August Update: How’s Our Outreach Doin’?

TL;DR

  • What mistakes I made the last couple of months and how I got myself out of the mess + lessons learned along the way.
  • We changed a few things with our Outreach Strategy
  • We're running an awesome discount + freebies until August 31st. Grab yours while they last!

Hey guys, Yesh here.

A lot of online entrepreneurs just show the glitz and glamour of ranking and banking, pretty much like this guy (I recommend watching this video - hilarious!):

What people don't see are the daily struggles of running it.

It's not that simple yo!

This is the first of a series of monthly updates on the status of our outreach campaigns. I'll also be talking about how the business is running as a means to provide transparency to our clients. 

With these monthly updates, I'd like to share with you some stuff that goes on behind the scenes and, hopefully, give you some insights on how to run your own projects in the process!

That being said, here's our update for August.

Outreach Strategy: We Updated Some Stuff

No more email requirements

During our last iteration of outreach, we require our clients to provide us their domain email address. We use this email address to run their outreach campaigns.

While an @domain.com email address is good for branding purposes, we decided against it for 2 reasons:

We're sending cold emails so it's not hard to imagine that some people will mark those emails as spam. And if it did happen, your main email could be blacklisted...as in, important emails going to spam. 

Imagine not being able to send emails on your MAIN email anymore. OOF.

One alternative is to buy the same domain with a different TLD.

If my website is outreachworthy.com, I will buy outreachworthy.NET and use that for outreach.

But that's another problem altogether - who should buy the domain? I assume my clients wouldn't be too happy if I own a very similar domain.

The other reason would be...

It's too much of a hassle for you, dear client. We want this to be a set-and-forget campaign, so the only thing we want you to do is to purchase a package, and forget about it! 

Asking for passwords and outgoing servers is just too much of a friction point for my taste. We want you to focus on other things...like running your business.

We could run your outreach campaign on your email address, but that's only if you really want to.

We're starting to specialize on certain niches

I'm noticing that we're fairly successful in landing guest posts on the pet niche. Here are stats on a campaign we're doing through Mailshake:

While I'm not too happy with a 7% bounce rate (that needs to be around 1-3% - we're still learning), we have a 23% reply rate!

Conversion is pretty good too - we got about 10 guest post opportunities (4.15% link conversion rate), although my target is around 6-7%.

If you have a pet affiliate site or have vet clinics as clients, our resident Outreach Expert, Luke Skywhisker is ready to assist you:

Hiring Woes

For the past couple of months - no scratch that - it actually started sometime in June, we had a bit of a hiring problem which resulted in operational delays.

And by operational delays, I mean I dun goofed.

I was able to sort them out (of course), but nevertheless, the fuck up happened that resulted in stressful days and sleepless nights.

What happened?

If you do any kind of outreach, you’ll know that it takes a lot of moving parts to make it out of the other side successfully and with your sanity intact. In our case I have the following:

  • Link prospector - find potential linking partners and get their *correct* contact info.
  • Outreach Manager - run the outreach campaigns. Email prospects and negotiate to get those sweet, sweet guest post links.
  • Content Writers - Writes the guest post articles

Not a lot of stuff to list when you think about it, but each role requires a ton of detailed SOPs.

When one thing doesn’t work as intended the entire process gets derailed.

Disclaimer: Now before you tell me that I'm playing the blame game here, I don’t intend to blame anyone. As the business owner, my philosophy is this:

If a VA makes a mistake once, it's the SOPs fault.

Your SOPs are probably not as clear they should be. Take this as an opportunity to identify areas of improvement.

If a VA repeats the same mistake twice, it's the business owner's fault.

If this happens, take a step back and look at how your entire operation works and how you manage your VAs. Chances are, there is something in the process (not necessarily obvious on your SOP) that's tripping them up - maybe you're micromanaging? Maybe you're giving them too much (or too little) task? Maybe they're not happy with something?

If a VA repeats the same mistake thrice - it's their fault.

If you did everything you think you could and they repeat the same mistake, it's time to evaluate that employee. Give an ultimatum of 1-2 weeks to fix their shit up, or consider looking up for a replacement. 

If a VA repeats the same mistake four times - it's the business owner's fault again.

If you keep the same VA despite repeated mistakes, there's something wrong with YOU. 

My First Mistake

When I launched Outreach Worthy, I intended it to be a bespoke outreach company that only handles around 5-8 long term clients.

Everything was going swimmingly well for about a year until I opened this to the Proper SEO Group Marketplace. A ton of people want in and my greed got the best of me.

Don't get me wrong - I'm super thankful to the group, but this where fuck up #1 happened: I took in more than I could handle.

In hindsight, this was a no-brainer, but when 10 people are waving $1000 at you, and you have a house downpayment that needs to be settled in a few months, that $10K seemed extra tempting.

Hiring another employee made a lot of sense during that time because hiring means scaling and growth right?

...right?

wrong

Apparently not.

Expanding your staff does not equate scaling.

It's weird - I know this is the case, but sometimes when you're in the quagmires of working in your business, you forget things.

Business Tip: Don’t let greed get the best of you and know when to stop accepting business - I recommend trusting your gut instinct with this one. Everyone’s talking about scaling, but what you should really take care of is your happiness. If you’re handling twice the clients but you’re twice just as stressed, is that really a win?

Mistake #2

I think of myself as an entrepreneur with fairly good hiring skills - I hired more than a couple of dozen freelancers (writers, graphics designers, admin VAs, web devs) for both RankMeister and SERPSeeds and my success rate is pretty good.

Unfortunately, I'm only human and I can't be perfect.

Now, to give you background on this fuck-up: I’m a bit trigger-happy when it comes to firing VAs. 2 weeks with no results? Fired. 1 week of intermittent tardiness? Fired.

I give my VAs simple tasks in the beginning, accompanied by very detailed SOPs to see if they’re any good with following:

  • Following instructions
  • Working independently
  • Communication
  • Organization and "Finesse". Finesse is basically how elegant or polished they do their tasks (this separates the good from the GREAT). This is entirely subjective.

I kind of had a soul-searching moment before I hired this outreach manager and thought I could be a different kind of person and give my OM more than 2 weeks to prove herself.

After month 1, I made a KPI tracker in Google Sheet that helps them visualize where they are on the campaigns. That didn’t work either, because the problem is deeper than that.

And so 2 months passed with abysmal results.

Our campaigns were already delayed when I stepped in.

I only found out about the disorganization and inefficiencies when it was already too late.

I stepped in too late.

Business Tip 1: When running outreach campaigns, make sure you have your pulse on everything. If you can’t be bothered, make sure to hire a very *competitive* VA who can do this for you.

Business Tip 2: Determine a "stop gap" or a time frame when you will step in if things aren’t working out. For example, if your outreach campaigns aren’t converting after two weeks, step in, dive deep, and identify the issue. Don’t wait for the campaign to get better on its own - it won't. If you decide to wait, you're already too late.

Business Tip 3: ​No SOPs, templates, and trackers can help you if the problem is disorganization in itself.

August Promotion: 10% OFF on All Orders + Linkable Assets

We're running a 10% discount for all orders until August 31st. We're also giving away free linkable assets:

  • 1,200 word article for the 5-link package
  • 10-point infographic for the 10-link package

Remember this only runs until August 31st.

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Redemption Arc: Problems, Finally Solved!

A couple of months in and I finally solved this issue. And the best part is I actually came back stronger!

We re-configured a bit of our outreach strategy and the results were promising. Moving forward, live links can be delivered within 4-5 weeks instead of the usual 6-7 weeks.

We're also limiting our clients to 10 right now, to keep things steady. Take a look at this recent campaign we just finished

website

Domain Ranking (DR)

organic traffic

Site 1

72

14,387

Site 2

47

3,712

Site 3

70

4,373

Site  4

63

2,776

Site 5

7

3,820

Site 6

36

6,012

Site 7

74

23,674

5 of these links only cost a measly $799. We're super cost effective!

So...how did I get myself out of this mess?

Stopped Accepting All Inquiries

While we increased our capacity to about 40-50 links per month,  I still have to literally pinch myself to constantly remind me to accept just X number of clients.

It took me 2 months before opening our doors again. 

There's no SOP for self-control. I just have to grit my teeth and learn.

Better Vetting Process

Right now I have a more rigorous vetting process. If the checkboxes aren’t checked I won’t accept your money.

Currently I only work with:

  • If you have an affiliate site, it has to be really well-made. I won't accept a shitty-looking site that reads like it was written by $5/1000-word writers.
  • Well-made business websites

Leaner Team

Right now, I have a lean outreach team. There’s me, a couple of link prospectors, and an army of high-quality writers.

I want to train an apprentice down the line, but they're not coming from Online Jobs. And we’ll need to meet face-to-face at least once a week.

Wrapping Up

That's a wrap folks!

I'm inexperienced as an entrepreneur, but I hope I gave some if you insights on how to handle business hurdles that will surely come your way.

If you're an affiliate marketer or an agency or business owner that's looking for links, shoot an email and I can offer you something nice!

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