When I started doing outreach, I had no idea tools for finding and contacting influencers even existed.
I built my list of over 1,000 bloggers one email at a time.
Sometimes, I wonder if my project at Elite Daily would have turned out differently if I had used tools like Ninja Outreach, Pitchbox, GroupHigh, Inkybee or Outreachr.
Yes, I use a few tools to help with outreach a little bit, but more on those later.
By not using outreach tools, I became a master in research and crafting the perfect emails to capture my prospects’ attention.
Here’s why you should try reaching out to people without any tools to help you.
Outreach tools help you cut corners, and why would you want to do that?
Here are some ways outreach tools can get in the way:
- Platforms and products that promise you’ll save time by using their outreach tools won’t let you down. It will go faster! But successful outreach takes a long time for a reason: customization.
- Generic templates help you craft your message, but they end up sounding robotic. Most people can spot a template faster than they can respond with a “No thanks.” Instead, you need to tailor messages to the type of person you’re reaching out to.
- Their search functions prioritize vanity metrics. The problem? People can buy followers these days. Engagement is more important than metrics. Also, you can’t reach out to someone and say, “I’m reaching out because you have a shit ton of followers on Instagram.”
The strategy everyone uses… that never works.
A common belief in outreach is that more is better. It’s logical. The more people you email, the more responses you’ll get.
Even though outreach tools help you find people to email, you still have to go back and vet them. You have to look at their website, material and social media content anyway, right? (Most people don’t, which is why pitches tend to be so off the mark).
At Elite Daily, I spent a few hours every day I finding prospects. On a good day, I would find 50 in three hours without using a database.
Even though it takes a long time to find people to reach out to manually, by doing that you’re getting a headstart with research.
Nothing can beat the quality of manual searches. You can find EXACTLY what you’re looking for, instead of people that only kinda sorta fit the bill.
You’re probably asking, how do I even find people without using a database?
Finding influencers manually isn’t hard. You just need to be resourceful and plugged in.
I religiously use Twitter and Facebook suggestions to find new people.
I also use blogrolls and listicles that feature bloggers and influencers to find people in specific niches.
The people who wrote those lists have already done the work for you. Use them!
Recently, I joined loads of Facebook groups for bloggers. And when I was at Elite Daily, I used to poach influencers and writers from our platform’s competitors like Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Refinery29 and Bustle.
Another way you can easily find new influencers and people to reach out to is by searching hashtags and keywords on Twitter.
Twitter has always been the most powerful tool for me. I follow everyone I reach out to (yes, I’ve unfollowed some) but making that first point of contact is CRUCIAL.
There are probably dozens of other ways to find the perfect people to reach out to that don’t involve purchasing any tool or signing up for any platform.
Think about this: Your competition uses outreach tools.
Be different. Dare to do it manually. Go for quality, not quantity.
Want to know how I got a 37% acceptance rate and a 57% response rate?
It wasn’t because Elite Daily is a brand that influencers wanted to be a part of.
I put the time into research. I treated influencers like people, not platforms. I didn’t use fancy tools. You don’t need to either.
There are only three tools for outreach that are approved by me (so far).
YesWare was so helpful when I was emailing over 50 people a day and needed to set reminders to follow up with influencers that had expressed interest, but were busy. A good follow-up strategy can save your ass. I made a point to follow up one week after emailing them instead of two or three days, which is what most PR firms do. You want to stand out from PR firms when doing outreach.
Pssst! I still use an email tracking system. So I can totally see who’s ignoring my emails, FYI. You know who you are!
JustReachOut has some of the same features that tools like NinjaOutreach has, where you can find journalists and influencers who write about the topic you’re interested in. But, its templates are more varied and much better than templates on other platforms.
Another awesome feature is that you can search posts on Reddit and Quora through the platform by keyword.
BuzzSumo is a great way to see what topics, keywords and articles have gotten a lot of traction in a specific amount of time. It helps me craft pitches with story ideas that are super relevant, and keeps me up to speed with what’s “on-trend.” It changes every few months, so if you want to pitch relevant stories, you need to know what people are talking about most right now.
Note that no one paid me to write about these platforms, but JustReachOut is a client of mine!
Outreach tools may help you save time on large scale outreach projects, but like anything produced in batches, you sacrifice quality.
If you’re just starting outreach to promote yourself, your brand, to grow your network or to pitch your story to journalists, I recommend you do it manually.
Create your own tracking system. Stalk people’s social media profiles. Write emails from scratch a few times, after reading my post about how to write emails people actually respond to, of course.
And as always if you want to practice on me first, you can reach out here: taliasarakoren(at)gmail(dot)com.