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Networking with Bloggers – ‘Lower’ Your Sights and You Could Benefit More

Today i came across a great post written by Rocai from Blogging Mix – Why it is Better to Network with Non ProBloggers.

One might think that from a title like that I’d avoid it (and to be honest it’s a difficult post to read on some levels as it brings up something that I grapple with daily) but I think it contains some bitter sweet wisdom.

The argument is that rather than targeting the biggest bloggers to network with it can be more effective and helpful to interact with newer and smaller bloggers.

As I’ve said in a comment on the post (in moderation as I write this) this is something that I think there’s real wisdom in on a number of levels.

For starters it’s hard to break through the noise that is often around big blogs and bloggers. I experienced this myself today when emailing another well known blogger and getting an auto-responder message. Yesterday I emailed another big blogger and got an email back from his personal assistant instead of him directly.

These are just two ways that some well known bloggers deal with the thousands of emails that fill their inbox on a daily basis. I’m not at this stage yet but know the pressure of having to trawl through an inbox full of genuine and wonderful bloggers wanting to connect. The sad reality is that there are only so many that I’m able to do it with – it’s me as much as anyone who misses out by not being able to connect with everyone.

The other thing that I like about Rocai’s post is that the advice to interact with newer/smaller/less prominent bloggers is actually a real opportunity. While they might not have the reach or influence of big blogs – there are thousands of them, they’re often more open to interacting and the amount of time that they have available to put into your interactions can be greater (and lead to some great partnerships).

In my own early days of blogging I tried to get on the radar of a few bigger bloggers – but the interactions I had with them were fleeting. They were definitely worthwhile (I remember a couple of big links that drove a lot of traffic) – but they were not ‘relationships‘ in any shape or form.

What I found was that it was my interactions with smaller to medium sized blogs in my own niche that benefited me (and them) the most. These interactions became ‘relationships‘ that lasted. Some of them became very fruitful ‘partnerships‘ in time.

I’m not arguing that you should ignore bigger bloggers in your niche – many of them are very open and willing to interact and they can actually be very worthwhile to know and interact with – however I would encourage all bloggers to look around them in their own niche and interact with other bloggers who are on a similar sort of level. These networking opportunities could be the ones that take your blog to the next level over the long run.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Lex G says:

    For anyone who is trying to reach bigger bloggers by email …. Here’s a valuable tip :

    When you email them, it’s most important to just be yourself and say your part without trying to hard … It saves disappointment when not getting a reaction and makes the times that you actually DO get a reaction far more valuable for both sides …

    Lex G

  2. Hafiz Dhanani says:

    I agree Darren. This is good advice. What I like to do is work from the top down.

    Start at the top and spend a small amount of time emailing and networking with some of the ‘probloggers’. Who knows? One surge of traffic might be all you need to get your blog off the ground.

    Having said that, I agree that it’s important to work with more low profile bloggers in your niche. You can position yourself as an authoritative figure, and then expand out.

  3. DJ says:

    I’m not sure what everyone means by “network”. Are we talking just making friends, link exchanges, guest blogging, or what? I’m still trying to build an audience, and I’m not sure what everyone means when they say “network”.

    When you’re emailing the other bloggers (big or small), how do you create the relationship?

  4. acca says:

    Good thinking. So, people, network with me, I’m not so big :D

  5. plonkee says:

    In practice, I’ve found this to be true. I’ve interacted at various levels with a number of the larger bloggers in my niche which has always been great fun, but developing stronger relationships with blogs at a similar level to me has been more productive.

    I think it’s probably as well to network with everyone that interests you when you can – you never know where your next great idea or traffic surge is going to come from.

  6. Max Powers says:

    This is how I started linking with others, except they emailed me first to ask if we could link to each other (I was too shy when I first started to ask anybody myself).

    So far it’s worked good even though they are not the biggest, but I feel it’s a great way to get started and build relationships with others.

  7. simon says:

    thats my geneasl direction so far, I am currently using 45u5.com and working from bottom up… so Darren I am afraid you will be last LOL

  8. StanHayes says:

    This is right on the money!

  9. Darren,

    As usual, great information. We feel we are in a developing niche which means great potential, but most blogs are relatively small. This is compounded by the fact our niche is adult in nature which means keywords saturated with worthelss content.

    Thanks,
    Mr. Gentlenibbles

  10. pablopabla says:

    I think for any new blogger, they should try to network with similar newbies as well as bloggers with perhaps 100 to 200 feed subscribers. It is easier to be noticed and the potential of forming a closer relationship is greater.

    Who knows? The “small” blogger whom you network and befriend today might become a star blogger in the next couple of months!

  11. wordvixen says:

    Out of curiosity- is there a standard level to determine whether a blog is small, medium, or simply popular? It tends to be easy to know whether someone is a pro, but anything below that seems a bit murky.

    And do you have any recommendations on length of time or amount of content to have before beginning to promote and network? I’m thinking you wouldn’t want to start with only one or two posts, and yet you wouldn’t want to miss good opportunities.

  12. First time here, lots to review…thanks for the open mind and wanting to share…I will remember and try to do the same..

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram
    http://grammology.com

  13. netvalar says:

    Great post Darren, I do have a couple of points myself in this regards.

    Networking with smaller blogs in your niche is great for building partnerships, and working together to build up the niche you are blogging about. This doesn’t mean don’t attempt to network with bigger bloggers. You might not get any replies to E-Mails, but the comments you leave (so long as they are useful or communicative) will give you good traffic increases.

    What I actually do myself is from time to time browse new blogs in my niche to see if anything came up to add to my RSS subscriptions. Then as articles come up that I feel I can add to or comfortable jumping into the discussion then I head on over and comment. While writing my own articles I sometimes realize that one of the blogs I subscribe to has a writer who could be worth asking a question or 2 to and then I will actually send an E-Mail I try to stay on the point.

    Though I went off on several tangents when I contacted David Jennings author of Net, Blogs, & Rock ‘n’ Roll. I was pleasantly surprised when he not only responded but also told me he reads my blog. So you never know that problogger might just be reading what you write and will respond when he sees your E-Mail just as pleasantly surprised that you deighned to think of asking him/her your question.

  14. Thássius V. says:

    Nowadays I prefer to get connect with small bloggers. That’s because these people (I’m on the group) do not have so many things to do as big bloggers, and because of that they’re more available to talk and share ideas and points of view.

  15. LarryG says:

    ok…I give…what’s the best way to connect with other bloggers? A random post to their comments section, smoke signals, morse code?

    Anybody?

  16. I agree and disagree. I agree because it is sometimes difficult to contact big bloggers due to their time crunch and many solicitations on a regular basis. It can be much easier to approach a smaller blogger in that respect.

    However, when you approach a smaller blogger, you are then looking to trade traffic with much fewer hits. Small blogger to small blogger doesn’t grow very fast, especially if you consider the conversion ratio of each hit.

    I personally approach both big and small bloggers with very different angles. For example, I add as much value as possible when approaching a big blogger, and by value I don’t mean money. I approach small bloggers with less value because I know they’re usually hungry to talk to anyone that found them through their blog.

    It all comes down to appealing to adding value to the potential relationship and feeding egos when they’re hungry. That may sound manipulative, but it works…most of the time.

  17. So what you’re really trying to say is that we cant be friends any longer…waaaahhhhhhh… Why, was it something I said.. I can change, I swear I can!!

    haha

  18. Steve Mills says:

    I think that networking with anyone can bring benefits, an effective information network is built from both large hubs, which are important sites with lots of links, and smaller satellites with fewer links.

    You should aim to have diversity in your online relationships, you never know which newbie blogger may become the next darren rowse or yaro starak.

  19. Dr.Mani says:

    My recent blog posts were about making ‘First Contact’ – and yes, that’s difficult these days with layers to get past. Even people I know well have insulated themselves behind layers, which means I need to jump past hurdles even to contact friends! Imagine how tough it must be to establish new connections.

    Darren, what you said just sparked off a great idea – will try and get a programmer to create a prototype quickly :)

    Oh, and it surely is possible to get on an A-lister’s radar – like I just did :) Just harder!

    All success
    Dr.Mani

  20. jd says:

    I think you’re hitting on a key point — if you only go for the long shot, you miss all the great opportunities in between.
    (this is a mistake I made in my early days of fooseball — I was chasing the ultimate deadman pull, until somebody pointed out I was missing all the great short and middle shots along the way)

    Separate, but related, another mistake I made was focusing on “the site” vs. “the people”. We tried to bootstrap a site by building a great user experience. What we failed to do was build the people network to support the site. The “ah ha” came while doing workshops for the site. I had the benefit of two successful community folks, Ward Cunningham (father of the Wiki) and Mark Curphey (one of the founders of OWAsP) The insight was that “the site” was nothing more than a reflection of the people behind the site and a mechanism for the interaction. The people connection we were building from the workshops, mattered more than the site itself. In fact, w/out the people connection, it failed initially. Luckily the learnings carried forward into other community efforts.

    I think that’s why it’s very important to figure out your goals up front … is your site a “knowledge base” … is it an interactive forum? … are you a shepherd for others? … etc.

  21. Blogging Mix says:

    Thanks Darren. You’ve just proven that not all Probloggers are like what I think they are. I haven’t given up networking with Probloggers. I just think that there’s a tough competition among bloggers to network with them so chances of getting noticed is very slim compared to when you network with a non-problogger.

    Your latest post presented a better perspective of the issue. Cheers :)

  22. CatherineL says:

    This is great advice and it makes perfect sense yet so many people don’t do it. But you can build a great community in your niche by networking with other new bloggers.

    I think too many new bloggers fail to understand the basic business rule of giving first.

  23. Darren Rowse says:

    Lex G – good tip. If you’re pitching another blogger (big or small) you might like to read this post – tips on asking other bloggers for links.

    Hafiz – yep, I think it’s probably best to work on networking with both big and small bloggers. A mix can work best.

    DJ – by network I guess I mean interacting and seeing what happens. It probably includes all of the things you’ve mentioned – including what you’re doing now in commenting on this post (see above link for answer to your question).

    Max – good idea

    Simon – sorry to hear that :-)

    pablopabia – yes, that’s another factor. Network with 20 smaller bloggers and the chances are that one day 1 or 2 of them will be big bloggers :-)

    wordvixen – no standard level in my mind. You could look at their Alexa figures to see how they compare to yours (it’s not completely accurate but can be a starting point). In terms of length of time – depends how things go. I’ve worked with some bloggers after a single email when I felt connection – but with others it’s taken a lot longer.

    netvalar – yes, don’t stop interacting with big blogs. You might have less success but when you do get some response it can be well worthwhile. And like you say – if it’s genuine it works best.

    LarryG – see the link above that I left for Lex G. I find email tends to work best.

    Scott – totally agree – I think it’s not a matter of one or the other – but one AND the other.

    Matthew – we can be friends :-)

    Steve Mills – yep, I think diversity is a great approach.

    Dr.Mani – oooh, you have me intruiged :-) And yes, you did get on my radar – and most of my readers :-). Actually, offering to guest post can be a great strategy.

    jd – great analogy. Why networking is like fooseball….hmmm – might be a post in that one.

    Blogging Mix – like I said in your post – don’t give up on us – we’re just being pulled in all directions and sometimes we just take a little longer than others :-) Great post.

    CatheringL – yes, I think when you’re networking a good starting question is what can I ‘give’ in this relationship. Giving gets attention – whether the other person is big or small :-)

  24. cyberfizzle says:

    I’m seeing a lot of posts regarding how to contact bigger bloggers, but did the bloggers who are big today contact bigger bloggers when they were coming up? I’m assuming the first ones did not have bigger bloggers to connect with.

  25. “The argument is that rather than targeting the biggest bloggers to network with it can be more effective and helpful to interact with newer and smaller bloggers.”

    ‘Bout time. Love this post. First time commenting but I’ve been following your newsletter religiously.

    I run virtual book tours and an integral part of our company is finding blogs for our clients to appear on. I will definitely blog about this later.

    But, what you said (I haven’t gone to the other blog you mentioned but will after I send this off) makes a lot of sense from my perspective. Because high profile bloggers are VERY BUSY, it’s hard to get through to them. Just like publishers…you can’t get through to a big one, you choose a small press and sometimes they do more for you than the biggies…because…they have more time for you.

    The blogs my clients appear on is a mixture – some low, some high – but I’m finding that the bloggers who aren’t as busy as the others are the ones who get back to me immediately and promote our stops just like a person who would get paid to do so would.

    I am in full support of the new blogger who is trying to get his blog established. Just because you’re new and not hooked up with the search engines yet, the new blogger can drive people to his blog by other means such as making a post and announcing the post in several social networking sites or other blogs that they have. This is what I call the power of networking. In time, they will build it up but because the blogger isn’t a high profile blog, we won’t turn it down because we know through our promotions, people will come and that’s the only difference between high and low profile blogs (unless it’s the content and then we tend to not use this particular blogger).

    But I’m really excited to read this post today and will be blogging about it tomorrow because there’s a very good point here.

  26. Patrick says:

    I try to network with as many of the bloggers in my niche as I can, and I have made some connections with bloggers that have blogs substantially larger than mine, and some that are quite new. I try to be open with as many people as I can. I have found though, that the best networking relationships I have are with bloggers who have blogs about the same size.

    The fun thing for me though, is to have new bloggers contact me. I love to help out and offer tips because so many people in my niche were kind enough to help me out when I started. Giving back to new bloggers is the best way I can thank those who helped me early on.

  27. pablopabla says:

    I have to add, Darren, that two of those whom I networked with when they started out in August are Skellie and Michael of ProBlogDesign. Now they are well known in their respective niche and I am glad to be known by them as one of their early readers :D

  28. Dee Copeland says:

    I’d much rather fish in a small pond and dominate rather than go out to catch a big fish. Bigger fish take more time, more resources and more effort in general. Some of the non pro-bloggers have a good following and you never know what opportunities they will have in the future.

    Not all of us can be whales. I’ll swim with the dolphins.