You’ve slaved away for days on a stellar piece of content for your business’ website.
You’ve made sure that it’s optimized just the way that the experts advised.
You uploaded it to your site and distributed it to your different social media channels and you gave yourself a well-deserved pat on the back…
Then, the next day, you check your stats and…
After all that hard work, you’ve got nothing to show, leaving you feeling frustrated, disappointed, and possibly, disillusioned.
But, whom are we kidding? You’re downright ticked off!
It’s enough for you to start thinking that all the benefits of content marketing are just hype and you’re seriously considering giving up.
Before you throw in the towel on content marketing, I want you to know that I’ve been there, and I feel your pain.
However, at the same time, I’m here to tell you about a strategy that I added into my content marketing activities that’s gotten influential bloggers and startup founders to share my content, get me some guest post invites, rank #2 in Google, and get new clients in the process.
That strategy is blogger outreach.
Not just any bloggers, of course.
We’re talking here of those established and influential bloggers that’s built themselves a loyal and active following (think Everette Taylor, Ryan Robinson, Joei Chan of Mention, and Growth Marketing Conference speaker and guest blogger, Sujan Patel).
Why include blogger outreach in your content marketing strategy?
Well, because it works.
How many times have you come across a blog that seemingly appeared from nowhere, and the author now the newest expert in your niche that’s rubbing elbows (and shoulders) with the A-list bloggers you dream would respond to your emails?
This is what blogger outreach can do for you and your content.
By taking the initiative, you’re getting your content you’ve worked on for hours (even days) the attention it deserves.
If you approach them the right way, blogger outreach can help you quickly build your brand’s credibility. As a result, you’ll start earning more high-quality inbound links, increase your site’s domain authority in Google as well as in other search engines. You’ll also begin attracting better-qualified leads to your business that you can convert into customers more efficiently. More important, you’ll be able to build a relationship with these influential bloggers and startup founders which can lead to co-marketing campaigns.
Tor Resfeld of Time Management Chef’s success is one example (and one of my inspirations).
In addition to getting featured in 158 blogs within 14 months, his blogger outreach efforts paved the way for him get invited to do speaking engagements and interviews that further help build his brand and credibility.
At the same time, the influential bloggers that he’s now developed a relationship with have started driving more qualified leads for his coaching business which went from $0 to $3000 per month in just three months.
If that’s not enough to convince you to include blogger outreach into your existing content marketing strategy, check out these stats from Sprout Social:
- 81% of people that go online trust the information they read from these influential blogs.
- 63% of people today admit that they are more influenced to buy something recommended in a blog than elsewhere.
- 61% of people purchase a product or service
Getting noticed: the biggest roadblock
All of this sounds well and good. The only problem is: how do you get these people even to notice you?
Ironically, since blogger outreach is an effective content marketing strategy, everyone in your niche that’s doing content marketing is trying to get the very same influencers to notice them. The thing is unless you do something different, the message you send out to these influencers will drown in their inboxes.
Aim to become a purple cow by tapping into untapped niches and making your marketing campaigns stand out.
As well consider following influencers and editors via Twitter by turning on your mobile notifications to build organic relationships.
As well you may even discover what annoys them the most.
Most of all avoid the number one mistake that every content marketer makes when trying to reach out to these influencers: focusing too much on themselves.
If you want to get the attention of these influencers, you need to turn the table around, i.e., making it all about how you can help the influencer.
Yes, it does seem counterintuitive.
After all, why should you be helping someone that’s already established? You’re the struggling newbie here. You’re the one that needs help, right?
It all goes back to the crux of content marketing, which is to create valuable, customer-centric content so that you can establish and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Just like with your target customers, these bloggers are always looking for quality content that provides value to them and their loyal followers.
When you can position yourself as someone who can do just that, you stand to have a much better chance catching their attention, and get them to pay attention to what is it that you have to offer.
Steps to integrate blogger outreach
Step 1: Revisit your content marketing goals
Before you start reaching out to influential bloggers, take a few minutes to revisit your content marketing goals because these will tell you what to ask the bloggers best you plan to contact.
Blogger outreach, like any good kind of content marketing strategy, will require a lot of time and effort.
For example, if your goal is to increase your site’s page rank, I found focusing your blogger outreach efforts towards participating in link roundups.
These are primarily blogs that feature other people’s posts that offer additional related and relevant content to their readers.
On the other hand, if you’re looking at using blogger outreach as a way to increase your revenue and get more clients at the door, you may get better results doing an epic roundup post.
This was the case with my good friend Ryan Robinson when he created a roundup post where he shares the best business advice from the most successful entrepreneurs.
Not only did this post build his brand’s credibility and authority, but it also helps him get five of these highly successful entrepreneurs to become his clients.
“While I’ve gone on to land paid contracts with several of the entrepreneurs I featured in my business advice roundup piece, it’s important to note that I didn’t start those conversations with the intention of selling them anything.
My goal was to provide value to them in the form of featuring them to my blog audience of 200,000 monthly readers and through writeups I later did on my publication columns.”
“It was only after this post started getting thousands of shares and once I began publishing pieces mentioning the influencers on my columns for sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc that the gears started turning and I got a few requests to chat about how I might be able to help them create similarly successful content for their own blogs and for the startups they ran.
Since then, I’ve been replicating this process.
It’s been by far my most effective outbound selling technique, because it’s based on the foundation of providing massive upfront value (the way my clients want to receive it) and giving them a real-life preview of how my content marketing consulting process functions—rather than just a pitch on what I could do for them.”
Step 2: Consult your buyer persona
Even though influencers are your primary “target” when doing a blogger outreach, that doesn’t mean that you’ll have to disregard your buyer persona altogether.
On the contrary, your buyer persona is your compass that points you in the direction where your blogger outreach activities—and, consequently your entire content marketing strategy—should go.
That’s because one of the critical elements in creating a buyer persona is knowing your persona’s content preferences. Part of this is knowing who are the top influencers they follow.
These are the people that you’ll need to include in your blogger outreach list, which we’ll talk about next.
Step 3: Make your blogger “hit list”
Now that you’re clear on your content marketing goals and reviewed your buyer persona, the next step is to create your blogger “hit list,” which is mostly a list of influential bloggers in your niche that you want to reach out and build a relationship with.
To do this, first open a new document in Google sheets and create the following headings:
- The name of the blog
- The blog’s URL
- The name of the blogger that owns the blog (you can find this on the blog’s About Page)
- The blogger’s email address
Once you’ve gotten the headings in place, the next step is to fill them up.
Start off with those blogs you remember right on the top of your head as well as those that you picked up from your buyer persona. Here are some of the tools that I use to help me create and update my blogger outreach list:
Google is one of the first places I go to when looking for influential bloggers to include in my blogger outreach list. Since Google places the blogs with much authority on the first page when you search, it makes perfect sense to include those that are listed on the first search results page.
In addition to those blogs that are listed on the first page of Google’s search results, I also do a search based on the suggested related searches Google lists at the bottom of their search engine results pages (SERPs).
Aside from these being excellent places to also look for influential blogs within your niche, you can also take note of these keyword phrases and use them when creating content.
AllTop is a curated list of high-quality blogs in practically every industry and niche. It’s an excellent place for you to discover quality blogs that are within your niche that you may not be familiar with.
When creating a search on AllTop, start off by using a generic keyword.
AllTop will give you a list of related categories based on the keyword you used.
Choose the category that best describes the kinds of blogs you’re looking for. AllTop will then give you a list of the all the blogs in that specific category that they classified as being of high-quality.
Unlike the first two, this tool developed by Moz doesn’t provide you a list of blogs. Instead, it gives you a list of the bios of the people that contain the keyword you used to search.
What’s great about this is that it not only gives you the blogger’s Twitter handle so you can have a way to connect with them, but it also gives you their social authority rank, which is the blogger’s influential content on Twitter.
One thing to remember when using FollowerWonk is that is lists down all the social authority ranks of everyone whose bios include the keyword you used when searching.
A quick way how to find the most influential ones is to click on the Social Authority tab on the rightmost part of the screen.
This will sort out the Twitter handles from highest to lowest social authority ranking, and make it easier to weed out the one worth reaching out to.
BuzzSumo works very much like FollowerWonk in that it gives you a list of the Twitter handles of the influential bloggers whose bios include the keyword you used in your search.
Of the two, I tend to use this more frequently because it offers a lot more useful information.
For starters, while BuzzSumo doesn’t provide the influencer’s social authority on Twitter, it does give you the domain authority of the influencer’s blog.
This metric gives you an estimate on how well a website or blog ranks on Google and other search engine results pages. The higher the domain authority, the better it will rank.
Another useful piece of information BuzzSumo gives is the average retweets. This metric gives you an average estimate of the number of times an influencer’s post is retweeted by others.
Then there is the influencer’s retweet ratio.
This tells you what percentage of tweets the influencer puts out are retweets. In the image above, for example, Brian Clark of Copyblogger has a 40% retweet ratio. That means that for every 100 tweets he shares on Twitter, 40 of were retweets of other people’s content.
Ideally, you’d want to look for influencers with a very high domain authority, retweet ratio, and average tweets.
These are the best influencers to include in your blogger outreach list.
The number of influencers to include in your list greatly depends on your business.
If you run a niche-specific business, 30 influencers is a good starting point. On the other hand, a blogger outreach list with 100 influencers will be a better option for someone running a SaaS startup.
Step 4: Segment your list into tiers
Separating your influencers into different tiers is essential for you to get the most out from your blogger outreach efforts.
Not all blogs are created equal, neither is the manner on how you approach each influencer in your niche.
Getting straight to the point can work with most bloggers when you reach out to them while a little bit more TLC is needed if you’re approaching industry leaders, which can take some time.
By segmenting your list, you’ll be able to maximize your time by starting to generate some buzz and gain some quick wins for you and your business.
Step 5: Getting on their radar
Believe it or not, even influential and well-established bloggers keep a close watch on how their content is performing. You can use this to your advantage by regularly sharing their content and commenting on their blog posts to get them to notice you. Unfortunately, the mistake that lots of people do when they try using this technique to grab the influencer’s attention is that they only leave a relatively general comment like the infamous “Great post!” comment.
Let me throw a bit of tough love here: you’re not going to get anywhere when you leave comments like this on their blog posts or when you share their comments on social media.
If you want to grab their attention, take the time to craft a well-thought-of comment to leave in their blog posts. Not only will this be a way for you to show to the influencer that you’re able to provide insights that will help add value to their readers, but it will also help you stand out from the rest of the many others leaving comments on their blog.
Now, when it comes to sharing their posts on social media, make sure that you don’t forget to mention them in the post by using the @ on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or the “+” on Google+. That way, the influencer will get a notification on their end that you shared their content and left a few insightful thoughts about it as well.
Another method I found to be effective in getting the attention of influencers is by answering questions they send to their followers. Again, this is an excellent opportunity for you to add value to their followers, and get their attention.
When Web Hosting Secret Revealed surveyed what online business owners consider as the best website development tool or platform to use. My response got me featured in the blog post along with the likes of Justin Metros (founder of Radiator), Efe Cakinberk (CEO of Smart DNS Proxy), and Zane McIntyre (owner of Commission Factory).
If you’ve written a piece of content that turns out to be similar or relevant to an existing article an influencer wrote, you can send an email offering to help improve their resources.
After I published my post on the 25 Lead Generation Strategies for SaaS Startups, I happened to stumble upon James Scherer’s blog post all about using gated content. Even though it’s been two years since he wrote it, the topic was still very relevant.
Since I also talked about using gated content in my blog post, I decided to reach out to James about it.
Not long after, I received a reply from him and I was even more ecstatic when I saw that James listed my blog post as #3 in the list of the related article resource section at the bottom of the blog post:
In just a little over a month, this blog post is now ranking #2 in Google beating content written in both Forbes and Inc.com.
Here is another case where The Muse contributor Caroline Liu included a link to my post as one of the resources in her article on finding your life’s passion right alongside prominent names like Entrepreneur, Forbes, and online business entrepreneur Marie Forleo.
However, my favorite blogger outreach technique would have to be sending a courtesy email to influential bloggers I featured in my blog posts because it’s what gave me the most results regarding my blogger outreach efforts with roundup blog posts.
Since I’m an African American male I have written several articles on minorities (based on ethnic background and gender) in the tech startup scene which has begun to lead to me being able to interview prominent figures via Skype and phone who I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to connect with.
Unlike offering a resource to an influential blogger, a courtesy email is a more direct approach of letting the influencer know that you’ve mentioned them in your blog post and that you’ve included a link to their content.
Even if they are influencers and industry leaders in your niche, they still love it when they learn that you’ve found their content extremely valuable that you’ve used it as a resource in your blog.
Here are some of the things that happened so far as a result of using this technique:
Received a retweet on Twitter from Everette Taylor, a marketing influencer with over 375K followers:
Received a tweet share from my good friend, Ryan Robinson:
- Got an invite to become a contributor on Influencive.
- Got an invite to guest post on SalesPop.
- Got an invite to become a contributor on StartupNation.
- Got an invite to guest post on Grow Map.
- Got an invite to guest post on SmartInsights.
- Got an invite to become a contributor on Blavity.
Step 6: Focus on building relationships
This is crucial if you’re aiming to get industry leaders to endorse your business, let alone acknowledge you.
Let’s face it: industry leaders tend to have their guard up whenever businesses and entrepreneurs try to approach them. That’s because more often than not, they do so because they need something from them.
Even though that may be the case, do your best to resist the urge just to ask them a favor. Instead, focus on nothing more than establishing and building a genuine relationship with them. Slowly, the walls will go down, and it will be easier for you to ask them for help.
That was what happened with Jamie Turner of the 60 Second Marketer and me. Unlike the other influencers, I connected with him back in 2016, and he became one of my mentors (and still is). It was not only early this month when I finally submitted a guest post on writing buyer personas for him to consider.
Within a week, he told me that the guest post I sent was approved and published.
The Final Step…
I’ve just shared with you what blogger outreach is and the steps to take to integrate it into your content marketing strategy.
Just remember, when reaching out to influencers, make sure that you focus on how you can help them and provide them with additional value.
Yes, blogger outreach takes time.
Yes, blogger outreach requires much effort on your part.
However, in the end, it’s a worthwhile investment that will help take your brand out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Have you ever attempted to include blogger outreach into your content marketing strategy?
What technique did you use that yielded the most results for you? How has it affected your brand and your business?