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The most earnest desire for any blogger, no matter if they're a big-time political writer on a national website or a lone hobbyist writing about his love for miniature wargaming, is more traffic. Wait, I mean MOAR TRAFFIC! I have to be "pop-culturally relevant" here or you'll all stop reading and I'll be cast into outer darkness, which for us new media folks means a horrid land where no one visits your blog and millenials walk by and laugh at you until you grab your handy cane, shake it furiously, and demand they get of your lawn....err, where was I?
Right. Web traffic. Visitors. Hits. The sweet, sweet manna of the online world. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like checking your site traffic one afternoon to find a traffic spike soaring upward like the Burj Dubai thanks to a link from Professor Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit. Known also as The Blogfather, because his blogging inspired quite literally dozens if not hundreds to take up the keyboard. Reynolds' blog is one of the most widely-read on the Internet. A link from him, also called an Instalanche or 'Lanche' if you want to sound cool, can crash a website. I know because he's crashed mine a couple times.
In short, attention from Professor Reynolds is something you want. Thousands of bloggers every day write in the hopes of seeing that glorious traffic spike. Reynolds gets e-mail and Twitter tips like Clifford the Big Red Feral Dog gets fleas. But how do you catch his eye? Let's start with what you don't want to do. You don't email him a link to every blog post you write. You don't hector him on Twitter with links. You don't fire off an email more emo than a Sad Panda owned by Morrissey and Lydia Deetz. The last thing you want is to be the blogging version of the Overly Attached Girlfriend.
Two notes before I go on. These tips aren't exclusive to Professor Reynolds. They work on just about every blogger on the planet, but you can substitute the name of your favorite writer as you wish. Also, these tips will take time to develop. Blogging is not the pursuit for someone who wants immediate gratification, at least at the beginning. Getting the attention of someone who hears from hundreds of people a day takes calm persistence.
Do Your Homework. Every blogger who writes mostly about politics has interests that have nothing to do with politics about which they'll write once in a while. Glenn Reynolds loves science stories (especially stories about future tech), Ed Driscoll of Pajamas Media is a movie and music history aficionado, Ed Morrissey of HotAir is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Duane Lester of the Missouri Torch is (like me) a social media buff and a videographer. If you pay attention to what a blogger writes, you can learn what a blogger likes, which means you'll also learn what a blogger is more likely to link and share with their readers.
It's also just polite to learn a bit about someone before you ask them to do you a solid, isn't it? Good manners get links, and if you can show a blogger like Professor Reynolds that you've paid attention to the work he does and send him something that works with what he's already doing, he'll be a lot more inclined to link to you.
So first, read, then...
Share without Expectations. Once you know what that blogger from whom you want links likes and what their style is, send them interesting links now and again. Note I didn't say to send them your interesting links. Send them interesting stories and articles, along with a little note like, "I saw your post yesterday on [X] and thought you would enjoy this article I found on [some aspect of X]." Don't wait for a return reply -- you may or may not get one -- but share because you think they'll like what you found.
Bloggers notice when someone is being useful to them without asking anything in return. That sort of behavior stands out in an email box stuffed full of pitches from consultants, PR firms, press offices, and other bloggers hawking their latest posts. The person who gives without asking anything in return is, sadly, an aberration these days. It may take time, but you will be noticed. Then you can send the occasional link request with the confidence it won't be treated like spam.
Serve Only the Best. Over the years, I've gotten e-mails from bloggers who had the nasty habit of sending me a link to every post they wrote. Do you know where those emails ended up? Yup, that's right. I sent them right to my spam filter and now I don't see them anymore. Not every post you write will be a gem and you should resist the urge to send more than one link request a day. I'd even suggest that one a day is too much.
When you share your work, share the very best you have, the post you polished until it gleamed, the one that took hours of research. Give the Professor (or Malkin, Jim Geraghty or Greg Pollowitz) your very best work. Impress them. Give them reason to believe that when you do recommend one of your posts to them, it'll be something they can share with confidence and pride. Believe me, bloggers take pride in the posts they link; their reputations are on the line. If they share junk, they'll lose readers. Give them your best and they'll be far more likely to link you more often than they won't.
Mind Your Manners. So you've done your homework, shared good stuff, served up your best, and BOOM! Instalanche! What do you do now? Of course, you do a victory dance, catch a screen shot of your web traffic so you can show all your friends, and call your parents/spouse/best friend/blogging buddy. But after that? Send a "thank you" e-mail (Tweets work just fine, too). Keep it short and sweet, but don't forget to do it. You spent all that time establishing yourself as considerate and attentive, it wouldn't do to blow it with a touch of ingratitude. Who knows? They might just answer your note with a note of their own. Next thing you know, you'll be in an e-mail conversation and you might just make a new and fine friend.
There is no guaranteed method to get an Instalanche (or Twitchalanche or FreedomWorkalanche), but the four steps I just outlined will make it a lot more likely you'll stand out among the crowd in the way you want. There's a verse in the Book of Proverbs that says, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold." If you establish a good name among bloggers like Professor Reynolds, not only will the links come, but you'll have respect, which is far more valuable.
(Photo Credit: Screenshot of an actual Instalanche by Lance Burri)
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