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Guest Blogging – Is This What It Takes to Be Successful Online?
Talk to anyone in online marketing, and you’ll get more than a handful of opinions about guest blogging.
In one camp, they’ll say it’s the absolute best way to reach a target market, hands down, bar none, why would you bother doing anything else?
On the opposite end, there are those who argue it’s a huge waste of time because guest blogging does not always equal traffic, so why bother?
Somewhere in the middle, they’re talking about guest blogging being great for “branding opportunities” and “S.e.o” but beyond that, it’s hit or miss…
As for me, I feel like they’re all right.
Alone, each perspective is a little misguided. It’s only when you take a step back and rub the stardust (or jade) out of your eyes, that you see the method exactly for what it is.
I’ve been publishing guest posts for high profile websites for quite some time now. Some have resulted in 5 figure deals, others I would have been satisfied with 5 clicks.
But before we talk about what guest blogging is…
Let’s Talk About What Guest Blogging Is Not
See, the sexiest thing about guest blogging as a lead generation technique is that when it works, your leads are free.
The problem is, that’s where most people stop listening.
Without fail, some overzealous business owner hears there’s about a way to get free qualified traffic, and writes an article. This article doesn’t try to win the hearts and minds of it’s new readers though. No, in fact, the only thing this guest blogging article would win is a link stuffing competition.
And hey, that was easy! So they do it again and again and again, until eventually they realize there is no return. Then they either say “it’s for the S.E.O value” or “Guest blogging is ineffective.
But what they forgot was…
1. Guest Blogging is Not Free
For every dollar you save, expect to pay that in minutes.
If you want to move people towards an action, you have to understand them intimately. You need to understand what gets them talking, what gets them clicking, and what moves them to share.
And the only way to know that is to research.
Expect to spend hours in the archives, and hope you’re looking for the right things.
2. Bad Guest Blogging Can Get You Black-Listed
In any industry, there’s always overlap. Most people on top know the others on top.
If you’re rude, or inconsistant, or your posts just don’t provide value to anyone but you, there’s a strong risk of being labeled a jerk.
With some people, it’s ok, because they were never going to make it beyond their first couple guest posts anyway.
But if you’re someone who is clearly pushing to make a name for yourself, and that’s the reputation that follows you around, eventually it’ll be hard to get a guest post on the back of a napkin.
3. Guest Blogging is NOT About Building YOUR Brand
Hey, would you mind if I wrote a 1,000 word advertorial to publish on your website?
Could I talk exclusively about what I know and how awesome I am and point links only back to MY website?
Would you mind pushing that to all of your social media followers and email lists? Also, could you drop personal emails to the people you know who might like MY article.
Guest Blogging IS About People, Not Platforms
Ok, so hopefully at this point, it’s out of your head that you should be using guest blogging as a means to quickly and easily establish yourself.
The biggest guest blogging myth is that one post will make you an overnight celebrity.
The truth is, it takes time. All you’re really doing is establishing relationships. Not just with the blogger, but with their readers as well.
The more you give to that relationship, the better off you’re going to be.
Now that you’re ready, let’s see what it takes to get a guest post on an a list blog.
Let’s look at some of the good stuff that can happen when your guest blogging efforts go well:
1. Guest Blogging Can Lead To Good Relationships
In this world, relationships are everything.
Say you want to launch a product. You could do this on your own, or you could amplify your reach by “sharing” someone’s email list.
Now who do you think is more likely to share their hard earned email list with you? Someone you know and have worked with before, or someone you’re pitching for the first time?
In many cases, guest blogging is the introduction, a handshake if you will, that can lead to long lasting profitable relationships with people.
The key is to stay consistant.
2. Guest Blogging Can Establish Your Credibility
Once upon a time, I wrote a guest post for ChrisBrogan.com about stop making excuses. That post was shared well over 100,000 times through various social networks. Because of that post, I was able to share the “stage” during a virtual conference with the likes of Seth Godin, Jon Morrow, and a handful of other people I really respect.
This year, my guest blogging strategy is to focus on one area for each place I guest blog on, and dive in as deep as possible, to establish my knowledge in that area.
The reason you would want to do this is because
A.) it allows you to “own” a category on someone else’s website, establishing your credibility & providing deep knowledge in that area for regular readers and
B.) you’re making that website (and therefore your relationship with the blogger) stronger in that area, making them more likely to share their resources/knowledge with you.
3. Guest Blogging Makes You A Desirable Asset
Something I’ve learned recently is that your rolodex is just as important as your knowledge.
See, networks have value, and when it becomes known that you have a relevant network, you’re instantly more desirable than someone else with a similar set of skills.
For others, you become the conduit to something bigger.
As a word of caution though, protect your network. There will always be people who try to use you to get to who you know, and passing along half baked ideas lowers your own trustability.
4.) Guest Blogging (Sometimes) Keeps People More Engaged
Ramsay over at The Blog Tyrant has a pretty good rule of thumb about guest blogging on his site:
“Only propose subjects that I can’t write about myself.”
Of course, this varies from blog to blog, but I think it’s an excellent standard. The reason for the (Sometimes) in the subheader is that on many blogs, the editor encourages each writer to adopt a voice that fits the overall style of the blog.
Unfortunately for you, that can drown out your voice and make people miss your byline links entirely. HOWEVER if you’re writing a guest post for a blog like that, it’s also a really good opportunity to snap people out of their daze and keep them on their toes as they’re reading.
That of course leads to more conversation, shares, and probably more than a few extra Twitter followers ;-)
5.) Guest Blogging Can Earn You Links
Different editors have different policies about embedding your own links into your guest posts, but generally speaking it’s ok to link to your articles within the content (just don’t overdo it).
Depending on the context around your links, you could encourage a healthy amount of clicks. Depending on what people are looking for when they find you, and what they discover on your site, this could always lead to more organic links back to your site, and that’s never a bad thing.
This isn’t something I would count on right away, but know that it’s always a possibility.
Guest Blogging is an Ongoing Process
Really, this is a process that is constantly evolving and growing.
From what I’ve learned, the more you understand how to properly guest blog, the more you understand about blogging as a whole, business, and profitable relationships.
Underneath, you will find an updating list of articles on guest blogging. As my journey continues, I hope I can share what I know in a way that will help you get to where you would like to go.
And as a quick side note, I would like to give a quick shout out to Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging Program, because without it, I would have been directionless.