The Dangerous Myth About Guest Blogging You Likely Believe.

The Myth About Guest Blogging

There’s this popular misconception that IF you’re Guest Posting for an A-List blog, THEN your blog will blow up.

Readers will be like, “Hey you posted on that site I love. HERE, TAKE MY MONEY!”

Before your guest blog goes live, you’ve preemptively increased your hosting, lest all these new salivating visitors crash your website because they’ve been starved and they’re hungry to devour your awesomeness .

The inner circle of blogging elite are all firing emails off through their secret network saying “You’ve Got To See This?!”, while simultaneously arguing, and making power plays vying for who’s going to book you to write next.

Smaller blogs in your field simmer with Awe and Envy because you achieved what they never could.

Those who can swallow their pride ask you, the recently ascended, your secrets and if you would mentor them (because you’re not so far removed from their world that you have forgotten how to talk to mere mortals)

Meanwhile, in front of your monitor, you sit glued to your real time traffic data, half expecting more opportunities to crop up from industry blogs/ half expecting a pop up banner saying:

PicturesWhich of course, never happens.

In fact, none of it happens.

People hardly notice. Your traffic numbers don’t peak. They’re not beating down your door. If you’re lucky, when you told your mom about it, begging her to comment, she responded with “That’s nice dear.”

It’s weird though, your guest post got more comments than all others in recent history.

Twitter, Facebook, Google, those numbers are all up; so you know people saw it. It’s not like your  efforts flopped

Heck the publisher was even kind enough to let people know YOU were when they sent traffic to your Twitter account.

So What Went Wrong?

Part of the problem comes from how we think about in the first place.

We think that popular blogs are at the center of big conversations and that by , we’re going to siphon off some of that fame.

But before you start thinking it’s that easy, first you must realize that blogger has done (and is doing) more than their fair share of promoting their blog to be at the center of that conversation. It’s never as simple as just being a good writer.

Second, remember their readers are their readers.

Just because your post went over well on that site, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re interested in checking you out.

I’ll explain a little more why I think that is in just a minute, but first I want to show you a personal example.

Back in October of 2011 I wrote a guest blog for Chris Brogan.com titled 106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great.

By all accounts, this post was a success. Within the first few hours it received 64 comments and 1011 social shares.

Chris would later inform me that over 38,000 visitors had visited the post within first 48 hours of it being live.

Incredible right?

(At the time of this writing, there are 246 comments and  8,332 shares on the major 4 social networks)

Here’s what the traffic on my site looked like the day it went live.

Day 106 ExcusesWent Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait, wut? Only 330 visitors?

Granted, this was better than the 105 visitors that came the day before, but that hardly seems like the type of traffic that should come off a post that received that sort of viral attention.

Now, that next major spike is a little difficult to ignore, and from that comes the real secret. Chris dedicated a post to me.

Day Chris Wrote A Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this post, he commended the 106 article and briefly discussed why he published it. At the end, he gave a direct link recommending that readers check out my site.

The whole thing was pretty brief, maybe 200 words. But those words were such a powerful recommendation that well over 1,000 decided to visit my site that day.

Here’s the funny part. 

chances social share

 

 

 

Not nearly the same spread, but a ton more referral traffic.

Why Is That?

The truth is, people go to ChrisBrogan.com (or any other popular website for that matter) to read that author, or at least authors who write in the style of the blog.

We don’t read these blogs to “discover” new authors.

The reason there was so much more traffic from Chris’s post was because it essentially said it was ok to check me out.

On a popular blog, reader’s know what to expect.

But on your site? Not so much. They don’t know if coming to your site is will be a waste of time or what. Which is why it’s so powerful when that popular blogger links out to you.

Now when your article is mind-blowingly awesome, there will always be a percentage of people that click through your byline link to learn about you.

But that’s what it takes; MIND BLOWING CONTENT.

I’ve posted for several large blogs now, and I can say with all sincerity there have been posts that yielded no noticeable lift in traffic.  But when I spend between 15-20 hours researching an audience, there’s always a decent little bump from byline clicks.

If you were to compare to the technology curve of adoption those brave souls who click your byline would be the “innovators,” they’re brave enough to check you out without any sort of extra referral.

The “early adopters” are the people only pay attention after you’ve gotten a contextual link, or even better a webinar with an influential person. They’re great, and this is the group you should really be fighting to reach.

The “early majority” are the people who begin paying attention only after you’ve been and doing joint work with several bloggers on a steady basis.

And to round out the metaphor, your “late majority” are the ones who discover you via word of mouth, and the “laggards” are the ones that buy your book from a secondhand store because they happened to like the title.

Unfortunately, so many bloggers give up and consider themselves a failure when they reach “The Chasm” because they’re under the misconception that byline clicks are going to make them famous.

How You Should Really Think About Guest Blogging

Think about  like your favorite long running TV show.

On Tv an actor might guest star for one or two episodes, but over the course of 100 or 200 episodes, one or two performances won’t make a huge difference.

Furthermore, if that guest star only views their role as a way to move the plot forward, they’re all but forgettable by the show’s finale.

This is not the case for all guest stars though. In fact, some guests give such a stellar performance, the fans DEMAND they become a mainstay of the show.

For example, the character of Chloe O’Brian from my favorite series “24″ was originally scheduled for 4 episodes. However fans liked what Mary Lynn Rajskub did with the character so much, she had the second most appearances on the show, beat out only by the show’s star, Kiefer Sutherland.

Michael Emerson of “Lost” has a similar story. His character “Henry Gale” was scheduled for 3 episodes, but when fans fell in love with his creepy hypnotic performance, it was revealed that Henry Gale was actually Ben Linus, leader of “The Others.” Many of the show’s tent pole moments came to revolve around Emerson’s character making him a deep seeded part of the series mythos. (The Island is a metaphor for limbo btw)

Of course, these two actors are the exception, not the rule.

With , you should absolutely try your hardest to write something where people demand you come back.

But if that doesn’t happen, the next best thing you can do after your post has gone live is to leverage the experience for repeat post opportunities, and expand your network.

Every popular blogger started at zero. Most of them will be willing to help, but only if you’re hungry and WILLING to realize success doesn’t happen overnight.

In other words, don’t make your efforts about “getting famous”, but rather to simply be invited back.

So Where Does That Leave Us?

I share all of this with you in hopes of giving you a realistic perspective of what is really about.

It alone is not what gets you widespread love and recognition.

It’s the introduction; To the audience, to the blogger and to you taking your content seriously.

By itself, it rarely reaches the “early majority” or even the “early adopters.”

If a post does well, offer a follow up webinar, or a Google+ Hangout On AirAnything you do that takes the information deeper is what’s going to endear an audience to you. Guest blogging isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.

It’s only when you realize this about that it becomes a truly incredible weapon.

The internet needs more driven creators that will not rest until their genius becomes fully realized.

If you demand quality, and you’re willing to do everything it takes, this will help.

And next time, if your guest post doesn’t send a ton of traffic, remember this:

 

In this game, it’s more about savvy and perseverance than it is raw talent.

So, are you willing to give it a go?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Arrow December 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Hi Tommy, thanks for sharing your experiences. I’d like to clarify, you mean a-list bloggers in your niche, right? For example, my 6 figure blog is a transport blog that gets 3,000 visitors a month. Blogging on the likes of Problogger, Copyblogger and Chris Brogan is worthless to me. However, if I blogged on Road Transport, then not only would the audience appreciate what I have to share, but they can relate to me. I’m sure what I’ve learned is of interest to the right audience, but my content and generic A-list blogs are not a match made in heaven.

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Tommy December 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Absolutely.

What I’m really talking about is click through rates. From the people I’ve talked about with this, many believe that there’s going to be a ton of byline clicks that will make their blog popular instantly. Like you’re saying, people will appreciate what you’re writing if you’re writing for another Transport blog, and some of those people are going to click over. BUT if you do more to create an ongoing relationship with that other blog, every post you do with them will solidify that your stuff will be more worth looking at.

Every niche has an A-list, so no, posting with the people I mentioned here would probably be pretty worthless to you. And I don’t know because I’m unfamiliar with the transport community, but I imagine based on conversations I’ve had with other people in other spaces, the outcome of massive amounts of people coming over and becoming super credible right away is still the same.

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Yaniv Kimelfeld December 31, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Hi Tommy,

Guest blogging has other benefits other than direct traffic. For example, link building (one way dofollow links), networking and branding. Anyway, thanks for your interesting post :)

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David Gadarian December 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Great post. I’m getting ready to go out with a guest posting campaign and while I see the value of getting the big sites (like Brogan) was wondering if you could share some thoughts on the returns from smaller niche sites as well?

I have a few popular sites I’m going to try and land posts on but right now I see the bulk of my strategy focused on “smaller” – still a “big guess” on my part so I’d love some perspective.

Thanks!

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Tommy December 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm

My experience with smaller sites is that they generally have a more dedicated following. Even though there isn’t as much reach, there’s a lot more dedication, and that goes a loooong way.

It takes longer to get a wider reach, but I believe it’s time very well spent. With all of this it’s a matter of consistency more than anything.

When you look at that adoption rate graph above, MOST people I know fall into that chasm because they don’t push hard enough for anything beyond the guest post. There’s no follow up to do videos, webinars, or ANYTHING, and that kills any chance of building momentum because you’re always starting from scratch.

There’s two videos I’d like you to watch. This one which works great as an outline for guest posts that you want to sell something. And this one by Danny Iny that talks about engaging at smaller levels.

(In short, bigger blogs give you better reach, smaller blogs give you better conversion generally)

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David Gadarian December 29, 2012 at 12:29 am

Thanks Tommy. Two great links – I downloaded Danny’s book and I had some nice takeaways from your video as well! I’ll be sure to try to incorporate some of your ideas as I try to promote my new book…
Best,
David

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Tommy December 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm

No problem! And if there’s anything I can help you with during your promo period let me know, I’ll help if I can :-)

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Doug Cohen December 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Hey Tommy, when I find a piece like this one that hits on a topic that is important to me and to my strategy I usually come away 1) a little depressed when I realize how clueless I’ve been and how much my strategy sucks, or 2) happily validated and reinforced that I’m on the right track and pleased that I’ve stayed the course. This one puts me in the latter – so thanks I needed that! I’ve only been really serious about our blog for our photography studio for a little more than a year and guest blogging has been a part of my strategy for sure. I’ve been invited back for a third time on an industry blog with a pretty good following and while my own blog hasn’t “blown up” yet I haven’t abandoned the idea that building these relationships and continuing to focus on good content as a guest blogger is worthwhile. Good stuff – I just need to go exploring on some of the links in the article when I have a few more minutes…

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Tommy December 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Doug that is so awesome to hear! all around too,

I’m glad that you’re using guest blogging, and it’s even better that you’ve been invited back. Do everything you can to establish an awesome relationship with that publisher.

I didn’t share the image in the post, but a similar spike in traffic happened when I got a link from problogger mentioning a new technique I was using in my writing. Problogger contextual link

Bear in mind, I’ve been writing period guest posts for Problogger for almost two years now, but that was a very nice thing when that happened. Also, I don’t converse with Darren quite so much because I’m kind of a weenie about approaching new people.

However, I’m fairly certain that IF I were to put my foot forward and put something together, he’d help. That’s really the key to all of this, you want to have something more to offer that’s going to impact their bottom line. I’m going to be putting a few more of these guest blogging posts together, one of which will talk about guest blogging like a professional. I think you’ll like it ;-)

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Joshua Wilson December 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Thanks Tommy. I doubt you are spying on me, but its weird that this article came when I am trying to cross the “Chasm”. Thanks for the email and the funny videos. Cheers -jw

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Tommy December 28, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Nope, I was totally looking at your computer screen when I wrote this.

(O)_(O)

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Melissa Ng December 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I admire the depth and amount of research you present. Wonderful read, great examples, and amazing advice! Just what I needed this depressing, wintery afternoon…

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Tommy December 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm

:-) I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope it can make your day a little better. I’m going to be doing more in this series so I hope it can help you make the most of your guest posting opportunities.

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Bethany Lee December 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I forget where I found you, but I’m glad I did! Since then (maybe a couple of months?) when your emails come through, I always save them and read them when I have time.
Interestingly enough, I am planning on a major guest blogging strategy for this coming year, and so this article is very timely for me. I love how you showed us about that chasm, as I know I will approach it, and now that I know, I won’t be as discouraged when I go through it. The idea of nurturing your guest blogging too, beyond that initial guest post, is good to know. And then spending more time guest blogging on a single blog is good to know too. Look, I just keep telling you something new I learned from this single post. Like I said, thanks–glad I found your blog! :-)

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Tommy December 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

:-D I’m glad you got a lot out of it. There’s going to be more coming in this series soon, so you’ll have to let me know how it helps :-)

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Deacon Bradley December 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for sharing this Tommy. I’m setting out on my first guest posting expedition in Jan so this is timely for me.

I like the idea of diving deeper when you strike a chord. Take the webinar example: would you do this 100% on your own and hope the blog host would be willing to promote it? Specifically I’m interested in how you continue the conversation with an audience at another blog :).

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Tommy December 31, 2012 at 9:18 am

Ideally you’d do the webinar with the blogger, that way you don’t have to be like, “um… will you promote this for me.”

However, it’s not like you can’t do it on your own and ask them to tweet about it or email it for you either. Most of the time though, webinars are intended to lead to paid products, and if you have a paid thing that it leads to, the blogger would probably like to be an affiliate. (not) surprisingly, the best way to make friends with someone is to give them easy ways to make money, if you could imagine such a thing :-P

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Jason How December 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

Hi Tommy,

First let me thank you for writing this article.

You made 2 great points.
1) When you write, always ask, “what kind of response are you inviting?” I believe your advice to ask guest-bloggers to start writing to be re-invited is a great one. After all, the host blog’s audience barely knows you. Your guest post is parallel to a first meeting experience. By striving to be re-invited by the host blogger, you’re giving yourself a chance to form deeper relationships with your host’s audience.
2) You brought us back to think about our audience/customers. Good writers know who their audience/customers are. But great writers know how their audience/customers behave.

Thank you for being transparent with your blog traffic data too. May I boldly ask what is the kind of ad revenue you were receiving with 100+ visits a day?

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Tommy January 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I would love to take credit for your point #1, but if I’m being honest, that was the major takeaway from Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course. This was how I was able to get the guest posts I’ve gotten in the first place, and the mindset has come after taking the work behind it a lot more seriously.

And it’s always about the customers and how they behave. I firmly believe in there being 4 types of content in a marketing plan and when you know how to work that content, you can really discover how people will behave with it, and the products you endorse.

Thank you for boldly asking about the ad revenue :-P The truth is, none. With this blog I’ve never entered into the ad revenue/pageview economy, so that’s not how this blog has been used. Instead, I’ve used it as a tool to demonstrate my knowledge and close consulting contracts. In that economy 100+ visitors a day has been enough to support my family comfortably.

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Dave Lucas (@davelucas) December 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

Hi Tommy! Happy New Year!
Do you accept guest posts on your blog here?

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Tommy January 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I have in the past, but don’t on a regular basis. My criteria for guest posts here is that you’re able to write about something I can not. I’m willing to hear all pitches, but I warn you, I’m very critical. Shoot me a pitch at tommyisastrategist @ gmail.com and we’ll go from there.

Happy New Year to You Too!

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Jane V. Blanchard January 20, 2013 at 7:48 am

Tommy,

First time I read one of you post, and it won’t be the last. The timing for this post was perfect, just what I needed. Thanks,

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Tommy January 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Happy to have you on board :-)

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