In the last few weeks, I've had a couple of clients ask me for advice how to approach someone you'd like to work or collaborate with who you haven't been in touch with before. I thought it might be handy to put together a quick blog post on how I usually do this. Reaching out to someone can be scary, I know, but in 99% of cases it's totally worth getting over that fear!
The following approach can be applied to pretty much any outreach situation - contacting a podcaster you'd like to send your products for a review, a magazine you pitch an article to, a wholesaler you'd like to carry your yarns.
Step 1: Research.
Before you send 582 emails to randomly selected people, stop and take a breath. First, think about what you want to accomplish with your outreach activity. Then, start researching brands / individuals / shops that you think work well with your brand and products.
It's of no use to anyone - neither you nor them - if you approach a sports podcasters to pitch them your yarns. Or, to make it more realistic, if you ask a knitting podcaster who loves lacey, bright shawls to review your latest sock kit that includes neutral yarns and a geometric design.
Instead, spend a bit of time to get to know the people you think might be a good fit. Check out their website, blog, Instagram and Youtube channel.
Then, make a list of the people you want to reach out to, add what they've been up to lately and how you think their brand relates to you.
Step 2: Write a short intro email.
Next up is your first email to them. I always, always, always choose email over Instagram messaging, Ravelry mail or Youtube messaging. Why? Emails get read. Nothing else will. Instagram, for example, won't even show the people your message if they don't follow you.
Your first outreach email should be short and personal.
Who you are and what you do
Where they can find out more about you
What you want from them (e.g. "I'm currently working on a sock kit collaboration and was wondering if you might be interested in reviewing it on your podcast")
Why you think they might be a good fit and would want to collaborate with you
What the next step is (I usually end with something like "I can't wait to hear from you! I really hope you say yes to the review. As soon as I hear back from you, I'll send you more details.")
The last three points are of utmost importance - especially #4. Chances are, the people you're reaching out to get a few emails every week of people who would like them to do something for you. Taking the time to do some research and thinking about why you think they would be a great fit and what they get out of working with you proves that you're serious about this and that you respect their time.
And please - NEVER EVER write something like "I'd love to collaborate with you. Please send me your ideas." NO NO NO. YOU want something from them. YOU need to bring the ideas!
Step 3: Follow up.
Notice that my first email just includes a simple call-to-action, a plain "please tell me yes or no"? It doesn't ask a lot from them - just a short reply to tell you if they're interested.
As soon as they get back to you, be prepared to send out whatever information or action you promised in your first email. Did you say you wanted to send them more details? Send them more details. Did you say you wanted to send them a pattern over Ravelry? Do that. You get the gist.
What if they don't reply? Set yourself a reminder in your calendar to follow up after a few days. Sometimes, emails get lost or filtered into Spam - and people are busy. I like to follow up up to three times, depending on how strongly I feel about my outreach. Don't feel bad about this - simply send a one liner with something like "Hey, I was wondering if you already had time to read my last email? I'd love to hear back from you - a quick yes or no is enough."
I hope this gives you a good idea how to reach out to people you'd like to collaborate with! I LOVE collaborations and as scary as it might seem to send an email to someone you've never contacted before, it's always worth it. Trust me.