In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a guest blogging mission lately. My buddy Ken Jones has playfully dubbed it the ‘James Duthie world tour’. And while the frenzied tour hasn’t finished just yet, I thought I’d pause for a moment to explain the reasons why I’m intent on invading as many digital marketing blogs as possible. As it turns out, I couldn’t fit that explanation into a single post. So over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be publishing a series of posts outlining the benefits of guest blogging, including real data from my experiences. So… without further adieu, I interrupt my guest blogging schedule to discuss… guest blogging.
The motivations for launching into my guest blogging world tour were threefold:
- To attract new readers
- The improve organic rankings (SEO)
- To enhance my personal network
Each motivation will form the subject of a post in this guest blogging series. Today, I’ll talk about the first motivation – to attract new readers to my blog.
The principle is simple really. My blog is relatively new and has a limited reach. Other digital marketing blogs have an established audience. By contributing to industry related blogs, I put my work in front of a new audience. I create an opportunity to impress that audience and entice them across to read more of my work. But more importantly, I’m reaching out directly to my target audience.
Established digital marketing blogs have hundreds/thousands of subscribers… and that’s my ultimate target market – people who already subscribe to digital marketing blogs. Sure… social media can get my work in front of plenty of eyeballs (and certainly serves a purpose for newbies), but are StumbleUpon users the type to subscribe to my blog? I’m not sure… but the visitor to subscriber conversion rate I’ve experienced wouldn’t suggest so.
If my blog is to grow, I need loyal readers. I need people who will contribute to discussions. I need people who will help promote my content. Guest blogging provides an opportunity to reach out to the type of people who already do these things on other digital marketing blogs. Jackpot!
Overcoming selfish & short sighted tendencies
Perhaps the greatest road block to conquer before committing to guest blogging is the selfish desire to ‘own’ your traffic. When you donate a post to another blog, you’re not only donating your written words/ideas, but also any traffic that it generates. If the article goes hot in the social media circles, your host will be the beneficiary of the traffic surge, not you. Sure… you’ll get credit as the author, but you won’t get the traffic. This is an extremely hard concept for some people to deal with!
Ultimately however, dwelling on lost traffic is an extremely short sighted view to take. Every day, companies around the world give away free product samples. Why? Because they’re targeting new customers. Next time you’re at a magazine stand, take a look at the magazines targeting females between the ages of 16-25. You’ll find all sorts of free giveaways including CD’s, cosmetics, perfume samples, hair brushes etc. These companies are sacrificing product costs with the long term view of increasing sales. The same mentality needs to be adopted with guest blogging. Your written work is your product. And when you’re new to the game, you need to give up something to attract customers. For retailer’s its free product. For bloggers it’s traffic. Deal with it.
The traffic effect during my guest blogging bonanza
When it came down to my own world tour, I was prepared to take a big traffic hit in order to reach new readers. I’m certainly not the most frequent of bloggers. I aim to publish two new posts a week. Sometimes I don’t even hit that mark. In the last month I have published eight new posts. Four of those were guest posts on industry blogs. I gave away exactly half of my work. So it’s reasonable to suspect that my traffic would take a big dive. Yet it didn’t. Here’s the monthly traffic for my blog this year:
Despite publishing only 4 articles on my own blog in June, my traffic dropped by just a couple of hundred visitors. Compare that to April, a month in which my productivity was affected by illness. I published five articles in April and you can see the subsequent dip.
It’s a little too early to determine if the effect is long-term, but my guest blogging bonanza has coincided with a boost in readership and social media support. I am getting far more readers for the posts that are hosted on my blog. I can only presume this is a result of my work reaching a wider audience (and the networking effect – which I will discuss in the third part of this series).
But what about subscribers…?
Ok. So the guest blogging seems to have been fairly successful so far in attracting new readers. But… the million dollar question is whether they converted to subscribers…? After all… the point of guest blogging was to target loyal readers. Let’s find out. My subscriber growth rate is shown below:
Hmmm… there seems to be a definite jump in the subscriber count to coincide with the guest blogging world tour throughout June. Again, it’s far too early to determine whether the new subscribers will actually turn out to be loyal readers. There does seem to be a dip shortly after each guest post induced spike. But the upward trend is encouraging. Perhaps I need to do another post in a couple of months time to analyse whether the momentum is maintained after the guest blogging slows down…
It probably is far too early to be drawing conclusions, despite the positive signs.
Choosing blogs to contribute to
As a final word, it would be remiss not to mention the importance of choosing the blogs to guest post on. Guest blogging should be a win-win situation. You should benefit by reaching a new audience, and your blogging host should benefit by being temporarily relieved of the ongoing burden of writing new posts. Your key criteria when selecting a blog should be:
- A blog with a well established reader and traffic base
- A blog with an audience that isn’t aware of your work. Remember your objective is to reach new readers.
I employed a targeted networking process to identify potential guest blogging partners and secure my guest post opportunities. This process worked well enough to land me gigs on respected industry blogs including SEO Scoop, Huomah, Social Desire & TheVanBlog. Darren Rowse also provides good advice on how to get guest blogging jobs. Regardless of the process you implement, my words of advice are simple – choose wisely. Your choice will affect your ability to find new readers for your blog. And for most of us, that is our primary objective!