How to use guest blogging to build your mailing list

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Have you ever thought of guest blogging as a way to get more mailing list subscribers? Guest blogging can help you do this in two ways:

  • It helps people to get to trust you. And they won’t give you their name and email address until they do trust you.  As a guest blogger on the blog of someone they already know, like and trust, you have the opportunity to have a little bit of that trust rub off on you. This vote of confidence goes a long way in gaining the trust of potential new subscribers to your email list.
  • It extends your reach. By guest blogging on a popular blog you can go way beyond those you normally reach.

If you want to have success with guest blogging you need to understand the audience of the blog you’re visiting. Your posts should connect with the audience and offer them value. Do this by studying the blog – what have readers responded to in the past? What topics are typically covered? How long are the posts? Do they include multiple images? Video? Infographics? Is the blog factual and maybe full of tutorials? Or is it based more around opinions? You want to look like you belong, while still offering something uniquely yours.

When trying to find blogs to guest appear at, start with who you know and who knows you. Then start looking for leaders in your field and approach them. It’s no longer as easy to as it was to get guest blogging spots, but all bloggers need content. It takes a lot of time and energy to create good content so if you can convince them you can offer them content that will be of value to their readers then they may well appreciate your offer. After all, it’s one day they don’t have to think of what to write!

Once you’ve secured a blog to post on and you understand what the readers want, it’s time to sit down and write. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a goal for each blog post. In this course, we’re working on building your subscriber base, so your goal will be to send the readers to sign up to your email list. Think about your ‘irresistible offer’ and work your way backwards from there.
  • Write useful information, but don’t give it all away. Remember that your goal is to bring them back to your own website to sign up for your list. Craft your post so that the reader is impressed with the information, but left wanting to learn more. Then create your offer to send them exactly where they want to go.
  • Respect and thank the blogger. Do everything you can to make your visit is a pleasant one for the host and the readers. That means thanking them publicly for accepting your post, promoting your post via social media, and anything else you can think of to be a good guest. That way you’ll be welcomed back again.

Guest-blogging is one of the best ways to reach a targeted market. Try it out and you’ll see that building an email list doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing – you simply need to take action. So make a list of five sites you could approach to guest-blog. Then go and do it!

Guest blogging for business bloggers – where to start!

Question:

I have done a few guest blogs which are linked back to my website, but I’m not sure what to blog about. I don’t know how personal to get or whether it should be business related. I also don’t know how to get the backlinks that i need (eg. should it just be in a signature?).

Charlotte, owner of party bag website www.creationsbycharlotte.co.uk.

First…

Tips for guest blogging

…from my book, Business Blogging for Beginners:

One great way to build up your own blog following is by writing for other people’s blogs. Guest posting can help get your name and blog noticed by others who are looking for more information in your niche, and help you develop a broader base of fans.

Twitter and Facebook are particularly good places to find guest blogging opportunities. Not only can you tweet a note that you’re available for guest blogging on your topic, but you can ask your friends and followers to retweet and share your info.

Post a note on your blog that you do guest posts. Invite bloggers to contact you, and let them know what you can write about. You can even add a regular text link to the sidebar of your blog, or create a simple button that visitors can click on to get more information.

Do a Google search on “blogs YOUR INDUSTRY.” Check out the top results and pick a handful to contact with the offer of guest blogging. You’ll find your results will be best if you target your approach to each blog, listing a few possible topics. Once you submit your post, it’ll be published on their blog with a link back to your site. This is a great way for them to get free, original content, and a great way for you to gain new exposure for your writing and your blog.

Here are some general guidelines on guest blogging:

Customise your post for each blog.

Keep in mind the tone, length, images and other features of the host blog and tailor your post to match.

Create new content.

Don’t submit the same content to every guest blogging opportunity; bloggers will be more likely to turn their site over to you if you promise them exclusive, new content.

Offer to exchange posts.

Some bloggers will be more willing to let you post on their site if you provide the same opportunity for them. It’s a great way to establish a relationship.

Don’t forget to write a great bio line.

Your bio needs to convince readers to click through to your site, so make it compelling and interesting.

Provide links to the guest post to your regular readers.

Your fans will want to read whatever you write, wherever it’s posted, so make sure to let your regular readers know where you’re writing.

Keep a list of your blog appearances.

Some bloggers will be impressed with the other big-name blogs where your work has appeared, so keep a list of everywhere you’ve blogged. You can add this list to the ‘Media’ or ‘As seen in’ section of your site.

Writing for other people’s blogs can really help you build your followers and subscribers by getting your writing in front of people who might not otherwise be aware of you. Set a goal of a regular number of guest posts per month or quarter, and follow up!

Now, to answer Charlotte’s questions in more detail…

1. What should I blog about?

Getting the business/personal balance right is a real challenge if you’re new to blogging. My tip is to focus on what would be of most value to the blog readers. After all, your first goal is to get them to read your post! So I’d read through the about page of the blog and through some of the posts already on the blog. Try to get a feel for the blog and its readers. There’s no need to duplicate what’s already there, just try to pick up on the theme. Is it factual and practical? Or is it more personal and emotional? Is it funny or quirky? You can also ask the blog owner what he/she looks for in guest posts, including the length.

Once you know the type of post you’re aiming for, try to come up with one main point or purpose of the post, then write around that. As you’re writing, you can weave in personal examples to illustrate the points you’re making and demonstrate you’re an expert in your subject. You’ll also need to weave in your keywords, which brings me to…

2. How should I link back to my website?

In two ways. First of all, have an engaging signature or bio at the end of the article that invites readers to go to your site as they finish the article. It’s best to make this specific as possible, so this is OK:

Charlotte is the owner of www.creationsbycharlotte.co.uk.

But this is better:

For expert advice on hosting the perfect kids’ birthday party without breaking the bank, download Charlotte’s e-book ‘Perfect kids party on a budget’ [include link to page where they can download the book here].

That way you’re sending them to a specific page on your website and asking them to take a specific action. (Even better, ask them to join your mailing list before they download the book.)

The second way to link is for the search engines rather than the humans. If you take a look at the top of the screen, you’ll see the way I linked to Charlotte’s website:

Charlotte, owner of party bag website www.creationsbycharlotte.co.uk.

The first link (party bag) links to Charlotte’s home page, but the text that is displayed is ‘party bag’. This is known as ‘anchor text’. Anchor text is important because it  tells search engines what that webpage is about. To find out which anchor text to use, you’ll need to do some keyword research (try the Google keyword tool for this). Don’t use ‘click here’ as anchor text because it tells the search engines nothing about the page the link is pointing at.* Charlotte sells children’s gifts, so sometimes she might link using ‘gifts for girls’ and ‘gifts for boys’ as well as ‘party bag’. Also bear in mind that there is a lot of competition for these particular keywords, meaning it’s very difficult to get on to page 1 of Google for these keywords. I’m really just using them as examples – it’s important to pick your keywords carefully.

You can put the anchor text with link anywhere in the article, it doesn’t have to be in the bio at the bottom.

I hope that answers your questions, Charlotte. 🙂

*Update: Google changes since this post was written mean that it’s best to NOT use the keywords as your anchor text every time. So use your keywords some of the time (e.g. ‘party bag’), then other times use other words as well as your keywords (e.g. ‘she makes party bags’) and sometimes use the words that someone not clued up about search engine optimization would naturally use (e.g. ‘click here’ or the business name).

If you have a question about business blogging, feel free to ask it on my new(ish!) Facebook page www.facebook.com/BusinessBloggingForBeginners.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Michelle Ramrz