Kickstarter Lesson #27: Bloggers, Podcasters, and Reviewers

3 April 2013 | 26 Comments

You’re a week into your Kickstarter project. Initial excitement for the project has died down, and you need to spread the word beyond your social network. So what do you do?

You reach out to bloggers, podcasters, and reviewers. As noted in the previous lesson, the more people hear about your project, the more likely they are to attain the critical mass of knowledge needed to get them to back your project.

Timing

Now, keep in mind that this is something you should have done before the project. But even if your pre-project blogger outreach was excellent, you’re still going to hear about more blogs and podcasts during the campaign, so you might as well reach out to them.

However, timing is still key. Don’t wait until the final two days of your campaign to contact bloggers. But also don’t reach out on Day 1–launch day is for friends, family, and previous backers (if this isn’t your first project). The key is to wait until your project is clearly on the way to funding or until it has already funded. That way you are adding value to a blog or podcast by inviting them to be a part of a successful Kickstarter.

Finding Your Blog and Podcast Matches

A small company approached me a few months ago about a Kickstarter campaign they’re planning for a special type of beer cooler. I asked him if he had reached out to any blogs, and he said that he wasn’t aware of any blogs about beer coolers.

Although it’s important to look for blogs in your product category, there are subcategories that might not be apparent at first. In this example, I recommended that he contact camping blogs, tailgating blogs, concert and festival blogs, “manly” blogs about grilling and BBQing, blogs that talk about the trials and tribulations of startups, local blogs, blogs about running a Kickstarter campaign…the list goes on.

Given the wealth of blogs out there, you may need to narrow down the options a bit. You can gauge a blog’s popularity by looking at it’s Alexa rank (add the Alexa plugin on any browser and look for blogs that are within the top 2 million, if not better), the number of Likes on their Facebook page, or the number of subscribers.

How to Request Coverage

This is the most important part, and it starts well before you formally contact the blogger. You should be an active participant on a blog well before you mention the idea of writing a guest post, as a blogger is highly unlikely to let a complete stranger write a post on their blog. So make sure to comment on your favorite blogs now and then so those bloggers can see who you are as a writer and that you’re part of their blogging community, not just someone who needs something from them. Having your own ongoing blog can help too.

Here is a basic template to follow when e-mailing a blogger, podcaster, or reviewer. All information you’ll need to customize is in the brackets.

Hey [insert blogger’s first name],

I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog over [the time period over which you’ve been reading their blog]. I stumbled upon it when [explain how you found the blog], and I was immediately hooked by [offer a genuine compliment about this specific blog]. I really enjoyed the entry about [mention specific blog entry], and [insert a personal detail about you that relates to the blog entry you just mentioned].

I currently have a project on Kickstarter called [insert name and hyperlink to the Kickstarter page] that will run through [project end date]. Because [list connection between your project and one of the primary topics on the blog], I thought I might share it with you. Would you be interested in doing a [interview/guest entry/review] on your blog? My hope is that it would add value to your audience, especially since it’s in line with [list the primary topic on the blog again].

[If you asked for a review, this line should read, “If you’d prefer to review the final copy of the product, I would be happy to send you one when we complete production.”] Thanks for your time, and I look forward to future entries about [topic on the blog that interests you].

Best,

[your name]

You’ll notice that every aspect of this e-mail is customized for the specific blogger, podcaster, or reviewer whom you’re contacting. That is incredibly important–not only are mass e-mails the same as spam (they’re always spam unless people opted into your list), but a personal e-mail is many times more effective than a mass e-mail at eliciting a positive response.

You’ll also notice that the core of the e-mail is structured around you offering them something, not the other way around. This isn’t about you. It’s about the value you’re offering to them. Otherwise you’re just trying to make a sale, and you’re not going to get a response. You might think, “What do I have to offer them?” Here’s a little secret from my experience writing a daily blog over the last 6 years: Bloggers are always looking for interesting content that applies to our blog. Always. If you can make the connection between your Kickstarter project and my blog, I’m definitely going to entertain the offer to write about you or interview you.

One other method you could use is to ask for advice. The structure of the e-mail remains the same, but ask for some sort of feedback in an area that the blogger is knowledgeable about. This isn’t a token ask–only ask if you truly want advice.

How to Be Interviewed

I won’t go into too much detail here because the general idea is to be interesting and excited about your project. But I’ll mention two specific things:

  • Don’t rehash the same content: If you do multiple interviews with multiple bloggers, you might find yourself answering the same questions. Do not answer them the same way. Take a different approach or angle to each question based on the audience and the timing. I’m not saying to give contradictory answers. Rather, give the same basic answer and support that answer in a new way.
  • Ask the blogger/podcaster at least one question: Make the interview more of a dialogue than a monologue. Although you’re providing the blogger with content, they probably have things they want to say too, so give them an opportunity to do so. Show them that you’re just as curious about them as they are about you.

Spreading the Word

Part of what you can offer bloggers is a new audience. When they post the interview/guest entry/review, share it with your backers and on Facebook. It makes you look good–you’re getting press!–and it increases the blogger’s stats. We love our stats.

Also, make sure to drop by the blog on the first day to comment on the blog, and then select the box that says, “Subscribe to comments.” That way you’ll get an e-mail reminder from then on whenever someone comments on that blog–even if it’s a year later–and you can engage them by replying. Don’t hog the comment section, but show people that you’re there if they want you.

Your Turn

I’m a big blog reader (one of the questions I ask women on my online dating profile is their favorite blog), so I’m curious: What’s your favorite blog? If you’re a gamer like me, what’s your favorite table top game blog, podcast, or YouTube channel?

Next: Social Networks

To delve deeper into this topic with the expertise of Funding the Dream’s Richard Bliss, you can listen to a 22-minute podcast about building momentum on Kickstarter with Richard and Jamey here.

26 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #27: Bloggers, Podcasters, and Reviewers

  1. Not to brown-nose but this is my favorite blog! I also really like what James Mathe has to say about game design and kick starter at his blog. I like to read blogs that are informative and helpful and not opinion.

    1. Thanks Dominique–that’s very kind of you to say. I enjoy James’ blog as well. His entries are epic!

  2. I’d say my favoriate blog is http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/ I’m not so big on the videos, but the long form arguments suit my temperament well and I get on with his sense of humour.

    I’m not sure I have a favoriate board games blog, I’ve got used to playing whatever the various people I know bring to the table, there’s already too much for me to keep up with without getting all tempted by reviews ;)

    1. Greg–Thanks for your comment. I’ve never heard of that blog, but it sounds like he has quite a large readership.

      1. I’m not sure what his readership is, but I assume it’s pretty big judging from the quality of construction on their minecraft server ;)

  3. Considering offering guest posts to bloggers as a way to promote your Kickstarter campaign, I think a caveat has to be added, as things seem to have changed a bit since you successfully used this practice.

    Here’s Matt Cutts reflecting on guest blogging and the bad reputation it has developed recently: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/

    Here’s an explanation by another top blogger why he doesn’t accept any guest posts from the people he doesn’t know: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/20/why-no-you-cant-write-a-guest-post-here/

    On Monday, in a week’s advance of my campaign, I’ve sent a few personal emails to bloggers – following your template and offering them a guest post. Unfortunately, I did it before I read the two articles by links above. Not a single reply yet. I’m afraid the reason might be that the very offer of a guest post from a stranger is frowned upon today.

    And the interviews – I’ve noticed that the vast majority of book bloggers only do them with people whose books they’ve reviewed before. I don’t know, though, whether it applies to game bloggers as well.

    1. Ingrid: I definitely agree that bloggers are very hesitant to give a stranger precious real estate on their blog in the form of a guest entry. The key is not to be a stranger–be an active participant on the blog well before you mention the idea of a guest post.

  4. Great article Jamey.
    I’m receiving a few requests from Kickstarter publishers to feature their game on my site, but I’ll be perfectly honest, its difficult to write an article that isn’t just a re-hash of the Kickstarter page.

    I’ve ran several interviews, which work well and are easy to put together. I’ve done a number of reviews but its amazing how many people want me to promote their game but never offer a review copy. Reviews of games are the most popular pages on my site, and reviews of games currently on Kickstarter bring in huge numbers but it amazes me that many kickstarter creators do not see this. Beyond these though I’m looking for an interesting way to feature projects.

    I’d also like to take the time to remind people to heed Jamey’s advice and target your requests. PolyhedronCollider.com is aimed more towards the Cthulhu and Space Marines end of the market so I’m not very likely to feature your latest goofy kids game or ‘party game for consenting adults’. Take the time to visit the blog and understand who their audience is.

    Thanks

    Steve

    1. Steven, thanks for sharing your insights here. Honestly, I can say from the perspective of a project creator and publisher, it’s somewhat tough to find bloggers who review Kickstarter games these days because there are so many games on Kickstarter. So perhaps many project creators just assume (incorrectly) that you don’t review pre-published prototypes? It might be worth making it very clear on your website’s homepage (great site, by the way–I’ve followed it for a while).

  5. Greetings Jamey,

    You talk about blog outreach, and I see this a lot, any tips on ways to find appropriate blogs? I’m looking at companies like inkybee.com, but am finding it difficult to find blogs relating to my subject matter, though I know there are appropriate ones out there:

    This is our project, a low budget indie fantasy film: https://www.facebook.com/dwarvesofdemrel

    1. Julius: Thanks for your question about finding blogs related to the content of your indie fantasy film. I think it partially depends on what you’re interested in reading in relation to that topic. Do you like reading blogs about filmmaking and cinematography? Do you like reading blogs about the type of fantasy in the movie? Perhaps there are some YouTube series you enjoy that share that type of fantasy.

      I’d recommending using Google to find the type of related content you like to read/watch/listen to, and branch out from there. Especially on the blogs, they’ll often recommend other blogs with similar topics, so once you find a few good blogs for this topic, it should be easy to find others. Good luck!

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