Simply Google “How to Conduct Blogger Outreach” and you will discover a profound number of articles claiming to have the secret sauce. In reality, blogger outreach is a delicate game that hinges on relationship building and your ability to wordsmith a compelling message. I would confidently say that blogger outreach is MORE about finding a blogger who will vouch for you and less about the product you spent years designing.
These are the main reasons why your blogger outreach strategy may not be garnering publicity for your website:
1. Affiliate Networks Offer a Higher Commission than Your Website
Even with the help of link prospecting tools you can easily spend an entire day trying to find the perfect blog to request a link from. As a rule of thumb, I do not recommend requesting a link if the blogger is an affiliate of certain sites. In most industries there will be affiliate sites so pervasive that it seems like every blogger is using them. Inevitably, the reason for this is usually the high commissions. If you are currently allowing an affiliate to sell your products, it’s likely that bloggers are conscious of this. As basic economics would have it, any blogger with an affiliate connection to a high-paying affiliate site would have zero incentive to link to your actual website and thus receive less commissions. Get in the habit of familiarizing yourself with the dominant affiliate sites for your industry – this will save you time and effort in the long run and help weed out the bad eggs.
2. Bloggers Want Free Products
People generally don’t do things without an incentive, and bloggers are no different. In fact, bloggers requesting free products has become so ubiquitous that some websites prefer to only contact certain bloggers with whom they have developed a rapport. Even if you are willing to provide free products, this strategy can be considered “pay-for-play” which is highly discouraged. You may stumble upon someone who is willing to link to you for free, but the chances of this are minimal, which brings me to another point:
3. Unlinked Mentions Can Be Tricky to Get
Prospecting for unlinked mentions can seem like free candy. After all, if the site is already talking about your website, why not request a link? It’s important to carefully examine the content around which the mention is being used. For example, many bloggers post comparisons, showcasing an expensive product next to a similar low-priced version that they’re touting. In fact there is a whole subset of blogs dedicated to helping shoppers purchase imitation lookalikes. You may also come across unlinked mentions that frame your brand in a negative light. Some may argue that “all links are good links” but it’s important to evaluate if this could do more harm than good. For an easy-win try capturing unlinked mentions from newspapers or academic publications first.
4. You’re Reaching the Wrong Person
Finding the contact information on a blog can be a challenge in itself. If you are lucky enough to find an e-mail address for a specific person, you’re on the right track. For many sites there are multiple contact emails, especially if you are contacting a large publication such as a magazine or newspaper. In this case, it’s best to email a few people whom you find relevant. It’s also not uncommon to find a contact form as the only method of contact.
5. Your Outreach Isn’t Compelling
Crafting an outreach message is time-consuming, yet vital. It’s important to keep this email concise and clearly state why this linking opportunity will benefit the blogger. A little praise doesn’t hurt either, but don’t overdo it. Consider writing something like this:
My name is Stephanie and I’m from Company X. I was recently on your site and I landed on your Designer Shoes page. First of all I wanted to say that I think you have a really great list of resources here. I noticed you had a section on designer boots, but I did not see a mention of Company X. I am writing you today because I was hoping that you could add a link to this page for CompanyX.com. Here at Company X we specialize in designer shoes, specifically boots. We are more than willing to help you write a bit more content on this topic if you’d like. I think your readers would definitely benefit from this addition. If you have a free moment please visit our site and let me know what you think.
The most valuable lesson you’ll learn while enduring this process is that it’s important to put yourself in the bloggers shoes and understand their motivations for creating content (this is crucial)! After countless attempts (some successful, others not so much) the takeaway is that this is an arduous, time-consuming process with varied results.
Blogger outreach is as much of an art as it is a science. When used in conjunction with other PR strategies, blogger outreach can be a valuable tool to help you build your brand. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- When asking for a link, make sure you’re not asking the blogger to make massive changes to a page or recreate an infographic
- If you’re working on behalf of someone else, check to see if they already have a list of preferred bloggers
- Use a standard message template and modify appropriately. This will save you time in the long run
- Never offer to pay for a link and don’t offer freebies in return for a review
- Never ask for a positive review (this is illegal!)
- If nothing else, take a firm look at your own website. Creating great content on your own site will encourage external linking. Also leverage social sharing platforms for optimum visibility