The number of entrepreneurs in this world is rising every day. Whether it’s someone who has finally quit their day-job to “try this business thing”, individuals working odd hours on the weekends around their normal schedule, or successful repeat business owners who open a new digital shop every couple months, we’re in a wave of creation.
From my perspective, this is happening for one main reason aside from global and country-specific economic climates:
We live in a time where it’s possible to reach a global market from your bedroom. You can connect with customers in your niche anywhere, any time, and have more potential customers than has ever been possible.
The internet has turned the traditional small business on its head because it redefines “small” — nothing is really small anymore when it has the potential to reach the entire world. The profits may be small, as are the staff, but the potential from the get go is way beyond a town or city’s population.
If you go to your favorite business website right now, either right away or with a little digging, you will find their blog.
The blog is the platform by which we have all decided to hear a company speak. Yes, there are advertisements and email marketing platforms, there are spokespeople and sales reps, but the blog remains an essential, and less obtrusive, method of communication.
This is true because of search engines, and because people don’t want to be “sold” to all the time.
Blogs and Search Engines
Google is the leading search engine, and search is a cornerstone of the internet. When you need to learn how to do something, where to buy something, who to contact, or pretty much anything else, you search for it first.
Google has prioritized deep, authentic content to come up in search results. These results are often linked to by other websites, and Google’s main purpose (of which it has so, so many) is to deliver you the best results for your query.
Part of the reason blogs exist for nearly every business, big or small, is to raise their rankings in search. If someone wants to purchase a gopher trap, your gopher trapping business may come up. However, it’s more likely for people to search for “how to trap a gopher”. We are creatures that like to learn first, purchase (or get it done ourselves) second.
This means that businesses who write deep, authentic content on gopher trapping will come up in a search first. So, while your main business may be to sell traps, your blog is how people will land on your website, and in the end get you the sale.
Nobody Likes a Hard Sell
With the above in mind, also note that the best blogs are (as I’ve said) about deep, authentic content. Such content does not implore you to buy something. It teaches you. It is didactic in its approach, rather than pushy and sales based.
Business owners have learned that people actually prefer to be educated. Sure, you’ll still send out emails that offer products, and link to your own products if necessary in a blog, but the blog’s purpose is not a 1,000-word sales pitch.
At least, it shouldn’t be.
With the context of why businesses use blogs in the first place, it’s necessary to talk about guest blogging. Specifically how the practice of guest blogging will help to grow your business in a way that little else can.
First, it’s paramount to understand guest blogging itself.
What is Guest Blogging?
If you have a business I’m sure you have (or have thought about having) a blog. That blog would be written by you or a staff member, inform readers about aspects of your industry, and keep an updated feel to your website.
The guest blog is when you decide to write posts for other websites. Who do you write for? Sites in your industry, sites that want to hear about your business or expertise, sites that share a purpose or other common cause with your own.
To answer your first and most pressing question, yes, the practice is such that you spend the time it takes to write a post, often for free, so that it can be published on somebody else’s website.
To answer your second question, no, that’s not a terrible idea.
The Reasons for Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is far from a terrible idea when done correctly. It’s benefits are myriad — I’ll highlight a few below.
First, though, a word on the difficulty of guest blogging. It’s not enough to simply decide to write a guest blog and start emailing people. There is an approach, almost a science, to performing each step in the guest blog process correctly, one that I encourage you to examine if you’re new or thinking about writing guest blogs.
The more effort you put into it, the more potential your business has to grow from it. Sounds like life, right?
Back to those reasons why guest blogging is awesome:
1. Increase your authority in an industry
If you get published on a site that people respect, they will also respect you. Many businesses (including yours) are ones people have never heard of. If you were to sponsor a post on Facebook it might get in front of customers, but it wouldn’t grant you any authority — it’s clear you just paid for the ad.
However, if you appear as an author for a website and have creative, intelligent, interesting things to say, and also happen to own a business that those same potential customers are interested in, your authority will be guaranteed.
People are simple when it comes down to it, and authority is established primarily through word of mouth, high-quality products, and recognition by industry leaders.
The guest blog can give you that easily and automatically, as long as you get published on an authoritative website.
2. Develop relationships with new customers and collaborators
This one is a bit obvious given what will happen when your guest blog gets published on a website with a good following: you’ll get new customers.
This is really the heart of the goal of guest blogging. Exposure means people you would have never reached are now reading your words, your business name, and registering the fact that your business exists. It’s like a free, giant, informative ad for your website that doesn’t actually sell them anything except information.
When done right this will create an immediate, compatible relationship with said customers, and you’ll have the ability to respond to comments to further that relationship.
Likewise, you’ll also connect to collaborators in your industry. Competition is important, but collaboration is necessary to survive. Getting on the good side of leaders in your industry will help down the line, and providing free content for their blog is a great way to do that.
3. Direct Links to Your Site
When it comes to actually growing the profit of your business, this is the most important aspect of the guest blog.
In most cases you will get at least one hyperlink back your blog, typically in the author byline. This means readers can click and be taken to your business’ website, which has the potential to convert them to cash on a regular basis.
Before I get into this, let me make it clear that backlinks also increase a site’s search engine ranking. This has been a hotly debated issue over the years, one that Google has disowned. Google has asked blog owners to, for the most part, Nofollow links in guest blogs so they don’t affect search engine rankings.
Even with that, the Nofollow links still point back to your website and an interested customer can still click on it and become part of your profit margin.
Converting Guest Blog Readers
All of the steps above illustrate why guest blogging is important to grow your potential customer base, but don’t talk about how to do that once you’ve got them curious.
The guest blogging itself will take time, dedication, and an incredible amount of effort to do correctly and consistently, so it’s important to make sure after all that is finished you can convert people to your business model.
There are a couple ways to do this, but I’ll focus on one that tends to work for most people. It involves a couple synchronized steps, and I’ll start at the top.
The Author Byline
The author byline in your guest blog is arguably the most important when it comes to converting sales. That’s true because it’s usually the guaranteed place where the website you’re writing for will allow you to put a backlink (Nofollow or Dofollow). This means the byline is your chance to explain to readers who you are, and what will happen if they click through to your website.
Bylines have historically been thought of as witty descriptions of the author. Something like this:
“Jane Doe loves walks on the beach, playing with her cat, and writing with a glass of something in hand (wine, whisky, or tea will do). You can read about her green thumb adventures at JaneDoeGardens.com.”
Simple, sort of funny, and unobtrusive, right?
Well, in today’s world, that is a terrible author byline. Not because of the way it’s written, but because it invites the reader to do precisely nothing.
The author byline is your chance to explain who you are, but more importantly to offer something of value to these new readers. Invite them to continue learning about you, and do it with a specific piece of information (or two).
Jane Doe, from above, has a blog on gardening. This would be a more effective byline:
“Jane Done is the founder and chief planter at JaneDoeGardens. If you want a green thumb, check out her tips for beginning gardeners. If you’re serious about growing green and organic, she has a free guide on major brands and plants for all the seasons.”
There’s still some personality, but much more on tap in terms of value. The two underlined segments wouldn’t link to the home page for her website, they’d link to an actual article, and to a landing page for her free guide.
This encourages the reader to see what Jane’s got to offer. If the article they just read (or skimmed) was excellent, they will probably click through to see what kind of value they can get.
The Lead Magnet
The second step in this synchronized process is all about those two underlined bits of clickable information in the author byline.
First off, you have to have great, informative articles to link on your blog. Otherwise you can’t offer something of value in your byline. So, before guest blogging, create some original content for your site that is worth linking to in your author byline.
Second, make sure that one of those links offers something (typically for free) in exchange for something else. The most common example of this:
A free PDF guide or book in exchange for a subscriber.
This is not only the most common, but the most effective way to grow your business through guest blogging.
When a reader clicks that second link in Jane’s byline they will go to a page on her website that shows them a piece of the guide, then explains that to get that guide they’ll need to subscribe to her mailing list.
Free stuff for your contact info, essentially.
You’d be surprised how many consumers will take you up on this offer. Free is great, and many don’t equate their email address with a “cost”. They already like your content, as they’ve clicked through to see what the guide is about. Finally, you legally have to offer an “unsubscribe” button on the emails you’ll send out, so they can always opt out and still get the free guide.
All of this conspires to getting email subscribers to your business site through guest blogging.
Once you’ve enacted the above plan, you’ll start to see a constant trickle of new subscribers. All you have to do now is set up an email marketing campaign (you should already have one), and keep sending.
The larger your list grows, the more frequently you will make a sale, either through affiliate links, your own products, or whatever it is that your business offers.
This concept is explained a bit more fully in numerical terms by DigitalMarketer, and takes a number of long-distance plans to come to fruition.
Remember the idealized notion of owning a business?
Well, the only way to succeed and have a profitable business is to plan, then to execute that plan. Guest blogging is one of the best ways to develop a steady stream of new customers and revenue, but you need to play the long game.
How will you get started?