If you are a new-paradigm business owner or social entrepreneur, a great blog is one of the most vital business tools you can have. It provides value and information to your potential clients and customers. It raises your virtual profile and establishes your credibility. It also builds trust between you and your audience and provides a platform upon which you can start to build relationships with them.
That all sounds good, but being able to reap all these benefits from your blog is dependent upon many factors. You need a clearly defined audience and a clearly defined purpose. You need great content, consistency of publication and effective distribution. But you also need TRAFFIC. And this is where many bloggers struggle. Unless people are actually coming to your blog and reading it, the greatest content in the world will simply fall on deaf ears (or no ears!).
Many factors influence traffic. Certainly good SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of them. Another is having an effective and consistent social media strategy. I’ve spoken about those on this website before (and I go into detail on these topics in my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging), but today I want to talk about how you can increase traffic by making one simple change to your blogging routine – increasing the frequency of your posts.
Putting More Content Out Attracts More People In
As a general rule (assuming that your content is good and you’ve got the SEO and social media elements in place), the more frequently you publish on your blog, the more traffic you’re likely to receive. So, for example, if you publish once a week, stepping it up to twice a week can create an exponential increase in your traffic.
There are many reasons for this. First, Google and other search engines love fresh content. The more frequently you update your blog, the more frequently they update it at their end. And websites that are considered fresher and ‘more alive’ by Google tend to rank higher in search results, as they are considered more relevant.
Another reason is that the more content you create, the greater the diversity of your keywords. That means that more people in your audience are likely to find your posts when they use search engines to find answers to their questions.
But, Houston, we have a problem.
Business owners have businesses to run. Social entrepreneurs want to help change the world. They can’t be sitting at their desk every day of the week writing blogs (unless they’re like me and make their livings by writing). Writing a blog post once a week is often hard enough for the independent business owner. How in the world are we supposed to pick up the pace?
The answer is this:
Bring in guest bloggers.
How Using Guest Bloggers Can Help You Grow
There are so many reasons why having guest bloggers on your site can help you grow. Here are some of the facts:
- If you do not regularly create fresh content for your site and you do not have an effective distribution system, you will have very little traffic on your site to begin with.
- If you create content but you leave big gaps in publication, your traffic will decline over time, because your readers will have nothing new to come back for.
- If you create fresh content on a regular basis and distribute it well but you stay at the same frequency, you will get traffic, but it will start to plateau (or grow at a very slow pace).
- If you are the only blogger on your site, whenever you don’t blog because you want to take time off or you’ve fallen ill, your traffic will decline. Having guest bloggers can help ensure this doesn’t happen.
- If you are the only person on social media sharing your posts, your reach is limited to your own network. If you have guest bloggers who are active on social media (and who agree to share their posts with their networks), you have automatically expanded your reach. The more guest bloggers, the more your network expands.
Making the Mental Shift from Competition to Collaboration
In spite of these practical, statistical reasons for having guest bloggers on your site, some business owners find it difficult to understand why they would ask other people to supply content when they are trying to build their own businesses. After all, larger organisations can draw upon their own staff to create content that is consistent with the company’s message, but what about the independent business owner or solopreneur? Whom do they ask? And WHY would they? Aren’t they inviting in ‘the competition’? Won’t this take the spotlight off them and their business and shine it on someone else?
If you’re in this kind of mind-set, you are still operating in the old paradigm. In The 7 Graces of Marketing, I talk about the ‘Deadly Sin of Competition’ vs. the ‘Grace of Collaboration’. Collaboration is the new paradigm, and in this age of social media, one of the greatest collaborative assets we have is our network. By combining our efforts, we amplify our messages to a wider audience in ways that were open only to big advertisers of the past.
That said, there are some important criteria that should go into the selection process for whom you bring into your business space. After all, their articles could be the first things that your potential clients or customers see when they come to your site, so it’s vital to ensure that the messages your guest authors convey are consistent with your own company’s.
Criteria for Selecting Great Guest Bloggers
Last week I wrote an article called ‘Human to Human – 20 Tips from the TOP Names in Social Media’ in which I quoted Patty Farmer as having said, ‘Your best partners are those who serve your ideal clients in a different way.’ This mantra should be your baseline criterion when you think about inviting guest authors to write for your blog.
For example, back when I was actively posting on my Spirit Authors website (I’ve pulled back from it now to focus on this site), I asked many other bloggers to submit content. One of them was Karen Rowe, a ghostwriter and editor. She worked with exactly the same kinds of clients as I did – nonfiction authors, usually from some kind of service-oriented business, who were working toward self-publishing books. However, while we were both familiar with the whole self-publishing and launching process, Karen worked with clients in the writing and editing stages, while I worked with them more at the marketing stage. We overlapped in the middle stages: formatting and preparing for publication. So asking Karen to write for Spirit Authors to talk about working with editors, structuring your book, etc., was ideal. It gave great value to my readers and enabled Karen to share her expertise with my audience. If they read the article and then went to her website to find out more about her for business, that’s great. I’m helping Karen, she’s helping me, and we’re both helping our audience.
On this 7 Graces site, we also have a lot of community bloggers. These are not selected by the same process as I used for Spirit Authors, because the 7 Graces Project is a registered Community Interest Company (CIC), which means it has to serve ‘the community’ in some way. Our community is defined as ‘businesses who are committed to ethical business and marketing practice’. At present, most of those businesses are independently owned, often sole-proprietor companies. One way we serve our community is to help those companies become more visible. So, since the end of 2013, our guest bloggers have been exclusively people who have gone through our 7 Graces courses (which are still in the pilot phase as of this writing but will launch officially in October 2014). But it is also important that our community bloggers maintain the message of our company. Hence, regardless of what industry they come from – from hypnotherapists and coaches to lawyers and corporate business advisors – their articles must be on topics related to business and marketing ethics. And while their ideal audiences might be different from ours, what this does is show their commitment to ethical practice. And what it does for the 7 Graces Project is show the world that the ‘new paradigm’ of business and marketing can be applied to any industry and any business, large or small.
It’s important to HAND SELECT your authors. Don’t just go on one of those blog-content sites and ask for content. Get to know your authors first. Build a relationship and rapport with them. Learn about them. See what else they’ve written and get a feeling for how they express themselves.
And above all, choose people you trust. Choose ‘gracious’ people – those who will honour the fact that they are writing for your website and speaking to your audience. This is not the platform for them to ‘sell’ their goods, but to share their wisdom and expertise.
What’s In It for THEM?
‘Hold on’, you might be saying. ‘I get that having guest bloggers is good for my business. But if my guests are writing for my website and speaking to my audience, what’s in it for them?’
Well, at the bottom of their post is something very crucial to making this whole collaboration work between you: their bio box. In their bio box, they can mention their business and their books and link back to their website and/or social media profile(s). This provides them with a valuable ‘backlink’ to their website, which, in turn, helps increase their page rank in Google. Furthermore, you are presenting them to your audience, who (if you’ve done your homework correctly) is similar to the type of audience they are looking to attract as well. So you are giving them a platform to speak, a boost in Google rankings, and an easy means for readers to connect with them.
And lastly, I create loads of Tweets for every article on our blog. When a guest author has written it, I try to put ‘via @JohnSmith’ (whatever their name is) in the Tweets. That way, when people see the Tweet, they are also likely to check out the Twitter profile of the guest author. Also, when the author sees your ‘mention’ in their Twitter timeline, they will be likely to ReTweet it. And finally, a shout-out like this is just a ‘gracious’ thing to do.
Challenges of Managing Guest Bloggers on Your Site
If the idea of engaging guest bloggers on your site has excited you, GOOD. However, it would be remiss of me if I did not also offer a few caveats. Managing guest bloggers can be challenging, and if you do not put a system in place, you might find yourself creating more trouble than benefit. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Don’t bring others in until you are REALLY clear about who you are, what your brand/message is and who your audience is. Otherwise, your blog will have no focus and readers will not know why they would want to return.
- Don’t get lazy and ‘replace’ your own regular blog with a guest blog; if you do that, you’re not increasing your content and will not reap the benefits of having guest authors.
- Try to systematise your guest blogger spots; choose specific days of the week or month on which you will have guest spots.
- If your bloggers are going to be regular contributors, make sure you have a schedule in place and that this is communicated clearly to them.
- Make sure someone reads the article first to confirm that it has substance and is suitable for your audience.
- Make sure you have a system in place to edit and proofread articles before they go on your site (hint: this should NOT be you; hire someone to do this).
- Make sure you are consistent about what can and cannot go into the bio at the end.
- Make sure you have a backup plan in case a blogger misses their deadline OR an article you receive is not acceptable for publication.
I hope this article has given you some ideas of how and why you might wish to bring guest bloggers into your online marketing strategy. It might take a little while to find the right people, the right rhythm and the right system, but with time it will start to flow, and you’ll see a real impact on your traffic numbers.
Oh…and of course, be sure you’re actually MONITORING your traffic with a system like Google Analytics, AWSTATS, etc., or you’ll be working in the dark without a clue as to whether or not all your efforts are paying off!
All of these ideas appear in a much more detailed way in my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging, which is coming out later this year (2014). In it, I take you from the ground up in how to create an effective, ethical and rewarding marketing platform – one that can bring more business to your company – through a systematic and creative approach to blogging and social media. It’s a practical application of the principles first shared in my book The 7 Graces of Marketing and an expansion of the marketing strategies I shared in my Twitter book Tweep-e-licious.
If you’d like to receive a reminder when the blogging book comes out, just click this link and leave your name and email. When you do, you will also receive a free downloadable blogging template that I use myself as well as with our guest bloggers and clients here at the 7 Graces Project.
I hope you’ll check that out.
And of course, if you’d love to be a guest blogger for this site someday, you might want to find out more about our 7 Graces courses, coming in October 2014. To stay in the loop, come on over to our Facebook community at http://facebook.com/7GracesGlobalGarden.
Thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing your comments and questions below.
6 June 2014
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)