Many bloggers operate in a bubble. This bubble includes themselves and perhaps a small number of bloggers that focus on topics similar to their own. I know that this is often true, even for me: I talk to a lot of other personal finance bloggers, but I rarely communicate outside of my own “circle.”
So why write about talking to other bloggers? Simple. Since I started The Simple Dollar, every time I have engaged a blogger outside of my own “circle” of blogging associates, the interaction has been worthwhile. This even includes somewhat negative interactions, like my debate with several non-personal finance bloggers over Wesabe. This positive response may be surprising to some (including myself, as I didn’t have this experience with earlier blogs), but I’ve found there are several keys to positive interactions with other bloggers.
Before you begin, though, you should define what you’re looking for. I’m often looking for intelligent people to discuss things with; usually, this comes down to finding an interesting blog that covers a topic I’m unfamiliar with. If the blog is interesting enough that it makes me want to become familair with the topic, then I don’t hesitate to write to the author of the blog. This may or may not lead to links, but for me I don’t really care too much – it’s about meeting new people and growing as a person, which will in itself improve me and by extension my blog.
First, never begin an interaction by merely asking for a link. This is, of course, assuming that you want to actually want to begin a worthwhile discussion with that blogger; if all you want is a link, then go right ahead and ask. If you open up by asking for a link, you’re basically telling that blogger that all you want is something from him or her.
Second, try to engage the blogger right off the bat. The best way to do this is to ask questions about their blog, both content-specific and otherwise. If you’re engaged enough to write to the blogger, you’re probably engaged enough to have read several posts, so they should be able to provide you with enough fodder to ask questions.
Write something engaging that can trigger a response. A frothing “I luv ur blog!” email will make a popular blogger smile, but it won’t get anything in return. Since you’re hoping to establish a conversation, you’re going to need something more meaty than that. You can express an admiration for their blog, but there needs to be more content to your email, particularly something that triggers a response.
Include a link to your own blog, but don’t shove it in their face. I usually just include it as my signature right beneath my name, just enough so that if they find my email interesting, they might click on it. I usually don’t mention it any more than that at first unless they ask about it.
Look for opportunities to meet other bloggers. I live in rural Iowa, so my opportunities to meet other successful bloggers are rather slim, but I am always looking for opportunities for blogger meetups and conventions. Attending such events can not only bring about interactions with other bloggers, but it can also make you feel much better about your own blog, reinvigorating you with the spirit to blog.
Remember, above all, blogging is a conversation and bloggers are good conversationalists.
Building a Better Blog is a month-long series at The Simple Dollar, outlining steps you can take to build a long-term healthy blog that will attract readers. Jump ahead to the next essay, Don’t Clutter It Up, or back to the previous one, Engage the Casual Visitor.