Though it doesn’t have the same stranglehold on the creator market that it did in earlier internet days, blogging is still an important content delivery medium that gets a lot of traffic. Blogs are important tools for promoting products or building a brand, especially in niches where demonstration and extra explanation are helpful. That can mean food, DIY/crafts and travel, just to name a few potential niches that can benefit from using a blog for content as opposed to using social media alone.

As with any other creator space in the digital world, your blog needs exposure to gain followers and build an audience. An influencer is only as good as their audience—not necessarily in terms of size, though it’s hard to be influential when no one is listening or watching. And if you’re a brand, you don’t want to have your staff spend time on a blog that gets no hits and therefore doesn’t drive conversion. That’s why blogger outreach is so important.

Defining Outreach

In the context of blogging, outreach is a process by which you can promote yourself to other bloggers and influencers in the hopes that they’ll like what you’re doing and share with their audience. Both influencers and brands can engage in blogger outreach, though influencers may be less willing to give free help to an established brand than they are an up-and-coming small business or independent blogger.

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It may sound, based on that description, that blogger outreach is sort of like networking. That’s true in a sense, but in order for blogger outreach to really work in your favor, you need to be way more organized and methodical than you might be at a professional cocktail-hour mixer. If you were to go into a networking event and stay off to the side for the first hour, introducing yourself to no one and eavesdropping on conversations, you’d look like a creep. But the first few steps of blogger outreach are a digital equivalent to that kind of networking spy mission.

The point is that blogger outreach isn’t about making friends. Sure, you want to be friendly, polite and appealing—that’s just common sense when you want someone to engage with you and do you a favor—but you should also do a lot of research and start optimizing your blog for sharing well before you start actually reaching out to other bloggers. Your goal isn’t just to make connections but to get your content out there.

First Things First

So what is the research and optimization you need to do before reaching out? First, you should have a well-defined niche that is popular with others and suitable for blogged content. Things that require a lot of instruction and explanation are best for this content format. Even marketing and SEO can be suitable topics for a shareable blog. With your niche defined, you can get the ball rolling on outreach by identifying some blogs and influencers that touch on the same subjects that you want to cover. You shouldn’t copy these people, but you should definitely keep an eye on what they do.

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Once you’ve defined your niche and found other blogs and influencers to watch, you want to focus on creating relevant content. Yes, your content should be well-written and polished in every other way—don’t make it too long or too short, be careful with spelling/grammar, use high-quality images when warranted, etc.—but you should also be sure to tap into what topics are trending in your niche.

Don’t try to hop on a Twitter hashtag bandwagon with your blog. Instead, look at the articles similar blogs in your niche are publishing, focusing on trends over weeks and months rather than hours and days. Look at what the influencers you want to connect with are sharing on their own blogs and social media. If you have new insights to add or a unique perspective on those topics, congratulations: you’ve identified your next blog topics to write about.

Starting Outreach Research

Once you’ve got those beginning steps out of the way and you’ve created your first few posts that capture current interest in your niche, you can start preparing to reach out. If you didn’t find many blogs and influencers in your niche during the first phase of outreach prep, you should put more effort into that now.

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There are a few different ways to find good blogs in a particular niche, ranging from the simple to the more advanced. To start simple, you can do a basic internet search for keywords from your niche plus the word blog, like “vegan recipe blog” or “woodworking blog.”  This might turn up some great results that you can get started with.

If you want to go further, though, you can take one or two of the blogs you find through search and run them through a competitor analysis search with an SEO and marketing analytics tool. You can use this type of tool to find sites that have high rankings for keywords that are relevant to your niche.

You can also use a discovery platform to find bloggers in your niche. This can also be a good way of assessing your competition to see what they’re doing right.

With your role-model influencers and bloggers identified, you want to actually read these blogs, follow their writers on social media and generally find out what they’re all about. Try to interact and get on the writers’ radar. Leave thought-provoking comments on blog posts, making sure that your own blog name is associated with any comments you leave. This will make it seem less out of the blue when you actually reach out.

Creating Great Outreach Emails

As you do all this research, you’ll want to keep a spreadsheet or some other organized document that details the blog name, the writer’s name, relevant social media information, web addresses, email addresses and any other contact information. Also leave yourself some space to make notes on what they’ve done that’s relevant to your own personal brand. You may also want to create some columns that let you note when you reached out and whether you got a response. Spamming a blogger with outreach emails is not a good way to get what you want, so make sure you’re keeping careful track of who you reached out to and when.

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Email is generally the best way to reach out to a fellow blogger to get them to share your content. DMs and comments are generally less professional, and they might get ignored. If you can’t find the blogger’s email, you can let them know you’d like to contact them in a DM. You might get their address that way.

Remember that you’re asking the blogger to do you a favor when you reach out. So be respectful by keeping the email short and direct. Mention something they’ve posted recently and how your content fits in with or can supplement that recent post. Let them know that you’re actually paying attention to and have respect for what they do by making your outreach personal in this way.

Then, you wait. Not everyone is going to get back to you, but a few probably will. If no one gets back to you, you may want to revisit your process to make sure your content is worthwhile, you’re reaching out to the right people and your outreach emails are sufficiently engaging and personal. It could be that something’s not quite right in your process. It could also be that you simply didn’t have luck this time, and need to dig a little deeper to find bloggers to reach out to.