One of the most effective things that has helped move the needle in my business has been connecting with fellow bloggers and influencers in my industry.
I’ve talked to a few marketing bloggers and they almost unanimously agree: The best way to grow is through blogger outreach.
But I wanted to know more.
So I asked the experts:
“What outreach tools do you use to connect with bloggers and how do you use them?”
Even though I’ve read thousands of blogs, I was impressed by some of their answers:
- Before you begin, you need the right mindset. Nate Shivar gives some killer advice on this here (and is the exact mindset I used to connect with NYT and WSJ bestselling author Dan Pink).
- Ever thought of using Google Adwords for outreach? Me either. Gini Dietrich serves us the steps to do that here.
- This strategy may sound a little creepy… but Gael Breton’s strategy is also pure brilliant. Read about his relationship funnel.
- Bryan Eisenberg offers some great, and slightly controversial wisdom. Check out why he ignores most of the big tools and what he does instead.
Some others I’d recommend reading:
- Andy Crestodina who gives 35 ways to connect with influencers online
- Rob Wormley on using Slack channels
- Sarah Lively on getting coverage on your dream publication
- Robbie Richards on how he’s used outreach to gain 2,000+ visitors/month to his blog
- Ashley Faulkes on how his outreach strategy has changed over the years.
And here’s a quick link to my advice too; I’ll let you be the judge on my response. 🙂
Of course, all of the advice is good, otherwise, I wouldn’t include it here.
Here’s a quick list of the experts:
From the fearless mastermind behind the blog to kick us off:
A strategic approach to writing emails that get results
Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different things when it comes to outreach, but what I’ve found to work the best is a specific framework.
The idea of using a framework instead of a template is that it makes the process of writing engaging outreach email easier to get to grips with.
Here’s the framework:
- Pre-outreach – Connect with people on social media before you email them. They’ll be more likely to reply to someone they recognize.
- Personalization – It takes less than 2 minutes to find the name of who you’re emailing (in most cases). Personalizing subject lines works well too.
- Help – Do something to help them out and let them know about it. It could be sharing a blog post or offering to fix an error on their site.
- The ask – Let them know what you want them to do. But position the ask in a way that conveys what they will get out of it. There has to be a mutual benefit.
- Help again – Highlight another way you’ll help them if they agree to what you’re asking. Make it a no-brainer.
- Sign off – Make it easy for them to find out more about you, and let them know who you are. An email signature with links to your site and social profiles will work.
People who get a lot of outreach emails will start to notice templates after a while. I’ve had a bunch of emails this week off 5 different people, all using identical templates.
By using a framework, you’ll ensure that all of your emails have the right elements and won’t have a templated feel.
Ultimately, remember that good outreach can be done fairly quick, but great outreach takes time. And it’s great outreach that will help you make meaningful relationships with the right people.
Tools I use for both small outreach campaigns and at a larger scale
For sheer simplicity, nothing quite beats using Gmail to send a few emails.
What I love about Gmail is that so many apps and extensions have been created to integrate with it.
I can switch to another computer (using Chrome), login with my Google account and take all of my extensions with me.
Social media is another element to this too because when an outreach email fails, reaching out via social often succeeds. For this I use Sprout Social.
When it comes to full outreach campaigns, Gmail isn’t enough to get the job done on it’s own, you need something that combines every stage of the outreach process.
Lately I’ve been testing out Ninja Outreach for this purpose.
It’s a tool which combines every step of the outreach process right from finding other bloggers to connect with right through to sending emails.
It has a built-in CRM and can integrate with Gmail, which makes for a rather streamlined workflow.
There’s also a Chrome Extension for Ninja Outreach, which pulls in important data as you’re browsing the web. This includes social accounts, contact data, key pages and demographics as well as some other details.
- Triberr and Twitter.
Admittedly, I’m still getting used to Triberr, but I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years now.
Social media allows you to connect with people you’d never otherwise be able to speak to, including your idols!
(For me, one of my idols is author Lisa Jackson, mystery writer. I’ve been reading her books for years, as reading is probably my #1 hobby. I was SHOCKED when Lisa Jackson actually Tweeted ME and asked about my offer of an autographed book in exchange for a written review via blog form. I was THRILLED when she sent me an autographed copy of one of her books!!! I read it, then, as promised, wrote a review of it.)
It never ceases to amaze me that I’m able to connect with such icons!
This is a fairly new tool on the market and allows you to find and connect with ANYONE. Google “Ninja Outreach and Wording Well” and you’ll be able to read more about this wonderful outreach tool!
- Other Blogs and Their Commenters
This is probably my most favourite way to connect with others, as it allows me an “opening” to introduce myself.
For example, I can say, “Hi. I saw your comment on _____’s post, and truly agree with you that _______.”
I can then either bring to their attention a post they might like, offer them a suggestion, or even mention my services to them.
The fact that we are ALREADY reading the same thing proves that we are a good “fit” for one another, have something in common, and can be of mutual benefit to one another. 😉
My team uses Pitchbox to manage our blogger outreach link-building campaigns.
We found it to be the perfect platform to manage the whole process – from searching for opportunities to contacting individual bloggers.
Setting up a blogger outreach campaign via Pitchbox is really straightforward:
First, it prompts you to enter your specific keywords.
Then it generates a list of prospects based on your keywords and various metric filters.
They have a great little bookmark widget to facilitate this process, so you can do your own research and supplement their prospects with any number of leads you find on your own.
The rest of the outreach process (emailing, follow up, etc) is really easy to manage right through Pitchbox. Once we got the hang of their workflow and all the processes, Pitchbox became an essential piece to our outreach efforts.
I use BuzzSumo to help identify content related to a specific topic I’m working on.
Depending on the results for that topic, I then use ClearVoice to help me identify who some of the top influencers are from that site.
This way I can determine who I might be able to reach out to and invite to contribute to a piece I may be working on.
In addition to these tools, if I’ve never worked with some of the individuals before, I try to check out other channels they might be on – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on to see if we share any mutual connections that can help with blogger outreach.
I use Triberr to connect and automate my blogger connections.
Do you want to grow your blogger connections and influence quickly?
Hang out on Triberr.
Dino Dogan’s and Dan Cristo’s brainchild is a meeting spot for amateur and pro bloggers alike.
This blogger network introduces you to influencers from various niches, along with community tools to accelerate growth of your audience and readership.
Some of the most effective Triberr tips and tools include:
- Autoshare enables bloggers to automatically share content from influencers
- RSS feed management allows bloggers to assign different content feeds to relevant tribes
- Tribes are community groups you can create, invite influential users, and create value for everyone in the Tribe
- Bonfires allow to start conversation and source blogger feedback and opinion
To learn more, check out my latest post: 11 Community Growth Tips on Triberr.
I mostly use Buzzstream to a degree a lot of people might find creepy.
Buzzstream is a CRM for online relationships that helps you keep a database of the history of your interaction with other bloggers/influencers.
Whenever people tweet at me or reshare my content and have some kind of following, I add them in there and then regularly move them “up” the relationship funnel.
I do so by resharing their content, sending an email to say hi and give them a tip on how to improve their site, asking them for a quote for a post and eventually get on the phone with them and getting to know them.
Eventually when I provided enough value and could use their help, I go in and ask for a guest post, webinar, link, email blast, anything that can truly move the needle for our business.
Most of the time they’re happy to help out because of the fact that we provide value first before asking for anything.
Andrew M. Warner
I’ve only recently started to use outreach tools to connect with people and I’m realizing that it’s something I should have been doing a long time ago.
With InkyBee, I like how you’re able to extract data from certain blogs you enter like potential engagement for each post.
This is very effective for when I am researching guest post opportunities.
And with NinjaOutreach, I’m very much in the early stages of learning it — but love what I see so far. Especially the prospecting aspect.
Topsy is one thing I use quite a lot. It’s the primary tool I use for email outreach for various posts I write. I don’t see what I would do without it.
Abrar Mohi Shafee
I perform blogger outreach in two stages:
The first stage is finding bloggers and the second stage is reaching them through email the right way.
Finding bloggers cannot be more fun and easy than with BuzzSumo.
I use it like if I input a topic in the tool, for instance “inbound marketing”, it will collect all relevant influencers and list their profiles in front of you in the blink of an eye.
Another resource for finding bloggers, not actually a tool, is creating list posts.
You will find many list posts like “Top 20 Inbound Marketers” or “Top 30 Inspiring Writers” etc. where from you can collect the names of influencers in your field.
For the second stage, there are many tools available online that will help manage the outreach campaigns, but I prefer doing it all manually.
The reason is that I think outreach should be done manually from your email keeping eyes on personalization, email text etc. and that can be managed faster and better using a tool like Microsoft Excel.
Excel is very flexible, easy to collect and organize data such as listing the names of influencers, their emails, email text, times, replies etc.
The absolute most effective set of tools that I’ve used to connect with other bloggers and colleagues has been Google+ and Hangouts On Air (HOA).
Within that network, I’ve been able to easily find and follow tremendous experts in the field.
New bloggers can start by doing some searches and following a few bloggers in their niche, and then pay attention to the conversations which unfold around their posts.
As more and more peers are discovered, HOA events will begin to appear in your stream, either hosted by or simply shared by these influential bloggers.
Attend some of those events!
As you get to know these other bloggers and have conversations with them on the platform, and comment on HOA events, you’ll begin to demonstrate your own expertise.
Eventually, you can host your own HOAs or guest appear on other people’s HOAs (highly recommended) which will extend your connections tremendously.
The main tools we use are…
- Buzzsumo – We use this to find influencers and also for content ideation. See what is working in your niche and then build a better mouse trap.
- Klear – We use to see the top social content shared in a niche and by large accounts. If you want them to use your content, see what they are already have success with on Social.
- Followerwonk – The tool is dead simple as it searches twitter bios but that is very powerful when you know the audience you want to reach. Being very specific helps and you need to cut out people with low Social authority.
- Buzzstream – When it comes time to do the actual outreach we enter all our influencers into Buzzstream to track responses and keep relationships going.
We also use all of these influencer tools to create hyper targeted social media ads to help amplify our content.
Like most people, it’s important to me that I find and communicate with influential bloggers in my areas of interest.
Inkybee Seeks Out Bloggers Of Interest
To find those bloggers who are writing about the things that are on my radar, my number one tool is Inkybee.
Inkybee identifies the bloggers that I need to know about.
Using my keywords, Inkybee continuously scans for pertinent information and creates lists that I use as the primary source for my outreach programs.
These lists show me the name of the blogger, the kind of audience he or she commands, how engaged that audience is with the blogger, and important SEO metrics – this aspect is powered by Moz.
Inkybee also has a great search engine tool that can find influencers that aren’t featured in my lists.
Onalytica Content Seeding – Finding Out Who Matters
Next up, to find content that is quite specific, but doesn’t happen to be on my maintained lists, I use Onalytica Content Seeding.
I truly enjoy using this very powerful and totally free tool.
With it, I can take a piece of work, or even a URL, load it up, and discover within moments who are the bloggers who are influential on that subject.
Sometimes a blogger who doesn’t usually blog in my subject areas strays from the path, and I don’t want to miss those opportunities just because he or she is flying under my usual radar.
Once I’ve found out who the movers, shakers and influencers are, Onalytica Content Seeding provides me with their Twitter handles and even how many people follow them, so I can see where to focus my attention.
Buzzstream Lets Me Create A Campaign
Having found out who I need to engage with, Buzzstream is my campaign manager.
It enables me to send out emails to promising contacts, and to monitor response.
It’s very useful in building my contacts base, documenting interactions, and giving me the picture in detail of how my campaigns are going.
Buzzstream is great for supplying contact information and offering up easy to use link details.
So, now you have the same secret weapons that I use myself to build my highly successful blogger outreach campaigns.
What are you waiting for?
The right outreach campaign can definitely “move the needle” for many marketing campaigns.
To start any discussion about tools, it’s important to keep in mind the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness.
Tools to increase your efficiency are really a dime-a-dozen.
They are fine in and of themselves, but keep in mind that doing a million things wrong is worse than doing 1 thing right.
My first “tool” isn’t so much a tool as a technique or mindset.
Whenever you start an outreach campaign, never begin the relationship with your pitch.
Aim to do a (minimum) 2-step outreach sequence – and ideally aim for a multi-step outreach sequence.
Start your campaign with an introduction – and something that will help the blogger. When you make the “ask” – make it clearly and concisely.
Also allow the blogger to “save face” so that you can keep the relationship long-term.
The second tool is Ahrefs or some sort of social/backlink research tool.
I use Ahrefs to dig up 2nd tier bloggers, to research potential blogs, and to prioritize blogs for outreach.
I will use Ahrefs with Google Search to surface, identify and prioritize blogs that fit my campaign.
Contact forms kill outreach campaigns.
Sending email to the wrong person kills outreach campaigns.
I use Voila Norbert and Google Search Operators to dig up the right email address among all my target blogs.
The fourth tool is BuzzStream and/or a Google Sheet to manage the stages of an outreach campaign.
Outreach campaigns are won with the follow-up email.
And even at a couple dozen bloggers, the moving parts quickly gets complicated.
If you have the budget, BuzzStream is the go-to premium solution.
If you don’t have budget, a well formatted Google Sheets paired with an IFTTT recipe works great too.
Either way, once I start a campaign, I’ll use an outreach management tool or spreadsheet to keep up with everything.
I believe in the power of developing real relationships and there is no better way to do outreach than in person or over the phone.
Connect with real people not just tools.
While I may use something like BuzzSumo to identify influencers what I really want to do is find a way to actually connect with them and not send a random email.
Once someone is identified, I can use Conspire to figure out who in my network could introduce me to this person.
Building a network is not about how many followers or connections you have, it is about how many people will gladly connect you to one of their friends.
That speaks to the value of your relationships.
Connecting with like-minded bloggers is essential to online business success, and it’s fun too.
1) The ‘tool’ that gives the biggest yield is a Mastermind membership that costs money to be part of.
There are plenty of freebie ‘Masterminds,’ but you get what you pay for.
If we invest in ourselves by being part of a high quality Mastermind, we’ll grow without a doubt.
This Mastermind must have members who are ahead of us and inspire us to think bigger. I’ve been part of a great one for a few years which has completely changed my way of thinking.
If you want to succeed, you must have the right mindset.
Each week I connect with someone new in the Mastermind.
I visit their site and comment on their blog and/or send them a note via email.
I follow them in the Mastermind forum and take part in conversations they’ve started.
This goes a long way in building that relationship. I can either help them along if I’m farther down the road of success, or glean from their wisdom.
2) Another excellent outreach tool to connect with other bloggers is Triberr.
This platform makes it easy to pow wow with other business owners who have similar interests.
I’ve made a lot of good friends and strong business relationships by meeting folks on Triberr.
Many times I’ve visited a tribe member’s site to be completely blown away by the massive value given.
I’ve featured many of these articles in my Carol’s Cut series, which has been a big hit on my site.
As much as it can be cost prohibitive, I’ve found in-person networking at conferences and industry events is by far the most effective way to connect.
Nothing beats taking the online connection offline.
Some of my better friends in the world are bloggers and online folks as a direct result.
I find it’s most effective to take a qualitative approach to outreach and connecting with bloggers.
A blind email to 50+ bloggers asking them to share your new infographic will probably get zero responses, while a thoughtful message to 5 bloggers that you have a personal relationship with will at least get one reply.
Both take the same amount of time, probably longer for the latter, but by taking the steps to get to know someone before reaching out you’re setting yourself up for future success.
Here are the steps I take and tools I use for blogger outreach:
- Before you even create the content you’re planning to promote, research 5 dream publications you want to be featured in.
These publications should be realistic for your company, and frequently feature stories related to your niche.
For example, we all think it would be cool to be featured on the homepage of The Huffington Post, but that’s not realistic for every company.
Search for niche sites that you know your audience trusts, that would be interested in your product, and that you can build a long-term relationship with.
- In those 5 publications, identify the writers covering topics in your industry.
You’ll notice patterns with specific writers creating content for specific niches, so note who those people are and read what they’ve written to understand their style.
You can also use tools like Followerwonk to identify writers who are active on twitter and cover news in your industry.
- Spend at least a month following the writers and publications you want to be featured in.
Subscribe to their RSS, follow their writers on twitter, add them to circles, anything you can do to understand what they like to cover, and, more importantly, what’s being talked about in your industry.
Like, share, and even comment on their content when appropriate to start interacting with them in a meaningful way and contributing to their conversations.
- Spend some time researching what’s hot in your industry.
- Now that you know what people are talking about, which publications are right for you, and who the people are behind those publications, you’re in a position to start connecting with bloggers.
Whether you’re promoting your own new tool, trying to guest blog, or wanting to be featured as an industry expert, you can reference the writers previous content that’s related, related topics that are on the rise that would be beneficial for the writer to feature, or a previous article of the writer’s that you’ve shared or commented on that had significant interaction.
Taking these 5 steps does take time, and it’s not scalable because trying to scale connections won’t get you the long-term results you need.
By starting with understanding the goals of the publication and the writers you want to connect with, you can align with those goals and become a lasting resource and partner for those publications that will get you additional exposure and valuable links.
Twitter is the world’s greatest phonebook.
No matter who you’re looking for, you can find them on Twitter. That’s why I use social media as a research and networking tool, not just as a dumping ground for links!
But the Twitter advanced search tool isn’t great. This is where other tools step into the gap.
I use Follower Wonk as a way to find specific people that I can network with and eventually collaborate with.
Once you find them, it’s important to take is slow, especially if they have a large audience.
These people get a lot of requests. So be sensitive and work slowly to connect on several different social networks.
Step-by-step, you’ll gradually build relevance with them over time, through follows, shares, comments and ultimately and email or skype call where you’re working on a content project together.
There are at least 35 ways to find and connect with anyone online. People who do this well can leverage the huge audience and authority of influencers …and make a few friends along the way.
Ahrefs Content Explorer – This tool helps me find the most popular content on any given topic. I need that, because people, who wrote this awesome content are well worth connecting with.
Sidekick – A great little tool to keep an eye on the effectiveness of your outreach emails.
You can see if your email was opened and if the links were clicked. This allows you to decide if you want to send reminders to that person or just wait a little longer.
UpWork – I’m not a big fan of automated outreach.
I get a lot of automated emails myself and I never answer them. That is why I prefer to hire a freelancer through UpWork, who would do the initial outreach for me and make it personalised.
Once I get a reply to that initial outreach email – I’ll handle it from there on my own.
As my blogging and business has progressed, the way I approach this has too.
In the beginning, I connected with and found influential people in my niche via Twitter and this was the main medium for outreach and connecting. And to be honest, this is still a great way to get on people’s radar in the beginning as people are more open and easily reachable on Twitter.
But if you want to take it a step further, you also have to take it to email and get more personal.
The trick here is finding the email of course, and the simplest way I use to do that is to join someone’s email list. After all, that is the email they are usually watching as they will want to be replying to people on their list!
You do have a few other options, like adding Rapportive to Gmail to “guess” emails and see if they exist, or use an online email finder like Voila Norbert.
Sometimes though, you are at a point where you need to actually find out who the influential people are in a specific niche, and that requires a whole other set of tools and skills.
Here I use a range of tools such as:
- InkyBee and Alltop to find top blogs in a niche
- Ninja Outreach, which also helps you find well-known, and sometimes lesser known blogs to reach out to (it helps with the contact info too!).
- Another trick you can use to find people and websites that are worth approaching is to use BuzzSumo, as this shows you what has been shared most for a given topic and content type. So if social influence is key to what you are doing, then this is well worth a look.
Having said all of that, in the end, it is all about developing relationships and not “once only” outreach for a favor! That will get you nowhere.
It’s all about the long term relationship, and hopefully friendship, that will be mutually beneficial.
Always keep that in mind.
For content promotion/outreach, I use a mix of the following tools:
- Buzzsumo – for finding relevant content and finding influencers.
- Content Marketer – for finding email addresses and reaching out to influencers.
- Narrow.io – for connecting with influencers and building relationships on Twitter.
- Slack Communities – there are a ton of great communities you can join to interact with people who are willing to share your content (check out this article).
- Industry forums – I use GrowthHackers and Inbound for connecting with like-minded individuals who are willing to partner up and share content.
I use quite basic tools for my outreach:
Rapportive – Hands down, the most useful tool to verify potential email ids and social profiles. It’s also a great tool to check the recent Twitter activity of the recipient.
I can accordingly use that information to make my pitch more personalized.
Sidekick – HubSpot did an amazing job with this tool. It’s quite easy to check and engage people who opened my emails. Useful in crafting and tweaking cold pitches too.
After upping our marketing efforts, it’s only recently that I’ve started realizing that my current email outreach process is quite tedious and inefficient.
Which is why I’ve started a trial for ContentMarketer. And so far, I am loving it.
Blogger outreach ultimately boils down to relationships. The better your relationship is with a blogger, the more likely they are to help you out.
To connect with bloggers and start building that relationship, I focus on Twitter and blog commenting.
On Twitter, this could mean retweeting the blogger, mentioning them when I share their content, or just striking up a conversation.
With blog commenting, I find that leaving a message after I’ve read a post is a great way to get noticed. Thoughtful comments are rare on most blogs so they really stand out and make the writer feel good.
Having these established relationships really helps with more formal outreach but it’s not a requirement.
I use BuzzStream for specific outreach campaigns where there is a goal to get links, shares, etc. It’s a great tool for building outreach lists because it’s both faster and more robust than the spreadsheets I used to rely on. It also really streamlines the the outreach process, especially by email.
Even though I asked the question, the answer to it varies based on your objective.
- Are you looking to get influencers to promote your article?
- Building links?
- Looking to work with them? Or for them?
- Simply connecting with them for a later opportunity?
However you decide to grow your blog with the pros, there’s a lot of overlap with the tools I use:
To find the perfect email, I typically use ContentMarketer and The Rapportive Technique (for a more complete write up of my email discovery process, check out my free eBook at the bottom of this post).
I’m usually able to find 70-80% of the emails I’m looking for (for bloggers, probably 85-95%). If that doesn’t work, I use EmailHunter for people who work at larger companies or Voila Norbert for individuals.
Once you have the email, it’s all a matter of finding ways to add value to influencers.
To keep track of your correspondence, I’m a fan of using Gmail’s Streak. It’s a free tool that does the job of most CRMs. Additionally, I enjoy using Gmail’s stars to quickly signal what I need to do with each person (found in Gmail -> Settings -> Stars).
After sending an email, I try to do follow up on Twitter (and experimenting with Google+). For this, I use personal tweets and DMs + Hootsuite and set up a stream to watch for keywords.
I’m old fashioned and prefer free tools.
I really like Twitter and have found that it’s the best place for me to find and contact bloggers. It’s actually how I became a writer for Forbes. 100% through Twitter. After 20+ emails I started tweeting. Around 2 weeks later I was set up.
This has been the same with many other bloggers.
People don’t pay as much attention to email as they do social media and Twitter. They want to respond and be part of their community and will typically give you a chance if you reach out.
Whenever I hear people say that “content is king,” I think to myself “No, it isn’t.”
In fact, many content marketers (not just me) are starting to realize that collaborations and connections are far more important than content.
Truth of the matter is these days we all overwhelmed with all the content that’s being published, but we can never have too many friends.
With that said, I’ve always been a fan of using sites that allow me to connect with like-minded bloggers in my niche.
And I can’t say enough about a new site called Blab!
I have a tutorial that shows how to use Blab for Real Time Chat and you can watch here. It’s has gone a long way with helping me build connections with thought leaders and to top it off, Blab helps me find new customers for my online courses as well.
The main tool I use is BuzzSumo paired with Twitter and Google+.
There are probably better ways, like BuzzStream, but I can only afford to use a handful of tools, and BuzzSumo offers me so many other features that make it my tool of choice.
Using BuzzSumo I can find who the influencers are for a specific keyword or topic, narrow that selection down to bloggers, press, or anyone, and then use that to locate them on Twitter or Google+.
I’ve found that most people are pretty responsive to being reached out to on Twitter, and some people that have massive Twitter followings are easier to reach on Google+ where there is less noise to cut through to be heard.
Sending an email to someone at 5pm when they’re about to leave the office? Bad idea.
Sending it at 1pm when they’re bored? Bingo!
Boomerang makes timing your emails a breeze.
A tool that’s amazing at finding people’s email addresses. Also handles outreach but I prefer to keep things simple and use Gmail.
Great for finding people that JUST talked about your content’s topic.
I’ve found that these folks are super receptive to outreach.
This is going to go against what most people say, but the Google AdWord keyword planner and Google.
Here is why:
You want to be strategic about who covers you.
We all want the big guys, of course, but they may not be best for every business.
Take a keyword or phrase that is a priority for you and check its competition in the planner. Then go to Google and search for that keyword or phrase.
That will tell you which media outlets and bloggers have already covered that topic. That is how you will begin your outreach. It’s very targeted and very specific and it works ridiculously well.
Connecting with other bloggers has been essential to my growth.
- Private forums for Facebook Groups for marketing-related courses allow you to reach other bloggers at a similar level to you.
- Guest blogging – writing high quality guest posts for other blogs allows you to develop a relationship with a fellow blogger.
- Mastermind groups – joining and contributing to masterminds is a great way to connect and develop new relationships.
- Blog comments (or comments in places like LinkedIn Pulse) – commenting intelligently can allow you to develop a relationship with a blogger in your space.
For more ideas, I wrote a post for Copyblogger highlighting several ways to connect with others online.
I don’t use too many outreach tools because I don’t usually do outreach per-se.
I mostly on the other side of the process: I am getting pitched.
Here are a few tools I am using for contact discovery (I am more involved in the discovery process than onboarding):
An absolutely irreplaceable content search tool that lets you find most influential authors on any topic.
Another fresh search engine you can use to find authors and bloggers on any topic.
A newer tool but what an awesome one! It lets you find journalists writing on any topic and it will also show you their contact details (email, Twitter, Linkedin).
Outreach allows me to send mass e-mails at scale and put people into different sequences.
That way I don’t need to individually e-mail people out and worry about follow up. I can set up a series of e-mails and let people run through the sequence with no problem.
Almost like an e-mail autoresponder but going on the offensive with it instead.
I totally agree that outreach moves the needle faster than anything else. I just published a post about how fear of outreach cost me $60,000 and wish I had started with it sooner.
I use Ninja Outreach at times to find bloggers to connect with, but aside from that I don’t really use any tools. I mostly just use my brain.
I read a lot within my niche, so I naturally find other bloggers and I see who they are interacting with, who they are guest posting with, and who they are recommending. That leads me down a pretty good path and I find lots of great people to interact with myself.
Once I’ve found people, I generally just share their posts on Twitter (and make sure they know about it by tagging them), comment on the posts, and will eventually email them with a question, suggestion, or some other comment.
Later on, you can become friends and that’s when opportunities like guest posting or other tangible and intangible benefits start to come out.
Outreach is not something that requires a lot of talent, but it does require work. It’s a skill, so you can learn it if you apply yourself.
So to summarize, aside from Ninja Outreach, the only tools I use are Google, email, and some other social networks (FB, Twitter etc).
I primarily use NinjaOutreach to help identify email addresses and contact info for websites/users I want to reach out and connect to. While it won’t find all email addresses for every URL, it does a pretty good job. Aside from gathering email addresses, it can also grab the first name of the person which helps with starting some personalization for the emails.
NinjaOutreach will allow you to email through their software, but I find myself exporting this data and then using Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM) to create and send emails in a few clicks.
With YAMM you can use the data pulled with NinjaOutreach to help personalize emails at scale. Of course, you don’t want to overdue this…as I like to create an additional column for a personalized note about a blog post or tweet they have shared recently.
Using this approach, I was easily able to reach out to over 100 experts to get their insight of their 3 favorite social media tools. To date, it has received over 4,000 social shares and continues to get great feedback.
Without these tools, it would have no doubt taken many more hours to complete.
Other than that most of the networking I do is manually. I come to know them via their blogs or products and get in touch personally via email or social media (usually Facebook).
Topsy can be great to find who has a big Twitter following which is great for getting re-tweets of your content.
Over the years I’ve found that using Twitter to start relationships with people is the most effective way to engage with someone.
My process is that I usually start interacting with someone 2-3 weeks before I ever ask anything of them – this includes sharing their content, responding to a tweet, and retweeting their posts.
This helps the person get some awareness of me before I were to reach out cold.
It’s a lot more likely that I can get someone to respond if they’ve noticed me over the past couple of weeks promoting them – then asking for something such as an interview or conversation doesn’t seem like a huge ask to them.
I usually reach out complementing them in some way, then asking something small of them, and then I try to move the conversation to email.
Scott Wyden Kivowitz
As simple as it sounds, I don’t use specific tools for outreach, but I do use Google.
When trying to determine the appropriate person for outreach, or when trying to learn more about a person or company – I Google it.
Google has so much power as a search engine that there are countless things to learn for incorporating in an outreach letter or social touch.
I connect with bloggers by interacting with them and forging relationships of trust and cooperation, so networking tools are my main focus. Among those tools are Skype, where I participate in a number of mastermind groups with fellow bloggers, and some social communities, such as Kingged and private Facebook groups.
This approach has benefited my business in numerous ways, not the least of which has been opportunities for collaboration, finding trustworthy sources to outsource specific tasks to, and getting some great income opportunities when others outsource their writing to me.
The indirect benefits are no less impressive.
I have been featured in many articles as a result, helping build my reputation and my authority profile. And I have had the benefit of excellent contributions to my own blog posts from this networking.
This article on the health risks faced by writers is a great example of how a good article was made better through my network – and it turned out to be one of my most-shared articles of all time!
I find that it is easiest to connect with other bloggers through commenting on their blogs and through conversations on Twitter.
To find the right bloggers to connect to who are also active on social media, I like to use tools like Followerwonk. As for finding great blogs, Alltop is a good source for finding the top blogs in most niches.
The key on Twitter is making sure you connect with actual bloggers.
So instead of chatting with @Mashable, you should chat with the individual authors who write for Mashable.
Expert rounds have been instrumental to the growth of my blog, both from a traffic generation standpoint, and building relationships with industry influencers.
One of my favorite strategies is to rank expert roundups for target keywords and drive long term organic traffic. For example, this expert roundup ranks #2 for “best keyword research tool” bringing 2,000+ organic visitors to my site every month.
That said, prospecting and outreach are the meat and potatoes of any successful expert roundup post.
There are two tools I rely on heavily for outreach campaigns:
- Buzzsumo: Select the “influencer” tab and search for a keyword related to your industry. Filter the results by domain authority, follower count and other metrics.
- BuzzStream: Use the BuzzStream Buzz Marker chrome extension to build a prospecting list directly within the Buzzsumo web app.
Once the prospect list is assigned to a project in BuzzStream, import email templates and begin outreach. Send an initial outreach email on Tuesday, then follow up with non-responders two days later.
Track the relationship status with influencers throughout the entire process. I cover this process in depth in this guest post on Digital Marketer.
Google can be used with any variety of search operators to narrow down your search and find niche blogs within your industry.
Ahrefs can be used to identify blogs that are already linking to other sites within your industry. If they are already talking about a competitor or relevant industry site, chances are they would also be open to working with you. And last but not least, once you have identified bloggers you want to connect with head to Twitter to start interacting with them!
Beyond identifying opportunities, some of the best ways to connect with fellow bloggers don’t require tools at all.
If you really want to connect with a blogger on a personal level the best way to do that is to interact with them where they are already active online.
This means following them on Twitter, sharing some of their posts, and tweeting at them. It also has to go beyond the default share description from their website. If you want to connect with them you should be saying something unique about what you’re sharing. Call out a specific point from their article that really resonated with you. Explain why it’s valuable when you tweet it out in order to really get their attention.
Another key way to connect with them on a personal level is to comment on their actual blog. Ask questions or again, call out specific points that are really interesting or helpful to you. A quality blogger is monitoring and responding to comments.
Eventually, the blogger you are trying to connect with will recognize your name and be more receptive when you do reach out. If your ultimate goal is to ask the blogger for something, whether it’s a guest post or a feature or a link, they are more likely to grant your request if they are already familiar with you as a person.
And that’s a wrap folks.
Tons of great strategies, tips, and tools in there to feast on for weeks!
3 final takeaways
Take the time to prepare beforehand
There are many opportunities to connect and add value to others
Heck, you can even use Google’s AdWord keyword planner.
How you go about building relationships varies from person-to-person. I’d recommend choosing a few, trying them out, and see what fits you best!
But in the end, you need to…
Connect with them in their inbox
Although you can connect with someone over social media or on their blog, your results will be astronomically better if you can get experts to both read and respond to your emails.
That’s why I’ve created an eBook to help you find any address and start connecting with any expert.
I’ve used these tools to find the emails of Jeff Bezos, Kim Kardashian, and Michael Phelps.
The email templates I’ve included have allowed me to connect with Dan Pink, Dharmesh Shah, and even land my dream job as the growth strategist for Sujan Patel.
Grab a free copy to help connect you to influencers in the author box below.
Over to you
Do you have any other strategies and tools to share? What’s working for you right now?
Let us know in the comments below!