch and created a great post…  now what?

5) SHOW SOME LOVE

Sharing truly is caring.  By offering the hosting blog a little respect and love by sharing the post, they’ll probably do the same for you!  Find out when they’re going to post it (some blogs will tell you, some won’t) and create a little teaser image for your blog.  A teaser is NOT simply uploading the entire post onto your site with a simple link to their site, either!  Create a separate image that gives your readers a hint as to what awesomeness they can find over on that other cool blog.  Once you’ve established yourself and created a relationship with the hosting blog and are lucky enough to be asked back (you’ve followed these tips, haven’t you… so of course you’ll be asked back!), you can usually just use the same featured image that you sent them… but until then, create a separate image to underline just how special they are!  Then link it up and promote it!  Share it on your Facebook page & blogs, tweet about it, pin it, snapshot it and tell everyone about it!  Chances are, they’ll be doing the same on their end.

So, there you have it?  Ready to be a Guest-Post Blogstar?!  Well, go on, then… get writing!

Do you currently guest-post?  Do you have any great tips to share?

 

Geri_small

Geri Jewitt — The Languid Lion

Geri Jewitt is a designer gone rogue from Corporate who now owns The Languid Lion, handmaking eco-friendly invitations + stationery, paper decorations & illustrated art prints in her Paper Boutique as well as helping those who are in need of fresh design!  She is also the editor of The Lion’s Den, a blog where she writes about love, life, design, colour + handmade.

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Handmade Success News

Hi lovely readers! I just got to Arizona, my hometown. I will be hanging out and working before celebrating my parent’s 40th anniversary next weekend! A couple of weeks ago we had a Link Love post and I shared some updates about what is going on with us and our contributors. I thought it would be fun to make this a regular feature and also share updates I have learned about you, our readers. So here we go!

Local News

Tip Top Pitch Kit Giveaway

The amazing Jena Coray of Miss Modish is giving away 4 of her Tip Top Pitch Kits on the blog so don’t forget to enter!

Hip Opener + Printable

I have decided to continue to offer videos on my personal website to teach you and others simple techniques to help you relax. You can check out my most recent one here.

Contributor News

Jessica Swift

She is finishing up her e-book about being a full-time creative business owner! Sign up for her email list to find out when it is available for pre-order. Plus, her super cool rain boots are 20% off until the end of June!

Noisette Academy

Isa is starting a new email series next week called “The Happy Start Up.” You will be able to follow her new start up and learn tips about collaborating, choosing a name, branding + design, building a website and more!

Reader News

Easton Place Designs

Did you read our post on Monday from Brand Camp Blog about how to bang out a blog post in under 15 minutes? Patti from Easton Place Designs was inspired and created her first ever audio post on her blog. Hooray Patti!

The Home Ground

They launched a new site and blog this week! Their header changes depending on the time of day. It is definitely worth checking out!

I hope you discovered some goodies here + look forward to sharing more in the future!

 

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How To Take The Fear Out Of Pitching Your Handmade Shop (+ A Giveaway!)

You make great work and have great photos of it. Your customers love you- you just wish there were more of ’em. You’re on all the social media outlets, you’re blogging as much as possible, you’re in the groups and going to the events…

…but it seems like you’re still not getting “noticed” by blogs and magazines, the type of exposure you know could take your business to the next level- “What gives?” you think.

Meanwhile, you’re watching and wondering, how do they (ya know, the “competition”) always get on blogs? Why do they always get the cool opportunities?

And you know what the answer most likely is? They ASK FOR IT. And now it’s time for you to do the same!

If you’re not actively pitching to blogs, mags and shops, looking for promotional opportunities online, then you’re effectively sitting back and waiting to be discovered, and who knows when that’s going to happen?

Instead it’s time to take the opportunity in your own hands and ASK for the exposure you’re looking for. Ask the blogger if you’re a good fit for a feature. Ask how to be included in a giveaway. Ask a shop if they’d be interested in carrying your work. Ask a blog if you can send an item in for review. Ask to be part of an event in your niche or networking group.

The doors are all out there waiting for you, but it’s your responsibility to knock on them! 

So let’s take some of the fear and intimidation out of it and talk about how easy it is to “pitch” blog editors about your online shop:

Remember, you’re just a person talking to another person:

Don’t let the intimidation factor get to you when approaching editors. Don’t worry about making your pitch “perfect” or following a set of rules. The only real “rules” when it comes to making an effective pitch are to:

    • address the editor by name (you know, cause they have one)
    • introduce yourself (you know, how you would to a person in real life)
    • keep it short and sweet and remember to include links to all your stuff (you know, so they can look at it)
    • say please and thank you, be respectful and polite (you know, just like how you’d like to be spoken to)

And that’s it! Nothing scary about it, just introducing yourself to someone new, a skill you already use, all the time.

 You don’t have to convince them, or “sell” them:

Worried about sounding spammy and salesy? Then don’t! Just have a conversation, introduce your work, include awesome photos of your already awesome goods and let it speak for itself. The editor will decide whether or not it’s right for their blog, no convincing necessary.

● You don’t have to relay your years of experience and the depth of your work in one little email:
I think we hesitate to know what to say in a pitch, because there’s so much! Our work comes from our hands and our hearts, we are tied to it, there is a story and hours and hours behind it- but you don’t have to tell them all that.

The shorter you can make your email, the more likely it will be read. Keep the text short and sweet and just include links to where they can find out more about your backstory/production process/experience online- your about page, pdf resume, lookbook, etc- don’t explain now, just linky linky.

● Don’t focus on the what-ifs, just focus on getting it done:

If you stop to think- what if they don’t like it? What if they see my stuff and laugh? What if they write me back and tell me I suck and should get out of this business?

STOP MAKING UP STUFF THAT HASN’T HAPPENED YET- come back to right here, right now and hit that send button!

The worst thing that’s going to happen is a) you don’t hear back at all, or b) you hear back with a polite no. All the other what-ifs are your own doubt creeping in, trying to stop you from getting to where you want to go. Don’t let them stop you!

For more no fear pitching strategies that’ll help your pitch get read and responded to, check out my Tip-Top Pitch Kit! (psst: keep reading to see how you can win one!)

It’ll show you how to find the right blogs to pitch to for you (that’s the most important part, really), how to build your media list and plan pitches. Plus you’ll get to hear from popular design/handmade blog editors themselves what makes a pitch really stand-out and what their pet peeves are. You’ll also get a look at actual pitches that I sent as a PR rep for my clients that worked and landed write-ups!

It’s darn-tootin’ handy-dandy if I do say so myself, and because I love Kerry and what she does here so much, I decided to giveaway 4 copies of the Tip-Top Pitch Kit, so that 4 of you awesome readers can win! (4 is my favorite number- it’s a good way to go!)

HOW TO ENTER:
Please submit a question about pitching or self-promotion, or talk about what your biggest fear/hang-up is around those topics in the comments below.

Please be sure to leave an email address (if not in your profile) so I can contact you if you are the winner.

GIVEAWAY RULES:

END TIME – This giveaway ends on Tuesday June 26th, 2012, 6:00pm PST.
WHO CAN ENTER – Anyone with a valid email address (will be notified this way).
PICKING WINNER – Each entry will be assigned a number. After the contest is closed, 4 numbers will be randomly generated. The entries associated with those numbers will be the winners! If we do not hear back from the winners within 3 days of notification, new winners will be drawn.
WINNER NOTIFICATION – The winner will be notified via email as well as a post here on the blog on Wednesday, June 27th.

Good luck!

 

Jena Coray — Miss Modish

Jena Coray is Miss Modish, a marketing/PR coach and mojo-maker! She works with creative entrepreneurs who want to grow their online biz but are unsure what the next step is- she helps with the next step offering solutions, encouragement, resources and a plan. Get free tips on how to grow your biz mojo over on her blog (also, lots and lots of cat photos.)

 

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