How to guarantee at least 120 people read your first blog post

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris /

I talk to myself a lot.

This is one conversation I had for years:

Optimistic Me: “Bryan, you should start a blog.”

Pessimistic Me: “I know, but…”

Optimistic Me: “No BUTS. Just do it.”

Pessimistic Me: “But what if no one reads it?”

That conversation went on for 5 years before I finally started this site.

If only…

If only I’d started then, I’d be light-years ahead of where I am now. Instead of 80,000 email subscribers, we could have over 500,000. Instead of 200,000 monthly readers, we could have well over 1,000,000. Instead of… well, you get the point.


Turns out I’m not alone.

This is something that you and pretty much anyone who ever creates anything struggles with too.

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to fix this.

You’re going to learn how to guarantee that 120 people read your first blog post.

No more writing and hoping random people from the internet find you. No more procrastinating because you’re not sure if people will see what you create. I’m going to give you a plan and a nifty outreach strategy that works like a dream nearly every time.

If you’re just getting started, this is for you.

If you’ve been around a bit longer, well, go roll in your piles of traffic and email subscribers and shut up. ?

This strategy has worked for me on multiple blogs and in 3 different industries and is grounded in a principle that goes back 100 years.

Ready?

Note: Be sure to download the free email and outsource swipe copy to help you implement this formula.

The Short Version

People want to know more about what they are interested in.

Find people who are interested in what you are talking about, and tell them about you.

This is exactly what door-to-door salesman have done for 100 years.

Example: If you own a house, you probably have carpet. If you have carpet, you need to clean your carpet. Thus, for 100 years Kirby has been going door-to-door selling vacuums to people.

Pasted_Image_2_27_14__12_24_PM

How do you do this for your blog?

How to guarantee at least 120 people read your first blog post

Step #1: Write your article. 

If you suck at writing or if it’s a struggle, read this.

It’ll teach you how to write if you suck at writing.

CliffsNotes version:

1. Look at your most popular social media updates (or those of your competitors).

2. Turn one of those posts into a question that you can answer. (Check out the link above for examples of this.)

3. Then turn on your voice recorder app on and record yourself answering the question.

4. Transcribe that answer and pretty it up into your first blog post.

I wanted to test this workflow on someone else a while back so, I enlisted Videofruit intern AJ and asked him to “answer a question” about a recent project he completed.

Instead of asking him to write about it, I flipped on my webcam and started recording.

Here is the raw footage:

Then he transcribed the video and cleaned it up. (See the transcription.)

Next, he read this book and went through a short copywriting course.

He was able to go through the transcription and rearrange it into a blog-post-friendly format.

Then he brainstormed 5 headlines:

  1. These 4 Easy Steps Will Have Your Logo Set in No Time
  2. How Logos Should Actually Be Created
  3. What Should Your Design Process Be?
  4. Creating What YOU Want: Cheap and Simple
  5. Steps Non-Creative People Take to Create a Design

He spent a total of 2 hours writing (and 3 hours on learning about copywriting).

This is the first draft: How to create a logo if you suck at design.

Not bad for the first time ever writing a blog post.

Step #2: Find similar articles.

Now your article is written.

YAY!

This is where most people hit publish, anxiously wait around for people to find the article and then get discouraged when no one does.

Just to clarify something real quick:

Your fancy new blog currently looks like this:

So, left to its own devices, no one will be stopping by to hang out any time soon. Once you hit publish, your work is just starting.

It’s time to take that article to the people.

To do that we’re going to find other articles that have been written about your topic, make a list of the people who have shared those articles and tell them about yours in hopes they’ll share it too.

First, write a list of 5 keywords and phrases that describe your post.

Example: This article you are reading is about growing your blog via “targeted outbound email marketing.” Here are a few keywords I drummed up:

  • email marketing
  • inbound marketing
  • how to start a blog
  • how to get traffic to my blog
  • outbound marketing

Now head over to BuzzSumo (use the free trial) to perform a search for the keywords you brainstormed. This will produce a list of the most popular and shared articles with those keywords.

email_marketing_-_Top_Content_Search

Step #3: Make a list of people who shared it.

You’ve written an article and have found similar articles written by other people. Next you need to let everyone who shared the other articles know about yours.

To do that, use a two-step process.

Step 1: Make a list of everyone who shared this article on Twitter.

BuzzSumo makes this part easy. Just click on “View Shares” and export the list into an XLS.

visuals_key

Step 2: Find the email address for each person.

Finding someone’s email address usually isn’t too hard. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Check their Twitter bio.
  2. Use Full Contact and guess popular email syntaxes.
  3. Here are three more in-depth articles that will give you more advanced techniques: Article 1, Article 2 and Article 3.

I usually hire someone to do this part for me. It costs between $0.10 and $0.30 per email, depending on how good you are at the hiring process.

**I’ve included the exact scripts and process I use for hiring folks to help me do this at the bottom of this article.

Step #4: Tell them about your article.

Now all that is left is to email each person on the list you put together in step #3.

You can either outsource this or do it yourself.

If you chose to do this yourself, it will take time. It’s tedious work, so suck it up and do it. Don’t try to automate it. If you do, your email account will either be banned or you will be blacklisted and your emails will be auto spam filtered. Neither of those are good.

Here is the template I use:

Hi [NAME],

My name is Bryan.

I follow you on Twitter and noticed that you [ACTION] one of my favorite articles [ARTICLETITLE.]
That is such a great post.

I was hearing from my readers that they wanted something more in-depth about the topic so I went ahead and created this post: [URLOFDESTINATION]

If you have time I’d love for you to check it out.

Thanks!

Bryan Harris

Here are a few more tips:

Tip #1: Send every email individually. I have a base template I use for each email; however, each email is customized for that individual.

Tip #2: Track your emails. I use Bananatag to track each email I send. This allows you to determine your ROI at the end of each campaign.

Inbox__3__-_bryan_manfisher_com_-_Mail

Tip #3: Track your other data as well:

  • How many emails I sent
  • How many were opened
  • Inbound referral traffic (via Google Analytics)

Bananatag_-_User_Dashboard

A few things NOT to do:

* Do NOT CC or BCC your entire list.

* Do NOT send everyone the exact same email.

* Do NOT use MailChimp or AWeber to send the emails.

What can the results of using this strategy look like?

I have used this formula more than 30 times over the past 3 years. You can usually expect 2-5% of the people you email to share your content. I have seen traffic surges of 200-1,000 page views from sending out 100 emails.

Your results will obviously depend on the quality of your emails, the relevance of the people you are emailing and the quality of your content.

However, if you contact 200+ people who care about what you are writing about, your traffic will increase and your first 120 visitors will be in the bag.

Here is a tweet I received from a recent “Vacuum” formula campaign for this article

Twitter___chrimack__How_to_spend__600_to_get_2____

Bonus Section

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand tedious research work like hunting down email addresses and sending 200+ emails by hand. Some people love that stuff and geek out over it. I’m just not one of those.

However, the results that it brings are huge and unmatched by any other traffic tactic I’ve tried in the early stages of a site. So, after some tweaking, I’ve managed to outsource 90% of this annoying work to a few good people who really like to get their hands dirty in hardcore research and data compiling.

I’ve put together the exact scripts and hiring process I used to automate this.

You can download them by clicking here.

PS: Share in the comment section below what piece of content you’ll be using this technique on first (share the link)

 

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  • Derrick Horvath

    Love this post! It’s something everyone can simply do without spending a dime really. Thanks for the heads up on the Buzzsumo tool. I’m just starting to dive in and already see a bunch of people I should be networking with that are sharing content in my niche.

    I’ll probably implement this on my next article and let you know how it goes.

    When you send out your outreach emails are you looking for “sharers” that have a certain amount of followers on twitter or a certain alexa rating on their website? Basically, if someone only has <1k followers on twitter should I bother writing a custom email to them?

    Also, would be cool on these formulas if you show how to track everything in Google Analytics. In our outreach emails should we provide a unique google URL link so we know how much traffic was sent from Person X for example?

    Thanks for all the information Bryan.

    Derrick

    • Great points Derrick. I use Bananatag to track my individual emails. It shows ‘opens and clicks.’ It would be good to track through GA too, I’ll have to think about the best way to do that.

      Definitely share your results with me.

  • Justinas Vaiciulis

    Hey Bryan! I’ve noticed a lack of comments under this article, which is really surprising, since the advise you share here is incredible. It’s actionable, it’s clear and it’s new.

    I’ve found you through Noah’s newsletter and despite some lack of useful content from Noah it was really worth staying there to discover your blog.

    It seems to be pretty new, but I think you have great things ahead of you. Best of luck!

    • Thanks Justinas! Let me know how you use it 🙂

  • Take Mouri

    Hey Bryan. GREAT Post.

    As I was trying to do the same, I couldn’t help myself but to think, wouldn’t people consider these emails spam?

    I’m interested in your counter argument 🙂

    Thanks for your great work!

    Take from Japan

    • Good question.

      SPAM = “irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients”

      If you’ve done your research correctly the messages are targeted and completely appropriate to the person you are sending them to. Cold email? Yes Spam? Nah.

      • Take Mouri

        Thanks for the reply. That makes sense. Do you normally get an email back or do you just see if they were opened by tracking?

        • Depends on what the emails call to action is. Just ran a campaign for a client that’s purpose was to drive ebook downloads. Low response rate on that.

          However, on other campaigns that are intended to get a response it is much higher.

  • Great stuff, Bryan, Thanks for the tips and tricks.

  • Great post Bryan and really REALLY appreciate the forms to outsource-its a lifesaver!

    This method could be applied to so many outreach strategies and scaled

    I see Derrick below asked if you filtered those you emailed to via their outreach and it got me thinking. From my point of view, I would literally send it to everyone of them. Just because their social media channel isn’t huge, it doesn’t mean all their channels are low followers etc
    Also, they could have huge email lists or blog followers, or even connections to other influencer’s you might have missed perhaps?….

    I know of some sites that have huuuuuge pinterest/fb/linkedin connections but poor twitter coverage.
    (They tried it and it didn’t work with their followers, but could still have a readership elsewhere…?)

    Keep on crushing it Bryan

    Daniel Daines-Hutt

  • pakevin81

    Great article! Do you know of any good alternatives for buzzsumo? It looks like it is $99 a month to run the search that you are talking about in the article.

    • You can use Topsy.com in a similar way and then filter the search results to only see “Influencers” who have shared. Not as many fancy controls as buzzsumo, but free!

  • It’s bad that you pay 0.10 to 0.30 per e-mail mate. U should have told people to follow others to get their attention or at least use facebook sponsored ads. I liked one of your posts a lot. But this one is pretty bad. You shouldn’t have put this article in your checklist. I have left a very nice comment on your post about lead magnets. But this was a true waste of time. Sorry mate.

    • Not every strategy is for everyone. Best of luck.

    • I disagree with you, Levent. I use AWS Mechanical Turk and spend $0.20 to $0.25 per email address and then run those emails through BriteVerify to perform pre-outreach for all my posts. It makes the difference between getting 20-50 people to read my post versus 1,500-2,000 people (excluding additional traffic from referral networks like Inbound.org). With the right content upgrade and lightboxes in place, I turn tons of those people into email subscribers through my blog. Pre-outreach is also how Brian Dean and Neil Patel get 100’s of comments per post.

    • Let’s say you sell consulting or a product with a LTV in the upper hundreds / thousand+ value… 0.10 – 0.30 for a contact that could become a lead or at least a great referral source is a steal.

      I used to be in the business of selling mortgage brokers a name, email address, and phone number for $100+ a pop because the value of what was on the other end was _so_ high.

  • Martha (Smart Road To Riches)

    Hello Brian! This is a great article, especially for beginners. I’ve written a post on my blog with a selection of articles from experts on how to create great content and I’m planning a second post with information how to promote this content. Your article will definitely be included in my list since it has easy to follow and actionable advice. However, I have one question: You mention that once in BuzzSumo you click “View Shares” and export the list of people who shared an article into an XLS. I tried this option but I was prompted to start a free trial of the Pro version. Isn’t it available otherwise?

    • Probably not. Do the free trial.

    • ‘View Sharers’ isn’t available in the free trial version of BuzzSumo Pro.

  • Great method! I used to do a similar one on Pinterest with my other blog. Some of them get thousands of shares with this method. Here’s how I do it:

    1. Publish the article, let’s say it’s about weight loss tips
    2. Find related boards on Pinterest, in this case weight loss boards
    3. Find the board owners’ email address
    4. Tell them I have a new post relevant to their board and ask them to pin it

    In my experience, the success rate is higher than Twitter because some people on Pinterest are pinning more than 30 links per day. They’ll be happy if you give them something to pin.

  • Pierre Bastille

    Great article Bryan!

    Neil Patel recently explained that this is one of the main technique he used to grow his blog to 100k monthly visitors: http://valconmedia.com/how-to-promote-your-blog.

    I just started to apply this technique and already got more than 2k page views in less than 2 days for my last article: https://pierrebastille.com/site-professional-attractive/

    • Well done, nice article. Congrats on the 2k page views, especially for a low ranked domain authority for now. I wonder about the quality of those views since there weren’t any comments (other than mine)? Are the views translating to 2nd page views?

      • Pierre Bastille

        The results are mitigated…
        I have a 0.36 seconds average on page (it’s low since the article is 4000+ words).
        The bounce rate is a bit less than 8% which is good I think.

  • Great share Bryan, thank you.
    It just shows as always that hustle is the way to get it done. Far easier to sit on the couch and watch [insert boring tv schedule here] than to get out there and do the work. When you apply, things happen. Great inspiration article!

  • Leigh Espy

    Wow-laid out very clearly with scripts even. Thanks for this. Was hesitant to give this one a try, but seeing the results that some others are getting inspires me to give it a go. My blog is very targeted to project management, so this could be a great strategy for reaching my very target market. Thanks!

  • Thanks for the advice, I’m going to give this a go w/ one of my recent posts that I want to get out more (http://www.economicalexcursionists.com/best-travel-hacking-tool/)
    Do you ask for a specific action when contacting these people (twitter share, FB mention, etc) and I assume you are always asking for a social media type of exposure from these ppl, correct?

  • Thomas Andre Molvig

    Thanks for sharing and making a step by step tutorial. I did my first outsourcing this week when I went to Fiverrr to have pictures made transparent. Saved me a lot of time and I think I have to outsource more. So, how much do you change in each email and do you recommend using gmail or one with a dedicated domain? Thanks for your reply.

  • Great stuff, thank you Bryan! Trying to figure out how to apply this method to concert-goers in a region who would share show dates and/or artists content.

  • Thank you for the post. This is an awesome way to to get traction for posts in beginning.

    Regarding your suggestion about Buzzsumo, have you tried EpicBeat, http://epicbeat.epictions.com ? It’s similar to Buzzsumo and has more features.

    P.S. I work with the startup behind EpicBeat.

  • Feuza Reis

    Great tips, sharing it with my FB group, love the sahhara dessert referance, so true

  • Great article Bryan, thanks again. I’ve tried variants of this strategy with some success. But need to do it more systematic as you described.

    However, I wish this was possible with every article. It probably is, just need to develop the process over time so I’m sure I’m on the way to that. Here’s an article that this has worked for us. http://onthegridagency.com/2016/01/35-marketing-tips-for-small-businesses/ But this took MUCH LONGER to write than other articles on our blog, plus it took a lot more effort to share this blog to others. It works though since it gets shares, views, and comments.

    Ideally it would be great to do this for as many articles as possible, with each being relevant for a particular niche but also different enough than our other articles so we don’t always email the same group (unless they really like our stuff).

  • Well, that just blew my goddamn mind.

  • Hi Brian, I really like your posts. They are uncomplicated simple steps that anyone can put to practice
    By the way I wrote post long back about how can you use google spreadsheets to send a direct mail to 50 people without cc or bcc. Which also allows email tracking (opens and clicks). Do you mind if I share the post here?

    • Sure dude, share away. As long as it is relevant.

  • Celina Wong

    Oh man! So many takeaways here.

    First of all — recording yourself talking about the issue is such a good advice! A lot of times, there is this gap where we can talk about what we want to say, but we can’t write about what we want to say. Recording it will make it a whole lot easier.

    Secondly, using your competition to leverage your content’s relevance to the market — genius! I’ve been looking into Neil Patel’s Competitive Intelligence tactic (which is very similar, but a whole lot more nerdy). It is so important, because your competitors are actually people that have tested the market already. It is a great way to figure out what they are lacking and that you can provide as value.

    Thirdly, BANANA TAG! I didn’t even know that was a thing outside of MailChimp. I am going to use that all the time now to make sure that I know whether if my emails are read. If it isn’t, at least I know it is probably my headline’s fault.

    Love it! Going to try all these in my next round of email pitches and blog posts. Will keep you updated on it, Bryan!

  • pure awesomeness Bryan… AS ALWAYS! thanks 🙂

  • Hi, Bryan, and thanks for another fantastic and actionable article. Question: can you give us a sample of the subject lines you use for these cold emails? Thanks, Deena

    • One thing that works well is responding to an email they sent you. No subject line needed.

  • This is awesome, Bryan. Would you now replace the manual email process with a retargeting pixel strategy?

  • Awesome tips! I recently wrote my first post and it is so overwhelming trying to figure out the best ways to capture people’s attention. So, will be keeping these tips in mind.

  • Sending email individually… ? I never practice it.

  • a challenging idea..its like doing an approach to a stranger which sometime uneasy but worth trying.. wish me luck..lol

  • suhadi online

    great!!! complete a post and i like this

    cara cantik sehat

  • Great stuff, Bryan, Thanks for the tips and tricks.

  • alexa

    wow
    thanks for posting and hopefully post that you provide benefit for all
    of us and hopefully the article you postingkan helpful and useful bai us
    all, perhaps the success rate is higher than Twitter Because some
    people on Pinterest are pinning more than 30 links per day. They’ll be happy if you give them something to pin.
    http://www.androgame.net