In our last installment on content marketing, we considered how to get more mileage by “recycling” content. Now, if you are like most people interested in doing content marketing, you realize that your biggest key to success is to get all this wonderful content you have developed seen by a brand-new audience. It might be a good encouragement for you if you realize that no website — no matter how authoritative or popular — has ever captured the entire potential universe of site viewers. This is great news! That means that your content, on your site, has the potential to attract a new audience.
One key component of enlarging your audience is to reach out to influencers in your business/niche/industry to get them to:
- Publish some of your content on the site they own, either as a guest contributor, guest writer, or even as one of their “staff.”
- Influence them to mention your content to their readers, or comment or share it on their social channels.
- Send you something they wrote to have it published on your site – and then they will promote that content to their own readership.
- Or some combination of the above.
How do you get them to do these things for you, though?
You Need to Identify and Qualify Before You Reach out
Before you jump right in to fire off those emails and tweets, you need to pay your dues – researching. It goes without saying, but the harder you work here, the greater the payoff later. You need to discover who those influencers are — and find out how they could help you.
So at this stage, you need to get out and beat the bushes, so-to-speak. Forums, industry sharing sites, blog sites, news sites that target subjects or communities you are interested in — these are the places to start looking. You can even find tools that will automate some of this data-collection, but you can’t just use a tool — you have to use your own eyes and mind and do some evaluations, weeding out those that don’t seem to be valuable, and keeping the rest.
And I won’t kid you — doing this targeted research is not something that can be done quickly. So you need to start this phase LONG BEFORE you will need to start your actual outreach campaign.
If you like, you can keep a spreadsheet or document of some sort, to collect and organize all the information that you will gather, for use later on. The more information the better, especially if you learn ways to contact those influencers, as well as more about their background and interests.
If you examine their site carefully, you can often discover names, email or other contact information, especially on “contact us” or “about us” pages.
For Content Marketing Outreach, Google Can Be Your Best Friend
If you don’t have access to the tools to automate this process, don’t despair! You can still use information that you glean right from the search engines (where many of the tools pull their data from anyway).
You just need to know how to input the correct search phrases. The following are some suggested search queries:
(In these examples, replace “[Search Phrase]” with your target industry or subject theme.)
[Search Phrase] “guest post”
[Search Phrase] “guest author”
[Search Phrase] “guest writer”
[Search Phrase] “guest post by”
[Search Phrase] “write for us”
[Search Phrase] “guest post guidelines”
[Search Phrase] “write for us”
[Search Phrase] “This post was written by”
You can also mine the SERPS for information in page title tags:
[Search Phrase] allintitle:guest post guidelines
[Search Phrase] allintitle:guest blog guidelines
“Guidelines” pages — why look for those? Because sites that post submission guidelines are usually actively seeking new content. And sites looking for new content are exactly what you should be looking for!
BTW, a special type of search to do in Google is called a “blog search.” Google maintains a special index of information related to blog sites. But it is a bit of a trick to find it, as it used to be offered as a stand-alone search option (like Google images, etc.) but you will find it within Google News:
Determining Which Influencer (and Site) is Worth Working With
In your data-gathering, gather information both on influencers and the sites they operate (or work with). Examine their content carefully. What topics have they covered in the past, as well as in the present?
Also, give some consideration of their writing tone and style (and all this needs to go into your documentation file as well) —
- Conversational or Formal?
- Factual and Researched?
- Controversial? Trendy Topics?
- Short Announcements or Blurbs?
- In-Depth Research or Case Studies?
Also, make a note – how often is content on that site updated? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? Several times a day?
Do they seem to be passionate about any subjects that would correspond well to your content marketing? For example, a blog site that deals with photography techniques might be willing to accept content that you have written that details how the choice of photographic equipment (your business) influences the type of photography that can be done.
What type of audience to these influencers seem to be writing for? You can answer this question by looking at on-the-site and off-the-site (i.e., social media) comments that have been made. Does that target audience sound similar to yours? And how active does their “community” seem to be? Does the content they post seem to get lots of comments, shares, and likes?
Like a gunsight, if you see these markers align with your target goals and audience, it’s a good bet that they would be a great prospect for your outreach efforts.
Final Step – Actually Reaching Out and Touching Someone
If — and only if — you have done all the above hard work, then you should be left with your “gold dust.” That’s a list of important big-shots and well-known personalities, some of whom might be sincerely interested in posting your content or have an interest in posting their stuff on your site.
In this article, we aren’t going into the fine details on finding email addresses and other contact information, but if you need more help with this you can check out this link: https://ahrefs.com/blog/find-email-address/
We say that these industry influencers may have some interest — but “some” interest is, of course, not enough by any means. You want these people to be so very impressed with your content/site, finding so much true value in it, that they will gladly be willing to have your stuff posted on their site, or even be willing to write something for your site – or at the very least, allow you to post the content somewhere else, and then briefly mention and recommend their readership view it.
When you reach out, you will “make your case” by demonstrating:
- That there a strong, undeniable connection between what you are offering and what they (and their audience) are interested in having.
- That there is a unique value in this information – that it is groundbreaking information, unique insights, that no one else has, or else takes a unique slant, or shows a practical application, or presents it in a unique, easier-to-use format.
Keep this rule in mind: The more important the influencer in your industry, the more they are being bombarded with similar proposals from others (no doubt your competitors!). SO YOUR OUTREACH AND WHAT YOU ARE OFFERING WILL NEED TO STAND OUT FROM ALL THE REST, RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING.
When you contact these folks, don’t contact them to ask if you can “send something over” — send your finished piece with your contact email – you don’t want them to have to hit reply and ask for it (because they won’t).
If you send your piece to them as an attachment, put it in PDF format, because different people use different software for reading documents, spreadsheets, graphics, etc.
You could also post the content as a private link in Dropbox, Evernote, or another cloud-based service. If you go that route, make sure that you test the link because if it does not work, you will most likely not hear back.
After Content Marketing Outreach: They Helped Me Out – What Do I Do Now?
It can be so difficult and time-consuming to find and enlist industry big-shots, that when someone does give us some help, we forget to follow-up in the right way:
- If you are successful and they promote your piece remember to thank them (and giving them a substantial freebie afterward might also be appropriate).
- Make sure that you do YOUR part to promote your guest post on their site, to your own readership. Promote the heck out of it — this shows them that you really valued the opportunity and are looking to maximize its effect.
- If they have written on your site, you should also promote the heck out of it as well. Don’t think it is just their responsibility to do this.
- If it seems feasible, you can also offer to promote something of theirs in the future — in fact, do whatever you can to keep the lines of communication open in case you would need to reach out again.
Remember, after spending all that time and effort to find someone, don’t make this a 1-off project – develop a relationship with them. Interact with their site and with them on social media. You are trying to develop a long-term relationship, not engage in short-term exploitation.
And in future, after developing a number of these contacts, if you will be attending an industry event, find out if any of these key people will also be attending and make it a priority to meet them in person and say hello. Take a group selfie (or at least a photo of the two of you) and send them a copy. While you are at the event, make time to talk over coffee, dinner or drinks. Socialize a bit – make them your friend – reach out to them just to talk – help them when the opportunity presents itself.