I’ve recently had some email communications from bloggers who have seemed to forgotten that an email is not a blog comment. They seem to have forgotten how to use email as a professional communications tool.
I get a lot of email with requests for me to write about something or promote it on my blog. I also get link requests and other requests, as well as questions on blogging and WordPress, and – okay, I get a lot of email. Email is another method communication we use as web communicators, so why don’t we bloggers set an example by emailing as well, if not better, than we blog?
Before you send off your next email to another blogger, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of the email?
- Is the title specific to the content?
- Is each point clear?
- Do you get to the point in the first sentence or paragraph?
- Does it outline the actions or steps you want taken?
- Does it outline what you need in the form of a response?
- Is this just information or do you need a response, and is that clear?
- Is there a deadline involved? Is it clearly stated?
- Have you provided all the information the recipient needs to make a decision?
- Did you spell check it?
- Is the blogger’s name spelled right?
- Did you check that all the links go to the right places?
- Did you check that all the attachments are attached?
- Is the email going to the right person(s)?
- Does the email contain appropriate or unnecessary graphics?
- Is the signature too long and includes unnecessary graphics?
We want your email. We want contact with our readers and other bloggers. We want recommendations on things to write about. We want information on spelling or grammar errors or if something is wrong with our blogs. We want your input. What we don’t want is time wasting correspondence.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Above all, keep it short. Keep the email to the point. Bloggers spend a lot of time reading on the web, from our blogs to other blogs to our feeds, and our email. We don’t have time for diatribes, a thesis, or even to read a book via email. Stay concise.
Get to the point quickly. While we love sweetness and kindness, we enjoy the point of the communications more than the syrup. Make us happy by getting to the point and stop with all the “I love your blog. You are just soooo smart. You help so many people. You are just awesome.” Great, fine, enough. What do you want?
Be Informally Formal
If you start out your email to a blogger, especially a personal or personable blogger, as “Dear Mrs. VanFossen”, I’m liable to feel like a school marm and may reach for the ruler.
Keep your email introductions personal and informal, but keep the core of the email formal and concise. Bloggers like direct inquiries, without a lot of smart ass or coy sweetness. We like honesty, so be honest and informally formal and we’ll like you a lot better, and probably reply a lot faster.
Remember, an email is not an old fashioned business letter, unless you are an attorney or writing on a business matter. Let the words speak for you, from your head and heart, not from a form letter.
Don’t Hold Expectations
Many bloggers, especially busy bloggers, get a lot of requests. Some they can handle, others they can’t. So don’t expect anything in return and you might be surprised.
If the blogger doesn’t respond or act upon your request in a timely matter, it’s okay to remind them, but don’t whine. If they can’t do it, or don’t think it’s feasible for their blog, they may tell you or just ignore you. Hopefully, they will tell you, so please, be nice if they say no. Even if they don’t explain why, just take it and be thrilled you got any response.
Bloggers get asked a lot of the same questions over and over, so why not surprise them with well thought out questions and use a search engine to find the answers to the most common blogger questions out there. Get our attention by thinking things through and searching first and you will get a better response.
Keep It Short, Sweet, and Small
An email that says “I’d like to talk with you more on this subject” which contains 96K of graphics is a waste of space and bandwidth. Don’t use stationary, pretty fonts, logos, pictures, or anything decorative. Don’t include tons of official signature titles and links, just the basics. If you have to add a privacy statement, make it short, not paragraphs long.
I honestly believe that your words are the point of the email. If your intent is sincere and your request valid. Why waste bandwidth and space on my computer or email storage with “pretty” stationery? Write pretty instead.
Email Isn’t Private Anymore
Emails are occasionally published on blogs and websites as proof and evidence of an issue or as an example. Emails are often published in newsgroups, discussions, and mailing lists. Should they? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop them. Make sure what you write is professional and able to be reproduced publicly.
Work out disagreements one-on-one, either in person or by phone. Handling situations that are emotionally charged via e-mail often escalates the conflict. It also puts things down on paper you may regret later. What is on paper can be republished.
To avoid having their email republished and made public, many bloggers are now adding non-disclosure agreements to their emails, such as:
Please don’t blog or share this. This message is intended only for the addressee and may contain information that is confidential or privileged. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.
Don’t Do List
Here are some things to not email a blogger about:
- Link Exchanges: They don’t work, so don’t ask. However, if you have a great article that you think the blogger would like, email them the link and tell them why, briefly, they and their readers would benefit from the article.
- Unrelated Subject Article Recommendations: My blog is about WordPress and blogging. Do you think I will publish a post recommending an article on dog grooming or college loans? Don’t contact me unless I invite the subject matter or the subject matter matches my content.
- Free Consultations: If you want us to give our time and expertise for free, let us know at the top you have no money and don’t want to pay. This gives bloggers the option of deciding if it is worth doing for free or declining the offer. In other words, be ready to pay us for our time, and we are more likely to give you more than your money’s worth.
- Blog Review Requests: If you want your blog reviewed, pay us. Otherwise, don’t ask. Go to a site and blogger that specializes in free site reviews and ask them.
- Products and Services Reviews: If you want a blogger to review a product or service, give it to them first. Make sure it is in line with their blog content and purpose before you make the request, and let them test drive it for free. You will get a more timely, and often better, response than you would if you ask them to review something they have to pay to use.
- Jokes, Funnies, Pictures, Slideshows, and Junk: Stop forwarding jokes, funnies, pictures, slideshows, and junk to anyone, but especially to bloggers. Anyone whose been blogging for more than a year is likely to have been online for several years and we’ve seen it all before. Stop it.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.