I have been putting off writing this post for a very long time as I was worried it wouldn’t fit in my usual travel focus posts, however after mentioning that I use LinkedIn on Twitter yesterday and receiving a lot of questions, I thought there was no better time to do it.
If you’re a blogger looking for more opportunities I 100% recommend signing up to LinkedIn and having an active profile! Networking on there has brought me so much this year
— Kirstyleanne (@kirstyleannee92) December 8, 2017
Basically, this is going to be a MASSIVE guide to using LinkedIn to gain Collaborations as a blogger.
From optimising your profile to reaching out to the right people, I’m going to tell you everything I’ve learnt since using my LinkedIn account for blogging, as well as sharing how I managed to get some of my best collaborations this year from it.
So, what is LinkedIn?
For those of you that are not familiar with LinkedIn, it’s basically a social network for professionals. Whether you work in marketing, run your own business or you’re a blogger – LinkedIn is the perfect place to network and make some long-lasting connections.
As opposed to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is more for sharing your work, your achievements and for looking for new opportunities. Often used for people looking for a new job, LinkedIn is a huge pool of professionals in YOUR niche.
Why Should I be using LinkedIn for Blogging?
I haven’t always used LinkedIn for blogging, however over the last six months or so it has managed to bring me some of my most valuable contacts for both my travel blog and for my soon-to-be-launched digital business. As a huge fan of the social network I can honestly say it’s the one tool I think everyone who is interested in pitching to brands should be using and here’s why:
- It allows you to find and connect to the EXACT contact you need within a brand you are looking to work with. This means no more faffing around trying to find their contact email as once you’re connect you can send them an personal message or ‘Inmail’ as it’s called.
- It gives you the opportunity to keep up to date with the industry you’re in – whether you’re a travel blogger, beauty blogger, food blogger, health blogger or lifestyle blogger – the people you connect to will be sharing news and updates from that industry. You never know, something they share could be the perfect conversation starter.
- You can connect with bloggers. I have found a lot of bloggers on LinkedIn that I haven’t come across on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, perfect if you’re looking to discover some new blogs.
- LinkedIn allows you to publish blog posts, so if their is a particular topic you think is useful for your LinkedIn audience but not suitable for your blog then it’s the perfect place to have your say.
- You can connect to people using groups. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn groups are hubs where professionals with the same interests can connect. I’ll talk about these in more detail below.
- You can ask for advice or use it to crowd source information. People on LinkedIn are always willing to help and whenever I ask for advice or for an opinion on something I have received some honest criticisms and compliments that have really helped shape the way I do things.
How do I Optimise my Profile for Blogging?
Okay, so I thought the best place to start would be how to optimise your profile so that when people visit your profile page, they exactly what it is you do and how you could help them.
There a number of different things you can do to fully optimise your profile and although LinkedIn walks you through some of the key ones when you set up, there are also some features available for you to us that they don’t necessarily tell you about.
Create a vanity URL
The first thing you need to do for your LinkedIn is create your vanity URL, most likely to be your name (or business name). This is not only so people can find you easily using SEO, but also so that when you share your link you can send it across to people easily.
It also looks a lot more professional than the random numbers LinkedIn assigns you, right?
To change your vanity URL click on the pencil icon in the top right hand corner of your profile, this will take you to a pop up. There, click the pencil icon next to your URL and type the link you desire.
Add your basic headline and location
One of the first things you will have done for your profile is add in your name, location, a basic headline and a summary – but have you optimised these for your blog?
Common practice for most people is to use the automatic settings and have your basic headline display your current position. However, as this is fully customisable you would be a fool not to use this small space to shout about what you do best.
If you’re going to be using LinkedIn primarily to make blogging connections, it needs to be prominent in your basic headline as this is one of the only things people see when they hover over your name in their news feed. Perfect for getting someone to click through to your profile.
Optimising this could be as simple as adding ‘Travel Blogger’ or ‘Beauty Blogger’ to your headline, however to make yourself stand out even more you could add ‘Travel Blogger – Looking for exciting collaborations with travel brands’ or if you’re feeling brave add ‘Travel Blogger – get in touch to find out how I can help your brand’.
Add a summary for your profile
Underneath your location and basic headline, there is a place for you to add a summary and for the longest time, I actually ignored this. I thought my basic headline did all the talking and that I didn’t really need to say and more but BOY WAS I WRONG.
Since filling out this section my enquiries have almost quadrupled, as people can now clearly see what it is I do and how to get in touch with me.
The key to getting your summary right it to say who you are, what you do, what you can do to help and how to contact you. Keep it short and succinct, as people won’t want to read paragraph after paragraph about why you started your blog – you can include that on your company page if you feel it is relevant to your brand.
Update your profile image and header
This is similar to any social media – to make your profile look more professional you need to update your profile image and header. My profile image is one of my more professional photos where I look friendly and approachable, helping me put a face to the brand. Logos are okay, however these are better saved for your company page (more about that later).
My header image is a generic image that I have created in Canva, highlighting the main areas I cover. You don’t HAVE to do this, however I find it is super helpful when people are just scanning your profile for the main details.
Fill in all the relevant sections
There are a lot of sections on LinkedIn and although it’s time consuming, filling them in can be really beneficial. Sections include your industry and location, your current and past employment, your education, your skills and any awards you may have won. For an example, you can see how I have filled out my profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstycolclough/. Feel free to connect with me too, I don’t bite 😉
Skills and endorsements
I mentioned above that one of the sections you can fill in is called ‘Skills’. This is such an important part of your profile as it allows people you’ve worked with to give you endorsements if they think you are skilled in that particular area.
You get to pick your own skills, however it’s vital to start getting endorsements for the areas you really want to succeed in. I’d recommend adding blogging, as well as -insert niche here- blogging to your list in order to build on what you have covered in your summary.
If you’d like to endorse me for Social Media, Blogging or anything at all – please feel free to do so here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstycolclough/. I’d be more than happy to return the endorsement.
Optimise your profile for SEO
Although optimising your profile for SEO sounds complicated, it couldn’t be more simple. LinkedIn ranks REALLY well in search engines so you want to make sure your profile is seen by including key words you want to rank for in your basic header, in your summary and in your work experience. This could be ‘Travel Blogger’, ‘Freelance Blogger’ or absolutely anything else you’d like to appear for.
Add links, projects and documents (including your media kit)
When filling out your summary, your work experience and your education, there is the option to add links, projects and documents. These is an INCREDIBLE feature as it allows you to add your blog link as well as important documents such as your media kit and price lists for sponsored campaigns. I absolutely love this feature and have found on numerous occasions that people have got in touch with me to say they downloaded my media kit from my page and would love to talk more. What a great first impression!
Update your work history to include your blog
This one may be a given, however it’s important that you showcase your blog as part of your work history.
Give a brief overview of what you do, the industry you’re in and your key stats. If like me you want to go the extra mile and include what you can offer people, then 100% go for it. This is a great way for people to get a snapshot of what you’re all about so they can be well prepared when they approach you, or if you’re reaching out to people it lets them know what to expect from a collaboration.
Again, I have included my contact email as you can never do it enough times.
To back up this section I have also created a company page for my blog, which brings me onto my next section…
Creating a Company Page for your Blog
I’m going to try and keep this as short and sweet as I can as this could be a whole blog post itself…
When using LinkedIn there is the option to create a company page by clicking ‘WORK’ in the top right hand side of the navigation bar and scrolling to the bottom. Although it may seem like a step too far, I feel this is an incredibly important part of growing your blog on LinkedIn.
Not only does it allow you to link your employment history to your company (showing your companies profile image next to your history), but it gives you the freedom to post as a business – much like having a personal Facebook account and a Business Page.
To create your company page you need to enter the following details for your business:
- Profile and header image
- Number of employees
It takes fives minutes to set up and once you’re done people can start to follow your page and engage with your content. Now, I have to admit, this is where I am lacking as I have so many different social media platforms to update, but following the success I have been having on LinkedIn lately I have vowed to update this page more with news, blog posts and updates.
If you’d like me to write a post on LinkedIn Company pages in full, please tweet me to let me know!
How do I Find Contacts on LinkedIn?
Okay, so now onto the best bit – finding contacts on LinkedIn. There are a number of different ways to do this but I am going to share the ways I have found to be the most effective.
How do LinkedIn Connections Work?
Before I get started on this I feel I need to explain how LinkedIn Connections work, as it is a little bit different to Facebook friends or Twitter followers. A connection, in theory, is someone you work with, someone you’d like to work with or someone in your industry that you feel shares relevant content and you’d like to keep up to date with their professional life. All sounds very businessy, doesn’t it? Don’t worry though, connections are not scary and the more you have in relation to your blog, the more you can network!
When searching for connections you see people listed as 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
- 1st degree connections are people you are already connected to.
- 2nd degree connections are people that are connected to your 1st degree connections.
- 3rd degree connections are, yep you guessed it, people that are connected to your 2nd degree connections.
Although it would be great to connect to EVERYONE, LinkedIn only allows you to connect to people that are 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connections. If you come across someone that is not in your close network, the option to connect will not appear, but instead a button to ‘Inmail’ – which if you really want to connect is a great way to introduce yourself. Please note: Non-premium accounts can only send 5 Inmails a month, so use them wisely.
Who should I connect with?
There are lots of people you may want to think of connecting with, including:
- Marketing professionals
- Professionals at publications specific to your niche
- Small business owners
- PR’s you have previously worked with on campaigns
- Content writers and freelancers (often they do adhoc work for brands)
- Me (SORRY HAD TO)
Finding contacts using search terms
First of all, I really really really benefited from using the free 30 day LinkedIn Premium trial as it allows you to connect with people that are not your 2nd or 3rd connections. If you want to be able to do this permanently you can sign up to Linked Premium, however I believe it is around £50 a month, which to me isn’t worth it if you use your 30 day trial wisely.
So, with your 30 day trial on the go you need to think about the kinds of people you want to connect to, then search that particular term in your LinkedIn search bar. A couple of things or phrases I searched (feel free to change to fit your niche) include:
- Travel PR
- Travel Marketing
- Influencer Outreach
- Blogger Outreach
- Social Media Outreach
When your search results come up you need to click ‘People’ in the top navigation bar, then filter them to suit your needs on the right hand side. This could be changing the location to UK, highlighting any keywords you’d like to see or showing people you’re not already connected to.
From there, send a connection request to every you think is relevant and wait for them to accept. Tip: Having the LinkedIn trial for this stage will help your success rate when it comes to connections greatly, as you will be shown as certified by LinkedIn.
Finding contacts by searching for a company
This way is a little more in depth than the previous, but very very similar. If you know the companies you want to work with and pitch to then you can search the company name and click ‘Companies’ in the top navigation bar. 99% of the time the company will automatically come up if you search its name exactly, taking you directly to the company page.
Once on the company page you need to click where it says ‘See all Employees on LinkedIn’. This will bring up everyone that works there, giving you the perfect opportunity to connect to the exact person you need to network with in order to gain a collaboration with your favourite brands.
Repeat this for all the brands you have in mind that you’d like to work with.
Find contacts using ‘People You May Know’
This one is self explanatory, but as you start connecting to more people LinkedIn will show similar people you might want to connect to. Again, this is perfect for when you have the LinkedIn trial as it will allow you to connect to more people outside of your immediate network, increasing your chances of finding people to connect with once your trial is over.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO CANCEL YOUR TRIAL BEFORE THE 30 DAYS IS UP (and please do not hold me responsible if you forget ;-))
What Should I Share on LinkedIn?
Now that you have optimised your profile and connecting to lots of relevant people, you need to think about the content you share. Similar to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram anything you post will show up in a news feed, however that does not mean you should treat it the same.
LinkedIn is a lot more professional and so with that in mind, I do not sure every single blog post that I write, or constantly update about what I’m doing as as 90% of the time people will not be interested. I do however, share the following things:
- Good news and important updates – this could include being offered a successful collaboration, announcing the launch of something new or even that you’ve won an award. LinkedIn LOVES positive news and people love to congratulate you when you’ve done something well!
- Relevant blog posts – if you have written something you think your LinkedIn followers will appreciate, by all means share it with them. This could be a post on pitching to brands, a guide to a particular destination or any of your more in depth posts. Of course this is my own personal preference and if you want to share all your posts then go for it!
- Details of what you can offer and how to contact you – every now and again it doesn’t hurt to say that you’re looking for collaborations and if anyone is interested in working with you they can get in touch. This has secured me collaborations a number times, so 100% worthwhile.
- Share other peoples content – If someone you’re looking to network with and talk to has shared something relevant to your audience then share share share. It helps build a good relationship and shows that you’re up to date in your industry.
- Ask questions – If there is one thing I have noticed it is people on LinkedIn love to talk to you! I asked once ‘What do you think is more important, followers or engagement?’ and it got a healthy discussion started – it was great.
- Ask for advice – This is another great one. Sometimes I genuinely like to ask for advice and with a whole network of professionals in my field at my fingertips, LinkedIn seems like a good place to start!
- Videos – If you’re a YouTuber, LinkedIn’s new feature to embed videos into posts (as well as multiple images) now gives you the opportunity to share your videos directly, rather than just posting a link.
How to Network and Build Relationships
Okay, so you have a kick ass profile, lots of connections and you’re sharing great content? Now what?
Networking is one of the most important aspects to LinkedIn and if you do all of the above with zero networking, you’re not as likely to find as many opportunities. Again, there are lots of different ways to network and building relationships, but I am going to share with you the ones that have been most successful for me.
Comment, Like and Share
If you have people in mind you want to work with, it doesn’t hurt to comment on, like or share their posts. This shows you’re active, interested AND engaged – three important qualities brands look for when it comes to working with bloggers and influencers. Showing you support someone has never been a bad thing, so support support support!
Approach them directly
Approaching someone directly on LinkedIn may seem scary, but if you’ve ever sent a pitch email to a brand then it is the exact same concept, only this time you have the direct contact right in front of you. Send them a message using LinkedIn’s messneger service, phrase it exactly how you would a pitch email and see where the conversation takes you.
If they don’t respond right away (you can see read receipts) then give them a couple of days and chase, you might find they are very busy and the last thing on their mind is their LinkedIn inbox. The great thing is though, a lot of people have the LinkedIn app, so no matter when you message, most of the time they’ll receive it pretty quickly.
If you’re reaching out over LinkedIn having a look at the persons profile before you contact them is very important as it gives you a chance to find something you can use to build rapport. Similar to sales, pitching in blogging all about creating meaningful relationships, and as PRs are people too there is nothing wrong with doing your research.
Maybe the company you’ve contacted has recently won an award, or launched a new product, either way they’re great talking points.
As I have already written on the topic I’m not going to speak about pitching to a brand, but if you want to know how to word your approach then check out my guide to pitching brands.
Use LinkedIn groups
LinkedIn groups are not only a great way to make new connections, but a good place to network. Join some groups that are relevant to your niche and take a look at what people are talking about. Maybe there is something you can help with, or some advice you can offer that no one else has?
A lot of groups also allow you to post content, so it’s a great way to get your posts out to another audience!
Let them approach you
A lot of the time I have found that people come to me. This is often just after I have connected with them and they have read my profile (hence optimising it to the best of my ability) or after I have posted something that grabbed their attention (hence posting useful and relevant content).
As well as approaching people for collaborations, you can also use LinkedIn to find already existing opportunities. It’s not AS common as it is on Facebook or Twitter, but I have found a couple of my recent ones this way.
People often post their sponsored opportunities on LinkedIn, so scrolling through your news feed can never hurt. Plus, if you’re connections are commenting on posts that contain opps, the likelihood is it will show in your news feed too. This gives you someone new to connect with and the chance to get in touch with someone who already has an opportunity you may be suitable for. Win, win!
Another way I have found sponsored opportunities through LinkedIn is by using the search bar as well, a search engine. Searching phrases such as ‘looking for a blogger‘, ‘sponsored post‘, ‘bloggers wanted‘ or ‘blogger opportunity‘ has allowed me to stumble on opportunities I might not have found otherwise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Okay, when planning this post I asked if anyone wanted to know anything in specific about LinkedIn and blogging, so I thought I’d include some of the questions people asked.
❓ If I use LinkedIn for my professional life, how do I separate it from blogging?
My best advice is speaking from experience, as I encountered some difficulties with work not appreciating that I had a hobby outside of work that made me money. Because of this, I created a new profile and kept blogging and my professional life on separate LinkedIn accounts.
You don’t have to do it this way, as sharing things that are relevant to your connections (whether they’re PRs or work-related) won’t be damaging to you in anyway whatsoever – however I feel for me it was best to stick to my brand and create two separate accounts.
❓ How do I approach people on LinkedIn and what do I say?
I covered this a little bit above, but the best thing to do it is to remember that they’re human too. Everyone I have come across is friendly so just be honest with them. Introduce yourself, let them know why you connected and tell them what you think you can do to help them. Open it up to any questions and then wait for them to respond, giving them a little nudge if you haven’t heard back in a few days. Treat it like a shorter pitch email and you’ll be just fine.
Tip: Ask them if they prefer to speak over email, as sometimes this is much easier for them.
❓ How often should I post on LinkedIn?
How long is a piece of string? There is no right or wrong answer with this one, but I have found that posting 2-3 times a week has been most effective. LinkedIn’s algorithm is even more confusing than Instagram, so you find that the average lifetime of a post is around 24 hours. Which is incredible considering a tweet has the lifespan of around 18-20 minutes…..
❓ When should I post?
One thing I have learnt about LinkedIn is that there 100% IS a right time to post. Most people will be scrolling their LinkedIn page just before they start work, or on their lunch. Try and schedule your posts for these times to make the most impact.
❓ How can I maintain a relationship with a PR I have already worked with?
A great feature of LinkedIn is ‘Recommendations’. This allows you to write a personal and professional recommendation for someone you have worked with, for everyone to see on their profile. Not only will this positive recommendation help improve your relationship with a PR, but it also opens up the opportunity for them to write a recommendation for you – which to anyone looking at your profile is a good indication of what you’re like to work with.
If you’re looking for recommendations you can also request that someone sends you one, so hopefully they’re feeling generous.
- Optimise your profile by adding a header image, profile image and by filling out all of the relevant sections. Make sure you include a summary and basic headline that show what you do, so people can get an overall snapshot just by looking at your profile.
- Add your media kit to your profile for brands to find easily.
- Include your blog in your employment history and create a company page to back it up.
- Connect with bloggers and PRs in your industry by searching for job roles and company names in the LinkedIn search bar.
- Use LinkedIn groups to find new contacts.
- Post relevant content to your industry 2-3 times a week, as well as posts detailing what you can offer and that you’re looking for brands to work with. Include a contact email so people can get in touch directly if they wish.
- Use the LinkedIn search bar to search phrases such as ‘bloggers wanted’ to find opportunities that may not be posted on other social networks.
- Regularly check your news feed for opportunities and collaboration offers.
- Contact people through the LinkedIn messenger system, treating it the same way you would a pitching email.
Okay, so there you have the LONGEST POST I HAVE EVER WRITTEN at a whopping 4,660 words. I hope you found the information useful and that you have as much success as I have with LinkedIn recently. If you do, I’d love to hear all about it!
If you found this post useful, please pin the image below so that more people can see how incredible LinkedIn can be for bloggers.