biz ladies: The Best Way to Get Your Site Out There Fast

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!

Gina_AcuteDesigns

Love the pitch format. I sometimes get badly organized pitches. I want to help beginner bloggers, but it is hard when their email is all over the place. I totally agree that to the point, genuine, and a good post idea is the best pitch. Thanks for sharing these tips!

Mariah | Oh, What Love

@Gina – thanks! It’s the one I’ve found that works best!

@Heather – you’re so sweet :)

@Alejandra – Start before you’re ready! You’ll feel uncomfortable at first but you’ll see how nice people really are if you’re genuine and honst with them!

@Jen – Glad I could help :)

Grete-cartonBois

This is a really helpful post… a perfect guest post!!! I’m italian and I don’t speak a perfect english, so I’m afraid to try a pitch for a blog, but I will follow your advices and try (after reviewing my text by some friends native English speakers), And sorry if I made some mistakes here

Emma

What a great post! I was lucky enough to be approached by one blogger for a guest post but had never thought of seeking them out…. guess I need to get a bit of courage up :/

Elena

Wow, what a helpful post! This is just what I’ve been pondering on lately so, I’m very grateful to have read this today. I certainly intend to begin planning for this!
Thanks again for the post. :)

Whitney

This is fabulous advice, thank you for offering it up to those of us who are working to help smaller companies grow in authentic ways – guest blogging is another perfect idea for such growth!

Jo McKee

Ditto for me on the timely advice – after having articles well-received in recent weeks, I figure it’s time to ‘blog or die’, but the more I learn the more I realise I have lots to improve on. How is it that I can cheerfully pitch to a paper publication but it never occurred to me to pitch to a blog?! Thanks for your clear example!

tiffany

Truely interesting and helpful tips. I think that these coupled with reading ones blog statistics can be a miracle worker.

Megan

Pitching post ideas is so scary! I haven’t gotten up the courage to do it yet, but I think this just nudged me a little bit closer.

Joquena

I definitely agree it’s a good idea to keep track of all the blogs you’re following and interacting with. I even note the dates of my interactions so that I know too much time hasn’t passed. You’re forming a relationship here!

Ri

Can you please stop using this image..I find it really offensive and you have used it a for over a year..I just want to scream everytime you use it….

Sorry I am being so negative…..but need for a change….or maybe I need to stop reading

Raphaele

Very helpful, thank you. I was wondering how to tackle the “guest post” issue, now I have a good starting point. I was wondering, would you rather do one guest post now and then or is it sonething you would do on a regular basis?

Sisi

Yes, guest posting definitely works. Write something that represent you and align with the well known blogger is key. Like write something about fashion for a craft blog.
Always provide a fresh insight that the blogger might haven’t touched base on.

Grace Bonney

ri

i’m not sure why you find it offensive. i think a lot of women see it as a universal sign of strength and i feel the same way. the updated version we use was made by a reader and fellow biz lady so i enjoy being able to have that as a consistent image. if you could explain what you find offensive about it, we could discuss it further.

grace

Hanna from HapaDesign

This is perfect timing! I’m just planning on starting a whole new blog adventure focused on the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. Attracting readers to a brand new blog that hasn’t got a lot of content yet is going to be hard, and guest posting is a great way to do it. Thanks so much for the detailed and thorough post!

Mariah | Oh, What Love Studios

@Raphaele – It’s really up to you on how often you guest post and how much time you have to work on creating the articles. Doing them consistently will help bring lots of traffic to your site, so once you start you may find yourself wanting to do more and more to keep the traffic coming.

Tess Richardson

You’ve inspired me! I’m heading out to hunt the perfect reader/geek blogs, sharpen my pencil and get my brave on–though with a humble touch, of course. :-) (Not to start a comment war, but I love the vintage WWII woman worker image.)

Jen aka Pincurl Girl

Once you send out a pitch to a blog, should you wait to send out the same pitch to another blog after you hear back from the first one? What is your thought on that? Sometimes I just get on a roll and want to send out 5 in a week.

Grace Bonney

jen

yep- as a blogger i can tell you it’s a pet peeve of most of us to hear we’ve all been emailed at once. i think 2-3 days between emails is a great courtesy :)
g

Echo

Thanks for sharing! I’ve been trying to attract more attention to my family travel blog and I need help! This has definitely given me an option that I didn’t think of. We travel internationally with our kids (usually on a very tight budget), and even though I feel many families can benefit from my advice I have no idea how to stand out in a sea of blogs! I will definitely start sending guest blogging requests ♥

Mariah | Oh, What Love

@Jen – In addition to what Grace said – don’t pitch the same post to a bunch of different blogs. Lots of bloggers want fresh, original content so if you pitch to a bunch and they all pick it up, it’s no longer fresh. Find a way to change your article or idea a bit so it fits the audience of that particular blog and is different from a post you’ve pitched elsewhere.

Grace Bonney

jen

yep! at least 3-4 days between emails, ideally you’d wait to hear a yes or no from each outlet.

g

Jen aka Pincurl Girl

Grace,

Sorry to keep asking questions but I had the editor request samples of my product, which I sent out yesterday. Now what would you suggest, wait to see if she reviews it on her site? If she does, should I wait a couple of days after it posts to approach another?

I love your after the jump radio show too, especially the one with Genevieve Gorder.

Thanks so much,
Jen

Stormy @Maoomba

Mariah, thank you for laying it out so easily. The pitch letter always seems daunting to me. This feels like a great way to approach it…and to follow up!

amy

Thanks SO MUCH for this.. I’m such a wuss when it comes to this stuff, especially since I had no idea what a pitch was supposed to look like. Thanks to you guys, I have no more excuses! Pitching a guest post is officially on my summer to-do list!

http://www.ladymockingbird.com

Amber @ thecardboardcollective

I’m now staging my blog “coming out” after blogging about my cardboard furniture and toys in near secrecy for almost 8 months. I have finally developed a backlog of good content to hopefully spark people’s interest as well as entice them to come back after their initial visit. This post is really helpful as I’m literally just starting to craft guest post submissions for the first time this week. Thanks so much for the great example pitches! I feel like I have a map now!

I am wondering though, what’s the etiquette about content overlap when it comes to pitching to print media versus digital media? Can I pitch the same idea to a blog and a print magazine?

julie @ tractorgirl

Such a great post! I have been blogging about contemporary craft and surface design for about 6 months now, and am only just starting on the guest bloggig trip. So, perfect timing!! thank you so much. Bookmaking :)

Jen • The Wired Designer

Wow! Perfect timing for me as well. I just launched my blog TODAY! (not ready for pitches just yet) but this definitely gave me the motivation to keep plugging away and remind myself that “I can do it!” I don’t find that image offensive either, it encourages me. It is a bit scary to post your first post and you hear that little voice inside your head that says, “What are you doing? Are you crazy?” Just flick it away. :)

Sarah

Brilliant post. So informative. Guest blogging is something I’ve started to think about, as I’m just in the process of updating my site, so it’s great to have really specific info on the most professional way to go about it. Thankyou!

ashley w-p // hello, bird.

Great post!! Love all of the details, and seeing the examples definitely helps make approaching someone to guest post seem a lot more do-able. Thanks, Mariah!

Barbara

This was fabulous. I am going to mark off 30-45 minutes of my day to really do this. I have already started a spreadsheet to keep track of the wonderful blogs I follow. I will keep you posted on any boosts of interests. Thank you Mariah.

Catie @ Get Careyd Away

just discovered these tips through the Alt. summit blog and I have to say…you’ve made the whole venture of reaching out for guest posting much less scary! Thanks for the wonderful tips and the dose of confidence. Looking forward to formulating some pitches to begin my next adventure in collaborating with other bloggers :)

sarah

Also just discovered this through the excellent Alt Summit Blog – thanks for these pro tips. About a month ago I started a witty little blog about infertility and have been trying to attract a larger audience. Definitely hard to work up the confidence to pitch a guest post, but I think this gives me the push I need. Thanks!

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