How to Get Covered by Forbes for $5

Are you a small business or startup with limited marketing spend? If you want to get covered by a leading online magazine or blog on a shoestring budget then read on. In this post, I will share how I got Forbes, Lifehacker and leading blogs in my space to write about my company — WriteWell for $5. While such publicity drives tons of traffic on the day of coverage, it also has long lasting benefits for your website. A backlink from a reputable site like Forbes helps increase your website’s domain authority (i.e. your site’s credibility), which makes your site more favorable in Google’s eyes and hence more discoverable in searches.

While this hack or trick cannot guarantee success, it immensely increases your chances of getting noticed by influencers or writers that write for top magazines and blogs in your space. In summary, I am going to describe the process to find these influencers, reach out to them and track success in a cost and operationally-efficient fashion.

Key Resources and Brief Outline

Before I share this process, I’d like level-set by making sure you’re familiar with the following resources and tools:

Key Resources:

You will need to become familiar with the following tools. These are all very easy to use and either free or have free versions.

  • Ahrefs: leading SEO analysis tool
  • Fiverr: marketplace to crowdsource tasks from online workers starting at $5
  • Yesware: email tracking software that integrates with Gmail
  • Google analytics: tool to help monitor visitors and behaviors to your company’s website

Key Concepts:

A key SEO-concept you should get familiar with is “Domain Authority”.

Domain Authority: This is a term (definition here) invented by leading SEO-company Moz, that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. You can increase your site’s Domain Authority by getting other sites of high domain authority (e.g. CNN, BBC, harvard.edu) to link to your site.

Here are the four steps to get coverage from a leading online magazine or bog:

  1. Discover influencers (use Ahrefs)
  2. Mine influencer email addresses (use Fiverr)
  3. Create email campaign (use Yesware)
  4. Track Results (use Google analytics)

Step 1: Discover influencers

In this step we are going to use Ahrefs to find influencers in your space. Your best chance of getting covered is by targeting influencers that write about your space (e.g. CRM, firewalls, education etc.). In my case, I used Ahref’s Content Explorer tab to find all articles that contain the term “writing tools” in the title. Ahref’s will search the web and return all articles that match your search criteria along with parameters like domain rating, shares and organic traffic. Once you get your articles, sort them by domain rating (highest to lowest). Now pick the top 100 articles and export them to an excel sheet.

Now you have the top 100 articles in your space (as per domain authority). Next step — let’s mine email addresses.

Step 2: Mine Influencer Email Addresses

Now that you have the list of top 100 articles in your space, you need to get the email addresses of the influencers that wrote these pieces. Collecting email addresses from all these articles (many of which might not be posted with the article) is an arduous task. This is where Fiverr comes to your rescue. You can hire a virtual assistant to dig out email addresses starting at $5. You’ll need to post the job or “gig” on the Fiverr marketplace and soon enough you’ll receive bids for your project from sellers. Note that the quality of work on Fiverr can be hit or miss. In order to increase the predictability of your outcome, be as specific as possible. Here’s the template I created to help sellers collect email addresses and Twitter handles from articles.

Step 3: Create Email Campaign

Once the seller on Fiverr gets back to you with a list of 100 emails in an excel sheet, you’ll have to kick off your influencer outreach campaign. For this campaign, our weapon of choice is Yesware. You can easily install Yesware as an add-on to Gmail. Yesware is cool because it lets you create templates, run mail merge (by importing an excel or csv sheet) and track when a recipient opens your email.

Now go ahead and import the list of influencer emails from the excel sheet. Then write up a personalized email template telling the influencers how much you enjoyed reading his/her article and that your company’s product or service is similar to the apps or tools covered in that piece. Remember to include a link to your company’s website, testimonials, demo video (bonus points) and offer a coupon for free access to your site/app/tool.

Below is an example of the template, I used for my outreach campaigns. My open rate with this template was between 30–45% and resulted in roughly one article written for every 100 emails sent.

Step 4: Track Results

Now that you’ve reached out to influencers in your industry, you’ve done all you can that’s in your control. While there is no guaranteed timeline for when you’ll see results, I’ve found that influencers that like your product and outreach email will write about you in the first 60–90 days.

How will you know when you’ve been written about? If you check your Google analytics dashboard as obsessively like I do, you’ll see a massive spike in traffic on the day the article is published and a few days after. Your web traffic graph will look somewhat like the one below on the day we got covered by Lifehacker:

Figure: Website sessions on Labor Day (May 30, 2015)

Wrap Up

While web traffic will gradually return to normal several days after, your site’s domain rating will start to increase because a high authority site (like CNN or Lifehacker) has linked to you. Now Google search algorithm will deem your site as more credible than it was in the past. The impact of this new backlink will kick in gradually and you’ll find your site getting more organic traffic.

So there you go, that’s how I did it. I spent $5 to get WriteWell covered by Forbes and some more to get covered by Lifehacker, Docurated and other blogs in the productivity and education space. To recap, getting noticed (and written about) is not rocket science. You just need to hustle, plan strategically and execute ruthlessly to obtain results.

If you’d like to chat about how this process can be applied to your business you can contact me at adi@writewellapp.com. And, please share some other tips and hacks you have used to get web traffic for cheap.

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