How to Reach Influential Bloggers

Want to increase brand awareness and visibility? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to run a blog outreach campaign.

Jayson DeMers By Jayson DeMers

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Image courtesy of Serge Kij under CC 2.0

The web is all about connections. Like it or not, who you know is an important part of increasing your influence and presence online. Some people assume you can succeed online simply by offering a great product or great content; but too many online businesses fail because they’re believing this myth and operating in a virtual bubble.

Regardless of whether you’re an online publisher, a service provider or a product-based business, connecting with bloggers should be a significant component of your online marketing strategy. Reaching out to bloggers in your niche or industry is one of the best ways to help your business reach a new audience, and to initiate relationships that have the potential to turn into long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships.

So, What is a Blogger Outreach Campaign?

At its most basic, a blogger outreach campaign is the process of connecting with bloggers who can promote your business or content. Depending on the type of business you run, there are many forms a blogger outreach campaign may take. The goals of your campaign may vary as well; from creating a buzz around your product, to driving traffic to a particular piece of content, to building inbound links.
There are a number of ways you could potentially work with bloggers to promote your business, depending on your goals. Some components of your strategy may be:

  • Writing a guest post for their blog
  • Cross-promoting each other on social media
  • Asking them to review your product
  • Introducing them to your business
  • Asking them to share a piece of content with their audience

In each of these cases, it’s important to note that both parties receive something. For instance, if you’re asking them to review something, they may receive a free product or monetary compensation; or if you offer to write a guest post on their blog, they’re receiving free, high-quality content. For guidance in using guest blogging for your business see my post, The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging.

A 4-Step Strategy for Conducting a Blogger Outreach Campaign

If a blogger outreach campaign sounds like something you’d like to pursue, it’s important to have a strategy in place before you jump in. The key to a successful campaign is taking the ‘low and slow’ approach: doing your research, taking your time, and building long-term relationships.

Following is a step-by-step strategy to ensure you carry out your campaign as efficiently as possible, without alienating bloggers in the process!

Step 1: Create an unfiltered list of bloggers you can potentially reach out to.

Your first step will be coming up with a list of bloggers in your niche or industry. A simple excel spreadsheet works well here, with columns for website URL, blogger name, blog topic, authority metrics (see below for more on this) and date contacted.

Remember that you want to focus on being connected with audiences who will actually care about what you have to say; in this way, quality and relevancy is far more important than quantity (in terms of # of subscribers, social media followers, etc.).

Here are some ways you can search for relevant bloggers to contact. At this point our main goal is relevancy, not quality and reach of the individual bloggers.

Blog Catalogue: Allows you to search by blog topic or by blogger. When you search within the ‘Bloggers’ section, you can find bloggers by city or by interests (like favorite books, movies, bands, etc.).

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Alltop: Allows you to run a search or browse by topic. Alltop has an excellent directory of topics and subtopics to choose from. This allows you to drill down to find popular, highly relevant blogs.

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Google Blog Search: A generic Google search may turn up some interesting results, however Google Blog search will save you time by only returning the homepages of actual blogs. Use highly specific keywords to find blogs that are the best match for your content or business.

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BOTW Blogs: Run a search or browse through the Best of the Web directory to find blogs in your niche. Keep in mind this is a paid directory, so be aware that lower-quality sites may be included in your search results.

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Finally, one of the best ways to find bloggers who have already expressed interest in your business is to take a look at who comments frequently on your blog. Some commenters are likely to be commenting as a way of reaching out to you, so now’s the time to click through to see if their website or blog would be a good match for your campaign.

Step 2: Filter your list to include only high-quality blogs.

At this point, you’ll likely have a list of around 50-100 bloggers you can potentially reach out to. Given unlimited time and resources, you would likely attempt to connect with each one of them. However, realistically, you’ll probably want to whittle this list down to a more manageable number.

There are a number of possible strategies you can take in terms of determining who you’ll reach out to. Although it’s outside of the scope of this article, there are a number of great tools you can use to determine the authority and reach of individual blogs. Some of my favorites are Moz’s Page Authority tool, Majestic SEO, Alexa and Klout.

In most cases, choosing bloggers from each group below will give you the best success with the least amount of risk.

Group 1: Established Bloggers with Proven Reach. You might assume that reaching out to the most popular and influential bloggers in your industry is your best bet. The problem, of course, is that these are the bloggers who receive dozens of similar requests every day; it certainly doesn’t hurt to include them in your campaign, but focusing your entire outreach strategy on these influencers will likely leave you frustrated and disappointed.

Group 2: Up-and-Coming Bloggers. Often, the best bloggers to contact are newer ones who have the potential to become influencers in their field. Of course, this will take some savvy speculation on your part: look for factors like a proven track record in their field (even if not in terms of blogging), the quality of their content and their ability to connect with their audience on social media. Numbers aren’t nearly as important in this case as the quality of their blog posts and their ability to engage with their audience.

Group 3: Bloggers with a Similar Reach as Yours. Try to find bloggers who have a similar reach as yours: in terms of email subscribers, social media fans and followers, etc. They are much more likely to want to engage in some quid pro quo exchanges with you, as the mutual benefits of such an arrangement are immediately obvious.

Step 3: Get to know them (and let them get to know you).

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to around 20-30 bloggers you want to connect with, it’s time to get to know them. Some may call it cyber-stalking, but I call it market research. Learn everything you can about the blog and the blogger you want to connect with. Some ways to do this include:

  • Following them on social media
  • Commenting on their blog posts
  • Investigating whether they guest post on other blogs
  • Tagging them in your social media posts

The goal is to become a known entity before you email them; so that when they see an email from you they think, ‘Hey, I know that guy!’

Step 4: Send an inquiry email.

Too often, this step gets moved to the front of the line…and then people wonder why their outreach campaign isn’t working. But now that you’ve set the stage by determining that the blog is relevant and that the blogger has an audience you want to reach, and you’ve taken steps to get on their radar, it’s time to make your move.

Keep in mind that some of these bloggers will be receiving many similar emails every single day. This means your job is to ensure your email stands out, conveys a sense of trust, and that the benefits of the arrangement are clearly and transparently laid out.

Here are some tips for the content of your inquiry email:

  • Please, PLEASE, address the blogger by name. Don’t start with Dear Webmaster, or other generic greetings.
  • Keep in mind that your long-term goal is to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, not simply to get them to promote a single piece of content. In some cases this may mean ‘testing the waters’ and simply introducing yourself, rather than immediately asking for something.
  • Let them know why you’ve reached out to them specifically. Bloggers want to know why you picked them instead of someone else; they don’t want to be just one of the many nameless, faceless bloggers you’re contacting.
  • Let them know you’re a real person. Bloggers get pitches from PR agencies on behalf of clients all the time. One way to make sure you stand out is to send a personal email rather than outsourcing this responsibility. And don’t be afraid to show a bit of personality!
  • Don’t burn your bridges: Just because a blogger doesn’t want to work with you right now doesn’t mean he or she won’t reconsider in the future. With their permission, check back in 3-6 months to see where they’re at.

Here are some real-life examples of what NOT to say in your inquiry email:

“I’ve written a great blog post I think your readers would be interested in.” In rare cases this will work, but generally speaking, a line like this will ensure your email immediately gets moved into trash. If you have a truly amazing piece of content, give it a try. Just be sure to point out exactly why their audience would be interested in it.

“I have a great product I think you would like.” So what? What’s in it for them? Offer to send a free product (no strings attached), or point out how your product meets an expressed need of the blogger or his or her audience.

“Please see the attached press release.” With few exceptions, sending a press release will get you nowhere. This may have worked in years past, but it’s unlikely to work now. If you do have something newsworthy you want to share, tailor your message to the blogger and his or her audience.

A customized blogger outreach campaign will take time and should be considered a long-term endeavor. Your ultimate goal shouldn’t be to get quick links or short-term promotion for your business, but rather to build relationships that will benefit both parties over the long haul. Focus on connecting with bloggers who are able to reach your target market, and be sure to respect the time and effort they’ve put into building their audience.

A customized blogger outreach campaign will take time and should be considered a long-term endeavor. Your ultimate goal shouldn’t be to get quick links or short-term promotion for your business, but rather to build relationships that will benefit both parties over the long haul. Focus on connecting with bloggers who are able to reach your target market, and be sure to respect the time and effort they’ve put into building their audience.

If you’re looking for more strategies to extend your reach online, see my posts 39 Actionable Ideas for Driving Traffic to Your Website and 7 Killer Online Marketing Tactics That Take a Minute or Less.

Want a more in-depth guide to growing your website traffic? See my eBook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online.

Have you conducted a blogger outreach campaign? Has it been a worthwhile investment of your time? Share below!

(Image Credit: Serge Kij under CC 2.0)

Posted: July 14, 2014

Jayson DeMersHow to Reach Influential Bloggers
  • This is an absolutely amazing idea and opportunity to boot! I plan to put some time into getting involved with this venture this as soon as I can. It’s always a good idea to network with “success oriented people and to exchange ideas and help one another, whenever possible. Thank you for sharing this cutting edge news with me and anyone else fortunate enough to view and read it. DAC ~ http://thestoryexchange.org/deborah-culp-deborah-culp-journalist-consultant-photographer/

  • This is an absolutely amazing idea and opportunity to boot! I plan to put some time into getting involved with this venture this as soon as I can. It’s always a good idea to network with “success oriented people and to exchange ideas and help one another, whenever possible. Thank you for sharing this cutting edge news with me and anyone else fortunate enough to view and read it. DAC ~ http://thestoryexchange.org/deborah-culp-deborah-culp-journalist-consultant-photographer/

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