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13 Tips on Asking other Bloggers for Links

Robert writes a blog tip on how to ask him for a link in his post – A PR tip, don’t beg for links:

‘Never beg a blogger for links. Say, instead, “here’s something you might find interesting.”’

Here’s a few other tips when you’re emailing other bloggers with links. I’m speaking here both as someone who occasionally lets others know about posts I’ve written but also as someone who gets my fair share of emails:

  1. Check to see if they’ve already written about it - This is a pretty important one. If you’re letting them know of a breaking story that they have already posted about it’s not a good look – at least scan their front page before shooting them the email.
  2. Don’t be offended if they don’t reply or use your link - some bloggers (like Robert) get heaps of ‘check out this link’ emails every day. They can’t possibly link to every one or acknowledge everyone with a reply.
  3. Make sure your link is relevant and useful – Be selective in which posts you promote in this way. Only send relevant stories out to bloggers who have a specific interest in that particular niche.
  4. Be Selective in which posts you promote - as interesting as YOU might find every post that you write – consider that every post on a blog is not going to have wide appeal. Carefully select the cream of the crop to promote in this way or you might just develop a reputation for being a bit of a spammer. Perhaps there is something in the story of ‘the Boy who cried Wolf’ to be learned…..we could rewrite it as ‘The Blogger who Cried ‘Great Link!’
  5. Personalize it - In an age when you can notify thousands of people of something with the click of a mouse it’s amazing what using a person’s name can achieve. Show the blogger that you’ve taken the effort to send them and them alone an email by mentioning their blog, name etc and you up your chances of it being read and responded to. If you’re sending notifications to more than one person be especially careful that you don’t send an email out with someone else’s name on it!
  6. Remember that you might not be the only person giving them the tip – I quite often get the same story from multiple people (I guess when you get a reputation in a niche you are often the first place people will turn to when a relevant story breaks). While I like to credit sources of information – sometimes it is hard when you could link to 10 people or when you found it yourself first.
  7. Introduce yourself – Consider a brief introduction (and I mean brief – see below). Blogging is about relationship – people like to link to people they know, respect and have relationship with. A quick introduction of who you are and what your blog is can begin to build relationship. Of course if you are sure they know you already – you might want to skip this one – although if they are a big blogger don’t assume they know you because you’ve had contact with them before – it’s easy to forget. You might want to include a signature in your post with your details to help overcome this.
  8. Keep it brief - Most people are busy and don’t have time to wade through long emails with convoluted explanations or introductions. Attempt to keep it short and to the point.
  9. Keep it informative – An email that says ‘check out this link’ doesn’t give me any reason to check it out. But if you tell me the topic you might just peak my interest. Again – be brief – but give the main point in a few words of what the story is.
  10. Give something away – This might not be appropriate to every post you write. But one thing I often do when notifying someone of a post is to offer them free use of the picture that I have on my post. This is particularly relevant for when I’m notifying someone of a post I’ve written on one of my product blogs. Of course the picture has to be yours to give away (or copyright free) but if you help them make their post be as comprehensive as possible without them having to do a whole heap of work you might just get the result you’re after.
  11. Be Generous with your own links - While I don’t generally consider whether the person chasing a link has linked to me – I suppose in the back of one’s mind must be the memory of a past relationship with the person. If you’ve linked up to them previously you might have made an impression.
  12. Original content is best – If you’re asking for a link to your own story you’ll have a better chance of a link up if it is original content. If you’re just linking to someone else you’re less likely to get linked to. If it’s a story that you’re linking to make sure you add your own comments or take on the story – make it your own in a sense.
  13. Learn from your experiences – As you do this more and more you’ll learn a few things. Firstly you’ll learn who responds well to being notified and who doesn’t. Secondly you’ll learn about what types of links people respond to and what types they ignore. Learn from this and let your future practicing of it be impacted by it. If someone never responds or links up – maybe it’s worth not emailing them any more – you might just be annoying them. If they ask you to stop sending them links – respect their request. If you notice that a certain type of link gets lots of links – consider writing more of these and letting people know about them etc.

I’m sure there are other tips that readers here would give. Feel free to add your own tips on how to ask for links from other bloggers in comments below.

Desktop Blogging Clients

Ian McKenzie has a post that examines a number of different Desktop Blogging Clients – he manages seven blogs with Blogger, WordPress, MovableType and Thingamablog and is looking for a client with the following features:

  • The ability to post to multiple blog clients and handle multiple accounts.
  • Another important feature is the ease of creating and editing posts. Does the software have wysiwyg editing, with the ability to easily tweak the underlying code? Or, is it only HTML editing?
  • How easy is it to upload and link to or display files, particularly image files?
  • Can I easily add an alt attribute when uploading and inserting image files?
  • Can I easily add a title attribute when creating a link?
  • Does the software allow me to easily add social tags, either Technorati or del.icio.us.

Ian takes a look at BlogJet, ecto (I use the Mac version of this), Qumana, wBloggar and Thingamablog. I’ll let you head over to check his results but would be interested to hear what desktop blogging clients you use – if any. Feel free to share what you use in comments below.

OSM Name Games

It’s been interesting to watch the launch of OSM (Open Source Media), formally Pajamas Media, this past week. As with the launch of any new blogging network (of sorts) there is always a mix of critique, hype, spin and debate. One of the debates that I’m seeing more and more in the threads that I watch is that over the name – Open Source Media.

There is a debate over use of the term between the Pajama Media OSM and another one – a radio show. Check out the Radio OSM’s posts at Open Source Media: In Case You’re Confused, The Name Problem, Part II and The Name Problem Part III.

The PJ OSM responded with OSM – About our Name.

Plenty of others have waded into the debate of course (the PJ OSM have some pretty major league bloggers – so it’s a high profile project). You can look at some of the critiques of the name problem at Buzz Machine, Private Radio and Anit-Idiotarian Rottweiller.

So it seems things could be escalating into ‘fiasco land’. I have to say I was surprised by them not choosing a name that they could get a .com domain for. It is of course challenging to get one these days for something that makes sense but perhaps in hindsight it would have been better.

Hopefully they can sort it out and get back to promoting their business plan rather than getting sidetracked distracting aspects like this. In the mean time – it’s a lesson for all of us in choosing names wisely.

update: I think this post by Jeff Jarvis is spot on the money – it contains advice that I think OSM should take action on. Nice work Jeff.

Adsense goes live with Onsite Advertiser Sign-Up

Adsense has just gone live with a new feature to allow ALL Adsense publishers to add an ‘advertise on this site’ link to their Google ads.

This is a feature that they’ve been testing with a small number of publisher for a while but have just announced on their blog that is being released on a wider basis. They describe this feature as:

‘When you use Onsite Advertiser Sign-up, your ad units will display an ‘Advertise on this site’ link that takes advertisers to an informational landing page with details about your site and the Google AdWords advertising program. Advertisers who sign up through this page will be guided to create an ad targeted specifically to your site, and only your site. When more advertisers create and target ads to your site, you’ll benefit from the competition as it drives your potential earnings up.’

The process is simple and doesn’t require any additional code to be added to pages. You simply activate it through your ‘My Account’ tab once you sign in to Adsense. Then scroll down tot the ‘Onsite Advertiser Sign-up’ section and click the ‘edit’ button. You can then upload a logo and customize the landing page that potential advertisers will see.

One downside of this feature is that there is only one landing page per account. I have 20 blogs in my system so have a challenge ahead of me to customize the page in a way to make it relevant to potential advertisers from all sites. This is a challenge as they only allow you 384 characters in your description!

Another downer is that any new advertisers you refer to the system do not get credited to you as a referral to their referral system. They argue that you’ll benefit by having new advertisers – but the cynical side of me thinks that Google will benefit more as are likely to advertiser more broadly than on just one site.

Lastly on the negative side of the equation – there is no way to track who you refer or if any referrals actually do run ads on your site. Adsense say that you ‘may’ notice increases in revenue/CPM but really there is no way of tracking the impact directly which makes reviewing the benefits of this a lot harder.

So while this ‘may’ bring new advertisers to your site – it ‘may’ not. I’ve got mixed feelings about doing it.

Amazon Beta Tests Product Previews

Amazon have started beta testing a new feature with their affiliates that is something between Chitika’s eMiniMalls and Vibrant Media’s Intellitxt. It’s called Amazon Product Previews.

The feature allows publishers to add some javascript code to the bottom of their pages that makes any text links to Amazon products that appear on the page open up little windows when readers put their cursor over the link. Here’s what the window looks like. It has a product picture, title, price and an option to ‘buy now’ and add the product to your shopping basket.

The window disappears when you take the cursor away.

During the beta test only 50% of readers to sites testing the feature will see the ads – it’s some kind of controlled test.

To participate in the program you just need to be an Amazon affiliate as far as I can see – log into the associate’s page and you should be invited to join the beta test.

Botsense – Combatting Content Theft and Bandwidth Issues caused by Bots

Jim over at Revnews has a post talking about a new product, Botsense, that is currently in beta that is for stopping Rogue Web Bots From Eating Your Bandwidth & Stealing Your Content. It sounds like an interesting product that unfortunately will be needed more and more with the way things are going with content theft these days.

Has anyone used it? I’d be interested to hear your experiences.

12.2% Of ‘Top’ Blogs use RSS Advertising

Peter has been digging around the Feedster Top 500 list (a list of ‘top blogs’ that was going to be updated monthly but hasn’t changed since August) again and has an interesting statistic – 12.2% Of the List have RSS Advertising in their feeds. This is in contrast to the 65% of this same list that Peter previously found to have some sort of Advertising on their blogs.

I’m not convinced by RSS Ads to this point. I have them operating on a few of my blogs (including ProBlogger) but I find that in comparison to other forms of advertising they are pretty low on the conversion front.

I’m interested to hear how others find them though.

update: RSS talk must be in the air because no sooner had I published this that I found Nick’s post exploring the age old question of whether to post full or partial RSS feeds.

Linked in

Dave Taylor has a post on “Etiquette for LinkedIn and the Professional Networking World” which I found interesting.

I’ve actually been using LinkedIn for a few months now and while I understand it’s features and functions I’m yet to find that it’s actually been much use to me. I’m interested to hear how other people have used it. I can see it’s a pretty powerful tool on many fronts – but I’m just curious to see if people actually use it for much more than just seeing how many people they can connect with?

Chitika eMiniMalls – How to Increase CTR

One of the common comments that I’m reading in discussion forums about Chitika eMiniMalls is that they are not converting well in terms of CTR. There are a number of threads recently about how publishers have very large levels of traffic but are seeing very very few click throughs – especially when comparing their figures with other Ad programs.

This was something I spent a bit of time talking about in my initial review of eMiniMalls – my own Chitika CTR is running at a bit under half of my Asense CTR (keep in mind you’re not allowed to reveal specific CTR of either program). Disappointing to say the least.

Of course when comparing click values the shoe is on the other foot for me with Chitika out performing Adsense (it’s paying me about 3-4 times higher on most of my blogs per click).

While it would be easy to get down and depressed about the CTR I decided to do something positive about it and surfed through some of the sites that I saw in forums reporting low CTR this morning. My conclusion is that while eMiniMalls definately have room for improvement with CTR that in some cases, publishers could make improvements also in the way they are using Chitika ads.

The following are some of the suggestions I would make to the publishers I saw today that might be helpful to other Chitika publishers also. Please note that these are suggestions only and I can’t guarantee anything – but since playing around with some of these elements I’ve seen my own CTR on the rise a little since starting my own use of eMiniMalls.

1. Poorly positioned Ads

Tangent time – on our recent weekend away we were passing through a small country town and as we were coming out the end of it I noticed a small sign off on the side of the road in the middle of a field that was advertising a motel. The ad had some things going for it – it was in the vicinity of the motel, it advertised their very reasonable price and it managed to get my attention – however there was one thing that was not it the ads favor. The way it was positioned was so that only people leaving town would ever see it and it was actually on a pretty small and lonely road which few cars used. The positioning seemed all wrong and I wondered what it’s conversion rate would be.

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