How to Build Relationships with Popular Bloggers (Even If It Scares You Silly)

by Katharine Di Cerbo


You know you’re supposed to be reaching out to popular bloggers.

After all, without help, how will you compete with the Internet’s 150 million other blogs?

Popular bloggers already have large audiences. They can introduce your content to thousands of readers you’d never otherwise reach. They can introduce you to other powerful people online.

But something has been holding you back.

Every time you think of reaching out, it kicks in …

The fear of rejection.

“Why would famous bloggers pay any attention to me?”

“They’ll know I’m a newbie and scoff in disgust!”

Don’t worry – these feelings are common. It’s freaking awkward to throw yourself in a total stranger’s face and ask them to help you.

Fortunately, though, there is a way to befriend influencers and get them to promote your work without straying too far from your comfort zone.

In fact, if you do it right, outreach can easily feel less scary, more natural, and even invigorating.

Let’s find out how…

Why Contacting Popular Bloggers Feels like Staring Down a T. Rex

If you look back on your life, you’ll likely be able to remember experiences where you “put yourself out there” and risked rejection. Times where you acted despite your fear.

Like the first time you asked a crush out on a date. Or even just summoned the courage to speak to them.

It’s scary as hell. And when it backfires, it’s pure agony.

And when you read another post about blogger outreach, you probably think: “Now I’m supposed to go through more of that torture but this time with famous bloggers?”

That’s why this post isn’t going to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway.

What if I told you there was a way to put yourself out there in front of important Influencers that’s significantly less nerve-wracking?

You see, by starting a blog and building relationships online, you don’t have to move right in and risk rejection by asking for something right off the bat.

Fortunately, bloggers aren’t like cute strangers in coffee shops; you don’t have to pounce on them the moment you see them or risk missing your chance.

Instead, you can go about building relationships with your favorite influencers progressively and steadily, which is easier and helps you develop confidence.

Using progressive exposure (the same technique used to help people overcome real-world phobias), we can reduce the fear associated with blogger outreach.

And before you know it, you’ll be feeding your T. Rex warm milk out of a garbage can in your backyard instead of crouching in front of him frozen in terror.

Let me show you what I mean.

16 Incrementally-Scary Steps to Cure your Fear of Blogger Outreach

The following steps are carefully designed to cure your phobia of contacting popular bloggers and build outreach muscles made of pure courage.

You’ll learn to handle everything from piece-of-cake preliminaries all the way up through to the most anxiety-provoking moves (like asking to be a guest post author or asking for a link from a popular website to your own blog).

And since the steps are in order from least-scary to most-scary, following them sequentially (probably over the course of a few weeks or even months) will ensure that no one step feels completely insurmountable or causes an overwhelming level of anxiety.

That said, they will still feel scary at times. But it’s totally okay to repeat steps until you feel prepared to move forward (or even go backwards and repeat earlier steps).

A beneficial side-effect of this process is that popular bloggers will respond better to this incremental approach than to a brave (but probably misguided) attempt to get a big favor from a cold start.

Following these steps should feel a lot like the development of real relationships. (And, in fact, it is!)

Step 1. Create a “Terrifying” List of Target Influencers

Before firing up your social media engines or writing any emails, you must create a list of appropriately intimidating targets – between 10 and 20 people influential in your niche is about right.

While merely a preliminary step that actually involves no risk of rejection whatsoever, creating a strategic list of popular bloggers should still give you a few butterflies in your stomach. After all, the prospect of contacting these people just became a little more real.

Making your list will also help you visualize your outreach journey, thereby equipping you with a courage-enhancing sense of control over what is to come.

Remember, try to pick influencers whose blogs you really do enjoy reading. Your enthusiasm for their work will help you overcome any discomfort you may feel later in the process.

And if this step doesn’t make you feel even a tiny bit nervous, you may not be picking big enough influencers.

Step 2. Follow, Follow, Follow

One of the secrets to making anxiety-free contact with popular bloggers is to keep an eye out for natural opportunities to engage with them.

These “engagement cues” (discussed in more detail in Step 8) are overt invitations from the influencer to interact with them. For instance, they might ask for opinions or personal stories related to a specific topic.

And one of the common places these invitations appear is on social media.

You likely already follow some of your target influencers on your favorite social media sites,  but the best way to catch these engagement cues is to methodically follow all of your targets on all of their active social media accounts.

Because you’re not just a casual social media user anymore; you’re a budding power-networker!

You’re not going to act on these invitations just yet (unless you’re feeling brave); just notice when and where they occur.

This step is also important for courage-building because it is public; influencers may notice you via notifications of new followers.

Step 3. Invite Your Influencers into Your Inbox

Even though by now you are keeping good tabs on your target bloggers via social media, you’ll want to subscribe to all of their email newsletters too.

Many popular bloggers consider their email subscribers as having a kind of special status – after all, your email address is a precious thing to give them.

Accordingly, many bloggers give their subscribers special treatment. Some, like Chris Brogan, publish subscriber-only content, and others, like Paul Jarvis, send content to their subscribers before it appears on any other platform.

Email subscriptions are a low-stress way to get noticed by influencers (many will check their new signups daily or weekly) and their “welcome to my list” emails are also a great place to look for engagement cues.

So as the emails start to roll in, take note of which influencers invite you to interact with them.

influencers who engage

The great thing about these welcome emails is that they are sent out automatically all the time, so any reply is not time-sensitive. You can wait until you have built enough courage to do so.

Even if the messages don’t directly invite you to respond, check the email header for a reply-to email address that appears friendly and personal, like the following one from Michael Hyatt.

michael hyatt

Also look out for addresses that strongly suggest replies are welcome, like hello@ or replies@.

Step 4. Add Big Names to Handy (and Flattering) Lists

Twitter lists and Facebook interest lists can create a noise-free environment for tracking your targets by filtering out updates from the other people you follow.

This will make it easier to spot those previous engagement cues.

But Twitter lists have a valuable extra feature – you can choose to make them public, which means that the influencers are notified that you’ve added them.

adding influencers

So you must be strategic about your public list labels. A popular blogger may delight in being added to your “Best Technology Bloggers” or “Personal Development Gurus” list but will probably bristle if added to a “Blogger Who Might Share My Stuff” list.

Step 5. Become a Shameless Oversharer and Namedropper

You may already be sharing your target’s updates on social media.

But sharing in the shadows won’t help you build confidence – or a relationship – so the key here is to make sure they know about it.

So on Twitter you must utilize @mentions. In the example below, notice how @FitForceNow not only retweets @reedmylips18 but mentions her in the tweet as well. This strategy dramatically increases the chances that your influencer will notice (and appreciate) your share.

influencers notice your share

To increase the impact of your shares (albeit while activating quite a few more nerves), first reply directly to your influencer with a specific compliment (see Step 7), or create another opportunity to get their attention.

Here is an example where I asked for some help in crafting a shareable headline:

shareable headline

By taking this approach, your influencers know you’re not just sharing their content but reading it too. That makes you a follower worth remembering.

Step 6. Link to Influencers’ Posts from your Blog

Linking to your target bloggers’ posts from your own blog lays an important foundation for later steps because it gives you an excuse to ask for a share or even a link.

But right now, those are scary things to ask for, so all you’ll do is be sure to tag or mention your influencer when you promote your posts to social media – after all, you linked to them because they inspired you, right?

So go ahead and give them credit using the @mention method above. They might notice and appreciate it.

give influencers credit

If your link does send some traffic to their post, they may even notice your blog in their analytics data (but don’t worry if you can’t yet pull this off).

The main thing about linking to influencers is that it sets you up with a natural opening when you email them directly later on.

Step 7. Comment, Comment, Comment (Early!)

Now that you are completely tuned in to the activities of your influencers, you can jump in and start commenting on their new blog posts without feeling you’ll say something dumb.

Just make sure you get in there nice and early.

The longer a post has been around, the less likely its author will notice a new commenter. But even busy bloggers obsessively check the responses to their posts soon after publication – they’re eager to find out the reaction it gets.

So how do you make sure you are among one of the first to comment on your influencers posts?

Feed aggregators can be a great way to help you keep up with freshly minted blog posts. I happen to love Feedly, for example. I always keep a Feedly browser tab open, and I periodically check it for new posts. (Who said RSS feeds are dead and buried!)

But if you want the best chance of a headstart on everyone else, you can use a service such as IFTTT to get an email (or even a text message) almost the second a new post goes up.

You’ll need to find the RSS address for your target blog. You can do this by installing an RSS detection browser extension (some browsers have such a feature built-in).

Once you have the RSS address of your target blogs, you will create the “recipe” connecting the RSS feed to your email.

With IFTTT, it looks like this once you’re done:

sharing target blogs

Now, every time a new post goes up on Social Triggers, I automatically send myself an email linking to it. Cool.

Once you find a new post, how do you write an attention-winning comment?

You can use the Greeting, Compliment, Value, Promise formula described in Kevin Duncan’s recent post The Ultimate Guide to Writing Comments That Open Doors with Popular Bloggers.

Step 8. Make Yourself Visible with Eye-Catching Facebook Comments

Commenting on an influencer’s blog is a powerful outreach tactic because it meets the blogger on their home turf, and they’re highly likely to be reading the responses.

But commenting has some drawbacks too. Comments are mostly limited to text, and those that include links often look spammy. (Some blogs block them altogether.) You usually can’t include other types of media, like images, either.

That’s why Facebook is a helpful outreach tool too – it’s designed to encourage interaction, and you can easily drop in links (complete with thumbnail pictures), standalone images, and even videos to help make a stand-out impression on your target.

The following example shows how you can post a link that’s in direct response to an influencer’s own update.

respond to influencers update

The link doesn’t need to be to your own content – in fact, it probably shouldn’t be – but the comment stands out compared to plain text.

This kind of comment is a double win for the influencer. They’ll appreciate the value of the content you share (making them aware of valuable content helps them out), and it also shows engagement on their pages, making them look more popular.

Just tread carefully here; you’ll want to make sure that whatever you post makes both you and your influencer look good.

Remember the time your Grandma posted something cringe-worthy to your Facebook page?

“Hi Ryan. Look, they are making a new movie about Gnomes! Remember when you used to have three dozen of these cuties organized by color underneath your bed?”

You’ll want to avoid that kind of impact. 😉

The basic formula to follow is: “Wow, what you’ve just posted really resonated with me. Check out this related article/infographic/picture on the same topic.”

Another eye-catching technique is to enhance their post by dropping in an appropriate image that you’ve found or even created yourself, like a funny Internet meme or a photo that reinforces the post (such as a picture of the salsa you whipped up after reading their recipe posting).

For example, here’s a fan responding to a recipe posted on the Serious Eats website with a well-known meme showing her enthusiastic approval:

respond with meme

This step is all about starting to make an impact as a friendly, “in-the-know” person worth remembering.

Step 9. It’s Time to Take Your Targets’ Engagement Cues

Since you’re practically “stalking” your influencers at this point, you should know which ones make a habit of inviting their followers to take part in conversations – and where.

Doing so is perfect because it will allow you to start participating in these conversations.

You’ll see these invitations on social media, in newsletters, and on blog posts themselves. Here is an example from a newsletter I recently received from Mark Manson:

target influencer engagement cues

A blog post snippet by Neil Patel:

neil patel engagement

And a Twitter example from Chelsea Krost:

chelsea krost engagement cues

Of the three, perhaps newsletters offer the greatest opportunity because you can reply back by email directly and privately to your influencers, fostering a more personal connection.

In replying, you can use the same general formula that you used for comments from Step 7: use a personal greeting, give a specific compliment, and add value and make a promise.

Only now, your personal reveal should be in direct response to their engagement cue.

This is also an opportunity to add some personal detail. If the influencer asked about your struggles obtaining clients, include authentic detail. If they want to know how you like to organize spices in your kitchen cabinet, share just that.

Reacting to an engagement cue takes the burden off of you to initiate contact. Simply be receptive, open, and honest.

Importantly,  you now have a chance to be more intimate than you might be in a public comment. Think about it like having a private conversation with a teacher or professor rather than making a comment in front of the whole class.

Hi Mark. I really loved how your post acknowledged that we will always compare ourselves to others but reminds us that we can choose the basis of our comparisons.

I try to measure my own life in terms of how well I deal with obstacles that crop up on my path. This helps me avoid feeling disappointed if I haven’t met certain external milestones.  I like taking pride in my resiliency.

Thanks again for refreshing ideas.

Taking your targets up on their invitations to engage is a vital step in building a relationship and ramping up your confidence. An influencer is the most likely to notice and reply to your thoughts after they’ve specifically requested them.

However, don’t fret if some (or all) of your emails go without replies at this stage; whether you have official proof of it or not, your name is starting to burn a mark on your target bloggers’ memories.

Step 10. Take a Deep Breath and Send Your First “Cold” Emails

Until now, you’ve been communicating with your influencers via comments on blog posts and social media or in response to email newsletters.

In other words, they’ve made the first move. You’ve simply responded.

Now, you’ll build those courage muscles a little more by sending your first unprompted email to your popular bloggers using a direct email address or contact form.

Down the line, you’ll want to use a direct email like this to ask an influencer to do something that will help you directly. But for now, let’s just get you used to the feeling of taking the lead without taking any big risks.

A great first step is to simply send a short but sweet complimentary email. Here’s a sample script from Brian Dean’s seminal post on blogger outreach:

email influencer script

Since an email like this builds on previous activity (like sharing and linking to their content), you should feel less nervous than if you were sending a true, out-of-the-blue email.

Remember, always use your own “voice” when conducting outreach. If you adopt a tone or message that isn’t really you, it may come across as inauthentic.

Whether you get a personal reply or not, most people love compliments. And they tend to make nice little mental notes about who gave them.

Step 11. Give Genuine and Helpful Feedback

By now, you have some great practice giving compliments to popular bloggers and asking questions on their blog or social media pages. Maybe you’ve even offered your opinion in an email or two when it’s been requested via newsletter.

Now, you’ll ramp things up by giving unsolicited (but constructive and positive) feedback about the work your influencers have been sending you.

This raises the stakes because you’re not just giving a simple compliment; you’re offering them your input, which subtly says that you’re someone they should listen to.

An easy way to give useful feedback is to give an idea for how the blogger could improve their content or products – from the perspective of a fan.

You can suggest related topics you’d love for them to cover in the future (bloggers are always looking for new audience-desired content ideas):

“Your e-book on green smoothie recipes for kids really helped me learn how to hide the bitter taste of dark greens! I’d love to read about your vegetable juicing ideas.”

Or you can let them know about challenges you’ve been facing that they might be able to help with in future content:

“I love your webinar – it really helped me make dramatic improvements to my website. But I’m still struggling with how to keep people from exiting my pricing page. I’d love to see you tackle this topic in more detail in the future!”

Honest and practical feedback is an essential element of building a relationship with anyone – but it works particularly well with influencers.

Step 12. Offer to Be a Case Study (or a Guinea Pig)

Have you ever bought one of the products or services of your favorite bloggers?

If so, you have a nice opportunity to strengthen your relationship by offering to give a testimonial or act as a case study.

You can use an email like the following to make the suggestion:


I wanted to thank you again for your fantastic course: “Designing Irresistible Content.” I really learned about mesmerizing my readers with some of the tricks you revealed in the class.

I’d be happy to share my positive experiences in a testimonial or be the subject of a case study if that would be helpful. Just say the word.


A well-intentioned gesture such as this is a fantastic way to take a relationship with an influencer to the next level before asking for a more one-sided favor.

You could also offer to be a beta-tester of any future products they might release. This can be very helpful to the bloggers but also create more opportunities for one-on-one conversations with the blogger, helping to deepen the relationship.

Step 13. Email Influencers Letting them Know about Your New Posts

Now you’re ready to begin the process of introducing influencers to your own work.

This is the scariest step yet (hell, they might actually read your work), but it’s not yet an outright request – it’s just a friendly, informational email.

If the recipient picks up the subtext – “please promote my content” – that’s great. But there’s no loss of face on either side if they don’t.

We’ll use the one-two punch: You can let your target influencer know that they’ve inspired you (Step 10) to write a blog post containing a link to them (Step 5). BAM!


I was very moved by your recent post about using empathy as a tool to become a better manager. I shared it with my readers and it even inspired me to write my own post: “A Manager’s Guide to Earning Trust by Revealing Vulnerabilities” (LINK). I hope you’ll enjoy checking it out.


The “between-the-lines” message is that their readers might enjoy seeing your post, so they’ll probably share your post with their audience.

But, to ensure optimal sharing success, you must graduate to a more direct approach.

Step 14. Go Ahead and Ask for The Share

To maximize the chances of getting a share for your latest content, you must summon that extra reserve of courage and just ask for it outright.

You’ll likely feel a pang of anxiety because a direct request risks a no or being ignored completely.

But if you’ve been following the earlier steps, this nerve-wracking plunge should feel much easier.

Firstly, you’ve been building up to this psychologically, and by now you should have a lot more courage (and a thicker skin) than you did at the beginning of this process. Hooray!

Secondly, it’s logistically simple to take this step: All you have to do is attach a line like the following to your emails from Step 13:

“I think your readers will really enjoy it too. If you could share it with them, that would be great!”

Or, alternatively the marginally scarier (and more effective):

“I think your readers will really enjoy it too. Do you think you could share it with them?”

Once you’ve made it this far, you should give yourself a pat for completing your first direct and official request for promotion.

Step 15. Suggest Your Own Work as a Resource

You’ve asked for a share, and now you’re going to ask for a link!

This is scarier because links are a more valuable commodity online than shares. They confer real benefit to the recipient (more traffic and better search rankings), they’re more permanent (whereas shares are quickly replaced by new ones in their timeline), and they take more effort (logging into WordPress, editing the post, etc.).

But to keep the fears levels manageable (and because it’s best practice for any outreach measure), we’re going to keep the focus on the benefit to your target bloggers.

One great way to accomplish this is look for places where they link to third party materials on their blog and find a gap that you can fill.

You can do this with content that you’ve already created, or more realistically, with content created especially for this purpose.

A gap can come in the form of a broken link found on their website, a list post that misses a point, or a resources page that your content could enhance.

Once you have your content ready to go, you’ll want to take the same tone that you took in Step 8:

Start with a genuine compliment, and casually mention a related topic that you think their readers might enjoy hearing about. Only this time, offer yourself up as a potential addition to their offering:

“Your e-book on green smoothie recipes for kids really helped me learn how to hide the bitter taste of dark greens in smoothies!

I just wrote a post “How to Mask the Veggie Taste in Vegetable Juice” that might work really well on your resources page about getting kids to eat healthy. Here is a (LINK) if you’d like to check it out and consider adding it in.”

Step 16. Make Your Own Personal “Big Ask”

All the other steps have been building to this one. This is the step where you start asking influencers for the kinds of favors that could really change your fortune as a blogger.

Deep down you’ve probably known for some time what this step should be. It’s the step you never thought you’d have the courage to take.

But you’ve been building your courage throughout this post. You have had some experience asking for direct (though smaller) favors.

So it’s time to take that scary step and ask an influencer for a real favor.

Let’s call this next step your own personal “Big Ask.”

Here are some possibilities:

  • Writing a guest post on their blog (and getting a valuable byline link to your website).
  • Interviewing the influencer for your blog (and enlisting his/her help in promoting it).
  • Requesting an introduction to a particularly hard-to-reach influencer also in your niche.
  • Asking an influencer to promote a money-making course you’ve developed.

If this now seems like a natural next step, then go ahead and do it. (That feeling may not last!)

But if it still feels too scary, don’t worry. It simply means you haven’t yet done enough of the activities from the previous steps.

You may feel, after asking one or two minor favors, that you need to refill the goodwill bank, so you’ll need to keep commenting, sharing, providing feedback, linking, and promoting the work of your influencers.

After you’ve restored the all-important give-and-take balance, you can get ready for your Big Ask.

Your approach will depend on your end goal, but you should have little trouble modifying the various email templates in this post to get you started. The only hard-and-fast rule to keep in mind is to frame everything from the vantage point of the benefit to your influencer.

Talk about how that guest post will help their readers and how that interview will spread their reputation and message.

If you keep that principle at the heart of all your outreach efforts, you won’t go wrong.

Take The First Step to Curing Your Outreach Phobia

Let’s face it; reading about these steps will always be easier than actually doing them.

And those later steps probably look quite intimidating from where you are now. But that’s okay – they’re supposed to.

So forget about them and look at first few steps instead: making a short list, following a few people on Twitter, entering your email in an opt-in box.

You could do those, right? You could do those today.

You’ll soon find that each time you complete a step, the next one doesn’t look as scary as it did in the beginning.

And along the way, you’ll develop real relationships with influencers as you learn exactly how give and take works in the blogosphere.

You’ll also learn how to ask for favors from influential bloggers without feeling awkward, fake, scared, or sleazy.

Soon you’re outreach muscle will develop to the point where sending an email to a popular blogger is no scarier than sending an email to your mom.

So take the first step, and leave those other, trembling bloggers in the dust.

And hold onto your hat.  Things move fast when you’re fearless.

About the Author: Katharine Di Cerbo ditched psychology research to start helping the shy among us make easier social and emotional connections. Subscribe to her newsletter HERE to get updates like “How to Stay Close to a Friend Who Refuses Your Good Advice” and “How to Get People to Soothe You (Even When You’re in a Rancid Mood).”
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Katharine Di Cerbo


A "cheat sheet" to making 2-5K per month as a writer, even if you're a total beginner.
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Written by Katharine Di Cerbo

98 thoughts on “How to Build Relationships with Popular Bloggers (Even If It Scares You Silly)”

  1. Hi Katharine,

    Welcome to BBT! I know how it exciting you must be feeling (having your post published here in front of so many readers). Enjoy it! It’s going to be a wild few days. 🙂

    This is a great read! And thank you so, so much for mentioning me by name and linking to the “Ultimate Guide to Writing Comments That Open Doors with Popular Bloggers” post I wrote two weeks ago! It’s always cool to see your name inside a blog post. Haha.

    These 16 steps are very useful, practical, and I’m sure will help many a blogger who finds himself/herself scared by the prospect of putting themselves out there.

    I’ll definitely be tweeting this, Katharine. Thanks again for the mention, and best of luck with this post! I hope it gets a million comments and shares. 🙂

    Have a great day!


    • Let me take one more crack at that second sentence:

      “I know how excited you must be feeling (having your post published here in front of so many readers).”

      Awww. That’s better. 🙂

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your very kind comment! And yes, it is a little surreal. In fact I’m feeling a bit shy all of a sudden with so many eyes!

      Your post was excellent, and I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from it, so my pleasure. I look forward to reading more from you!


      • Hi Katharine,

        You are very welcome! I meant it. You did a great job. 🙂

        Haha. You’ll do just fine. Honestly, and I say this from personal experience, once a BBT post is published and the comments and tweets start rolling in, you will be so busy you won’t have time to even think about being shy:

        “There’s another comment to respond to… and another… and another! And there’s another tweet! Gosh, it’s 2pm. I totally forgot to eat lunch…”

        And look! It’s already started. The comments have begun. 🙂

        Thank you, Katharine. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and were able to draw inspiration from it. I love hearing that!

        Have fun today (and don’t forget to eat lunch).


  2. Thanks for this – I like the incremental steps. They make for good exercise in building confidence with any kind of networking.

    Here’s a thought:

    In a relatively narrow niche (not, for example, the “how to blog for income” niche), it’s even more important for the “big name” bloggers to respond to their followers. So if you’re blogging in a somewhat narrow niche, there’s no reason in the world to be scared to reach out to the top bloggers in the same field. For the most part, they want to connect, too. (Or at least, they should.) Just don’t be spammy about it.

    I think any blogger, regardless of success rate and numbers, appreciates insightful feedback, stimulating conversations, and anything that helps generate ideas, so the more thoughtful and thought-provoking the interaction, the better.

    • Hi Mary,

      Thank you, and I’m glad that you feel the incremental-approach can be applied a little more broadly, I agree!

      And I love your point about narrow-niche bloggers being inherently more approachable. I can see how keeping that in mind would definitely help a person in a narrow-niche feel more confident reaching out.


  3. Hey Katherine

    I’m so impressed with what you did with this article.

    More importantly if your steps are followed by the readers this is a sure fire way to create great relationships with influencers, grow your exposure of your brand and over come the fear of building solid connections in your marketplace.

    I think the key is to stop thinking about it and just do it.

    Again hats of to you thanks for a very actionable and result driven post.


    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you!

      And I agree. At some point plain old-fashioned action has to come into play, and then momentum can just start to takes over. I hope a lot of people find that even a tinsy winsy action can activate that momentum!


  4. Hey Katharine,

    Great post. I know people say certain posts are timely for them, but this is so true for me.

    I’ve been revving up my blogger outreach lately and making even more of an effort to connect with influencers. I did that, unknowingly, with Glen and Jon here through my comments .. but I want to, and intend to, expand upon that with other influencers.

    I’ve read a lot of posts on this topic and I think the first cold email sent is the toughest. I know that many people fear rejection, etc. and that’s why they hold off on it for so long … I know that’s how it was for me. But your posts is a basic, step-by-step, blueprint to overcome that.

    Really great stuff here — and congrats on getting onto BBT. Good luck today.

    – Andrew

    • Hi Andrew,

      I’m so very glad that the post was timely for you today!

      And I agree, the first cold email is one of most intimidating steps. I spent some time in sales, and I remember how weird I felt about blasting someone with whom I had no prior relationship!

      Thank you again, and best of luck with your continued outreach!


  5. Thank you so much for this post. You have confirmed some things I was doing are taking me in the right direction, but you also provided so much more information that we can all apply to create more interest and success in our blogging efforts. The suggestions were very well thought out and the steps simple to follow for those of us who are newer to the process.

    • Hi Peggy,

      Thank you for your kind words! And I’m very glad that you found the steps to be simple and easy to follow. Glen Long deserves a lot of credit for helping me keep them uber focused.

      Good luck with progress!


  6. Thanks Katharine!

    This is a great ‘frame’ article allowing me to self debrief on my recent approaches to this very work.

    I’ve been using a few of these tools over the past months but I’ve also been pitching guest posts cold to sites that I enjoy but just started following.

    Where does the cold pitch fit in these days?

    • Hi Ashley,

      Great question. I’d be curious to know: have you had success with your cold pitches?

      If you can bring yourself to do it, I absolutely think you should! Like Mary Corbert pointed out above, I think the key thing to keep in mind is not to be spammy. Keep everything oriented around the benefit to the Influencer.

      That said, even if you are up to the point where you are sending out cold pitches, one way to increase the likelihood that they are well-received might be to add in some of the other behaviors too. Like interacting with your Influencers on social media, linking to them in posts and letting them know about it, etc. If they already know about you, they might be more likely to respond, right?

      Although I have pitched cold as well and had decent results. I’d say try different things and see what works best for you and your niche!

      Best of luck with your outreach!


      • Well, I just started pitching cold this morning a few hours before I read your article. So I will let you know as develop a plan for all of the other steps.

  7. Ah, this is exactly what I needed! See, I’m staring at that t-rex right at this moment. Thinking of asking some popular bloggers with help for a promotion that I’m running. But why should they help me? I’ve made 0 connection with most of them/they have no idea who I am.

    This definitely gives me some ideas for how to build relationships BEFORE I do my next promotion.

    • Same here Ed! Hope it goes well for you.

      Katharine, thank you for this post. Brian Dean’s Blogger Outreach article made me realise that it should be a key part of content marketing but I never knew how to move forward and make a connection with the influencers.

      However, your step by step scale breaks the process down into actionable chunks so I’m looking forward to trying it out.

      All the best,

      • Hi Nate,

        Thank you for your kind words! I loved Brian Dean’s post too! It was so helpful to me.

        He seems so polished and confident. I have had to work overcome shyness, so I wanted to write a post from that perspective. I’m really glad you liked it.

        Good luck with your promotion!


  8. Hi Katharine,

    First of all, thank you so very much! I know that’s redundant but words aren’t enough to express my gratefulness to you for writing this post.

    I feel like you are describing my feelings at this post. I feel like it’s me. See, I’m new to all this. And you feel me – IT’S SCARY LIKE HELL. But I have to conquer my fears, take risks, for if I don’t then I will never know if I didn’t try. I don’t want to wake up having what if’s in my head.

    Last month, I started commenting on authority bloggers sites – those that I really enjoy and love. It’s great you pointed this out because I can’t imagine following and commenting on a post you haven’t even read. I can’t imagine just dropping a general comment for the sake of commenting and blindly hoping you get noticed. I know short cuts never work. So I only followed, subscribed and comment on those I really love and those who provide relevant, inspirational and useful content – like this one you wrote.

    Before I started doing this whole “building a relationship through commenting” thing, I was scared. I was thinking that since these bloggers are already influential and famous, they won’t even notice. But I was gravely mistaken (and I’m really glad I am)! They were so warm and welcoming. They respond (and it takes me some time to process it sometimes). They extend help. And for that, I am so grateful.

    I have yet to follow the remaining pieces of advice you mentioned. I know I didn’t need to rush. I’m taking my time. After all, building relationships take time and if done the right way, the results would be awesome. I bookmarked this page and saved it, even created a back up! I just wanted to make sure I don’t lose such gold mine, in case something unexpected happens.

    Thank you very much again, Katharine! I am already a subsriber here at BTT and I wonder, aside from the quiz link above, where can I follow you?

    Have a beautiful day!

    • Hi Luna,

      Your comment really made my day, thank you!!

      I’m so glad you’ve started to experience the fruits of your sincere commenting efforts! I hope that your positive feelings about the experience carry you through your next steps when you are feeling ready (and I bet that they will).

      You can follow me on Twitter @KDiCerbo or you can subscribe to my newsletter here: I am so flattered you want to keep in touch. I look forward to it 🙂

      Have a wonderful day!


  9. Hi Ashley,

    Great question. I’d be curious to know: have you had success with your cold pitches?

    If you can bring yourself to do it, I absolutely think you should! Like Mary Corbert pointed out above, I think the key thing to keep in mind is not to be spammy. Keep everything oriented around the benefit to the Influencer.

    That said, even if you are up to the point where you are sending out cold pitches, one way to increase the likelihood that they are well-received might be to add in some of the other behaviors too. Like interacting with your Influencers on social media, linking to them in posts and letting them know about it, etc. If they already know about you, they might be more likely to respond, right?

    Although I have pitched cold as well and had decent results. I’d say try different things and see what works best for you and your niche!

    Best of luck with your outreach!


  10. Katherine – well laid out article on how to reach those you admire and respect. I often send e-mail replies to people, even if I’ve left a comment. I’ve built up a nice rapport and it makes me feel good when I get a reply of “nice to hear from you again”. Because of my out-reach I have received requests to submit an article to them. On those sites that state they seek submissions, it will help me that they already recognize my name.

    • Hi Virginia,

      Wow, that is awesome that you were actually solicited to write a post due to your outreach! Hats off to you!

      I am glad you are framing outreach as a way to build rapport with people you admire and respect. That’s how I think about it too 🙂


  11. This is great advice. Especially the “comment, comment, comment” one. I’d also like to add the no-brainer. READ THE BLOG!! 99% of the people who approach me wanting to guest on my blog have never read it, much less commented on it.

    Or they have read a line from a post from 2010 that came up in a Google search in which I mention I pruned my roses. This person wants to guest post on horticulture. My blog is about the publishing industry. Anybody who visited the blog would know that. Some people need to be MORE afraid of popular bloggers than they are. Know that we are not morons. Don’t think you’re fooling me when you say “I know how interested you are in bonsai gardening.” I’m not and you’d know what I am interested in if you’d taken 30 seconds to read the blog.

    • Haha, very good advice Anne!

      It’s true, for every shy person there is a person with too little fear!

      I agree with you 100% – you need to make a real connection, not just try to cheaply further your own agenda.

      But you really don’t like Bonsai? (or rather just growing them?) I love Bonsai 🙂


      • Somebody once gave me a bonsai tree. It was like a full time job keeping it alive. Which I didn’t. 🙁 When you write books for a living, you have to give up that kind of time-consuming hobby. Now I have 5 houseplants. When they die, I get new ones. For outdoors, I have a gardener.

        I do admire people with green thumbs. Mine is definitely ink-colored.

    • Hi Anne-

      I saw a post from a FBook friend which had a misspelling. It used site, instead of sight. Someone called her on the mistake, and she said she hadn’t actually read the whole thing. I counted the words, which totaled maybe 15.

      I asked her, ‘You couldn’t be bothered to read seven more words?’

      Writ large, on your own wall. And the last seven were the punch line.

  12. LMAO at this “A popular blogger may delight in being added to your “Best Technology Bloggers” or “Personal Development Gurus” list but will probably bristle if added to a “Blogger Who Might Share My Stuff” list.”

    I need rename my ‘suckers who can help me list’ pronot!

    Nice post Kate!

  13. Hi Katharine-

    Step by step posts are helpful, and this one gave me valuable info on how to use Facebook. I’ve read so many posts about using social media to promote a post, and they’re either for or against. I was left in limbo as to whether or not it’s worth the time. Nothing else I’ve read has actually explained in depth how to do it.

    Many bloggers have their contact information on their blog, but don’t answer emails, or reply to even one comment from their readers. It’s nice to be so popular you can do this, but not acknowledging even an email makes me wonder why they have their address published, and it creates negative feelings in readers. (I swear I didn’t send weird, gnarly messages asking for their hair!)

    If you’re truly swamped by thousands of comments and emails, perhaps it’s time to get an assistant.

    • Hi Gigi,

      Thank you! So good to hear that it helped you envision the details.

      Good thing you didn’t ask for locks of their hair! lol! Who would want the hair of someone who can’t even be bothered to answer comments anyway? #rude! 🙂

      That actually gave me a thought: maybe it’s a good idea to kind of survey the how active a potential Influencer is in their own blog comments; maybe it’s better to focus efforts on Influencers who are kind and receptive.

      Shoot, where were you before I wrote the post? 🙂


      • Sorry, Katharine! I’m constantly taking stuff down and editing, and hoping no one notices. I even miscounted on the headline for my submission to the SBO contest, but I ‘fessed up.

        We will eagerly await the ‘new and improved’ version!
        (I sent this reply back via email, but received an automated email from BBT support. Thought I’d better reply ‘in person’ as it were.)

  14. I’d like to share a technique that I have found to be very rewarding:

    Many reader feel that their time is very important. They don’t want to invest the time required to read a ‘Long-Form-Of-A-Salesletter’ or Article, etc. but they want the Value condensed into a ‘Cliff-Notes’ version.

    So I give them the option of being segmented to the ‘ Cliff-Notes’ version of all my ‘Email-Lists’.

    Providing this ‘Option’ is mutually beneficial. They get the value of my offerings & conserve their time. I benefit by reducing the number of “Unsubscribes”.

    A good exercise would be to take is Article & rewrite it into a ‘Cliff-Notes’ version with Bullet-Points & no Fluff. Then ask your readers which they would rather receive.

    You may find, as I did, that reader-loyalty may improve substantially.

    Let me know your thoughts & results.

    Wally Wiki

    • Hi Wally,

      Absolutely, people love Cliff-Notes!

      One of the things that I’ve learned from reading BBT is that people typically scan posts, and so by writing really good subheads (which is an art I could stand to improve on!) you can make it easy for people to essentially “get the Cliff-Notes” up front, and then decide if they want to zoom in and read more.

      That is an interesting idea though about providing an outline. I am super long winded so I’m not sure that would work for me 🙂


      • I have been told by my readers that they appreciate not having to scan through a long-winded post and still get the nuggets. They appreciate me being considerate of their time.

  15. Hi Katharine,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! This really is just what I needed right now. I actually just emailed one of my greatest idols/mentors/target influencers in reply to a newsletter she sent out about a subject that’s exactly my niche. It seemed like the perfect moment, which it was, and yet I never would have taken advantage of the opportunity if I hadn’t just read your post. Great stuff!

  16. Hello Katharine,

    Great article! But how could you build a relationship with an influencer that has locked door? How would you manage the “gatekeeper”?

    • Hi Tony,

      Oooh that’s a tough one. One thing you can try to do is to guess their email address. So for example, if an Influencer sends out a newsletter from, say,, you can make a few guesses with their name in front instead of info, so and etc. If one of them does not get kicked back to you, you know you might be in 🙂 Of course their assistant might still handle their email…

      I hope that helped! (It’s helped me in the past 😉


  17. Hey, Katherine

    Wow, what a great post but….
    its to late for me ive tried the cold emails, sharing, sharing and more sharing of big bloggers post. With no luck lol

    Blogging isn’t for everyone, and i guest that im one of those people who it wasn’t meant for.

    Thanks for the great read

    • Jason- You made me feel so sad! I’ve been checking out your site, and I don’t think you should give up. I’ve been blogging for three years in anonymity, because I really enjoy writing. Hardly anybody comes to read me! What I’ve earned from blogging would bore an IRS agent out of his tiny mind. (Perhaps this isn’t the best pep talk ever invented. I’d better go.) Just don’t quit because of those blighters! They’ll be sorry one day…

    • Hi Jason,

      Like Gigi, I was also sad after reading your comment!

      I have been told by some of my favorite bloggers that they went YEARS before ever even receiving one comment on their blog. If you enjoy writing, and you enjoy your blog, I do hope you’ll keep going with it!

      Best of luck to you!

  18. Hi Katharine,

    What a great post! Good job.
    Quick question though, how long do you think does it take to do step 1 – finish?


    • Hi Iqbal,

      Thank you! I’m very glad you liked it.

      I think Step 1 can actually take quite a while, especially if you want to do some research on expanding your list of Influencers. I am slow at most things, so when I first sat down to create a list of Influencers (and then find their email addresses and so on) it took me several hours.

      But it’s worth the effort, I promise!


  19. For me it has not been scary to contact an influencer but absolutely frustrating experience, as you keep on waiting for weeks or even months and I did not got any reply. Your suggestion of using Facebook and other social media to warm them first before making the kill sounds very good! Many thanks Katherine!

  20. Hi Katherine – Thank you for this great post. I have just started a new blog and getting the courage to reach influencers in my niche has been one of my greatest concerns – I guess it is due to fear of rejection I believe.

    Your approach seems really practical and less daunting and I will be giving this a goal.

    Many thanks once again.

  21. Great post Katherine. You’ve really broken down the steps to outreach. I also enjoyed your T-Rex metaphor! I used Twitter and the power scheduler in Buffer to share posts by influencers multiple times. This doesn’t take and it’s a great way of getting started.

    • Hi Bryan,

      Thank you!

      I’ve never actually used any kind of automator before, but I am a little bit suspicious about it.

      Tim Brownson shared a funny story recently: Mark Reagan wrote a great post on his blog ripping on The Law of Attraction, and they tagged it with #lawofattraction as a hashtag. Not to long afterwards, a pro-law of attraction website reposted it! (They had apparently been reposting things automatically based on hashtags, haha).

      Of course what you’re talking about doesn’t have that kind of danger, but the story popped into my head so I shared it 🙂

      I can definitely see the time saving appeal of automators. But I would be curious to see those results compared to the results coming from the more time consuming shares which include some kind of “I really read this!” indicator. I wonder if anyone has compared that?

      Anyway, thanks again for reading the post 🙂


  22. Hey Katherine,

    I’m glad that you wrote a detailed, step by step post of how to get the attention of influencers, build relationships with them, and how to ask favors as well as guest post and interviews. This is a great way to get free traffic and subscribers to your blog. In fact I believe it’s the best way to do so because of the social proof you gain.

    I’m actually doing maybe 60% of these steps and it’s working out quite well. Im doing this more this year’s and I can see the big difference compared to years past. For me it started with upping the ante in blog commenting g and it went from there. My relationships grew stronger and my traffic and opt ins got bigger and to let you know this is coming from an introvert. If I can do it, anyone can!

    Thanks for sharing Katherine! I hope you have a great weekend!

    • Hi Sherman,

      Thank you!

      I love your point about social proof, I agree it is incredibly powerful.

      I’m so glad that a fellow introvert has had success with outreach! It can feel so awkward at first (well, now I’m projecting my own feelings onto you, but I that is how I felt about it at least 🙂

      Continued luck to you!


  23. Hi Katherine,

    What a great post. Well done!

    I admit that all your steps have been proven to persuade popular bloggers to open up to we “the newbies”. I am in my sage mode now, hoping to connect with you before you become popular. 🙂

    All the best in commenting as traffic and signups come to your site.

  24. Hi Katherine,
    Thorough article!
    1. I have tried many of these techniques, and they really do result in more readership. For examples, I have found influencers friendly and willing, for the most part, to share. This generally results in new people at my site.
    2. Some of your ideas that I haven’t tried sound effective. You have given me much to ponder!
    Janice Wald

    • Hi Raj,

      Thank you! I definitely think anyone can implement the strategies (that’s why blogging is so cool, right? 🙂

      But yes, so many things look easy. Like good, clear writing – looks so easy but it’s so hard! (at least for me).

      Thanks again, and good luck!


  25. Hi, katharine
    You know, your posts are amazing. it’s awkward to let famous blogger know about you and hoping to help. But your tips works. Strength actionable tips. Very worthy. +a person can also learn some good phrases here.

  26. Katharine Di Cerbo, What a nice post and what a nice information have in this post i love to read it and inspired. I just thankful to you for your post. I was planning it how to interact with the top Bloggers and i saw this ( awww ) very right timing! 😀 Anyhow good luck.

    • Haha, Kristy, that is kind of how I felt at times when I was writing it!

      I apologize if it felt like a lot to digest at once! What I hope readers do with it is bookmark it (or send it to pocket or the like) and work through the steps overtime. I wanted to make sure people did have a real guide to make meaningful progress with outreach!


  27. Boom! That’s a very nice overview as well as steps to take Katharine! Just the way I like it!

    I picked up a couple steps I can do with my current outreach work. It’s especially important to have a lot of tricks when dealing with people in the know 😀

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Sharing this out 😉

  28. Hey really that’s a informative post yes when I started to talk with blogging giants I bit scared what to ask but your post gave me how to overcome it.

  29. Hi I have got to say you have hit the nail on the head it certainly is one of the most scariest problems to overcome, It is human nature and whilst I belong to a community that is connected through the Six Figure Mentors I still haven’t got the courage to even speak to them let alone Higher level bloggers such as your good self best regards and thank you for all the really useful tips. I look forward to reading more from you.

    • Hi George,

      Yes, human nature can be a pain the the butt sometimes, can’t it? 😉

      But take small steps and numb yourself to the outcome! That is the essence of it, I think.

      Good luck 🙂

  30. Hi Katharine – great post, thank you.

    I came across it the other day and bookmarked it. Finally had the chance to read it right now (escaping Melbourne winter sitting on a beach in QLD Aus) and wanted to say thanks. Great info and fun to read too.

    Interesting how many parallels may apply to the business of getting and keeping a customer. Maybe not the practical stuff – but especially towards the end of your post when you were talking about, let me quote “The only hard-and-fast rule to keep in mind is to frame everything from the vantage point of the benefit to your influencer.” Switch the word ‘influencer’ out with ‘customer’ and you have a recipe for greatness.

    Thanks again,


    • Hi Pat,

      Whoa, you actually return to bookmarked posts?! I’m so impressed, and I wish I could say the same 🙂

      And yes, I couldn’t agree more – keeping the perspective of the other person squarely in mind (so obvious on one hand but so unnatural feeling on the other) is the key to “Winning Friends and Influencing People” (great book) in any arena, for sure.

      Enjoy your vacation!

  31. Wow Katharine, that is awesome read! I’m not shy I admit, it is just the lack of experience with those kind of guys. Lots to learn from here so I do thank you for that in depth article because, as a newbie, this contacting big boys thing is really important for me. Will definitely share this, keep up the great work!
    Thanks & Regards

  32. #LateToTheParty
    Hey Katherine, I like the IFTTT recipe so I checked it out. I like IFTTT a lot and run a good few recipes there to automate my Twitter feed.

    If I could, may I suggest a modification to your recipe? It might make things a bit simpler for you. Here goes it…

    1. Go to Feedly and search for the blog feed you want
    2. Add the feed to a new collection called “Watching” (or whatever you’d like to call it)
    3. Continue to add feeds for blogs you like into this collection/category
    4. When you’re finished go to IFTTT and set up this recipe;

    The advantage here is that you have only one recipe to set up. If you’re like me you follow a whole heap of blogs and that means a lot of RSS recipes. Also, I had trouble with IFTTT finding feeds for blogs I wanted. Feedly has no problem finding feeds.

    Anyway, Thanks for your comprehensive post, I’ll be bookmarking this one for later reference. I hope the above helps, and hope I did not offend with the suggestion!

    Regards, Larry

  33. Hi Katharine,

    It can’t get any better than this. Great tips, Well outlined and on point. Ever since starting out as a blogger things have been really smooth, at least on matters pertaining to building relationships first. Blogging is actually intended to connect authors and readers – perhaps in preparation for future opportunities.

    And I couldn’t agree more on the tips you just shared, because they touch on every aspect related to influencer outreach. By following each of the detailed steps, it should be a lot more easier to eliminate outreach phobia, which is common among new bloggers.

    Not everyone will utilize these tips in totality at the beginning, starting with me as an example – because most of the strategies are unknown to many. And to start, I will sift through some of the strategies that I’m yet to utilize for my outreach strategy, then see what works best.

    Thanks for the great job – Keep up!

    • Thanks, Enoch!

      And I agree with your point – blogging is all about making connections and hopefully cultivating opportunities. At least in my mind 🙂

      Good luck and thanks again,

  34. Katharine,

    Thanks for this very thorough and informative post! I have yet to establish much of an approach to reach out to any influential bloggers as I just started less than a month ago. I will definitely utilize your information and make the most of it.


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