With the ever-increasing influence of PR in wider digital marketing campaigns, it might be the right time for you to consider how you can achieve better results with these forms of activity in mind.
Blogger outreach is a specific avenue of PR that I’ve been involved in over the past six years, with experience in all aspects from researcher to event host. As a food blogger myself, I have seen outreach efforts from both sides, something which has given me a bit of an insider’s view on how things are done.
There are many reasons you might want to work with a blogger, whether to let them know about some exciting news (maybe a new product launch for a brand or range they love), invite them to attend an event or review a product/service or ask them to share something with their readers which would benefit them (a content marketing piece).
Of course there is no one “right” strategy, and many will utilise elements of all or some of the examples I’ve demonstrated here. However you choose to work with bloggers, you’ll need to know how to find them in the first place, and I’m here to share some of my secrets with you.
So, how do you find the right bloggers for your campaign?
Blogger Databases and Popular Blog Lists
There are companies around that specialize in blogger databases, and they will give you access to one in exchange for a small investment. This can be money well spent if you have ample budget and have daily needs for this information, but this isn’t often the case for smaller brands and agencies who have clients that cover a wide range of sectors.
If your budget is limited, you might want to look towards to some free or lower cost databases. I recently discovered the Foodies100 index of top food bloggers – something I’d love to end up on in the near future – and any person can currently have access to the top 100 list. For free.
Right now I know that Tinned Tomatoes was the number one food blog in June, so it tells me that the timing would be pretty ideal for a collaboration with plenty of visibility.
There is also Tots100, HIBS100 and Trips100. So if you’re looking for food, parent, home/interior or travel bloggers, you’re probably going to want to head to those sites pretty swiftly. Now if only you had a scraper tool installed on your web browser…
For a more ethical approach to using these types of lists, you can pay a subscription fee to gain access to the full database of bloggers rather than only the top 100. Many other sites such as the Professional Travel Bloggers Association allow you to have a no-commitment trial of their blogger search engine.
Twitter Stalking (AKA Chats)
If time allows, take to Twitter and figure out when groups of bloggers come together to talk about topics that interest them. You might have seen people tweeting “A1….”, “A2…” and the like – these are in response to numbered questioned that form the wider chat. Helpfully, most Twitter chats by bloggers have associated hashtags so they can all keep up with each other’s responses.
Some of the chats that I take part in include the #fdbloggers chat on a Thursday evening (8pm GMT) and #pantrychat on Tuesday evening (9pm GMT). There are many, many more across loads of different topics and sectors.
Whether you observe these chats or want to actively take part, you should try and take note of who is getting involved on a regular basis so you can learn names and faces. If you want to discover a bulk of bloggers in one go, this can be a great strategy.
Followerwonk is an excellent Moz app – for the most part it is used to make observations about your own Twitter successes and opportunities, but it something that I use for blogger outreach research too. You can gain access through a free 30 day trial, or you can link your existing Moz account if you have one.
The ‘compare users’ feature is especially helpful so you can gain wider insights from your Twitter chat observations. Once you’ve found up to three bloggers who you think are ideal influencers on a topic, you can compare users they follow and compare their followers. If you see overlaps in the people they follow, you can start to judge who these influencers see to be their influencers too.
Linkdex has an Entity Search tool which can also be quite handy. If you enter a few keywords, it will show you authors who write on those topics; when you click on each author, a small amount of information will be shown on the right hand of the page including a bio, their domains and social media profiles.
Don’t forget that you can use backlink tools like those on SEMrush and Ahrefs to help you with finding the right bloggers for your campaign. My recommendation is to enter the URLs of influencers you have already found to generate reports that show you referring domains to those sites.
With any luck, these reports will include some other blogs within the results. And if they do, you’ll also see the number of backlinks from one blogger to another which could give you some indication into their relationship; perhaps they attend events together or regard them highly enough to mention them regularly.
On SEMrush, you can click on the number of backlinks in the report to see a breakdown of the exact source and target URLs, useful if you want to do a bit further digging to see how the bloggers have worked together previously.
It’s important to remember that you are going to need to do some manual work to review blogs if you want to do the best possible job. There are some definite benefits of this though, including if you stumble across a write up of a blogger meet-up or event.
Other brands have found me through these types of posts in the past, which have opened up a number of doors to me as a blogger (think some pretty delicious review opportunities). All it takes is for one blogger to reference other people who attended, and you’re onto a winner.
Whilst you’re doing these manual reviews, make sure to write down key information such as contact details and any available blog statistics to add to your records.
My final tip for finding great bloggers is to build a positive reputation for yourself online. If you annoy one blogger, a handful more could be dissuaded from working with you. You’ll know when you’re on the right track when bloggers actually start referring other people to you, something amazingly helpful for reducing the time you spend doing research.
Hopefully by using a combination of these tips, but always the last, you will start to generate a better list of bloggers to contact for your future outreach campaigns.
I’d love to hear about your own tips and whether you’ve found mine helpful, so please leave me a comment below or get in touch with me on Twitter @HannahFButcher.