The ‘Vacuum’ Formula: How to guarantee at least 120 people read your first blog post

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris /

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Note: Be sure to download the free email and outsource swipe copy to help you implement this formula.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I talk to myself a lot. Not verbally but I have mental conversations all the time.

This is one that I had for years:

Optimistic Me: “Bryan, you should start a blog”

Pessimistic Me: “I know, but…”

Optimistic Me: “No ‘BUTS’ just do it”

Pessimistic Me: “But what if no one reads it?”

That conversation went on for 5 years before finally starting this site.

If only…

If I would have started then, I’d be light years ahead of where I am now. Instead of 1,300 email subscribers it would have over 50,000. Instead of 10,000 monthly readers, it would have well over 100,000. Instead of…well you get the point.

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After working with over 1,000 entrepreneurs since publishing  “The Bootstrapper’s Guide to Explainer VIdeo’s” I’ve found that I’m not alone. This is a question that tons of people struggle with.

“What if no one comes?”

“What if I put all of this time, effort and energy and no one reads my blog?”

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to guarantee 120 people read your first blog post.

It’s worked for me on multiple blogs, in 3 different industries and is grounded in a principle that goes back 100 years.

Here is the formula: 

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Short Version

People want to know more about what they are interested in.

Find people that are interested in what you are talking about, and tell them about you.

That is exactly what door-to-door salesman have done for 100 years.

Example: If you own a house, you probably have carpet. If you have carpet, you need to clean your carpet. Thus, for 100 years Kirby has been going door to door selling vaccums to people.

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How do you do this for your blog?

How To

1..) Write your article. 

There are many ways to do this, I’m going to share what I have found to work across multiple industries and varying topics.

Make your first article a ‘How-To” style article. Posts in 1500 word range work very well.

Use screenshots and explain every detail of the process. Be as helpful and thorough as you possibly can.

Here are two examples: Example 1 & Example 2

Another Example: I am helping a client launch a web app for Crossfit gym owners. One of the major focal points is inbound marketing via a blog. My main tasks are to build out the blog, write content, grow traffic and ultimately get customers to the app.

Since our product is used by Crossfit gym owners the goal of our blog is to be THE online resource for Crossfit gym owners.

We’ve mapped out a content strategy that starts with a 7 post series of how to do internet marketing for Crossfit gyms.

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Specific. Targeted. How-to.

2..) Find Similar Articles 

Now your article is written. Your work is just starting. It’s time to make sure people actually know about it.

To do that, first find other articles that have been written about your topic.

Next, write a list of 5 keywords and phrases that describe your post.

Example: This article you are reading is about growing your blog via ‘targeted outbound email marketing.’ Here are a few keywords I drummed up:

  • email marketing
  • inbound marketing
  • how to start a blog
  • how to get traffic to my blog
  • outbound marketing

Now head over to Buzzsumo.com to perform a search for the keywords you brainstormed. This will produce a list of the most popular and shared articles with those keywords.

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3..) Make a list of people that shared it

Now you’ve written an article and have found similar articles written by other people. Next you need to let everyone that shared the other articles know about yours.

To do that we’ll use a two step process.

Step 1: Make a list of everyone that shared this article on Twitter

Buzzsumo makes this part easy. Just click on “View Shares” and export the list into a XLS

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Step 2: Find the email address for each person

Finding someone’s email address usually isn’t too hard. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Check their Twitter bio
  2. Use Rapportive and guess popular email syntax
  3. Here are two more in depth articles that will give you more advanced techniques: Article 1, Article 2 and Article 3.

I usually hire someone to do this part for me. It cost between $0.10 and $0.30 per email depending on how good you are at the hiring process.

**I’ve included the exact scripts and process I use for hiring in the Members Area. It’s free to become a member, just click the link at the end of the post to signup.

4..) Tell them about your article

Now all that is left is to email each person on your list.

You can either outsource this or do it yourself.

If you chose to do this yourself it will take time. It’s tedious work, so suck it up and do it. Don’t try to automate it. If you do, your email account will either be banned or you will be blacklisted and your emails will be auto spam filtered. Neither of those are good.

Here is the template I use:

Hi [NAME],

My name is Bryan.

I follow you on Twitter and noticed that you [ACTION] one of my favorite articles [ARTICLETITLE.]
That is such a great post. And it’s a great blog.

I was hearing from my readers that they wanted something more in-depth about the topic so I went ahead and created this post: [URLOFDESTINATION]

If you have time I’d love for you to check it out.

Thanks!

Bryan Harris

Here are a few more tips:

Tip #1: Send every email individually. I have base template I use for each email, however each email is customized for that individual.

Tip #2: Track your emails. I use Bananatag.com to track each email I send. This allows you to determine your ROI at the end of each campaign.

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Tip #3: Track your other data as well:

  • How many emails I sent
  • How many were opened
  • How many were sent
  • Inbound referral traffic (via Google Analytics)

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A few things NOT to do:

* Do NOT CC or BCC your entire list

* Do NOT send everyone the exact same email

* Do NOT use Mailchimp or Aweber to send the emails

Results

I have used this formulas 12 times. You can usually expect 2-5% of the people you email to share your content. I have seen traffic surges of 200 – 1000 veiws from sending out 100 emails.

Your results will obviously depend on the quality of your emails, the relevancy of the people you are emailing and the quality of your content.

However, if you contact 200+ people who care about what you are writing about your traffic will increase and your first 120 visitors will be in the bag.

Here is a tweet I received from a recent ‘Vacuum’ formula campaign:

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Bonus Section

I don’t know about your but I can’t stand tedious research work like hunting down email addresses and sending 200+ emails. But other people love it. I’m just not one of those.

However, the results that it brings are huge and unmatched by any other traffic tactic I have tried. So, after some tweaking I’ve managed to outsource 90% of this annoying work to a few good people that really like to get their hands dirty in hardcore research and data compiling.

I’ve put together the exact scripts and hiring process I used to automate this.

To access them join the Videofruit VIP Members Area, it’s free. 🙂
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  • Derrick Horvath

    Love this post! It’s something everyone can simply do without spending a dime really. Thanks for the heads up on the Buzzsumo tool. I’m just starting to dive in and already see a bunch of people I should be networking with that are sharing content in my niche.

    I’ll probably implement this on my next article and let you know how it goes.

    When you send out your outreach emails are you looking for “sharers” that have a certain amount of followers on twitter or a certain alexa rating on their website? Basically, if someone only has <1k followers on twitter should I bother writing a custom email to them?

    Also, would be cool on these formulas if you show how to track everything in Google Analytics. In our outreach emails should we provide a unique google URL link so we know how much traffic was sent from Person X for example?

    Thanks for all the information Bryan.

    Derrick

    • Great points Derrick. I use Bananatag to track my individual emails. It shows ‘opens and clicks.’ It would be good to track through GA too, I’ll have to think about the best way to do that.

      Definitely share your results with me.

  • Justinas Vaiciulis

    Hey Bryan! I’ve noticed a lack of comments under this article, which is really surprising, since the advise you share here is incredible. It’s actionable, it’s clear and it’s new.

    I’ve found you through Noah’s newsletter and despite some lack of useful content from Noah it was really worth staying there to discover your blog.

    It seems to be pretty new, but I think you have great things ahead of you. Best of luck!

    • Thanks Justinas! Let me know how you use it 🙂

  • Take Mouri

    Hey Bryan. GREAT Post.

    As I was trying to do the same, I couldn’t help myself but to think, wouldn’t people consider these emails spam?

    I’m interested in your counter argument 🙂

    Thanks for your great work!

    Take from Japan

    • Good question.

      SPAM = “irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients”

      If you’ve done your research correctly the messages are targeted and completely appropriate to the person you are sending them to. Cold email? Yes Spam? Nah.

      • Take Mouri

        Thanks for the reply. That makes sense. Do you normally get an email back or do you just see if they were opened by tracking?

        • Depends on what the emails call to action is. Just ran a campaign for a client that’s purpose was to drive ebook downloads. Low response rate on that.

          However, on other campaigns that are intended to get a response it is much higher.

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  • Yo Bryan …. Found a typo…. I don’t know about “your” but I can’t stand tedious research work like hunting down

  • Great stuff, Bryan, Thanks for the tips and tricks.

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  • Great post Bryan and really REALLY appreciate the forms to outsource-its a lifesaver!

    This method could be applied to so many outreach strategies and scaled

    I see Derrick below asked if you filtered those you emailed to via their outreach and it got me thinking. From my point of view, I would literally send it to everyone of them. Just because their social media channel isn’t huge, it doesn’t mean all their channels are low followers etc
    Also, they could have huge email lists or blog followers, or even connections to other influencer’s you might have missed perhaps?….

    I know of some sites that have huuuuuge pinterest/fb/linkedin connections but poor twitter coverage.
    (They tried it and it didn’t work with their followers, but could still have a readership elsewhere…?)

    Keep on crushing it Bryan

    Daniel Daines-Hutt

  • pakevin81

    Great article! Do you know of any good alternatives for buzzsumo? It looks like it is $99 a month to run the search that you are talking about in the article.

    • Tyler Knudtson

      You can use Topsy.com in a similar way and then filter the search results to only see “Influencers” who have shared. Not as many fancy controls as buzzsumo, but free!

  • It’s bad that you pay 0.10 to 0.30 per e-mail mate. U should have told people to follow others to get their attention or at least use facebook sponsored ads. I liked one of your posts a lot. But this one is pretty bad. You shouldn’t have put this article in your checklist. I have left a very nice comment on your post about lead magnets. But this was a true waste of time. Sorry mate.