If you’re into blogging and wanting to make a real success of it, I’m assuming you’re aware that you need to make great content. But are you aware of the importance of blogger outreach?
You need great content to rank in search engines, and you need it to keep hold of your readers.
Keeping people coming back and building a loyal audience is probably the most important investment you could make as a blogger looking to hit the big time this year.
I’ll admit it:
It’s so hard to bring in readers to a new site.
Good content is nowhere near enough on its own.
Great content is still pretty far away from enough – it absolutely won’t happen by chance.
The single greatest piece of content in the history of the world isn’t even enough if you can’t get eyeballs onto it.
The best piece of advice I ever received – something that you’ll often see me shouting about here on Intergeek and across the internet – is the 80/20 rule.
20% of your time should be put into content creation, and 80% should go into promotion.
Make this your mantra.
Great outreach is the form of promotion you need; it can transform a distinctly average blog into one with a bustling community and a lack of outreach is what can leave an incredible blog trailing behind with just a few fans to show for the work.
Outreach is time consuming, and can be tedious.
On the plus side:
It’s the best use of time you could spend on your blog.
I’d rate it a 5/10 in terms of difficulty, 8/10 in terms of effort required and 10/10 in terms of potential rewards.
Compare this with social media use, with which I’d rate all three a 1/10.
Outreach can help with your social amplification, it can generate links back to help build your search presence and referral traffic, it helps to build your brand and there are even more benefits than this too.
However, it’s not as easy as you might think.
In fact, it’s so easy to get emails wrong.
I’ve brought together nine of my favourite outreach tips to ensure that you’re getting it right.
First things first, here’s where I drop an affiliate link on you like a tonne of bricks.
The ONLY paid product I recommend (and get a small commission for) on Intergeek is BuzzStream.
The reason it’s the ONLY product I’m an affiliate of is because it’s the only product I genuinely use every single day.
For as little as $19 a month, you’ll save literally hours every time you conduct an email outreach campaign – which should be often!
I’d estimate you save two hours for every 50 people you want to contact, including the time of scouting out sites to contact and finding their contact details.
For me, this works out to saving WEEKS of time every year.
Three quick reasons why it’s perfect for you:
Thanks to the BuzzMarker, you’re able to go to Google, bang in a search for relevant sites that you want to contact and then select the ‘Create a prospecting list’ option after right-clicking.
After this, select the green ‘Start prospecting’ button that will appear.
This will pull up your Google search results in a unique way – allowing you to go through each page one-by-one and add them to an outreach list:
BuzzStream will look to pull in contact details automatically, but you also have the chance here to add in any notes about the person you wish to contact.
Simply click on the ‘Save to BuzzStream’ option, and then you can move onto the next site via the arrows on the overlay that is now at the bottom of your screen.
You can create templates within BuzzStream, meaning you no longer have to copy and paste your email from one contact to the next.
In your template, you can include shortcodes like [First Name] and [Primary Website] to automatically pull the name and URL of the person you’re contacting into your email – making each email you send unique.
If you’re using Gmail or Outlook, you’re able to pull your email account into BuzzStream so that it will track every email you send (only to people you have on your outreach lists) and every email you receive from these people.
What’s so great about this?
Well, when you’re contacting thousands of sites – which you will as time progresses – it’s easy to lose track of people you’ve spoken to before, especially if conversation has been brief.
If you add a site into a project that you’ve already had correspondence with before, even if they’ve ignored you (which they do quite often!), you’ll be able to see it.
More importantly, it stops you looking a fool when you introduce yourself to someone that you’ve already spoken to three times in the past year.
Know Who You’re Emailing
Okay, BuzzStream talk is over now.
(If you don’t use it now, or other alternative outreach software, you are nothing, you are a fool and you are a waste of time, good night).
One of the most important tips I can give you is to know who the person is that you’re emailing.
I don’t mean know them personally, and I don’t mean go to the lengths of stalking them so you’re given some kind of restraining order either.
Make sure – at a minimum – that you refer to the name of the person you’re contacting.
Everyone will make mistakes during outreach, and trust me – you’ll feel like a massive tool when you do.
Sometimes, you’ll mess up an email to one of the biggest blogging sites out there, and you’ll want the world to swallow you whole:
Yup, that was a response to an email I sent to Greg (just kidding, Glen!) over at Boost Blog Traffic when I’d just started out on this site.
It was my second post ever.
The worst thing? It was a GUIDE ON OUTREACH.
Ergh, the irony was excruciating.
Okay, so my mistake wasn’t strictly what I said above – I of course knew of both Jon and Glen at BBT – but I’d forgotten to customise my email and ended up linking to the wrong post on the wrong site.
Mistakes happen. Learn from them.
Make sure you know exactly who you’re emailing at any given time.
Never rush the process.
This is time consuming but more than worth it – there’s no room for avoidable rejections.
Build A Rapport
Before you ask someone to do something BIG for you like linking back to or sharing your content, why not engage with them beforehand?
Start with something small, such as simply asking them to check out your content and leave a comment with some feedback if they wish.
Or, before this step even begins, why not comment on their blog?
Why not share their article?
If you manage to speak to them on one platform or another before asking for a favour, you stand a better chance of getting something out of it at the end.
Building a rapport with people has led to me developing contacts (and genuine friends) on a scale that I never thought would be possible before – a benefit you wouldn’t typically think of when trying to achieve content amplification.
Tailor Your Email To The Recipient
I recently received a pitch (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it here as I know he’ll be reading) which had this as the introductory ‘customised’ paragraph:
First of all, I like the way you write.”
Now I would almost certainly always ignore an email like this, because I know it’s gone to a chunk of people and no effort has gone into personalising it to me other than my name.
However, for a change, I decided to get in touch and told him bluntly what the situation was, and then shot him a few tips across for improving his outreach success rates – it was this email exchange that actually inspired this post.
I would honestly have preferred his initial email to have said something like:
First of all, I think you’re a sarcastic c*** and I really don’t understand what is going on with your weird, pale, melon head – also why do you have the hairline of a pensioner yet the beard of a six year old girl?”
It might make me cry a little, but at least I’d know he was actually wanting to contact me and not a hundred other people that he’d fired a generic email to.
Let me point out:
I’m NOT one to advocate an in-depth brown nosing session to start off your email.
It used to be a common trend (and it still exists) to start an email with a generic lovey-dovey comment about how much you loved reading their blog and it is just SO fake when done the way most do. I prefer genuine compliments or general chit-chat about a person’s interests.
Here’s a tip that I love:
Simply following someone on social media a week before contact can go a long way to helping your success rate – allowing you to say something like “I’m glad to be in touch, I actually follow you on Twitter!” in your email.
Keep It Brief
Your email should be three or four paragraphs at most.
If you’ve found a big website that you want to email as you think their audience might like your content, chances are that fifty other people that day will also have wanted to email them.
Which ones stand out most?
The ones that aren’t a total ballache to read.
You’re emailing extremely busy people.
If they sat and responded to emails all day, they’d never get any of their own work done.
Include An Incentive
What’s in it for them?
A lot of people will be expecting something in return for helping you out.
That’s just the way of the world – you give, you take.
However, my priority is to never have to offer anything to people other than the value of my content and perhaps some of my time. Hey, I take pride in my content – you should too.
I’m usually also willing to share their content, if it’s awesome and if they ask.
I usually just roll with something like:
“I’m sure it would be something your audience would love if you’d share it on social media.”
What’s in it for them here?
They’d be keeping their audience happy, entertained and engaged.
Is this enough for people? You’d be surprised – most of the time, it actually is.
If you have a good rapport with someone, the incentive is much less of a deal breaker.
Great content can be enough to get the deal done*, but without the rapport/incentive you’re much more likely to be ignored.
*Unless you’re emailing a ‘mommy blogger’ who will always want money – meh, they’ve got nappies to buy after all. And no, I never hand over the cash.
Lose The Sales Pitch
First of all, remember why you’re outreaching:
Have you forgotten already?
It’s because you want to achieve something.
You want to achieve a backlink out of it, you want to get a social share out of it, you want a review out of it…hell, you should know better than me for why you’re outreaching.
There’s no reason to oversell your content.
You’re not looking to convince them to hand over any money. All you want is a *little* bit of their time.
If you’re looking for feedback, there’s no need to tell someone how amazing your product is and how much they’ll love it – because it’s their opinion you’re after, not their approval.
If you know who you’re contacting, personalise it to them effectively, keep it brief and include an incentive – this is genuinely more than enough to get them to at least view your content. The sales pitch tends to have a negative effect; it’s not a press release you’re sending.
After they’ve viewed it, I guess it comes down to how much you can walk the walk (after talking the talk in your email) and how good a day the recipient is having.
Follow Up Within A Week
You should always follow up to an outreach pitch if you don’t get a response.
I like to wait a week, but anywhere between 2-7 days can be appropriate.
Keep your follow up EVEN MORE BRIEF than before.
There’s a pretty high chance that they saw your original email and simply ignored it, so you don’t need to repeat the whole shebang.
A great tip is to put your subject line as ‘Re: [your previous subject line here]’.
This helps plant a psychological seed that they actually did reply to you in the first place, or at least makes them more aware that they’ve seen your name before, making them even more likely to open your email this time around.
Keep The Relationship Going
It’s really important to keep a relationship going over time – especially if you build that rapport that I spoke about previously.
Don’t make this seem harder or more long-winded than it really is; you don’t need to be emailing them every other week asking how they are and what they’ve been up to.
- Sign up to their newsletter if they have one; be aware of what they’re working on at any given time
- Comment on their articles every now and again
- Follow them on social media and like/retweet/respond where appropriate
- Link to their site in an article and drop them a line to let them know
Most big bloggers or editors out there don’t have time to respond to every email they receive or every comment they get.
However, if you stay in touch, they’ll tend to do the same.
On the other hand, I definitely do have time to respond to my comments, so please leave your thoughts below!
Do you have any outreach tips to add to this list?
What’s the worst email you ever received?