David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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The 5 rules of blogger outreach

Want to get the attention of a blogger? Here are five rules, along with a little insight into my own reactions to the non-stop spam I get from people like you.

Almost every day, somebody emails me offering to write a free post for this blog. Sometimes they offer a list of titles. Sometimes they tell me to name the topic, and they’ll write something for me. Sometimes they are not even in my niche. They obviously don’t read my blog.

And that is the first rule of blogger outreach. Know your target audience. Read the blog.

If people were to read this blog, they would understand that I don’t publish same-old, same-old drivel. I publish opinionated analysis of the state of online marketing. That’s right, my opinions; this post is a fine example of how I write for my own blog. I occasionally do publish a guest post, but it is certainly not from a stranger taking a pot shot and hoping that something sticks. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you the two ways to become a guest blogger here.

The second rule is to be very, very respectful.

Whether you come begging or pushing a wheelbarrow full of gold, you are seeking a favor from the blogger. You are hoping to be published, to get exposure, to build a link, to build traffic, or to get Austin Moon’s attention by posting something on my blog. Well, maybe not get Austin Moon’s attention on my blog – that’s would be someone else’s niche.

Blogger outreach done wrong

If you send me a spammy form email, that doesn’t show respect. That doesn’t say, “Wow, your blog is so wonderful, I just gotta get something going with you.” That shows that how very little you care about my blog. And I am happy to reciprocate… [DELETE]

I have been on both sides of the blogger outreach relationship. There are times when I don’t have time to build a relationship on behalf of a client. And there are times when the client doesn’t offer me what I would have needed for the next rule. But taking time to explore the blog and showing deep respect has helped me at least get an audience in some places. But most often I have needed to employ the third rule.

The third rule is to come with a wheelbarrow full of gold.

Now, I’m not saying that gold will guarantee you get a guest post on my blog. But it will guarantee that I won’t just hit [DELETE] right away. I do accept sponsored posts, and I am happy to announce that they are sponsored. But don’t ask me for a NoFollow link because you have weak knees. I don’t do NoFollow, and here is why.

Which brings us to the fourth rule. The blogger sets the terms as far as what he or she is willing to say, how to say it, how to format the post, etc.

It is OK to ask for specific anchor text. It is OK to specify that you will pay only for a favorable review. It is OK to set the conditions under which you will pay money. But ultimately, it is the blogger’s call, and you either hand over the money or take it somewhere else. Any blogger worth his salt will want the post to conform to his regular formatting specs. Seriously, if you absolutely need a post formatted to your own specifications, why not just put it on your own blog?

And if by some chance you get a blogger willing to accept your guest post for free or for only a token payment, you have no business specifying anything. Sorry, but they’ve already done you a huge favor just opening your spam…er….I mean your email.

Rule number 5 is this: Who cares if you think your product is amazing? If the blogger doesn’t like it or does not want to be associated with it, too bad. It’s her blog. Move on.

There are some things I won’t write about, even for $10,000 in gold (as I mentioned earlier). Hmm. Actually, hold on. That’s a whopping lot of gold. Nobody has ever (sadly) offered me that much. Let me get back to you on that.

Want to break the rules?

OK, let’s suppose you want to break the rules above and just spam as many bloggers as you can and see what sticks. After all, it’s less work and you can even delegate it to an offshore virtual assistant working for you on slave wages. Surely if you send out thousands of spam emails, a few will say, “Sure, why not? I need more content on my blog.”

Some of those emails will stick. Congratulations. You’ll get nothing but [DELETE] from A-list bloggers, but you will catch the attention of some ZZ-list bloggers.

Here’s why:

  • A-list bloggers love to blog. They don’t need more content. ZZ-list bloggers need your crap. Did I just say “crap” on my blog? Oops.
  • A-list bloggers value quality over quantity. Your email condemns you. ZZ-list bloggers can’t recognize the difference between good and bad quality.
  • A-list bloggers are inundated with guest blogging requests. ZZ-list bloggers are not.

Is gold really necessary?

Now the question you’ve been dying to ask: Can you still get a guest post on my blog without a wheelbarrow full of gold.

And the answer is: No. But somebody else can.

Guest posts you read on my blog are usually the result of me reading something somewhere, usually on a friend’s blog, and saying to myself, “Hey, I’d like them to write about that on my blog, too.” In fact, that’s how most of my guest posts begin. I don’t get too many offers of gold, but I do sometimes want people to write about something specific. If you’ve seen the movie Inception, you now know how to get me to publish your guest post without a wheelbarrow of gold.

That’s just me. On some other blogs there are forms to fill in to guest post. On other blogs, you might get a chance if you have been engaging with the blogger on social media for a while.   On still other blogs, you simply can’t – not all blogs accept guest posts.

You might be wondering why the gold is necessary. I mean, if you do all the work writing… yeah, right! Let’s assume that you write an amazing post that I don’t have to rework for quality (Very few people write that well, but let’s suppose we dispense with that portion of the work just for argument’s sake).

I still have to format the post and create an image.

I still have to proofread it, no matter how good you say you are.

And I spend at least two hours promoting every post.

Even if I don’t write the post, even if I don’t have to rework it, I still spend about three hours in publishing and promotion. That’s a lot of work you are asking me to do, all for the thrill of giving you a link, some traffic or whatever else you are looking for.

If you are asking for a product review, that takes even more work. It means I have to actually use your product, which is a small amount of extra work if your product is edible, but much more work if it’s a software suite.

Are there bloggers who really will be thrilled to give you that link and that traffic? Sure, if your target audience is ZZ-list bloggers, keep on spamming, and you will get exactly what you deserve. But if you want to get the attention of quality bloggers on quality blogs, ones that actually get traffic and social shares, you need to step up your game with a strong display of quality and an ongoing relationship with the blogger. Or gold.






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15 Responses to “The 5 rules of blogger outreach”

  1. Gail Gardner (6 comments) Says:

    We should take this part:

    “Even if I don’t write the post, even if I don’t have to rework it, I still spend about three hours in publishing and promotion. That’s a lot of work you are asking me to do.”

    And turn it into an image we can routinely share, use in replies, and pin to social accounts. There are other sections we could do the same. In fact, this could be made into a SlideShare and Infographic and multiple images so we can embed it into content.

    People who buy $18 content seem to be oblivious to what constitutes quality content. One person we know prefers $13 content because he can mark it up and only cares about “SEO value”, choosing to ignore the fact that content that is never read, shared or able to attract links has no SEO value.

    Most people – as you well know – are doing blog outreach all wrong. Part of the reason is that some writers and publishers are allowing them to get away with it. Even some outreach companies have their employees doing blog outreach incorrectly. I’m sure they wonder why bloggers aren’t working with them, but it isn’t for lack of me telling them – repeatedly – what they’re doing wrong.

    Every once in a while, a particularly persistent person sends me content that is actually excellent. I am always surprised because that happens so infrequently. Ironically, the best writers often lack self confidence while the worst are sure they are brilliantly talented.

    Here’s my best tip: If you want your content published, find a writer the site already chooses to feature. They will know what each site prefers or at least have some idea.

  2. David Leonhardt (160 comments) Says:

    All I can say is, “Amen”!

  3. Brian Hughes (1 comments) Says:

    I have no time for online litter bugs. Stop littering the internat with your “crap”!

  4. David Leonhardt (160 comments) Says:

    Yeah, I know. It just sort of came out. 😉

  5. Saima Higes (1 comments) Says:

    First of all thanks for this post. I was listing the the actionable points need to reach to the bloggers and found this article. Couple of my clients in my company are expecting kind of same thing for promoting their contents and more precisely building their links. This is new to me as I have just couple of years of experience. I am reading lots of blog posts on the blogger outreach strategies and already jotted down some very fine points. I am learning this technique and hope I will be able to be productive in this too for my clients. Again thanks for sharing this post with us.

  6. Miranda (2 comments) Says:

    One of my pet peeves (as you know) are the companies in my niche (financial industry/fintech) that ask me to publicize their tool or news or whatever — and do it for free — but aren’t willing to participate in the community. I don’t always need to be offered gold, but if you want a better chance of catching my eye and having me write about you, consider sponsoring (it really doesn’t have to cost that much) the Plutus Awards, coming to FinCon to actually meet bloggers, and showing that you are INVESTED in the community, rather than just looking to use us as lead generators.

  7. David Leonhardt (160 comments) Says:

    I am glad this is helpful, Saima. If you read enough perspectives, I am sure nobody will throw bricks at you.

  8. David Leonhardt (160 comments) Says:

    That goes back to the concepts of respect and of knowing your audience. In the finance niche, there is enough money that there is no excuse for them not investing themselves.

  9. Emory Rowland (3 comments) Says:

    Amen on that first rule. If you didn’t read the blog but send me a spammy form email, at least take the time to figure out what my name is and address me by it! When someone reaches out to me and they’ve taken the time to read and understand what the blog is about, I find myself bending over backwards to publish them, even rewriting huge portions of their work when it isn’t so great.

  10. Reginald Chan (2 comments) Says:

    Hey David,

    Great article! Thanks for sharing and can’t agree more with the part of moving on. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

    Don’t let ‘it’ get into your mind someone says no to. Find more!

    Kudos!

  11. Swapnil Jagtap (1 comments) Says:

    Thanks for the post. I am new at blogging and i think i am at the right place to get the guidlines about blogging.

  12. Dennis Seymour (2 comments) Says:

    I have to agree David!

    Oh, will you let me guest post here? LOL kidding.

    Besides getting the crap outreach emails, I do get those that have some good initial research done but are completely demanding with their needs or their content isn’t really good once they submit it after good outreach work.

    Love your points. If people did those more often, they’d get a better success rate. :)

  13. pj (1 comments) Says:

    Nice article David. I always have trouble with outreach. I’ll try out your process to see if my luck improves with my next campaign.

  14. Adrienne (2 comments) Says:

    Hey David,

    Why oh why do people still do that stuff? It continues to boggle my mind.

    It’s your blog, your rules so get over it. That’s how I feel which is why no one guest posts on my blog unless I invite them. Yep, no guest posting rules and no acceptions are allowed.

    It’s funny but I rarely get an email from someone wanting to guest post on my blog. I get them of course but not often and I haven’t made this clear on my site but for some reason it works. I don’t quite understand why people don’t take more time to research the blogs they are wanting to guest for and then just spam you with a post that’s not even in your niche.

    People are just nuts David, there’s no other logical explanation I guess. LOL!!!

    Great points and thanks for sharing this with us. Wonder if this will help now moving forward. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for you my friend. Good luck.

    ~Adrienne

  15. David Leonhardt (160 comments) Says:

    Oh, I am sure the emails will come. Somehow I thing my name is on way too many target lists out in Spam Land.

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