Fri

09

Jan

2015

How to Work with Bloggers to Promote Your Website

As a small business just getting started in online marketing, the prospect of working with external bloggers might seem intimidating. It takes time to find authoritative bloggers in your space, and effort to persuade them to aid your business. You'll also have to give up some level of control over what gets posted about your business in order to leverage bloggers to improve your online presence.

 

How to Get Blogger BFFs
Nevertheless, I've found through my content marketing work that recruiting and working with bloggers is one of the best strategies to help promote your website.
 

Why you need bloggers

In the online world, reputation is everything; it leads to visibility through organic search rankings, improved customer relationships through brand engagement and familiarity, and higher authority and respect.

 

The only way to improve your reputation is to make your brand known, and bloggers represent one of the greatest vehicles to make that happen. Each blogger has a circle of readers and followers who read and respect their work, and if you can leverage the power of multiple bloggers at once, you’ll quickly build a respectable audience of your own.

 

Learning from outside expertise

 

No matter how experienced you are in your industry, you can always benefit from learning something new. Reading outside blogs can give you insights into new developments, recent occurrences, and other factors that could impact your business. Beyond that, scouting the web for new material can give you fresh new ideas for your own blog, or potential references to link to in order to support an argument you’re making. Never plagiarize, but don’t be afraid to build off of someone else’s idea, or pose your own unique twist on it for your own content marketing efforts.

 

Leveraging guest posting opportunities

 

Bloggers present perfect opportunities to build a mutual audience and increase the visibility of both your brands. If a blogger agrees to feature one of your posts on his/her blog, you’ll immediately gain new visibility, and you’ll benefit from increased domain authority if a blogger links back to your main page. Alternatively, you can request the blogger to write a post for your own blog. In this case, you’ll likely get a share of the blogger’s independent audience to visit your website, and you’ll get even more increased visibility when the blogger syndicates the link through social media.

 

Either way, you can arrange for an ongoing relationship in order to reap these benefits on a regular basis.

 

Facilitating reviews and brand evangelism

 

It’s also possible to build your reputation by asking bloggers to review your products and services. This is a perfect opportunity for independent bloggers who have made a name for themselves by doing reviews. If you send a free sample of your product along with a request, you can usually persuade the blogger to post a truthful written or video review. Such a review will build your brand’s reputation, and increase your domain authority (and therefore, your search visibility as well) through the inbound links acquired from the collaboration.

 

Engaging with the community

 

Visiting external blogs regularly also gives you a chance to engage an outside audience. Bloggers in your niche have likely built up large and opinionated followings who participate in discussions around recent posts. By jumping into these discussions, you’ll have an opportunity to build external links and improve your brand’s reputation as an authority in the space.

 

Advertising opportunities

 

Bloggers also present a unique advertising opportunity. For a fee per click, most bloggers will be happy to host a visual advertisement and a link to your site, or incorporate an affiliate link into the body of a blog post.
 

How to find bloggers in your niche

Realizing all the benefits of a working relationship with bloggers in your niche is appealing, but actually finding those bloggers can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many tools and techniques that can help you track down and filter the perfect candidates for supporting your brand.

 

Blog directories

 

Best of the Web’s blog directory has become the go-to resource since Technorati made the decision to remove its entire blog database from the Web earlier this year. Allowing sorting by many categories and sub-categories, it’s a well-curated source of quality blogs in just about any niche.

 

Blog Catalog is another tool I like using. Considered a “social blog directory,” the site allows you to find bloggers by category (such as art, food, news, politics, etc.), by geographic location, or by broader interests. It’s a fantastic and easy-to-use platform where you can find authorities on almost any subject.

 

Social media searches

 

One of the most efficient ways to find influential online socialites is to scout for them on social media channels. Twitter offers one of the most comprehensive and easiest search functions—you can either search for your category, or search using specific hashtags to find relevant posts. Look for popular tweets and popular individuals with hundreds of thousands of followers. You can even keep track of them by adding them to a custom “list” you keep associated with your own Twitter profile. BuzzSumo is also a popular tool for finding influencers within certain niches or industries.

 

Buzzsumo BuzzSumo is a great tool for finding "influencers" in almost any category or niche.

 

How to connect with bloggers

Once you’ve tracked down a handful of ideal bloggers for your company, take the next step and get in touch with them. Asking a blogger to work with you might seem intimidating if you’re new to the process, but it generally starts as a casual introduction.

 

If you found your blogger through social media, you can send them a tweet or direct message and ask to chat about a collaboration opportunity. You don’t have to be specific, but do imply they have something to get out of the meeting—otherwise, why would they bother? Alternatively, you can reach out to your blogger via email (through a contact page), or simply in the body of a conversation thread on one of his/her posts.

 

When meeting a potential blogger for the first time:
  • Introduce yourself formally, but show off your personality. Most bloggers want to deal with personable individuals.
  • Show that you’ve read their work. Prove that you’re actually an avid reader of their blog, and not just out to take advantage of their social reach.
  • Do your homework. Many bloggers already have information on their sites about the kinds of collaborations they are interested in. Save time by reading those first, and making sure your request falls within their guidelines.
  • Be direct with your request. Don’t try to hide your intentions. If you’re interested in having the blogger review one of your products, say so.
  • Offer something in return. Make it worth their while, either with free products, exposure to your audience, or future opportunities.

 

Remember that your blogger network’s foundation will be long-term relationships, and building those relationships takes time. Not every blogger you meet will be interested in working with you, but the ones that are will likely provide significant value for your brand. Cultivate your relationships over time, and your audience will grow accordingly.

Melissa

Jayson

 

 

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.