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Guest Posts as a Platform Tool

  Posted by Jean Oram , 28 May 2012 · 121 views

Lately I’ve been working on using guest posts on other blogs to increase my platform and help get my name out there. (Or as my daughter calls it, “Getting ‘famous.’” And, yes, she uses finger quotes around famous.)
As a byproduct, I always hope to find new followers and blog readers as well, because my ultimate goal is to show publishers that I am here for the long haul and won’t have qualms about getting out there and showing off my book should the opportunity arise.
While some people have claimed to get an increase of thousands of percentage points for their guest posts, I’d have to say they’re working some great magic, because for me, it just hasn’t happened. However, I have learned a few things in terms of using guest posts to help build your platform, get your name out there, as well as how to convert some of those readers into followers. It’s a lot of work and takes a bit of time, but I think it is worth it.
So far, with the exception of being a guest on a friend’s writing blog, I’ve done two larger guest posts. Here’s what I have found from those larger posts:
(On smaller guest posts, not much seems to happen in terms of new followers on Twitter or blog readers.)
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Tips on How to Turn Guest Posts into Followers and Traffic:

Name Recognition: You have to keep hitting the same audience over and over again to get that name recognition. Guest posts aren’t a one night stand that suddenly leaves you with children. Nope. You have to keep trying! So, guest post on the same blog twice or spread yourself around to their competitors–follow those readers if they are the ones you want.
Go Big: Guest post on bigger and bigger blogs. Cut your teeth on smaller ones that are hungry for content and build your way up. The bigger the blogs the bigger the audience and the greater the chance that you will reach someone who feels compelled to follow you.
Bio: Make sure you get a bio at the bottom of your post. Best way to ensure they include your brand’s interest and URL (you want to convert those readers into followers of YOU!)?–send it along with your guest post and tell them that this is the bio for the bottom of your post. Bonus marks if you add a picture.
Reply: Reply to comments left on your guest post. Make a point of checking in lots on the first day as this is when you will get your most comments and also when people check back to see if there is a reply (assuming they haven’t signed up to get all future comments emailed to them). This will help build relationships and show that you are a PERSON.
Thank yous: Thank people who tweet or like your content. Yesterday my Modern Life Blogs post went live. It’s received 115 tweets thus far, and since it’s airing, I have gained about 9 Twitter followers. Roughly 4 or so of those folks tweeted the post’s link.
But it wasn’t that simple. Until I started thanking people for tweeting my post, guess how many new followers I had? Zero. That’s right, nada. Pretty much nothing was happening in terms of converting those tweeters into followers. However, my thoughts are this: If they liked the post enough to tweet it to their followers, they might be interested enough to want to follow you on Twitter. However, since you are on Modern Life Blogs (or wherever you are a guest) they are thinking of that brand and following them because that is where they found this interesting content. They are not thinking, oh, I should seek out this person and follow them directly. (Well, maybe one or two are.) Turn that interest towards you.
Thus, I popped the URL for the post into Twitter’s search function–even shortened URLs popped up–and sent thank-yous to those who tweeted. I also mentioned to one lovely and passionate reader that I had replied to her thought-provoking replies. She was delighted (it seems). Did she convert to a follower? Yes. (And I love her–she made my day.)
Titles: Give your post an interesting and informative title with a bit of an intriguing hook, if you can. For example, I called mine “5 Reasons To Parent Like Our Parents.” It’s short (easy to tweet and is memorable) and also informative. Also makes you go, why the heck should we parent like our parents? I don’t want to be them! If you have a good title (as well as copy) people are more likely to pause over it, read it, and share it.
Brand yourself!: For me, I am working to build a brand around free play ideas for kids. I look for places where I can deliver my content in a fresh way and to a fresh audience. My articles are always about play. For The Indie Chicks Online Mag I tweaked it to fit with their core belief which is to the be the best you. For Modern Life Blogs, I worked it to fit their tone.
What sells?: What posts on the guest post blog of choice has had a lot of tweets, likes, shares, comments, etc? See what those posts have in common and see if you can emulate it. Modern Life Blogs had a lot of popular, short, 5 list-type posts. I worked hard to give deep, yet, light and entertaining content in less than 1000 words and used the 5 list format. (Doing this sort of thing also helps the likelihood of being accepted.) Because if you are going to go to all the effort of guest posting, you want to be successful, right?
Be professional: Develop a good name for yourself. Get your post in on time. Make it fresh, original, and compelling content that fits their tone and topics and fills a need. Follow their guidelines. Make it easy for them. Direct traffic to their blog if you can. And last, but never least, thank the blog owner for the opportunity. That way, you may get referrals, asked back, as well as a good name in the guest blogging world.
Now I’m off to thank Amit over at Modern Life Blogs for the awesome opportunity to be on his blog. But before I go–how about you? Have you guest posted on a blog? Do you have tips on how to build your name and followers through guest posts? Share them in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.

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