How to Build Real Relationships with Powerful Bloggers
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Tell me if you’ve felt this before…
You spend countless hours producing content, engaging readers, hustling for blog traffic and revenues.
You have a gigantic list of powerful influencers you look up to and follow.
What you wouldn’t give to be on their level! Partnering on projects, having them tweet your content, appearing on their podcasts...
You work up the courage to email them your pitch.
You spam refresh on your Gmail inbox. Nothing. Nada.
It’s frustrating, and we’ve all been there. Influencer marketing is tough as nails...hence this post.
Below is the most comprehensive guide to blogger outreach on the web, but it’s not going to give you what you want.
An easy-to-replicate formula that gets your content shared by influencers.
A copy-and-paste blogger outreach template that works.
An outreach tool allowing you to connect with multiple bloggers at the same time.
You’re not going to get any of those things here.
They aren’t going to bring what you really want: Blog traffic, revenues, and influence.
Huge blogging wins don't come from cookie cutter email templates.
They come from real, long-term relationships that are beneficial for everyone. These types of friendships will bring compounded growth and revenues.
Why mastering blogger outreach is so lucrative
Before he had the top-ranked entrepreneur podcast, John Lee Dumas experienced first-hand the power of influencer marketing.
On a random day in October 2014, JLD woke up to some unusual website stats.
Hundreds of new email subscribers and over 22,600 page views...and it was barely noon. What could cause such a crazy amount of accelerated growth?
Tim Ferriss shared one blog post on Facebook. Then, Tim’s crazy-loyal fans shared the post over 1,100 times. In. One. Day.
This is influencer marketing:
And for you, blogger outreach is the prerequisite action that precedes the ability to take advantage of influencer marketing.
It’s hard, and can be frustrating.
Why existing blogger outreach advice is terrible.
Raise your hand if you’ve had an email go ignored and were disappointed.
We all have, and much of that is due to terrible advice floating around the blogosphere.
The following two outreach templates were taken from two front-page Google results for “blogger outreach.”
(Also, please share and give backlink love to Eden’s article here. Let’s band together and knock these down a rank or two!)
Sending these emails is extremely easy.
Any influencer worth their weight receives dozens of these per day, and for every 1 of them, there are 173 of us contacting them. (And it’s becoming harder every day).
So that begs the question...
How can you stand out and build valuable, lasting relationships with these people?
It’s time to throw out what you’ve been trying, and focus on the 2x more difficult (but 10x more rewarding) strategies for blogger outreach.
Here’s exactly what this guide contains:
I, Pete McPherson, am not a mega-influential influencer with bountiful influence. I do not snap my fingers and summon Tim Ferriss retweets (how I wish it were so).
Like you, I’m just a blogger/podcaster trying to make an impact.
However, I’ve been blessed in the first month of Do You Even Blog, and have managed to get in contact with (and responses from!) extraordinary people.
People like Neil Patel, John Lee Dumas, Sarah Peterson, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, Nick Loper, John Lee Dumas, PT Money, Rosemarie Groner, Brian Dean, and even Eden Fried.
Trust me, I’m not bragging. I am probably lazier than you (and definitely not as smart). But I did stay in a Holiday Inn express last night.
That said, here’s what we’re going to cover, step-by-step:
The importance of long-term relationships
When you should (and should NOT) email influencers.
Permission marketing and how to master it in 60 seconds (literally).
The 6 commandments of blogger outreach (if you read nothing else, read this)
3 new and improved templates to built off of in 2017.
The importance (and value) of long-term relationships
Here’s a harsh truth:
Influencers in your niche don’t care about you.
They don’t want to read your blog, grant you a guest post, and they definitely don’t want your emails crowding up their inbox...at least at first.
You’re standing in line at the coffee shop when the person behind you says “I love your M&M t-shirt by the way.” They are polite as can be, and it turns out you have a lot in common, like an incredible affinity for green-colored dark-chocolate M&Ms. A great chance meeting.
A week later, the new acquaintance shoots you a Facebook invite and asks if you’d like to be interviewed on their new M&M podcast, informing you “I just mailed you a rare pack of green-only M&Ms, just cuz.”
You’d say yes. You’d be delighted.
A total stranger sends you a cold email asking to share their latest blog post on candy because they saw you published one too.
You are far less likely to help the stranger out.
You know the person in example 1. Even after a tiny chance meeting (a positive one), you trust this person 100x more than the stranger.
Re-read the above sentence from a powerful blogger’s point of view.
Cold-emailing influencers and asking them to share your content is selfish, short-term thinking, and potentially rude.
They don’t know you or trust you. They have no vested interest in your success. What reason do they have for helping you out?
Blogger Outreach takeaway #1: Swap to long-term thinking. Your first point of contact with a target influencer should be overwhelmingly positive, and ask nothing in return. You can ask for favors later on when they know and trust you.
Long before I pitched Nick Loper to be on my podcast, I was sharing my favorite articles of his. Before I emailed Michelle Schroeder, I was interacting with her on personal finance forums.
Aim to make friends and mutually beneficial business connections that will last a lifetime. In order to accomplish that, first impressions matter.
When you should (and should not) email influencers.
Here are common scenarios where bloggers tend to email other bloggers:
You request them to share your content
You request them to guest post on your site
You request to guest post on their site
You request an interview or quote
You request a backlink to your site
Whew. That’s a lot of requesting.
In order to avoid being ignored, or worse, receiving a “no thanks,” (more on why this is worse later…), there are a few requirements you need to satisfy first.
Here’s when you should NOT hit “send” to that influencer
When your content is anything less than amazing.
Feel free to push out mediocre content every now and then (actually don’t), but if you’re counting on getting an influencer’s attention, the content they see should be in the top 5% for your particular topic.
When they do not know you at all
The more a powerful blogger knows you, your site, your brand, your name...the more likely they are to adhere to your request. And that effect is exponential.
When you don’t have anything to say
Don’t waste their time with a pointless email.
If you have absolutely nothing to say or request, it better be a super short email (more on this in a second).
When you have nothing to offer them in return
What’s in it for them to do you favors? There should be something in it for them.
You don’t treat friends like this, do you? Why should people you look up to and admire be any different?
Here’s when you SHOULD email an influencer
When you have a perfectly good reason to
Did they just have an awesome accomplishment? Book launch? Congratulate them! (Again, be short and don’t waste their time).
Make sure you have a really good reason for reaching out to them. “I just published a similar article” is not a good reason.
When they know you and trust you
You don’t need to be besties, but you need some level of respect and trust from them! This is difficult to achieve, but incredibly valuable in the long run.
When you have something valuable to offer them
What do they really want? Bloggers in general want free/cheap exposure and promotion, as well as something that makes them look good (great podcast interview perhaps?).
If you’ve done your homework and can truly provide something they desire, you’re in good shape.
When you have nothing to offer them
But but but you just said...I know I know, but hear me out:
If you are at a place in your blogging career where you literally have nothing to offer a big influencer...there is still hope.
These influencers are also humans, and usually generous ones! They might offer to help you solely to do a good deed, expecting nothing in return.
Appeal to their sense of duty and ability to “pay-it-forward,” and they might help you out!
How to master permission marketing in 60 seconds.
“Permission marketing” is a term coined by legendary marketer Seth Godin, and basically means this:
Before you market or advertise your product to someone, ask for their permission to do so.
In a world filled to with ads and URLs being thrown out constantly (one person could see as many as 5,000 ads per day) (source)...asking for permission might seem odd.
But it Works. Like. Magic.
There are 3 main reasons for this:
1 - Consistency
From Influence (one of the top books on sales and marketing): “We feel we must always align our outer actions and promises with our inner choices and systems, such as our beliefs and values.”
If you ask for permission to advertise your content/product, and your target gives permission, they are FAR more likely to actually read the content, check out the product, etc. They feel a psychological need to remain consistent.
2 - Asking for permission to share content makes you stand out from the crowd (in a very positive way).
How many people are spamming their links in Facebook groups and cold emails these day? Tons. It’s an example of short-term thinking.
Readers and influencers alike appreciate the thoughtfulness of asking for permission, and you’re far more likely to make long-term fans and friendships with this method.
3 - It lets influencers “off the hook.”
Tim Ferriss has spoke on the power of this in his podcast. Giving influencers an easy “out,” (I.e. the ability to say no and still save face), ironically makes it far more likely that they’ll say yes.
An example of mine:
I started monetizing my podcast/blog in month 1 through sponsorships.
I’m no salesman by any means, but I always use permission marketing.
All I did was ask permission to send more details (in fact, this message might still be too long).
And the result?
This was intriguing, so of course she requested full details, which led to…
Boom! A sale!
Blogger Outreach takeaway #2: Before mindlessly promoting your URL or asking for a favor, ask for permission to ask. It gives people an out, and ironically leads to better results.
Thanks, Seth Godin.
The 6 commandments of blogger outreach
Here is the meat of your influencer marketing strategy, and combined with what you’ve already read, will provide you with a solid way to build relationships with higher-ups.
The 1st commandment: Thou shalt use templates only as a starting point.
Influencers can see right through templated emails, as they’ve received thousands of them.
The proper ways to use templates is to take note of interesting tactics and language. These should always be reformatted and personalized in your own words.
No more “Actually, I just published a similar article here…”
The 2nd commandment: Thou shalt not use “RE:” in your subject lines unless it’s an actual reply.
Using “RE:” for a first email might get you a few more opens in the short term, but it’s deceptive. Influencers see through this deception, and will absolutely think less of you for using this tactic.
The 3rd commandment: Thou shalt not waste the influencer’s time.
Top entrepreneurs, bloggers, celebrities, etc. do not care about you buying them a cup of coffee. They don’t care about saving the $5, and they can make their own coffee without having to listen to you pitch.
They care about their time.
Permission marketing (as explained above), is a fantastic way to show influencers you value their time.
A good rule of thumb is this: Write out your entire pitch email, then edit out unnecessary words. THEN, cut the email in half.
If influencers can’t get through a cold-email in 8 seconds, it’s too long.
Also, and this can’t be stressed enough, brevity in and of itself can encourage an influencer to give you more time and favors. They appreciate it.
So get right to the point in your emails. Make them short and crisp, and avoid sending emails altogether if your request truly is a waste of their time (Don’t lie. You know when this is the case).
The 4th commandment: Thou shalt use social proof to show you’re legit
I asked Rosemarie Groner (who makes over $100k/month with her blog, BusyBudgeter.com) what the perfect pitch to her would look like, and here’s the requirements she gave:
Short (see 1st commandment)
Social proof (also discussed thoroughly in Influence) basically just means this: you prove your own trustworthiness by showing instances of other people trusting you.
Trust is a mandatory ingredient for a blogger outreach sandwich.
Influencers love to work with and partner with individuals who they KNOW are more likely to be successful, because your success now reflects on their success.
This is how I’ve grown my podcast. 1,000%.
If you’re a powerful blogger, which email are you more likely to respond to?
“Hey powerful blogger! I just launched a brand new YouTube channel interviewing influencers like yourself. Would you like to be a guest on my show?”
“Hey powerful blogger! I just launched a brand new YouTube channel interviewing influencers like yourself. Would you like to be a guest on my show?”
“I’ve already had guests like Pat Flynn, Darren Rowse, Tim Ferriss, Amy Porterfield, and Eden Fried.”
Email #2 has massive social proof and is far more likely to be heard.
“But Pete...I don’t have any huge wins to share yet :(“
I hear ya, but there is still something you have that gains a bit of trust and respect: hustle.
If you truly don’t know how else to quickly establish social proof, just reinforce the fact that you are going to work your tail off.
For my first few cold emails to influencers, I wasn’t able to namedrop yet. Instead, I included this:
“I’ll be promoting these like mad and dropping about $2k in paid reach as well.”
This shows I’m dedicated and going to hustle for our joint-partnership (a podcast episode, in my case).
The 5th commandment: Thou shalt not use fancy automation tools for outreach
I get it. You want an easy way to get traffic and money, and crazy tools that find influencers, draft emails using templates, and send to 75 people at once aren’t going to help you.
What IS going to help you is focus and sincerity. Communicate with one person at a time, and give them your full attention.
One deep relationship is going to be 10x more beneficial for you than 10 non-relationships.
The 6th commandment: Thou shalt always follow-up
Don’t assume the worst in people when you get ignored.
Influencers are busy people, focused on their own work and lives! They might simply forget to respond, or miss the email entirely.
Always follow-up after a week or two with a two-sentence email. It shows you care, and you're persistent.
3 new and improved email templates to build off of in 2017
If you copy and paste these emails, only filling in the brackets...may the blogging Gods have mercy on your soul.
Instead, here’s how to use these templates:
Read through the entire template, noting the language, email length, and details required.
Re-type (DON’T copy and paste) the parts of the template you’ll need, adding details and molding the template to your own language.
Check for typos and spelling errors.
Cut the email down shorter.
Cut the email again.
Click BELOW to access the free email templates.
You spend countless hours obsessing over content, growing your tribe, and daydreaming about interacting with your favorite influencers as equals.
It can be crushing and disheartening to reach out to these people...only to be shot down and ignored.
But there is hope.
Follow the commandments above, and you will make lasting connections that skyrocket traffic, revenues, and influence.
Be confident. Start small and right now with micro connections. Make good first impressions, and long-term friendships.
Become an influencer.
Pete McPherson is a podcaster and author at DoYouEvenBlog.com, where he interviews world-class bloggers and online entrepreneurs...all to teach people how to grow income-producing blogs. Grab his report, 3 ways to make blog income with ZERO traffic to begin a long, ethical, and profitable blogging career.3 ways to make blog income with ZERO traffic