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How To Promote an Unsexy Article (and boost shares 252.4%)

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Have you ever heard it said you should spend 20% writing content and 80% promoting it?

When I first began blogging, I started by sharing with my friends and family on Facebook and sharing on Twitter.

Okay, that took two minutes.

…And I spent four hours writing the da’gum article.

I’m just a tad bit short. Even if I promote the article another 16 times on Twitter, still not there.

In this step-by-step, how-to guide, I want to show you a simple “hack” I learned using Content Marketer and Buzzsumo to gain an additional 509 shares to an article (note – I counted Twitter shares before the API death).

To make this a little more challenging, I’m going to show you how I did it with this article from the unsexy world of data.

Not exactly a topic most of us jump out of bed for. But I want to show you how this strategy is possible in any industry.

So here we go…

Start with great content


I realize if you’ve been in internet marketing circles for a while, you’ve probably heard this: “create great content.”

There’s a lot of truth to that. It’s a lot easier to push a boulder down a hill when you’ve already got momentum.

Influencers want to share great content. But connecting with the wrong influencer wastes your time and their time.

Why is connecting with the wrong influencers a huge waste of your time?

People follow influential personas because they are knowledgeable in their fields of expertise.

I might listen to what Donald Trump has to say about running a business, but I’m less inclined to listen to him when it comes to great hairstyles.


Gotta love the ’90s. Image credit: Wikimedia

Leech off the success of other viral articles

I start by choosing 2-3 keywords. I’ll use these to search BuzzSumo for the most shared articles on their site.

If you aren’t focusing on certain keywords to rank in Google, the easiest thing to do is pick a few key words in the title.

So for our example, the title of the article is: “10 Industries That Are Changing Because of Data,” so the keywords I’ll use is “change data industries.”

Here’s what the results looked like after I sort by total Twitter shares (you’ll learn why I do this in a moment):

Buzzsumo change data industries

I go through the front page results and find 5 relevant articles. I can then click on each share button to see who is sharing the articles I care about.

Using a Buzzsumo pro account (which you can get a 14-day free trial if you like to try it out), I can download a list of influencers who shared the similar articles as a .csv. Or, you can write down each twitter handle and upload them to Content Marketer.

Personally, I like to focus just on influencers. Usually I find those with an average RT of 0.3 or higher to be worth reaching out to.

Pro tip: Save each .csv file as the name of the article to easily keep track of your work.

Often I take each relevant article and add them into the original article I am planning on promoting.


  1. Since I found it helpful and relevant, so would any other readers.
  2. This is a way to help the authors of the original articles.

Remember: if they wrote one article on the topic, chances are good they may write another one.

Including their article helps their SEO. While you cannot expect that if you do something nice to someone else, if it doesn’t take too long to help someone, why not do so?

I often apply Adam Grant’s 5 minute rule:

Find a great article? Share it.

Come articles worth sharing with your audience? Include it in your next article.

Now you should have a few spreadsheets of influencers who shared similar articles to the one you are writing. Compile the lists into a master spreadsheet and delete duplicate entries.

Preparing to launch


This is where things start getting exciting! Upload each of your spreadsheets into Content Marketer by uploading a .csv.

CM Dashboard

While it matches the information, I’ll click “check on this later” and begin to uploading the other .csv files.

After Content Marketer finds all the emails, you may think your ready to begin your outreach.

Don’t touch the red button!

At least, not yet :).

It’s important to filter your results first. Otherwise, you may get flooded with spam flags, which will kill your future outreach opportunities.

First, I like to go through the emails and verify them using the free tools Rapportive + Get SideKick. With both of these platforms, all you need to do is create a new email and insert the email address.

Alternatively, you can see if their account is also associated with Google+ when hovering your mouse over their name. I’ve found this to be a great supplement to Rapportive, increasing the number of accurate emails I have by about 10%.

If the email was incorrect, usually you will find it using one of these permutations:

If you need more direction, my guide on how to find the perfect email address should give you more direction.

Now that you’ve found the email, start creating your email outreach templates. Alternative, you can use the ones already created in Content Marketer.

There can be a lot that’s said here about the do’s and don’ts of influencer outreach. For now, here’s a simple list I use before sending out an email:

  1. Give specific information what your email is about in the subject line.
  2. At the same time, keep the header intriguing enough to open the email.
  3. Include a simple explanation why you are emailing them.
  4. Keep the email brief.
  5. Provide only one clear call-to-action. The more you ask, the less likely you’ll get any of your requests.

When I first began with email outreach, I used Crystal Knows. Through its reminder system, Crystal provided me direction when my emails were not focused.

Need an email template? Try this:

Subject: NAME, thought you might be interested in this…


While doing research, I saw you recently shared [Title of similar article] on Twitter, one of my favorite articles on TOPIC.

First, thanks for sharing that! Second, would you be interested in taking a look at my article on TOPIC?


Launching in 3…2…1…

When I first sent out cold emails, I nearly wet myself. Okay, maybe a little exaggeration.

But I realized that if I wanted to my articles in front of my audience, I needed to get out there and start promoting each piece.

I still get nervous when sending out emails, but each time I do so, it becomes easier than the time before. But I realize that in order to stand out from the crowd, I need to be willing to do what others won’t.

But the possibility of getting a 252.4% increase of shares (from 202 shares to 711), to me, it is well worth getting over the fear to sending out those emails.

What have you found to be an effective way to promote an article?

I’d love to hear your insight in the comments below!

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Jean Baptiste Lammoglia

Great Article. Had to share it on twitter!

Jason Quey

Awesome, thanks for sharing Jean!

LMK if you decide to give this promotion a try! :)

Christopher Jan Benitez

Really awesome and simplified guide on how to promote using two tools. Unlike before, marketers have to either use Buzzstream for blogger outreach AND another tool for social outreach – if not done manually. Content Marketer really is the real deal for people looking to amplify their content reach.

Jason Quey

Highly agree Christopher. If you give this a try, lmk how it goes!

BTW, make sure we’re on the same page, Buzzstream is different than Buzzsumo :).

Aaron Orendorff

Stellar post … and even more stellar headline.

The sections on leeching and launching were esp. helpful.

I’ve used Distilled — — to drum up the emails of folks for guest posting spots, but hadn’t thought of reaching out that way for promotion … as long as it’s a meaningful email that is.


Jason Quey

Thanks for the compliment Aaron! Means a lot from you. Copywriting ain’t my forte, but something I’d love to get better on.

I’ve use Distilled’s approach; has the advantage in saving time (esp. doing mass outreach like this). Also, Distilled skucs monkey butt when you have abbreviated names, hyphens, and other weird things like that. Distilled is usually quicker for smaller # of outreach.

As for guest posting, best thing I’ve done is asking for “referrals” after a succesful post. Easy way to get an email and can name drop them :).


Great hack for the emails. I saw it once and then I forgot how to do it.

I also came across a great service that helps amplify the reach on blog posts. It is called Boost ( maybe you’ll find it useful too.

Jason Quey

Thanks for the suggestion Juan! Will check it out :).

Yuval Maoz

Hi Jason!
Epic. Took notes while reading and can’t wait to try it myself.

One thing I’ve learned about influencer outreach while doing it myself is the importance of “the day-after”.

It’s important to nurture the relationships you’ve established in the outreach. Don’t just use it for short-term goals, but try to create long-term relationships with the people you already contacted. It will be worthwhile.

Jason Quey

Appreciate the note Yuval!

And yeah, definitely agree. I often start with promotion as an excuse to build a relationship :)


This is a really great article and would definitely be useful for me in the future. Trust me! In sharing this!

Jason Quey

Glad you found it helpful Michael, thanks for sharing it :)


Hi Jason,

A really insightful article. However, Buzzsumo Pro trial doesn’t allow you to export the list of influencers. Whenever you click on the ‘Export’ button, you are prompted to make the payment for Pro package. So let’s say I enter the Twitter handles manually on a CSV file and upload it on, will it be able to find the email ids of the all the Twitter users mentioned in the list?

Would really appreciate if you could clarify this. Also, I have subscribed to lifetime deal via AppSumo because I really found the product to be so damn useful. With the content amplification tips from your article, I’m sure it’ll be even better.

Will look forward to hearing from you.



Far out, Jason! Thank you for sharing such powerful practical tools. I just have to share… retweet… this shortly. Esp., for other newbies out there like me. I will definitely come back to this for reference perhaps sooner than later. Anyhow, thanks again!

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