Influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive sales and grow your brand online.

That's because people tend to trust bloggers they follow more than they trust you or your marketing. So, bloggers and other influencers can have a huge impact on your potential customers.

However, getting bloggers to become your brand champions takes much more than a casual email: You need to take a structured approach to building a long-term relationship. The following nine steps should have you well on your way.

1. Identify your audience

Before you dive into any blogger outreach initiative, you need to know your target audience: Who is it that you're trying to sell to? Create personas that clearly identify the key characteristics of your potential customers so you can determine the best ways to influence them.

For instance, if you're selling mountain bikes, are you targeting teens, their parents, fitness enthusiasts, or mountain-biking professionals?

This step may seem basic, but it's surprising how many marketers forget about it.

2. Find the right bloggers

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image of Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster is the CEO at Tomoson, an influencer marketplace that lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences and allows influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content.

LinkedIn: Jeff Foster