The 2018 Non-Spammy Guide to Link Building for Early Stage Startups


Don’t like link building? I don’t either. But does link building have to be so grimy? No. It doesnt. Not if you’re building REAL links and not just “backlinks.”

Outreach the way we were taught is dead

There are over 5,000,000 blog posts posted every single day.

And it seems everyone is using the same crappy outreach emails to try and build links towards them.

If you own a site that’s half decent, you probably get these emails – every. single. day.

Example of a baseline outreach

Here’s a prototypical example of your joe blow run-of-the-mill outreach email.

 

Oh wow! This is a great opportunity to build a relationship and get some free content! I’m getting popular! Seems all my hard work is finally paying off!

(said no one ever)

But seriously, would any sane person ever reply to a mail like this in 2018?

But what about quality 1:1 personalized outreach?

Bad news.

The amateur link builders ruined it for you.

Content managers’ inboxes are suffocating under the weight of the swarm of shitty outreach emails.

So even if you did write an AMAZING 1:1 personalised outreach email jam-packed with a Google Drive link to an epic guest post you’ve drafted – chances are your mail will be ignored.

Nobody wants manage the “write-for-us@domain.com” email addresses anymore.

There’s just way too much noise in there.

I’m supposed to be managing this email box, but I’ll admit, I haven’t opened even one of these emails.

In fact, I think I’m going to batch-delete them all after I finish writing this post.

The easiest way to build links in 2018 is to build *real* relationships

Now I know what you’re probably thinking.

But trust me alright. It’s not so bad!

How to build relationships (which can get you high value dofollow backlinks)

Step 1: Find people you admire and say “thanks”

You want to bring your startup to the market with a bang, don’t you?

Well then you’re going to have to invest the time to build up relationships with a network of *real people* who might be able to help you out at some point in the future.

Process:

  1. Make a list of people that you admire
  2. Follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn
  3. Find a specific thing that they wrote/said that really resonated with you
  4. Find their email address (this isn’t that hard if you’re motivated enough)
  5. Send them a personalised email and tell them what you think about them, what they’re doing that excites you, etc. and how they’ve helped you grow. (you can replace an email with a LinkedIn connection request, but you’ll have less characters to express yourself with. Email is better for this. Save LinkedIn connection request for later 😉

Rules:

  • Don’t be creepy
  • Don’t sound overly needy
  • Don’t ask for anything

Just like any investment, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

You have to be 100% cool with the very likely chance, that they will completely ignore/delete this email and never write back.

The goal is to get them to reply gratuitously with a “thank you” or “glad you’re a fan!” type response.

How to Hack This Step

Book a call with an influencer on Growthmentor and skip the awkward outreach.
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Step 2: Pay it forward

After you’ve established contact and sparked a conversation via email (or LinkedIn if you’ve got a strong presence there) it’s time to add some value.

Things you can do:

Buy their product

Let’s say you reached out to a founder of a SaaS company of which you’d love to one day, hopefully, get featured in on their blog.

If the product’s useful to you, I’d suggest signing up to it.

  • Use it
  • Critique it
  • And send a follow-up email with positive feedback a few weeks later.

By doing this you’ve crossed the chasm from the “unknown fanboy/fangirl” club into the realms of “customer success.”

Since you’re now a customer — the onus is on the founder to make sure you’re as successful as possible.

It’s a lot harder to be ignored when you are now also a customer.

Mention them in your blog posts and social media

If you don’t have the money to signup to buy their product/service you can easily pay it forward for free by mentioning them or their company in your blog posts, or in your LinkedIn posts.

  • Bonus points if your LinkedIn post gets +1,000 likes and a boat load of comments.
  • Bonus points if your blog post is rock-solid and gets noticed by their audience.

After you do this reach out again via email and let them know that they’re top of mind for you and you’re doing whatever you can to give back and recently mentioned them in <insert here blog post or LinkedIn post>.

Goal here is again, to get a “thanks a bunch!” message.

Just be creative + authentic + valuable!

Here’s some ideas to give a bit of inspiration:

  • If you’re an excellent copywriter and you noticed some blatantly bad web copy on their landing page which is probably hurting their conversion rate, give them some free feedback!
  • If you noticed that they’ll be giving a speech at a conference in your city, shoot them a list of recommended restaurants or bars they should check out!

There are unlimited opportunities for adding value, but you have to do it from a good place in your heart.

It’s got to be authentic!

Step 3: The First Rule of Relationship Link Building. YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT LINKS

At this stage, you should have some rapport built up.

  1. You’ve pumped up their ego with Step #1
  2. You’ve gone ahead and paid it forward with Step #2.

Don’t be an eager beaver.

Everyone knows the value of backlinks and everyone knows it’s on everyone’s mind to some degree.

Instead, think of creative ways that would by default include a backlink anyway.

Step 4: Propose partnerships that by default include a backlink

Now that you’ve built up rapport, you’re in a really good position to ask for things (besides links. See step #3).

You’ll want to suggest things that are bi-directionally valuable but ultimately could end up with a one-way dofollow backlink pointing right to your startup’s website.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Getting added to their partners page
  2. A customer story (if you’ve used their services)
  3. A guest post
  4. Want more ideas? Talk to a link building mentor and get inspired!

But here’s the kicker

If you’ve reached this point, I’ll bet that backlinks wont even be on your mind anymore.

You’ve got the real links. You’re now networked.

Build *real relationships* with people from a good place in your heart, and they’ll want to help you out. It’s pretty simple actually.

So stop stressing about backlinks!

Real Links > Backlinks.

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