Visitor Source #2: Guest Blogging
Your Own Blog May Not Be The Best Place To Post!
Yes, you read that correctly!
After following the advice of marketing coaches like myself, and going to all the trouble and effort to set up a blog, you now discover that your own blog is not always the best place for you to post content.
What the heck?
Let me explain 🙂
First of all, I’m not suggesting you should forget about posting on your own blog completely – that would obviously be a big mistake and defeat the purpose of having a blog to begin with.
The thing is, though, (and don’t take this the wrong way) your blog is more than likely only a small fish in a very big pond at the moment. With all the photography blogs out there, yours is just another small blog trying to get itself noticed, at least for now.
Don’t feel bad – we all start out that way.
With this in mind, whenever you do publish a new post, nothing much is going to happen without some kind of intervention.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this for yourself because we all have!
We hit publish on what we think is a fantastic post, sit back to see what happens, only to be greeted by crickets.
No visitors, no social shares, nothing.
It’s both frustrating and demoralizing, to say the least.
At this point a lot of bloggers fall for the huge myth that all they need to do is publish more and more posts, and the traffic will surely come.
Sadly, it doesn’t.
Time For A Different Strategy
Instead of throwing more content at the problem, here’s a strategy that will actually help to grow your blog’s audience:
Publish articles and posts on other blogs at least three times as much as you do on your own.
This means 3 out of every 4 of your posts should appear on someone else’s blog compared to 1 you publish on your own. You can use this idea regardless of how long you’ve had your photography blog, and you don’t have to do this forever, but it’s especially useful if your blog is relatively new.
How does this help you get more visitors?
So glad you asked!
Welcome To The World of Guest Blogging
If you’re new to blogging or marketing in general, guest blogging might be a new idea, although the practice has been around for a long time in Internet marketing circles.
The principle is quite simple:
Every new blogger (let’s call ours Julie) starts off in the same place:
Square one – no posts, no content, and no regular readers.
But, she knows there are other people out there who are blogging to the very same audience she wants to reach.
The topics and primary focus might be something other than photography, but the readers are the people she wants to reach.
So, Julie heads off on a quest to publish posts on those established blogs with the intent of providing information the readers of those blogs will enjoy and find useful.
Since Julie’s guest posts will most likely include a link to her website or blog, this introduces a useful SEO benefit but (far more importantly) also creates a handy path for new readers to discover Julie’s new blog and website.
The more posts Julie publishes on other blogs, the more authority she generates and the more readers she’ll see on her own blog over time.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
What you’re doing with this is creating outposts and points of contact across the web in places where you know your target clients are going to be.
But, there are right and wrong ways to go about all this and this is not something you should engage in just for a potential gain in SEO alone. Doing so can lead you down the wrong path and into the evil clutches of the Google Penguin, who’s job it is to sniff out Internet spam in all its nasty forms, including manipulative link-schemes.
In fact, Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Internet anti-spam team and someone every smart marketer pays close attention to) caused quite a stir in 2014 when he declared open war on what Google sees as poor-quality guest posts clearly designed purely for SEO purposes. This is one form of what Google calls “link-spam”.
With that in mind, it pays to keep your intentions honorable with your guest posts by writing for your fellow humans and more or less forgetting about the SEO side of things.
How Guest Posts Work To Send You Visitors
A question we need to answer here is:
How does this actually work to send me website visitors?
There are several ways this happens:
- Links to posts, articles, and pages on your own website or blog from within the body of your guest post encourage readers to click through to your additional content.
- Your author bio section that appears at the top or bottom of your guest post (what we often call the boilerplate section) will almost always have a link to a page on your website.
- If your guest post includes links to your social media profiles you can see visitors arriving on your website as a result of them first checking you out on social media.
A word of caution, though.
The boilerplate method used to be the most commonly-used form of author attribution on guest posts, but this is also the method Google now sees as the most common form of guest-posting link-spam.
Here’s what you can do to avoid being caught in the link-spam trap:
- Don’t rely on a boilerplate section alone as the only place for links back to your website or blog. In fact, it may be better to not have any links in your bio section at all, other than to your social media profiles.
- Add a custom footer section to your article – a call to action – offering the reader a chance to find out more about the topic at a designated page on your website or blog, and then link to yourself from there.
- Create a unique landing page on your website for each guest post you write (or at least one for each blog you appear on) and then link to that instead of your home page or some other generic page on your site. You can use this landing page to specifically address and welcome visitors because you know which website they came from.
- The best thing you can do here is to make sure your guest post content provides great value and information for the audience of the website where it appears. This will encourage longer reading times and more shares of the post on social media – both good indicators to Google of the post quality.
Guest Blogging Helps You Become A Better Writer
One of the biggest objections I hear from photographers about blogging, whether for their own blog or someone else’s, is:
I’m not a writer!
I get it, and I know you might find writing to be a challenge at first, but there’s no escaping the fact that the foundation of blogging is made of words.
Yes, but my photographs speak for themselves and tell the stories, so why do I have to become a writer as well as a photographer?
A great question, and being able to tell compelling stories through your photographs is an awesome gift!
But, not all your potential clients will understand the visual narrative of the images you present in your guest posts, especially in the short time they spend looking at any given photograph.
To help them fully appreciate the stories your photographs are telling, you also need to tell those stories in words. I’m not suggesting you have to become an award-winning writer, simply write from the heart in a similar way to how you would tell the story in a conversation.
I firmly believe being able to write for a blog is a skill anyone can learn. This isn’t some mystical talent you have to be born with, it just takes a bit of practice to get to the point where you feel comfortable with it.
How to get more practice?
Write, write, write. Then write some more.
Creating guest articles for other blogs is one of the best ways I can think of to put your writing skills to good use, and the more of them you produce, the better you’ll become.
I promise, before long, you’ll wonder why you ever thought you couldn’t do it.
The Right Way To Approach A Blog Owner
So how do you go about getting your posts accepted and published on someone else’s blog?
But, before you do, there’s a way to go about this to give you the best chance of success.
What To Do Before Approaching Another Blog Owner
One of the annoying things about running a popular blog is the number of requests you get from prospective guest posters, most of which wind up being rejected for one reason or another.
For the blog owner, responding to every single request can become a serious drain on time and resources. After a while, the frustration can result in every request being instantly denied or a flat-out refusal to accept further guest posts in the future.
After all, these people are as busy as the rest of us, and blogging is most likely not their only responsibility – like you, they probably have a business to run and their blog is just one part of it.
Here’s a quick checklist to make this easier on you and the blog owner:
- Do your research! Read their blog and follow them on social media to see what topics they cover, and how well their audience responds to what they produce.
- Who are they aiming to serve with their business and blog? If their audience is a close match to your ideal clients, and there’s not much overlap in terms of competition, then it should be worth pursuing.
- Look at the kinds of images they use in their existing blog posts – are they professional-looking and compelling? How can your photographs improve on what they have already to make a visual impact on their readers?
- Check to see how well the posts on their blog are promoted on social media by the website owner. Do they have an email list, for example, to which they send out notifications about new posts?
- If you don’t know the blog owner personally, reach out to them to initiate a business relationship. If they’re local to you, it might be a good idea to go and meet them in person with the goal of finding out how you can help them promote their business.
- Take time to help share their content through your own social media channels, and show them you’re serious about helping them to help their audience. Remember the golden rule to give first, ask later!
Once you’ve built a strong working relationship with other business owners who run blogs you would like to contribute to, you can then approach them with your ideas for articles their audience would be interested in.
Asking For A Guest Post Opportunity
Before you approach another business owner with a proposal to write for their blog, the one thing you absolutely must have is an idea of what you’re going to write for them!
It’s no good at all writing to someone with an offer to write for them, and then asking them what it is they would like you to write about.
And remember to respect their time – they’re most likely just as busy as you are, and they don’t have time to waste wading through a lengthy email when you could have made it a lot shorter and easier to read. Besides, your initial email is a demonstration of your writing skills – a form of marketing to sell them on the idea of you, the writer.
Here’s a short template you can copy and use when sending an email to a prospective blog owner:
Dear [their name]
I’m [your name], a photographer based in [your city], and I specialize in [your genre]. You may recall some of our brief conversations on social media, and it’s been great to connect with you there.
I’ve also enjoyed sharing your blog posts with my audience, and I know they find them valuable and interesting as well.
The reason I’m writing is with a quick idea for an article I believe would be of benefit to your blog readers and customers about [post topic].
Here’s a quick summary for you:
[At this point, give them 2 or 3 sentences to outline what your post is going to cover.]
I think your readers would enjoy this because [insert reason here].
If you would like to see a finished copy of the article to make sure it’s a good fit for you, let me know, and I’ll send it over to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading, and best regards.
Important: If they reply and ask to see a finished version of the article, please make sure you do everything you can to get it to them as quickly as possible, certainly within a day or so.
The longer you make them wait, the less chance you have of them taking your submission seriously.
And don’t shop your articles around to multiple blogs at the same time. If you end up with two blogs accepting the same article, it never ends well! Instead, make sure you get a yes or no answer before deciding what to do next.
Delivering The Completed Article
When you write your article, it’s best to use a simple word processor or text editor, and to avoid any use of smart quotes or other special formatting.
You could also use your own WordPress system to write the post, and then copy and paste the text version of the post into a text file, which they can then paste directly into their own WordPress system.
If you’re writing the post in a word processor, rather than actually insert images into the text, you can mark the points in the text where you want your images to go, and then send the images (properly sized) as a separate attachment (for example, in a zipped or compressed folder).
Do remember to make it clear where there are supposed to be any outgoing links to external content, such as other posts or pages on your website or blog, or other websites.
It should go without saying to make sure you check for proper spelling, and it’s wise to have at least one other pair of eyes read your article thoroughly before sending it.
The article itself should include at least the following elements:
- The post title that will be visible to readers when they see the post.
- A suggested SEO title and meta description for the blog owner to use at their discretion.
- The main content.
- Any associated images.
- Your author bio and a profile photograph (unless you have a Gravatar associated with your email address). Your bio should include relevant links to your important social media profiles as well as a link to a page on your website where readers can go if they want to get more information from you.
What To Do After Your Post Has Been Published
Once the article has been published, it’s your job to help promote the article to your social networks and your email list. Don’t just leave this task to the blog owner under the assumption they’re going to do all the work to get it out there for you.
You can use a social media automation too, such as Buffer, to queue up a tweets and other social media posts over an extended period of time.
Also, keep an eye on the comments (if they’re enabled), and make a point of responding to all the comments and questions you get on your article from the blog’s readers. This will help to keep the post active as well as show the blog owner (and their readership) that you care about what they have to say.
This Works Both Ways!
The more guest posts you write for other blogs, the more website visitors you’re going to see over time as a result of those posts, but you can also attract more visitors by allowing other prominent business owners or influencers to post articles on your blog too.
In that case, you are now in the shoes of the blog owner, so you’ll now know the things to look for when receiving requests for guest articles or if you reach out to other business owners to invite them to submit a post to your blog.
Here’s what you can start doing today to make this strategy work for you (this one takes time, so don’t try to do this all at once!):
- Identify other business owners in your local community who serve the same people you do.
- Connect with them on social media.
- Read their blogs and share their posts in your channels.
- Engage with them on social media – comment and reply to their posts, or ask questions.
- Cultivate these relationships and treat them with the importance they deserve.
- Seek to move the business relationship into the real world – go meet them and talk with them.
- Take the time to learn what their audience responds to the most on their blog.
- Come up with 5 ideas for articles where you can intersect their interests with the benefits of what you provide through your photography.
- Send a proposal email to the blog owner, or talk to them in person about it.