A lot of Smaller Box readers often want ideas on how to market their business for “free”. Before I go any further, let me just dispel the myth of “free” marketing. All marketing is going to cost something, if it doesn’t cost you cash, it is going to cost you time, and your time should have an hourly wage attached to it. As long as we’re clear on that, let’s talk guest blogging, because it is a great marketing tool that doesn’t cost any cash.
The idea with guest blogging is that you write a post on some else’s blog. This is usually unpaid writing work, but the goal is to get a link to your website and awareness for your brand. I’ve personally done guest posts on sites like Design Sponge and Crafting an MBA. It’s a great way to help potential Smaller Box readers find out about this site.
Although guest blogging is especially great for business-to-business brands like Smaller Box, this strategy can also be used by creative entrepreneurs who sell consumer products. Guest blogging is great for brand awareness and link building, which is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). Below are some guidelines to use as you try to incorporate guest blogging into your marketing mix.
1. Pick the right blog
You want to guest post on a blog that reaches your target market. In my case, I try to guest post on blogs that are popular with creative entrepreneurs, since that’s my target market. Make a list of sites you wish you could advertise on, or sites that you know your customers frequent. Select blogs that have a good amount of traffic. (See compete.com to get an estimate of how much traffic a site gets.)
You’ll also want to make sure it’s a blog that accepts guest blogger submissions. Choose a site that’s got an active readership and updates often. You may be able to get an idea of how engaged a blog’s readers are, based on how often the blog’s posts get comments. A site with a really engaged audience is likely to deliver you quality traffic.
If you need more detailed help on finding blogs to approach about guest blogging, check out Scoring Publicity for Your Small Business. The book has en entire chapter on building a press list, and many of the same techniques described in the book would apply to finding blogs to guest post for. Plus, it’s a must-have resources for DIY publicity.
2. Pick a great blogging topic and pitch
Once you’ve made your list of blogs that you’d like to write for. Select topics to write about for each of your prospects. You want to pick a topic that is highly relevant to the blog you’re trying to write for. For example, if you sell kids clothing, maybe you’d want to write for a parenting blog. You could pitch a guest post about selecting durable back to school clothing for children or a piece about back to school trends for this year.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to deliver real value to the blog you want to guest post with. You can’t pitch them a post that’s nothing but a giant ad for your business, and can’t pitch them regurgitated content that you’ve already posted elsewhere. You want to offer to write something fresh and genuinely interesting to the blog’s readers. This is probably the most important take away from this article and I can’t stress it enough. If you can’t produce great content for the blogs you want to work with, don’t waste your time or their time pitching them. I know I turn down several guest post pitches every week here at Smaller Box, because the content submitted to me isn’t up to my standards.
Once you’ve selected blogs to pitch and topics for each, send the blog owner a short but sweet message expressing your interest in guest blogging. Be sure to tell them what you want to post about, and why this topic is a great fit for their blog. (You can find samples of pitch emails within Scoring Publicity for Your Small Business, they are geared to pitching stories to media outlets that they would write, but the samples could be used as references to get ideas on how to pitch a story you want to write.)
3. Maximize the benefits of guest posting
Have an end goal in mind when doing guest posts. You may be trying to introduce a new product, get people to connect with you on social media, or join your mailing list. Make sure you’ve got your guest post linked to landing pages that are suitable for your end goal.
If you want to get the blog’s readers on your mailing list, be sure to include a link to a squeeze page. (A squeeze page is a page that is designed to get people to sign up for a mailing list — here’s an example of one.) If you want to get people to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, include links to your pages on those sites. If you want people to buy something, link to your product page.
Ideally, your effort to convert traffic (to social media followers, newsletter subscribers, paying customers, etc.) should have a sweetener to really get them interested in converting. If you want them on your mailing list, offer a free useful download when they join. If you want them to like you on Facebook, use a reveal tab with something appealing behind it to get them to click “like”. If you want them to purchase a product, share a limited time coupon code just for the blog’s readers. These extra incentives should help increase conversions from the guest post.