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Niche Site Project Coaching Call #7 with Perrin & Colleen: Building an Outreach Ecosystem & How to Approach Sites

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Niche Site Project Coaching Call #7 with Perrin & Colleen: Building an Outreach Ecosystem & How to Approach Sites

Man… we were so close to revealing our site to you guys this week. Alas, we can’t. And it’s all Colleen’s fault!

Kidding, kidding. Colleen’s kicking some major butt, per usual, but we really did want to have the site in a “showroom” state this week (and believe me… we’re really looking forward to showing this bad boy off a bit).

But we can’t. Not just yet.

Why? Colleen’s not quite finished with content. We’ve been shooting for around 40 articles. That’s when we’ll officially “launch.”

But, long story short, Colleen probably needs another week or so before we’re ready to push our site out of the proverbial nest. And that’s fine! We were probably overly ambitious, and real-life stuff (like jobs) can certainly get in the way.

So, we’re going to give Colleen a bit more time to finish her first round of content before we really start getting busy with outreach.

That doesn’t mean Colleen hasn’t been gearing up to guest post…

Even though most of her energy has been going to wrapping up her first 40 articles, Colleen’s still been working on prospecting some good guest post targets.

Mostly, she’s been working her social network to see who has blogs, and she’s been looking for very high quality sites she wants links on, so she can try to build some relationships.

And she’s hit some snags.

A couple days into her prospecting, Colleen messaged me and said what basically everyone says when I tell them to go find people they know who have blogs. She said, “I asked, and no one has blogs!”

I replied, “Who did you ask?” And it turned out that she’d been just… kind of… brainstorming who might have a blog and asking them directly.

And that’s cool! It’s a good start! Colleen found three friends who had blogs that way.

However, we did have to expand our strategy. Here’s what we did:

  • Instead of asking people directly, Colleen posted a status on Facebook asking if anyone was an active blogger. This was pretty successful, since people usually enjoy sharing their blogs.
  • We joined a few easy-to-find Facebook communities and started making friends. The strategy here is the exact same—asking friends if you can guest post; the only difference is these folks will be new friends instead of old friends.

From that, Colleen lined up about 5 guest posts.

How cool is that? All it took was a couple of Facebook messages. Normally, if you were to execute a “traditional” guest posting campaign, that would probably take hours of prospecting and hundreds of emails.

By simply asking friends, Colleen was able to knock it out in a few hours while she was writing. And, let me tell you: for a new site, five links can make an incredible difference.

Colleen’s also been making some headway searching big blogs she wants links on. She’s mostly been looking at lists of top blogs in her niche. I think we may actually need to shoot higher for these (I talk about another prospecting “hack” in our call), but she’s found a lot of good ones already.

In this call, we discuss how to actually EXECUTE guest posting.

So, we’re on a roll with our guest post prospecting, and I think it’ll be fairly easy to get at least 10 links out of our first campaign.

But how do you actually do guest posting?

If you’ve never really executed an outreach campaign, it can be pretty daunting. And because it can be daunting, the very last thing I want to do is overcomplicate it. So, on this call, we focused on two things (1) how to set up a good outreach ecosystem and (2) how to approach different kinds of sites.

What do I mean by “outreach ecosystem?”

Basically, tools.

Here’s how I define “outreach environment”:

  • A place where you can track emails
  • A platform that allows you to use custom templates
  • A way to organize your follow-up
  • A way to keep track of relationships

There are many, many outreach tools out there. The three I typically recommend are (in order of cheapest to most expensive) Yesware, BuzzStream, and Pitchbox.

I won’t go through all of them there, and I really don’t even dive too deep in our coaching call; however, I can tell you that we’ll be using a combination of Yesware and Google Apps. Here’s why:

  • Yesware has a really robust free version, which we’ll use to start.
  • It integrates with Gmail, which greatly reduces the leaning curve
  • It does 90% of what we need from an outreach tool
  • Google Apps will let Colleen email from a branded email address (i.e. colleen@hersite.com)
  • Google Apps increases Gmail’s sending limits by a lot (from 500 to 2,000 daily emails).
  • Google Apps will let Colleen add team members, which could be useful if she ever wants to outsource her outreach

Is this the best way to go? No. Personally, I like BuzzStream. However, both tools combined will cost Colleen $5/mo unless she wants to upgrade, and she’ll be able to do nearly everything at the efficiency we want.

And really, at the end of the day, tools are NOT the most important part of outreach. The most important part of outreach is sending the dang email.

We also talked about how to actually pitch sites.

Here, I honestly feel like Colleen may have more to teach me than I have to teach her. One of her primary skills is communicating with people over email, building consensus, and moving them to action.

That said, I have deployed my fair share of outreach campaigns, and I’ve come up with some general rules for guest posting.

Here they are:

  • For small blogs, don’t pitch right away. Instead, make friends. After you’ve got a friend, then pitch.
  • For big blogs, make it short, sweet, and professional.

This is probably the biggest epiphany I had when I was learning outreach: you have to approach big blogs differently than you do small blogs.

I mean, think about who you’re talking to.

The owner of a small blog probably runs it as a passion project. They’re likely not making money. They’re likely bombarded with spammers on a daily basis. They’re ready to reject you. The simple solution, then, is to break down those defenses first, and only pitch them after they like you.

(…watch our call to see how I like to do this in my first email…)

Big sites are a different story. Here, you’re likely talking to an editor—someone who doesn’t necessarily even care about the site. They just want to do their job and go home. These folks may not want to be friends. They just want to know you can make their job easier. So for them, I like to pitch right up front in a very short email.

(…I show what I like to send these folks in the first email on our call, too…)

Here's the main lesson, though: it's not about your email template. So many people obsess over templates. There's this deep, undying need to know exactly what to say.

That's not important!

I've tested dozen of templates, and you know what? They all work about the same. The overall approach is what really makes the biggest difference.

Overall, we’re simply setting a good strategy and gathering our tools.

That way, we can hit the ground running!

So, that’s where we’re at: the top of the proverbial roller coaster, getting ready to take the plunge.

And who knows, maybe we’ll be ready to reveal the site next time!

Watch the Coaching Call Here:

Or if you would rather listen to the audio, you can download the MP3 Here.

Yes! I Love to Learn

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22 Comments for this Post

  1. Tom

    Tom

    Good info on outreach, but reveal her site? Really? I thought you learned your lesson with APS and BSKG. Would be a shame to see her hard work put at risk by exposing it here. Maybe you guys should all reveal your newer sites that have been doing so well too then? Didn’t think so.

    • David Robinson

      David Robinson

      I am pretty sure that was a given (showing the website) considering this is a case study. This is basically a class project for her and all of us to gain from, so I doubt this will be her one and only website. Its gonna be alright 🙂

      • Tom

        Tom

        Ah, but you are not Colleen 🙂 She (and the others) is putting in a ton of work, should it be a given to throw that away just so we know the site name? I just hope they know there are lurkers here who will rush into her niche the minute it shows promise.

        And if it is a given, maybe the boys should reveal their “case study” sites they touted at the beginning of this project. Wouldn’t you love to see if they are truly as “white hat” as they claim to be?

  2. Julia

    Julia

    Is there anything you can do to improve the sound quality. It is quite difficult to understand Colleen. I can’t thank you enough for all the excellent info!

  3. ADRIAN

    ADRIAN

    BuzzStream is 29/m and only 500 contacts

  4. ADRIAN

    ADRIAN

    BuzzStream is 29 usd not 19

  5. Leo

    Leo

    This is awesome info, and I have a question about guest posting that I hope you can help with.

    How often does the site you reach out to, reject your content for not meeting their quality standards? Do they just toss out the whole idea? Do they ask you for rewrites?

    Thanks for sharing your info with us…

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Hopefully Perrin will stop by and answer some questions here. I’m not a big guest poster myself.

  6. Rahul Rana

    Rahul Rana

    Good Info.

  7. Louie

    Louie

    Perrin/Spencer/Jake

    I find when I ask for links, the sites I’m asking want a link in return. Is it true that reciprocal links do not carry as much weight? And also, aren’t too many reciprocal links bad for a site?

    Unless I’m wrong, how do you avoid not sharing a link back to them without being rude and risking the relationship with that webmaster?

    P.S. Loving NSP3 so far… my skills are getting sharp as a knife / safety razor

    Louie

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Reciprocal links dont carry as much weight, but they still “count”. So, that’s not the end of the world.

  8. Steven B.

    Steven B.

    Does running a contest on your site help with traffic or links?

  9. Larry

    Larry

    Perrin/Spencer/Jake,

    Great to see how far we’ve come since beginning in December.

    I wanted to ask how you include your links into the guest post document you submit. Is it done in html, word file, etc?

    And if so how do you insert the links, is it via ahrefs in html?

    It would be great if you guys could put up a a sample of a guest post you send in, even a mock one. Just to give us an idea of how the formatting (ie, how to add links, images, etc)

    Thanks.

  10. Gabriel

    Gabriel

    I really enjoy your work with niche site. I think niche is one of the most important part when we are planning a new site. Thanks for yours posts.

  11. barry

    barry

    wow this is wonderful, will try some of these tactics. av always had a problem with outreach, perhaps its my approach, so am gonna try this for my new site and let you know how it goes spencer.

  12. Imon

    Imon

    Thank you for a great article. I highly enjoying to reading this post. And I was awesome when I read the “outreach environment” passage.

    Thanks

  13. Vicky

    Vicky

    Hi, I run a site for an arts group (it’s not my niche site, though I have one of those) and some of the arts group members linked from their blogs to the site. Some did it with text links, some with images. Most were Blogger blogs. They were not spammy blogs.

    I looked in Moz backlinks, and many of the links from those blogs had been marked as spam, meaning Moz was ascertaining that Google would see them as spam. The image links had a higher spam score. I disavowed all the links that had any spam score, though I don’t know if disavowing was a good call or not.

    There was no guest-posting involved. The members’ blog content was relevant to the site. Can you explain why the blogs would be seen as spammy, and what do do about it? The experience makes me hesitate to ask small blogs to link to my niche site. Would guest posting be different because you’d have control over the exact content and maybe use more relevant keywords? Thanks.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Unfortunately, I can’t comment without seeing the links.

  14. Henry

    Henry

    7 episodes in and Colleen still hasn’t figured out how to create decent audio. Kinda weak don’t you think? There were so many better candidates that showed at least some technical proficiency. When I first saw her application video I knew this was going to be painful, but still after 7 episodes.

    Am I the only one aggravated over this?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Actually, I’m not sure if the issue is on Colleen’s or Perrin’s end. I’ll bring it up to them. Thanks!

  15. Liz

    Liz

    I’m not seeing any “free” yesware. They have a free trial which runs out which is never a real solution. Their cheapest plan seems to be $12. What am I missing?

    -thanks

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