A Guide to Networking With Bloggers
Have you ever hooked up with a blogger? For designers, the benefits of networking with bloggers can be pretty big. For bloggers, their network of designers is usually pretty small. To become friends with a blogger means you could become their main point of reference for any person that asks them about design services.
Coming from the business world I know most decision makers in the marketing world really aren’t sure where to look for design services. They look to their peers for referrals. Bloggers are often a great reference for business decision makers because bloggers are often well connected in web communities.
Most bloggers are connected with others on the web. These connections are often business owners, managers, and marketers. These are the decision makers in the businesses that look for designers for various projects including site designs, consistent email design, and even fun projects like app design and a contest landing page.
Networking with bloggers is a great way to increase your network for referral business.
Networking With Bloggers, Gateway to More Clients
By 2012 an estimated 43% of US companies will have a blog. That’s nearly half of all the businesses in the US that will have a blog in less than a year. This is a huge opportunity.
The opportunity to connect with business bloggers is there. Most bloggers are frequently looking for quality contacts. They call on their connections for interviews, quotes in posts, and other collaborative work. Most bloggers would love to have a designer as a contact and the benefits can be great for designers too.
Business bloggers can be the gateway to potential paying jobs. Just as independent bloggers are looking for visuals and graphics, business bloggers are looking for the same things.
The difference is, business bloggers have connections to potentially larger projects within the business they work for. When they are sitting in on a meeting with their Internet Department and the topic of a site redesign comes up there is a good bet the blogger will think of the designer providing them with great graphics for the blog.
It’s important to have business contacts to generate referral business and another potential avenue is networking with bloggers. They can have many contacts with people in the business world and contacts with other bloggers that may need theme design or image design.
So now the idea of networking with bloggers is out there, but what is there to network about? What kinds of collaborations can a designer and a blogger work on?
The most common form of partnership is to simply work on projects together. Bloggers always have ideas for posts. Sometimes these posts can include some research and some data. Other times a blogger may have an idea for a blog series, but to really have the series of posts make an impact they need some kind of visual or graphic.
That’s where the collaboration comes in…
Infographics are popular right now. Spend any time in the blogosphere and you’ll come across your fair share of infographics, charts, and graphs. The reason these have become so popular is because they can make complex data easier to digest. It’s not that people can’t figure out data on their own, but well executed infographics make data easier to comprehend and understand.
And that’s really what much of the blogosphere is about – interpretation of life’s data. Most bloggers want to create infographics. They can usually conjure up some good data points like how many people use Macs vs. PCs or how many people use Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and IE.
The data is the easy part for bloggers, but most of them don’t know the difference between Photoshop and MS Paint. So bloggers are lost without a good designer on their team when it comes to infographics. The partnership usually works out where the designer comes in and saves the day by making the infographic something tangible.
And it is not just about making data pretty and beautiful. I would say designers have the more difficult task of really making data understandable for the viewing audience. That’s not easy. Plus bloggers usually want a little wit and humor in the graphic and that doesn’t come easy.
But don’t let the challenge deter you. A good infographic can lead to great exposure for a designer. It can lead to more paying work with bloggers and potentially even with businesses. As managers within companies start getting more into blogging they’re going to be looking for designers to make their blogs more unique and intriguing to readers and customers.
That’s enough on infographics for now. Stay tuned for my next post here on Onextrapixel entirely on infographics.
Blog Series Images
Another item that comes to mind when I think about designers and bloggers working together are images for blog series or even individual blog posts.
With my own blogs I try to make use of great visuals whenever possible. Being completely useless when it comes to having an eye for design and with creating visuals I need to work with talented designers. This usually means paying them for their services, but sometimes we can work out other deals like guest posts or website content for their clients.
When I say “blog visuals” I mean images that create a theme for a series of posts. I have one blog where I write about country music. A weekly post on the blog is a post covering the top 25 songs in the US from the previous week. The chart is compiled of how well songs do in various avenues like physical sales, digital sales, plays online, etc.
To really make the post stand out I had a designer create an image for the chart. It includes the name “CML Country Song Chart”. It links to all previous charts so readers can go back and see how their favorite artists are doing on the charts right now and how they’ve done in the past.
I don’t consider it a simple image, but the designer was able to create it in just a short amount of time so it may have been simple to them. For me, though, it really makes the series of posts special. I think the visual really adds a depth and more engaging experience to the series for readers.
Those are just two of the potential ways you can work with a blogger. By working together you can form a trusting relationship. The arrangement can be mutually beneficial where you share talents to better your own business or you may find a blogger willing to pay for your designer services.
In any case, it’s good to have bloggers in your network simply for the referral potential. Bloggers have the contacts and may potentially refer business to you since you’re the trusted designer in their network. The first step is to, of course, connect with a few bloggers.
Plan of Action
How many bloggers are you currently in contact with? Take this plan of action starting today – get to know one blogger per month. This doesn’t mean just following a blogger on Twitter or liking a business with a blog on Facebook. This means doing those things along with sending them an email, commenting on their blog, and starting the conversation that leads to a relationship.
The goal of one per month may not seem like much. It may seem easily attainable, but not every relationship will work out. Really taking the time to learn about a specific blog, reach out to the writer and work on forming a relationship.
At the very best you might get some good paying work from a new client making things like infographics, blog visuals, or even a site design.
In the worst-case scenario you should find some good friends and a few solid contacts. What have you got to lose?