How I Became a Guest Writer On One of the World’s Most Popular Blogs

Note From Matt: LearnToBlog.com has a thriving private Facebook community for members. Recently, one of the members, Jenish, told us of a success story where he was featured on the popular site, ProBlogger. This story peaked the interest of our members, and we asked Jenish to write an article with his story on how he was featured by such a well-known blog.

Enjoy Jenish’s story, insights, and action steps for getting seen on one of the world’s most popular blogs…

Enter Jenish:

Imagine yourself as a blogging newbie, only blogging for 6 or 7 months, and the first ever guest blog post you write gets published on ProBlogger (one of the largest blog on the subject of blogging).

Think about how excited you would get… What it would mean for your blog… How much extra traffic you would receive… And most of all, how many other doors it would open for you…

You may be thinking that it’s impossible, but guess what? That’s exactly what happened to me. A post that I wrote titled “ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging” got published on ProBlogger (PB) and here is the story of how I got featured.

Before I tell you the whole story, I would like to remind you that “ProBlogger is not currently accepting any unsolicited submissions at this time”. So please keep that in mind before you get any crazy ideas.

Perth Mini ProBlogger Event

Jenish Pandya and Darren Rowse ProBloggerIt was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Perth on the 23rd of February and the time was around 1:45 pm when I entered the venue where the Perth mini ProBlogger event was being held.

This was the first time Darren Rowse had come to Perth and the event had sold out within hours of the tickets going on sale.

Upon entering the venue, I spotted a few people chitchatting near the main hall entrance and decided to join them. One of them was Darren himself. We began talking about blogging and his journey around it.

I was quite surprised by how down to earth and honest this guy was. My respect for him increased ten fold after meeting him.

In the presentation, Darren covered two topics “10 things he wished he knew when he started blogging” and “7 Quick Blogging Tips“.

After the presentation, we went for drinks where I continued to build upon my initial conversation with Darren. We both shared a few interesting stories, and I also met quite a few other business owners.

The Blog Post “7 Quick Blogging Tips”

Darren Rowse's 7 Quick Blogging TipsDarren was a celebrity in my mind and in the “I can’t believe it’s him” excitement, throughout his presentation, I was taking photos of him with his slides. The photos were meant as simple “memory joggers” for my personal use.

On the way back home, a brilliant idea hit me. I could convert these photos into a blog post! This would not only help me, but it would also provide an inside look for those who weren’t able to attend the event.

Once back home, I was so excited that I started putting the blog post together. I quickly realized that it was going to be a very long post if both topics were put together. Then another genius idea struck me. Why not publish one of the posts on ProBlogger and the other on my own blog?

After another 4-5 hours, and not getting to bed until around 2 am, I had finished a draft of the post that I was going to publish on my blog.

On the 24th, after returning from work, I reviewed and tidied up my post and hit the publish button.

The Magic Email

After Publishing the post, I contacted Darren through the contact form on ProBlogger and sent the following email:

Hi Darren,

Cheers for coming down to Perth and sharing some awesome tips.

I know you have stopped taking guest bloggers but was wondering if you would accept me publishing a slightly different post than normal about the main presentation you did at the Perth Mini PBevent.

I have published the 7 tips you talked about at http://jenishpandya.com/darren-rowse-7-quick-blogging-tips/ and would like to do a similar one about the “10 things he wished he knew about blogging” on ProBlogger but with more detail and linking to all the old PB posts that talk about each specific thing.

What do you say Darren?

Regards,

Jenish

I was aware that ProBlogger wouldn’t be taking new guest bloggers (especially newbies) but I gave it a shot anyway, relying on these three things:

  • The rapport I had built with him in person.
  • The uniqueness of my content.
  • The example of what it would turn out to be.

The Green Light

After waiting for three days for a reply, I thought that’s it, no one is going to reply to me, I’m not at high enough standards to get published on ProBlogger. Silly me!

On the morning of the 28th I received an email from the editor of ProBlogger saying:

I love the idea of the topic you’d like to write about, I think it will work well. The sooner you get it through, the sooner we can look at getting it up!

I jumped up and down a few times and probably would have shouted like crazy if there weren’t people staring at me already.

I was super stoked to receive such a reply, I just couldn’t believe it. They liked it, and they wanted to feature it on ProBlogger. I read the email another four or five times to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.

The 2,500 word Epic PostScreen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.13.47 PM

After realizing that I was really invited to guest post on ProBlogger, it hit me; I had a lot of work in front of me and I wanted this to be something that would stand out and provide incredible value to the readers. I did not want to disappoint Darren or the editor in thinking that they made the wrong decision.

The other important thing was that I had never written a guest post before. So think of that for a second. A guy who has never published a guest post has to write for one of the leading blogs on the topic of blogging.

I was nervous and happy at the exact same moment. It was a weird feeling but in a good way.

It took me roughly three days (a long weekend) to get the post ready.

First day: I researched how to write guest posts (lol), wrote a draft, added all the images, formatted it and made it look pretty.

Second day: I spent time researching ProBlogger for all of the articles that were related to this post and then did a bit more editing and reviewing.

Third day: I called in a favor from a friend to review the post and advise me on any mistakes. Then I reviewed it once more.

The Scare

Stressed businessman at computer

Once I was happy with the final version, on March 3rd, I sent it to the editor for review and then waited…

After waiting a few days and receiving no reply, I was concerned that they hated the post and that it was so bad that they wouldn’t even spend the time to reply back.

You know that feeling that you get after deciding to do something and then once complete everything starts going pear-shaped, and you start asking yourself “Why did you even bother?”. That is exactly what I was going through.

But I pushed through that feeling and decided to continue following up. I knew the whole ProBlogger team was busy with the launch of their membership site so I didn’t want to be too pushy about my post. I followed up every other week through email.

I didn’t hear anything back the entire month of March. Imagine that… Here I was, I had spent three days meticulously crafting this post and I had no idea what was going to happen with it. The uncertainty is tougher than rejection.

Finally, in the first week of April, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I received a reply from the editor.

The Waiting Game

We went back and forth a few times due to some technical issues with the viewing of my draft but, after everything was sorted, I was told to wait for it to get published. Their calendar was quite full and my post would need to be slotted in somewhere.

Everyday, I waited eagerly for the post to be publish with no such luck. After May, I just stopped worrying about it and patiently waited. Lesson learned from the Scare I had received in March.

After a long wait of almost three months, without any knowledge of when the post would go live, it finally popped up at the end of July.

All is Well that ends Well.

Lessons Learned (Action Steps)

This whole guest post experience was an emotional roller-coaster filled with very important lessons along the way. I would love to share my top 5 lessons learned:

Go to live events and meet/network people

Anyone who has gone to an offline event and networked properly can guarantee you that it is one of the best ways to grow your business. In my case, if I had missed that event, I would have never been published on ProBlogger and I would have never written this blog post. You never know what opportunities might come up.

Create Unique content

One of the most important reasons that I think my post was published was that it was unique. The post was nothing like previous posts published on ProBlogger and it also borrowed some credibility from Darren himself.

The other part that was unique was that I had added my own takeaway on each point. It was not just a recap of what happened at the event, it was from the angle of how I saw it. ProBlogger readers found that really useful.

Have Samples

Since I had a similar post already published on my blog, the editor could see my writing style along with an idea of what my guest post would be. This helped me overcome the typical guest post barriers of whether “I am good enough or not” in the eyes of an editor.

So make sure when you are approaching people that you send them your samples along with your email.

Follow Up

Popular blog editors are busy people. It is possible that your guest post might get missed due to their workload. It is your responsibility to remind them about it. Following up is key!

Have Patience

This would be my biggest lesson learned through this whole process.

Things never happen the way we want or at the time we want them to. It took roughly four months to get the post published but, once it got published, it was all worth it.

Never give up and be patient.

Get those guest posts cranking and you never know what opportunities will pop up.

Just keep in mind “Even if all the doors are closed, there is a chance that a window is still open – Jenish Pandya“.

23 Things That You Can Do To Get Your Blog Post Seen Everywhere

Traffic seems to be the one thing that people obsess over the most when it comes to blogging. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest reasons people give for why they don’t start blogging. They’re afraid no one will come to their site.

People seem to constantly look for that “magic bullet” traffic technique… That one method that’s going to send them a windfall of traffic.

It’s true that viral traffic can happen overnight. However, you never know where it’s going to come from. It takes effort on many fronts to get that traffic flowing in.

To accomplish this, be everywhere with your content, don’t use just one single traffic source and sit back and wait… Create a system that works for you and follow it to the letter every time you create a new post.

Over time, you’ll learn which strategies are effective and which ones don’t pan out. You will need to adjust, add new strategies, remove ineffective strategies, and repeat. That’s the true trick to creating website traffic.

To help you understand what I mean, I’ve decided to share the strategy that Bradley and I use to generate a ton of traffic to every single new blog post we create.

In fact, chances are, you found this exact blog post as a result of our efforts with this strategy.

This strategy evolves. We remove ineffective actions and constantly add new actions as we learn them… For the most part, here is what we do with every single blog post.

I’ve broken it up in to 3 sections. “Standard”, “Above and Beyond” and “ROI (Return on Investment) Potential Tactics”.

The “Standard” tactics are what we use for every single post, no matter what.

The “Above And Beyond” tactics are what we use when we really really want the post to go viral.

And the “ROI Potential Tactics” are what we do when we expect a return from the post. They are paid strategies because maybe we’re promoting an affiliate link or maybe the post talks about a new product we’ve created. We will use paid techniques if we see the potential for a return on investment for the payment.

So here’s our blog post promotion checklist:

Standard Post

  • Mail your list
  • Post to Facebook fan page
  • Post to personal Facebook wall
  • Post to any relevant Facebook groups
  • Share on Twitter account
  • Search Twitter for relevant hashtags and @reply them
  • Queue up a minimum of 4 more promotions using HootSuite
  • Share on Google+
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • If you use an image, share the image on Pinterest
  • Go to Google Alerts and look for relevant blog posts – Run alerts for the week
  • Post to a minimum of 5 blogs linking to your new post – Entire week
  • Create an image with a quote from your post, share that image on Facebook and Twitter – Ask for shares
  • Create a quick YouTube video related to your post, put link to post below video.

Above And Beyond

  • One Time – Create blogs on Tumblr, LiveJournal, Squidoo, and WordPress.com
  • Post about most recent post to Tumblr (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to LiveJournal (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to Squidoo (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to WordPress.com (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Create a post with your YouTube video on each of the sites as well
  • Find 2 relevant questions on Quora, answer the questions and link to your post
  • Find relevant questions on Reddit and answer them with a link

ROI Potential Tactics

  • Boost post on Facebook
  • Submit press release to PR Web about topic

Many of these things are self explanatory but I’ll break them down even more…

Standard Post Tactics

Mail your list: This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you know us by now, you know that we are huge proponents of list building with your blog. Once you have a list, you can mail your list whenever you create a new post and bring past readers right back to your site. We recommend GetResponse for list building.

GetResponse

Post to your fan page and personal walls: Every blog post that you make should be shared to your Facebook fan page and shared to your personal wall. The truth of the matter is, friends and family probably WILL be the first readers of your blog. That’s OK! Get them commenting and sharing to build some momentum.

Post to relevant Facebook groups: Find groups that are relevant to the niche that you blog in and, if it’s allowed, share your latest posts with those groups. If your post is relevant to a topic already being discussed in the group, share your post in the comments of that discussion.

Share on your Twitter account: Share a link to your latest blog post in a tweet or two. So many people tend to want to just focus on Facebook. However, we find that, while we get more traffic from Facebook, we get more engaged visitors from Twitter. The people that come from Twitter tend to stay on our page much longer and return to our page more often.

Search Twitter for relevant #hashtags and @reply those people: Find people asking questions on Twitter that your blog post could answer for them. When you find them, send them a reply and link to your blog post. This is SUPER effective because if other people have the same question, they may stumble across your conversation as well.

Queue up a minimum of 4 more promotions using Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a tool that lets you schedule up your Tweets in advance. I always go in to Hootsuite and schedule at least 4 more tweets for that same blog post to go out at different times during the day. People aren’t on Twitter all day. This makes sure you will get more exposure to your post on Twitter as the day goes on. I also like to schedule 2 or 3 tweets for older blog posts at the same time to ensure steady traffic continues to my older, but still relevant, blog posts.

HootSuite

Share on Google+ and LinkedIn: The idea is that you pretty much want to share your blog post on any social media accounts that you are active on.

Share on Pinterest: This one may no be relevant to everyone. If you use images in your blog posts, pin the image of that post to Pinterest. This works better in some niches than it does for others. For example, this is huge in fashion and in cooking type niches but gets a little more difficult and conceptual type niches like marketing and personal development.

Google Alerts: This is somewhat of a “ninja trick” or “growth hack”… Basically, you go to Google Alerts and you create an alert or two related to the topic of your recent blog post. When you receive emails about new posts on that topic, you go to those blogs and comment on them with a link back to your post. In fact, I made a quick video about this tactic.

We keep an eye on the topic for a minimum of a week (usually much longer) and continue getting the link everywhere.

Create an image with a quote and share it: This is a trick that I learned when Pat Flynn interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk on The Smart Passive Income Podcast… Basically, you take a great quote from your latest blog post, create a little image with that quote, and then share the image on all of the social media channels that you use. A great tool to easily create these types of images is called Canva.com.

Here’s an example of an image I made for one of my blog posts:

Matt Wolfe Quote

And here’s an example I saw Pat Flynn share:

Pat Flynn Quote

 

These are super powerful because if people like and agree with your quote, they tend to share them on their social media channels as well. They establish your credibility as an expert and really get shared.

Create a YouTube video related to your topic: Once you blog post is finished, create a quick YouTube video that is relevant to your blog post. In the description of the video, link to the post. Anyone who finds your topic via a YouTube search will probably watch your video and then click over to your post to get even more detail. YouTube can be a MASSIVE source of high quality traffic.

Above and Beyond Tactics

The “Above and Beyond” strategy is something that we don’t do every time we make a new blog post. The reason being is that it is very time consuming. Instead, we might do this strategy once per month but do it for four blog posts at a time. However, if we’re doing a blog for the sole purpose of promoting affiliate products, like what I did for Easy Video Suite, we will do this for every post on that style of blog.

Here’s a video I made a while back that explains the steps of the “Above and Beyond” strategy.

The only thing that we have added to the list that’s not mentioned in the video is that we now also look for relevant questions on Quora.com and attempt to answer them, citing one of our blog posts for more info.

ROI Potential Tactics

When we talk about “ROI Potential Tactics” we are talking about posts that will generate us some income. Examples would be posts that directly promote affiliate products, posts that promote one of our products, or posts that promote one of our services. Basically, any post where we can directly calculate the money made as a result of that post we will use these tactics.

Boost Post on Facebook: Facebook gives you the option to promote your posts when you have a fan page. You pick your budget and hit the boost post button and the post will be seen by more followers.

boost post

boost post 2

Submit a Press Release: Writing and submitting press releases is a whole topic in itself and will require a whole blog post. Essentially you are writing a news article related to your post and submitting to various news agencies. The agencies that find it newsworthy will publish it on their site and in their publications. PRWeb is probably the most notable press release service.

Here’s a quick read on how to write a good press release.

And that’s about it… That’s our entire strategy for generating traffic to our blog.

I actually created a checklist in Evernote that we use every time we create a new post. We hit publish and then go down the checklist, making sure we do everything on the list to promote the blog post.

Maintain a strategy like this for every single post that you make and you will have floods of traffic to your blog much quicker than you’d think.

What did we miss? What traffic strategy would you add to the list? Which would you remove? Let us know in the comments below!

 

The Guest Blogging Snafu: Critical Info for Blog Owners

 The Basics:

guest blogging penalty flag

Accepting guest blog posts might soon result in Google penalties.

Google’s anti-spam chief Matt Cutts started an explosion across the SEO and Blogging worlds when he announced in mid-January that ‘Guest posting for SEO is dead.”  Since then, other Google officials and Cutts himself have revised this assessment – but it is still clear that Google is getting ready to pay a ton more attention to blogs that host guest posts – and it is clear that there will be SERP penalties for blogs that intentionally or unintentionally allow spammy backlinks in guest posts.

If you own a blog that gets requests involving offers of guest blogging – this could obviously be a huge problem, especially if you do not understand the nature of the problem from Google’s eyes.

At the core, this is a dispute about backlinks, so you will need to understand how links work and how to respond to requests post-Google’s Guest-blogging crackdown.

This post will:

  • Review what happened to get Google so fired up about a seemingly innocuous practice (guest blogging)
  • Explain all the details about how to understand and police your backlinks (especially from Guest Blog Posts)
  • Explain why you should still allow guest bloggers/blogging with conditions
  • And, explain how you should answer requests from potential guest bloggers.

What Got Matt Cutts so Grumpy?

You may be saying to yourself,

“um….self, why in the world do I need to understand anything new about guest blogging – I have a blog, I sometimes get someone new to post on it….it seems to be good for my blog and for the guest poster – right?”

Sadly, the answer to your question may often be – “wrong” – even when your heart is totally in the right place about why you want to accept guest blogging posts.

In theory, and for many people in practice, guest blogging is a mutually beneficial activity contracted between a blog owner and a guest writer.  Guest posts add additional content from a new voice – they potentially bring in new readers – and they can add to your blogs search engine rankings.

And therein is the rub…

That last point – helping SEO – is what has created this massive amount of new drama.

Black-hat SEO geniuses are in many ways like hackers – they keep probing until they figure out holes in Google’s anti-spam policies and then exploit those holes to help their clients SERP – often at the expense of people unintentionally in the crossfire.

We have seen all kinds of tools go from good SEO strategy to possible SEO penalization as a result of these tactics (for instance blog rolls, comments, Wikipedia, etc.)  In the series of posts that Cutts has posted on guest blogging he broke it down like a frustrated parent – he said basically that SEO’s are not capable of having nice things.

Cutts sometimes comes across like that guy that holds his anger in and lets it build until finally it explodes.  He is like a tea kettle that builds to a good boil then makes a TON of noise.  He started posting about spammy link practices in 2005 – introducing the nofollow and dofollow concepts for links (we will talk more about this in a few minutes).  Since then, he has slowly identified, warned, grown frustrated with, and exploded on most of the spammy SEO practices mentioned above.

His current annoyance is spammy guest blogging for SEO and he has reached his breaking point – it seems clear that there will be Google consequences for spammy guest blogging.

But, how is Guest Blogging spam?

Over the last few years black hatters have exploited popular blogs by offering to provide to those blogs with guest blogging services –even often offering to pay for the privilege of providing guest posts.  This offer is, of course, a Trojan horse – allowing black hat firms to pass page rank to their client sites through backlinks in the guest blogging posts.

One of the ways Google determines the importance of a site is by evaluating the backlinks that it generates.

If you have a popular site and you link to another site, Google assumes that means the other site is important too.  When you bless another site by linking to it you are giving it your seal of approval in the eyes of Google.  Google calls this “passing page rank.”  As in you pass the rank of your site on to the other linked site.

One of the primary no-no’s in Google’s list of webmaster guidelines is paying for, or accepting payment for, passing page rank.

Google does not like paid links.  They feel it corrupts their ability to determine which sites actually are quality sites that provide valuable information to Google searchers and which sites are unhelpful sites that provide spam filled nonsense.

web-master

Google wants webmasters, and if you run a blog or website you are technically a webmaster, to alert Google’s bots (or Googlebots or spiders the algorithms that determine site value crawling the web looking at sites) to links that are really advertisements (spam) as opposed to legitimate organic links.

So what is the scam?

Black-hat SEO experts offer their guest blogging services – and even pay you to provide this guest blogging content.  They then load these posts up with spammy links that pass page rank to their clients.  The posts that they deliver might be well written and even have decent content germane to your readers – but they are done to pass page rank from your popular site to their clients sites through the spammy backlinks contained in the body of the post.

For any of you who once received phishing scam emails offering to “gift you” a large portion of a distressed Nigerian Princes wealth (only under the condition that he could be given basic access to your bank accounts) you may have smelled something “phishy” when you got your first guest blogging offers.  But for many blog owners, these guest blogging offers have been taken as both a way to earn a bit of extra money and a way to get more content to their blog.

Google thinks that the whole purpose of what they do is to identify value through providing search results that matter to the searcher.  It is easy to see how Google gets mad because often the links will attach to a site that has nothing at all to do with the subject in the post itself (Cutts has detailed a litany of examples – once he gave the example of a post on linux with links to online casinos).

Ok, but how do links work for Google exactly?

There are two kinds of backlinks in Google’s eyes.  The first kind is called “dofollow” and it is the default – in other words, any link unless noted otherwise is considered a “dofollow” link.  This just means that the link creator wants bots to be able to follow the link when they try to determine where the link goes and the value of where the link goes.

The second kind of link is called “nofollow.”  If you do not want bots to follow your link to determine where the link goes and the value or where it goes you can add a “nofollow” attribute in the html coding (links are set off in the htmll by the href attribute – so the nofollow goes after the href attribute and the link url – you add the text rel=nofollow> at the end of the string).

A dofollow link would look like:

<a href=www.imadethisup.com>I Made This Up </a>

A nofollow link for the same thing would look like:

<a href=www.imadthisup.com rel=”nofollow”> I Made This Up </a>

Googlebots examine the text and determine what they should or should not follow by examining the html.  Google wants webmasters to treat the bots like newspaper editors treat readers when they explicitly identify areas of the text as “advertising.”  Nofollow links identify to Google bots that a link is advertising and should not be followed.

What you should do – Part One – Policing your Backlinks

guest-blogging-police

As a general rule, you should get in the practice of making all links in your guest posts “nofollow” links.  You should start to go back through your back catalog of posts and add “nofollow” to any guest blog links.

This is really important to you!

Once Google gets rolling on policing Guest Blogging spam they will punish webmasters not the writers.  In other words, the site that hosts spammy links through guest blogging will be the sites that Google penalizes.  And the Penguin update to Google’s algorithm was all about being able to identify exactly these kinds of spammy links.  In other words, it is in your interest to start protecting yourself.

What you should do – Part Two – Continue to Accept Guest Blogs but With Conditions

In Cutts’ addendum to his original outburst he explicitly mentioned the potential benefits of guest posting, “I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water.  There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community etc.).  Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future…I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

I think Cutts over-generalizes all SEO into black hat SEO but given that he spends all his time dealing with creative black hat trickery – he can certainly be forgiven.

Even if Guest Posting is not done for the reason of passing page rank – it can still be of SEO value.  For instance, if linkage between two popular sites creates more reader-ship for both that will eventually convey an SEO benefit.

Guest posts can also be directly beneficial to your blog. A nofollow link is still a way to connect two popular sites and create increased readership by linking two popular sites.  Readers are not Googlebots – clicking on “nofollow” links does not stop their journey.  Links still create visibility for both sites.

What you should do – Part Three – How you Should Respond to Guest Blogging Requests

I believe most of this whole snafu could be cleared up with one simple blog owner response – “Yes, I would love to consider posting your content as long as you do not mind that I insist on all links being “nofollow” links.”

If everyone who hosts a blog used this response – every single time – guest blogging for spammy SEO truly would be dead.

Google has stated that they are only concerned with spammy “dofollow” links in Guest blogs.  If someone is fine with all links being “nofollow” links they are probably ok.

Another good rule of thumb is to accept Guest blogs mostly from people you have a relationship with and/or trust.  If you are going to accept someone you do not know, do some research, read other things they have written and see if they are involved in selling links.

Summing it all Up

Google is going to penalize blogs that they identify as accepting guest posts with spammy links.  It is in your interest to:

  • Take control and look through all your guest blogging content – police your links and be alert to the scam.
  • Don’t pass page rank for money.
  • Learn to use the “nofollow” link in your html code.
  • Only accept guest posts that agree to only “nofollow” links in that content.
  • Be willing to play detective and look into the kind of content people offering their blogging services have provided to other sites.
  • Pay attention to what Google is saying about being a webmaster.  A great place to start is reading Matt Cutts blog.

If you are ever approached by someone offering to pay you to post something they have written (guest blogging offers) you should now know exactly what to do – ask them a simple question, “Sure, as long as you are ok with all links being nofollow.”

If you never hear from them again – you will know what they were after.  Forewarned is forearmed!

Josh

The Definitive Guide to Forum Marketing for Bloggers

Forum marketing is one of those tools that, when used effectively, can produce tremendous results. On the other hand, if abused, it’s the quickest way to destroy your online reputation — permanently. The benefits from forum marketing, though, are just to great to avoid.

When you do it the right way, you can build authority, brand your business, increase traffic to your blog, and get hundreds of free leads.

Here’s a detailed “forum marketing for bloggers” guide – how to follow the basics of forum etiquette, and how to maximize personal benefit at the same time.

What Is Forum Marketing?

In essence, forum marketing is marketing your online business by the means of an online community i.e. a forum. Simple concept.

You post on forums, and use them to gain traffic, get leads, increase sales via your signature link. You market your product, service, or website through a forum.

Why Is It (Sometimes) Considered Unethical?

Often, eager young entrepreneurs go a little overboard with forum marketing. In other words, they spam the stuffings out of forums just to get their links out there.

They use a keyword stuffed username, write one-liner trash posts, and link to their blog posts in every single reply and thread they post. Needless to say, their stint on forums is usually relatively brief, once the mods catch on.

They never add any sort of value to the forum. It’s just take, take, take.

Their post devalues the forum, devalues the community, and even devalues themselves.

How To Do It The Right Way – Forum Marketing Tips

Forums are all about community and helping others – getting answers to questions, getting opinions on controversial subjects — just building relationships, getting social, and helping each other. No forum was ever created with the sole purpose of getting its members free traffic.

Here are a few tips on forum marketing to help you get started increasing your blog traffic.

High Traffic Forums
Image Credit(s): Gerard Stolk via Flickr.

Provide value – This is a no-brainer. If what you post on the forum doesn’t really provide value to anyone in any way and only restates a topic that has been used and abused, then there’s no point. You are not providing value, so there is absolutely no reason for you to post it.

Dropping trash one-liners like “great post” and “thanks!” will help you lose your reputation faster than you can say “Jack Robinson”.

Post on threads you know about – If you don’t know about search engine optimization, don’t post a thread/reply about it (unless you’re asking a question or sharing a personal experience).

When you post in categories that you actually know about, you mark yourself as an authority in the subject. Since you know your stuff, people click on your signature link to learn more.

Be relevant – If your signature link leads to a recipe blog, then you should be posting on recipe forums, NOT on an Internet marketing forum.

If the forum is not relevant to your niche, your link won’t get very many clicks. Whatever traffic does happenstance to make its way to your blog will be untargeted, and won’t actually convert and make you money.

Post threads as well as replies – Comparatively, new forum threads will get you considerably more traffic than replies would. That’s for a simple reason – everyone who views the thread is guaranteed to see your post (and thus, your signature link as well).

When you reply, your post often gets lost in the already-present sea of other commentators. No one sees your sig link, and no one clicks on it.

That said, don’t post new threads too often. Nobody likes to see five recent threads on one page of a board all by one person.

Get there first – If you’re gonna reply to a thread anyway, do your best to get there first. The first reply always gets the most exposure (after the original post).

The 1st or the 51st reply – which do you think gets more traffic? It’s the same with blog commenting.

High traffic forums – Another no-brainer. If the forum you post on gets 10 visitors daily, chances are that you’ll get 10 visitors yearly as a result. The higher the amount of traffic to the forum, the higher the amount of traffic to your signature link. Simple equation.

Most of the popular forums will show up on the first page of the SERPs for their respective niche keywords. Just type in [your niche] + forum, and you’ll find high traffic forums to get started on in the blink of an eye.

How To Format Your Signature For A Higher Click-Through Rate

Forum Signature
Image Credit(s): Scott Ableman via Flickr.

Conversion rate optimization is one of my favorite pet peeves. My belief is that you should start testing everything (that includes your blog design, your landing page, your sales funnel, and your autoresponder series) as soon as possible. That way, you don’t miss out on potential traffic.

Here are a few tips on how to format your signature links for more clicks with less impressions.

Use formatting – Use HTML to format your signature text. Underline, italicize, and bold your text to make it stand out. When viewers scroll down the page, your text will catch their eye.

Include a small image – Also paste a small version of your logo in your signature. This also helps it to stand out. Keep in mind that some forums may require you to pay before you can include an image in your signature.

Don’t use your keywords as anchor text – Nofollow or dofollow, remember that your signature will be duplicated across hundreds of different forum threads as you become an active member. Never use your primary keywords as the anchor text. Use a more generic “click here” or “learn more” to stay safe.

Give people a reason to visit your blog – It’s a great idea to link to your squeeze page (where you should be giving something away free in exchange for their e-mail address) in your signature. Mentioning your free report will give viewers a reason to actually click on the link and visit your site.

Wrapping Up

Forum marketing is a powerful tactic, and can be a useful engine to power your blog’s success. As with all things, do it in moderation. Never abuse a forum — always put providing value for others in front of personal gain.

When you do that, chances are that you’ll end up gaining a whole lot more, anyway.

 

10 Blog Commenting Tips To Get Traffic From Other Blogs

Probably one of the easiest (yet widely underrated) traffic strategies out there is blog commenting. The bloggers who haven’t yet latched on to this simple traffic generation method are missing out, because there are few things better than leveraging the already-existing audience of a blog and channeling it to your own.

If you think in work-to-result ratios, then blog commenting probably tops the scale by a wide margin. A simple, short comment on a popular blog that took two minutes to write can get your blog quite a few visitors — especially if you employ the following techniques.

Yes, techniques. You can’t just post one-liners all over the blogosphere and expect people to click your links and check out your blog — it just doesn’t work that way. Reading and applying the following ten blog commenting tips, though, will help you get your comments read and your links clicked.

Let’s get started!

1. Comment On Relevant Blogs

This goes without saying. If your website is all about healthy eating, cars, or funny comics, you shouldn’t be commenting on a blog about the rises and falls in the stock market.

It never ceases to amaze me — so many would-be commenters on my blog want to tell me about garcinia cambogia, home decor, or real estate in South Dakota.

Guess what well-meaning-but-seriously-misguided-commentators — I’m not gonna publish those comments on an online marketing blog. Those comments won’t get approved in a thousand years.

But there’s another downside to commenting on blogs that don’t fit in your niche — whatever traffic you get (IF your comment gets approved and IF someone actually clicks on your link) is untargeted. Simply put, the visitor isn’t necessarily interested in what you offer. And those visitors will never convert or bring you revenue.

2. Comment On High Traffic Blogs

High Traffic Blogs
Image credit(s): Gerard Stolk via Flickr.

If only ten people end up reading the blog post you commented on, then there’s little/no chance that one of them will click on your name and visit your site.

On the other hand, if the blogs you comment on regularly get thousands pageviews per day (think ProBlogger, HubSpot, UnBounce, and the like), then you can expect a lot more traffic than the odd visitor here and there.

If nobody sees your comment, nobody clicks on your name.

Simple.

3. Comment On Blogs That Use The CommentLuv Plugin

CommentLuv is a nifty little WordPress plugin that automatically displays a commentator’s latest blog post. It takes the information from the “Website” field.

Through my own research, I’ve found that I can get 10-12x as much traffic when I add a thought to blogs that use commentluv.

CommentLuv has gotten to be rather popular with blogs, especially in the last year or so. It kills two birds with one stone — increases the number of comments, and rewards commentators, all at the same time.

If you’d like to use it on your own blog, it’s got a free and paid version you can use (the free version is more than enough).

Check out this case study on NetMarketSuccess on how a newbie blogger used CommentLuv-enabled blogs to increase his traffic by 8 times, and his number of inbound links by 12 times.

4. Be A Regular Face

Blog Commenting Tip
Image credit(s): EpsosDe via Flickr.

Even though you can probably get 10-20 visitors from a single comment on a popular blog, you can get a lot more from ten comments on the same blog.

Don’t just drop in, say hi, and leave. Stick around a while. Browse the blog’s archives, and comment on the posts that interest you.

Not only does this generate traffic to your blog, but it also builds a connection with the blog owner. You’ve taken time out of your busy day to read and add a thought to one of his/her blog posts (and there is absolutely nothing we bloggers like more than that).

Here’s another scenario — suppose that a random user has just finished reading a blog post. He sees your comment, but doesn’t click on your name.

But then, he follows an in-text link to another post on the blog, and again sees a comment from you. He has been exposed to your link twice (which results in a much higher click-through rate).

5. Get A Gravatar

Gravatar With Blog Comments
Screenshot @ Gravatar.com.

If you haven’t yet signed up for Gravatar yet and added your image, do so. Right now. Absolutely no excuses.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years and don’t know what Gravatar is (just kidding!), it’s basically a tool that displays your profile image on any WordPress-managed blog you comment on.

Pretty cool, right? I thought so.

Remember: faces and logos stand out a whole lot more than some lousy default icon. You can brand yourself, build blogger-to-blogger relationships, and increase traffic.

This blog commenting thing gets cooler all the time!

6. Get There First

Which comment do you usually read – the 1st, or the 51st?

The 1st? You got it.

On any and every blog post, the first comment ALWAYS gets the most visibility.

Only a small percentage read the comment section in any case. A lot smaller percentage actually scroll all the way down and read all the comments (including the 51st).

Getting their first and being the first one to add a comment to the blog will usually result in huge exposure for you and your blog.

To stay on top whenever a blog post gets published, subscribe to their RSS feed (nearly every blog worth commenting on will have an RSS feed).

7. Reply To The First Comment

Here’s a sneaky lil’ trick.

If, for some reason, you weren’t able to beat whats-his-name to the first comment space, then just reply to his comment.

Your comment will get just about the same visibility as the first commentator did.

However, this might not always work out so well, as some comments are really the type that can be replied to (think comments like “Great post!” or “I wish my blog could be more like yours!”).

Make sure that whatever you say when your reply actually says something. “Good comment!” doesn’t cut it. Oppose one of his thoughts (explain why he’s wrong), add to what he said (explain why he’s right), or answer his question.

8. Answer A Question

Answering a question is probably the greatest tip I could give you.

Answering someone else’s question puts you on the same level of knowledge as the blog owner.

For example, if someone needed to know something about SEO, and you stepped in and quickly answered his question, you’ve basically told everybody that you know the niche, which makes them a lot more likely to click your link, browse your blog, and subscribe to your newsletter.

For a bit more on answering questions in the comment section, check out this YouTube video by Ana Hoffman from Traffic Generation Cafe.

9. Add Some HTML In

Bolding (<strong>), italics (<em>), underlining (<span style=”text-decoration:underline;”>) and otherwise formatting your text goes a long way towards generating more traffic with your blog comments.

Formatted text always sticks out (which is why you’ve read all the bolded words on this page). If a viewer scrolls down the comment section, your comment is likely to catch his/her eye.

10. Remember: Long, Helpful Comments Always Get More Clicks

Period.

Blog commenting is great, but if you don’t have something to say, then don’t say anything.

If your comment doesn’t add value to the discussion, answer a question, or express appreciation for the post, then it doesn’t need to be (or shouldn’t) be there.

It’s the commentators who write lots, add value, and sincerely try to help who are the ones who end up leveraging the most traffic to their own blog (even if that wasn’t their primary motivation in the first place).

Summing Up

Blog commenting is a vastly underrated free traffic technique that (believe it or not) does work in 2015. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s easy.

In short, there’s no reason not to do it.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think of blog commenting as a traffic tool. Who knows? You might even get a few visitors back to your blog! 😉

7 Tweet Types To Get Your Business Noticed Among The Twitter Noise

Twitter Growth

There is a big difference between using Twitter for business and using Twitter for business effectively. In other words, you cannot expect to create a profile, send out a few tweets here and there, and gain a huge following. Despite the crazy growth of Twitter over the past couple of years, things just don’t work this way.

Do I really even need a Twitter account? There is no rule saying your business has to use this social media service. Neglecting to do so, however, could be costing you a lot of money.

Before we get into the seven tweet types you should be using, let’s take a closer look at a few stats that are sure to get you excited:

Are you beginning to get the point? Are you beginning to see that using Twitter for business is one of the best ways to connect with potential buyers?

Try these Tweet Types

Now that you know the stats and understand why you should be using Twitter, the time has come for you to formulate a strategy. This leads to one very important question: what types of tweets are you going to send out to followers? You don’t want to take a “scatter gun” approach, hoping that something eventually sticks.

Here are seven tweet types that allow you to better engage with followers, attract a new audience, increase interaction, and much more. And if you need a little motivation, we have included a tweet that fits the mold of each type.

Make an Announcement

Did you recently release a new product or service? Did you receive an award from an industry organization? Did you hire a key employee? Did you open a new office?

There are many types of announcements you can make, all of which will be of great interest to your audience.

 

Ask a Question

The more interaction you have with your audience the better. One of the best ways to promote this is by asking questions. For example, here are a few questions a clothing retailer could ask:

  • What is your favorite thing to wear during the winter months?
  • What was the last piece of clothes you purchased and why?
  • Can you share with us your favorite shopping experience?

These types of questions can go a long way in drumming up meaningful conversation. Not to mention the fact that they can help secure new customers.

 

State an Interesting Fact

There is nothing wrong with using Twitter as a teaching platform, especially if you have an interesting fact to share. This can be related to your business, your industry, or another generalized topic.

Just the same as asking a question, when you share interesting facts you can expect others to chime in. Again, anything that has the potential to stir up a conversation is worth tweeting to your audience.

Solve a Problem, Answer a Question

Do you ever take the time to read what your followers are saying? If not, you are missing out on a great opportunity to solve a problem or answer somebody’s question.

As your followers grow, so does the chance that you will come across somebody asking a question that you can answer. By doing so, this person is going to give you many thanks. On top of this, you are sure to stick in the back of their mind.

Promote a Blog Post

If you are the type who is using Twitter for business you are probably the type who realizes the benefits of maintaining a high quality corporate blog.

While you are sure to drum up interest for each blog post in a variety of ways, don’t overlook the benefits of tweeting the URL to your followers. This is a particularly good idea if past blog posts have been retweeted without your prompting.

Tip: there is nothing wrong with promoting a blog post, but you don’t want to take things too far. This is not something you want to do day in and day out, as your audience will eventually become “blind” to what you are saying.

Retweet a Follower

What are you going to do if you run out of things to say? Your brain won’t be empty forever, but there may be times when you don’t have anything of value to share with your audience.

This is when it makes good sense to retweet what others are saying. Here are some of the benefits:

  • It fills a void, allowing you to stay active without forcing a tweet that doesn’t fit
  • The person you retweet is going to be happy that you did so, as this helps them grow their Twitter presence
  • Increases the chance that the person will retweet one of your tweets in the future, even if it is only to return the favor

 

Tips, Tips, and more Tips

Your followers are following you for a reason: they value what you have to say. If you can share tips, even those that are far from earth shattering, you will be helping somebody out.

For example, the tweet below from the Food Network is a great example. Many people may already know this, but others are sure to find the information useful.

If you want to become an authority in your industry, it is essential to share tips and advice as often as possible.

 

Are you doing the Right Thing?

Even if you experiment with the seven tweet types detailed above, you may wonder if you are doing the right thing. Here are three ways to determine if your tweets are bringing value to your followers:

  • Are others retweeting what you have to say? If so, you know you are doing something right. Take note of which tweets are receiving the most retweets, and then focus more on these types in the future.
  • Your followers are responding to your tweets, especially when you ask a question. If your primary goal is to increase interaction, chart how many people respond to your tweets and what they have to say.
  • Did anybody like it enough to click “favorite?” Just the same as retweets and responses, when somebody “favorites” your tweet it shows that they really like what you had to say.

There used to be a time when many businesses did not fully understand the benefits of using Twitter. Guess what? Those days are long gone. In today’s world, if you aren’t using Twitter you are missing out on a big opportunity while probably losing ground to your competitors.

If the time has come for your business to take full advantage of Twitter, the seven tweet types detailed above will help you hit the ground running.