Hustle – One of my favourite ever posts recreated!

This article is based on one that I read a while ago, I recently noticed that it is no longer live so here is my own version of it. The basic premise is on why “hustle” is so important in your link building efforts, it is essential and the reason why you lazy link builders will be looking for work in a few months. A quote from the original article over on Carson Content… all credit to @mrjamescarson for this strategy whose content I used to adore before it vanished.

“It’s all very well saying, ‘You gotta have hustle’ and ‘I’ve got hustle’ but if you don’t know how to apply your hustler instincts to any process, you’ll be hustling in all the wrong places, doing loads of hustling and getting nowhere.”

It is basically a 12 step process/story from a link building outreach campaign, the reason I have decided to recreate this article is because it happened to me almost exactly the same as the original story, including the rejection and how it got overturned, statistics were also almost exactly the same except on a slightly smaller scale as my client was not as big as his.

The following is the story of my unbelievable tekkers/good hustle.

So I’m working with a largeish brand, they are know by most people in the UK and I have managed to get a few thousand links over the course of the first few months of the campaign. They are ranking at number 1 for basically every term that could help them sell their product now, my weekly call with their marketing guy basically consists of him saying thanks and me saying you’re welcome. As they sell products (very nice looking ones) they have a lot of images on their site, people like to steal nice images, so….

#1) I researched my targets
I generally work at night, don’t ask why but I find it more peaceful and easier to focus on what I’ve got to do! Plus nobody bothers me (no email, no questions from people on skype, tv is generally rubbish) so I load up my laptop and start looking for sites that were using our images etc yet didn’t have a link back to the site. It took me just over 2 hours to come up with 50 targets (this was my aim amount) using just 10 of our most poplar product images. I would later expand the process to check all of our images and it would be worth a couple of hundred very nice links.

#2) I wrote an email template
Now the experience of sending thousands of outreach emails (as well as the guide I was following) told me that I shouldn’t ask for links in the first email. So I create a customisable template, this essentially means that it is an email that you can copy and paste into an email and add/edit certain parts to personalise and make it look like it isn’t a template. The original template is something like, “Hey (insert name), I like your site and was wondering if you’d be up for doing some exchanges such as pushing our content from your social profiles when it suits you, we’ll be happy to do the same.” (It was longer, but you get the point). If you are writing a brand new email for every outreach then you are wasting your time, as well as your clients’ money. Very, very inefficient, stop it and crate templates, hook them up to text expander and BOOYA, you got yourself a time saver.

#3) I emailed everyone on my list personally
Adapt the emails so that they have some personal information in them, look up their twitter, facebook, linkedin, whatever else you can find and throw a mention of something that is personal to them in there, football banter will almost guarantee a response in this type of outreach.

If you can’t find their email, message them on facebook, dm on twitter, however you can get to them (what do you have to lose?) I’ll steal this bit from the original article as I didn’t change anything.
Keep a spreadsheet – In my research sheet I had the following columns:
Name Website URL Email/Contact Domain Authority Status
The status column was critical. As soon as I messaged everyone I put their status as “Contacted – No Reply” and set the entire rows in orange. When someone replied and said they were up for it, I’d put them as “Partner” in green. No one said they weren’t interested, but if they happened to then I’d put them in “No interest” in Red. Sometimes they’d want a little more detail, so I’d put their status as “Partner – Unsure” in Blue. They always came round in the end.

#4) I responded instantly to everyone who replied
Sitting at my desk (on my couch in my living room, watching Smallville to be exact), I kept seeing these emails come in to my outreach email address, I replied to these people straight away as that’s what the instructions said. My replies ask them if there is anything specific they wanted me to push, still not asking for anything despite them having our images on their site with no attribution link OH MY!

#5) I did something for everyone that replied before they could do anything for me
[FROM ORIGINAL ARTICLE] If the respondent said they had something specific to push, I pushed it. I got it published somewhere. Then I always emailed the relevant respondent to tell them where the link had been published. Almost everyone replied to say thanks.

#6) I messaged all the guys that were still orange
Talk to all of the people who haven’t replied, I use email open tracking so can see how many of these people actually saw the first email. After 3 days (I did this on a Monday (the advice from the original article was to do it on a Friday so they have the weekend to read and reply etc but I find that my open rates are much better early in the week), as with the original stats, I was at around 20% who hadn’t responded positively and after round 2 of emails we were down to about 10%. It just so happens that I had 1 of the same “bad customer” responses as in the original article, my solution was exactly the same and worked exactly the same, check this shamone!

Bad Customer #1 – A guy from America who was using a fair amount of our images without permission, asked me for money to add the links. Anybody who knows me knows that I HATE being asked for money during outreach, I do everything I can to get these links for free, sometimes I get on a mission with these types of guys and literally go after them with everything In have. In this situation it wasn’t really necessary as simple threats of taking him to court, reporting him to Google (he had adsense on the site) etc were enough to get him to give me the links my client deserved for him infringing copyright.

He gave me the links, we sent him some traffic from our social accounts, everybody was happy.

#7) I did their work.
Although people were being nice, they are still lazy, this is where you need to be proactive, pop open excel and start making spreadsheets yo!
Research their sites and list all the URL’s where your content is, in the next column, add some HTML code that links back to your site (the original article had 2 links, I see no need for this and just have 1). This tells them which page need which links added, it also gives you greater control of the anchor text and where the link is pointing to.

A copyright aside (from original article)– Your images are being used all over the web – are you really going to try and have them removed? Forget it. Too few people care about image rights or even the threat of prosecution – DMCA requests from the off are completely ridiculous (unless the site is clearly making money out of your content only) – what’s in it for you? This person could have been using your stuff for years and if you get them to take it down it will do nothing for you. Don’t get them to take it down, get them to put links in it – you’ll go shooting up a search engine. #winning.

#8) I requested they link us back
Next I actually asked for the links (I know right?) you simply say something like “I noticed you had some of our content on your site that we would like you to attribute” and attach the spreadsheet. If there are a lot of links to be added (read this as “lots of work for them to do”), you can tell them you’ll send them a shit ton of traffic in exchange to make it seem like its worth the effort. You do this by having a strong social presence, a link can go a long way on twitter if you have the right followers.

Here’s another quote “A lot of people didn’t do it straight away, so I hustled them. Some people said they did it all, but when I checked, some of the links were missing, so I hustled them. Some times they wouldn’t respond so I sent them a ton of traffic and let them know about it – then they responded. All of them did what I requested – not one sheet got wasted.”

Here is a second bad customer and the solution from the original article, I didn’t have a comparable example to use so I’ll keep this one intact.

Bad Customer #2 – One guy really didn’t like it. He said his boss had told him no because, ‘Every time we link back we lose traffic.’ I explained that most of the articles where I wanted links were old and would get no visits anyway. He didn’t relent. I guaranteed he wouldn’t lose traffic because I’d send him a ton through a link dump. He didn’t relent. I asked again. He didn’t relent. I sent him a long email explaining my situation and that he was infringing copyright by using our material without my permission and that my request was entirely reasonable – I could use lawyers if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t (insinuating threats as a last resort can certainly work), and I requested I speak to his boss on the phone directly. It went on for ages – six weeks of backward and forwards – I would send emails to him when I was in the pub and my companion was at the bar. I just wanted those fricking links and the more time I spent, the more worthwhile it got. Eventually, one day when I went to work, all the links were up. I sent him as much traffic as I possibly could and said, ‘If you ever send that much traffic to me through these links, I’ll send you a video of myself eating a tri-cornered hat.’ I couldn’t care less about how much US traffic he could send me anyway, I was after the UK search visits. #winning.

#9) I created relationships
This is where that “networking” thing comes I that everyone is always banging on about, when I couldn’t find peoples contact info, I’d get them on facebook, add them as friends, send them quick happy birthday messages etc etc, I congratulated one guy on the birth of his daughter. In response, he asked if I had anything for him to promote for me, I didn’t. (another guy from another project responded in a similar way and it just so happened that one of his clients was in an industry where a link to another client of mines site would be gold, so I got him to push my clients site a little and talk me up with an intro to a site that I was looking to get a link from, and BOOM, a link that I had been chasing for months finally became a reality as if by some form of slut magic).

#10) I used relationships for further gain
A couple of months go by and there are still some of those orange guys in the sheet, I see these as annoyances, I don’t stand for annoyances, these are my links, I MUST HAVE THEM!
I rack my brain for a solution and then remember, this isn’t my strategy, there is somebody else’s solution out there so I don’t need to waste my mental energy thinking about this, I bust out the original article and lo and behold a solution appears. USE MY RELATIONSHIPS!
So the relationships I’ve made with these guys are pretty decent, they are responsive and like to help out, so I check out if any of them know they orange guys on my list, can they make an intro, help me get in contact? Turns out yes, one of them can. It’s a pretty weak relationship but they have shared strategies on the past via email, I get myself an intro email and go from there. Grab some real contact info, they are both in the UK so I call them, I have a pretty stern conversation about copyright and reporting them etc etc, and it turns out they are both not as brave when it comes to a phone conversation. Agree to give me my links and voila, another couple of orange guys become green. Very nice links too, not too many of them, just an image or 2 but still, very nice links from very nice domains.

#11) I maintained a distribution network
At this point I have good relationships with basically the entire list of 50, these guys like me, they think I sit in an office with my client and am part of their team, this make me invaluable to my client, and the only like they have to this ever growing distribution network. Every few weeks/months my client has something to announce, a new section of their site/new product available/their product will be appearing on TV etc etc, I send this info (and the press release) to the network and they get it out there on our behalf. We also share their stuff if asked. This is the part I find the hardest as I am not great at maintaining these relationships, however if utilised correctly then this is a constant source of traffic and links from loads of nice sites.

I’ll leave you with step 12 from the original article as there is no point in me writing it any better, it says it all…..

#12) I recorded everything
All this hustle was great but unless you keep your spreadsheets tight you’re going to lose track of what you’re doing pretty quickly and make mistakes. I made sure all links were recorded in a sheet and status updates/links built the other way were also recorded. When I had this I could report back to my business the value I was creating, and also know which partners were actually doing stuff in return for my rewards. I was pretty happy with most of them.