Doug Cunnington is not new to Niche Pursuits as he has appeared on the podcast several times. However, we are happy to have him back to tell us all about his background and recent work.
One thing Doug has been working on in particular lately is Haro. He has developed a system and course that teaches his latest strategies.
For those unfamiliar with HARO, it is a service used by reporters and other online publishers when they need a source. HARO stands for “Help A Reporter Out” and it is free for everyone to register.
You will receive 3 emails a day with a list of questions that anyone can answer. In most cases, those whose responses are used will get a link back to their website, making it a popular and powerful link building strategy.
In Doug’s new course you will learn how to get the most out of HARO. If you like the sound after reading the interview, you can get a $ 100 discount using the code NP-HARO-100. Learn more and register here.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I’m Doug Cunnington, and I’m running the Niche Site Project.
This includes a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel where I write and talk about affiliate marketing, SEO, niche websites, and entrepreneurship. I have a few niche authority type websites and have been dealing with niche websites since 2013.
My main course is Multi Profit Site. It explains how to build a website from start to finish that is monetized with multiple sources of income including:
- Show advertisements
- Affiliate Earnings from Amazon
- Digital products
- and other affiliate programs
I also have a few other courses that are designed to help niche authority owners get more traffic and make more money.
My old corporate gig as a software project manager in management consulting was fine, but I was fired in 2015. Since then, I’ve been working full-time online and making a lot more than I could in the corporate world.
About half of my income comes from affiliate income and the other half from selling courses.
People are always looking for ways to create backlinks to promote their websites. As a rule, they prefer real white hat links that Google likes and have little risk of negatively affecting ranking.
HARO helps you get in touch with reporters from large websites, sometimes very large news agencies, who need sources for their news articles. These reporters ask for your input as opposed to emailing website owners who don’t want to hear from you.
I never thought HARO would be a good source of backlinks, and I even came up with the idea in a podcast episode. I mentioned being featured on CNBC in April 2020 and stated that with HARO I wouldn’t have been able to get onto a big site like this one.
I received several emails from people quoting that HARO was great for getting backlinks with details and examples. So I dug in, researched, tested and asked my audience for tips.
For the course I wanted:
- Outline the process so that a novice can begin.
- Provide effective, concise templates.
- Detail the most common mistakes and pitfalls.
- Provide job advertisements and instructions to outsource the entire process.
Podcast listener Kyle had a 20% success rate including a link to Domain Rating 92 from How Stuff Works.
He answered over 40 HARO inquiries over a period of four months and was able to create nine high-ranking backlinks with high authority free of charge. The domain rating range for the links was between 30 and 92. That helped him build his own domain rating to around 36.
Kyle has no credentials in his niche and spends less than 30 minutes composing a response. With the right processes, anyone can do this – even if you’re not an expert in the niche.
Anthony is another example of using HARO on a new starter site. He told me this:
“When I tried HARO for the first time, I was terrible. Then I worked on my processes each time and improved my answers each time. Eventually, I developed checklists, processes, and templates that I could use for every site in my portfolio.
I was able to grow my website from less than $ 5 a month (if I’m lucky) to several $ 700 a month in the first eight months – even with Amazon commission cuts! “
What are some best practices for HARO?
First, HARO is ideal for any website owner or website that wants to get backlinks and possibly referral data from a news source.
You can do this for your own site or for client sites. I believe that building HARO links will be a growing service over the next few years.
HARO can be difficult and a bit overwhelming at first as you receive a lot of emails every day. The most important things to remember are:
- Follow the directions in the reporter’s request. If they ask for 3 sentences, don’t write 4 sentences. If you want bullets, you should return bullets. It seems obvious, but I used HARO as a reporter and was shocked how many people don’t follow clear instructions.
- Do not try to link anything other than your homepage. Reporters aren’t stupid and hesitate to link to the inside of your website.
- Answer quickly! Reporters will use an answer that is good enough once they have it. You won’t look any further for the best answer.
- Monitor the new links on your website and set up a Google Alert for your brand name and name. Sometimes the reporters forget to let you know that they used the quote and linked it to your website.
- Consider paying for a HARO membership to get approved requests asap. This means that you may be able to get answers back to a reporter hours before the people who receive the free HARO emails.
- Keep a database (a simple table will work) of your answers and what works and what doesn’t. You can reuse the same effective answers in the future, including outsourcing the process.
- Get to the point and make your answer short. Your bio and other details should be after the answer. So don’t start with two paragraphs of your bio.
When does HARO not work?
If you try to link to internal pages on your website, HARO is probably not working well. News outlets are much more likely to link to your homepage because they cite you as the source.
Since reporters usually have a deadline, they won’t read long replies. Reporters are in a hurry, so short answers tend to work better so that you can tell you can provide more details if needed. If they want more information or details, they will ask.
If your homepage is overly sales-driven or filled with ads, it may be harder to get links to that page.
Any advice for those who are just starting out with HARO?
Like many other things, you learn the most once you get started and get real feedback. So don’t worry if you’re nervous about actually sending replies. The best way to get over it is to actually send the responses.
Reply Quickly – If you wait longer than a few hours, your answer will be buried deep in the reporter’s inbox.
Keep track of all of your answers so you can tweak and improve them. Note whether the pitches were successful or not. As soon as you have a number of successful parking spaces, you can outsource them to a virtual assistant (VA).
If you want to outsource the HARO link building, you can hire anyone who can send emails and communicate effectively. Don’t worry about getting a VA response on your behalf – marketing agencies have been doing this for years and it is well received by reporters using HARO. Your VA can use your successful responses as a starting point.
So start answering and keep answering as you keep trying to improve.
Previous podcast appearances
Many thanks to Doug for sharing these HARO tips.
If you would like to find out more about his HARO course, please visit his page here. Remember, you can save $ 100 when you check out using the code NP-HARO-100!
For more information on Doug and his other projects, check out his previous podcast appearances on Niche Pursuits: