I get some version of this email on a weekly basis:
Dude, you’re everywhere! I just saw your guest post/interview/guide published at ___.
I’m getting like NO traffic to my site. How do I get lots of visitors?”
My reply has nothing to do with “creating a holistic brand“, “publishing great content” or “get active on social media” (although those are all important).
Instead, I tell them to find the influencers in their niche and reach out to them. In other words, good old fashioned email outreach.
And today I’m going to show you how I used email outreach as part of a campaign that took Backlinko from 724 unique monthly visitors to 24,553 unique monthly visitors in just 3-months.
The Big Lie That Keeps Sites From Explosive Growth
There’s a big lie that keeps hard-working people from getting the traffic they deserve:
“Post great content and the links, traffic, and social shares will follow”.
I really wish things were that way, but they aren’t.
If you’re serious about growing your site, “great content” is just the cost of entry. To do well, you need to work your tail off and get the word out.
But publishing on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites is a shotgun approach that rarely works: what are the odds that the top people in your niche will ever see your tweet?
Compare that to the odds of success when you send an email directly to that person. It’s night and day.
Which leads me to step #1 of my little tutorial: how to find the people that can share your content and spread the word about your site.
Step #1: Build the Foundation
You can get the emails of the your industry’s most influential people.
You can find out their birthday, their dog’s name and what they like to eat for breakfast.
And you can use that information to do the best outreach in the history of the internet.
But unless you have an awesome site, you’re just wasting your time.
Before you follow the steps below, make sure you have the following in place:
- A unique, professional and heavily-branded site design
- Content that brings something new to the table
- Content layout that’s easy to read and share
If you want a practical guide to creating a site that commands attention and respect, check out Jason Acidre’s amazing guide to becoming an influencer online.
Step #2: Find The Influencers
Whether you’re in the weight loss, pottery or DIY niche, there are a handful of power-brokers that dominate. They’re the ones with all the traffic, the social media followers and the PR.
Those are the sites you want to form relationships with.
And while it may sound difficult to form relationships with important, busy people. And it is.
But it’s MUCH easier than pumping out reams of articles and guest posts, hoping that one of them “goes viral” and propels you to stardom.
In my experience the best way to identify and organize your “hit list” is to use AllTop.
Just put in a keyword or two that describes your niche:
And see which sites seem like good fits:
You can use a similar process using FollowerWonk.
Webmaster’s Note: You can also check out my definitive guide to engagement marketing.
Step #3: First Contact
You only have once chance at a first impression, so don’t mess this up.
When you find someone you think would appreciate what you’re all about (in terms of content and as a brand), reach out.
Make sure that your initial contact doesn’t ask for anything. Either offer something of value (“I found these broken links” or “I just made this diagram to illustrate your post”) or just give them an authentic complement.
For example, when I first emailed Neil Patel, I just told him that I loved QuickSprout (which I genuinely do).
I thought there was a 1% chance that he’d get back to me. But sure enough — because I was honest and non-needy — he replied.
You can also reach out to people on Twitter, Facebook etc. I’ve found that Google+ is a good place to build relationships because there’s less noise than on other social media sites.
Step #4: Let’s Make a Deal
A good rule of thumb that is to give four times before asking for anything.
Actually, if you provide value to each influencer, you’ll never have to ask for a damn thing. Just keep providing value, value, and more value until they offer you something in exchange.
And if they don’t?
That happens. It’s no biggie. You helped someone else out and probably learned something along the way.
In my experience, these influencers get to where they are because they’re cool and empathetic. So they’re not going to use you just to get a few free hours of programming help.
There’s obviously more to growing a site than emailing a bunch of people and doing them favors.
But it’s a surprisingly effective way to fast-track your site’s growth.
Yes, you’ll have emails ignored.
Yes, you’ll get rejected and feel like a loser.
But in the end, you’ll end up with an online presence that’s much stronger than if you decided to go at it alone.
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