Is your online business a ghost town?
Nobody reads, comments, shares, or subscribes. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to get any traction.
I feel you — because in 2009, that was me.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking: If only a popular blogger or three would notice my blog, product, or service, and mention it to their audience!
That would surely start the wheels turning and help you build your list.
The big names are all super-busy people. And scores of people ask them for help each day. You could try to guest post for them as a way to connect, but that’s increasingly tough to pull off. Increasingly, many big sites don’t accept guest posts.
How can you stand out from the crowd and get influencers to help you? Here are five ways that have gotten results for me and built my own blog audience to 17,000 subscribers:
1. Target a post
Definitely don’t wait to get discovered by a big blogger in social media. Connect or follow them, start sharing their stuff and commenting on their blog (if they allow that), so that your name becomes a bit familiar.
Next, write a post for your blog tailored to that popular blogger’s exact audience. Then, send a tweet or comment along the lines of: “@Thoughtleader – your readers might enjoy: LINK.” You might get a response like this one I got, after targeting ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse with tailored content for his readers:
2. Learn at their feet
If you feel you’re ready for a mentor but haven’t managed to land one, here’s a foolproof way to connect: Take one of their classes. Not the kind that runs on autopilot, but the type where the teacher is directly involved with students.
Yes, this costs money. If you are a highly engaged participant, it will give you a chance to interact directly with your target influencer. And it’ll be worth every dime.
In my case, I signed up for a blogger community led by a couple of influencers I admired. The ongoing membership community course I signed up to was started by Zen Habit’s super-successful Leo Babauta. It was then known as A-List Blogger Club (now A-List Blogging Bootcamps). At the time, it was just $20 a month.
I was a super-engaged member of A-List, leaving literally hundreds of comments and questions on their forums. This brought me to the attention of one of A-List’s other leaders, Mary Jaksch.
Connecting there with A-List’s Mary Jaksch was a life-changer for my blog — she encouraged me to enter her own blog Write to Done's “Top 10 Blogs for Writers” contest. It never would have occurred to me to do that at the time! I had a very small audience, maybe a couple hundred subscribers at the time, and felt like I still had a ton to learn.
When I was named a winner in this contest, it sent me an avalanche of new readers, and I soon cracked 1,000 subscribers. It never would have happened without connecting with Mary through this paid membership, and giving her a chance to get to know me and my blog a lot better.
I know writers who’ve taken $10,000 mentorship programs, in order to connect with a particular influencer! It can be a good investment when you think about how transformative it could be for your blog to have a top mentor to steer you in the right direction.
3. See if you can help
If you follow a popular blogger on social media, you may see them commenting that they’re swamped, or that they really need to hire an editor. Offer to help them!
One thing experts are often looking for is a loyal blog reader or course student to profile, in order to promote their offerings. If you take a class or use an expert’s tip and it helps you, be sure to let them know your results—and share your willingness to be a case study.
I’ve been a case study for four different mentors of mine at this point, giving them a chance to showcase how their advice works in a real situation.
Serving as a case study helps your guru build their business and make more sales. You can bet they’ll be grateful—and happy to share your next blog post with their audience.
4. Connect through comments
Commenting on popular blogs with insightful thoughts and ideas is a time-honored way to get on a top blogger’s radar. I’m sure the many comments I left on Copyblogger posts helped me to start guest posting there. My name was probably familiar to the staff by the time I made my pitch.
You never know what connections you can make off a thoughtful blog comment. As it happens, a comment I left on Copyblogger two years ago led to connecting with Aris here at NinjaOutreach, and the invite to write this guest post!
Here’s the comment that Aris noticed:
5. Meet them live
The strategies above tend to help you connect with one influencer at a time. What’s even better? Attend a conference where you can meet many influencers at once. Yes, I’m talking about meeting the giants of your industry, live and in person.
That might scare the crap out of you—it sure did me!—but it’s one of the best ways to add many influencers to your circle of friends.
For instance, my first live event for bloggers was the Successful Online Business Conference, or SOBCon, in May 2011. This Chicago event—put on by Successful Blog phenom and super-inspiring speaker Liz Strauss and leadership expert Terry St. Marie—was my chance to get a massive expertise injection from many top online businesspeople.
The reason I took the plunge on this (and paid $750 I didn’t have at the time) was to meet one of my online mentors in person: master marketer and conversion expert Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. There is nothing to strengthen your connection to a thought leader like spending some face time together.
Who else was at that event, besides Derek? Oh, Chris Brogan, Chris Guillebeau, Chris Garrett, Copyblogger’s Sonia Simone, Mirasee’s Danny Iny, Jonathan Fields, Michael Port, Tim Sanders, and so much more. I tried not to stand around with my mouth hanging open.
It might have been impossible for me to get in the door to talk to any of these online-biz experts otherwise — but meeting live, I could hang out with all of them. We sang karaoke at a dive bar. I asked lots of questions.
One attendee turned out to have a similar audience to mine, and she retweeted a link to one of my e-books for months on end, after we got back home—just to be nice! Just because we’d formed a relationship at this event.
Before attending, I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever make my event fee back—but SOBCon would give me the insight, motivation, and support I needed to create my most lucrative product, a community site for freelance writers that has 1,200 paying members.
I’d been musing about creating it before SOBCon…but I left Chicago inspired, and thinking, “I need to stop wondering if this would work and freakin’ go for it.” Three months later, it was launched.
A couple years later, a tip from Danny Iny would show me how to earn $30,000 more from a class of mine that was seeing slow signups.
That’s a pretty nice return on $750, huh? I’ve attended many live events since, including Chris Buillebeau’s World Domination Summit, and the New Media Expo (formerly BlogWorld). Live events are a reliably excellent way to meet many mentors and collaborators. I often come home with lists of great ideas to implement that roll out for months afterwards.
When you meet influencers live, you’re not ‘Facebook friends.’ Instead, you have the chance to become real friends. These are closer relationships where you don’t have any trouble getting that influencer to blurb your book, share your post, or even mention and link to you on their blog.
Shake it up
If you’ve been cold-emailing influencers trying to connect and getting nowhere, consider shaking up your routine.
Meet them live. Take a class. Use a tip and be a case study.
Break the mold and figure out an innovative way to get their attention and form a relationship. It’ll be well worth it.
How have you connected with Influencers? Leave a comment and share your strategy.