In the last month or so, I’ve been working with a HARO outreacher for the first time. So what I wanted to teach you guys today are the five steps that I took to hire a HARO outreacher, get 12 new links to my website, as well as do it all on a low-cost budget. By the end of this article, you’ll hopefully be able to take some of these steps that I’ve done in order to set yourself up for success as you are building links back to your site.
What is HARO?
The first thing that we need to do is we need to talk about what is HARO. HARO is help a reporter out. It’s essentially a network of different folks that are looking for sources for people to give their insights in terms of the respective spaces they’re in and over time. It has become a great place for you to potentially build backlinks for your website because anytime that you are referenced by these other people that are looking for sources, they will sometimes give you either a do follow or a no follow link back to your site.
Now, that being said, you can’t always know for sure whether or not it’s going to be that coveted do follow link, but it can still be a helpful way for you to build links to your website, especially when you’re in that authority building phase of website building.
And so HARO is often referred to as one of the lowest hanging sort of fruit ideas that you can use when it comes to building links for your site. For people that are on a strapped budget, they might respond to HARO inquiries themselves in which they set up alerts on HARO. And then from there, they are responding to different journalists or folks that are looking for sources.
However, if you’re anyone like me, then you know that you’re strapped on time and you might be looking to hire an outreacher in order to start to scale this out a little bit further and have more responses going out on your behalf.
Step #1: Prep your job listing
So now that we know what HARO is, let’s talk about what I did first. The very first thing, when it comes to hiring a HARO outreacher is to prep your job listing. In this job listing, you want to make it really clear what your payment structure is going to be as well as whether or not this is going to be short term, medium term or long term work. It’s really important that you share as well, what niche you are in, that way, the people that apply to your job are able to know whether or not they have the functional expertise or abilities to draft responses on your behalf.
Remember, the key to this entire approach is that we are hiring people to respond as us to different HARO requests. And we’re doing this so that we can scale our time as well. So the first things you really need to answer for yourself is what is your budget as well as what are my needs in terms of my HARO outreaching team.
When you’re starting out, I recommend that you start out with just one outreacher. That way you can really nail down your system and process. I’m going to give you a look at what the job listing I used was for finding my HARO outreacher so that you can potentially get some inspiration for yourself.
Here is my job listing pretty much what you can see here is that I have gone ahead and mentioned how this is a placeholder for a longer term project. I’m looking for somebody that has experience in my particular niche for link building, and you’ll need to learn about how to specifically respond to things based off of this sort of content that we’re releasing.
In this particular example, I was looking for somebody to respond to at least 25 responses every single week. That way, every single month, we would be releasing at least a hundred responses to HARO pitches. What you’ll also notice is that I chose to adopt a fixed rate model combined with a bonus model for successful placements. And so what I asked for was specific details in terms of what they do in their HARO pitching in the past. And I’ve gone ahead and asked them in terms of just in general what their success rates are.
It is really important when you’re hiring a HARO outreacher that you ask them what their success rate has been, or just in general, a ballpark success rate because you don’t want to be hiring somebody that has already tried this out themselves. And they’re really bad at pitching journalists, but you can see here my typical sort of approach here is I would pay $5 per a fixed response and then $30 for successful placement, whether or not it’s a do follow or no follow, I will always pay that bonus because it is not on the HARO outreacher to know whether or not that sort of source is going to give me one or the other type of link.
But what I do is in the case where they do end up getting a no follow link, we will then ignore those sorts of requests in the future, because we now know that that particular domain doesn’t give do follow links. And then what I’ll also do is for really prominent sort of links, I will give them a 3X bonus which is equivalent to $90 for getting that respective link.
So hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how you too can write this sort of job description when you’re posting it out. You can use sites like HARO, but you can also post this on other places like onlinejobs.ph, which I’m also a huge fan of in terms of finding some part-time work.
Step #2: Start to screen candidates
Once you’ve gone ahead and prepped your job posting, the second step that you’re going to want to take is you’re going to want to post your job posting and then screen candidates. When you are screening candidates, I recommend that you come up with two or three different key questions that will help you understand what this candidate is all about.
One of the nice things I like to do is I like to work in some sort of secret word or phrase into my respective job postings. That way they can show that they actually read the proposal from start to finish. But I also like to ask for examples of past pitches that they may have already submitted. The reason why I ask for this is because it gives me an understanding of how good their English writing skills are as well as their past experiences in general. The best HARO outreachers, especially on sites like Upwork will typically have a profile or portfolio in mind that they’re able to share with you, which makes it really clear as to whether or not they can be reliable when it comes to submitting responses on your behalf.
It is not uncommon for these people to be working with several different clients at a time. And so asking for this sort of stuff is not that hard to get. As you’re screening through candidates, I also recommend that you take a look at who is being most responsive to you. The ideal communication for you would be to have some sort of way to constantly be in touch with your hero outreacher that way you can really give them feedback as they’re getting ramped up in writing responses for you.
Step #3: Set up your HARO outreacher for success
The third step, though, that you’re going to want to run shortly after you’ve posted your job listing and you’re starting to screen candidates is you’re going to want to set up your HARO outreacher for success. There’s a few things you need to do here. The first thing that I did was I set up a secondary email for myself on my main domain that wasn’t my primary email that responses could go out from. And then from there I went onto HARO’s website and then I set myself up as a potential source and then selected the sort of niches or industries that were related to me.
What that did is that it set up notifications for my new secondary email to receive new HARO pitches that were coming out. There’s a ton of other websites like Source Bottle, as well as Help a B2B Writer that might be useful depending on what you’re looking for, but just be on the lookout for different places where you can be a contributor. And then from there, set up your secondary email to get those sorts of emails. The other thing that I recommend you do in order to improve the deliverability of your responses is to go ahead and sign up for three to four industry specific newsletters in your space.
The reason you should do this is because you just set up a new email account. So you need to have some inbound emails also coming in to this email. And so in order to do that, those sorts of newsletters can be a great way for you to regularly be getting trusted content that’s coming into your email inbox, and it’s showing in general that you have both an inflow as well as an outflow coming out of your email inbox.
You don’t want to be caught in a situation in which your new secondary email is having deliverability issues because Google or whatever your email provider is, is thinking that you’re spamming people because everything is outbound in terms of the sort of email flow.
The last thing that I recommend you do is that you create a simple documentation detailing the login information of your secondary email, as well as you share a quick bio and headshot of yourself. This is going to be really valuable because what’s going to happen is when your HARO outreacher is ready to go, they are going to want to set up your email signature to make it easy for you to have a link to your headshot, as well as your bio.
That way in the case where they are responding on your behalf, it’s going to be really easy for the other end for the person that’s looking for a source to quickly copy your bio or headshot and work it into their posts. And so that’s really useful and it’s a key sort of thing that a lot of the experienced HARO outreachers are going to ask of you just because it’s how you can get a higher overall acceptance rate to these sorts of sites.
Aside from the secondary email, as well as setting up your bio and your headshot, the last thing you need to do is you need to set up a tracker for your HARO outreacher. I’m going to show you an example of my HARO outreach tracker, just so that you can get a better understanding of how I track things in my system.
Pretty much the high level is I have a column for who answered the HARO query. That way I know who on my team needs to get paid for certain things. I have which profile is being used in order to have the response. I also have the different questions in place. That way nobody on my team is answering the same thing that somebody else on my team answered. I also have exactly what day it was received as well as what day of week it was as well as what day we actually sent it out was.
From there, I like to have a column that essentially breaks down whether or not it was an accepted sound bite for the respective person I was looking for a source. And I also go ahead and put in the link URLs as well as domain rankings of these respective sites. I like to also differentiate between no follows and do follow links for my own tracking. But essentially what I do is I then just have my HARO outreachers submit this on a 25 per week milestone basis.
And then I pay them out as they submit things in batches of 25. So what you can see here is that just from this very first milestone, this was a super successful milestone. 25 responses were sent out and you can see that from this respective effort, I got seven links during this first batch, and that’s a really great success rate, a 28% success rate here.
And even though not all of them were do follow links, a good number of them were actually do follow links. So you can see here that I have 1, 2, 3, 4 do follow links of these seven in this first batch. And so this has been the high level process that I’ve taken. And then what I’ll typically do is I will gradually scale up my teams in which I’ll have two or three HARO outreachers, all working across variety of different secondary email accounts so that we get enough pitches out for the people that are looking for sources.
Step #4: Give your HARO outreacher active feedback
So the fourth step that you’re going to want to take when it comes to HARO outreaching is you want to make sure that you are giving people active feedback and that you are tracking the results. You noticed how I set up this tracker here, but essentially you want to make sure that as you’re ramping people up in the first week or two, that you’re giving them guidance in terms of what sort of HARO pitches they should be responding to as well as which ones they should be ignoring.
For example, I had a couple instances in which my HARO outreacher was answering things in the pet niche, which I’m not even in. And so I told him to ignore those going forward. It’s going to take some sort of calibration time period for your HARO outreacher to understand what is relevant to you as well as what is not.
Ideally, what you’re looking for is you’re looking for domains that are related to your own niche, that you can build up the authority for your respective site. And so this is something that does take some time, but I found that over the course of about a week or two, I was able to get in sync with my HARO outreacher.
Your mileage may vary, but regularly give feedback and also tell them when they say something that is something that you wouldn’t say, because that is really important feedback for them to then be able to craft towards your sort of voice as well. When it comes to tracking results, I recommend that you just have your outreacher update the tracker as it comes in.
That’s what I do with my outreachers. And then what I’ll do is at the end of every single week, I will pay them out for their milestone as well as take a look at all the new links that have been accumulated and see whether or there are any bonuses that I need to pay out.
Digging into the results
If we go ahead and take a look at this respective HARO outreacher, I can go ahead and look at some of the filter views I’ve set up here and you can see that just from this sort of work, what I have seen is that I have gotten 13 direct links or mentions. 12 links one of them is a mention, but from this batch as well, what you will see is that if I go ahead and filter by do follows in this time period, I’ve gotten seven do follow links. And these are great due follow links in which the domain ratings are 51, 60, 71, 71, 48, 67 and 71.
If you were just to get this from other sources, whether that’s paying for backlinks or even just doing more cold outbound outreach for backlinking, it would’ve taken a while to get these sorts of results. But you can see that all of these results were accumulated within about a two-month time period.
And so that’s a really great outcome for some of the work here, just because a lot of these responses were sent out in the middle of May, sometimes in the early June. And then here, you can see how they’re getting accepted throughout the month of June. So this has been a really successful campaign because I’ve even gotten some really high domains, like 94s and 91s..
Unfortunately, these have been no follows and I’ve gotten no luck in terms of asking them to change it to do follows, but still it’s something in which this was an effort that didn’t take all that much work for me to set up and start seeing results from it.
Step #5: Scaling the team
And that leads me to the fifth step in the process of hiring HARO outreachers, which is where you’re going to want to scale the team. At this point, you should have gone ahead and hired somebody who’s working really well. And you’re going to want to scale the team once you start experiencing success. In my particular example, I’ve gone through six milestones with this HARO outreacher. And with those six milestones, they’ve been 25 pitches each that means that I’ve paid $750 in base salary for this respective HARO outreacher.
And then in terms of bonuses for the 12 links, what I’ve paid is a couple hundred dollars more. All in, if you look at it, I’ve paid maybe a little bit more than a grand to this HARO outreacher. From this sort of work, I have gotten 12 links, seven of which have been due follow links and five of which have been no follow links.
So if you just go ahead and assume that I paid bonuses for all those due follow and no follow links of $30 or a little bit more, sometimes, let’s call it that I’ve spent $1,200 for seven do follow links. In this particular example, I know that I’ve accumulated seven white hat quality backlinks that have cost me roughly $171.
This is really cost-effective, especially in the broader scheme of things. When I know that I am doing it my way and not necessarily relying on potentially some gray hat or black hat techniques to achieve these results. So once you start to see these sorts of success metrics, this is the time to then bring in a second HARO outreacher and then start to scale up to 50 pitches a week or 75 pitches a week and so on.
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