“I see guest blogging like being invited to perform at Carnegie Hall — you have the opportunity to perform on a very important stage. You have to submit your best work, because lots of people are watching and the stakes are high.” –Pamela Wilson, founder Big Brand System
Few people understand the benefits of guest blogging better than Pamela Wilson.
Pamela has been contributing content on marketing blogs since 2010, and has turned guest blogging into one of her best marketing strategies.
You may recognize her work from Copyblogger, Boost Blog Traffic, or right here on the Constant Contact Blog.
I recently had the chance to speak with Pamela about how guest blogging has helped her business, and to see if she has any advice for other business owners who are thinking about getting started.
I’m happy to say that our interview was one of the most helpful, and informative exchanges I’ve ever been a part of.
How long have you been guest blogging?
I have been guest blogging with great results since early 2010.
You can find a collection of my guest posts on my Around the Web page.
Why did you decide to start?
I founded my own blog, Big Brand System, in January, 2010.
When you first start a blog, you have no audience, of course, except for a few family members and friends who read what you write just to be supportive.
I knew the people I wanted to attract to my website were already reading bigger, more established blogs.
I figured if I could get my best work on those websites, there was a chance some of their readers would come and visit my blog, and stick around to follow what I wrote. Over time, some would also become customers.
What was the first blog you contributed content to?
My first guest post was submitted to Copyblogger.
I knew it was a stretch to try to get something accepted on such a well-known blog, but there were a couple of reasons I went there first.
- I knew the Copyblogger team, at least online, because I’d taken one of their courses and interacted with them in the forum for the course. It’s always easier to approach someone when your name is familiar to them.
- Copyblogger didn’t have the exact audience I was looking for, but their audience was massive, so even if only a small percentage was interested in learning more about marketing and design, it was big enough for me.
- The post I submitted was a good fit for them. I’d been reading their blog for many months, and saw they tended to use analogies to teach business and marketing concepts. I went to a Bobby McFerrin concert, was inspired by the experience, and wrote The Bobby McFerrin Plan for Creating a Remarkable Business. They accepted it, and I was on my way.
What was the experience like starting out? Did you have any setbacks/challenges?
After the success of my first post on Copyblogger, I continued to send them guest posts. A few months later, I was lucky enough to be asked to write for them on a regular basis.
I see guest posting like being invited to perform at Carnegie Hall — you have the opportunity to perform on a very important stage. You have to submit your best work, because lots of people are watching and the stakes are high.
With that in mind, the biggest challenge at first was carving out time to write top-notch guest posts in addition to what I was already doing in my business.
But as I started to see results, I began viewing guest blogging as an important marketing strategy. The time and effort I put into it paid off.
How has contributing content on other business’s/people’s blogs helped your business?
Guest blogging has most definitely helped my online business. It has been one of the most-successful marketing strategies I’ve used.
It brings in new readers daily — the sites I write for regularly are usually within my top five sources of web traffic on any given day.
It has also helped me become better known among my peers. It’s like anything else— when you do high-quality work consistently over time, word gets out. And that’s helpful when you approach a new blog you’d like to write for.
When you run an online business, the size of your audience, and their level of engagement tends to determine how much profit you make. Guest blogging helps with both audience size and engagement.
Why should a small business owner consider guest blogging?
After having run an offline business for over twenty years, I found the transition to an online business interesting and challenging at the same time.
When you run an online business, you very rarely get to meet your prospects and customers in person. There’s no personal conversation, no smiles, and no handshake or business card exchange.
It’s just as important to build trust and familiarity, because people do business with companies they know and like. But you have to build trust using different techniques when your business is primarily online.
Guest posting on well-respected blogs that already have authority on a topic, allows you to bask in the glow of their stellar reputations.
You gain authority points just for appearing on their pages. And when you appear often, it’s an implicit endorsement of you and your work.
How do you decide which blogs you contribute content to?
I teach small business owners how to market their businesses themselves using a combination of marketing and design, because I believe both are crucial, and together they’re powerful.
The most common guest blogging advice you read is to look for blogs that already cater to the ideal customer you’re trying to attract.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found another blog that tailors to the exact audience I serve.
But that’s OK. What I do instead is look for blogs whose audiences overlap with mine.
I look for established blogs where my ideal customer might be searching for similar information to the kind I offer, or additional products and services that complement the ones I sell.
When you find a blog you want to contribute content to, how do you typically go about approaching the business?
I can’t overemphasize the importance of old-fashioned networking — whether it’s in-person or virtual.
Every significant guest posting opportunity I’ve had has been the result of already knowing someone inside that blog or business.
Take the time to build networks. Before you ask for anything, demonstrate that you’re helpful, reliable, and trustworthy. If you can do that, you’ll have a better chance of your guest post being considered.
Are there any common guest blogging mistakes people should be aware of?
It’s important to study the topics the blog covers, and observe their style.
Which posts get lots of comments and shares? Follow the blog for a while so you can see what does well on their platform.
After you have an idea of what will work, submit a post that’s your take on a topic they cover.
For example, before I started writing for Copyblogger, they rarely wrote about design as it relates to copywriting, online marketing, websites, and business.
My guest posts have covered their traditional subject matter with a unique design spin, and I think that’s why they’ve been popular.
What is the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s getting started with guest blogging?
If you want to capture and keep the new visitors to your site that come from a guest post, you’ll want to get them signed up to an email list. This will allow you to keep in touch, offering additional information about the topic they’re interested in.
Eventually, you can send them offers for products or services that help them meet their current challenges.
To get this process started, take the time to design a custom web page that’s tailored to the readers of the blog you write for, like this one.
Offer them something in exchange for signing up to your list. Ideally, this something will be related to the topic of your guest post. Ebooks are a good idea, and a series of emails about the topic you wrote your guest post about, works too.
Make a link to this custom web page in your author bio. This will give people who are interested in learning more, an easy way to continue to interact with your business.
Any other advice you’d like to offer?
Guest posting only really works if you consistently submit your absolute best work.
You want to give the blog owner material that:
- Is a good fit for his or her audience
- Drives traffic to their site
- Is widely shared on social media
You also want to make their jobs easy. That means submitting guest posts that are well-researched, well written, grammatically correct, and already formatted.
Aspire to be the kind of guest writer whose posts are strong, get lots of attention, don’t need a lot of editing, and come in before they’re due.
It’s a surefire way to get invited back, and see the best business results from your guest posting investment.
Have additional questions for Pamela? Post them in the comments below!