Every blogger has been there: you’ve been blogging for a few weeks, but not many people other than your close friends and relatives every stop by.
You ask your readers a question, and the response is a resounding silence. You need to find ways to gain exposure for your young blog.
And guest blogging is one of the most powerful ways of doing that.
When I first started Zen Habits, I faced this challenge, just like everyone else does. “I’m writing great stuff,” I would say to myself, “but no one is reading it. What do I do?”
I tried guest blogging, and it paid off big time. I now regrettably have to turn down requests to write guest posts elsewhere, just because I’m so busy writing. I wish I didn’t have to, because every time I do, I miss an opportunity, but there’s no question that guest blogging has been a major part of my success.
There are many things you can try, but I can tell you that most of them will flop if you don’t have many readers: submit a story to Digg, and it’s not likely to go anywhere. Submit a story to a major blog, and you could get lucky, but they get dozens of submissions a day, and can only link to a few.
But if you’re a good writer, you could get the chance to write a guest post for a more popular blog. Here are some reasons you should make guest blogging one of the main parts of your overall exposure strategy early on:
- Increased likelihood.
While another blogger might not be that willing to give your young blog a link, he might be more likely to give you a guest blogging spot. Why? Because it gives his blog varied content and fresh ideas, and it gives him a small break from writing. Now, not every blogger will allow you to write a guest post for him, but if you ask 10, you might get a couple to say yes. Be sure to be friendly, positive, polite, enthusiastic, and offer him the chance to write one for you in the future. Also show him some of your best writing — that helps seal the deal.
- Helping out a blogger.
By giving this blogger a little break from writing, you are helping him … and that’s one of the best ways to improve your standing in the blogging world. Never turn down a chance to help another blogger (assuming it’s for a legit reason) if you can possibly spare the time. Why? Because you’re building a blogging relationship, one that could pay off in the long run. And whether it pays off or not, you’re forming connections that could help form more connections … and that’s the best overall long-term strategy.
- Increased traffic.
If you write a guest post for a bigger blog, with a link back to your blog, it will almost certainly increase traffic to your blog, at least for a couple of days. How much traffic will depend on how much traffic the other blog gets, but hey, any little bit counts in the early days, when you’re not getting much at all.
- Increased exposure.
Aside from the direct benefit of increased traffic for a few days, you are also exposing your blog (and your name) to a new audience — and helping to brand your blog and yourself in the process. Sure, most of the readers of the other blog won’t follow the link to your blog … but they might notice the name of your blog, and your name. And the next time you write a guest post for another blog they read, they might notice your name and the name of your blog then too. After a little while, they’ll start to take notice. “Hey, this guy is everywhere!” They’ll also start to remember your blog’s name — that’s the nature of branding. And soon, they’ll decide that they just have to find out what this new blog is all about. Constant exposure is a good thing.
- Best advertising there is.
You can pay to put an ad on another blog. You can beg for a link. You can get dugg and get 40K visitors in a day. But those all pale as methods of advertising compared to a guest post. Why? Well, an ad on another blog might contain a few words and a link … but many people will ignore it, and it doesn’t really highlight the best points about your blog. And it costs money. A link has the same problems (although it doesn’t cost money), in that it’s just a few words, and doesn’t do much to promote the blog. A Dugg story is great, but most of the people coming to your blog are probably the wrong audience, and will leave quickly, never to return. But with a guest post, people get to read your writing in depth, and can see what amazing stuff you have to offer. If they want more, they’ll click on over to your blog … and that’s the best kind of traffic possible, because these are people who are already interested in what you write, in the topics you write about, and they’re looking to read more. They’re the most likely to stay, read a bit, and even subscribe.
- New audiences.
This is related to the above points, but I wanted to emphasize it: if you already have a readership, even a small one, it’s likely you’ve tapped into a portion of your potential audience. But imagine that there’s a much larger pool of potential readers out there, people who haven’t even heard of you yet, and they are contained in different pockets all over the Internet. Your job is to find these pockets, expose your writing and your brand name to them, and hope to attract them. The more of these pockets you can find, the better. So by guest blogging on different types of blogs, each containing different pockets of potential readers, you are find more and more of that larger pool of potential audience all the time.
- Future reciprocation.
A great thing that could happen if you do a guest post for a bigger blogger is that they will agree to write one for you in return. Now, you can’t expect it to happen, but definitely make the offer. If they consent to write a guest post for you, be grateful! This reciprocal guest post is great for two reasons: 1) your readers are treated to some excellent writing from another blogger, possibly one they admire, and it’s fresh content that’s varied from what you provide; and 2) if you’re lucky, the bigger blogger will link to the guest post from his blog, thereby sending more of his readers your way. Win-win!