Do you have your eye on a special influencer?
Y'know... a certain someone who makes your heart flutter with each new blog post and tweet?
You took a chance. And it paid off.
That influencer now knows who you are. And he or she even replies to you by name... with that super engaging winky emoticon that you treasure so dearly.
But now the time has come.
You're ready to take things to the next level.
You're not just looking for one-off interactions anymore...
You want something serious.
You're ready to invite that influencer to move into your content.
Does that sound about right...?
I hope the answer is yes because today I am going to be discussing the seven best ways to include influencers in your content.
I've seen more posts lately talking about influencer marketing... and with good cause! After all, when somebody notable takes an interest in your work, it can usually be measured in shares, comments, and various traffic metrics. It is, without exception, the fastest way to grow your audience and readership - by "borrowing" from those with a much larger audience.
I'm not talking about Gary Vaynerchuk or Mark Cuban here...
But I am talking about individuals who have a reach at least ten times larger than your own.
(Do you know who I mean?)
I think you do.
See, I believe that most serious bloggers do a pretty solid job of identifying influencers in their niche.
And I have seen bloggers do a better job lately of capturing the attention of influencers through social media, blog comments, and other methods.
But where I believe many bloggers still struggle is figuring out how to take action after a connection is made...
Okay, so-and-so at least knows me by name... but what now? How does that help me?
Well, if you are truly referring to an individual with a much stronger following than your own, he or she isn't likely to go on a rampage of your sharing your standalone content.
(Sorry, but there is nothing in it for them!)
But what you can do is find ways to include that person in your content.
(Well, that changes things a little, doesn't it...?)
You can leverage his or her reach by producing epic content that they would feel compelled to share with their own audience...
And there are seven different ways to do it.
It should come as no surprise that my favorite strategy to leverage an influencer's reach is to interview him or her.
Back in May, I launched my video interview series Better Blogging. Once or twice each month, I conduct a short video interview with a respected blogger to learn his or her best practices.
The fifteenth episode featured Adrienne Smith, upon whose blog I recently published a detailed how-to article should you wish to create your own video interview series.
The truth, however, is that video is just one method of conducting interviews with influencers. If the idea of being in front of the camera isn't appealing to you, you could also consider...
This is a popular technique used by news sites and magazines. A written interview might be set up like...
Matilda Jeffries: So when did you know you wanted to be a model?
Derek Zoolander: I guess it would have to be the first time I went through the second grade. I caught my reflection in the spoon while I was eating my cereal, and I remembered thinking, "Wow! You're ridiculously good-looking! Maybe you could do that for a career."
Be professionally good-looking.
To populate the content of a written interview, you could simply craft six to eight questions that would be highly relevant to the influencer you reach out to.
Remember that influencers in your niche are people, too. In other words, don't spam the same interview questions to a hundred influencers hoping that one will email you back. Tailor the questions to each individual recipient, and ensure you already have consent to a written interview before passing along any questions.
Audio interviews - often set up as a podcast - can be conducted by Skype, phone, in-person, or through just about any medium that will allow you to capture sound.
If a video interview seems daunting, and a written interview seems too impersonal, consider choosing audio.
Remember that without the presence of facial gestures, your tone of voice is going to count for a lot... so if you can, practice beforehand by asking each question out loud and enthusiastically!
Linking to a blog post published by an influencer is a great way to leverage his or her reach... aside from the fact that he or she may share your post, you might even be lucky enough to get a comment!
A word of caution, though.
Please don't link to an influencer just for the sake of linking to him or her. Make sure your links are used sparingly and only in relevant circumstances.
Also, do not count on that influencer being able to magically look into a crystal ball and know that you linked to him or her. Yes, pingbacks can be a wonderful thing, but they will not work in every circumstance.
You will - more often than not - need to manually alert him or her by email or through social media.
Also, don't be afraid to...
Let's suppose an influencer in your niche publishes a post on a topic that you have already blogged on. You may wish to update your post by adding a link to his or hers.
You can either do this by adding a link at the start or end of the post, or by linking to related posts throughout.
Creating your own expert roundup is one of the fastest ways to exponentially increase your reach through influencers. A great example of a successful expert roundup would be 25 Experts Share How to Get More Traction from Triberr by Ileane Smith. It even includes an infographic!
Be warned, however, that collecting and formatting responses from 20-30+ experts is extremely time consuming.
If you find yourself limited on time, and you haven't yet begun to establish relationships with enough authoritative sources in your niche, you can always create a content roundup instead.
A great example of this would be the Weekly Marketing Skinny by Ana Hoffman.
Rather than reaching out to influencers in your niche to contribute content to your roundup, you source it yourself.
In other words, you find the best of the best content online that would be relevant to your readers, compile it in one list, and link back to the original sources. Think of it as a Greatest Hits album.
As with any instance of linking out, be sure to notify the influencer that he or she was included.
A list post can refer to just about anything.Rather than strictly focusing on having an influencer answer a question for your expert roundup, or linking to one of his or her blog posts, you can leverage other things he or she has done.
It could be a list of top social media accounts to follow, or the best online training programs, or the best WordPress plugins...
For instance, Enstine Muki published the 20 Top Bloggers & their blogs to follow in 2015! back in January...
(Do you think he got at least a few shares on that post...?)
Of course, he did. After all, he included Sue on that list... 😉
If you want to swing from the rafters while delivering exceptional content to your followers, offer an influencer the chance to appear on your regularly scheduled program.
Much like an expert witness on trial, the influencer is there to give his or her professional opinion on something - not to be the primary subject of your content.
This arrangement is sometimes easier for an influencer to agree to, and it can add a lot of value and awareness to the content you are already creating.
Here is the thing about guest posts.
I am so grateful that Sue allowed me to write this post and publish it on her blog. Anytime you can convince someone influential to publish your content, that's a huge win.
But it can also work against you, too.
See, every blogger - especially every influential blogger! - has his or her own preferences when it comes to...
...and the list goes on.
Much like sending a demo tape to a record label or a manuscript to a publisher, you might face more rejection than you would expect.
Now, I am not trying to discourage you from guest posting. It is an excellent way to leverage an influencer's reach. But to maximize your chances of guest posting success, have a look at the post How To Fail At Blogging by Andrew Warner that Sue published right here on Successful Blogging...
It covers this very topic.
If guest posting for an influencer is on your radar, here are my two most important pieces of advice:
stalk pay very careful attention to him or her.
What does he or she write about? Tweet about?
You should ideally already have made contact with that influencer, and he or she should have agreed to a post topic before you start writing anything...
As a matter of fact, try having several post topics ready. Assuming they are all relevant, he or she can pick the one most likely to be of interest to their audience.
Gain as much clarity as you can before you start writing. Not everyone is as helpful as Sue with a whole page of guidelines on writing guest posts... some influencers will make you work for it.
Ever got lazy with a Monday blog post?
We all have at one point or another.
It isn't that we, as bloggers, would ever publish something low quality. But we all have certain posts we're more proud of than others.
And if you want to get the greatest return on the investment of your time, make sure what you are writing for that influencer is straight off the top shelf.
It might be your one and only chance to impress his or her audience. And the more epic your guest post is, the more shares it will get from an already sizable audience.
And I hate to tell you this, but influencers have been known to reject a guest post due to poor quality. Sure, he or she might grant you a second chance, but don't count on it.
Hey, are you pretty good at design - but only so-so at writing?
One alternative you could consider offering an influencer is to design an infographic. It could be prepared for an upcoming post that the influencer is about to publish, or for an existing post.
Just one more way to get your name or brand in front of his or her audience...
What has your favorite influencer been up to lately?
Has he or she created or published a new...
What I am referring to here is paid products.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret... even some of the biggest influencers you know need help promoting their premium content. And having other bloggers - such as yourself - review that paid content is a simple way for them to gain additional exposure.
Whether you have already purchased that premium content or not, try reaching out to the influencer and asking him or her what you could do to help promote it. Ensure that you actually feel comfortable endorsing the product and that you aren't simply doing so to suck up.
In other words, you should sincerely believe that your followers and readers would benefit from his or her product.
The main reason being is that you need to keep your review positive. Yes, you should be honest - but if you spend half the review discussing the negatives, you aren't likely to gain much favor with that influencer.
If the option exists for you to promote that content as an affiliate, that would offer a simple path towards structuring a review... if not, find out if the influencer may be able to give you a complimentary copy or online access in order to review their work.
From there, write a blog post about it, create a video review, send details to your mailing list, or share it on social media.
Alternatively, you may be able to do something even simpler by providing a short quote or testimonial for the influencer, as I did for Mike Allton with SBI! for WP.
I have presented you with the seven best ways to include influencers in your content - at least the seven best ways that I can personally think of!
But as the old adage goes,
"Necessity is the mother of invention."
The truth is that there are probably 700 other ways that would be just as effective.
See, a big part of blogging - a big part that I feel many bloggers don't completely grasp - is that there is more to it than just writing great posts.
Successful bloggers spend a small part of their time producing content, and a large part of their time networking and promoting.
In other words, to be a successful blogger, you must also be a skilled marketer. And that marketing extends to influencers.
So, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments below... how else could you include influencers in your content? What else might he or she agree to?
I'm looking forward to personally replying to each and every one of you.
Brent Jones is a freelancer, blogger, and internet marketer. He lives in Fort Erie, Canada with his beautiful wife and two dogs. His website is BrentJonesOnline.