Building the right foundation with a blogger starts long before you even send your pitch.
Successful blogger outreach depends on relationship building. Not a single tweet or email, but a genuine interest in another person. This relationship building starts at the ground up, from the vertical to the blog and ultimately to your contact.
Don’t spread yourself thin researching 50 blogs. Find 5 blogs that you want to reach out to, and really get to know each one.
In this post you’ll learn the 4 research stages that will help you provide a mutual benefit and place your content.
Stage I: Evaluate Your Content
Stop pushing content, start providing it.
When reaching out to a blog, you either already have a piece of content you want to place or want to work with that specific blog to create content together.
In the first scenario…
You already have content and you’re looking to place it on a blog. Before pitching this content, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the selling point of my content? Is it timely, newsworthy, or exclusive?
- What tone does my content take?
- What audience does this content speak to?
- What verticals would this content fit into?
Once you have an idea of what your content brings to the table, you can match it with blogs that have similar interests.
In the second scenario…
You collaborate with the potential publisher to create content. Together, you can come up with a piece of content that provides a mutual benefit to both of you. But to get to this point, you’ll need to follow steps 2-4 in this post.
As with all quality content, the content you pitch or create with the blogger should fit the following:
- Simple - The content should be easy to understand and easy to convey.
- Unexpected - The content should provide new information, or look at old information in a new way.
- Concrete - The content should be easy to relate to, and concrete in concept. Ambiguity is the enemy.
- Credible - The content needs to be authoritative and trustworthy. The publisher is trusting you to have done this well. If you fail here, you will ruin the relationship.
- Emotional - The content needs to evoke emotion in order to matter. For content you are looking to place, make sure the emotion is a positive one.
- Relatable - People are inherently selfish. Make your content relatable by clearly understanding the audience.
Stage II: Evaluate The Vertical
Work from the ground up.
Before you can understand the blog and the individual behind it, you need to be fully aware of the biases and commonalities that exist within the niches you’re reaching out to.
If you want to connect with individuals of high authority, you need to understand the culture of their vertical. Some verticals require you to proceed with caution, whereas others are warm and welcoming.
To understand a vertical, first identify the following:
- What are the three core components of this vertical?
- Who are the leaders in this vertical?
- How are current trends impacting this vertical?
- Who are the competitors of this vertical?
From there, you can get into more granular research…
3 Steps to Evaluating a Vertical
Using these three steps, you can familiarize yourself with a niche in thirty minutes.
1. Complete Keyword Research
To find leaders in your vertical of interest, start with a basic keyword search. A few of our favorite blog research tools include:
2. Identify the Theme
On each blog, find out what’s trending. Identify the “popular content,” “most read,” or “special features.” Is there a recurring topic among the top content of these blogs?
Grow your content ideas from these trending topics and aim for your content to take these ideas a step further. The content you are pitching should provide value beyond the typical content found on the site you are pitching to. This can only be done by understanding the scope of content currently on the site and the type of content that resonates with that site’s readership.
3. Understand The Audience
Reading comments gives you a better understanding of the blog’s audience. Find the posts that get the most comments. Read the article, but also read the comment thread in full. The comment section is also a great place to get content ideas.
- Discover the type of feedback the audience gives, is it hypercritical or justified?
- Understand what the audience likes and dislikes.
- Build your content around unanswered questions in the comment thread.
- Identify recurring comments and topics of interest to the audience.
- Ask a thought provoking question in the comment thread.
- Pitch content to a blog that has a mostly negative audience.
- Add a comment in a promotional manner for your client.
- Pitch content to a blog that wrote a post, confessing their undying hatred for your topic.
Stage III: Evaluate The Blog
The following questions will help determine if the blog you want to reach out to will be open to placing your content.
1. Does this blog accept guest posts?
Don’t waste your time pitching content to blogs that do not publish guest posts. Do a quick search within the blog for “guest post,” or do a Google search for site:url.com “guest post.”
If your search doesn’t reveal guest posts, then don’t try to force your content here. Some blogs will list whether or not they accept blogs in their “Contact us” or “About Us” sections.
2. What type of content do they publish?
Are you pitching an article, an infographic, or something else? Review the types of content the blog publishes to make sure your content fits.
If the blog has never published an infographic before, it’s unlikely that they will for you. If the recipient detects you’re pushing content, it will hinder a future relationship.
3. What is the tone of this blog?
The tone of the blog is its core and all content should match that tone, whether it’s content coming from the blog author or a guest author.
What is the tone of the blog? If it’s a multi-author blog, focus on the tone of the author you are trying to reach out to.
Your content needs to reflect the tone of the blog. Again, don’t try to force your content to fit.
4. Who is the audience of this blog?
As mentioned previously, you can get a better understanding of the audience by reading the blog’s comments and social shares.
Remember, your goal is to publish your content on this blog. Ultimately, your content will be in the front of these readers. What type of audience do you want commenting on and sharing your content?
Stage IV: Evaluate Your Contact
Evaluating your contact is the most important step in your research. This person will determine the ultimate success or failure of placing your content. Before you pitch, you should become familiar with the different types of influential bloggers; each one requires a different type of outreach.
With the more popular blogs you reach out to, the more personal you need to be. These people get hundreds of outreach emails a week. You need to stand out by understanding the individual, not the entity.
The following questions will help you discover important details about your contact. Let’s call our contact Charlie.
- Which category within the blog is Charlie a contributor on?
- Is Charlie a contributor, editor or publisher of the blog?
- Is Charlie a regular contributor, or intermittent contributor?
- What type of content does Charlie post? (articles, infographics, etc)
- What is Charlie’s tone of writing in his posts and comments? Is he sarcastic, matter of fact, friendly?
- Does the blog Charlie contributes on have a personal Q&A, where you can get to know him better?
- LinkedIn: Does Charlie’s previous work experience or education make him an authority in the industry?
- Twitter: What does Charlie’s Twitter presence say about his personality and interests?
What other blogs does Charlie contribute to? Do a Google name search.
Pitching Your Content
If you can align your content with a vertical, blog and contact, you have the green light to sending your pitch. If your content fit in any one of these stages, then don’t send your pitch.
Don’t throw away your research on firstname.lastname@example.org. Finding the right contact information is crucial for getting your pitch read.
You took the time to get to know the individual, not the entity, right? So, send your email to the individual…
With enough research, you will be able to provide content that is mutually beneficial to the person you reach out to. If you stop extracting value and start providing it, you will establish the ground work for years of fruitful collaboration.
What kind of research do you do before contacting a blog? What methods have you found to be most successful in relationship building? Let us know in the comments below…