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Influencer Outreach: How to Invite Experts in Your Field to Share Your Content


Influencer Outreach

Imagine:

You sit down to write a blog post to promote your business. It’s thorough, well-researched, solves a problem in your marketplace and most important, is compliant with Google’s Guidelines.

You hit ‘publish’, share it on Facebook and Twitter, email your audience and…

Crickets.

No comments…

No social shares, and…

No boost in your domain authority.

This isn’t a fantasy; for many business owners, this is an everyday reality.

And if you’re struggling to get noticed in your marketplace, it might be for you, too.

It’s no secret that the online space is getting bigger and noisier every day.

In fact, according to MarketingProfs, 2 million blog posts are published every day with 58.3 million new posts published every month on WordPress, alone.

So, how are you supposed to rise above the fray in today’s crowded marketplace?

Two words:

Influencer Outreach.

The reality is, the businesses that are generating more traffic, closing more deals and growing more profit, are achieving such feats because of influencer outreach.

The problem, though, is many business owners are opposed to reaching out to influencers. The thought of cold emailing an authority is intimidating enough as it is, never mind asking for a favor.

“What if they say no?”

“What if I say the wrong thing?”

If that’s you, don’t worry. I’ve got your back.

Today, I’m going to share with you a 3-step process for inviting influencers to share and even link to your latest blog post without wasting time, energy or even money.

Let’s jump in.

What Is Influencer Outreach?

You might not be familiar with influencer outreach.

And that’s okay.

In simplest terms, influencer outreach is connecting with experts in your field, offering value and creating relationships with them.

This is important for several reasons:

  • When influencers link to your website it increases your domain authority, Google will rank you higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and you’ll generate more traffic and (if converted correctly) more revenue.
  • Creating authentic relationships with influencers in your field raises your perceived level of authority in your customer’s eyes (which again, influences revenue).
  • When influencers share or link to your content, it introduces you to their audiences. This exposes you and your business to more potential buyers.

A good example of someone who does influencer outreach well is James Clear.

In less than three years, James has grown an email list of 240,000+ readers.

How?

Content syndication.

In his own words,

By syndicating his content on authority sites, James has able to increase his domain authority, build social proof and introduce himself to audiences he would never have reached otherwise.

The reason influencer outreach is so effective is you’re always leveraging up. Once you’ve got your foot in the door with one influencer, it’s easier to move up the influencer ladder and connect with others.    

Okay, now that you’ve learned what influencer outreach is and why it’s important, let’s discuss how to do it, step-by-step…

Step 1. Research Influencers

There are two parts to this step:

  1. Compile a list of potential influencers
  2. Organize your list by domain authority

Part 1: Compile a list of potential influencers

Create a new spreadsheet and include the following columns:

  1. Name
  2. Website
  3. Twitter
  4. Contact

Add any influencers you know of already. These can be blogs you subscribe to or experts you follow on Facebook or Twitter.

If you don’t know any influencers in your field, Google a long-tail keyword that’s related to your industry and look at the top search results.

Chance are, if they’re on the front page, they have some authority.

Let’s say, for example, you’re in the wedding niche.

You might Google, “wedding blogs 2016”.

Look at the search results:

Are there any you recognize?

Are there are you don’t?

Go back to your spreadsheet and add any blogs you could potentially reach out to.   

Another way to find influencers, it to look closely at influencers you follow and write down who they’re following.

Authorities tend to follow other authorities. As the saying goes, “Iron sharpens iron.”

Look at who they’re following or engaging with on Twitter or read guest posts they’ve published. The sites they’re featured on are likely authority sites.

Aim for about 30 blogs when doing this (you can always add more later).

The hardest part of completing your spreadsheet is finding an influencer’s contact information.

If it’s a single author blog, it might be easier to reach out. But if it’s a big blog with several editors, it’s going to be more challenging. Understand that authority blogs are pitched hundreds of times every day. Don’t let that deter you, though. You’ve got content just as good as everyone else (if not better).

There are three ways you can reach influencers. I’ve listed them in order of difficulty below:

  1. Email
  2. Contact form
  3. Twitter

1. Email

Influencer sites are generally either single author or multi-author.

An example of a single author site in marketing would be Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income:

The site is run by Pat and only Pat.

Conversely, an example of a multi-author blog would be a site like SmartBlogger:

Why?

It features multiple authors—including guest posters.

It’s important to understand the difference because many people waste time pitching single author blogs that aren’t a good fit for what they’re offering.

Why pitch a guest post to a single author blog, for example, if they explicitly ask you NOT to?

(This might sound obvious, but you would be amazed the number of people who try anyway.)

Multi-author sites (like The Huffington Post) often have editorial staff overseeing specific sections such as news, politics, entertainment, etc.

It’s important, then, you identify the right person to reach out to. The last thing you want to do is waste your time reaching out to the wrong person and making a bad first impression.

Let’s say, for example, you want to write a guest post for A Practical Wedding:

How would you contact the right person?

Well, you could identify the right editor and reach out to them.

Here’s how to do that:

Do a string search for “site:[URL] + author” (without quotation marks).

If that doesn’t work, try:

  • site:[URL] + editor
  • site:[URL] + team
  • site:[URL] + contributors

Here’s what I discovered when I searched for “site:apracticalwedding.com + author”:

While Meg Keene is the editor-in-chief, it’s better to contact a staff member who’s better suited for the type of content you want to pitch. In our example, we might try Liz Moorhead.

To find a contact’s email address, try Norbert:

With Norbert, you can find and verify people’s email addresses using their name.

Create a free account and enter the person you’re targeting and the domain:

In our example, we’re searching for Liz Moorhead:

Success!

You can also use FindThat.email (The Yellow Pages of Email) to find the email address of decision makers in millions of companies worldwide.

Find That

Add the contact’s email address to your spreadsheet and repeat the process for other influencers you want to reach out to.

For single author blogs, reaching out is often as simple as opting in for their newsletter and replying to their confirmation email. In fact, many influencers ask you to do this.

Look what Brian Dean from Backlinko does in his welcome email after you optin on his site:

While you wouldn’t want to reply with a request, it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself and get on their radar (more on that in Step 2.)

2. Contact form

A contact form is the second best way to reach out to an influencer, though, it does have disadvantages.

  • You can’t track whether they’ve opened your email
  • You don’t know whether it’s going directly to them or a personal/virtual assistant
  • You can’t demonstrate social proof (such as with an email signature)

Contact forms are generally easy to locate on an influencer’s site, though, many influencers hide it to minimize income email.

If you can’t locate it, try the string search, “[WEBSITE URL] + contact” (without quotations):

Once you’ve located an influencer’s contact page URL, add it to your spreadsheet.

3. Twitter

Twitter is your last ditch attempt at reaching out to an influencer.

While it’s a lot harder to get noticed, it is possible.

Tweet the influencer asking them the best way to get in contact using the @ symbol and include a reason. Without one, they might not reply.

If they do reply, add their email to your spreadsheet.

Part 2. Organize your list by domain authority

Once you have a list of potential influencers you can reach out to, you need to categorize your influencers in order of what’s called, “domain authority.”

According to Moz (who credited the term):

Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.

In other words, the more authority an influencer has, the harder it is to reach out to them.

Don’t let that discourage you, though. We’re going to work up to that.

Add another column to your spreadsheet called, “Domain Authority”:

Next, go to the Chrome Store and add MozBar (you’ll need Google Chrome for this):

Once it’s installed and you’ve created a free account, it will display a site’s domain authority (DA), both, in the extension in your browser and underneath the site in the SERPs:

The higher a site’s DA score, the more trust they have with Google—and the more a backlink will mean for your site.

Go through all the influencers that you included in your spreadsheet and add their domain authority.

Once you’ve done that, sort your influencers by domain authority (right click > sort range > sort):  

The goal is to start with the “low-hanging fruit” and work your way up to bigger influencers, using previous collaborations as social proof.

Step 2. Connect with Influencers

Most people ignore this crucial step and instead jump right into outreach. While that can work, it’s not the most effective way.

Here’s why:

Most influencers receive hundreds of emails.

(Neil Patel receives 207 emails per day.)

Without having some familiarity, to begin with, getting noticed is going to be hard.  

The solution, then, is to gradually introduce yourself to an influencer by engaging with their content and getting on their radar.

This is achieved by:

  1. Expressing gratitude
  2. Leaving comments
  3. Sharing content

1. Expressing gratitude

This might be as simple as writing to an influencer and thanking them for a post they wrote.

There’s nothing an influencer loves more than a reader who applied their advice and got results.

Everyone business owner loves case studies. The more successful our customers are from using our products and services, the more successful we are. As Zig Ziglar once said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

If an influencer has helped you in any way, write to them and tell them how. Who knows, they might even feature you on their blog.

2. Leaving comments

There’s a reason influencers invite you to comment on their blog:

They want you to engage with their content.

When done correctly and consistently, leaving comments can not only get you noticed—it can invite influencers to leave comments on your blog.

Check out what Neil Patel had to say on the subject:

If one of those “frequent contributors” reached out to Neil, do you think they would receive a reply?

Of course, they would.

When leaving comments, always make sure you’re adding more value to the content.

Kevin Duncan from Smartblogger advises the following structure to a good blog comment,

  1. A friendly greeting
  2. A sincere compliment
  3. Adding value
  4. A parting promise

Here’s an example of a good comment left on a Tim Ferriss post:

3. Sharing content

While this approach will largely go unnoticed depending on the status of the influencer, it’s still a good habit to get into.

The caveat is not to go overboard (you don’t want to be perceived as a creepy stalker).

Share what you like and what you know your audience will enjoy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Step 3. Contact Influencers

So, to recap, you’ve identified which influencers you want to reach out to and connected with them by expressing gratitude, commenting on their blog posts or sharing their content.

There’s no set time for how long you need to do this before reaching out but a good rule of thumb is one month.

There are typically three reasons why you would reach out to an influencer:

  1. You’re asking for a share
  2. You’re pitching a guest post
  3. You’re asking for a backlink

1. Asking for a share

This is the easiest of the three.

If you mention an influencer in your blog post, you’ll always have a justifiable reason for reaching out to them.

You’ve written about them, why would you not let them know?

There are two ways you can ask for a share

  1. Twitter
  2. Email

i. Twitter

The advantage of Twitter is the barrier to entry is low. If you can’t contact them via email, you’ll almost certainly be able to contact them on Twitter.

Sometimes, you won’t even need to ask for a share.

Take one of my writers, Sam, for example. He wrote an article about The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris. When he shared it with his audience, he mentioned Dan in the tweet:

Not only did Dan favorite the tweet, he wrote his own tweet for his followers:

Granted, this won’t happen all the time, but it’s a good way to make a killer first impression.  

The best part?

If an influencer leaves a nice comment about your work, you can embed it on your website and use it as a testimonial.

Case and point: Shane Parrish from Farnam Street:

ii. Email

Unlike Twitter, with email, you have more legroom to explain why you’re reaching out and what you want the influencer to do.

Emailing an influencer and asking for a share consists of (1) notifying an influencer you’ve mentioned them in your blog post (and hoping they’ll share without asking) and (2) following up if they don’t reply.

Don’t ask them to share your blog post right off the bat. Depending on who you’re reaching out to, influencers receive hundreds if not thousands of emails a week asking something for nothing.

Remember, you always want to come from a place where you’re giving, first.

The best way to do that is to write an email that demonstrates:

  1. You’re a fan of their work
  2. You’ve applied a strategy they’ve written about, and…
  3. You got results because of it

This is why Step 2 is crucial:

It builds more trust.

If, for example, you write you’re a fan of an influencer’s work and they run a search and see you’re not even on their email list, you’re going to come across as inauthentic.   

Here’s an example of how you could reach out to an influencer via email:

Hi [NAME],

My name’s [YOUR NAME] and I’m a BIG fan of what you do. I loved your article on [SUBJECT]. After applying what you wrote about, I was able to [RESULT].

I was so inspired that I decided to feature you in my latest blog post:

[INSERT LINK HERE]

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Warmest,

[YOUR NAME]

An email like this is effective because it’s personal, it doesn’t ask for anything in return and it provides the influencer with everything they need, should they choose to share it their audience.

Make it your own and let your personality and sincerity come through in your writing.

2. Asking for a guest post

Asking to guest post on an influencer’s site follows a similar framework to asking for a share.

The only difference is instead of ‘selling’ a blog post you’ve already written, you’re selling a blog post that will be written specifically for them.

First, go back to your spreadsheet and add new two columns:

  1. Accept Guest Posts?
  2. Guidelines

Next, go through each influencer and identify whether they accept guest posts.

The easiest way to do that is to try the following search strings:

  • [INFLUENCER NAME] + “submit a post”
  • [INFLUENCER NAME] + “guest blog”
  • [INFLUENCER NAME] + “guest post”
  • [INFLUENCER NAME] + “guest posting guidelines”

For every influencer who accepts guest posts, add a yes to the “Accepts Guest Posts?” column and the URL for the guidelines in the “Guidelines” column.

Next, familiarize yourself with their guidelines:

This is really important. If there’s one thing that irritates influencers it’s reaching out without having done your homework first.

Once you’ve done that, research what would be a good guest post for the influencer you’re trying to connect with.

One of the best ways to do that is to go to Buzzsumo:

Type in the influencer’s website and look at their most shared blog posts:

This will provide you with a good starting point when pitching your blog post.

One more thing: Take screenshots of your research. This can be included in your email. Not only does this demonstrate you’ve done your homework, it will make you stand out above everyone else who emails them. Trust me, few people go the extra mile when it comes to pitching guest posts.

Lastly, you need to write your email.

I recommend following a similar format to asking for a share, only instead of writing you mentioned them in your blog post, pitch them on an idea for a blog post based on your research.

Here’s an example of what you could write:

Hi [NAME],

My name’s [YOUR NAME] and I’m a BIG fan of what you do. I loved your article on [SUBJECT]. After applying what you wrote about, I was able to [RESULT].

I’m interested in writing a guest post for you and I have 3 headline ideas that I think your readers would love. I think that the [INFLUENCER] audience would love them as well because your most popular article are on [TOPIC 1], [TOPIC 2] and [TOPIC 3].

[INSERT SCREENSHOT HERE]

I know you’re busy, so I can write everything up and send it to you in one document (Word or HTML), which you can drop right into WordPress.

I’ll handle all editing, bylines, etc (feel free to edit) so this is super-easy for you. Plus, I promise the guest post will get your readers thinking and talking to each other.

What do you think?

[YOUR NAME]

Again, carve out time to write an email that’s personal and well-researched. It will put you miles ahead of your competition.

3. Asking for a backlink

Most influencers have become authorities through years of consistent blogging.  

In fact, if you were to plot it on a graph, it would probably look something like this:

Source: MichaelHyatt.com

In many cases, the older an influencer’s website, the more likely they have broken or outdated links…

…and the more likely they’ll be open to replacing or updating them.

After all, no influencer wants bad gateways on their site, right?

This is where you come in.

You’re going to help them using a strategy called broken link building.

This is when you find a broken link on an influencer’s site (a link that directs to a 401 page), notify them of it, and suggesting a suitable replacement.

There are many free link checking tools available, but I prefer Check My Links which is a free plugin for Google Chrome:

Simply go to an influencer’s site, click the button and wait for the results:

For a more thorough search, try Broken Link Checker.

“But what if an influencer doesn’t have any broken links?”

I thought you’d never ask.

Many influencers will have a resources page or ultimate guide linking out to other websites.

Over time, some links will link to content that’s outdated or not thorough enough…

…and that’s where you swoop in.

Imagine you’ve just published a blog post that offers a TON of value for people in your market.

In a way, it would be selfish of you to not put that in in front of as many people as possible, wouldn’t it?

Look for a resource/ultimate guide that needs updating and email the influencer.

Here’s an example of what you might say:

Hi [NAME],

My name’s [YOUR NAME] and I’m a BIG fan of what you do. I loved your article on [SUBJECT]. After applying what you wrote about, I was able to [RESULT].

I was recently researching (topic) for an article I was writing and came across this page on your site: (URL).

I found it very useful, but there are dead links on the page:

[LINK]

I also write about [TOPIC]. In fact, I recently wrote a new blog post called [NAME]:

[LINK]

It’s about [DESCRIPTION].

If you do update the page, I’d appreciate it if you would consider including a link to my article.

I think your visitors would also appreciate it.

Keep up the good work!

[YOUR NAME]

This won’t always work, but if you’re persistent in your outreaching efforts, your will pick up a few backlinks along the way.

To learn more about link building for beginners, read Ahref’s Friendly Guide To Link Building.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what you’re selling or where you want to go with your business—connecting and collaborating with influencers will help you go further, faster.

And while influencer outreach isn’t always easy or quick, it is possible—if you focus on giving rather than taking. This is what puts you ahead of the curve and positions your content in front of the right people.

What have your experiences been with influencer outreach? Leave a comment below.

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Written by

Josh Denning, founder of Authority Factory, helps high-achieving business owners generate more traffic, create more authority and capture and close more clients for their business. To learn a scalable and predictable approach to growing revenue, visit: http://www.onlinemeetingnow.com/register/?id=r8vh2pasjo

Comments 9

15 September 2016 Reply

I wanted to thank you for this excellent
read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it.
I have got you book marked to check out new stuff you
post…

12 October 2016 Reply

Awesome ideas! Really loved the Tips & Tricks

Aftab

13 October 2016 Reply

Thanks Aftab… Let me know if there is anything specific you’d like to see.

6 December 2016 Reply

cool

i didn’t know you could still research domain authority

i thought that went out ever since Google got rid of page rank

thanks
Ike Paz

9 December 2016 Reply

Hi Ike,

Thanks for jumping into the conversation.

Yes, domain authority since page rank went out is more or less the key metric to measure for authority.

14 December 2016 Reply

Nice article! It touched me so deep!

Anyway I have found a plugin of Google Chrome named “FindThatLead” by which we can the direct email addresses of any twitter account within few seconds. Just want to share with the community.

14 December 2016 Reply

Appreciate that Gerard,

Thanks for sharing. That’s a solid, relevant tool for outreach.

Josh

26 January 2017 Reply

Awesome piece Josh! Thanks for sharing these tips! However, I want to know what is your take on writing emails to bloggers for your outreach with a casual tone (e.g. using emoji)?

21 February 2017 Reply

Nice article right there.

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