There are lots of articles available on blogger outreach, including our own! However, the challenge is in converting these steps into a scalable process. This is why I’d like to share with you our process and to talk you through some of its benefits and flaws.
As you might have read in a previous post by Rachel we use Buzzstream – among other tools – to perform blogger outreach. Placing content is time consuming and the process sometimes can be complex, especially when you’re tempted to use every tool you hear about or read about on blog posts. But tools alone aren’t enough; from what I have experienced, the key really is to have a well-organised process.
What you will need
Before you start you need to get the right tools. We use the following:
The SEOMoz toolbar – we use this tool to determine a webpage’s/websites’ quality based on page authority, domain authority and trust rank (post penguin, trust rank to me is a very important metric).
Good ol’ Google search – To find relevant websites manually using search operators (use SoloSEO to pull all possible operators with links to the search results. Here’s an example list for the keyword “nappies”)
You can also use Google Blog which just searches for blogs.
There are, as I already said, various tools, such as Buzzstream, to find and manage websites and conversations. If you don’t have the budget you can use the ‘Link Building Toolbar’, or even a simple Excel spread sheet, to manage your conversations.
If you have a lot of content, Trello might be a good tool for you to use and manage your content. MyBlogGuest and Blogger Linkup can be used to offer content to others. Of course, there are a lot of other tools you can use; you have to find out which is the best one for you and your needs.
Be organised – from the beginning
To manage your content you need a tool to jot down notes, see the current status of your content etc. this is especially important when you have lots of content to publish, as you might want to avoid publishing the same kind of article twice or using the same website within one project.
This is where Trello or the linkbuilding toolbar can be really helpful. In Trello, you can create your own project and jot down lists, leave notes, assign tasks to team members and best of all, move these tasks around so you can see the current state of the content on the first sight. Here you can see a screenshot of a Trello project below.
Alternatively, you can just use an Excel spread sheet. Whatever you choose, make sure you keep it up to date as it’s an essential part of the process.
Find suitable websites
Finding websites and blogs to publish content on is the next step. As mentioned before, you can search in Google or more directly in Google Blogs. You can also use tools like Buzzstream to perform a search by giving them a few ideas about what you are looking for. You can also try to find out what sources competitors have used for their websites. Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer are great tools for this, as is Linkdex. You can also go through blogs that are recommended by other blogs (blog rolls).
Another way of finding blogs and websites, and simultaneously starting a relationship, is using Followerwonk or Wefollow. Check this awesome post by Ruth Burr on using Followerwonk for building relationships.
When you’ve found websites you have to make sure that they’re up to scratch. Their quality and their relevance are the most important. First of all, check the domain authority (DA). Also be particularly careful of how the URL looks e.g. trelloblog.blogspot.com or trellonews.wordpress.com, as the DA relates to the blogspot or wordpress part and is therefore not exactly relevant. In this case you could check the page authority (PA). If the DA/PA and Trust Rank are ok, you can also check the overall quality of the website, by asking yourself the following questions: “Is there a lot of advertising?”, “Do they post regularly?”, “Is the overall design good?” and “Is the website relevant to my content?”
Next you can search for a “guest post”, “contribute”, or similar and read through their guidelines. If there is nothing about guest posts on the site, don’t give up! You should still try to contact them.
When you’re ready to contact people you have a range of options. You can use a simple email account, or if you want to use a tool, you can try sending out emails with Buzzstream as it stores the email conversation. The email will be sent out via Buzzstream but it will be connected to your chosen email account, so you can check the responses and keep in contact with them there.
The challenging thing is sending out good emails that impress the recipient. It can either be a formal email or a funny one; this depends entirely on the recipient, the industry, and the business they’re working in. Make sure you know enough about the website and the content they might be interested in, read their articles and try to find the blog on twitter and other social networks. To decide what to write think of what you would like to read and keep it short – we’re all busy people!
Sending out an email isn’t the end. You need to follow up. Wait a few days and try to contact the person again. Maybe they didn’t receive your email or maybe they forgot about it. You can get a lot of positive responses from follow-up emails. It can make the person realise that you’re really interested and it can remind those who were genuinely interested but forgot about it. The amount of follow-ups is up to you. I prefer one or two follow ups but you can send out more – you’ve nothing to lose (but be careful not to spam the recipient with too many; just use common sense really)!
Sending out emails doesn’t suit everyone but it is a great way to build relationships. If there is no email address on the website and no contact form, or you just don’t like sending out emails, you can also contact them via twitter etc. But be natural; follow them, re-tweet posts etc. before you ask them for a favour, don’t just blurt something out. It takes longer this way, but it tends to work better.
If you know the recipient’s first and last names, you could also use linksy.me to guess the email address of the person. A word of caution before using it though, makes sure you use this tool only if you know the person you are contacting personally.
Other ways to publish content:
You can use websites such as MyBlogGuest or Blogger Linkup to offer content. Here it is essential that you have a good layout with paragraphs and/or subheadings, a good description of the post, and a relevant image. This is what the people see so it needs to look great to get requests from good websites. There are a lot of other websites like this or even blogs where you can create an account and upload articles directly. The most efficient way would probably be using several tools. Whatever you decide to do, do not forget to make notes on what happens with each article to avoid having anything published twice.
Measure your success
You can use an e-marketing tool to see who actually opened the email and to measure the responses. If you use Buzzstream you can do this by creating different email templates and it will show how often each one has been used and how many responses it had. The disadvantage is that Buzzstream does not know whether the response was negative, positive, or a system generated response. But it still helps to see what kind of email works best and you can then try to find out why.
Building a relationship
Building a relationship is not always easy. You need to keep in contact with people who are interested in your content and who have published your articles. Posting articles for them in return or promoting them on social networks is a good way of doing this. Re-tweet posts you like, comment on their posts, and email them asking if they are interested in particular content in the future so you can write something they are especially interested in. Conversely, if you’re working on behalf of a well-known brand, offer to publish their content on your client’s site. This will really help cement your relationship with other expert bloggers.
Maintaining a relationship is the most important part of blogger outreach as it saves you a lot of time in the long-run. Managing your existing relationships can be done with Buzzstream (or the Link Building Toolbar) as you can change the relationship stage to “link accepted” if someone publishes your article and you can contact them again.
The relationships you have created can help you further as they might know other people who are interested in the same or similar content. Try to use existing contacts and twitter to build relationships through your current relationships.
Remember all the steps and improve
A process can be defined as “series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end”. In order to achieve the particular end faster or with a better result you have to make sure your process is clear and that you follow all the necessary steps within it. Writing a guide or process plan and sharing it with your team is essential. Talk about the process on a regular basis, share your thoughts and experiences, and see the process as a guide – not set in stone. It’s a living document that needs to be improved all the time. Work on it, improve it, learn from the tools, and try out new things.
There might not be many positive responses at first, but make sure you know why people aren’t interested. Respond to the negative emails. If it is unclear why they are not interested ask why or what they would be interested in. This helps you and shows them that you are willing improve. Keep in contact as the person might be interested in the future or in other kind of content. Learn from email responses and have it as part of your process.
Remember blogger outreach and link building is an art that requires continuous refinement and a lot of dedication. Never be satisfied with your process, challenge existing processes and methods, and always look for new ways to make the process more efficient.
I have tried to make this post as useful to you as possible. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with us, so please feel free to share and add to the discussion below.