The “Michael Buffer” Formula: How To Make $154,843 From One Blog Post


The other week, I sent out a survey to some full-time professional bloggers on my email list.

What I discovered was astonishing…

All people surveyed consider the success of your content promotion strategies positively correlated to the success and performance of your blog.

Only one person of the people I surveyed said that they use content pre-outreach every time they’re about to publish a new post.

Wait a second, let me get this straight. Professional bloggers know that blog post promotion and the success of a blog are positively correlated, but few bloggers perform pre-outreach or announce their content in advance.

When I asked bloggers why they blog they responded:

  • To drive our content marketing engine and educate potential customers
  • Inbound marketing, SEO, lead gen, increase awareness
  • Building audience and potentially launch a product
  • To get more fans and increase my list
  • Support and grow my biz and brand
  • Inspire others

But all these answers seem to tie back to one missing piece of the puzzle: content promotion.

You can’t expect to build traction for a new blog without putting any effort into executing pre-outreach or content promotion strategies.

It gets worse, though. Not only do bloggers fail to promote their content on a consistent basis, two-thirds of the bloggers that responded to the survey admitted to writing guest posts less than a few times per year. And a third of respondents said they never write guest posts for other blogs.

Is it that the majority of bloggers are inherently lazy, or do bloggers lack a roadmap for how to build a successful blog?

I’m not sure I can answer this question, but maybe this post will help motivate more bloggers to commit time and effort towards promoting their posts. Most bloggers said they lacked the time to write new blog posts, but that’s the same excuse authors use for why they haven’t written a book.

So how you can you use pre-outreach to announce your content ahead of time like famous American boxing and wrestling ring announcer Michael Buffer (h/t to Elvis Malkic for the post title)?

See… Michael doesn’t take days or weeks to grab people’s attention before fighters enter the ring.

Instead, he uses a signature phrase and rolls individual letters and adds cadence to fighters’ names that warms people up to watch the sports match.

But before we get into applying The “Michael Buffer” Formula to your blog post, we should discuss the way you can announce your content in advance and get people to notice your blog when there’s so much content already out there.

The “Michael Buffer” Formula: How To Make $154,843 From One Blog Post

What is Pre-Outreach?

Pre-outreach is a strategy used for promoting an article or post to a specific audience that might take an interest in it before it’s published.

In other words, you promote the post to your target audience before you’ve published it so that people get excited about it, and there’s interest built up in advance for your new post.

Another word that could be used to describe this strategy is pre-release. Pre-releases are used by record labels and publishing houses to drum up interest for their musicians’ and authors’ newest content in advance of the release date.

The goal of pre-outreach is to avoid the scenario where your blog has no audience. You know, when you’re constantly writing new posts but no one is reading them or subscribing to your email list. I want to avoid this because it’s a surefire way for your blog fail.

Even Derek Halpern talks about this in his post “Why Bloggers Fail“. He says that bloggers fail because they do at least 1 of 3 things wrong.

  1. They create too much content
  2. They promote content the wrong way
  3. They create a “me too” blog that doesn’t stand out from the pack


Why Pre-Outreach?

Pre-outreach is an important part of the blog post promotion process and for building a successful blog.

Bloggers and content marketers use pre-outreach not only to promote their newest blog posts but also to get more email subscribers that may be interested in a certain topic and get more visitors to their blog.

It’s why top bloggers like Bryan Harris (Videofruit) and Brian Dean (Backlinko) use it every time they write a new blog post. I’ve personally received an outreach email from Brian Dean promoting one of his upcoming blog posts.

It helps bloggers attract a specific audience for their post that is even more engaged than their existing audience and can massively grow their email list. I won’t reiterate how important it is to have a high-quality list of email subscribers as I’m sure you already know.

I’ve been using pre-outreach for my latest blog posts and have seen a huge increase in blog comments and email subscribers. I attracted 100s of email subscribers to one recent post using a combination of pre-outreach and a killer content upgrade.

How to Execute A Pre-Outreach Campaign

The standard way to execute a pre-outreach campaign:

  1. Look for Twitter sharers who tweeted about a similar blog post in the past that relates to your upcoming post’s topic.
  2. Find the email addresses of those sharers.
  3. Email them asking them if they’d like a heads up about the blog post you are about to publish (normally, 1 to 2 weeks in advance of the publish date) because you noticed they tweeted a similar post in the past.
  4. Email anyone who replied yes in the previous step and invite them to the “party” the day you publish your post.

For a step-by-step guide on how to promote your blog posts, read this content promotion case study.

Bloggers often use a service like or a Gmail add-on like Rapportive to guess the right email address for each person they identified who shared a similar blog post in the past.

The process can take hours, if not days, so some bloggers may hand this task off to their virtual assistant (or “VA” for short).

Their VA gets tied up working on the tedious manual outreach process to help execute the pre-outreach strategy, instead of working on more valuable tasks for the blogger. The pre-outreach process can be a real nightmare and involves a lot of tedious manual labor.

That isn’t to discredit the value of the pre-outreach process but to shed light on how labor intensive it is to execute well.

The benefits are enormous, though, and it’s key for growing a blog audience in an age where people have experienced byline blindness from guest posts.

Maximize List Building From Guest Blogging With Pre-Outreach

People are less inclined than ever to click the URLs placed in the author bio of your guest post and visit your website.

Some blogs may allow you to use the expanded guest post method to embed multiple calls-to-action to sign up for your free lead magnet or visit your website.

Yet, some editors won’t permit it, so you’re stuck hoping that someone reads your author bio.

Today, it’s nearly impossible to get a surge of traffic to your website from an author bio or byline that’s hidden at the end of your guest post. Most people don’t even read scroll below the page fold.

Stories of becoming the next Freddy Krueger of guest blogging, like Danny Iny, are long gone, even with the most popular or highest engagement blogs.

It happens to every marketing medium, once it catches fire and works like a charm, everyone jumps on the bandwagon until a few saps are left holding the bag.

As a result, you can spend tens of hours of time writing an “epic” guest post only to have it displayed as the brilliant work of your target blog, never syndicated or seen again after its short-lived moment of glory.

Pre-outreach, however, works well and can help you attract thousands of people to your blog that are primed and excited to read your posts (and will sign up for your email list).

So you can combine guest blogging with pre-outreach to boost the reach and engagement of your posts.

Your Blog Is Not A Business

It’s important to keep in mind that your blog is not a business. A blog is either a hobby or a gateway drug you feed people to buy your products.

Yes, you could incorporate your blog—but that’s not going to make you any money.

The only business you have blogging is if you’re selling complementary products or services to the audience that reads your blog posts and opts into your email list.

Your blog exists to help you establish your reputation among your peers and position yourself as an expert in your industry. You give away content to get people to know, like and trust you and lure them into buying your products or services.

So if you’re going to go through the process of pre-outreach, make sure you’re 100% clear on the purpose of executing a pre-outreach campaign.

It’s not to get people to read one post and then forget you exist.

Effective Pre-Outreach Requires A Good Recipe

Pre-outreach, like any other strategy in marketing, requires a thorough process. You need to concoct a tasty recipe that ensures your pre-outreach efforts will get rewarded in spades.

Essential elements of a good pre-outreach recipe include:

  • A 2,500 to 5,000-word epic blog post that gets you noticed*
  • 500 to 1,000 Twitter sharers of relevant past published blog posts (preferably, bloggers)
  • The right email addresses for the Twitter sharers (ones that don’t bounce)
  • A content upgrade that is relevant to your blog post topic but delivers tremendous value
  • A few yellow highlighted opt-in boxes throughout your blog post and an end of blog post opt-in box for drawing attention to your content upgrades (yellow performs best for email opt-ins)
  • Well written, to the point pre-outreach emails
  • Pre-outreach follow-up emails for yes replies

*An epic blog post that gets you noticed will be substantive, sober and to the point. It provides actionable advice and serves as a tutorial or guide on how to do something from start to finish.

The Unstated Benefits of Pre-Outreach

Pre-outreach not only attracts targeted people to read your content. If the people you promote your blog posts to enjoy reading your content, they might sign up for your email list.

Pre-outreach can build up anticipation ahead of publishing a new post.

I’ve even used it to open up new relationships with fellow bloggers and influencers. By alerting relevant influencers ahead of publishing a new post, you can get them to share your content with their audience (assuming it’s epic enough).

That’s not all, though.

The other day, I went through my customer list in SamCart…

SamCart Example Screenshot

… and I noticed something interesting…

The last 7 of 10 people (70%) who purchased my digital products had found my blog through my pre-outreach efforts. The remaining 30% came from Facebook Group posts.

I tripped across the same names in BuzzStream that I cold emailed weeks before in advance of publishing one of my new posts.

I was blown away by this.

In 2015, I burned through $6,000 on Facebook Ads, another $2,000+ on Twitter Ads. I wrote and published over half a dozen guest posts for top blogs. And I even bought ads on Reddit, posted ads on Craigslist and paid to promote my posts on Outbrain only to find that pre-outreach blows every tactic out of the water for the highest return on investment.

Pre-outreach converted cold prospects to sales faster than any other traffic source I’ve tested to-date.

Given that I can get email addresses from pre-outreach for $0.25 or less on average, pre-outreach is not only more efficient than any other traffic generation strategy I’ve used, but it’s also by far the most profitable too!

I went through my customer list and matched the exact people who I reached out to for our recent guest blogging guide post and the product sales of a small, unrelated product I sold to my email list shortly after that.

Guess what I discovered?

83% of the people who purchased the product I sold them found my discovered my blog through pre-outreach for my guest blogging guide.

Pre-Outreach Arbitrage

From there, I calculated the conversion rate and dollar value of each buyer that found my blog through pre-outreach.

For a recent pre-outreach campaign for our guest blogging post, I emailed 421 people who liked a similar blog post in the past.

I did this about one week in advance of publishing the post.

Of the 421 people I emailed, at least, a few dozen people subscribed to my list and 1.2% converted to buyers of a product I put together in less than 24 hours.

That translates to over $0.73 of revenue for $0.25 or less per email address that I spent on average.

In other words, we realized a 192% return on investment for every dollar we spent on pre-outreach.

Given my current conversion rate, if I had scaled up my pre-outreach efforts and sold a higher priced flagship course with upsells and downsells, I could have feasibly turned 2,000 email subscribers gained from pre-outreach into $30,401.

For those that like math, that’s 2,000 email subscribers / 0.0855 assumed optin conversion rate from cold email = 23,388 cold emails to generate 2,000 email optins.

23,388 emails x $0.25 per email = $5,847.


(To snag a copy of the course calculator spreadsheet used in the above example, click here)

Translated to profitability, that would be $24,554 of net income, or a net margin of ~81%, assuming we did the work ourselves without hiring a virtual assistant, and our conversion rate stayed the same.

Say you got 10,000 people to join your list from pre-outreach (you send cold emails to 116,959 people) that could translate to sales of $154,843 or net income of $125,603.


Talk about a great return!

Avoid Repeating The Same Old Outreach Tactics

You need to stop using the same pre-outreach methods as everyone else. The same old boring generic email templates for pre-outreach are going to get old fast.

As an internet marketer or bloggers, you should aim to be more creative and add a new take on things you read on other blogs.

Here’s what Brian Clark of Copyblogger has to say about your email outreach strategy:

Brian Clark On Outreach

You should aim to be more creative about your pre-outreach for it to work well.

Eventually people will tire out from getting the same pre-outreach emails.

Tim Soulo had something similar to say in his recent post, I Just Deleted Your Outreach Email Without Reading. And NO, I Don’t Feel Sorry.

Tim recommends deleting your outreach templates and start giving real value, so as to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

Remember that bloggers constantly receive email from their subscribers and followers, among others,  asking them to share blog posts (even worse, without providing any reciprocal value in return).

Don’t let this be you.

It makes you look bad if you’re using the same email templates as a dozen other people who emailed the same set of influencers about their latest “epic post” a week ago.

How To Get People To Read Your Blog

Most people are unwilling to put the time in to promote their blog posts using pre-outreach. Instead, they write it off as a waste of time of which they already have little.

But there’s no better way to get people to read your blog then emailing them directly telling them about it. That’s why pre-outreach remains so effective for bloggers looking to grow their list.

You can even use pre-outreach to promote upcoming webinars, guest posts, and podcasts.

If you’re still stuck on how to start performing pre-outreach read this content promotion case study for a step-by-step tutorial on how I executed a blog post promotion strategy for a recent post.

Your goal should be to get the most out of each blog post you publish. So you should plan a pre-outreach strategy before you even start writing content.

Let’s say you’re writing a post about search engine optimization or content marketing. You can get more traction for your posts by including referral sites like as part of your pre-outreach strategy.

Looking for trending influencers on (or your referral network of choice) and use pre-outreach to promote your post to them before you publish it.

Okay, so now let’s talk about how you can apply The “Michael Buffer” Formula to maximize sales from your next post.

Use The “Michael Buffer” Formula To Make More Money From Blogging With Your Next Online Course

Step #1: Find A Popular How To Post On Your Blog

Go to Google Analytics to find a post that performed well on your blog in the past.

In Google Analytics, click on ‘Behavior’ located on the left-hand side of the page.

Then select ‘Site Content’ → ‘All Pages’.

Google Analytics Screenshot

Expand the date range in the upper right-hand corner of the page to show visits for the past year.

Look for the page URL with the most unique pageviews, excluding your homepage, about page and other non-post pages.

Step #2: Plan your pre-outreach strategy

Next, identify the referral network that sent you the most traffic for your most popular post.


Use BuzzSumo or a similar tool and look up the Twitter sharers for similar posts and follow the step-by-step advice in the content promotion case study.


Step #3: Expand your post into an online course

Next, take your most popular how to post and turn that into an online course.

Pick apart the subheads in the post and then write step-by-step instructions that discuss in more detail each section of your existing post.

Add screenshots and walk-through videos wherever you feel it will help your readers better understand how to implement your advice.

Review and edit the content.

Use your preferred online course plug-in like Zippy Courses or New Rainmaker or use the WishList Member plugin to protect individual site pages you’ve devoted to each sub-topic.

Step #4: Write up the lessons you learned from writing that popular post

From here, write up the step-by-step lessons you learned in the process of creating and publishing your most popular how-to post.

Insert screenshots marked up with Skitch.

For example:


Step #5: Coin A Cool Memorable Name Like “Michael Buffer”

Now you need to come up with a cool, memorable name based on a celebrity persona or object that serves as a metaphor or has a direct relation to the topic of your post.

You can use an idea web or visual chart to map out concepts that relate to your post.

Take these ideas step further by looking for synonyms for asking friends about the names of celebrities that relate to the idea of your post.

Step #6: Search for Existing Trademarks of the Memorable Name

Now that you’ve come up with a cool, memorable name for your post, visit and then click ‘Trademarks’ and under ‘Application Process’ click ‘Searching Trademarks’.

Under the category ‘Trademark Electronic Search System’ or TESS for short, click ‘Search Trademarks’.

Then select a search method, such as ‘Basic Word Mark Search’.


Enter a keyword or name into the search box and hit Submit Query.

For this example, I typed in “Michael Buffer”. If no results get returned, try another variation, such as “Buffer”. Then review any trademarks marked as ‘LIVE’ to ensure you don’t infringe on any existing trademarks.

If everything checks out, then you’re free to use the name (and may want to trademark it later if it becomes a widely used industry phrase).

Step #7: Keep Using The Memorable Name Throughout Your Posts

Sometimes, you’ll see top podcasters and bloggers consistently use the same name or phrase over and over again.

Example 1 – John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire says “Ignite!” throughout his podcasts and even in his comments on other blogs.

Example 2 – Brian Dean of Backlinko wrote a link building case study called The Skyscraper Technique for his blog. The technique spread like wildfire and then he trademarked it.

backlinko uspto

Where To Go From Here

The reason top bloggers like Brian Dean, Neil Patel, Bryan Harris and Derek Halpern use pre-outreach to promote the heck out of their blog posts is evident.

It expands their audience, allowing them to generate more business ($$$) from their blog.

But that doesn’t mean you should blindly rip off their strategies and apply it to your business or blog. You should strive to push the creative boundaries and come up with a plan that is even better.

That’s the point of being an internet marketer or blogger. Try new things, test them and then teach other people what you found works after you’ve tested different approaches.

You won’t become known as a leading marketer or blogger if you don’t start thinking outside the box.

Bloggers and marketers are artists.

Do you want to be the nameless boy band forgotten tomorrow without leaving behind a legacy? Or do you want to be more like Pink Floyd or The Rolling Stones, setting new precedents for your generation?

The reason Neil Patel and Brian Dean are who they are is because they regularly test new strategies.

Frequently they fail, but it’s through iteration and testing that they unearth new strategies that work and become known for them.

You can’t become well known by doing the same thing as everybody else. You may get a few subscribers out of it, but it won’t give you the momentum you need to break through the content clutter.

Use pre-outreach to amplify your reach and make more money from your blog but avoid reaching out the same influencers with the same scripts used by everyone else.

Set yourself apart from the crowd, try new outreach strategies and your efforts will be much more potent.


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Cody Lister is the Founder of MarketDoc. He gives businesses of all sizes the tools and advice they need to leave a bold mark on the web.


    1. Hey Jake,

      Totally disagree with you on that one. Content upgrades helped me grow my list by 1,000s of subs in a matter days.


  1. This is such a great strategy that I’m hoping your readers will overlook it :))))

    But in fact, that’s my #1 strategy for promoting content these days.

    And I’m sure you know that, because I got in touch with you, while I was doing pre-outreach for my latest article 🙂

    So yeah.. people who will read this post and never do pre-outreach – are FOOOLS!!

    1. I agree with you, Tim! Anyone not using pre-outreach after reading this post is a FOOL! ;P

  2. Any blogger who says he doesn’t love traffic just returned from the Planet Mars or is likely to be the only stranger in Bethlehem.

    This post caught my attention because just like Michael Buffer, I would love to increase my revenue as well but what leaves many of us in limbo is how to go about it.

    This is my first time hearing of the pre-outreach and I guess this is something really worth considering.

    1. Hey Emmanuel,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      Pre-outreach can do wonders for driving traffic and revenue from your blog (assuming you have a solid sales funnel in place).



  3. Hi Cody,
    I have not any pre-outreach before. But I think I am going to adopt it. Although it was a long post but worth reading.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey Robin,

      Thanks for stopping by. I agree that it was a long post but I have a lot to say about content promotion and pre-outreach.

      Look forward to reading more of your comments around the blog. Let me know if there is anything else I can be of help with.


  4. J Kelly

    Hey Cody,
    Good post and executed well. BTW – Evernote has discontinued support for Skitch for Android, Windows desktop, and Windows Touch – as of January.

    1. Thanks for your comment, J. I saw that Evernote discontinued support for Skitch. I recently upgraded to Evernote Premium because I couldn’t stand seeing that Skitch storage warning message anymore. I’m hoping someone comes out with a new version of Skitch soon before they discontinue OS X support…

  5. This is some sort of a long article but I bet it sure worth the time, thanks for adding me to your mailing list, I will be looking forward to more of this.

    1. Thanks, Segun. Glad you enjoyed the post. I look forward to reading more of your comments on the blog. Let me know if I can be of help with anything else. 🙂


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