This is a guest contribution from Jeff Foster.

Blogger outreach is one of the most effective ways to build your brand. It’s a great way to connect with potential customers – the blogosphere gives you a ready-made audience who are already interested in your type of product or service. But if you’re going to succeed, you need to build strong relationships with bloggers who want to be your brand ambassadors. This takes work – don’t expect to shoot off a few emails and have bloggers lining up at your door.

The good news is that there are proven ways to make your blogger outreach a success. If you’re wondering how to turbocharge your brand in the blogosphere, here are seven ways to get you started.

1. Use Introduction Sites

Online blogger introduction sites are a very effective way of finding bloggers to talk about your brand. Sites such as Tomoson, Brand Meets Blog, Nuffnang, and Blogger Connect attract high-quality bloggers who want to connect with businesses like yours. You can browse through bloggers by interest area – for example, food enthusiasts – to find the right bloggers for your brand. These sites also have tools you can use to measure blogger influence, which helps you narrow down the list even further. The other advantage of introduction sites is that the bloggers on them are already actively interested, so you’re going to get a better response than if you just send out cold-calling emails to bloggers directly.

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2. Give Bloggers Your Product

Product giveaways are a great tool for getting bloggers on board – in fact, this is one of the most frequent outreach techniques. Bloggers love to get their hands on products they can use and review. They’ll write better reviews if they can see and feel what you have to offer. Of course, blindly giving away hundreds of samples isn’t advisable, particularly if your product isn’t cheap. But if you target key bloggers with your giveaways, you’ll keep the cost down and get better results. A word of caution, however. Don’t try to control what a blogger says about your product. Bloggers value their independence, so this will just annoy them.

3. Ask For Feedback

There’s no better way to get bloggers on your side than to make them part of the process. By asking for feedback on your products or services, you show them that you value their opinions. A blogger is much more likely to become a brand ambassador if they feel that you are listening to them, and that they have influence over what you are doing and saying. You’ll benefit from this as well – bloggers know your target customers and what they want. Not only that, they’ve already proven that they know how to talk to your audience – that’s how they built a following in the first place. By following their lead, you’ll get insights on how to build an authentic relationship with your market.

4. Give Bloggers Exposure

Successful bloggers are always looking for new ways to expand their audience. They’re passionate about their subject and want to engage with as many people as possible – which would also increase their income potential. By promoting bloggers to your existing social media channels, you give them the exposure they’re trying to build. This can be as simple as retweeting their tweets and sharing their blog posts. To take this to the next level, ask trusted bloggers to write guest posts for your corporate blog, but remember not to try to control what they say. Also, be prepared to pay bloggers to write for you – after all, writing is how bloggers make a living.

5. Meet In Person

You can build a great online relationship with a blogger, but there’s no substitute for seeing them face to face. If you travel regularly as part of your business, make a point of letting bloggers know that you’re in their neighborhood and would love to catch up if it suits them. Offer to meet them for a drink or a meal – and make it a social occasion, not a hard sell.

Blogger conventions and conferences are also excellent occasions for meeting with bloggers. They are an opportunity to get together with your existing brand champions, and also with new bloggers who might be interested in talking about your products or services. You may even find conferences that focus on topics that you want to target – for example, the DBC Conference is for bloggers interested in interior design. If you have enough budget, why not sponsor a blogger conference or even host one yourself?

6. Create A Blogger Network

If you bring new products to market regularly, it’s tempting to find exactly the right bloggers for each one. But this means starting over again every time, which is time-consuming and expensive. It’s much more effective to build a “go-to” pool of bloggers who are genuinely enthusiastic about your brand. By getting them to mention your brand on a regular basis, their readers are more likely to trust what they say. You’re likely to get much better reviews as well – when you build a long-term relationship with a blogger, they’re already well disposed towards you.

7. Show Your Appreciation

Bloggers absolutely hate being used. If you only get in contact when you want them to write a post, you’re going to turn them off very quickly. Every time a blogger mentions your brand, show your appreciation by sending them a sincere thank you note. Make sure you keep them in the loop on what’s happening with your brand – a monthly insider newsletter is one great way of doing this. Send them exclusive content they can share – for example, high-quality images, fact sheets, amusing stories and anything else that will appeal to their readers. Finally, don’t forget to send them product samples from time to time – it’s a perfect way of reminding them that you genuinely care.

Jeff Foster is co-founder and CEO at Tomoson, the influencer marketplace. The platform allows bloggers and social media influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content, and lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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