Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Mariah Danielsen, an award-winning graphic designer and marketer who discovered that she could build a business around what she loves: weddings, stationery and DIY projects. She is the owner of Oh, What Love Studios and the co-creator of The Create+Connect Project, a program that helps creative entrepreneurs turn their passion into profit, which launches in early June. In this post, Mariah shares some tips for getting your site noticed through guest contributions. Thanks, Mariah, for this helpful post! — Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump . . .
When you start blogging, it can be difficult to build a strong following at first. You want to attract readers and customers who are loyal and will come back to visit your blog or shop on a regular basis. The process of gaining followers can be sped up with one important task: guest blogging.
Here’s why guest blogging works: Guest posting on a blog is mutually beneficial for both parties — the blog gets a post without having to create the content, and you get your ideas and expertise in front of a bigger audience. When you hand-pick blogs that your ideal customers read and guest post on them, this builds your credibility in readers’ minds, which will drive the readers to visit your website.
Pitching to bigger bloggers can be a bit scary, but here are four key steps to walk you through the guest blogging process. Download this worksheet to help you out.
1. Where to Post
The best way to get loyal followers is to post on blogs that are already reaching your ideal customers.
Find out which major blogs your ideal customers are reading and start with those. Use the worksheet provided to keep track of these blogs or bookmark them in your browser. Then search for blogs similar to those first blogs you looked at.
You can do this by searching a blog’s list of favorite or recommended blogs, using blog directories like Technorati to find the top blogs in your area of expertise or by doing a Google search for “Blogs Similar to ________.” Add some of these blogs to your list or bookmarks folder.
Before you add a blog to your list, do a little research to see what the blog is all about; maybe it’s not the type of blog you want to post on, or maybe they don’t even accept guest posting. Doing a bit of research about the blog will help you when it comes time to start writing your pitches.
When you have a list of blogs you possibly want to post on, start reading their posts and following them on their social media sites. Comment on some of their posts and connect with them on Twitter. This will get your name on their radar.
I like to subscribe to their RSS feeds via Google Reader, and then once per day I can catch up on all my favorite blogs in one place. Also, it’s a good idea to create a Twitter list of all the writers of your ideal guest-posting blogs so you can see their tweets in one place and respond to them easily.
2. The Perfect Pitch
Pitching to a big blog can be really nerve racking, but keep in mind that the worst they can say is no. I assure you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how nice people are when you pitch to them as long as you are genuine.
You want your pitch to be direct and to the point with a little personality. Don’t use a totally canned pitch — show that you are genuinely interested in their blog and mention some specific things about them in your pitch.
This outline is a good rule of thumb:
I. Intro: Write one sentence saying who you are and what you do.
II. Compliment their work: Briefly mention one or two things you love about their blog — be specific.
III. Briefly explain your ideas:
- Submit two or three so they have some to choose from
- Present a strong title with a short description
- Extras: Do you have a printable worksheet or done-for-you scripts?
IV. Wrap it up:
- Tell them you’ll follow up in one week
- Give them your contact information if they have questions
- Thank them for their time!
I’ve used this technique to pitch to major bloggers and have had a great response. Read a sample pitch here.
After you pitch, stick to your word and follow up with them after a week. Check your spam folder occasionally to make sure their response didn’t automatically go there.
Following up is important because your original email may have gone to their spam folder, or they may be interested but have forgotten about your email.
In your follow up, just let them know that you are following up on an email you sent the week prior, and tell them that if they have any questions to feel free to contact you. Then attach the original email so they don’t have to dig back through a week of emails to find yours. Click here to see a follow-up example.
After you follow up once, you will usually get a response if they are interested. If they don’t respond after you follow up, you can either wait another week and do one final follow up or move on to the next blog to pitch — it’s really up to you.
If they reply and say yes (yay!), coordinate all of the details for them. Make it as easy for them as possible. Write the post in the format they outline and make sure you follow all of their guidelines.
If they say no, don’t be offended. Thank them for their time, and if they seem friendly enough, consider asking them if they know of any other bloggers who may be interested in your post ideas. If they have the time, they can be a great resource in helping you find a different blog to pitch.
3. The Post
In your post, you’ll want to add some links to get traffic back to your blog. Add your links strategically, either somewhere in the post that is appropriate or in a bio you write for the post. In your bio, also make sure you add your social media links so readers can connect with you elsewhere.
When your post goes live, keep your eye on the comments over the next two or three days. Answer any questions the commenters may have; this is valuable because it allows you to have one-on-one conversations with your ideal customers.
You can also do a search for the link to your blog post in Twitter and reply to anyone who tweeted about your post or retweeted it — it’s a nice gesture to thank those people for sharing the post. Again, this will help you connect directly with your ideal customers.
4. After the Post
After your post has gone live, check your web analytics to see how much traffic your site got from that particular post. If you got a ton of traffic, start brainstorming more topics you could post on that blog. Send a quick email to the blogger thanking them for allowing you to post, and tell them that you’d be happy to post again in the future. If you have a few more ideas ready, go ahead and include those in the email and start the process all over again!
This is a proven technique for guest posting on bigger blogs and connecting with your target audience. It’s a really quick way to get people visiting your blog, and it helps build your credibility in your area of expertise.
If you have any questions about guest posting, leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to help you find the answer!