Blogging

Improving Your Outreach – Lessons from the Travel Niche

Outreach is definitely the buzzword of the year. Whether it’s used for acquiring guest post opportunities, mentions on social media, or product reviews and feedback, having a successful process for connecting to others is essential.

At the start of this year I took a little time out to do some traveling around South East Asia. As a result, I thought it’d be a prime opportunity to set up my own travel blog to document my journeys, as well as bring in a little extra income to cover some of my spending money.

After running the blog for around 9 months now, I’ve learned a lot of lessons from being on the receiving end of contact from SEO companies. So, I thought I’d conduct some outreach of my own to find out what other travel bloggers liked to see from companies reaching out to them and provide some recommendations about what actually works.

Travel Blogger Opinions

Over my time within the travel blogging community I’ve built some great relationships with a load of fantastic bloggers. I got in touch with a few of them to find out what they thought about the approach companies use when reaching out to them – take heed of their advice!

Heather Cowper – HeatherOnHerTravels.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

I get around 5-10 e-mails a day. I now have a marketing assistant who deals with these for me, so it actually costs me money to respond although I try to ensure we respond to all but the most spammy requests.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

No, I’d rather receive an email from a professional organization than by someone who is looking for links but pretends they are a writer looking to promote their work. However, whenever I see an email footer from an SEO company I know what they are looking for and it makes me a bit cross if they then ask me to promote their client for free, when they are no doubt being paid.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

It needs to be on the shorter side, but long enough to convince me that they have taken some time to look at my blog and understand what might work for me.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

If I get an e-mail that begins Hi or Hey there it is a big turn off. When my e-mail and my site name include my first name it shouldn’t be so very hard to address me by name. I am strongly tempted not to reply to anyone who can’t take the time to find out my name. I also get fed up of very generic e-mails that are just a cut and paste. Also it’s annoying when people ask what type of guest posts I accept when I have a whole page that they can easily access on my site with this information. I’d say that 90% of the requests I get have obviously not bothered to take a look at my blog.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Obviously, address me by name. Then take the time to review the information on my site about the kind of guest posts that I accept, as I am specific in my requirements to ensure I only publish high quality content that is of interest to my audience. I’m not especially impressed by anyone who tells me how much they love my blog unless they include some evidence that they have read beyond the most recent article. I’d also appreciate those who treat me as a professional and don’t expect me to promote their client for free – there is a value to my time, my content and my audience.

Annabel Candy – GetInTheHotSpot.com & SuccessfulBlogging.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

~50

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Yes, if they are looking for free links which they are being paid to place.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

Short and to the point.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

  • Unsolicited emails from strangers.
  • No company email address so I have no idea who they are.
  • No personal name used at the beginning of the email, just a domain name.
  • Saying they have a team of writers because there’s no personal relationship and I don’t know who’ll be writing the content, if they’re a native speaker or have any authority on the topic.
  • Offering to write quality content because it implies I don’t already have that on my blog.
  • Promising to Copyscape articles,  as that creates instant mistrust.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Don’t send blanket emails. My Write For page clearly states I only take guest posts from friends and genuine readers. In general, do your research to find out if bloggers accept guest posts, what type of content they actually post and if you can actually help them. Don’t waste their time by sending long, irrelevant emails.

Dave Briggs – DavesTravelPages.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

I would say that I get anywhere between 10 and 30 requests a week from people looking for links from my travel site.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

I actually prefer an email from an SEO company than from a seemingly random stranger using a Gmail account. Being upfront and honest, (even if I say no to their request) is far better from my point of view, and even if I don’t work with them the first time, I may work with them in the future.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

The length of an email is not as important as its content. Get to the point, tell me what you want, and include enough information to save time on multiple responses from both sides. 

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

An almost endless list, but certainly don’t send me a request from a Gmail account, at least research enough to address the email to me personally and not “Dear Webmaster”, and most importantly, don’t ask me to do things for free – I have bills to pay!

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Please move with the times, and stop focusing on links. I can do so much more for you as a social influencer, using not only an article on my blog, but social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Rosemary Neave – WomenTravelBlog.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

~40

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

YES.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

Shorter.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

If they address me by my name at least I know they have looked at my site, so that helps.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Detail helps – if they know my name, have a specific thing they can identify on my site that needs attention so  I can recognize and see the benefit. I HATE generic inquiries and junk them.

Mircea Giurca – JourneyEtc.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

About 6-7, but 50% of the requests make low-ball offers so I have to reject them out of consideration to my other advertisers. There are also some advertisers I just don’t want to be associated with, so only a small number goes through.

BTW, I allow guest-posts on my site (but only to other bloggers), and lately I see advertisers approaching me first to have a guest post. After explaining them that it’s not available, they offer me a deal.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Short answer, no. :)

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

I manage several other sites and time management is getting difficult everyday, so I prefer short, straight to the point, emails.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

Most advertisers use an email template for potential partners that they personalize, but some forget to change the URL or contact details. I think this is lack of professionalism and I usually mark the email as spam.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Offer a short description about the advertiser. Some say ‘I have a client/we represent a company’! I understand some don’t want to reveal their identity until a deal is confirmed, but they should at least provide a little more details.

Enrico Ferretti – ItalyLuxuryHotel.it

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

The average is 5 or 6 in a week, I get many guest posting requests because I’m the author of different travel blogs (in English and Italian language). Unfortunately, sometimes the requests are utterly off topic.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Not at all: one of the aims of guest blogging is to get high quality backlinks, but you have to write posts user-oriented, not for search engines.

Valid content is essential to improve search engine ranking, because posts can involve users to share and comment. In other words the posts must provide useful information, relevant to the topic.

Sometimes the SEO agencies ask directly to me to write travel articles, they aren’t looking for merely promotional purposes but want the authentic experience of a travel blogger, who can increase credibility of the companies.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

It’s all the same to me, the first step is a standard answer, to define the terms of a possible collaboration and explain my guidelines. The problem is that I often receive posts with poor content and full of keywords, those are useless for users.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature? 

The main hurdle is the time wasted in skimming emails, because I have to recognize the relevant emails and the most interesting contents, but sometimes people send me posts that need a revision. I think that I will ask a small fee for revision, due to the high amount of requests.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

First of all: they have to explain their demands in a direct way, is the first step to avoid wasting my and their time. The more honest they are, the better. If I understand the needs of the company, I can help them more effectively.

Andrea Spirov – InspiringTravellers.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

Anywhere from 25 to 40,

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Not if the email is worthy of attention.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

For the first email, short and direct is better. Then we can discuss at length in later emails.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

Companies that expect things for free with no real value exchange.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Be transparent in who you are and what you are looking for.

Cameron Wears – TravelingCanucks.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

We get about 20-25 requests per week.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

No, provided the email is not spammy and it is personalized.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

Shorter, more direct emails. I don’t have time to read long emails. They usually get deleted.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

What puts me off are introductions like “Hi there” and “Dear Webmaster”. When someone can’t even take the time to learn my name or understand what my blog is about, I delete the email right away. I don’t want to work with people who don’t respect the time and commitment I put into my blog. For example, when people say things like “I’d like to place content on your site and I won’t even charge you for it”. Seriously? No respectable blogger would place free text links, so this tells me that the company is looking to take advantage of inexperienced bloggers. Also, when an email has poor spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. If you are offering a guest post and you can’t spell, it’s never going to happen.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Respect my time. Don’t ask for free promotions or text link ads. Cut to the chase and give me a real offer. Tell me what you want, be specific. I don’t have time to email back and forth trying to negotiate. SEO companies know what fair market rates are, so when you get a fair price, take it. It’s pretty easy to sniff out SEO companies with low integrity. If I feel like the person/company is trying to grind me or low ball me, it’s usually a sign that this person/company is not someone I want to be affiliated with. I won’t compromise the integrity of my site for a few dollars.

Genevieve Atkinson – Fossick.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

Only 1 every so often for links. Between 5-10 requests a week for guest posts.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Absolutely. The type of posts I look for are personal recommendations and experiences, ideally written by a local or someone who knows the area well. When an SEO company approaches me invariably they are offering to have their team of writers write the article. Often this person has little relevance or connection to the posts content. The better the connection, the better the post.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails? 

I prefer any email that shows that the reader has spent even 2 minutes actually reading my blog, seeing the type and style of posts and writing something personal to me. Over half of the requests I receive are generic and tell me how great my blog is. It’s actually really easy to spot who is going to work out by the first email.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

  1. Asking me if I accept guest posts. Clearly if you had actually looked at my blog or the info page you would see that I do.
  2. Not having reading my info page on guest posts. I specifically ask people to write with a suggestion of a post, so I know immediately if you read it or just sending a bulk generic email.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

  1. Don’t state the obvious. I accept guest posts, you can see them on my site. I understand the benefit of them, please don’t try to sell me the benefits. Sell me the benefits of working with you. Guest posts are free content sure, but they take up loads of my time, each post generally takes at least an hour to read, respond to emails, upload, check, find imagery. The people who acknowledge that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship work out the best.
  2. Secondly I don’t accept crap, if I did then you wouldn’t want to guest post on my blog.
  3. Approach with an idea, even if we go with something totally different, it opens me up to the opportunity of what interests you. I also prefer people to write about something that they have personal experience of.
  4. Don’t hassle me to publish, we don’t work to your deadlines. Realize that a guest posting is likely to take several weeks to months to publish.

Amanda Williams – Dangerous-Business.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

I would say I receive at least a dozen of these types of e-mails per week; sometimes more. Though, they are usually disguised as offers for “free guest posts.”

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Not in theory. If an SEO company is actually pitching an idea (be it a sponsored post, a link, an ad, etc.) that is relevant to my blog and is willing to compensate me fairly, I don’t mind being contacted. But, sadly, most SEO agencies are only looking for free links or extremely cheap ones. And that’s just sort of insulting.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

It depends on the topic, of course, but my journalist background has taught me that short and simple is almost always better.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

The pandering bits where the sender is trying to convince me that they are doing me a grand favor by offering me free (and usually low-quality) content really turn me off. It is NOT a favor; in fact, it’s just insulting. I have worked very hard on my blog for years. And by trying to trick me into accepting “free content” with SEO or advertising links in it, you are basically telling me that my hard work is worth nothing.

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Get my name right, first of all!! I appreciate when people take the time to address an e-mail correctly. But when you copy and paste that e-mail and call me Linda or Craig? I will delete your message right away without even reading it.

Inma Gregorio – aWorldtoTravel.com

Q. In an average week, how many requests do you get from people looking for links to your website?

From 10 to 20. Sometimes even more.

Q. Does it put you off if you receive an email from an SEO agency?

Not at all. Reaching out also means something.

Q. Do you prefer shorter, more direct emails or longer, detailed emails?

Straight to the point is always better.

Q. What really turns you off in an email that you receive of this nature?

Asking for free linking

Q. What would you say is one of the most important things for companies to do when emailing you?

Being specific. Time is really precious nowadays.

9638b888d876208cb26cd9ba129aecbc 64 Improving Your Outreach   Lessons from the Travel Niche

Matthew Barby

Digital Strategist at Wyatt International
Matthew Barby is the Head of Online Strategy at Wow Internet, a UK based digital marketing agency. Alongside this, Matt runs the Find My Blog Way blog that gives advice, resources and tutorials on various aspects of digital marketing.
9638b888d876208cb26cd9ba129aecbc 64 Improving Your Outreach   Lessons from the Travel Niche

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9 thoughts on “Improving Your Outreach – Lessons from the Travel Niche

    1. Thanks, Mike – appreciate your comments.

      One thing that we don’t see enough is people actually speaking with, and getting feedback from real bloggers. We seem to always be devising the latest outreach strategies, but nobody is actually talking to bloggers to ask what they want!

      1. Agreed, I love our industry but it is filled with a lot more talkers or “experts” than it is actual doers. Getting the voice of the people who are actually developing, implementing and maintaining the strategies is refreshing to read.

  1. Great article Matthew, it’s great to hear about blogger outreach from the other side. Looks like I need to make some changes to the blogger outreach process for the agency I work for.

  2. It’s very interesting to get the perspective of the bloggers. Seems like most of the tips could apply to most other industries where blogging is popular. Plans to follow up with a more travel specific post? Cheers!

  3. What I got from this: The vast majority of bloggers want to be paid. You can send the perfect email, and they’ll still want to be paid.That’s what I’ve got from emailing the vast majority of bloggers with content that has been created in-house. That of course doesn’t mean my blogger outreach is flawed, as I still manage to get articles published on other blogs.

    Additionally clients do not like to be seen paying for guest posts nor is it a good strategy. What if the activities you’re doing for your client (i.e. paying for guest posts) gains media attention? You’ll get a slap down by Google, as can be seen by recent examples such as RapGenius. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you’ll wish you never went down that route of paying for guest posts, which is clearly and absolutely against Google’s guidelines. They’ll make an example out of you if your client is big enough.

    But yes, this article affirms that what I do when I do outreach is sort of correct — aside from the payment bit.