How To Setup Your Personal Blogger Outreach System And Reap The Rewards

Your Personal Blogger Outreach System

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  - Albert Einstein

I walked back into the corner office of my consulting sales partners and closed the door behind me.

We just lost a consulting deal and both of us were emotionally drained. We spent months pursuing this potential client and for whatever reason it came undone. It happens…and it’s never fun when it does.

Now we were both staring at my partners desk which was covered with clutter made up of client pursuit profiles, sales leads and other business development documents. His desk had become a mountain of disarrangement while we focused our energy on that aforementioned lead.

I could feel the heat of my partner’s forehead baking the room as he slowly boiled.

In that moment of difficulty it hit me. It was time we organized and simplified the mess of business opportunity that laid before us and turn this negative into a positive.

Before the week was over I had developed a system for allowing us to put forth the same level of energy and zest as we did on that one lead with multiple. This system accelerated our ability to reach more potential clients faster and with less energy expended.

If it wasn’t for that clutter, discord and difficulty we never would have realized the opportunity to build a more efficient system. I was happy and my partner’s forehead was back to normal.

Whether we are reaching out to potential consulting clients or bloggers the principles are the same and fortunately for you, I’m going to provide you the steps for building your own Personal Blogger Outreach System (PBOS) so your forehead never overheats.

Miller’s law and you

As bloggers we are already familiar with some of the challenges and expectations that other bloggers have. Then why is it difficult to successfully increase our human interaction with bloggers in our niche?

The simple answer is because people are busy.

Not just your target blogger but you are busy too!

When was the last time you made time to consecutively reach out to five bloggers a day for a straight week?

It’s not easy and what makes it harder is the need for following up.

Miller’s Law states that the average human can hold up to seven objects (plus or minus two) in their working memory at any given time. Think of your working memory as your personal productivity gas tank and the gas is your bandwidth. Objects, then, are the things that need your attention.

If you want to reach out to five bloggers in any given day, then there goes some of your bandwidth right there. What happens when you need to follow up with these original five bloggers but now you’re already into tomorrow and reaching out to five more?

See how the forehead can start to boil? And this isn’t taking into account how Miller’s Law affects your target bloggers bandwidth. Do you think he or she always has enough bandwidth to respond to your initial email?

Lucky for us we live in an age where people have faced the same problem and have done things to alleviate some of our follow up woes.

Follow up reminder services allow us to be alerted when someone doesn’t respond to our initial email. Example = Boomerang for Gmail

There are services that allow you to track the analytics of email templates you use when conducting blogger outreach to optimize your communication. Example = ToutApp.

I also have developed a service that provides a new way of emailing by automating all of your personalized follow up emails from the same compose screen thus allowing you to set and forget your follow up emails. Example = PolitePersistence.

The above communication based productivity tools are effective (I’ve used them all) and there is yet still another way to multiply yourself so you can reach out to more bloggers faster and easier.

I call it The PolitePersistence System (PPS). The PPS is a process comprised of seven components for getting responses from anyone and accelerating your human interaction in business.

For our purpose, I am going to frame The PPS as it relates to your PBOS.

Building your personal blogger outreach system

The key to any PolitePersistence System is in it’s ability to plan, build and automate.

(1) PLAN

Create your surround sound box out approach

One of the biggest problems faced by bloggers attempting to accelerate their human interaction with other bloggers is that they are competing with noise.

Noise is not like a competitor where you can look up products, services, capitalization, stock symbol, etc. Noise is an invasive competitor that is as apparent as the air we breathe. What makes noise your most hardened competitor is that it never stops.

Marketing noise is everywhere and it’s especially in the ears of your target bloggers.

Marketing noise can consist of:

  • the 247 visual attempts at our attention every day (ConsumerReports)
  • a sliver of the 58M Tweets a day (Statistic Brain)
  • a fragment of the 89B worldwide professional emails sent a day, before adjusting for SPAM (about 65% of all worldwide emails)

The problem is not that your target blogger is receiving messages from others, it’s that these messages are diluting the effectiveness of your communication.

When your target blogger doesn’t respond, it’s not necessarily because he or she doesn’t want to but probably because he or she is drowning in a sea of marketing noise.

Of course if you land a blogger with your initial communication then kudos. However, not all bloggers are created equal.

Have you ever watched a game of basketball? Well, if you haven’t then you should know that ‘boxing out’ is a fundamental skill of any basketball player. Boxing out involves preventing the other team from getting to their target (in this example the basketball) by using one’s body.

The first step for your pbos is to plan your surround sound box out approach
  1. Determine the best communication channels for connecting with your target blogger
  2. Choose three to five channels that are most relevant to your blogger and niche (you can choose as many channels as you like – I sometimes will choose up to 10)
    1. Core communication channels for bloggers are typically: email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
    2. There are of course tons of niche communication channels like: Pinterest, Meetup, Flickr, etc. Simply Google “List of Social Networking Sites” to see more

By determining and using multiple communication channels for your personal blogger outreach you will be able to have your targeted message sent to your blogger from multiple directions and thus creating a box out effect from the noise.

Thanks to the Mere-Exposure Effect, broadly summarized as the more you are exposed to something the more you find it favorable and to which are more accepting, your continued polite persistence will naturally create the perception of familiarity with your blogger in turn increasing the chances he or she responds to you and thus accelerating your human interaction.

(2) BUILD

Develop your constellation maps

The Path of Least Resistance can both work for us and against us when it comes to building our PBOS.

Without a structure to guide it, our follow up strategies may be mediocre at best typically relying on memory, post it notes or the occasional automated follow up reminder.

When we apply The Path of Least Resistance, which states that people will naturally choose the approach of least effort when pursuing a desired thing or outcome, we can see how we might think that after we’ve sent someone an initial email our attempt at human interaction is then completed.

Sending an initial email is that of least resistance. Sending follow up after follow up requires significantly more effort compounded by each additional follow up. Thus structure is needed.

The benefit to having this structure is the essence of The Willpower Effect. The Willpower Effect is a self-control based psychological principle stating that the less decisions you have to make in a given day the stronger decisions you will make.

For instance, there is a reason why Barack Obama wears only blue and grey suits. Obama says, “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make too many decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”

When reaching out to bloggers, the less variables in your follow up approach the better. In the days of physical paper maps, one would map out their approach for a destination. No variables needed, unless of course there was a detour but typically the path was straight forward.

Speaking of the past, in the days of Christopher Columbus, constellations were used as sources of navigation. Constellations, back then, were essentially maps of the seas.

A Constellation Map, as it relates to The PPS and your PBOS is an approach you develop, using the communication channels outlined earlier, for reaching out to and following up with your target bloggers.

The second step for your PBOS is to develop your constellation map
  1. Out of your selected communication channels, determine which channel you will use first, second, third, etc.
  2. Next, write your communication templates for each channel
    1. Use variables in your templates as necessary (i.e. <First Name>, <Blog Niche>, etc.)
    2. Keep templates in order. For instance, if email was your first channel and your next channel was a LinkedIn request you might say “Hey Joe, Wanted to follow up from the email I sent. Hope we can discuss XYZ. Let’s connect.”
  3. Determine the time frame for how long you want your communication string to last
    1. For instance, if you are going to follow up four times with individual bloggers do you want to space your communication over the course of a month? In this scenario, your target blogger would receive communication from you about once a week.
  4. Once you have mapped this it’s time to make the intangible tangible.
    1. Using your communication channels as navigation points, draw a constellation with them. It can be on paper or over image editing software – it doesn’t matter just draw. The constellation can be of anything that motivates you as long as you have your communication channels throughout as navigation points. See a few examples for past clients:

Art Blogger Affiliate Constelation

Financial Advisor Client Constellation

Non-profit Event Constellation

Yes, that’s a beer constellation.

  1. As you can see, any shape is acceptable as long as you have your communication channels and they are numbered in order.
  2. It’s important to remember that every Constellation Map has an associated spreadsheet. You can see an example of the Art Blogger Affiliate outreach spreadsheet here. Here are a couple of points to remember about the spreadsheet:
    1. Remember how we mentioned earlier about there sometimes being a detour on your map but otherwise it’s straight forward? Well, every outreach attempt to a blogger is different. Some may be straightforward (you’ll go through each of your steps) while others won’t. For instance, some bloggers may not have an “Etsy” account, in which case you go around Etsy and continue on.
    2. Your connection steps are 100% associated with your communication channels. Each communication channel becomes it’s own outreach step as seen in the orange highlighted columns.
    3. The template columns, highlighted in blue, contain the templates for each of your communication steps. This way all of your communication tools (contact info, steps & templates) are all located in one place. The templates are located past the horizontal and vertical black lines as to not affect the layout of your contact info and step rows/columns.
    4. Each tab in the PolitePersistence System spreadsheet is a separate communication string. For instance, if you are a health blogger and want to connect with bloggers for your new health product you may decide to break up your blogger outreach by (1) cardiovascular, (2) strength and (3) Diet. You would then have three tabs for each of these outreach approaches.
  3. You might be wondering why draw the Constellation Map in the first place if you will use the spreadsheet…here are the reasons why:
    1. Visual Motivation – You should print out and hang your Constellation Map in your workspace. Remember, the less decisions you need to make about doing something the greater chance you have of doing it. Seeing your next step will make it easier to check off.
    2. Analytic Motivation – In the beginning you should use each Constellation Map on about 25-50 contacts at a time. Sticking with a low number allows it to be more manageable. As bloggers respond you will make a tally mark on your printed out Constellation Map. Once you’ve successfully completed each step in your communication string for each of your bloggers you can step back and see the success of your outreach communication string. If 38 of your 50 bloggers responded positively then you had a success/response rate for that Constellation Map of  76%.
    3.  Optimize – After reviewing adequate data from your approach you can determine if switching communication channels or editing templates will prove beneficial. Once tweaked – print a new Constellation Map and do it again… saving high response Constellation Maps as trophies.

(3) Automate

Multiply yourself

What good would a system be if it can’t be automated?

Up until now you’ve learned most of the steps necessary for using The PPS to lay the foundation of your PBOS. You could literally take the above and go to work manually but the above is designed in such a way that you can literally hand it to a virtual assistant (VA) and move on with other important aspects of your blog like content creation, etc.

VA’s are probably one of my favorite things next to wine and burritos.

Unfortunately, attracting high quality VA’s is outside the scope of this post, however, there are plenty of excellent sites on the web for learning how to do just this. Googling “How to hire a virtual assistant” and “virtual assistant hiring templates” should help get you started.

I’ve always been a fan of Elance since I think I was one of their original users back in the day but there are a ton of similar services. Here are a few others:

If you don’t want to do the VA search yourself but rather work with a company that specializes in providing you a qualified VA you can check out:

The third step for your PBOS is to hand your outreach responsibilities to your VA
  1. In your virtual assistant hiring template / requirements be sure to include the spreadsheet link (considering you are using Google Drive to manage your spreadsheet) or the column headings in order for your VA to know what the end deliverable looks like. Be clear that this spreadsheet is expected to be completed for 25-50 bloggers in your niche.
  2. Be aware that it may take working with 2-3 VAs before you find one that meshes with your style.
    1. I have gone to the lengths of hiring 3 VAs, at one time, with the stipulation that they are competing against each other for a longer term engagement. Depending on how they complete a given task will determine who sticks with the project.
      1. In our case, asking the VA to complete the information / site section of the template will give you slightly more insight into how your VA works, the kinds of questions he or she will ask, and how he or she will communicate with you.
  3. Once you feel comfortable with a particular VA it will be time to turn over some of your communication channel credentials in order to have your VA go to work on your behalf.
    1. The idea of giving a VA your login information for things like your Twitter account and email may seem crazy but there are tools that alleviate some of the risk of your VA going rogue and sending your contacts pictures of Miley Cyrus’s butt from the VMAs (which, by the way, I’ve never heard of any qualified VA going rogue). Here are some thoughts:
      1. Hootsuite and Buffer App for outreach over social media
      2. Create a domain name email address for your VA (i.e. VA@YourDomain.com)
      3. Most communication channels will involve your VA acting as your VA and not you so you don’t have to worry about handing over your personal email credentials.
  4. Lay some ground rules for your VA once he or she is comfortable with their task and goal (which is to get you responses):
    1. I personally ask my VAs not to inform me of negative responses or people who aren’t interested in what I have to offer. However, I sometimes will personally follow up with these individuals and ask a polite “Why are you not interested?” to gain some market feedback.
    2. Depending on the ask to my target bloggers I will draft a response template that my VA can send if there is a standard response expected. (i.e. I am offering bloggers a beta license to my product, they respond positively and I have my VA use a response template without involving me.)
  5. Lastly, be sure your VA knows that his or her follow up responsibilities involve two tracks:
    1. First, is completing The PPS spreadsheet you provided him or her. They are tasked with uncovering relevant bloggers, finding their contact and site information and using the templates you outlined in the same spreadsheet to follow up according to your Constellation Map.
    2. Second, is to follow up, and be politely persistent with, any blogger that you send him or her.
      1. If you thought the above was beneficial – check this: Whenever I’m reading my RSS feed, Zite, or any other blog or news aggregator and come across a relevant article I will simply forward it to my VA and ask her to follow up. I don’t need to say another word because, by this point, she will have already been conditioned to know how to proceed based on my PPS. This ad hoc blogger gets added to our list and life is good.

You have just received a crash course on how to build your own personal PBOS using The PPS.

If you are interested in reading more about The PolitePersistence System or learning about the Gmail App, go to www.PolitePersistence.com and click subscribe. You will be receive only amazingly helpful information about hustling to accelerate your human interaction in your business.

Email on!

Note from Adam: John did mention the use of templates in the post, but I’d like to stress the importance of ensuring that these are as personalised as possible. While templates are a necessity you should create your own and make them as compelling as possible.

A lot of bloggers get so many emails that you can easily find your emails going straight to trash.

So keep it personal and keep it relevant.

You now know how to put a great system in place. Whether or not you can automate this and hire a VA and if you can’t now, then you will be able to later. Now you need to construct compelling emails that won’t get junked, read this post to learn how I do it.

  • PolitePersist

    Thanks Adam for the opportunity to share our system for connecting with bloggers. I will also second your closing comment about personalizing your template as much as possible. I would also say keep your templates: personal, relevant and SIMPLE. The goal of your PBOS is to get the conversation started. Your templates should have one goal in mind – get a response. The simpler the request in your email (i.e. ‘Are you interested?’) the higher chance your target blogger will respond.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      My pleasure John. Thanks for contributing.

      Totally agree with you – simple is much better. If your emails are too complicated then they have no chance.

  • http://www.burnoutpassiveincome.com/ Clayton Collins

    This is pretty helpful. I’ve been trying to wade through the waters on getting a VA. I’ve never had one really, but I’m at the point where I think it is really coming closer to the forefront.
    Now just to bite the bullet and go do it.

  • http://www.stuartjdavidson.com/ Stuart Davidson

    Thanks for sharing – useful article John.