biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies 09: advice from design bloggers

by Grace Bonney

today i’m thrilled to share a special biz ladies post brought to you by some of my favorite bloggers: allan of core77, joy of oh joy!, joanna of cup of jo, amy from apartment therapy, jen from indie fixx, harry from moco loco, jan from poppytalk, julie from remodelista, jean from notcot, and jill from inhabitat. they’ll be sharing their expert blogger opinions on getting your work published on design blogs. with a tough economy, it’s more important than ever to reach out to any and all press outlets about the products and services you offer. but what’s the best way to contact them? what do they want to see (and not see)? what sort of outreach stands out to them? today they’ll be answering these and other important questions (i’ll weigh in on a few, too).

between our 11 blogs, we represent close to 300,000 daily readers who are looking for your goods and services, so i hope you’ll take their advice to heart. thanks to all of our bloggers for taking the time out to share their tips!

CLICK HERE for the full post!

1. What is the best way for an artist to approach you?

    • Joy Deangdeelert Cho of Oh Joy!:

    “The best submissions are emails from artists/designers briefly telling me about what they do with a few small images of their work attached. I love to be able to see images right away with the email so that I can quickly determine if their work is the right fit for my blog or not.”

  • “Email! Keep in mind that bloggers are looking for content so I’m always happy to get an email about an artist’s work! Don’t be shy! We want to see what you are doing.”

  • “The best way to submit designs for consideration to us is through our tip line, blogs@core77.com. We go through everything that’s sent in, and pick items and stories that we think will resonate best with our readers.” [CLICK HERE for more thoughts from Allan and other design bloggers on this same topic]

  • Email all the way! This way I have time to digest. Please no cold calls or tweets! If you email me and don’t hear back, please feel free to email several times and pester. My email inbox is so out of control (as most people’s are these days, I imagine), that emails often get lost and buried.

  • Artwork forward! Include your best work as a JPEG attachment (that way we don’t have to “open” any attached files to see the work). Bloggers, like blog readers, navigate with images.

  • In a friendly yet to the point manner! If its via the web, please use the contact form at http://www.notcot.com/about/contact – or even better, SUBMIT IT YOURSELF! To NOTCOT.org, NotCouture.com, or Liqurious.com by clicking the “submit” buttons on the top left corners ~ they are curated user submission sites, and definitely the best and fastest ways to get showcased on NOTCOT.

  • The best way for architects and designers to reach us is through the Feedback link on our blog; we have found several great projects this way.

  • I love getting personal emails from artists. When the email is written just to me (versus a group email), it means so much more, and I love hearing a bit about their background or where they live. Just something short, friendly, personal and chatty. If they’re excited and gracious, it makes ALL the difference. One tip: I love when people say, “I thought you might want enjoy my work,” versus, “Will you write a post about me?” It’s more subtle and sweet, instead of asking me to give them something outright.

  • Email is good–I have a handy dandy contact link right at the top of page to make it easy as well. I am also on Twitter and FB and quite often put out a call for artists if I am looking for something specific or just new. I am quite open to Twitter followers or FB friends contacting me when they have new goodies or something fun going on. Some bloggers may not like that though, but it works for me. It can be short and sweet and quicker and easier for me to just click on a link in a tweet than to wade through a whole email pitch; although, I do read all those email pitches. ;)

  • Much like everyone else here, I like my submission emails short and sweet. I love to get maybe 1-2 paragraphs about: the artist, where they’re from, what they sell and where I can buy it. Then I love to have 4-5 web-ready images (under 1MB total for the set, 72dpi)

  • If i don’t know the person, I prefer a short introduction (vs no intro) and just a short note saying like “I just made this” and here’s a link to my shop (and maybe include 1 or 2 pics)! Brief and to the point.

  • 2. What do you like to see from artists in terms of a press kit, images, pitch?

  • “I like to see a pitch tailored to the site. For example, Apartment Therapy frequently does themed months, if you mention how your work is perfect for Outdoors Month or for Great Escapes, I’ll be more likely to give it a second look. Also, I need images that are large enough to use on the site. Most often people scale down their images too small for me to use. And while I appreciate the thought of not wanting to clog my in-box, I need medium sized images that I can actually use on the site.”

  • “We’re not so sweet on standard press releases; we prefer 2 paragraphs describing the project and why it’s something remarkable. We like 2 or 3 attached images, as jpegs, larger than our blog image width. No zip folders; no pdfs. 3 loose jpegs.”

  • Imagery is hugely important. You would never believe how many press releases I get for art and design projects that have no images. If you are submitting work to an art or design blog – the editor’s will want to SEE your work before they read about it. Keep text short, and make sure imagery is front and center. Also, please don’t send attachments that are difficult to download and open. Time is of the essence for everyone these days. The best submissions to blogs feature medium size (not high res) JPEGs (not TIFFs, EPSs or PDFs), and a description of your work IN THE BODY of an email (no word or pdf attachments). It is also extremely important to include links to your website and your work online.

  • Send the equivalent of a tweet as the opening phrase in your email. 140 characters to get to the essence of the work. We then will dig into the press release, bio, web site,…

  • After telling me what you’re interested in via the contact form, if we’re interested, we’ll get back to you for more info ~ particularly PICTURES! (I love pictures, hugely visually driven, so pictures are always the best!) And the more info the better ~ it’s much easier to scan through a bunch of info, versus guess at what to ask.

  • We love great images; the best way to stand out is with good photography and large images. If it is a product, including information on price and availability (when & through what retailer) is extremely helpful.

  • No need for any official press releases. Just a couple pictures – maybe a small explanation of what it is, why they made it (if relevant) and how they made it.

  • “Links to their work are perfect.”

  • Simple is always better. I wrote a guideline for press kits here, but I wanted to amend this this slightly to say that these days I like a press kit to include a targeted pitch- someone who’s catered their submission to fit what we cover. It’s a bit of a bummer to get a huge digital press kit about t-shirts and have someone say “I know you don’t cover clothing, but we sell prints, too”- and then have nothing about the prints in the kit. If I have to fish too much for something on a website sometimes I miss a great product. Just be sure to include pertinent products in your press kit.

  • Catch my attention right away! I receive so many submissions and after a while they all begin to run together…especially the long ones. Give me the who, what, why & when in 1-2 quick sentences right off the bat. An attention grabbing opener is great too. Use humor or catchy wording to keep my eyes on your email.

    I also like it when people take the time to actually read my blog before submitting and will click delete right away if it’s obvious that they haven’t done their research….I usually get about 5-6 indie bands submitting to me every day just because my blog is called Indie Fixx. Addressing me by name is good too. I tend to not like press kits, but prefer a brief email pitch with a link and 2-3 SMALL images…please do not send large image files. It’s also really great if artists give me ideas on how I can feature them. If it’s close to the Halloween and you make Halloween cards, then you should definitely point that out. If you sell yarn and raise their own sheep or bunnies, then by all means that is something that you should let me know and add some pics to flickr and send me a link. If you sell patterns and offer free teaser patterns for download, that is something I would definitely like to know and could use.

    Think about your pitch in just the same way that you would think about submitting a resume and cover letter for a job. You need to make yours stand out from the crowd of thousands and thousands of other submissions.

  • 3. What are some DON’Ts that designers should know about approaching a blogger for press?

    • Joy Deangdeelert Cho of Oh Joy!:

    Don’t email a bunch of blogs at one time. If you’re an indie brand looking to get featured for the first time, avoid mass emails altogether. Most bloggers don’t want to post overlapping content. So email one blog at a time and only move on when you haven’t heard back for a few days or a week. If your work has been blogged about, contact other bloggers on your list when you have some new to share that hasn’t been blogged about before.

  • “Don’t send a mass email. I actually prefer something that reads less like a press release and more like a personal note.”

  • Be nice! Be polite! I love the emails that are so excited, passionate, and proud of their work ~ with a dash of humility. The worst are when people either beg or berate me with things along the lines of “please help post my work, because i’m a small company and can’t afford advertising.” That’s the worst when coupled with the topic they chose on the contact form as “advertising.” I’ll post you if your work is awesome and i love it. So just stick to showing me why it’s awesome!

    Reminders are ok if a dialogue has already started. I’m more than willing to admit i’m forever behind in emails. But if you haven’t had a response, and you start writing mean angry emails, as cool as something is, it becomes harder for me to be as passionate about the product to write about it. (I’m human too!)

    Please don’t pitch via facebook/twitter/etc ~ it’s just so hard to keep up with those. I try to keep those more personal and less official as far as places i check in to keep up with posting.

  • In general, the shorter and more direct the communication, the better. And take a minute to scroll through existing content on the blog to make sure the submission is in keeping with the general spirit of the site. Blanket press releases are less likely to stand out.

  • “Don’t spam us. It’s usually pretty obvious when we’ve gotten something that every other design site has gotten. Then it’s just a race. Be very deliberate about why you’re sending us your project, and why you think it would work well for Core77.com”

  • DO: feel free to approach me up to 4-5 times
    DON’T: send me emails every day for the next year

    DON’T: stalk me on chat or twitter

    DON’T: send me an email addressed to ‘dear so-and-so’ or ‘dear Grace Bonney’ or ‘dear Apartment Therapy’ when you are trying to get in touch with me, Jill, at Inhabitat.com. Seems obvious – but daily I get form emails sent hastily where the sender forgot to switch out the name in the salutation. This is really annoying!

    DO: research the sites you submit stories to
    DON’T: send me a pitch about something that is totally unrelated to my site, and then followup over and over, asking why I haven’t published it yet

    DO: understand that someone from my organization will try to get back to you, but we are swimming in email
    DON’T: take offense if your email is not responded to – we are swimming in email. This doesn’t mean that we didn’t like your submission or are not going to write about you. If you have done your job and included all relevant links and pics in your pitch to us, we might not need to followup with you – we might already be working on a story about your work!

    DO: send short, concise text in the body of an email, with copious links, and small jpegs that can be viewed in Gmail
    DON’T: send 8MB tifs and complicated, 20 page pdfs and eps that need to be downloaded to the desktop and opened in another application. You need to make it easy for us to see your work!

  • Don’t make it difficult or cryptic. My favorite example is a 2mb compressed RAR file I got with a cryptic email title, it was one second away from the trash bin when I recognized the senders name. If it looks like spam…

  • I prefer not to be included in a mass mail out to other bloggers. As I don’t like to post what other’s are posting all the time. I would prefer the artist select one blogger at a time. But I don’t want to be the last blogger chosen either. I would suggest each time you have a new item, to approach just one blogger. If you don’t get a response, then try another.

  • Sending out a mass email, sounding entitled (the biggest way for me to delete the email), sending a very long email.

  • All I can say is ditto: no mass emails. I delete mass emails I get (I do scan them first) and most of the blogging friends I have do the same thing. It’s a one way ticket to write about something everyone else is going to write about, and these days many of us care strongly about offering our readers something they won’t have seen before. So please avoid mass emails and don’t be afraid of sounding like a normal, down-to-earth human being. I prefer a laid back email over “press language” any day.

    A quick and obvious one- if a blog doesn’t cover a given topic, don’t send material in that topic and try to spin it to be something it’s not. A baby diaper is a baby diaper- you can call it “home accessory” all you want, but don’t get angry when I disagree that your spin on a baby diaper doesn’t fit my definition of “home decor”.

    Also, please don’t get too cutesy with language that basically says “You KNOW you want to write about me”. I know people are trying to be clever, but it comes across as rude and pretty annoying. Humble and sweet will beat clever and wordy any day.

    Lastly- never lie about whether you’ve been covered online before. I can’t tell you how upset we get when we build up a big story on something because it’s “brand new” only to find it’s been posted on major sites. Lying is just a quick and easy way to burn a bridge. Even if you’ve been covered, we often find a way to update a story so we can still cover it- so there’s no need to lie in order to get coverage.

  • Whatever you do, don’t be generic. Take the time to craft a unique pitch. Do NOT send large attached files. Do start out your email with the following: “You should check this out…”, “Please take a look at…”, “I’d invite you to take a look at/check out…”

    Do not submit if you aren’t familiar with the blog or taken the time to read it it’s new to you. You are quite possibly wasting your time. Do not email me if you have only just opened your shop and have just 2 products listed. Wait until you a have good bit for me to take a look at.

  • 4. What makes a memorable pitch/email for you?

  • “When an artist mentions other posts that I have written, I totally take notice because this hardly ever happens! Once, an artist who’s work I had dismissed as not fitting within the Apartment Therapy vibe mentioned how it seemed similar to something else I had written about and I took a second look. Just showing that you know something about the site you’re sending your work to, is hugely important (and flattering to the blogger, which always helps!). It takes more work on your end, but will definitely get you noticed!”

  • “It’s always nice when someone is a long-time reader, or really understands our editorial voice. But even if you’re not, make sure to tell us “why” you did the project you did, and what’s particularly notable about it. We’re open to any submission, but a bit of personal info up front will always get our attention. Plus–and others have said this before–it’s nice to get a thank you email at the end if we’ve published your stuff. And if we’ve featured your work before, make sure to mention that in the email and provide a link.”

  • A tailored pitch…one that it’s obvious the sender did their research and really thought about whether and how their shops and goods are a good fit for my blog. In addition, pitches that give me good ideas how I can feature an artist or very hard to forget!

  • Passion. Amazing/Brilliant/Fun Ideas. Gorgeous imagery.

  • We are always interested in any green approaches to building and interior design. Intelligent, streamlined, functional design appeals to us at Remodelista. We love seeing personalized pitches where the designer or architect has thought carefully about where the project fits.

  • The most memorable pitches come from strong work that is easy to view and ‘get’ within 10 seconds. It also really helps when a designer takes the time to research the person/organization they are pitching, and addresses us by first name, referencing things we have written about or covered in the past. Like everyone else, we like to know that people are paying attention to us as individuals – we’re only human!

  • Sincerity and intelligence. Artists/ designers aren’t writers, we know that, just focus on great pictures and some words that describe what the work is and what inspired you to create it.

  • I love a “stunning style shot”! That’ll do it every time! Pictures are so important, don’t use a flash – and take the picture in bright daylight.

  • I still remember a pitch from a painter in Cornwall. She mentioned that my grandparents live in Cornwall (which I had written about ages ago), and talked about her life there. It was really sweet and personal, and it made me want to help her.

  • I really love people who’ve spent a good amount of time making sure their website, emails and products feel cohesive. Simple is ALWAYS best, so I love when I get a short, simple email with lovely pictures and a link to a website that’s the same way. All these high-tech flash-heavy websites just make me click “close window”. If I have to wait for a 45 second animation to finish before I can get to anything I’m often going to skip it if I’m busy- which is most days. Also, like Amy mentioned- if you take the time to cater your email to fit what WE do, it’s noticed- and very appreciated.

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