As with most things in life, blogging is not a self-contained operation. Maintaining a successful blog is more than just publishing posts to your platform, as high-quality as they may be. So many other elements come into play if you want to grow your publication beyond the readership of your friends and family. Bloggers who have high traffic volume, a large number of followers, and relationships with brands have all mastered (or at least gotten comfortable with) the art of communication.
In the digital space, the most important form of communication is probably email. True, it can take on a very informal tone, and its almost instantaneous nature lends itself to speaking casually, but as a blogger you're essentially running your own business, and need to approach your initial communication with a professional attitude.
As a blogger, I've had a fair amount of experience exchanging emails with everyone from fellow bloggers to readers to PR firms and fashion brands. Responding to an email is a piece of cake – you only need to echo the tone with which you were approached. The difficulty, I find, lies in constructing an initial email – one that gets read, and responded to.
Based on past experience, my mother's etiquette advice, and some light reading, here are my best tips for putting together an effective email:
Subject Line is Key
- This is one of the most crucial elements of an email. You need to employ all your powers of editing and word choice to put together a quick 2 to 5 word subject line.
- Aim to make the subject of your email exactly that – determine the bare bones of your message.
- No matter if you're reaching out to a brand, a blogger or a reader, address the person by name. At all costs avoid general greetings such as “To Whom It May Concern,” or heaven forbid, “Dear Blogger.”
- I don't believe it's essential to start every email with “Dear;” a salutation of “Hello” or “Hi” followed by the name is friendly and appropriate.
- Do a little research beforehand and include a quick, personal anecdote or something specific about the person that will indicate that you have put thought into what you're saying, and to whom you're saying it. It will also clue them into why you are reaching out. Find a way to relate.
Keep It Short
- I usually start by introducing myself, and if I've been referred to this person by someone else, I state that as soon as possible. It may be relevant to include your job title or the name of your blog in your introduction as well.
- Be friendly, but don't be long winded and overly-explanatory. Take John Mayer's advice and just “Say what you need to say.”
- It's safe to assume the person you're contacting is fairly busy, so get to the point as quickly and efficiently as you can.
- Break up your email in to small 2 to 3 sentence paragraphs so that it can be easily scanned for the important points.
Be Specific & Direct
- If you're emailing to make a request, be straightforward. As politely and kindly as you know how, ask for what you want.
- Don't put doubt in this person's mind that you are not worthy of their time and attention. Avoid self-deprecating phrases like “I know it's a long shot but,…” or “I don't want to bother you, but…” Your reader will not take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously.
- If you're reaching out to introduce yourself (perhaps to a peer blogger), give a good reason! Do you have something in common with this person? Do you admire them? Do you live in the same city or attend the same events?
- If you're making a proposal, clearly outline the project, and state what the receiver stands to gain, or how you can both benefit from this amazing project you have so cleverly envisioned.
Wrap It Up Gracefully
- Concluding an email can be tricky, but try to find the sweet spot between professional and friendly. I always say thank you in some way, and that I look forward to hearing from the receiver.
- Don't be too stiff. “Regards” is really one to avoid in my book. I usually stick with my tried and true favorites like “All The Best,” “Thank You So Much,” and the classic, “Sincerely.”
- I've realized that perhaps my biggest pet peeve among bloggers and those of us who are fluent in socializing in the digital age is a lack of grammatical attention. We're so much more casual and informal (which can be great!), but it can lead to putting spelling and grammar on the back burner. Computers are pretty smart, but so are you. They won't catch everything so put that noggin of yours to use.
- Just because these messages are being delivered at rapid-fire pace doesn't mean you have to create said message at the same speed. Be thoughtful, and take care with what you say and how you say it.
- If you're not confident in your own proofreading skills or your ability to know when you use “affect” and “effect” or the dreaded there / their / they're, don't be afraid to ask for help. Send a draft to a coworker or friend to have them look it over before sending it. They may see something you missed!
Also, here are some helpful articles to further advise you on effective emailing, from more professional sources than myself:
Are you already an expert email-writer? Leave tips for the community in the comments below!