Do you want to massively grow your organic traffic, get high-quality backlinks, and get in front of your target audience?
Guest Blogging is one of the most effective ways to boost your SEO – and in this guide, we’re going to show exactly how you can do it – at scale!
By following this guide, you’ll have a solid plan, as well as learn the shortcuts to running successful outreach campaigns!
Let’s get into it!
What Is Blogger Outreach?
Blogger outreach is the process of identifying influencers who you could benefit from a relationship with.
Usually, you can leverage this relationship to get in front of their audience, often through guest blogging (which gets a link back to your site from theirs).
When it comes to growing your audience and increasing engagement, getting someone else to spread your message is the perfect way to foster trust.
However, blogger outreach is not just about sending an influencer an email saying, “Here’s my link!”
First and foremost, it’s about creating content that’s truly valuable.
You’ll usually only get a link as part of a reciprocal exchange of offering content that they would actually want to post on their site.
The positive side effect of engaging in guest posting is developing relationships with those people, and opening up new opportunities through those relationships.
Introducing your content to their audience in a way that feels natural is usually the first step to doing this. So, you need a strategy for finding the right bloggers and offering them the right posts.
Here’s how to do that.
1. Find the Right Influencers for Your Posts
Before you start searching for bloggers, the first thing you want to do is determine your targets.
Usually, you’ll reach out to people within your space who aren’t competing with you directly.
You might share an audience within a niche, but you’ll offer them something different from the influencers that you’re trying to build a relationship with.
If you’re in the SEO industry, a good target might be Brian Dean. He’s an authority that trains his audience on SEO and marketing:
Good stuff right here:
— Brian Dean (@Backlinko) June 4, 2018
You might be able to build a mutually beneficial relationship with them because Brian’s Backlinko is an SEO training resource site and drives lots of traffic through content.
There may be other authorities in your space who sell services similar to yours. The incentive for them to share their audience with us is a lot lower because you’re both competing to sell the same thing to the same type of people.
There are three different types of influencers:
- Micro-influencers — Those who have a smaller but still highly engaged following (less than 100k followers on average)
- Macro-influencers — Those who have a large following with at least some engagement (100k-500k)
- Mega-influencers — Those that have high follower numbers and high engagement rates (500k-1 million+)
When it comes to budget and influencer impact, micro-influencers might be the better option if your brand is relatively unknown.
While a macro-influencer might be harder to pitch, they also have a better chance of increasing your outreach should you win them over.
Mega-influencers are extremely difficult to pitch. In most cases, you’re already a macro-influencer who has built a relationship with them.
It’s not impossible to land a mega-influencer, of course, but you may find more success “trading up the chain” and starting with smaller influencers.
Another way to increase your chances of landing a mega influencer is playing the numbers game by intentionally keeping a list of 100 “dream” influencers in mind.
For example, Russell Brunson, uses the concept of creating a list of 100 people you’d LOVE to build a business relationship with.
The idea is that by intentionally marketing to these 100 mega influencers over time, you increase your odds of landing at least a few, if not more.
Even if only one or two people on your dream 100 list go on to promote you, it still has huge potential to impact your business.
So maybe you don’t know 100 people you’d love to do this with. Maybe you know at least a couple?
What is the avatar of their audience? Where else does this audience tend to hang out online? What do they read and watch? Are they on Facebook, Instagram?
When you actually know a bit about the person you’re reaching out to, you can craft a much more sincere message to them. More importantly, you can create content their audience will love to see that also promotes YOU.
To start the outreach process, create a spreadsheet that includes the name of the bloggers you’re trying to reach, their blog, and their social profiles.
You can also divide them up based on things like social authority, domain authority and any other factors you think might matter, like their level (micro, macro, mega).
To populate your list, you can either use tools like Moz’s FollowerWonk to identify potential social media influencers based on things like keywords in their bios or follower count.
Consider starting with influencers that you already follow, since the next steps involve some engagement tactics on your end.
2. Start with Pre-Outreach
Once you have a list of bloggers you want to reach out to, the next step involves warming them up to your presence.
You’re building a relationship before sending them a cold email. Since you have your list of influencers made, you can do some things to engage with them (and get them aware of you).
Pre-outreach includes things like:
- Commenting on a blog post
- Following them on social media
- Sharing or retweeting content they’ve posted
- Tagging them in your social posts
- Replying to updates and shared content
- Targeting them with brand awareness campaigns
This makes your “cold” emails slightly warmer, which also gives them a better shot at succeeding.
Start by visiting the blog of an influencer from your list and choose a post that relates the most to content you’ve written in the past (or are planning to write).
Let’s say you had Neil Patel as an influencer on your list. Go to his blog and choose a post.
Read the post and leave a comment on something you found interesting about it.
Do your best to leave a genuine, insightful comment. Even larger influencers are more likely to respond to comments that have some substance to them.
If you plan on reaching out to the influencer in the future, use the comments section as a way to really grab their attention first.
You can always reference back to it in an email later as “proof” that you’re trying to build a relationship rather than just out to get a link.
Once you’re done commenting, share the post and tag the author (in this example, Neil).
You may not get a comment back, and the influencer may not interact with your shared post. That’s okay.
This isn’t meant to be your biggest point of contact. It’s called pre-outreach for a reason.
The point is simply to start engaging with their content, so they have an idea that you exist and so that they know you’re not out to use them for follows.
It’s about relationship building, not just promotion.
3. How to Find Email Addresses
Sometimes the email address of an influencer isn’t always displayed publicly. In that case, there are a couple tools that make it easier to find.
Hunter is a tool that pulls the name and email addresses of everyone associated with a website.
It turns this information into a nice list that you can then use to search for the specific name and email of the person you’re looking for:
You can install it as a Chrome extension to build your list as your browse. Handy right?
There is an additional tool called Clearbit Connect that integrates with your Gmail account.
Clearbit lets you look up a company from within your inbox. It then creates a list of people with their name, email, title, website, social media links, and other information:
The handy button in the top right helps you to easily send your message by creating a new email draft.
Both Hunter and Clearbit Connect offer a nice amount of free data. The paid versions offer the opportunity to look up and email more people than the limit on the free version (which is pretty high).
Before you send any emails though, let’s be sure your to tailor your actual message to yield the result you’re looking for.
4. Send a Personalized Outreach Email
Now that you’ve spent some time engaging with potential bloggers, it’s time to send your email.
There are a couple of things you want to keep in mind at this stage.
First, understand that the higher the blogger’s level is, the more outreach emails they probably get. The influencer marketing industry as a whole is predicted to make around $1.7 billion in 2018.
Influencers are busy. Your emails will need to stand out from the crowd.
Second, personalization is the best way to warm up a cold lead and set yourself apart.
Of course, your lead shouldn’t be that cold, considering you’ve been warming them up with other forms of engagement.
But you will have to spend some time personalizing your outreach emails.
The key to personalization is to be specific. Use their name. Tell them why you’re contacting them. Show them how you’ve interacted with them in the past and why your content matters.
There’s no “perfect outreach template” that will land the guest post: you have to personalize it to them and their niche.
Some sites get so many pitches for guest posts that they even have pitch guidelines posted on their site, make sure you follow them in that case.
Try something like this, but make it even more personalized while still keeping it brief:
I’ve been following your work for the past 3 years and I’ve learned A LOT from all you’ve shared.
Thank you so much for putting such good stuff out there. [OR A MORE SPECIFIC COMPLIMENT].
It struck me that your audience might really benefit from an article on [TOPIC].
I’d love to provide this information to your audience.
This idea came to me because [DEMONSTRATE YOUR PERSONAL CONNECTION/STRUGGLE WITH THAT TOPIC].
Here are some potential Titles for this topic:
[2-3 GOOD HEADLINES FOR YOUR POST]
You might not be interested in having this on your site, and that’s ok!
I’d still love to hear any thoughts you have on this topic either way.
If you’re wondering if my content would be a good fit for your blog, please see some other things I’ve written:
[LINKS TO DARN-GOOD ARTICLES ON YOUR SITE]
I respect what you do so much. Thanks for taking a look!
These touches of personalization go a long way to building a relationship with a cold lead.
- The subject line makes your intentions clear right away and shows you respect their time.
- Showing you’re familiar with their work, they know you’re an audience member and not just a random person trying to get a link.
- They are more likely to answer when you compliment them because it would be a bit rude not to.
- Coming up with a couple of headlines gives them a feel for the angle of your piece.
- Acknowledging that they might not want to share your content shows that you’re humble and sincere and that you respect their authority.
Even if you haven’t been interacting with an influencer for years, you should still make an effort to personalize.
According to one CEO, a name is the first thing he looks for when he receives cold outreach from prospects trying to get him to do something.
“Nothing makes me trash an email than not having my name right at the top,” he says.
Remember that your first email is just the initial touchpoint in your growing relationship, so even if they don’t respond, you have more opportunities to follow up.
Another note: You don’t *just* have to rely on cold emails. Depending on the person, you could try friending them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and send your message there.
When someone can see your social profile, it makes you even more “real” rather than a random person in their inbox.
Especially if your email and followups to it go unanswered.
It doesn’t hurt to ask!
5. Follow-Up Your Cold Outreach Emails
You don’t want to stop after the first outreach email, even if it’s successful.
That’s not to say you want to pester influencers. Again, many bloggers are inundated with outreach emails, so there are never any guarantees.
But you should still send a follow-up email (or two) to double-check that they received your first message.
Close.io has some suggestions for the timing of your follow-ups:
- Send your initial follow-up after one day (of no reply)
- Send your second follow-up two days after that
- Send your third follow-up four-five days after that
While your initial emails should be as personalized as possible, your follow-up emails can get away with being templated.
I’m sure you’re busy, so I wanted to follow up on my last email proposing an article on [TOPIC].
I still think that your audience could really benefit from my take on this topic.
I’d LOVE for it to be on your site, but if I don’t hear back soon I might post it on my own site or see if there’s another audience that could benefit from it elsewhere.
In case you missed it, here’s what the post idea was about and some examples of my content:
[1-2 SENTENCE GUEST POST TOPIC DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM AND SOLUTION]
[LINKS TO PREVIOUS WORK]
Thanks, I’m really looking forward to your response!
Here’s an example of a guest post topic that we thought was good enough for our site. It was well-thought-out and relevant, so it was a no-brainer for us to post it!
If the blogger replies to you, there are a few things you want to do to help foster the relationship.
First, thank them for their response and help.
Showing appreciation is a great way to kick off a potentially long-term relationship, and, at the very least, is a good way to show that you’re not just in it for a transaction.
Next, try to take your relationship to the next level.
This might mean asking them to review content on your blog, or if they have any advice for you. Just keep your requests short, and be mindful of their time.
The most successful outreach emails are often the shortest ones.
Finally, ask them if there’s anything you can help them with. It’s possible they might not want anything from you in return (or they might want to get paid for their outreach).
But you should still ask, even if they don’t outright say they want something.
Blogger outreach is often a two-way street between you and the influencer, so don’t expect something for nothing.
If you’ve put in all of your effort and you still haven’t received a reply after a week’s time, it’s probably best to move on for now.
You can always re-engage someone at a later time or with a different proposition.
6. Track Your Outreach Campaigns
Whether you’re sending outreach emails to a handful of influencers or hundreds, you will need a way to keep track of your efforts.
You want to make sure that you’re meeting your goals (getting your content shared) and seeing the results you want (increased traffic, conversions, etc.).
The only way to know if you’re succeeding is to track and measure.
For starters, make sure you’re tracking your outreach efforts in the initial spreadsheet you created when doing influencer research.
Note that you’ve contacted them, how many emails you sent, and examples of the emails (if necessary)
Pitchbox is a great outreach software that helps automate the process from finding influencers to sending emails and tracking your outreach campaign.
7. Other Benefits to Blogger Outreach
Most people initiate blogger outreach with the purpose of gaining links, but that’s just one of the benefits.
Depending on the space your business is in, there’s potential to start a new partnership that benefits you both.
Here are some additional ways to take advantage of your outreach efforts besides gaining links:
1. Partnerships or Joint Ventures
How nice would it be if you could gain access to someone else’s audience for yourself? Co-marketing is a real benefit of developing a relationship through outreach.
This works when each party has proportional benefits. It’s not a good pitch to say you want to start a joint marketing effort with another business if you’re the one who’s getting most of the reward.
Your chances of getting a partnership with someone through cold email outreach are slim unless they are already aware of you and trust you.
Once you’ve been talking for a bit and understand each other’s businesses and audience, you can propose how a partnership could benefit everyone– including the customer.
Try a pitch along the lines of:
Thanks for taking the time to:
[COMPLIMENT THEM ON THEIR RECENT WORK OR FOR SPEAKING WITH YOU PREVIOUSLY].
I’d like to propose a partnership for a campaign between [THEIR COMPANY]
and [YOUR COMPANY].
This idea came about because I know how [THEIR COMPANY]
is [SAY WHAT YOU ADMIRE – SHOW YOU DID YOUR RESEARCH].
Here’s the proposal I wanted to run by you:
Since [HIGHLIGHT BENEFITS A PARTNERSHIP WITH YOU GETS THEM],
I wanted to see if you’d be interested in setting something up together.
Let me know if this sounds good to you or if you have any other ideas for working together-
I think this could be great for both our customers.
Just make sure it’s a well thought out and genuine idea.
For example, you might propose a smaller collaboration like a podcast appearance, and use that as a starting point to build up to a joint project that would take more commitment from each other.
2. Buying Their Business or Selling Yours
Businesses are bought and sold every day for a variety of reasons.
This is not necessarily something you can just cold pitch to someone, as people generally tend to be very careful about buying or selling a business.
Some people might jump at the chance to sell their business or buy yours. But many people are very risk-averse or attached to their companies for a variety of reasons.
Instead, start a conversation with them and make your intent clear that you’re interested in buying their business, or selling yours to them.
Explain your intentions and the possible benefits to them, and end by asking if they’d like to talk more about it.
It will take some back and forth unless they are excited to buy/sell already.
It’s doable, but it’s up to you to do the propositioning and make sure that business conditions and personal feelings are where they need to be to make this happen.
3. New Friendships
Who doesn’t want more friends? Online it can be easy to find people in your niche and connect over your similar interests.
I know that we’ve been talking about outreach in terms of solid benefits, but think about how many friends eventually go on to help each other out in their businesses.
If it seems like you could start an interesting conversation with them over your shared interest or industry, why not try it out?
I’ve noticed two huge competitors in the online marketing space, Neil Patel and Brian Dean, consistently commenting on and referring to each other’s content online.
Here’s an endorsement from Neil Patel on Backlinko, Brian Dean’s website:
Here’s Neil using Brian as an example within his content:
I’m not sure if they’re friends or just partners, but they are clearly aware of each other and mention each other positively quite a bit…even though they compete for pretty much every search term related to marketing.
Could you start a friendship like this one that results in consistent links and mentions?
4. Clients & Jobs
Can you really get a client or a job through cold outreach? Absolutely.
People are busy. If you can take the time to analyze their business or their website and send some suggestions for improvement *that you could do,* this is an incredibly attractive email for a business owner to get.
If you’re contacting them in regards to a job posting, think about what duties would be entailed in that position. Paint a picture for them of what you could do if they offered it to you.
I noticed the open [JOB TITLE] role on your careers page and wanted to send a quick email to see whether I could contribute.
[DESCRIBE YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE RELEVANT TO ROLE]
Having said that, here are some initial ideas for improvement I could implement that I came up with after looking at your business:
[LIST IDEAS AND DESCRIPTION OF WHAT YOU MIGHT DO FOR EACH]
Let me know if you might be interested in speaking further.
I look forward to hearing from you.
If you’re trying to get a gig or a client rather than a job position, use a similar pitch describing your experience and some ideas for things you could implement on their behalf:
I’m a fan of your work [COMPLIMENT THEM].
As I was perusing your website I noticed [LIST ISSUES YOU NOTICED ON THEIR WEBSITE]:
Having said that, here are some initial ideas for improvement I could implement that I came up with after taking a look:
[LIST IDEAS AND DESCRIPTION OF WHAT YOU MIGHT DO FOR EACH]
In case you’re wondering about my background, [DESCRIBE YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE and/or INCLUDE LINKS TO PAST WORK]
Let me know if you might be interested in speaking further, I’d be happy to help with this!
I look forward to hearing from you.
Include a couple of relevant examples of successful initiatives you’ve done. Link to them if possible.
See how outreach can lead to more than just links? It’s really about building relationships that are able to open a variety of different doors.
Blogger outreach is on the rise.
But with so much content out there and competition for attention, it’s not always easy to reach out to influencers.
For blogger outreach to work, you have to take the time to find the right influencers for your niche and then engage with them on a regular basis.
This means following them on social media, commenting on their blog, and tweeting at them.
Then, when it comes time to send your cold outreach email, you’ll have a basis for building a relationship. From that point, it’s all about personalization and a great pitch.
Whether or not you get an immediate response, it’s important to have a follow-up strategy that keeps them on your radar so that you can reach out to them again in the future.
Finally, you need a good tracking strategy to measure your success.
That’s the only way you’ll know whether or not your efforts are paying off.