Like it or not, we’re living in a capitalistic world. Brands have become global, staked claims in small pocks around the world, and will continue to seek profit by almost any means necessary. If you’re a conspiracy theorist all of this is obvious and heading towards some dastardly end.
While that may be well and good (or terrible, if you’re an activist for humanity), you’ll still need to make ends meet until that end. You could do that by joining the ranks of corporate identity, or you could strike out on your own and build something unique.
I’m talking about creating a niche website, blogging for a living, and turning yourself into an expert. One of the best ways to stay “free” of the mass corporate movement is by embarking on the professional blogger route. You can work from anywhere, survive with only an internet connection, and turn your life’s experiences into your work.
You can’t start in the clouds though — that lofty reality takes a solid chunk of mind-numbing work. You will have to put everything into your site to turn the tide on profits for your time. This includes copious amounts of research, writing, and outreach.
You’ll quickly learn that one of the most important factors of the bloggers’ life is guest posting. It’s the trifecta of each of those categories above.
You’ll need to research not only your blog topic, but a long list of potential sites to guest post for. You’ll then need to do hours of outreach, networking, and list-checking to find the right people to work with. Lastly, you’ll need to write one of the best articles you’ve ever penned.
The strangest part of this? You’ll do it all for free.
The (re) Definition of Free
In the traditional capitalistic sense, “work” means performing any kind of labor for a monetary reward. Equate your days to stacks of cash, your hours to singles, your minutes to cents. The work you do will, in the perfect capitalistic world, always be worth a dollar amount.
“Free”, on the other hand, means no monetary amount is exchanged. In the normal business world this doesn’t often happen. Even if you’ve decided to run a coffee shop, even if you’re technically making zero profit for a year or two, you’re still charging customers. Money exchanges hands.
In this sense most business does not ever operate on the principle of “free”.
However, the modern landscape mixes the concept of “free” with secondary rewards that, while they’re not given directly in the form of money, do have a positive overall affect on a business.
Things like free Wi-Fi in those coffee shops. Is it free? Or are you paying for it with your purchases? What about “free” product giveaways? No money is exchanged for goods; your email address or social interaction is given instead.
What do you have that is worth something to companies today that has nothing to do with money on the surface, but everything to do with business success in the background?
The New Advertising
Everything you do is worth something.
That something could be money, but the “new” rendition of advertising has nothing to do with money up front. It’s your social interactions, your Facebook status. It’s your search history in Google. It’s the articles you look up in the middle of the night to solve that compulsive need you have. It’s the walk you take and where you eat and how you decide to live your life.
We’re moving towards the age of advertising in which every little thing you do, every step you take, is inherently worth something and has the potential to be worth a lot. You just have to capitalize on it, turning those otherwise “free” moments into something that, eventually, can make money.
The free guest post was a bit of a tangent into the realms of economic philosophy. You’ll have to bear with me though, because the above has everything to do with why anyone would create guest posts free of charge.
Hopefully the gears have already started to turn for you, letting you see how it just might work on your own.
Think about the non-monetary values of writing and publishing a guest post. Sure, you don’t receive a check for your written word, but do you receive a check every time you write for your own blog? Unless you’re a weirdo that pays yourself for your own work, my guess is you receive nothing but a new page on your website and some sort of satisfaction from completing something.
To fully understand why the free guest post exchange is necessary and powerful, I’ll give a primer on the guest post itself, and the field of blogging.
First, Why Blog?
If you have to ask why guest posts are important, you should start with why writing posts at all are important.
You’re a blogger who has decided to create and run a website with informative content about a given topic. Maybe you’re a tree expert specializing in the Pacific Northwest, or a headphone soldering whiz. Whatever you decide to blog about, you’re doing it because you are an expert, or want to be an expert.
You might be super casual — the blog is just for fun and you love to write down your experiences. If that’s the case, good for you. That’s an honest and simple start to a legitimate profession with the potential to make a lot of money.
If you’re the other kind of blogger — the analytical, calculating business person who knows what market they’re trying to rank for and turn a profit on — your purpose is probably pretty clear. You write to rank, you rank to get traffic, and you get traffic to make money.
Casual users: learn from the above paragraph. That’s your goal if this is a money-oriented endeavor, even if more than 90 percent of the services are “free.”
Second, What is a Guest Post?
The final piece of the pie is making sure you know what a guest post (or guest blogging) is.
Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like: you write an article for another blogger or online entity, get it published under your name, and continue on your merry way.
It is basically the same as a new article you write for your website, but it is published on someone else’s site. Maybe the tone is a little different, the images are different, the links in the article are different, all depending on that site’s preferences.
There’s a massive amount of positive stuff you get from guest posting, none of which is money, all of which is critical to succeeding with your blog.
A New Audience
With all this new knowledge in mind I’m going to lay out the four basically unassailable benefits of guest posting. You’ll note that none of them have to do with an exchange of money. Yet, somehow, each of them will in the long run mean more cash for you.
How’s that for free guest blogging?
Hopefully it’s already occurred to you that when you get published on another blog you will get new readers. That’s one of the main reasons you’d want to do this whole thing.
Your readers found you via social media, word of mouth, maybe some internet search (if you’re doing a good job of ranking). However, there’s nothing like a new set of eyes gleaned from someone else’s hard work. Not just one set, hopefully hundreds or thousands.
One of the things to consider when looking at what sites you’d want to guest blog on is how many active readers they have. Remember, you’re not making any money from this right now, so you’ll want that blog to to give you other perks.
A new audience is one of those perks.
How much traffic does the blog you’re writing for have? How many email subscribers? How many social shares do their articles have?
If you’re just starting out none of these metrics has to be huge, but it should at least mirror your own site.
Just like you’ve grown an audience through hard work and outreach, so has the blog you’re looking to write an article for. Their audience may overlap with yours, but there will be plenty of different people tapped into their network and specific niche.
If you follow this principle, it means means plenty of new people will read your words. Thus, they had better be some good words, because the goal of this is to convert these readers to your blog.
If you write something compelling enough in a style people love, those new eyes will become your eyes, and you’ll watch your subscriptions and traffic grow.
Simply by reaching out to new blogs you are putting yourself on the map of experts in a given niche.
An old adage claims that nothing in the world is new. This is especially true in the world of the internet. You may have found an untapped market, but there is not a complete void in any field. Information is out there, and there are experts right now working towards greater definitions and dissemination of that information.
As such you’ll want to be regarded by those experts as a member, rather than an outsider or imposter. You can do this by publishing regularly, liking and commenting via social media, and generally boosting their work in addition to your own.
However, a much more direct and reciprocal relationship is born with the guest post.
When you write an email to an expert in your field with a popular blog telling them who you are, that you work in their field, and want to contribute a stunning new post for their website, you begin to build the bridge into your industry.
The person can (and probably will) say no. You might email a dozen experts and all of them will say no, depending on how compelling your article sounds, how large your blog is, and how slammed their publishing schedule is.
Those countless hours of research and work I talked about earlier are in full effect here. Getting your guest post accepted can be very difficult when aiming for a quality blog, but it’s worth it.
After a number of attempts you will get accepted, and the inroad to your industry and its experts will begin solidify. Keep this up until you and your blog are of equal status with the best authors and voices in the field.
With a little bit of work, you will start to see the spike in traffic and, eventually, money.
The previous two steps—growing a new audience and getting industry connections—are necessary for authority. You want to be an authority in your niche because people will look to you for the answers. This means hits to your blog, social shares, and continual support for what you do.
As you write more guest posts on popular blogs your authority will increase, just like your readership. As you connect more with industry experts they will recognize you for your knowledge and consider you an authority. This, in turn, will mean people will contact you for guest posting opportunities, questions, and product samples.
Authority is what you’re trying to build, not just in perception, but in search engine rankings. An authority has dominance in each of those fields, and remains on top by continually guest posting, growing an audience, and making insider connections.
Then you’ll be the expert letting new people into the field.
If there’s one final element of guest posting that is technically “free” but amounts to a monetary reward, it is backlinks.
A backlink is when another website includes a URL that points to your website. A good article will have a number of backlinks to helpful, relevant content.
The reason this is so important is that Google and other search engines rank content based on how many backlinks point to that content.
If your article is published and nobody links to it, it will be very far down on Google’s search results. If you publish an article and within a week three-to-six other websites link to it your search rank will jump significantly. If you get a backlink from a coveted source, like a government website or a major news institution, you can bet your article is in the top 10-20 (first two pages) of Google search results.
One of the most important factors in a bloggers’ life is how much traffic they get. This is the measurement of visitors to your website, and it is the best indicator for how popular your site is, and therefore how much money could be made off it.
Getting a major bump in search rankings will mean a major bump in traffic, and backlinks are one of the most effect way to grab that bump.
Free Ain’t Free
With each of the powerful aspects of guest posting listed above, you’ll begin to see just how “free” this guest post business is. It’s true — it’s not likely you’ll get a check for writing a guest post.
However, all of the factors above can combine to give you significant position in your niche.
The unstated goal of any blog is to get visitors and make money off of them. How you do that—through affiliate marketing, native advertising, banner ads, or product sponsorship—is up to you. But to make any of that money you’ll need visitors, and guest posting is a tried and true method of getting visitors.
Ready to work for “free”?