Remember the days when blogs tended to be personal online diaries or filled with cat photos? Not anymore.

In recent years, bloggers have become key influencers in the business world.

But how do you get bloggers to write about your product or service? As someone who's written more than 7,000 blog posts and successfully convinced bloggers to review products I've managed, I'd like to share some insights.

1. Do your research

There is no benefit in spamming several bloggers with requests to look at your product. Do the research up front to make sure you're targeting the right ones.

Reach out to bloggers who are specifically interested in your space and have a strong following.

Consider offering a time-bound exclusive to one especially influential blogger. From there, keep a narrow focus on those most likely to find your product newsworthy. Provide a few of them with different perspectives on the product so they'll feel they're getting fresh material.

2. Be clear

It's essential to describe your offering clearly, in plain English, so bloggers can easily grasp what's new and interesting.

Make the pitch about them, not you. For example: how and why writing about your product would specifically be of value to them and their followers. A generic email that spews a lot of information about your product without any personalization will likely get you nowhere.

This is all a must if you want to hook the blogger on writing about your product and then articulate the benefits to his or her readers.

3. Understand the risks

When you ask a blogger to review your product, you must keep in mind that the review could end up negative. It's simply the nature of the game.

If you have doubts your product can pass muster with a blogger, don't reach out in the first place.

Also know that it's verboten to ask a blogger upfront for a positive review--that's a great way to get your email in the blogger's trash folder.

4. Be careful with gifts

It's okay to send minor gifts as a way of thanking bloggers for their consideration and time--just don't offer outright bribes.

T-shirts or coffee mugs are fine. Courtside basketball tickets or iPads? Not so much.

I've often given free accounts to the media so they can cover my products. And, as a blogger, I've taken free accounts with the disclosure in an article that I did so. I've even sent t-shirts to writers.

Small tokens are permissible. Nothing beyond that.

5. Make the blogger's job easy

Make sure to provide them with everything that is required to evaluate your product and write the review--the hardware, the account for SaaS products, what have you.

I also like to provide access to a media kit so the blogger has lots of information and context.

6. Stay in contact

Stay connected with the writer. Don't be a pest, but once the review is done, send positive testimonials or information about updates.

Let them know how many visitors you have on your site or how many widgets you've sold. You might just get a second article.

Finally, never forget to thank someone who covers you, even if the coverage isn't entirely positive.

If a review is negative, make sure to never go after the author. That will likely become more viral than an isolated negative review.

Follow these guidelines and you can establish successful long-term relationships with an important group of influencers who can provide third-party validation for your product.

Good luck!