The following is a guest post by Anna Rud. Anna is a Content Marketer at Serpstat. Establishing an active presence on external resources, developing rich and quality content, implementing of brand strategy and many other are her key responsibilities.
As marketers, we know that blogger outreach is an art. Even after years of working in the niche, you still can’t know for sure what reaction on your offer you’ll get this time.
Well, here is the breaking news: all people are different. Some are grateful to you for the offer, others ask you to leave them alone, but most people just ignore you. The same words can be pleasant for one person and be insulting for another, and we can’t help it. The only thing we can do is to minimize the risk by learning from one another.
Since there is no the perfect guidance, I’ll just share my own way to do it, along with the tips and tricks based on my blogger outreach experience.
Outreach 101: brief introduction
Outbound content marketing is the cheapest and, at the same time, one of the most efficient ways of promotion. Reaching out to other bloggers, creating connections and developing relationships are key pillars of this kind of marketing.
Put simply, you write great content mentioning your service/tool/blog and ask other bloggers to publish it on their blogs. This way the blogger gets high-quality content and you, in turn, get promotion and a link from the authoritative website. This simple deal brings value to both parties if you follow a few basic rules, which I’m going to describe in this post.
Why do we need it?
There are a few reasons you might need to outreach:
- First and foremost, to promote your product through guest blogging. It’s a good way to increase brand awareness and show the value of your product to a large audience;
- If you want to get more exposure and promote your blog posts, you can ask a blogger with similar interests to share it through his channels. Here is the best guide to this kind of outreach I know.
- If you want to establish collaboration and create great content together (interview, study, infographic), you need to find influencers to work with.
- And more.
Let’s go through the process step by step and find potential problems we may face during the process.
Step #1 Find bloggers
Finding contacts is not a problem at the beginning. It becomes problematic half a year later when all obvious search methods are at an end. Here are few sources I use:
Advanced search operators
Google operators are the special commands which help to extend capabilities of the regular search. With this commands, you can use Google to its full potential: for example, put your query in quotes, and you’ll get the results which only include pages with the same words in the same order; or put a minus in front of words you want to exclude from the results. Here are operators every SEO ought to know gathered by Neil Patel.
In our case, we can use your query inurl:write-for-us. Just type it into the Google search box (for example, SEO inurl:write-for-us) and it will return all websites related to SEO which have a page with “write for us” in URL.
Here are a few examples of queries you may use to find more contacts:
- “Editorial guidelines”
- “Guest post”
- “Become a contributor”
- “Become an author”
- “Guest bloggers”
Mention is a media monitoring tool that lets you track social mentions, analyze competitors, and find influencers. Here you can find a lot of blogs that write about your topic. Create a few alerts:
- Your primary keywords;
- Your own brand/site name;
- Your competitors’ brand/site names.
You can adjust it so that it finds mentions on the blogs alone. Every day you’ll be getting tons of sites where you can try your luck.
Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO platform which consists of 5 modules:
- Keyword research;
- Competitive analysis;
- Backlink analysis;
- Rank tracking;
- Site audit.
We’ll go with the backlink research tool to find even more opportunities for outreach. Type your competitor’s’ name into the search box, go to backlink analysis, choose 1 link per domain, and explore the backlinks.
You can export about 500 backlinks of your competitor to the spreadsheet and analyze it! By doing this, you can:
- Analyze your competitors’ outbound content marketing strategy;
- Find opportunities to improve your own strategy;
- Find websites they use for guest posting and steal them all!
I’ve read about this method in this article on SEJ.
If you haven’t done so, google “blogs that accept guest posts” and find huge lists like this one. Sometimes all work is done for us.
Step #2 Choose the way
I’ve tried 3 ways to outreach:
- Personal email;
- Social media platforms.
Newsletters are great to save a lot of time and reach more bloggers automatically. Such tools allow sending a set of emails to a big list of bloggers together in one click. Here is how it looks like:
At the same time, bloggers don’t like when someone treats them this way. A Newsletter means that you didn’t even bother to write the personal email, let alone analyze blogger’s website. It means that you don’t want to write for this certain blog, you just want to write for any blog which meets your requirements, and it’s insulting for most bloggers.
The phrase “I’ve glanced through your blog, and I liked it” speaks for itself. It says “I’m a fake. I don’t care about your blog. I just seek to promote my product anywhere and get a free link from your blog as well.”
My tip: avoid formal phrases and outreach templates. Even if you use the tool to reach out, try to make it as personalized as possible. Your goal is to make sure that no one guesses that it was a newsletter.
And another tip: never try to reach out established influencers this way. If he guesses that it’s not a personal email, you probably will never be able to make things right again.
Buzzstream might be better for this purpose since it allows adding something personal to each letter before sending.
It takes 10 times longer to write all emails manually but sometimes it is worth doing, especially with influencers. Analyze the blog you want to reach out first and then write something specific in the email. You can mention a certain article or even cite it somewhere within the email body. Write like a real person, add jokes, be simple and polite.
Social media platforms
Even though LinkedIn is a business social networking platform, it’s not for the business issues, it’s for connections! I’d definitely advise you to be part of this community and invite all bloggers you know to be friends on Linkedin. At the same time, you shouldn’t sound like a salesman when writing to them. Get to know them better first, share your experience, find common ground and only after that try to talk about benefits you can bring to each other.
I think you can start a conversation on Linkedin with the offer only if your emails have gone unanswered. Thus you can say that you really want to work together, but you haven’t had a response.
Facebook is the last resort as it’s a social network for personal communication with friends and family. Don’t bother people on there without a good enough reason.
Best social media platform to outreach and get acquainted is Twitter. You can write a short message to the blogger and ask him about the most convenient place to talk.
Step #3 Submit a pitch
I suggest the following structure for the email:
- Your name and position;
- Brief info about your company, about its achievements;
- The reason you’re reaching out (including something personal)
- Some samples of your best pieces (2 or 3)
- Tell the benefits blogger will get from this collaboration (promotion on your channels, referral program, posts exchange, etc)
- Suggested topics with the brief outline.
- It’s quite a big amount of information, but you should try your best to keep your letter as brief as possible.
- Don’t send the article in full. It looks like some other blogger has refused this post, so you’re looking for the second variant.
- Always analyze previous posts before sending your idea. Be sure not to send a topic that has been covered to death on this blog or even worth — something totally irrelevant.
- Try to be professional, but avoid being too formal. Add a bit of your personality to this email.
- Include links to prove your words but don’t include attachments. No one wants to open stuff from strangers.
Step #4 Follow up
You’ve sent an email or run the newsletter, what’s next? Don’t be afraid to follow up. Bloggers receive a ton of letters every day, and there is a significant chance that your letter was missed accidentally. But don’t be too pushy: follow up twice or try to reach out via social media platform, and then leave them alone. Maybe it’s not the best time so you can try your luck later. Harassing them, you can lose the contact forever.
Step #5 Write
As I said earlier, best guidelines are the previous posts on the blog you’re writing for. However, if the blog has actual guidelines, you should read them in full too.
I’ll repeat it: always explore the blog before writing the content. Let’s get back to Serpstat and find blog’s top pages:
Here are the best pages on the blog. You also can sort it by FB shares to find out what this blog’s audience likes.
Read 10 articles from such a list and only after that start writing. This way you’ll be able to write great content for this particular blog and get a lot of shares as you know the audience preferences. The blogger, in turn, gets relevant and useful content.
Since every aspect of this process deserves a separate article, I couldn’t have hoped to cover everything in this single one. I just tried to describe the way I do it and point out a few basic rules that I believe might help people who are starting out. Hope it worked out!