January 4, 2012

Become a big fish by starting in a smaller pond

Chris AbrahamIt’s always a tough question: would you rather be the smallest fish in a big pond or the biggest fish in a small pond? Would you prefer to be the ugliest pretty person or the prettiest ugly person? Would you prefer to have the lowest IQ at MIT or the highest IQ at State?

This is all according to your preference, but when it comes to a blogger outreach campaign, the decision is never so zero-sum, not nearly so either/or. You can always do both, right? You can always secure hundreds of long-tail earned media mentions while you’re desperately working on securing coverage on Mashable and TechCrunch. You can lock in hundreds of posts short term while you’re wining and dining Pete Cashmore in Manhattan to make sure you become BFFs, so that you’ll have that inside track on getting column inches for your future newsworthy announcements.

However, in the meanwhile, getting those hundreds of posts on B-list-through-Z-list blogs ensures that you start building your reputation as a player. Consider this your bush league experience. Like doing your time in the small clubs. Paying your dues. In fact, most journalists and A-list bloggers glean their story ideas from the blogs they reach, from their influencers, blogs and bloggers who may well be less popular but are still highly influential.

Do you have the sort of news, offerings, and quality of content that can compete with the big players? Do you have the kind of prior relationships with the top bloggers and journalists or do they not know you from Adam?

This is not only about blogger ego and their desire to be treated like demigods by multinational agencies and their billion dollar consumer electronics clients–though that doesn’t hurt–it also has to do with the prestige of the blog’s content as well as the aspiration of what the blog and the blogger wants to become.

Where do you fit on that? You need to be realistic. You need to judge fairly where you are in the competition. Do you have the time, the resources, the reputation, the newsworthiness, the novelty, or the prior relationship to make it into TechCrunch? If not, that’s OK. There is no reason to fight over the top 25 blogs of your industry or the top 100 blogs in general, because there may be over one billion blogs worldwide, which equates to one out of every six people in the world.

Realistically, unless you’re the quarterback of your high school football team, you’re being unrealistic if you limit your options for prom to just the captain of the cheerleaders. There are so many appealing dates for prom everywhere in school. If you’re only applying to Harvard and Yale, you had better also be not only at the top of your class but also a legacy, score a perfect score on your SAT, letter on a sport, and have a well-developed set of extracurricular activities.

Work toward Prom King and an incoming freshman spot at Harvard College, but plan also on going to prom with someone and to college at all. Aim high but have a plan B and C. Remember, also, that being the best lover with the best prom date you get can always results in better dates in the future and being the best student in the college you are accepted to can always result in getting to Harvard as a transfer or in graduate school later.

Focus on being a big fish in a small pond. As you are working to succeed at that, you’ll naturally graduate to the A-list if you have the goods. But if you shoot for the A-list pond exclusively, and you don’t make the cut, you won’t have done anything to win with the B-list.

Start small and grow to make blogger outreach work for you. Via BiznologyChris Abraham is a partner in Socialmedia.biz. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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4 thoughts on “Become a big fish by starting in a smaller pond

  1. I really liked this post! With such increase in blogging business a lot of people tend to forget that it needs hard work and that you can learn a lot through small projects… I agree you have to strive for the highest possible goals, it's good for self confidence :) But you should never forget to learn from smaller experiences…so at the end you can even become the most popular “small pond fish” :)

  2. That is so true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said “You can always secure hundreds of long-tail earned media mentions while you’re desperately working on securing coverage on Mashable and TechCrunch”.I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!

  3. Great post. A snowball can become a boulder with time and effort. In time you'll have a mighty fort. (It always seemed to take me forever to build my fort on a snowy day. But when it was done, it was the best dang fort in the neighborhood. *Smiles*)