Blogger Outreach: The Definitive Guide (2018)

Blogger Outreach: The Definitive Guide

This is the definitive guide to blogger outreach in 2018.

In fact, I’ve used the exact process in this guide to grow my blog to 326,070 visitors per month.

Backlinko – Monthly visitors

My secret?

I strategically reach out to bloggers in my niche.

And in this post I’m going to show you exactly how I do it, step-by-step.

About The Author

Hey, I’m Brian Dean.

I launched my blog in early 2013.

And despite publishing LOTS of content, I struggled to get traffic:

Backlinko – Historic flat traffic

That’s when I decided to try blogger outreach.

And it worked!

Thanks to outreach, influential bloggers shared my content:

Influential bloggers sharing Backlinko content

Left comments on my posts:

Larry Kim Backlinko comment

And linked to my site:

Backlinko – Link from influential site

Which led to a dramatic increase in my blog’s traffic:

Backlinko – Resultant traffic increase

With that, it’s time for me to cover the steps that I used to get these results…

…and show you how you can do the same thing.

Step #1: Find Influential Bloggers

Your first step is to find blogger to reach out to.

Here’s exactly how to find them:

First, find popular blogs on AllTop.

AllTop is a hand-curated directory of blogs.

Alltop – Homepage

For example, let’s say you run a blog about health and fitness.

Just head over to AllTop…

Alltop – Zoomed

…and you get a list of blogs in that space.

Alltop – Health list

The best part?

Alltop has lists of blogs in EVERY niche, from SEO

Alltop – SEO list

…to Formula 1.

Alltop – Formula 1 list

Next, do a Google search for keywords in your industry.

Because there’s no fancy tool involved (just Google), lots of people sleep on this technique.

But I can tell you from experience that Google can be a GOLDMINE.

Here’s how to do it:

Search for informational keywords in your niche.

For example, let’s say that you run blog about The Paleo Diet.

Information keywords around that topic would be things like:

  • Paleo diet dessert recipes
  • Losing weight on paleo
  • Are avocados Paleo?
  • Paleo cheat days

When you do, you’ll get a mix of blogs and “authority sites” (like Women’s Health Mag).

For the sake of outreach, you can ignore any authority sites that you find.

Instead, focus on blogs that show up in the search results:

Pro Tip: Scroll down to the “Searches Related to” area at the bottom of the search results:

Searches related to

Click on one of those related searches and you’ll find MORE blogs to add to your list.

Third, use BuzzSumo to find influencers.

To do that, just search in BuzzSumo with a broad keyword that describes your blog.

For example, if you ran a cooking blog, you’d search for broad terms like:

  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Desserts
  • Recipes

Note: You want to AVOID searching with super-specific terms (like “cakes” or “avocados”). Why? BuzzSumo searches for terms that people use in their Twitter bio. So when you search for general terms (like “baking”) you’ll find more bloggers than if you searched for something specific (like “cookies”).

And BuzzSumo will generate a list of bloggers:

BuzzSumo – List of bloggers

If you want to get fancy, you can sort the results by number of followers, Domain Authority and more:

BuzzSumo – Sort results

Instead, I recommend focusing on one metric:

Retweet Ratio.

BuzzSumo – Sort by retweet ratio

This number tells you how often a blogger retweets someone else’s content.

Why is this important?

It helps you zero-in on bloggers that are likely to share your stuff.

(More on that in step #3)

So I recommend focusing on bloggers that have a Retweet Ratio of at least 5%.

BuzzSumo – Retweet ratio of at least 5%

Finally, check out “Best of” blog posts.

“Best of” blog posts lists the best blogs in a specific category.

Here’s an example:

 

I hope you can see why this is so powerful.

You get a list of high-quality blogs handed to you on a silver platter.

How do you find “Best of” blog posts?

Here are some search strings that work REALLY well:

  • Best blogs [keyword]
  • Best [keyword] blogs [year]
  • My favorite [keyword] blogs
  • [keyword] blogs to follow

This approach can help you uncover gems that you couldn’t find any other way:

With that, it’s time to…

Step #2: Research Your List of Bloggers

At this point you should have a list of 20-50 bloggers to reach out.

The question is:

WHO you should actually email?

Enter: blogger research.

Most outreach newbies skip this step… which is a HUGE mistake.

(Why? A lack of blogger research leads to wasted time, deleted emails and burned bridges)

But when you take a few minutes to research the bloggers on your list, you’ll have much more success when you actually DO email them.

(More on that in step #5)

To get started, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet.

I like to keep things simple. So my spreadsheet has 6 total fields:

  • Name
  • Website
  • Social media followers
  • SEO authority
  • Average comments
  • Notes

Here’s an example:

Blogger research spreadsheet

If you use a tool like BuzzStream, you can skip the spreadsheet. Just add your list of bloggers to your “People” list:

Add bloggers to BuzzStream People list

At this point you can already fill in: “Name” and “Website”.

Blogger research spreadsheet – Name and website

Now it’s time to fill in the rest.

Social Media Followers

This couldn’t be simpler.

Grab the first blogger on your list… and see how many followers they have on ONE social network.

In other words, you don’t need to add up their followers on 10 different sites.

Instead, focus on the social network that’s most important for your industry.

So if you run a tech blog, that’s Twitter.

But if you’re on a health and fitness blog, it might be Pinterest or Instagram.

Either way, head over to their profile and add their follower total to your spreadsheet:

Add followers to spreadsheet

Domain Authority

If you’re using blogger outreach for link building, this step is a must.

I personally use Ahrefs Domain Rating to size up a site’s SEO authority.

Ahrefs – Backlinko Domain Rating

But you can also use Moz’s Domain Authority.

Moz – Backlinko Domain Authority

Either way, this metric lets you know how much a link from that site will help your Google rankings.

Number of Comments

There are plenty of bloggers that have a bajillion social media followers.

But when they publish a post…

Crickets.

Why is this important?

Comments tell you if a blogger has a strong, loyal community.

Which is especially important if you want to guest post on their site.

I’ll explain…

A while back I published a guest post on a well-known digital marketing blog.

This blog was a “household name” in the marketing world. But it’s best days were behind them.

(Some of their posts only got 2-3 total comments)

Despite all that, I decided to write a guest post for that blog.

How many visits do you think that guest post brought in?

37!

Backlinko – Guest post from bad blog visits

A few months later I published a guest post for a MUCH smaller blog.

But this blog tended to get lots of comments on every post.

Blog with a lot of comments on each post

Because that blog had an army of loyal readers, that guest post brought me 981% more traffic than the “authority” blog:

Backlinko guest post from good blog visits

So:

Now that you’ve researched your list of bloggers, what’s next?

Seperate Your Bloggers Into 3 “Levels”

Level 1: These are elite bloggers that you dream about working with. The handful of heavyweights in your industry.

Level 2: Bloggers that have a strong following and get a decent number of comments on their posts. They’ve probably been blogging for a while.

Level 3: These are bloggers are just starting out… or who never hit the big time. They still regularly publish content. But they’re 50% smaller than Level 2 bloggers. In fact, your blog might be bigger.

Now that you have all the data in front of you, sorting your list of bloggers into levels should be pretty simple.

Pro Tip: Don’t overthink this step. There’s no magic formula that matches bloggers to a specific level. If you’re not sure which level a blogger should go in, just pick the lowest one and move onto the next person on your list.

Either way:

Levels will help you A LOT in the next 2 steps.

Why?

Level 1 bloggers will require A LOT more warming up than Level 3 bloggers.

(In fact, you can sometimes email Level 3 bloggers right off the bat)

With that step in the books, let’s move onto step #3.

Step #3: Get On Their Radar

As someone that’s sent over 5k outreach emails, I can tell you one simple truth:

If someone’s heard of you before, they’re MUCH more likely to respond.

And that’s where this step comes into play.

It’s a simple approach to get you on a blogger’s radar screen… BEFORE you email them.

Here’s how to do it:

Follow Them On Social Media

This is simple:

Just follow each blogger on all of the networks that they’re active on.

This is especially important if you say: “I’m a big fan of your blog” in your outreach emails.

And when they see that you follow them, they’ll know you’re a legit fan.

Comment On Their Stuff

Most bloggers (even Level 1 peeps) read comments.

So don’t be afraid to leave helpful, insightful comments on social media…

Brian helpful comment

…and on their blog posts.

What do I mean by “helpful”?

Basically: a comment that adds to the discussion.

(Not: “Great post!”)

Here’s an example of an awesome comment that someone recently left on my blog:

Awesome recent Backlinko comment

Needless to say, that comment put David on my radar screen.

Share Their Content On Social Media

This is another GREAT way to get on someone’s radar.

That said:

Most Level 1 and Level 2 bloggers get lots of shares on every post.

So you might need to share their content 3-4 times before they notice you.

Pro Tip: Mention something specific you like about their post.

Mention something specific about a post you liked

This helps your share stand out.

Send an “I Love Your Blog!” Email

This is a more direct approach… but it can work REALLY well.

(In fact, this is how I got in touch with a handful of Level 1 bloggers in the early days of Backlinko)

Here’s an example:

Notice how I don’t ask for anything.

That’s KEY.

Just say you appreciate their work.

If they reply, great.

If not, no worries.

Either way, you got your name in front of a big name blogger.

Step #4: Find Contact Information

A lot of other blogger outreach guides skip this step.

Not this one 🙂

Here are 3 ways to find a blogger’s email address:

Hunter

Hunter has quickly become my go-to tool for finding email addresses.

Hunter.io – Homepage

Not only is the data super accurate… but you can use the handy Chrome Extension to find email addresses within your browser:

Hunter.io – Chrome extension

Voila Norbert

Similar to Hunter.io… but doesn’t have the awesome Chrome Extension.

VoilaNorbert.com – Homepage

Outreach Tools

Most outreach tools (like BuzzStream or GroupHigh) have some sort of email finder built right into it:

BuzzStream email finder

And if all else fails, you can always send your message through the blog’s contact form.

Step #5: Reach Out to the Bloggers On Your List

It’s finally time to start the actual email outreach process.

Now, to be clear:

The exact process depends on the type of outreach campaign you’re doing.

For example:

Outreach for a guest post pitch is MUCH different than asking for a share… which is MUCH different than an influencer marketing campaign.

With that, I’m going to show you how to execute the 4 most common types of outreach strategies:

  • Guest blogging
  • Share request
  • Link request
  • Partnerships

Let’s get started…

Get Your Guest Post Published

First, find blogs on your list that accept guest posts.

They might have a “write for us” page…

Example

…or the occasional post from a guest author.

Example guest author post

Next, look at what content has already worked well on that blog.

(In terms of topic, format etc.)

For example, “Definitive Guides” (like this one) tend to work best on my blog.

Finally, reach out with your pitch.

(You can send from a company email or a Gmail account. It doesn’t really matter)

Here’s a script that converts really well. Feel free to modify.

A few notes about this script:

  • It’s VERY brief and to the point. No fluff or filler.
  • It specifies the type of content does best on their blog. This shows you did your homework.
  • You’re only asking to look at your outline. This is a much smaller commitment than asking someone to agree to publish your post right off the bat.

Get Influential Bloggers To Share Your Content With Their Audience

First, take a look at the type of content that the blogger already shares.

Ross Hudgens' Twitter feed

Is it industry news? A case study? A guide?

Matching the content you promote with what a blogger already shares can 10x the odds that they’ll share it.

Next, send them this script:

A few notes about this script:

  • This version doesn’t start off with “I love your blog”. But you can add that if you think that will butter them up.
  • This script gives you a chance to let them know WHY you’re sending them a link to your post (specifically, it ties in well with what they already write about or share).
  • Note how you don’t ask for a share. This is a Judo move that works wonders. People aren’t stupid: if they like your content they’ll share it.

Get Backlinks From Authority Blogs

Your first step is to find a specific place on their blog where your link makes sense.

In other words, DON’T ask someone to “link to you”, like this horrendous email I got the other day:

Bad outreach email

For example, a while back I got a link from this list of link building resources on a popular SEO blog:

Backlinko backlink from Pointblankseo.com

Considering that this page was literally a list of links, a link to one of my blog posts made perfect sense.

Here are other posts and pages that might be a good fit for your link:

  • Top 20, 50 or 100 lists (for example: “50 Best Paleo Dessert Recipes”)
  • Resource pages (for example: “Paleo Baking Resources”)
  • Old blog posts (they usually have a broken link that the blogger can replace with your content)
  • Content roundups (for example: “The best content I’ve read this month”)

With that, here’s a script you can use:

A few notes about this script:

  • You’re making it easy for the person to add your link. You’re literally telling them EXACTLY where it should go.
  • There’s no hard sell.
  • Brief and to the point. No one likes 500-word emails. They’ll appreciate that you didn’t beat around the bush (whether or not they decide to add your link)

Partner With Big Name Bloggers

To be clear:

The exact approach here depends on the type of partnership you’re looking for.

(For example, outreach for a product review will be a lot different than collaborating on a video)

With that out of the way, here are the steps:

First, be VERY specific about your ask.

I get tons of email from people that ask me to “work with them” on a vague projects.

And I always say “no”.

So before you send your email, get super specific about your project.

Next, identify the “next step”.

This makes it easy for the blogger to know their role in the project.

If you just say: “What do you think?” or “Want to hop on a call?”, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Instead, figure out exactly what you want them to do next.

For example, let’s say you want to work together on a video.

The next step might be deciding on a topic. Or creating an outline. Either way, have the next step picked out BEFORE you hit “send”.

Finally, email them.

A few notes about this script:

  • The first line gets straight to the point of your message.
  • You let them know what they’ll get by partnering with you. This can be more traffic, exposure to your audience or a free product to review.
  • The next step is laid out so the blogger doesn’t have to think: “If I agree, then what?”

Bonus Step #1: Pro Tips and Advanced Strategies

Here are a few advance strategies and tactics that I’ve picked up over the years.

Expand Your Blogger List With SEMRush

SEMRush has a cool feature called “Competitors”.

Here’s how it works:

First, pop a site into SEMRush.

SEMrush – Enter site

And hit “Main Organic Competitors”:

SEMrush – Main organic competitors

This will show you websites that are competing for the same keywords:

SEMrush – Competitor list

Many of which make GREAT blogs to reach out to.

Create Content Bloggers WANT to Share

This is a step a lot of people skip.

And it hurts them.

In fact, you should study what other bloggers share… before you write a single word of content.

For example, a while back I noticed that lots of SEO bloggers were sharing content about optimizing your site for mobile SEO.

Bloggers sharing mobile SEO optimization content

So I decided to create a guide dedicated to mobile optimization:

Mobile SEO Guide

And because my content aligned with what people already shared, my post now has over 2,600 shares:

Mobile SEO Guide – Shares

Personalize the Crap Out of Your Outreach Emails

When I first for started with outreach, I relied 100% on email templates.

And I’d ONLY change the person’s name and the name of their site.

This led to generic messages, like this:

Generic outreach email

That’s when I decided to try VERY personalized outreach emails.

Very personalized outreach email

And it worked!

My reply rate increased by 50%+.

Yes, I still use scripts. But the scripts leave room for LOTS of personalization.

(That way they don’t look like a script)

Don’t Follow Up

Can following up 18 times lead to more replies?

Yes.

But is ALSO leads to annoying the crap out of people.

(People that you want to build relationships with)

That’s why I never send annoying follow up messages like this:

Annoying followup message

I email the person once.

If they get back to me? Great.

If not, no worries. I’ll try again in a few months.

Find People That Are SUPER Likely to Share Your Stuff

First, login to BuzzSumo and find a piece of popular content in your space:

Find a piece of popular content in BuzzSumo

Then, hit the “View Sharers” button:

BuzzSumo view sharers

Boom!

BuzzSumo list of sharers

You have a list of bloggers that shared that post on Twitter.

And if you publish something similar (but better), these folks are super likely to share your content too.

Speaking of…

Bonus Step #2: Blogger Outreach Case Study

Now it’s time to show you a case study of these strategies in action.

Specifically, you’re going to see how I got influential bloggers to share this post from my blog:

Conversion Optimization – Post

First, I grabbed my list of bloggers from Step #1.

And I pulled out bloggers from my list that talked about building an email list.

Next, I used BuzzSumo to find people that recently shared content about list building.

BuzzSumo – Users that recently shared content about list building

(This is the “View Sharers” tip I showed you before)

And I downloaded that list into a spreadsheet:

BuzzSumo – Download to spreadsheet

Finally, I emailed each of them a personalized version of this script a few days before my post went live:

Brian – Personalized outreach example

Why before?

Two reasons:

First, it shows that you’re not desperately trying to promote a piece of failed content.

Instead, you’re offering bloggers in your niche a sneak preview of your post…. before it even comes out.

Second, there’s no pressure to share your post.

Your post isn’t live yet. So they can’t share it… even if they wanted to.

Anyway, because I only emailed people that were legit interested in my topic, they were happy to hear from me:

Brian – Good outreach result

And I sent a link to anyone that replied to my first email:

Brian sending a link

Which led to a handful of shares from influential people in the content marketing space:

First influencer share example
Second influencer share example

In the end, that post has over 800 shares:

Conversion Optimization – Shares

And 158 comments:

Conversion Optimization – Comments

Not bad.

Conclusion

So that’s my step-by-step guide to running a blogger outreach campaign.

Not I’d like to hear from you:

Have you tried outreach before?

If so, how did it go?

Let me know in the comments section below.

6 Comments

  1. Wow, this is such great actionable advice. I was gearing up to do some outreach emails and I’m going to move to your more personalized style template.

  2. As usual another epic content. By the by which is most effective, when I follow the targeted bloggers to their social media accounts from my account like twitter/website name or twitter/person name?

  3. Amazing guide as always. One additional tip, I’ve found it successful to take the “heads up” email, and apply it to social media first, as well.

    Message people talking about the topic (especially in need of something you solve) and mention your post will be live soon.

    Ex: Someone expresses concern about not being able to find a good weight loss diet. You mention you are about to share a guide on that very topic. Want a heads up?

    This not only notifies the person sharing but builds anticipation for anyone viewing the comments as well!

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