Although I’ve been blogging since 2005, I still feel like a newbie, sometimes. For years, I’ve wondered, “Why is nobody reading what I’m writing?” Maybe you’ve asked the same question.
I’m beginning to discover the answer. It has to do with community.
I’ve stumbled upon a secret: Blogging is communal, and those who participate in the community win.
My blog readership and influence has grown more in the past six months than it has in the past six years. Why? Because I’ve been guest posting more in the past six months than I have in the past six years.
Most bloggers spin their wheels trying to increase traffic on their own blogs, while overlooking the essential discipline of writing guest posts for other blogs. Nothing can grow your platform quite like it.
Consider the following bloggers: Leo Babauta (of Zen Habits), Brian Clark (of Copyblogger), and Chris Brogan (of Chrisbrogan.com). All have used guest posting as a means of growing the reach of their blogs. And you can, too.
Guest posting is great for search engines, introduces you to new communities (and them to you), and allows your ideas to more freely spread. This is an essential marketing strategy for any blogger, but few know how to do it well.
Here are seven steps to successful guest posting:
- Check the guidelines. Many established blogs, including this one, have a list of guidelines that you can follow to make a guest post. Before submitting your post, read the guidelines and follow them.
- Study the blog. Do some research to understand the subject and voice of the blog and to see what topics haven’t been covered yet. If you know someone who has guest posted for the blog, ask him how he did it.
- Contact the blogger. Email is probably best. In the message, get right to the point. Either pitch an idea or send the whole article, but don’t waste time with unnecessary flattery or self-deprecation. Don’t say “sorry,” and don’t be arrogant. Just be yourself.
- Write the best post you can. (This may happen concurrently with #3). Once you’ve made contact with the blogger, you can begin writing. Fight the temptation to hold back your “A” content for your own blog. Guest posts are your best marketing collateral, so don’t submit something less than your best. Once finished, send the ready-to-publish post to the blogger with a byline and link to your website.
- Follow up. Depending on the guidelines, give the blogger some time (usually a week) before following up. When you do follow up, keep it positive and polite. You can follow up again a week or two later. If you don’t hear back in a month, tell the blogger that you’d like to take the article elsewhere.
- Engage and promote. If the blogger posts your article, first thank her. Then, treat it as you would one of your own posts, if not better. Tweet it, share it, email it, etc. Post an excerpt on your own blog and link to the whole article. Interact in the comments and engage readers who respond. This is a must.
- Repeat. Whether you succeed or not, start the whole process over again. If you get rejected, don’t get discouraged. And don’t let it be the last time you try to guest post. Sometimes, the topic is just wrong. Other times, it’s the wrong audience. Regardless, you need to guest post more than once for it to be an effective strategy. So, don’t give up.
One final thought: If the blogger is local (or a traveler), try meeting up with him for coffee. The best blogging relationships are birthed out of real-life relationship.
The most elite bloggers on the Internet have grown their blog readerships through this simple, but effective strategy of guest posting. And you can grow your blog by doing the same.
For more on guest posting, check out Chris Garrett’s program, Guest Posting for Quality Links and Targeted Traffic.