Six tips to building a business through guest blogging

June 25th, 2009. I’m sitting at a card table with my brother in the center of a huge room. With two chairs, one powerstrip and two laptops, we officially were a business. Then we looked around and said, “now what?” We had an idea, we had energy, but no one knew we existed.

After two years of working to get our name out and build buzz around our ideas and services, we’ve learned that it’s not something you can do on your own. You can’t wait for audiences to come to you but instead need to find and introduce yourself to new audiences where they currently are. By going to the audience you can quickly find new potential customers and collaborators.

How to introduce yourself to new audiences

It is important for every business person to grow an audience of supporters. It might be an email list, a cell phone with numbers to important people or a blog with active readers (or hopefully all three). However, building this list takes time. Instead of waiting for that audience to grow to a critical mass, you should introduce yourself to the audience of others. One of the best ways to do this is through guest blogging.

Guest blogging means you write an article about a specific topic or issue and post it on someone else’s site. They benefit by having quality content without having to write it, and the guest blogger benefits by having a new audience read their content and potentially click on a link to their site, product or service.

Today 9 Clouds is excited to be featured on Lewis Howes’ blog. Lewis built his reputation as an online marketer by focusing on LinkedIn and helping businesses use LinkedIn effectively. Through his hard work and hustle, he’s now recognized as a leader in the social marketing space, and a large audience has naturally followed his success. It will take months or years for us to build up a similar audience, but the great thing is, we can still get in front of this audience as a guest blogger on Lewis’ site.

So how do you guest blog? There are six important steps to help you successful connect with new audiences through guest blogging:

1. Find your ideal audience

The first step is know who you most want to talk to. If you are designing bags like my friend Al, you would want to find a design or green blog. If you’re offering professional investment services you would want to write for an audience looking to get out of debt. If you’re teaching people to use digital media like I am, you want to talk to Lewis’ audience.

If you’re not sure where your audience is, use Twitter search. You don’t even have to sign up for Twitter, but you can type in your keyword and see who is talking about your industry and which website they are linking to. Once you know which websites are guiding the discussion in your industry, you can make contact with those sites to get in front of their audience.

2. Write for the audience and author

When you find the site and audience you are looking for, the next step is to write a short article (3-4 paragraphs is usually perfect) just for them. Know what the audience is expecting on the site and know how the author typically writes. The guest blogger can bring a fresh perspective on a theme they normally talk about or extend the site’s expertise in a new direction by adding your unique perspective. For Lewis, we talked about LinkedIn usage in the Midwest since we live and often work with Midwesterners. How we use technology is different than on the coasts and is an interesting perspective for his blog. Plus we created a beautiful infographic to demonstrate our point which provides a nice change from the usual text entry.

3. Make it easy to say yes

After writing your article, it is essential to copy and share the html code. If the blogger has the html code, it will take them 4-5 seconds to paste your article, along with all the links, formatting and graphics, to their site. Without the html code, many bloggers will say no because they don’t want to have to go through and make your article look pretty.

If you are writing on WordPress, you can easily copy your html code by clicking the html tab next to the tab that says visual. Then highlight everything and copy it. The next step is to make this easy to access. Instead of sending all the code in an email, it is best to put it on a site like allows you to send a link to the blogger pointing them to your html code. Paste your code on and click paste (I’ve never used that word so many times in one sentence!). Then copy the URL and send it to the blogger.

4. Link back with a compelling summary

The most important and valueable part of the guest post is your summary. Usually posts will have a short summary at the beginning or end in italics. In two to three sentences you need to be able to say what you do, who should work with you and how they get started. In the most recent post, I said:

Scott D. Meyer is the Chief Outreach Officer of 9 Clouds, a digital education firm that teachers businesses to effectively use digital media through one-on-one trainings, company-wide workshops and the online digital media learning site: Sandbox. Contact 9 Clouds to improve your digital literacy.

In two sentences people know who I am, the company I work for, the services we offer with links to view them and a call to action inviting them to email me to get started. Make sure that you have links to your website/s as having a link on a highly trafficked site will increase your rankings on search engines.

5. Contact the site’s author

After all of that work you still don’t know if you’ll be accepted. To have your post shared, you need to make contact with the author and ask them if they are interested. Most sites will have an email address for contact information. If you can’t find contact information, search on LinkedIn or Twitter. Social media gives you the chance to make a more informal ask to see if they are willing to share your content. Plus, having prior contact with the author before asking them to publish your article will increase the chance that they’ll say yes.

When you are ready to contact them, start by letting them know you actually follow their site. You can point to a recent post you liked or a concept that you think they cover well. After showing you’re not writing a mass e-mail include why their audience will benefit from your post and why it is a unique perspective. Finally, point them to the html code and offer to make edits as they see fit.

You might not get a yes, and some bloggers as a rule do not have guest posts (good to know before writing them), but if they say no, look for similar sites or blogs that could benefit from the article you have already written.

6. Follow up with the author

The last step is the one that is often forgotten: follow up with the author. Maybe it is simply a tweet or Facebook message saying thank you. This will help them remember you and set you up for the next time you have an article to post.

Better however is to think how that author could continue to send you customers. Perhaps you have a product or service that they don’t offer or don’t want to do. You can suggest an affiliate program where the author would receive a percentage of any customers he or she sends your way. They will continue to promote your business on their site long after your article is posted, and you can begin to grow your business through collaboration.

There’s no time to wait

Clearing the hurdle of starting a new business or project is to be commended. However, there is no time to wait. You need to get out there and get people talking about you and your new idea or business. Find your audiences and go to them instead of waiting for them to come to you. You can immediately establish yourself as an expert and can build business relationships that will benefit you as your idea or business continues to develop.

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Who is your ideal audience and what can you teach them?

Photos courtesy of: Travelin’ Librarian and jainaj

Posted on July 21st, 2011 in Business