Are we done with guest blogging?
I hope not. Sure the landscape is changing, and we need to adapt our approach accordingly. But guest blogging is still one of the most effective growth tactics for you and your business.
Let’s have a look at seven reasons you should consider using guest blogging to grow your business;
1. Becoming a thought leader
For centuries, those that have challenged the status quo and left an imprint on their generation have been writers. The risk takers. The radicals. The researchers. The geeks at school who turned out to be the most influential contributors of a time. These were the thought leaders.
Things are different now. We are living in a world of free information. Anything you want to learn is available online, and if you have the patience and discipline to find it, it is free. This is because the platforms we use to seek information, such as blogs, have the barriers to entry of a lemonade stand. Anyone can do it, and do it fast.
Becoming a thought leader must be easier then. Right?
Not quite. More blogs, means more noise. Just because you can set up a blog, doesn’t mean anyone will listen to what you have to say. Sure you need to have something new, unique and powerful to say. But this is no longer the most important thing. People and brands with extremely average things to say are perceived as thought leaders. Because they know how to find their audience.
Guest blogging gives you access to a brand new audience. Plus, the audience you already have will confirm their bias towards you as a thought leader if they see you blogging on authority sites.
Not a week goes by where I don’t see Neil Patel pop up on at least two blogs other than his own. He has built a marketing empire with his personal brand at the heart of it and guest blogging shapes that brand.
2. Growing your social media following
Social media is a proven source of traffic, second only to search engines in its volume. But many of us blog, schedule a Tweet or two and sit back thinking the rest will figure itself out. Let me tell you, it won’t.
You have to be deliberate and consistent with your social media engagement to build a following that will drive genuine traffic to your website. Not until you have built a base following, of say 1 to 2 thousand people, will you start to see a spike in regular engagement and sharing.
Guest blogging is a surefire way to grow your social media following. In most instances the platform you choose to blog on will have a big social following themselves. Then it acts like a multiplier. They share your post, their readers share your post, and their readers followers share your post. Crazy exposure that you would never have seen from just posting a blog to your own site.
I remember when I first started out on Twitter and I had absolutely no followers. It was brutal. From 0 to 100 was like watching the grass grow. Then I decided to submit a blog post to Social Media Today. Within days my Twitter following grew from under 100 to over 500 (Still not massive but a 500% increase isn’t bad!). The amount of mentions I was getting skyrocketed my Klout score from 10 to almost 50.
Now I dedicate at least 50% of my writing time to guest blogging. It continues to actively grow my social media following.
3. Building valuable relationships
Relationships are perhaps the strongest form of competitive advantage in any business. Guest blogging gives you the perfect opportunity to forge relationships with influential people in your industry.
Why do I say that? Because the whole idea of guest blogging is mutually beneficial. You provide killer content, and they provide you access to their audience.
To blog on high traffic sites you typically need to befriend the managing editor or someone with influence over the managing editor. Building this relationship is a balancing act between value and intuition. You need to understand what they truly value and how you can deliver it to them
So what are some common things editors value?
- Short, sharp email communication (they are busy people)
- A high quality post written specifically for their audience
- Their time back. Do everything you can to make it easy for them
- Certain style and guidelines. Figure out what they expect from blog posts and stick to it
- New and interesting topics that benefit their readers. What content gaps can you fill?
- Credible writers. Validate yourself by showing them some of your best content or getting a direct referral
Below is an example of an email I sent to HubSpot before writing my first guest post for them, feel free to use it as a template for yourself.
Once you establish a human connection with people it becomes a relationship. Then it is up to you to foster that relationship over time into something of commercial value. My mentality is to give until it feels like too much, and then give a little more. But never fall into the trap of expecting something in return. If you are consistently generous, you will reap the rewards in the long run.
4. Exploding your email list growth
If you are looking to grow your email list, guest blogging provides a unique opportunity to do so. Essentially you are gaining access to an enormous amount of people you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Look at the blue explosion one single guest post at HubSpot created on my MailChimp list data page.
I’m not showing you these results to brag. In fact I’ll openly admit the reason that specific guest post converted so well was a complete accident. But I learnt a lot from the experience. When I reflected back on several less awesome guest posts that didn’t get as much traction, it started to make sense.
What did I do differently in that guest post that made it convert so well?
- Provided a free downloadable resource on Blogger Sidekick (Blog Strategy Canvas)
- Created a landing page for that resource, with an email capture form
- Designed the guest post so it integrated specifically with the downloadable resource (The post I wrote took readers through a 9-step blog strategy process they could document using the resource I made available)
- Included a clear call-to-action (link) in the post and placed it above the ‘fold’. Above the fold is the area on the screen that readers can see without scrolling. I included the link to my download within the first couple of paragraphs of the post.
Bingo! That is how you explode your email list growth with guest blogging.
5. Attracting more inbound links
Gone are the days that you can guest blog purely as a link building strategy. If you try and blog on low authority sites and stuff links into your copy then Google will penalize you. But don’t be short sighted. The relationships you build and the additional traffic you get from this new source of people will deliver you more inbound links in the future.
Don’t believe me? Let’s have a look at an example.
Essentially the post reveals the exact strategy Jimmy used to attract over 35,000 page views from one piece of content on his company’s site.
But what does this have to do with guest blogging and inbound links?
After creating an epic piece of content that was over 5,000 words, Jimmy strategically reached out to authority sites that put together a weekly round-up post of the best content in his niche in an attempt to land a few high profile inbound links.
As you will see from the email screenshot above, Jimmy validated his credibility at Marketing Land by first being a guest contributor.
Relationships = Guest blogs = Inbound links
And this is just one very unique example of how guest blogging can attract inbound links to your site if you think outside the box.
6. Unlocking PR opportunities
How do PR and guest blogging fit together?
The more credibility you build in your niche, the more PR opportunities you will attract. And guest blogging builds credibility.
Of course initially you may not attract the type of PR opportunities you are looking for, but they will come with time.
Here are a couple of ways to be proactive about attracting PR opportunities and using guest blogging as a point of leverage;
- Use HARO (or Sourcebottle if you live in Australia) to discover journalists looking for expert commentary. If you have blogged on credible websites, use those sites in your profile to validate your position to comment.
- Tweak your LinkedIn profile and website Bio to include references to the authority websites you have blogged for.
- Add a media section to your website. Include links to key guest blog posts, audio and video that establishes you as a thought leader.
- Use your guest blog articles as bait in an email when reaching out to journalists, radio presenters or other bloggers
PR opportunities typically won’t fall into your lap from a couple of guest blog posts. But they do shift the perception of your personal brand, and subsequently the credibility of the business you are associated with. Perception is everything when reaching out to journalists.
7. Reaching new customers
Guest posting can have a direct influence on customer growth. If you plan ahead, execute well and optimize your site for conversions there is a natural pathway from guest post to sale. The great thing is you can track this all the way from effort to revenue.
To make sure you are maximizing your guest blogging efforts and turning readers into customers you will want to track these metrics;
- Amount of referral traffic from the host site
- Bounce rate on the landing page you send readers to
- Conversion rate for your call-to-action (most likely an email list or a free trial opt-in)
- Engagement with future emails, such as click through and open rates
- Interaction with content on your site, such as comments or social shares
- Sales. Of the traffic you received from this guest post, exactly how many people became customers?
These benefits are a great stepping stone to the two case studies I’d like you to read. Buffer and Groove HQ. Both have had great success growing their businesses with guest blogging.
Case Study 1: Buffer
Buffer is a marketing platform that makes sharing content on social media easier. Buffer attributes growth of over 100,000 users within a 9 month period to guest blogging. Here are some guest blogging tips on how they did it;
- All up Buffer founder Leo posted 150 guest posts in 9 months. By the end of that period he was blogging 1-2 times a day! His advice: Don’t jump in and expect to do this straight away, start slow and find your rhythm.
- Leo initially found guest blogging opportunities using MyBlogGuest and BloggerLinkUp
- Once he had established credibility he then reached out to big sites via email
- What did he write about? Product reviews, round-up product posts (including their own) and posts targeted at their specific niche
You can read more about the buffer guest blogging journey on Leo Widrich’s blog.
Case Study 2: Groove HQ
Ironically, the Groove HQ guest blogging case study was largely successful thanks to a guest post on the Buffer blog. In that instance, an individual post from their founder Alex Turnbull attracted over 20,000 new visitors to their website.
So how can you apply the same guest blogging tactics as Alex?
Step 1 – Pick a site with an already engaged audience
Step 2 – Determine your blog topic by first figuring out who reads the blog and what they care about. Then answering the question; What challenge is that audience facing but the blog hasn’t address yet?
Step 3 – Reach out to the blog editor. You will see an example email Alex used below. But here are some principles he followed;
- Make sure it is a warm intro
- Always put their needs first
- Validate yourself
- Prepare a teaser of your post
Step 4 – Write the content with a clear call-to-action and targeted landing page
You can read more about the Groove HQ guest blogging case study on their blog.
If done well, guest blogging can exponentially grow your influence online. Groove HQ and Buffer are just two great examples of the power of an already engaged audience.
As you get better at guest posting and optimizing your posts to achieve the goals you want to achieve, you will start to see the benefits mentioned in this post. Such as;
- Growth in your social media following
- Valuable human-to-human relationships
- More inbound links to your website
- A bigger, more engaged email list
- Exposure to PR opportunities and new customers
- Perhaps the most intangible, and elusive benefit of them all is to become a thought leader in your industry. The go-to source of information for your customers.
What other benefits have you experienced from guest blogging?