How to Steal Readers and Traffic Through Guest Blogging

July 15, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Content Strategy

micGuest blogging is awesome. It’s the perfect karmic act that combines helping someone out and giving yourself props all at the same time. As a guest blogger, you get to add great content to a fellow blogger’s blog, establish yourself as an expert, and spend time building long lasting relationships with new readers. And then, when you’re done doing that, you get to ransack the blog and steal readers, traffic and influence back to yourself. Muahaha!

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as devious as I made it sound.

Truth is, most know that guest blogging is a great way to increase exposure for your site. We get the benefits. However, most bloggers still haven’t learned how to maximize the experience for ultimate value. They simply throwout a guest post with no preparation and think they’re done. They’re not.

Here are some of my favorite ways to ensure that when I guest blog, I’m kidnapping as many readers and eyeballs as I can.

Clean your own house first

Whether you’re a new blogger trying to get your name out there or an established blogger looking to increase your reach, one of your goals with your post is to convert new readers to your site. You want to get them reading your post and then leave a trail of cookies to follow you back home. And when you do that, you want your home to be presentable. You can’t invite someone over and then expect them to make their way through empty pizza boxes, piles of soda cans and that expensive cheese you forgot you left lying around on the counter. No one’s going to stick around for that.

In the week or so before you publish your guest post, start cleaning up your own space. Make sure your site is as sexy as it once was, that you have fresh (and interesting) content up on the blog, that you’re highlighting some of your most popular posts for new readers, and that your site feels welcoming. You’re going to have an influx of new visitors. Give them something to look at, to chew on, and most importantly, to fall in love with. This is your time to convert them to lifelong fans.

Use your best stuff

There’s this weird temptation when you’re blogging for someone else to NOT use your best content or ideas. Instead, bloggers often want to go with their second-tier material, be just “good enough”, and to save the real gems for themselves.

Don’t be a jerk.

It does no one any good for you to sit on good content. When you walk into someone else’s house, you want to be your best version of yourself. If you’re not doing that and you’re holding back, you not only do a disservice to the blog you’re posting on, but you don’t help yourself either. You cut yourself off at the knees in what that guest post will accomplish. You won’t attract new readers, you won’t intrigue anyone into checking out your blog, you won’t see any of the traffic, and no one’s going to be impressed. Because people can always tell when you’re faking it. And really, if you’re so worried about “wasting” your best content because you can’t think up any more – you have bigger problems than just being a jerk. You’re also an uncreative jerk. Just sayin’.

Hit the sweet spot

donutUnless it’s already assigned, picking a topic for your guest post can be a little tricky. You want to take some time to identify the sweet spot between your blog and the blog you’re posting on. What’s the one thing that’s related to both that you do better than anyone else?

And that’s not always easy to find. If you’re not intimately familiar with the blog you’ll be posting on, take some time to study it. Look at what kind of posts are naturally popular. Can you spot a hole in the content that the author hasn’t touched and that they’re missing? Go back through old posts and read the comments to find out what’s important to them, what questions they have that you can answer, where hot buttons have been hit, etc. If that blog is relevant for what you do, you
‘re going to be able to find that one topic that you can knock out of the park harder than anyone else and that will highlight the best of what you do. That’s the post you want to write.

Include relevant links back to your site

Do not be a whore., but do include one or two relevant links in your post back to your own site. Yes, sure, you get some links from it, but more importantly, you highlight some of your best content for readers of that new blog. You give them an invitation to visit you, to check you out, and decide if this is the type of content they’d be interested in reading and subscribing to. They get to see you in your natural habitat and to see how smart/funny/clever your blog is. That’s how you kidnap them. Huzzah!

When you’re trying to figure out which posts to link to, look for content that naturally compliments what you’re already writing about and that would be relevant to that new audience. Try to match posts with a similar tone to the one you’re posting on, as well.

Maximize your author information

checkmarkWhen you’re asked for your little bio or signature information, don’t just work up a sentence about what you do, where you live and give a cookie cutter link to your Web site. That’s how you show people you’re boring and were probably picked on in high school. Instead, be different.

Create a call to action with your link. Something that entices them to click to find out more about you, your blog or your product. Or, instead of linking to your home page, give them a link to your RSS feed or email sign up. Something that will help them continue the conversation they’re already having with you.

Respond to every comment

I know it sounds lame and we’re all tired of hearing it, but you need to respond to every comment that is left on your guest post. Why? Because that’s how you build relationships in the community, it’s how you make friends and its how you show your gratefulness for being allowed to post on that blog in the first place. You’re walking into someone else’s party. You were invited in and part of your responsibility is meeting all the other guests and sharing with them. These comments are that interaction. Every commenter is a potential connection or new reader. Don’t leave them hanging.

The more respect you show the community, the more well-received you’re going to be. By loving the community just as much as its members do, you immediately show that you’re “like them” and they become more invested in you. Also, the more you comment back, the better the conversation will be. And the better the conversation, the happier the person who owns that blog is going to be with you. Can you say repeat guest appearance?

Guest blogging is one of those marketing activities that is fun and win/win for everyone involved. What are some of your tips for maximizing the experience? Let me hear ‘em! :)

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