If you’ve never heard of HARO (Help A Reporter Out) you’re going to be so excited now that you have. HARO is a tool that I’ve been using for years both for my work professionally and in my own business. What if I told you HARO could help you get your name out there, get you backlinks, build your authority and bring in new traffic? Would it sound too good to be true? Normally I would say yes, it sounds too good to be true, but this time, it’s for real. In this article, we’re talking about all things HARO. What it is, how to use it and what it can do for you as an entrepreneur.
Ready? Good. Let’s dig in.
What is HARO (Help A Reporter Out)?
At its most simple, HARO is a place for journalists to find sources for the articles they are writing. And the beauty of it is, HARO isn’t limited to only publications and magazines. In fact, any blogger, entrepreneur or small business can use HARO as long as they meet the requirements. Oh, does it do more than that. We’ll get into all of that in a bit.
How do you sign up for HARO?
When you head over to the HARO website, you’ll see two options: I’m a source or I’m a journalist. For using HARO to find sources, you’ll sign up as a journalist. To use HARO as a source, you’ll also want to sign up as a journalist. What? Yep. Here’s why. Being a source means that you’re signing up for the HARO emails. They’ll come at you three times a day (Morning, afternoon and evening editions) filled with stories that need sources. As a journalist, you will also be able to sign up for these same emails – but you’ll also have the ability to post “queries” for inclusion in those emails. So don’t trouble yourself trying to set up two accounts. You only need one.
Does HARO have any requirements?
Yes! Boo I know. It does have a few requirements but nothing you can’t handle. For all of the HARO rules, click here. But we’ll go through some of the big ones you’ll want to make sure you check off.
- Your website must have an Alexa.com ranking of one million or less.
- To check this, go to the Alexa website, scroll all the way to the bottom of the home page and just above the footer where it says “Browse Top Sites”, enter your website URL and click “Find”.
- You’ll come to your website page on Alexa where you’ll see a graph that’s titled “Alexa Rank 90 Day Trend” and here is your ranking. You’ll be looking at the “Global Internet Engagement” number. If it’s under 1 million, you’re all set!
- Your website must be fully launched for a month prior to your first query.
- You must have some free content on your website.
- If you’re asking for content, it has to be under 300 words.
How do you submit a query on HARO?
It’s super easy! Let’s say you want to write an article about a new all-organic makeup brand and to add a little more to the story you’d like a quote from an expert on organic makeup. Here’s how you do it.
First, log in to Help a Reporter Out, click “My Queries” and “Submit Query” on the right menu. Now, it’s time to fill out the form. Make sure that you are as succinct as possible when filling out the form. Sources need to know what you’re looking for in just one line. The part that they see first is the Summary, so be sure it’s straight to the point. You’ll use the query area to provide more detail and the requirements section to include any specific requirements such as “must be a licensed professional” or “please include the following…”, you get the idea. You’ll also have to select a primary and secondary category for your post. You don’t have a ton of options here, so pick the one that works best.
The options are:
- Business & Finance
- High Tech
- Biotech & Healthcare
- Energy & Green Tech
- Lifestyle & Fitness
- Entertainment & Media
- Public Policy & Government
Next, you’ll need to tell them what deadline you have for receiving the answers or pitches to your query. Pick a date that gives you enough time to write your article and go back and forth with sources just in case you have additional questions you need answered. If you’re on a time crunch, you can select “Urgent” and they’ll tweet out your query to their twitter audience and/or try to get it in the very next email. If your HARO query isn’t urgent, it will go out when they can fit it in before your deadline.
I wish I had some tip for you here because obviously if your query goes out in the morning edition you’re going to get the best results. It’s not that the afternoon or evening editions are bad, there are just more people who will see it in the AM. That’s been my experience anyway. But, I will say this, sometimes your query will go out more than once AND you can submit the same query again if you didn’t get enough responses or the responses that you were looking for.
How to use HARO answers
So you’ve submitted your query, now it’s time for the responses. Once your query has been sent out, you’re going to notice two things.
- You’re going to see a spike in website traffic.
- Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to be a ton of traffic, but you’ll definitely notice a little spike.
- You’re going to get answers to your query that aren’t what you were looking for.
And both of those things are okay. Don’t use HARO for traffic, it isn’t going to get you anywhere. And those answers that are irrelevant? Ignore them. You’re going to get plenty that are exactly what you’re looking for.
Now that you’ve got your answers, it’s time to start writing!
There’s no limit on how many times you can use HARO so use it as you need!
By the way, if you’re thinking about starting a podcast, HARO is a great resource to find guests, check out our awesome guide to starting a podcast if you haven’t yet!
Using HARO as a source
Using Help a Reporter Out as a source is a totally different ballgame. As a blogger, entrepreneur or small business, you’re going to be reading those emails that come in from HARO and scanning them for relevant queries. You may go days or weeks without finding something relevant but don’t give up! It will come! And it doesn’t take long to scan their emails to know if something is a fit or not.
Tip: Take ten minutes at the end of your day or right before lunch to scan the emails from HARO and if you’re responding, respond to them all at once.
Once you find a query that totally fits what you’re looking for, it’s time to respond.
I’ve put together my top tips for you on responding to queries in this super handy guide. Get it below!