As I sit here having just published my first ever $10k+ income report, I can't help but reflect on the extraordinary growth my business has experienced in 2015.
9 months ago, in December 2014, we recorded around $1,500 USD in profit and finished the year in disappointment.
12 months ago, at the end of August 2014 we'd only just cleared $2k for the first time.
Now, we've just recorded two back to back five figure months, on the back of crazy growth.
There are a few reasons for the growth, but one of those reasons probably holds 80% of the responsibility. In fact, I can definitely draw a straight line from the day I started doing it, to where HPD is now.
This “reason” is outreach. Outreach, networking, and generally making friends with others in my niche.
Sure, some of the growth is down to me figuring out how my audience want their sites built. Some of it is down to increasing confidence in myself. Some of it is purely down to being around long enough to be taken seriously and have time to grow an audience.
But none of that would matter without outreach.
For the longest time, I've wanted to publish a guide on outreach. There are many articles already out there though, and people like Brian Dean and Neil Patel have got excellent guides themselves. It's hard to create an “ultimate guide” to something when you're not even sure if you're the ultimate authority on the subject. Could I even offer anything unique?
What I can offer that is unique, is my own story. I've already started it in the introduction to this article, and I'll continue now.
How Outreach Got Me From Struggling Beginner To A Five Figure Business
My story starts with guest posting. I never really “got” guest posting. People would say, the backlink doesn't matter, it's getting exposure to new audiences that counts. Well, when you're a beginner who is terrified that his content sucks, you don't really want to expose your site to a new audience. You definitely don't think anyone is going to want to see it.
I limited my guest posting to the few e-friends I already had. A scam review website here, a make money online website there. I hoped that a few links from other sites would be enough.
The problem is, my business was just as limited. I was writing new posts two or three times a week. I was digging into the depths of keyword research tools and going for the longest tailed keywords I could find. I was writing (what I thought was) some of my best content, but nothing was really sticking.
If you've started a new website and found that after 4-6 months there doesn't seem to be any progress, you know what I'm talking about. Ranking in Google is hard.
There were days when I would just think “What's the point?” or “This isn't working, I should try something else” and there were days where I just couldn't motivate myself to do anything.
This grind can be really, really difficult, and it's been the metaphorical death of many an aspiring internet marketer. Why do people quit? Because they think it doesn't work. Why do they think it doesn't work? Because they hit their head against a wall for 6 months with no sign of anything working.
If only they started outreach right from the soonest possible time, things would be different. I know from hindsight that it would have been for me.
I called this article, “How fear cost me $60,000” because my fear of outreach was what stopped me doing it until 6 months in, when I was getting desperate. I spent the first six months of my website's life living in fear of outreach, and being a solo flyer. My website had zero connections.
If I'd started earlier, I'd have been making $10k per month month six months earlier. Look at how much I didn't earn because of that.
Also, look at nichehacks.com as an example. Stuart Walker started his website at a similar time to me but he started outreach immediately, and got immediate results and crazy growth. This is what happens when you start outreach immediately.
Why Outreach Worked For Me
The make money online niche is impossibly difficult. It's littered with fake-it-till-you-make-it wannabes (read: fake-it-till-you-fail) and on top of that, there are dozens and dozens of successful people out there as well.
Nobody is going to trust or believe a newcomer, because they can get the same, or better, information from the authorities who already exist.
That in itself is the key to why outreach works so well though.
If you can get the vote of confidence from a few of those other bloggers, it snowballs, and people start to really take note of you. Once I started getting mentions from other bloggers or given guest post opportunities, people started reaching out to me regularly.
Since January 2015 I've guest posted or appeared in an expert roundup post at least twice a month. I've been featured in Entrepreneur.com, and various other top quality blogs.
I've been mentioned on podcasts, in email autoresponders, in Facebook groups and of course in blog posts, and let me tell you something very cool about all this…
Only about 10% of those mentions were from my own hustling or outreaching. Once your campaign gains momentum and your name gets out there, people will start mentioning you automatically, and bloggers will be emailing you first.
Here's an email that literally just came into my inbox while I was typing this:
Here are some other ones too. I've blocked out the names, but they are all notable bloggers that you may have heard of.
This one also just came in
There are a few reasons why all this matters:
- When people are mentioning you regularly, you don't need to keep hustling to create content and try to get some search engine rankings. You can focus on quality rather than quantity.
- Other influencers notice that you're being mentioned and they start mentioning you too (Hence the Entrepreneur.com mention).
- Social proof goes a long way. Often I get a new sale purely off the back of someone recommending me.
- Let's face it. Getting a lot of high quality backlinks to your site does wonders for your search rankings too.
- Confidence. Every time I get a mention or something similar, I feel more and more confident in myself and what I'm doing. This has intangible benefits to your business.
Up until recently, my highest converting traffic was referral traffic. People were seeing my name on other sites, and were coming over specifically looking to learn more about my service. I had something like a 1 in 3 leads to sales ratio from that traffic. Now my email list is my biggest converting traffic, and of course, most of those subscribers have come from somewhere else first.
I post less often that I used to, but my traffic keeps increasing. My search rankings are solid, but I don't really pay attention to them. I don't rely on Google for my traffic, despite the fact that I am a big fan of search traffic!
Why Outreach Will Work For You
It's not just a service business like mine that benefits from outreach. All of them do. Even if you are running an amazon affiliate site or a small niche site, you should give serious thought to outreach.
Getting quality backlinks and boosting your traffic and search rankings should be motivation enough, and outreach is a good way of doing this. Spencer Haws and Perrin Carrell just posted a podcast on this very approach to white-hat link building.
You CAN get guest post gigs for amazon sites. You CAN get resource page links and broken link building success. It all starts with an email or a simple interaction.
As well as link building opportunities, there are other benefits for you.
The more you interact with other bloggers, the better a blogger you become. The more e-friends you make, the better your website becomes (it just seems to happen), and the more articles you read in your niche, the more of an expert you become.
You don't have to blog about your passion, but you'll benefit from at least knowing something about your site content.
Remember though, it's not what you know, but who you know.
You're An Imposter
Based on conversations I've had with others, most people seem to have the same insecurities about outreach, at least in the beginning. Even if you're an outgoing person, you might doubt that your website or content is good enough.
After all, it's usually the big players in your niche, the influencers, who you want to reach out to. What would these huge authorities, with their massive audiences, think about your little site with fewer than fifty pages indexed?
This is what John Lee Dumas introduced to me as Imposter Syndrome in his free podcast course where you doubt yourself and start to feel like a fraud or imposter. These are fears we all have.
If you actually embark on an outreach campaign and start networking though, you'll soon realize that these fears are mostly unfounded. Plus, it will act as an incentive to make sure your content is shareable and top quality.
I generally believe that nobody is born an authority, but rather grows into one. You do this by speaking to numerous audiences on multiple platforms and websites. If you can teach people something on another website, you can do it over and over again.
So long story short, get over your misgivings and don't be afraid of a little rejection, it makes you better.
I'm going to share the ins and outs of my outreach timeline a little later, but I'll tell you one example now. When I first reach out to somebody to see if they would be interested in promoting my business or working together, they flat out said no, as they didn't feel it was something that they were interested in.
Ouch, that stung.
However, that person was kind enough to give me some tips for improving my service, explain how I could present it better, and tell me what I needed to do to improve quality.
We're still friends now, and as a result, HPD improved.
He noticed that too, and sends me referrals every once in a while. In fact, that first email screenshot I showed above, that was from him.
What I'm trying to say is that your fear will get you nowhere, but reaching out will get you somewhere. Even if your fears come true and people reject you, that in itself is an opportunity for growth.
Closing Thoughts – Ask Me Anything
Actually today these aren't really ‘closing thoughts', as I'll be talking about the subject of outreach a lot more in future. This is just the close of this chapter.
What I'd like you to do is write your questions below. There are a lot of questions related to outreach, such as how to find the people to contact, how to contact them, what to say, the list is very long. So let me know your questions, and my future teaching will reflect that.
If you're still unsure about why you need to do outreach, then I'll leave you with this closing statement:
I can draw a straight line from the day I started outreach, to the income I have now.
It's not a particularly long line either.