10 Tips to Find a Freelance Blog Writer Who’s a Good Fit

find a freelance blog writer good fit

You know that content marketing is worth it. But boy do you find it hard to keep up with the constant, ongoing need to produce new content. And good content at that.

You’re not alone. In a survey of over 1,000 content marketers, Curata found that creating enough content on a regular basis was the second biggest challenge marketers named. Writing useful blog posts that are well researched, accurate, and substantial takes a lot of work. And internal marketing teams can quickly get overtaxed.

One possible solution is hiring a freelance blog writer. Freelance bloggers who know content marketing and SEO can deliver content that’s well written and crafted to meet your business goals. But finding a good freelance blog writer is hard. And what’s even harder—and just as important—is finding a good freelance blog writer that’s a fit for how you work.

Why Fit is So Important When Hiring a Freelance Blog Writer

In years of working as a freelancer, I’ve learned that finding and working with new clients is a bit like dating. The first few interactions, including early assignments, are often a test in compatibility. When a client and I aren’t compatible in our working styles—even if I like the business or my main contact there is really nice—it won’t be a good working experience.

Taking the time to find a content marketing writer that’s a good fit for your company’s preferences and goals, instead of just one that’s a good writer, will make your life easier in a number of ways:

  • The process of working with them will go more smoothly.
  • You’re far less likely to deal with multiple rounds of edits.
  • You won’t have as much stress from dealing with minor conflicts or misunderstandings.
  • And by getting it right from early on, you can save yourself the trouble of having to start the search all over again after a failed start.

How to Find a Good Freelance Blog Writer

Before you can find the right blogger for you, you need to figure out where to find a good freelance writer to begin with.

I get it, it’s hard. And if you’ve tried job boards like Upwork and Fiverr, you may be feeling hopeless after getting a flood of responses from writers that don’t look very good.

That’s because job sites like those are full of low-paying gigs, so experienced writers who are picky about finding good clients mostly don’t bother with them.

1. Start with referrals and recommendations.

Before you go to any online options, start asking around. Between networking events, conferences, or even past jobs, most marketers have plenty of other friends in the industry. One of them probably knows a good writer or two. Send out some emails or LinkedIn messages. If you’re in a good professional Facebook group or Slack, ask there.

If you already have a freelance blog writer you’re working with and have realized it’s time to find more, ask them as well. Freelancers often know other freelancers. And most of us like helping each other out when given the opportunity, especially if it also helps out a client.

2. Pay attention to bylines on blogs you like.

If recommendations didn’t do the trick, think about the blogs in your industry you like the most. Pull up some of the posts you like and scroll down to the bottom to see if there’s an author bio. If the writer is a freelancer, often it will say so right in the bio and it may even include a link back to their website. For example: this is what my bio looks like on one client’s site.

If there’s a name, but not a bio, do a few minutes of sleuthing to see if you can find the writer on Google or social media. Freelancers usually have both a website and a social presence, and provide information that makes getting in touch easy. And if the person you contact says they’re overbooked or isn’t interested in the type of project you offer, you can go back to #1 and ask them if they have any colleagues they can recommend.

3.  Search on LinkedIn.

This is one of the exact things the professional social media networking site is for. When you search the site for freelance bloggers, you’ll see writers who are connected to people you know first. That means you can vet them by seeing who you know in common and checking with your shared connection to see what they think of the writer.

Their LinkedIn profile will share some information about their qualifications and experience, and may even include some writing samples. I recommend also looking for a link to their website and reviewing the information there before contacting them.

4. Try good, ‘ol Google.

If those steps haven’t yielded the results you want, time to turn to the main place we all go to solve our problems. Here’s the thing to know about using Google to find a freelance blog writer: you may have to do some digging to find the websites of freelancers.

If you do a search for terms like “freelance copywriter” or “freelance blog writer,” you’ll find a lot of results that are either the aforementioned low-quality job boards, or resources on how to become a freelance writer. There are two main ways to get past this issue:

  • Be willing to do some scrolling and clicking to the next page to find the writers’ websites (they are there eventually).
  • Get more specific in your search terms. If you search by niche (“B2B tech freelance copywriter” or “ freelance finance blogger,” or narrow it to locals (“austin copywriter”)  sometimes you’ll get to writer pages faster.

One benefit of this method is that you can trust any writer that shows up in your search knows something about content marketing and SEO. Another is that it gets you straight to the writer website, where you can start checking out their samples and qualifications.

5. If all else fails, create a job ad on a high-quality site.

All the other tactics on this list will help you find writers that already have an established reputation, which is why I put this one last. This one puts you in the position of having writers come to you, which means you have to do more work in going through the applications you get and vetting each one.

But while I warned you away from a few job sites earlier, there are some that are a few notches above Upwork and Fiverr for finding qualified professionals. Most of these will charge either a one-time fee for the posting, or a subscription cost for joining the platform.

If you’re local to Austin, Freelance Austin has a job board to consider as well.

If you go this route, take some time to write a job ad that provides information about the type of work you need a writer to do and the budget you have in mind. Providing project details will save you time from fielding writers that specialize in a different type of work. And with so many freelance job ads that pay pennies, making it clear you have a real budget will affect the quality of applicants you get.

How to Vet Freelance Blog Writers for Compatibility

Hopefully, you now have a number of freelance content writers to consider. Now you need to figure out which of them is a good fit for your business needs.

1. Clarify your process first.

Before you can find out if they’re a good fit for how you work, you need to know how you work. If your team is new to hiring freelancers, then take some time to work out what your ideal working situation looks like. What are your typical processes for planning, creating, and publishing content now? What would be the most seamless, natural way for someone new to fit into them?

If you come to your search with a good idea of what you’re looking for, both in terms of skill and working style, you’ll know the right questions to ask to determine fit.

2. Review their samples.

Don’t skip this step! Before you hire a writer, confirm that you actually like the way they write. That seems obvious, but if you have a big list of names, it could get lost in the shuffle. Look at the writing samples on their website. Make sure you check samples from a couple different clients, so you can better see which aspects of their style and skill are theirs versus that of an editor they work with.

3. Pay attention to what their website says about how they work.

Freelance copywriters don’t want to spend a lot of time fielding clients that aren’t a great fit either, so often they’ll provide some information upfront about how they work and the kind of clients they’re looking for. See if there’s anything on their website that conflicts with the process and preferences you outlined in step one. If so, better to move on to the next person on your list.

4. Come to your first call with questions.

Once you know what you want in the relationship and have taken time to learn what you can about them, set up an interview call. Come prepared with a list of questions you have about how they work. Some of the questions in my list for copywriters will work just as well for those looking to hire writers.

Preparation will make your calls more efficient and make sure you cover all the bases you want to in the time you have. One thing to be aware of: it’s OK to ask about price on a call, but many freelancers will avoid answering straight away and instead send a proposal in writing after the fact. That’s normal, and helps us avoid misspeaking off the cuff before we have a chance to think through the details of the project. Don’t be put off by it.

5.  Treat the initial project as a trial.

Even if you do all this right, there still may be compatibility issues that come out during your first assignment or two. For that reason, it’s often best not to start with a long-term commitment, but instead to stick with a first assignment before deciding what the ongoing relationship will look like.

Be aware that the freelance content writer you hire will probably be doing the same thing though. Don’t treat it merely as a chance for them to to prove themselves to you. If you like their work, you need to prove yourself to them as well.  A good freelance relationship is a partnership with a fellow professional, and things will go better if you approach it that way.

If you need a freelance blog writer right now…

You just happen to be on the website of one. Take a look at my writing samples and some details on how I work, and get in touch if you think we might be a good fit.  

7 Good Reasons to Hire a Freelance Blog Writer

For almost any question you have or any product you decide to buy, you probably turn first to the internet. Google—and to a lesser degree Bing, Yahoo and social sites like Facebook—have become a huge part of how we learn new information and make purchasing decisions. For businesses, that means online visibility plays an important role in being the answer people find when they go looking for what you offer.

And business blogging is one of the best tools you have for achieving online visibility.

Business websites that have a blog add new pages to the site on a regular basis, and having more pages translates to more traffic. Sites with over 300 pages see up to 234% growth in website traffic. If you want people to find your website, a big part of the equation is giving them more pages to find. Blogging is how you do that.

Business Blogging Isn’t Easy

If business blogging makes such a big difference, why isn’t every business doing it? Because to do it well (and it’s only worth doing if you do it well) requires a large commitment in time and resources. Orbit Media’s annual blogging survey found that it takes over three hours on average to write a blog post.

And as someone who writes multiple blog posts every week, I can tell you time is only one part of what makes it hard. Writing requires mental energy and creativity. Most people can’t sit down and write all day long—at some point your brain gets tapped out.

Blogging is hard work and many businesses fail to realize just how hard it is until they get started. The dead blogs you see from time to time on business websites—ones that haven’t been updated in months or years—are typically the result of overly ambitious businesses that failed to account for how hard creating blog content on a regular basis really is.

But even though it’s hard, business blogging is worth it. The results are impressive and doing it well is absolutely within your reach, you just may need to bring in some extra talent to help. For businesses struggling to keep up with the endless work a blog requires, hiring a freelance blog writer may be the solution you need.  

You Should Hire a Freelance Blog Writer If…

Different businesses come to the decision to hire a freelance blog writer for different reasons. Here are some of the common challenges that hiring a freelance blog writer will solve.

1. Your team is struggling to meet your content creation goals.

As already discussed, consistently creating good content is hard. And trying to do more than you can reasonably manage is bad for overall productivity, and can potentially even be bad for your health. And if your team gets burned out trying to produce more content than you can handle, the quality of your content will suffer as well.

2. You want to scale up how much content you produce to get better results.

While content marketing professionals often talk about the importance of quality over quantity in content, the fact is that blogging more tends to get better results. HubSpot found that companies posting over 16 posts a month got over 3.5 times the results of those who post 4 or less.

16 posts a month comes to around four posts a week. Unless you have a large team of content creators at your business devoted primarily to blogging, meeting that goal will be extremely difficult to manage without outside help. The easiest way to scale up is to outsource some of your blog writing needs to freelancers.

3. You lost an employee and need some help picking up the slack.

Talented employees are in high demand and, even if your company works hard to make it a great place to work, some of your workers will inevitably be lured away to other opportunities. When you lose one of your best employees, you need to find someone to fill in fast. A freelance blog writer (or a few) can often help you manage your content needs while you work on replacing your employee.

4. You need help, but don’t have room in the budget to bring on a full-time employee.

For many businesses, talent is the biggest expense you have. The cost of a good employee goes far beyond the amount they get in their paycheck. You have to factor benefits into the budget, including the cost of paid time off, health insurance, retirement benefits, and unemployment and social security taxes. You’re also responsible for the cost of any supplies they need to do the job, and for additional office space if they’re expected to come to an office every day.

For freelancers, you only pay the amount they bill for the work you hire them for. If you don’t have full-time needs, you can only hire—and only pay—them for the work you actually need. The result is that marketing departments can generally save money by hiring a couple of good freelancers versus finding a full-time employee to do the work.

5. Your level of need isn’t high enough for a full-time position.

If you just need help producing a few extra blog posts a month, then it probably doesn’t make sense financially to bring on a new full-time employee. Freelancers work with a number of clients, so they don’t expect to be assigned or paid for 40 hours a week from you.

If you only need work that amounts to a few hours a week—say somewhere from one to ten blog posts a month—then finding a freelance blogger is more practical than going through the hiring process for an employee.

6. You worry you’re getting rusty and need help with fresh ideas.

When you spend your days mired in the same industry, at some point it becomes impossible to see it with fresh eyes. Freelancers are good for bringing new ideas to the table. And crucially, they can often help you see things the way consumers who don’t spend day in and day out working in the industry see things—a valuable insight for writing content that speaks to the people you most want to reach.   

7. You’ve got great ideas, but struggle with turning them into well written blog posts.

This is the opposite issue, but a common one many people face. If you’re just brimming with ideas, but find the process of turning them into strong blog posts that are organized well for readability and optimized for SEO insurmountable, that’s exactly the skill good freelance blog writers bring to the table.

The ability to create a good content marketing strategy that includes a list of blog topics is a valuable skill to have, but it only pays off if you can execute that strategy. If that’s the part you struggle with, outsource it to someone who excels at the execution side of things.

Hire a Freelance Blog Writer

If you’ve confirmed that it’s time to hire a freelancer to help out with your blog, the next step is finding one that meets your needs. Check back soon for a followup blog post that gets into how to find a good freelance blog writer.

Or alternately, since you’re on a freelance blogger’s website right now. you can check out my writing samples and learn a little about how I work to see if we might be a good fit. And often when I’m not a fit for a client, I try to help point them in the right direction to find another writer, so feel free to get in touch with the details of what you need.  

Why You Need a Content Marketing Calendar

Even as content marketing becomes an indispensable part of any online marketing plan, many businesses struggle with doing it effectively. For content marketing to work you have to commit to doing a lot of work, consistently, indefinitely. It can be overwhelming.  And considering the level of investment that good content marketing requires, doing it badly comes at a big cost for small results.

One of the best tools you have to make the overwhelming more manageable and get better results from your content marketing is a content marketing calendar.  

What is a Content Marketing Calendar?

A content marketing calendar is a clear plan for your future content that’s tied to specific dates and deadlines. Your content calendar will make clear:

  • Who’s responsible for each content task (e.g. writing, editing, image creation, etc.)
  • When their part of the work is due
  • When the content will be published
  • When and how it will be promoted and distributed

By documenting all this information, you take the chaos of all the work involved in content marketing and turn it into something organized and workable.  

Why a Content Marketing Calendar Makes a Difference

If you don’t use one now, creating and sticking with a content marketing calendar will completely transform the way you do content marketing. The many benefits it brings will add up to a better-run content marketing program and improved results. Here are a few of the specific benefits you can expect.

1. Breaking a plan down into a timeline helps make it real.

Coming up with good ideas is a great skill to have but, as many people learn the hard way, executing on those ideas is the harder part. For your great ideas to become reality, you have to tie them to a plan of specific action steps.

In marketing, the difference this makes has been proven. Marketers that create a documented strategy are 538% more likely to find success than those who don’t. In content marketing, an important part of that strategy is creating a content calendar that breaks down your big ideas into specific tasks that your team can and will complete.

2. You can plan out how different pieces of content support each other.

None of the content you create exists in a vacuum—or it shouldn’t, anyway. You want blog posts that drive people to your ebook, social media posts that drive people to your blog. Your content should help get people to sign up for your email list, then your emails can help promote your content. It’s all connected.

In order to plan out relevant connections between the different parts of your content strategy, you need a high-level view of everything you’re creating. And to keep all the connections in your strategy organized and on schedule, you need to know when your different content pieces will be ready and published.

Your content calendar will make it possible for you to make sure those blog posts that promote your big ebook go up after the ebook is ready, and that your infographic is ready in time for the big social push you’re planning to promote it.

3. An organized schedule keeps everyone on the same page.

Content marketing is rarely a one-person job. You have your content strategist, writers, designers, social media coordinators—a full team of people who each play an important role. For every person to do their job well and on schedule, they need to know when they can count on others to do theirs.

If your writers don’t have clear deadlines, then the designers are stuck never knowing when they can start on the blog post images or slideshows they’re supposed to work on. And you’ll never know when you can publish the pieces you have planned.

When no one can plan, you never know how long creating each piece of content will take, so publishing consistently is impossible.

4. Planning a calendar in advance helps you incorporate holidays and industry events.

Your audience will have different concerns at different times of year, and you’ll have different events to promote. Your content should reflect this. If your audience is accountants, then planning out content that speaks to what they’re dealing with in the thick of tax season shows you understand what they’re going through. But you don’t want to think about creating that content for the first time on April 10—five days before most taxes are due—and hope your team can pull something together at the last minute.

With a content calendar, you’ll sketch out your plan for a season far enough out that you have time to think through all the important holidays, seasonal concerns, and industry events to address in your content.

5.  Content marketing calendars aid in consistency.

It’s hard to get a blog post up every day or week, and an email out every week or month. It’s hard to get social media posts up multiple times a day, and even harder to get high-value gated pieces created regularly.
All of those things are a lot harder to do with any consistency if you don’t have a clear calendar in place. And if you publish three blog posts one week and nothing for another month, you look sloppy. If your emails come in inconsistently enough for people to forget who you are, they’ll stop opening them. Inconsistency has a cost, but it also has an easy solution.

Start Using a Content Marketing Calendar

A content marketing calendar turns the chaos of content marketing into order. It helps you turn your ad-hoc content creation into an organized strategy where all the different pieces work together in a unified whole. And it will ensure you keep your plans and deadlines realistic. It’s one of the most important and valuable tools in the content marketer’s toolkit.

8 Ways to Make Business Blogging Go Further

Business blogging has become one of the most essential methods for connecting with customers and building your website’s SEO authority. And a number of studies have confirmed the value of business blogging: it results in 55% more traffic, 97% more inbound links, and 67% more leads.  

business blogging traffic
business blogging leads

By pretty much every measure businesses use to determine website success, having a business blog is one of the best paths to improved results.

But consistently maintaining a business blog is time consuming and costly—especially one where you only publish blog posts that provide real value to your audience. And if you’re not doing that, what’s the point?

If you’re going to invest in a blog for your business, you need it to get results. And that requires the right approach. Here are a few good ways to make your business blogging go further.

1.     Start with a business blogging strategy.

You know you’re supposed to blog, so it can be tempting to just start getting blog posts up to check that box. But if you want your business blog to help you accomplish anything substantial, you need a business blogging strategy.

This should involve a few main steps:

  • Define your goals.

You’re investing time and money into your business blog because you want it to do something tangible for your business. In order to build your strategy around the things you want to accomplish, you need to clarify what your goals are. Write your goals down and, as much as possible, figure out specific metrics you can track to measure your progress. Measuring a goal like “establishing thought leadership” will be trickier than something like “increasing traffic,” but do your best.

And make sure you stay realistic here. If your goal is a number one ranking for every target keyword, or publishing a blog post every day with a team of two people—you’re setting up yourself up for failure. Keep your goals within reason.

  • Do audience research.

Your blog isn’t for you. And while it is for your business—in the sense that it’s meant to help you forward your business goals—you’re better off thinking about it as something you do for your audience first and foremost. To deliver content that your audience will value and appreciate, you need to take some time to understand who they are.

Audience research can involve a mix of data analysis—both of demographic data and marketing analytics—as well as getting more direct input from your audience using surveys or interviews.

  • Do keyword research.

Keyword research is valuable on a number of levels.. It helps you get a read on the topics your audience is talking about and the language they use. It can be a fruitful source for coming up with topics to cover on your blog. And it’s an important part of any SEO strategy, so you know what keywords to optimize each piece of content for.

You’re not starting from scratch here. If you already have a blog, analyze your most successful posts to gain a better understanding of what works well for you now. Even if you’re just starting a new blog, you can look to examples of successful blogs in your topic area to see what your audience responds well to. By taking the time to research successful business blogging examples, you’ll take some of the guesswork out of building your strategy.

2.     Keep SEO top of mind.

One of the best things about business blogging is the bump it can give to your SEO rankings. It gives you more opportunities to cover relevant keywords and topic areas, so you show up for more searches. If you provide valuable information in your posts, it gives other websites more reasons to link back to you. And some of the on-site ranking factors Google values, like time spent on site, are helped by having blogs that keep people around.

Just by having a business blog, you’re vastly improving your SEO chances. But you can help your blog posts do better in the search engines by taking a few extra steps to give your blog posts an extra SEO edge:

  • Do SERP research.

Before every blog you write or assign, take a minute to do a Google search for the keyword you’re hoping to rank for. See what type of content has made the first page for this topic. Seeing the current results offers insights into what works for that term in the search engines. Are the top results short and to the point, or are they long and comprehensive? And most importantly, what opportunities can you see to improve upon the information provided in those top posts?

  • Consider featured snippets.

A natural consequence to doing SERP research is starting to see when and how Google uses featured snippets in the results. When the search includes an answer box, write your blog post in a way that optimizes your chances for taking that answer box. The best way to do that will depend on the type of featured snippet that shows up in the search: a list snippet, a chart, or a brief text answer. Pay attention to the type of rich results on the SERP for your target term so you can create content more likely to win position zero.

business blogging answer box example

  • Strategically use headings.

Dividing your blog posts into sections with headings is good for both readability and SEO. It makes it easier for your visitors to skim to find the information they need, and it gives you more chances to signal to Google what your content is about. Use your target keywords in your headings where it’s relevant to do so (but don’t overdo it—it still has to be useful for your human readers).

Customize all relevant fields.

This is a simple step that can make a big difference in SEO. Make sure you customize your page URL, title tag, meta description, and alt image text to include your target keyword for a blog post. It’s a small but important way to emphasize what your post is about in a way the search algorithms recognize. If you use WordPress, any good SEO plugin you download will make this easy to do.

3.     Use your blog to answer common questions.

One of the best sources for coming up with blog topics your audience will find useful is going straight to the source. What are the questions your your customers and prospects most often come to you with? Review old emails and talk to your sales and customer service representatives to work up a list of the most frequent questions you get.

When you write blog posts that answer common questions, you accomplish two things at once. First, you write content that you know, without a doubt, your customers are interested in. And second, you make the lives of your sales and customer support teams easier, since they’ll now have handy resources they can share each time they get those questions in the future.

Your blog becomes a sales enablement and customer service tool, as well as a marketing one.

4.     Commit time to quality.

I know. This one is hard. You’re busy. Your team is probably already overwhelmed. And blogging brings the pressure of publishing a lot of content. A higher frequency of posts tends to mean better results in terms of traffic and lead gen. But rushing your content means you risk publishing stuff that’s not very good. And none of the benefits of business blogging come into play if your content sucks.

Make sure you’re willing to commit the time and resources needed to make every blog post worth it. And if you’re not sure your current team is up for the task, hire a good freelance blog writer to help pick up the slack.

5.     Create a plan for promotion.

Publishing an amazing blog post isn’t good enough. The internet is simply too saturated for your audience to find you on their own. You need to do everything you can to get your awesome blog posts in front of them.

As part of your blog strategy, create a plan for promoting your blog posts. This can include:

  • Sharing the links on social media.
  • Nurturing relationships on social media (so your feeds aren’t just promotional).
  • Writing guest posts on relevant blogs that link back to your best posts.
  • Collaborating with influencers on your blog posts, so they’re more likely to share them with their networks.
  • Paid distribution methods, such as search and social ads.

Investing in content promotion is as important as investing in high-quality content creation. If you want your business blogging to go further, you can’t skip this step,

6.     Regularly review your analytics.

The first step to doing better is understanding how you’re doing now. With business blogging, that means making it a habit to check your website analytics regularly to gauge the success of your blog posts. Google Analytics provides extensive data on how many people are viewing your blog posts, how people are finding them, and what they do once they’re on the page.

When you combine Google Analytics with the data from other sources, like your email marketing software and customer data, you can also track the role your blog posts play in driving visitors to the actions you want them to take, like signing up for your email list or making a purchase.

Use that data to regularly analyze the success of your blog posts and determine which types of blogging tactics and styles are helping you achieve your primary goals. The more you know what works, the more you can shape your blog strategy to get the results you seek.

7.     Perform content audits (at least) annually.

Businesses often get swept up in the flurry of work required to consistently create new content for a blog, but it’s just as important to take a step back and look for ways to get more out of the content you already have. At least once a year, perform a content audit to find opportunities to make your old blog posts better.

You’ll find blog posts that can be updated or strengthened, internal linking opportunities that can drive more visits to other posts, and spot any errors or broken links that need to be fixed. Content audits can help you get more traction from old posts, spur ideas for new posts you can create, and help you ensure every piece on your blog represents your brand at the level you want it to.

8.     Make a habit out of updating and repurposing.

The longer you have a blog, the more content you’ll have that falls out of date or becomes forgotten. The work you did on a great blog post five years ago will cease to matter if you stop there. Instead, make sure you revisit your old content regularly to find ways to update it and make it better.

In addition, you can make the work you did in the past go further by repurposing your most successful blog posts into new formats. Your top blog post could become a highly valuable video series or webinar. You already know your audience values the information you provided, so give them more ways to interact with it in the format of their choice.

Build a Better Business Blog

Your business blog is only valuable if your audience finds it, reads it, and comes to care about your brand because of it. Without the right strategy and approach, your blog posts will just be one more thing crowding the web without purpose.

If you struggle to consistently create business blog posts that your audience cares about, a good freelance blogger can help. Get in touch to see if we’re a fit.

How to Actually Get a Link from a Blogger

If you’ve ever been tasked with building links for a website, you know it’s one of the hardest parts of SEO. Most SEO specialists spend a lot of time sending outreach emails to bloggers asking for a link, and most of those emails go unanswered. You can easily send over 100 emails without earning one link—or, in a campaign considered successful, get one or two for all that work.

Prospect.io shared the numbers of a couple of their campaigns. Their less successful campaign earned them one link per 60 sites they reached out to, and even their more successful one only netted them 13 links per 120 sites. Total that’s over 150 people that didn’t respond—or at least, didn’t respond positively.

link building results

So why don’t most link building campaigns work?

As a blogger that receives frequent link building emails, I can provide an explanation of the main reasons most link building emails I get don’t work, as well as a description of the rare times link building outreach did get results.

Link Building Pitches That Won’t Work

The most common type of link building email I get that never yields a positive response looks something like this:

Dear Kristen (or worse, Dear Austin-copywriter.com),

I came across your piece: <link to something I’ve written>. What a useful resource!

I thought you might like to know, we recently published a piece on <related topic> which provides a ton of information that would be valuable to your readers.

Maybe you can add our link to your great piece? <their link>

It’s a polite enough email and one I can tell is applying tips that are suggested in articles around the web. It tries to demonstrate that they did some research on me to make sure the email is relevant (although actual emails sometimes undercut that point by doing this part badly). It includes flattery. And it attempts to make a case that what they’re suggesting will be useful to my audience.

But none of that really matters for some key reasons. Here’s why this doesn’t work.

It’s asking me to do more work.

Going back and adding a link to a piece that’s already published takes time out of my busy day. And in order to make sure the link is added in a way that’s natural and relevant, I’d generally have to re-write some part of the piece to make it work.

The likelihood that putting that work in would actually result in a blog post that’s better for my audience or produces better results for me is low. In most cases, it’s frankly nonexistent. The only person that work would benefit is the person sending the email—a total stranger to me.

For pieces I wrote for clients, it’s even asking me to ask my client to do more work.

Many of these emails aren’t asking me to add links to pieces on my own blog, they’re wanting me to update blog posts I wrote for clients. When I submit a piece I wrote to a client, there’s a whole level of work in between my submission and the post going up on their site. Someone does editing work, loads it to the blog, adds images, and schedules it to be published.

Making an update to that piece isn’t as simple as me going in and changing it. At that point someone else working for that client who has the right access would have to do that work. So not only would I be doing work to figure out how to update the piece so the link would fit naturally, I’d be asking my client to do extra work to go in and make changes to the live post.

That would be an awkward ask for me at best, and something that’s just not really appropriate to ask of a client when there’s no benefit to them or me.

A decent portion of the time, the email is sloppy or the link isn’t relevant.

Even if you do everything right in a link building pitch like this, you won’t get that link because of the two points above. But the majority of these emails I get don’t do everything right.

In fact, the most common page I get people asking me to add a link to is this one:

http://austin-copywriter.com/writing-samples/

If you took two seconds to read that URL and figure out why that page is not a logical target for someone else’s link building campaign, then you just did more work than most of the people sending me these emails. You don’t even have to click through—the reason’s right there in the URL that these people include in their very email.

Sometimes the pages they ask me to add links to are tag or category pages on the blog—not quite as egregious as the Writing Samples page, but still not a piece of content I could even add your link to if I wanted to.

Sometimes the subject line of the email doesn’t match the contents, an obvious copy-and-paste error. Or sometimes they get my name wrong or say things that make it clear they don’t understand I’m a freelance writer (something that’s extremely obvious in the first few seconds you spend on my site).

In short, the attempts to show they did their research and made sure the email was relevant fail, in obvious and ridiculous ways.

Link Building Pitches that Do Work

In the eight years I’ve been blogging around the web, I’ve gotten just a couple of link building pitches that actually do lead to the source earning new links.

Here’s what they did differently.

They made my life easier.

That’s it. That’s the big secret.

Instead of asking me to do more work. A good link building email finds a way to make me do less.

Specifically, these pitches:

  •      Suggested topic ideas that hadn’t been written about yet.

For many of my clients, part of my job is coming up with blog topics. I have to do a certain amount of research and brainstorming on a regular basis, which takes work and time. If you take the time to look at the blog, find a gap in the current coverage (that in some way relates to your business or content), and send a suggestion, you’re helping me out.

If you include a few links in your email to resources you’ve created that will jump start my research process on the subject, even better! And when I start writing, I’ll include a link back to those helpful resources, both as a thanks for the help, and because they genuinely provide useful, relevant information to my audience.

  •      Made sure the topics they provided were relevant to my audience.

I mentioned how the email templates that don’t work often pay lip service to thinking about my audience, but you have to go beyond lip service here. Make sure you figure out who a particular blog is targeting and suggest topics that will matter to them.

If you’re link building for a security company and contact me about a piece for a client’s blog that has an audience of seniors, your pitch should have a senior-specific angle. Don’t suggest a post on “How to Make Your Home More Secure,” go for something like “How Seniors Living Alone Can Stay Safe.”

And often getting more specific is better, since broad topics have usually already been done. Think about how you can use your expertise (or your client’s expertise) to help suggest a unique angle.

  •      Tied the pitch into to a trending topic or date.

Many of my clients love it when a piece can be tied back to a specific holiday or trending topic coming up—even the kind of goofy ones, like National Ice Cream Day (July 21, if you’re curious). Look for something that makes your pitch more timely. HubSpot has a handy calendar with all the unofficial holidays you can use in your pitches.

Keep in mind here though that some businesses plan their schedules out far in advance. Pitching a topic relevant to National Popcorn Lover’s Day (March 14) in late February may work out for you, but often looking ahead a couple of months will work better.

Start Actually Earning Links

Does this sound like more work than copy-and-pasting the same template 100 times? You betcha.

Will it get you more than one link per every 100 or more emails? Almost certainly, if you do it well.

Take time to learn who you’re contacting, who their audience is, and what the blog regularly covers. Then suggest a new post that you can be a valuable resource to help them write. That’s much more likely to earn you a link than asking them to update an old post they’ve already published.