Any blogger that is looking to gain exposure and build an audience has to consider how to go about reaching new readers. Some bloggers who view their work as a business are willing to pay for some exposure through banner ads, paid reviews, pay-per-click ads, etc. Those who are willing to invest some money into building their blog are obviously going to have some more opportunities to get in front of new readers, but in my opinion there is a method of advertising or self promotion that is more effective than any of these methods, and it’s free! Despite the combination of effectiveness and no cost, there are still plenty of opportunities for just about any blogger to use this method.
What is this “magical” form of promotion?
While it technically isn’t a form of advertising, writing guest posts for other blogs can be far more effective than traditional forms of advertising. Part of the problem with banner ads and sponsored reviews is that readers know that they are the subject of your advertisement. So in many cases, advertising is more effective when it’s really promotion and exposure rather than traditional advertising.
Why Guest Posting Works
Guest posting on other blogs in your niche is effective because it allows you to sell yourself by presenting your knowledge and putting it on display for readers. A banner ad cannot prove your worth to readers, but a guest post can.
How Guest Posting Differs from Traditional Advertising
Promoting yourself through guest posts is more subtle and less intrusive to readers than banner ads or sponsored reviews. Most readers are not interested in advertisements and they tune them out. But when they ignore advertisements, what are they directing their attention towards? The content of the blog. And when your guest post is the content that they are paying attention to, you have their focus and attention.
An advertisement projects your message directly to readers. There’s very little interpretation on their part. You’re trying to convince them of something or grab their attention to draw a click. With a guest post you don’t have to grab their attention in the same way. You have an entire post to make your point, and if you do it well there is a small, subtle link to your own blog in the bio at the beginning or the end of the post. A guest post gives the reader freedom to choose to pursue your “advertisement” by clicking on the link in the bio.
I think many times one of the problems with banner ads is that readers are hesitant to click even if it’s something that might interest them. First, there might be some doubt as to where the link will take them or a lack of trust for an advertiser. This is rarely an issue with guest posts because you’ve had a better chance to earn their trust throughout the post, and you have a chance to clearly tell them where they’ll go when they click on your link. Second, I think some readers want to ignore banners because they think the ads will increase or become more intrusive if they actually click on them. There can be a resistance to paid ads because they may feel like as a reader they’re being sold.
With a paid advertisement or a sponsored review readers are told something about you or why they should click-through to your blog. With a guest post you’re just writing a useful, interesting post and if they want to find out more about you they can click-through. Rather than telling them why they should visit your blog, you’re proving that they should visit by demonstrating your knowledge of the subject at hand.
Human nature (especially in today’s commercial society) is to resist being sold on something. The guest post takes a more laid back approach that can be less off-putting to readers.
Guest Posting Isn’t Really Advertising
Despite the title of this post, I do realize that guest posting is not really advertising. However, it allows you to accomplish many of the same objectives that an advertisement would, and in most cases it’s even more effective.
Although your purpose in writing a guest post is to get something back, you shouldn’t directly sell yourself. Don’t abuse the platform that you’re being given to tell people about yourself and your blog. Instead, write the best post that you’re capable of, and use a brief two or three sentence bio that includes a link to your blog to tell readers more about you.
My Experience with Guest Posting
When I started my blog last summer, guest posting was one of the primary methods I used to promote myself and draw traffic back to my blog. Over a span of two or three months I had about 20 posts published on a number of different blogs. While none of these guest posts drew a huge response individually, the collective effort was one the biggest keys to getting my blog off the ground and building a solid base of subscribers.
Writing guest posts for other blogs gave me an excellent opportunity to network with other bloggers, many of whom I am still in contact with. It also led to paid writing positions on three different blogs, including PureBlogging.
A few months ago I launched a second blog of my own, and while I’ve had little time to this point to do much promotion for the blog, I have had very good success with a few guest posts, particularly two that I’ve written for ProBlogger.
How to Get Started
If you’re interested in taking some action and making the most of the guest posting opportunities that exist, here are some steps that you can take to get started.
1 – Find some blogs in your niche that accept guest posts
Not all bloggers are interested in publishing the work of others, but you may be surprised that most are more than willing. Take a look at some of the blogs that you read on a regular basis and pay attention to which ones publish posts from other writers. You’ll probably see a few right away that you know will be open to the idea of publishing your post. However, there are many others that would be willing to publish a guest post, but others simply don’t offer to write for them. Find some other blogs in your niche that you think target an audience that is very similar to yours. Don’t necessarily go for the largest blogs right away. I started by writing for many blogs with anywhere from 100 – 1,000 subscribers and this is enough to get some results. Once I felt more comfortable and more confident, I began to approach larger blogs.
2 – Approach the blog owner with a simple introduction and an offer to guest post
Once you’ve identified a few possibilities, take a few moments to write a personal message. It it’s not someone that already knows you, provide a brief introduction and simply ask if they are interested in receiving guest posts for their blog.
3 – Don’t hold back. Offer your best work
After you’ve had some positive responses about a willingness to publish your guest posts, make sure that you provide them with the best work that you are capable of. The common feeling from most bloggers is to hold their best work for their own blogs, and as a result the guest posts are of lower quality. If you want to get the most out of your guest posting opportunities, do the absolute best job that you can do. You’ll get more clicks from readers and more subscribers.
4 – Get involved in the comments
Once your post has been published, be sure to go back and participate in the comments with readers. This gives you another opportunity to interact and draw more visitors to your blog, plus it is essentially your responsibility as the writer to answer questions and respond to feedback.
5 – Promote your article with social media
It’s in your best interest to get as much exposure to your guest post as possible. In theory, the more people that see your post, the more people will click-through to your blog. One of the best, and easiest, things you can do is to promote the post with social media. Give it a thumbs up with StumbleUpon or submit it to other social media sites. You may want to share it with some of your friends to request a vote
What’s Your Experience?
Have you written guest posts for other blogs? How has it helped you to build your name recognition and gain subscribers?
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