Planning An Effective Blogger Outreach Strategy: How To Get Started

Planning An Effective Blogger Outreach Strategy: How To Get Started

By JoAnne D. | Traffic & Promotion

Planning An Effective Blogger Outreach Strategy: How To Get Started

What is blogger outreach, and how is it done? This blog post attempts to answer those questions by outlining how to create a blogger outreach strategy that works.

Blogger outreach is a highly valuable promotion technique. But it isn’t a simple matter of emailing bloggers with a link to your blog post.

(Don’t do that, by the way. You’re not a spammer; you’re a serious blogger.)

It takes strategy to reap the rewards of blogger outreach.

In today’s article, I’ll explain why you need to reach out to influencers in your niche and outline all the phases of a successful blogger outreach strategy.

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What Is Blogger Outreach And Why Should I Bother?

In a nutshell, blogger outreach is the process of building relationships with other influential bloggers. There are many possible reasons why a blogger or a business will want to do blogger outreach, but for bloggers, the main reason is to increase blog traffic.

Getting another blogger’s readers to actually read your blog will do wonders for your traffic. New eyes on your content will mean more page views, which makes it more likely that your other content will be viewed, especially if the post they land on is one of high-quality.

boy reading on tablet, girl reading on laptop

Having an influential blogger promote your content will increase your credibility to both your current readers and to their readers. When readers trust your content, they go back to your blog and most likely subscribe to your mailing list. Plus, they tend to share your content to their social media accounts, drawing even more eyes to your content.

Most importantly, building relationships with other bloggers is priceless. You can pick their brains, take their best advice, and ask them for advice if you ever get stuck on a seemingly insurmountable problem.

Creating An Effective Blogger Outreach Strategy

Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced that blogger outreach can help you immensely, let’s dig right into creating a simple, doable blogger outreach strategy.

Phase 1: Create An Influencer Directory

Before you even start targeting bloggers, you need to know exactly who you’re going to reach out to. Aside from the who, you also need to know how many bloggers you’re going to contact so you can allocate your time accordingly. Here’s how to go about it.

Find out who the influencers are in your niche.

Especially when you’re only starting your blog, knowing the who’s who in your niche is essential.

The most accessible tool to do this is Google Search. Simply do a search for blog topics in your niche and see which blogs pop up in the first page. Browsing these blogs will give you an idea of how popular they are and if they have plenty of followers and subscribers.

If that’s not enough for you, you can use tools like MozBar to look at the domain authority (DA) of the blogs you’re checking out. The higher the domain authority, the better it performs in search engines and the higher the likelihood that it’s a prominent site.

Another resource you can consult is Alltop, which is a curated list of high-quality blogs in almost every industry and niche. Simply search for a keyword, look through the categories to find the one that best describes your niche, and Alltop will list down all the blogs in that specific category that are classified as high-quality.

At this point, it’s wise to start creating a spreadsheet with the following columns: blog URL, name of blogger, email address (or the URL for their Contact page if they don’t have an email address listed), Twitter handle, Facebook URL, and Pinterest URL. You can also add columns for other social media accounts if that blogger has them.

spreadsheet for taking note of influencer information

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Group them into three categories.

Your time is limited, and shouldn’t ALL be spent on outreach and promotion. You want to have a solid strategy so that none of your time or efforts are wasted. Thus, you’ll want to focus more on influencers who will be able to give you the best return on investment.

First, aside from their domain authority, take a look at these other characteristics:

  • Domain authority. The higher the domain authority of a blog, the more influence it has, at least from Google’s viewpoint. Try to list influencers that are consistently on the first page of search results when you try to search keywords related to your blog niche.
  • Blog comments. More comments, more popular. But make sure to take a look not only at the number of comments they get, but the quality of the comments. Do they tend to get more of the same people commenting? Do they seem to have avid fans? Are the comments helping the discussion?
  • Social influence. Same principle with blog comments: more followers, more popular. But again, take a look at the quality of the followers. Do they look like real, actual people? Or mostly bots? Do their Facebook followers/fans share their content? Are they posting comments on Facebook statuses, or even reacting to them?

 

After assessing the above criteria, rank them into three categories:

  • Category 1: These are the bloggers with a huge audience (think Facebook and Twitter followers in the thousands or tens of thousands, hundreds or thousands of subscribers, tens if not hundreds of comments per blog post). Category 1 influencers don’t have time to read and reply to emails from strangers, so it’s up to you to come up with something truly original to make them notice you.
  • Category 2: These are the bloggers who don’t have as high an audience as the Category 1 influencers but are still influential enough to make an impact on your blog. Category 2 influencers can be swayed by a highly personal email and excellent content that’s worth sharing to their readers and followers.
  • Category 3: These are the bloggers that are only starting to get traction, and like you, are probably reaching out to Category 1 and 2 influencers. Also like you, they’re starting to promote their content through various ways. Thus, reaching out to them might result in collaborations that are mutually beneficial.

 

When you’ve categorized your list, you’ll have a much better idea of which group to prioritize. You’ll get the most ROI if you focus on Categories 2 and 3. Trying to impress Category 1 influencers would be an uphill battle, even if a positive response from even one of them could make a world of difference to your blog.

Follow them, study them, subscribe to them.

Okay, this part may seem a bit “stalkerish,” but don’t make the rookie mistake of jumping the gun and emailing influencers before even getting to review their blog thoroughly. That’s a surefire way to get your outreach email to the Trash, or worse, the Spam folder.

Once you’ve built up a list of influencers, the next thing you should do is follow them on their social media accounts, read up on their past articles, and subscribe to their mailing list so you can get newsletters from them.

The more familiar you are with your chosen influencers’ work, the more you can decide if reaching out to them is indeed worth it. Plus, you’re quite certain to actually get helpful tips as well as blog post inspirations from their content. You’ll also get to genuinely appreciate their unique writing and promotional styles.

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Phase 2: Get Them To Notice You

Even if you’ve researched and managed to study your list of influencers, hold off on emailing your list of influencers just a little bit longer. What you want is to get on their radar first. Show them that you actually read their posts, that you actually like them, and that you actually think they’re useful for you.

Comment on their posts.

A subtle way to get these influencers to notice you is to comment on their posts.

speech bubble

Now, it’s tempting to just skim over the article and just say general things like “Very helpful!” on the comments. But you want them to notice you, not ignore you.

Exert the extra effort to compose a thoughtful comment to leave in their blog posts. It doesn’t have to be as long as a blog post; just enough so that you’re actually adding something meaningful to the discussion. This is a great way for you to show that influencer that you’re capable of sharing valuable insights, and a great way to show it to their readers as well.

Bonus points if you’re early. Admit it, once you publish a post, you tend to wait for the comments to come in. Other bloggers are the same way.

Link to a blog post of theirs in your blog.

Another low-key way of getting them to notice you is to mention one of their blog posts on your blog and linking back to that post from your blog. You can share that their blog post inspired your post, or you can have their blog post as a reference or resource.

link

Afterward, you can inform them by commenting on that blog post you referenced, or through social media. You can even opt not to say anything; even top influencers (or maybe especially top influencers) monitor their backlinks and will probably check your blog out.

Bloggers love when their work is referenced, even esteemed bloggers. If your content was an especially inspired piece, you might get them to share your content on their blog or on their social media.

Phase 3: Amp Up Your Attention-Grabbing Efforts

After some weeks (yes, weeks) of trying to catch their eye, it’s time to take it up a notch.

Share their content on your social media accounts and let them know.

Instead of just mentioning their blog post on your blog, start sharing their useful blog posts on your social media accounts. Only now, don’t wait for them to notice that you did so; mention them on Twitter and tag them on Facebook. Again, they’re savvy bloggers and are likely to notice that you mentioned or tagged them.

Include a brief description of the blog post, or a quote that you especially liked. If you do this often enough, you’ll probably get them to reply to you. Make sure to retweet their Twitter reply to your followers, or reply to their Facebook comment.

Pick up on their engagement cues on social media.

One technique that bloggers use to boost their engagement is to ask questions or run surveys on their social media. Take the bait and answer their questions.

ask sign

As with commenting on their blog posts, though, don’t just answer with one-word replies (“Yes” or “No”) unless they specifically restricted the answers. Expound on your answer as thoroughly as you can.

Reply to their email newsletter.

Bloggers usually ask questions or solicit feedback or invite questions on their email newsletter. Take the opportunity to directly reply to them. This is almost like commenting on their blog post or Facebook post, but with one important distinction: it’s private. Establishing a more intimate connection than just a casual subscriber or reader should get them to notice you.

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Phase 4: Send Them Cold Emails

So you’ve gone from catching their eye to piquing their curiosity. It’s time to tackle the “scariest” part: sending them cold emails. These emails are unsolicited in that you’re the one initiating contact, but they’re not necessarily spam if you do it right.

Genuinely thank them for a recent post and share how it helped you.

A brief email just to say that you found their blog post helpful and sharing a story about how it has helped you is an email these influencers will likely appreciate. Again, it’s a more intimate connection than usual, but added points for you because this time, you’re not responding, you’re initiating a conversation.

gmail in open laptop

Give them honest, helpful feedback.

In contrast to what you’ve been doing prior to this, which is basically lave influencers with compliments, you can try to give them constructive feedback. A simple way is to give them feedback on their blog: how they can improve their content, or even the design of their blog.

Be very careful here, though. You don’t want to sound condescending or insulting. You have to put yourself in a “fan” mindset; that is, provide feedback from the perspective of a fan. If you were able to do your research properly in Phase 1 and you’re actually enjoying their blog, then you’re probably a genuine fan of their work by now, anyway.

Giving them both sincere praise and valuable feedback the right way can take their perspective of you from a simple follower to a peer whose input is worth considering.

Introduce them to your work.

Before this step, you’re trying to make them notice you. Now it’s time to actually send them something you worked on.

Scary? It doesn’t have to be! At this point, you just want to send a direct but friendly invitation to read one of your blog posts. No obligation for them to promote it just yet (but if they do, that’s awesome!).

Write to them and let them know that you’ve recently written a blog post and give a darn good reason why you’re sharing it with them. It could be a unique post about a topic that you’re both interested in, or an opposing take on a recent opinion post they published (take care to still be courteous even when you have opposing views).

You’re not asking for anything (just yet) so you don’t need an overly long message. A short email introducing your article, why they might be interested, with the title of your post and a link to it should be enough.

Officially ask them to promote your content.

If they at least replied to your email introducing your blog post, this may be a good sign that you can progress to explicitly asking them to share your content to their followers.

two friends sharing something on their phones

Now this part is scary. The possibility of outright rejection is enough to make one’s stomach churn and flip. But you can channel this fear into energy to make sure your outreach email is authentic, convincing, and compelling enough for them to grant your request.

You can actually take your email from when you shared your content and add a casual question like “Please let me know what you think about my blog post. Maybe it could be worth sharing to your followers?” That way, you’re clearly asking for a share, but asked for feedback first, so it’s easier to refuse for them.

If you’re wondering why you want to give them an out or the chance to refuse your request, it comes down to social courtesy. It’s an extremely awkward position to have to refuse and say “No” to someone, so don’t put them in that position. Always give them a graceful way out.

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Officially ask them for something bigger, and offer something valuable in return.

If they fulfilled your request to share your content, you can try to ask for the bigger favor. Thanks to the Ben Franklin effect, those who have done you a small favor are more likely to do you a bigger one.

This comes with a little caveat: don’t ask for this big favor immediately after asking them to share your content. In between, continue being their reader and follower: sharing their content, commenting on their blog posts, etc.

What makes this a bigger favor? You’re going to ask for a link, which is more valuable than a share. A link is more permanent, they take more effort, and gives you more benefits in terms of traffic and credibility.

Which is why it’s important to highlight what’s in it for them. You’ll need to highlight what you can do for them. Remember, these people aren’t strangers to outreach. They’ve done it themselves, and they probably get a few of them every day, especially Category 1 and 2 bloggers. So you’ll need to interest them by finding a need for you to fill.

A guest post will likely work well with Category 2 and 3 bloggers. Keep in mind that popular bloggers are picky about guest posts because they have readers to keep and a reputation to protect.

When you suggest creating a guest post for them, make sure not to excessively talk about the benefits to you (i.e., exposure and backlinks, which I’m sure they’re aware of) and talk about how helpful it would be to their readers and how a ready-made, high-quality piece of content is one less deadline to worry about.

You can also offer to interview them for your blog. This works better for Category 2 bloggers than for Category 3 ones because Category 2 influencers are more popular, and thus more people are curious about what they have to say.

interview

Again, when you suggest doing this for them, make sure you talk more about what’s in it for them; that is, this interview will build up their reputation and establish their branding and message. The benefit for you will be tremendous if they help you promote that interview. If someone that esteemed agreed to be in your blog, then you must be an excellent blogger yourself.

Another example of content that you can offer them would be one of your blog posts as a resource. This would be a good fit for Category 3 bloggers because they’ll tend to have greater appreciation that you found a gap in their resources and will be more likely to help you out when they find a gap in your content.

When you contact them about this, don’t stress the fact that you found something missing in their content; you don’t want to seem overly critical of their blog. Instead, highlight the fact that you can help them out and enhance their content.

Follow Up Exactly Once

Sometimes you don’t get a response. Maybe they don’t want to do your request and feel awkward outwardly declining it. Or maybe they’re hoping to ignore you and let that be your answer. Or maybe they just plain forgot.

Whatever it is, two weeks of waiting is enough to warrant a short, polite follow-up email. Just say that you’re following up in case they missed your email. That’s it.

And really, that should be it. One follow-up email is all you get.

Don’t be that pesky too-eager beaver showing up in their inbox every day. If they were interested in what you had to offer, they’d have replied to your email. And if they forgot, they’d have replied to that first follow-up email.

Post-Outreach: Follow Through

Did they do everything you requested them to do? Give you feedback on your blog post? Share your blog post to their followers?

If so, THANK THEM.

thank you note with coffee

You’d be surprised at how far a simple appreciative note can go, whether or not they do what you ask them to do. After all, you want to establish a long-term relationship.

Another way to keep the connection you’ve made is to offer your help if they need it. You want a mutually beneficial relationship, not a one-sided one.

In addition, whether or not they do your request, continue being a fan of theirs; that is, don’t stop reading their content and learning from it, or sharing their valuable posts, or subscribing to their mailing lists. Of course, prioritize those bloggers who came through for you, but don’t alienate bloggers out of spite.

After all, even if you don’t get what you want today, you can still try to ask for it in the future. In the meantime, cultivate your relationships with these influencers.

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Final Thoughts on Blogger Outreach Strategy

Blogger outreach is a time-consuming process, as with all long-term strategies. When you’re on Phase 1 (knowing who to reach out to) and Phase 2 (getting them to notice you), it seems like a pointless exercise that’s never going to end.

But when you get to the next phases and your efforts seem to be paying off, the rewards are amazing, in terms of the links and traffic you get to your site, as well as the new relationships you make. Who knows, you might make a new online friend while you do your outreach.

As always, let me leave you some reminders before you go ahead and draft your blogging strategy.

Put your best foot forward…

When you want to impress other influencers, you have to make a good impression. Of course, making the best content possible should always be your mindset, but it’s particularly important when trying to showcase your work to other influencers.

Even your outreach emails are an opportunity to showcase your best writing. Make sure there aren’t errors, even cosmetic ones like typos. These influencers would need to see that you’re a blogger worth promoting, and the way to do that is through excellent quality content.

…But show the real you

When you’re building your network with your peers, it’s important to let your real personality shine.

You can never please everyone, and that’s okay.

Stay true to yourself because then you’ll only attract influencers whose personalities are compatible with yours. That’s a good thing because you’ll tend to work better with those influencers.

On that note, avoid sending overly formulated outreach emails. Be mindful of the essential parts of an outreach email, but allow yourself to write as naturally as possible. Seasoned bloggers who receive outreach emails daily can smell one even from the subject line, so don’t even bother with too-rigid templates.

Cultivate the relationships even after your campaign is done.

A blogger outreach campaign can last a few weeks or months, but aim for the relationships you build from this campaign to be long-term, reciprocal ones.

man and woman in front of laptop

Social media shares could be buried in a matter of hours, blog posts could be buried in months. But nurture your relationships with influencers in your niche, and that could last for the entirety of your blogging career.

Have you tried to do blogger outreach? Which technique did you use that produced the best results for you? Tell me about it in the comments!

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About the Author

JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.

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