11 Travel Blogger Outreach Fails

Blogger Outreach is also known as Influencer Marketing. A blogger outreach program is where a business finds popular bloggers in their industry, and works with them through guests posts, sponsored posts, podcast sponsorships, etc.

Done right?

Businesses can reach very niche audiences in a cost effective manner. Bloggers can (finally) make a bit of money for their efforts. And readers learn about products that actually interest them.

Done wrong?

A business finds itself ignored.

Or ridiculed.

Here at Ditching Suburba we get a fair number of contacts from companies doing influencer marketing.

We’ve worked with companies like meori and Legacy Foods because they approached us in a reasonable manner and we felt their products had actual value to those of you who read our site.

But.

There are a bunch of businesses we haven’t worked with. Either their products weren’t a good fit, or their pitch was just plain silly.

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And it’s not just us. We’ve gathered some examples from others in our Ditched tribe.

The Point?

I’ll warn you, I’m in full-on snark mode with these pitches. I think you’ll see why.

But my main point for this entire post is more than just having a good chuckle at the expense of uneducated or overworked marketers.

I hope that by seeing some bad examples of blogger outreach pitches, and reading our reaction to them, new companies can improve their influencer marketing programs.

So, here we go.

1. Bob Vila Would Know Better

The Pitch

“I recently came across your site and I’m wondering if I can post one of my articles here.

I’ve been writing up home improvement articles too and would love the chance to write on your blog but I couldn’t manage to find your email.

If you could get ahold of me at ______? I would greatly appreciate it.”

Fail!

Home improvement articles.

For people ditching the suburbs.

OK.

Also, you obviously found the big ole’ link in the main navigation that says “CONTACT” so I’m not sure why you talk about not finding an email address?

Lesson

Take at least a few minutes to understand the topic and audience of a blog before making your pitch. Make sure your product is at least vaguely appropriate.

2. Clueless

The Pitch

“My name is _____ and I write for ______ Charters St. Thomas.

We’ve been featured on Caribbean Travel, the Official Tourism Website of the Caribbean.

Would you be interested in an engaging guest post for your site, in exchange for a discreet company bio with a subtle link?

Maybe an article similar to the one we did for Caribbean Travel, like: “Top 10 Family-Friendly Destinations of the Caribbean.”

Fail!

This email came in literally as Hurricane Irma was slamming the Carribean with 185 mile/hour winds and devastating the entire region.

Pretty sure there won’t be 10 family-friendly places to visit there any time soon.

Lesson

Make sure your offer makes sense given current events. A poorly timed email can make you look insensitive.

3. ZZTop Would Be All Over It

The Pitch

“Hello, my name is ____ and I represent _______.

A lot of people spend way too much on quality sunglasses, and I was wondering if you would be interested in helping people save money by listing ______.com as a resource on your wonderful blog?

Feel free to add this coupon code to give your readers an additional discount during checkout: CHEAP30

Cheers!”

Fail!

While we realize most of our audience probably wears sunglasses, we aren’t creating a guide to random consumer goods.

Also consider your business case. You’d make money from a sale. Site visitors get a discount code. But after we do the work to implement and promote your link we get….bupkis?

Why would we bother?

Lesson

Your offer has to provide value for everyone. You, us, and our readers. At least offer us free gear or an affiliate program so we might stand to make some money for our efforts.

4. A Real Coup

The Pitch

“Hey Michael:

My name is ____ and I am part of the team behind ____.com - an ergonomic office furniture retailer.

We are looking to get the word out about our blog, (into which we are investing heavily through content creation and promotion).

Do you guys accept guest posts? It would be a real coup for us to have an article on your site.”

Fail!

Two things.

Did you even read what our site was about? You want to write about office furniture for people selling their houses to work remotely from houses, boats, or hotel rooms?

Second, you also offer no WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). That you would get a “real coup” is great.

For you.

What do we get? Maybe send some of that “investing heavily” action our way?

But, bonus points for at least finding and including my name.

Lesson

Don’t sell us on why the idea is great for you. You might be the bestest most awesomeist person in the world, but we don’t know you. We’re much more interested in our bottom line than furthering the career of a random internet marketer.

Offer value to the blogger. Make that your primary pitch.

5. Amazing, Awesome, Fantastic!!

The Pitch

“Hi Michael,

Hope you are having an amazing day. I checked your blog and I think you have an awesome lifestyle traveling everywhere you want. Although, I’m sure you come across many difficulties as a digital nomad. That’s why so many people wonder how comfortable is to live in an RV.

To answer this question, I’m creating an expert roundup that will feature insights from RV bloggers. The post will be published at ________.com.

Would you like to participate? All you have to do is to send me your answer to this question by 22 December:

What are the top features that the best RV mattress should have?

We will link with a do follow link to your site. Also, it would be great if you can send me a short author bio and the photo you prefer so I can include them in the post. If you are busy, no problem. I can search the bio and the image myself.

Looking forward to your reply. Let me know if you’re in.

Thanks so much!

Have a fantastic week ahead!”

Fail!

So you want us to lend our name to your blog post to help you sell more RV mattresses?  Again, where’s the WIIFM? You offer no discount coupon, no swag, nothing?

Just superlatives?

Again, why would we bother?

And really…does it take an “expert roundup” of 20 RV bloggers to say that a mattress should be “affordable and comfortable”?

Lesson

Offer value to the blogger past stroking their ego.

Also - consider your readers/customers. Choose an appropriate type of content for the task at hand. If you’re going to bother 20 bloggers for an “expert roundup” at least use their expertise on a non-trivial topic.

6. Lazydays is Lazy

I don’t normally want to do the whole “name and shame” thing, but even months later this whole interchange still irks me. I can’t believe the biggest RV dealer in the WORLD stooped to this level of blogger marketing.

After this went down, I reached out to a couple of people in the Lazydays marketing department (via LinkedIn) to let them know how bad this was making them look. I never got a response. So - I’m including the email interchange here for your reading amusement.

Note all email coming from the Lazydays “representative” came from a gmail account, not a lazydays.com account. The sender had an unusual name. I Googled it. I found her listed on Fiverr.com and Upwork.com as an “SEO expert”.

Original email:
“Hi editorial team at Ditching Suburbia,

I’d like to contribute to DitchingSuburbia.com in a positive way, And was wondering if I may offer an article to your blog.

Suggested Post Title:
What is the best truck to pull a fifth wheel RV?

let me know if you’re interested in this topic.

Thanks,
(name redacted)
Accessories.LazyDays.com”

Me:
“And what rate is Lazydays offering to pay for advertising on our site?”

Them:
“It’s not an add we will just publish an article, it’s a free good content.

It’s up to you.”

Me:
“Ah. So you aren’t looking for credit or a link to anything? “

Them:
“The article might have hyperlinks, or if you published it as a guest post you could mention my site if that’s possible.”

Me:
“And your site is accessories.lazydays.com?”

Them:
“yeah.”

Me:
“Yea..so not to be a jerk about it but…

If a corporate behemoth like Lazydays wants to take advantage of all the hard work we’ve put in on DitchingSuburbia over the last 6 years it’s going to take a lot more than a free blog post.”

Them:
“how much u think it costs?”

Me:
“If my google-fu is right it looks like Lazydays hired you as a freelance SEO person.

I’d be happy to discuss an arrangement, but would prefer to negotiate directly with a representative from Lazydays web/marketing team.”

Them:
“I’m the one who is taking the decisions when it comes to seo and guest posting I chose ur site i qualified it I’m the one who will make the decision if it worth the cost or not they delegated me to do this, if you’re not comfortable to working with me it’s totally okay. No worries :)”

Me:
“We’ll pass, thanks.”

Them:
“I reported them about your enquiry that u want to work with them directly and they said no. so we will pass as well.”

Fail!

Where to start.

First, it should be obvious that we’re good at generating our own blog content. You can easily see we publish at least once a week.

Second, we have standards for our content. Judging from the Lazydays emails the offered content would not be up to our standards and need heavy editing and/or complete rewriting.

Third, “What is the best truck to pull a fifth wheel RV?”

Really?

What fifth wheel? What’s “best”?

You aren’t going to actually road test every truck pulling every fifth wheel on the market so it’s all going to be conjecture at best. Crap link-bait at worst.

So your “free content”?

Not really a selling point.

But those issues are minor.

Lazydays in Florida is huge.

Huge!

They have a campground onsite. We’ve camped there. They have a huge pool, clubhouse, shuttle service, and a full-on cafeteria we’ve eaten at. 2500 RVs in stock. 300 service bays. Heck, their own reality TV show.

But when it comes to putting a blogger outreach program together to market their online accesssories store all they can do is hire someone on Fiverr.com?

And think they’re going to get results by offering “free content”?

Lame.

Lesson

Businesses, invest in your web properties and content like you would your physical properties. Spend more on it than you spend on the drivers for your shuttle busses.

And again, make an offer that has actual value to the blogger. Either pay for a sponsored post or implement an affiliate program.

Stories from Other Ditchers

We asked our tribe to see if they had any blogger outreach fails to add, and boy they did!

7. But, Exposure!

A large rv manufacturer once contacted us about possible “sponsorship”. We were excited! After a 10 min phone call we found out the truth—they wanted us to write blog posts for them exclusively and let them use our photos, but our payment would be “the exposure from their Instagram” which has less followers than I do. Lordy.Kate Veltkamp

8. Tired Tires

One of my favorites was a motorcycle/ATV company wanting ME to write an article about THEIR tires and feature it on MY blog. They wouldn’t take no for an answer, kept emailing me, until I told them it would cost $250, never heard from them again. Geez!Theresa Hewston

9. Sweat Equity

The workout app that wanted me to post in exchange for them giving me a month of access. Oh but I needed to work out everyday so that I would have great results to share. What? Compensation? No.Merry Kuchle

10. About You = About Us?

Macy Miller of Minimotives.com writes:

“I got this email from someone whose name is apparently ‘Christopher’ but the email was signed ‘Daniele’”:

“Hi Macy, I am currently working with a leading healthcare organisation. I noticed your site has published a very interesting article, “About Me - MiniMotives”, which is why I think a collaboration between us could work well. We would like to feature a bespoke piece of content on your site, which we think would be of great interest to you and your audience. For the privilege of being featured on your site, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $50. We hope to hear back from you soon. Kind Regards, Daniele”

Macy continues:
“Then they had the guts to write a pushy follow up email when I ignored the first. Seriously, they want to put an ad on my ‘About Me’ page. Because it’s “A very interesting article”.

The other side of this is it was in the midst of a huge ugly healthcare debate because our family isn’t allowed to be on one health insurance plan unless we get married.

Which we don’t agree with.

So our kids have to be on one plan, James on another and me on a third plan. Three max out of pockets, three deductibles and three plans, but they want to place ads on my flipping ‘about me’ page.

Nutso!”

11. My name is Elmer Fudd, Millionare. I own a mansion and a yacht.

OK, kinda vague Bugs Bunny reference. It’s that yacht thing.

Behan Gifford of Sailing Totem writes:

“Here’s today’s absurd email:

“Hello Sailing Totem, I have visited your site http://www.sailingtotem.com and believe that it’s content about luxury yacht vacation, would interest visitors to my site. I plan to add your link to my website as an additional resource for our site users.”

Behan comments:

“Because clearly, LUXURY YACHT VACATIONS are what we are all about! And notice that they didn’t bother to get my name, although it’s above the fold on every frickin’ page?”

I also like how they tell Behan what the URL of her own blog is.

Just in case, you know.

11 Stories. Alike in Many Ways.

Businesses, I hope you see there are some common threads here.

If you are going to do blogger outreach a few simple actions will go a long way:

  1. Understand the site and its readers. Make sure your product is a good fit.
  2. Check your timing. Don’t try to sell a post about the Caribbean in the middle of a hurricane.
  3. Offer value to the blogger. And by value I mean product or cash. Running a quality blog requires a lot of effort. Don’t expect to leverage the bloggers hard work for your gain for free. Or for “exposure”. Or “promotion”. Or “free content”.
  4. Personalize your pitch. Get the blogger’s name. Read a few of their posts.
  5. Be human. So many of these pitches sound automated.

Have Any Stories To Add?

Bloggers - have you ever been contacted with a ridiculous request as part of a blogger outreach program gone bad?

Are You Reaching Out?

If you represent a business and were thinking about reaching out to us, rest easy. We don’t bite. But we really like our readers. We are picky who we share them with.

If you think you have the stuff, take a gander at our guidelines. If you still think you’d be a good fit, get in touch.

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5 Comments 11 Travel Blogger Outreach Fails

  1. Picture of JenniJenniSeptember 14, 2017

    I got a good one while we were out.  It was a request to write for a site based in Croatia that was aimed at helping European parents learn to travel with kids,  because apparently Europeans believe that the minute the first baby comes along life is totally over.  Anyway, they actually paid really good money for my articles.  I made several hundred dollars.  They paid more than fairly and did not ask us to link back to their site from ours or to post ads. 

    I might be old-fashioned, but I truly cannot understand how Lazydays can be okay with being represented by someone who writes emails with worse grammar than a third grader.  And why that person feels such unprofessional writing is going to help their case?  Yikes.

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkSeptember 15, 2017

    Evidently I went to press too soon. Here’s another pitch:
    Dear Ditching Suburbia,

    I just came across your site, and I’m very impressed with how you make your own boundlessly creative home and lifestyle tips easy for readers to apply in their own lives.

    Would you please consider linking to furniture dot com?

    Over at Furniture dot com we not only create a one-stop-shopping experience for furniture across the country and offer a handy local sales finder, but we also have a Tips and Trends Blog. Currently, we have posts that offer your readers more resources that make it simple to create a home that perfectly reflects their personality:

    (Link redacted)
    (Link redacted)

    Please contact me if you have any questions about Furniture.com and what we
    offer!

    Thank you!
    Carlina
    Furniture dot com

    ——————————————————-
    Fail!
    Again, two things.

    First, people ditching the suburbs are getting rid of furniture, not buying it.

    Duh, did you even read our site? Or did you just plug in a keyword, find us ranking well, and contact us without taking 2 seconds to look around?

    Second, why would we help you sell more furniture? What’s in it for us? You offer us not a single thing to even justify the time it takes to add a link on our site. No discount, no affiliate program, nothing.

  3. Picture of Andrea ElkinsAndrea ElkinsSeptember 15, 2017

    Wow. Just wow. I remember reading pitches like this back in 2005. I had hoped that the industry had evolved somewhat.

    (And the whole Lazydays debacle? I have no words.)

  4. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkSeptember 16, 2017

    Another…odd one.

    The Pitch
    My name is Jackie. I’m now a researcher, editor and writer, but I started my working life in Environmental Health at local government level. From this I learned just how much we take our living spaces for granted.

    We actually do a lot of damage to our waterways and rivers from incorrect disposal of liquids and other matter down our plugholes. Environmentally friendly drain care is much easier than you might think, and, with this idea in mind, I’ve recently decided to help research and put together an informative guide specific to natural drain care and the damage some cleaners can do if not used correctly. If you’d like to, you can read the piece here:
    (link to a local plumber site in TX redacted)

    If at all possible, I’d really love it if you’d consider giving this piece a mention on your own blog or site. If you’d prefer I can put together a quick blurb, intro or even a longer piece which highlights the important information in it.

    By the way, I found you via this great piece of content on your site https://ditchingsuburbia.com/blog/class-b-kitchen - a little while back, when I was researching another article I was writing, so I thought you might be interested in this particular piece. If you’re not, however, please don’t worry – I won’t ever contact you again.

    With all good wishes
    Jackie

    ————————————-
    Fail!
    So you want to link to an article about how to manage residential plumbing…on a site where the actual name of site is “Ditching Suburbia”.

    Mmmmm…kay.

    I’m never quite sure how automated some of these pitches are. Mentioning one of our articles adds verisimilitude (the appearance of being real) yet the email doesn’t mention anything specifically from the article just the URL.

    My gut feeling is she googled anything to do with “kitchens” and didn’t spent a single second reading any further.

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