You've been tasked with finding bloggers for your clients’ or your own next blogger campaign. Suddenly what you thought was going to be an easy Google search for "DIY Blog" turns into an overwhelming sea of editorially-curated blogger lists and re-upholstered chairs. In fact, a recent report from Fashion & Beauty Monitor in partnership with Econsultancy cited that 73% of marketers say that identifying the right influencer is the greatest challenge to influencer marketing.
For a successful influencer marketing campaign, you'll need to be strategic and creative with how you go about discovering quality bloggers that align with your brand and deliver results.
Yes, there are commonly used tools like Buzzsumo, GroupHigh, and more which can help through the discovery and outreach process. Using paid tools can be time effective and help scale your efforts, but as this post will go on to show, there are slightly more manual yet much more effective ways to find the right bloggers.
Of course, there’s not one correct way to go about blogger outreach, but the five-step method I’m about to share with you can be especially helpful if you have limited access to resources, are finding that the above tools aren’t yielding the bloggers and results you were hoping for, or if you just need somewhere to start.
Step 1: Pinterest
Pinterest can be a great channel to begin your prospecting process. By searching on Pinterest, you’re able to find relevant content, more often than not, from bloggers who produce high-quality photos and engaging content, both of which are important factors when finding the right blogger for your next campaign. In order to choose the right search terms, put yourself in the shoes of your ideal bloggers’ audience, and thus your target audience. For example, If you're a brand like Ziploc and you’re targeting busy young moms, try searching "quick kids lunch ideas" or "kids snack ideas." This search will result in content likely from mom bloggers or food bloggers, looking something like this:
Browsing through the results, you'll find that the majority of pins are from bloggers. Click through a few posts and see what kinds of blogs you stumble upon.
But if you're not finding the kinds of bloggers you're looking for, try altering your search (try searching “kids craft ideas” instead to yield less content from food bloggers and more from mom bloggers).
Not only is Pinterest a great blogger-discovery tool when used strategically, but also it’s useful for a couple of other reasons. First, finding great bloggers through Pinterest can serve as a starting ground for your blogger-discovery process (we’ll go more in-depth about this next). Second, bloggers who consistently make it to the top of Pinterest search likely have a Pinterest strategy. Whether that includes using relevant keywords and Rich Pins, or having a killer “pinnable” photo, good bloggers know how to work Pinterest, and that can be beneficial for your campaign.
Depending on the type of blogger you’re looking for, Instagram or Twitter can also be great search tools. If you’re looking for tech bloggers for example, you may find it easier to follow popular tech Twitter chats. You can use Twubs to see a schedule of upcoming Twitter chats, or use FollowerWonk to find influential people in the space.
If you’re looking for fashion or beauty bloggers, Pinterest or Instagram is where you may want to begin. Searching commonly used hashtags and browsing through the “Top Posts” section can be a quick and easy way to find bloggers on Instagram.
By doing a search using the #fashionblogger hashtag and browsing through the top posts, you’re able to quickly find fashion bloggers, like Thrift and Threads pictured above.
Step 2: Qualify your first set of bloggers
Once you've found your first set of bloggers by using the strategy above, I recommend using a couple of free tools like MozBar and SimilarWeb to make sure each blog aligns with the KPIs of a given campaign. For example, if your client is focused on increasing their search engine rankings, the Domain Authority of a blog will be most important. However, if the primary goal of the campaign is to drive traffic to your site, Monthly Unique Users and overall blog engagement should be at the top of your checklist.
The biggest, sparkliest bloggers don't always deliver the strongest results. Take the time to read through a blog and look at their past sponsored posts, their social channels, the quality and frequency in which they write, and most importantly, see how their readers are engaging with their content. Keep an eye out for bloggers who have a “cult following”. They may not have hundreds of thousands of followers, but their niche community trusts them, and will follow them to the grave. Those are the kinds of bloggers you want on board with your brand.
It’s important to qualify your first set of bloggers before moving on to the next step. You may stumble upon a piece of evergreen content on Pinterest, but when you click through to the blog, their influence and reach may be quite small in comparison. The next steps are dependent upon finding a great first set of bloggers, so invest the time in building a strong first set.
Step 3: Investigating link parties
Now that you’ve qualified your first set of bloggers, utilize their blogs to gain insight into organic networks of bloggers and their communities; the relationships bloggers form with one another, and the circles that are formed around those relationships.
There are a few different ways to tap into the organic networks of bloggers. My favorite tactic is investigating link parties. If you’re new to the Blogosphere, a link party (also referred to as a linky or link up) is when a host or group of hosts invite others to link up a post on their blogs each week at a given time.
Work it Wednesday link party via The Blissful Bee
Link parties are a way for bloggers to network with other bloggers, to get their content in front of more eyes, and ideally, all parties receive some traffic. Since there are often multiple hosts for each link party, and bloggers typically collaborate with other bloggers who are of around the same size and who they highly regard, targeting the hosts of link parties can be a valuable strategy for quickly discovering similar blogs. Since you’ve already qualified the first set of bloggers, seeing which link parties they host and identifying co-hosts from those link parties can prove to be very successful.
If you find that a blogger from your first set isn’t a host, check to see if they link up on any other blogs and analyze the hosts of those link parties. Most bloggers have badges or a section on their blog where they list all of the link parties they participate in to give credit back to the hosts; use those pages to easily navigate through various link parties.
Step 4: Use backlink tools
You can also use backlink tools like Majestic or SimilarWeb PRO to run a report on each blogger, showing you the referring domains to that site. The report will likely pull up other blogs, and by looking at the number of backlinks, you can get an idea of their relationship. For example, they may host a blog event together, be a part of a link party, or simply value the content and enjoy sharing it with their readers.
The top referring domains for a blog as shown on Majestic.
Step 5: Qualify bloggers (again) and build your initial outreach list
Your last step is to qualify your final set of bloggers by using the methods discussed earlier, and compile the bloggers into an initial outreach list-- your target list of bloggers for the campaign.
In addition to using SimilarWeb and the above tactics, don’t be afraid to ask for media kits! Most bloggers have a media kit which serves as their online portfolio showcasing their blog statistics, social following, sponsorship/advertising rates, and past brand collaborations. Some bloggers make their media kit available on their blog (usually under the ‘Contact me’ or ‘Advertising’ section), but if it’s not listed, don’t be afraid to send a friendly email introducing yourself and asking for their media kit to review. Media kits can be a great way to get insight into what the blogger is able to offer, and what your brand could expect to receive in return.
Media kit kindly supplied by The DIY Playbook
Finding the right bloggers for your campaign can seem like a daunting task, but by utilizing Pinterest, investigating link parties, taking advantage of backlink tools, and qualifying your findings using tools like SimilarWeb, you’ll be off to a great start.
While each blogger outreach specialist has his or her own approach and process, I hope this provided valuable insight into some lesser known ways to navigate the Blogosphere and find the right bloggers for your next campaign.
What are your favorite methods for blogger discovery? Leave a comment or question below! You can also find me on Twitter @taylormhorn tweeting about all things marketing, tech, and burritos.