This guest post was written by Yoav Vilner of Ranky.
“Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”—Hellen Keller
If you are a genuine pro blogger, then I shouldn’t waste your time explaining just how important it is to co-operate with your competitors.
It’s been mentioned around here over and over, in so many different variations.
It’s crystal clear how beneficial a blogging alliance would be for you: you can grab your partner’s traffic, social followers and social signals in return for letting him or her borrow yours.
Sounds like a treat, doesn’t it?
But much like trying to produce a mega-successful content marketing campaign, most of us can see the benefits in doing it, yet can’t put our finger on just how to get there.
This tutorial won’t toss reckless slogans in the air; it will turn you into a partnership expert, and teach you how to ignite that one relationship that could change your blog forever.
We’re all human
Your first and most basic takeaway from this piece of content should be to understand that we’re all human.
I am not going to drive you into bugging big shots on Twitter just for the sake of equality, but try remembering that even Pete Cashmore started off as a one-man-with-a-laptop-show, blogging about his passion, before unleashing his brilliant networking skills and creating the empire known as Mashable.
So you might not see the point of re-tweeting his keynotes from where he’s standing now—you’ll just be another fish flapping around the gigantic ocean, right?
But just for fun, imagine if you offered him a fascinating opportunity for co-operation right before Mashable’s big breakthrough.
Imagine you’d messaged him when Mashable was still a medium-sized blog, seeing a mere 10,000 visitors a month, only to get the green light: “Sure man, let’s do this!”
Where would your blog be today?
Remember: don’t be afraid nor shy to address bloggers who you might think are bigger than you. Our blog has an overall of 12K adorable social followers; do you think that it could keep us from partnering with a blog that carries an audience a third of that size?
Hear ye, hear ye! I hereby deny the research phase of finding your future partner! Read all about it!
Logic says that if you are blogging right now, it’s probably because you have followed blogs for at least a year, and have developed an appetite for blogging.
You’ve done enough “researching” when Googling for popular blogs, finding the ones that captivated you and made you follow them on Twitter—or better yet, contained posts that you shared to your Facebook buddies and tried creating discussions about.
They taught you all you wanted to know about your niche, whether it be social media marketing or deer hunting, and made you dream about becoming a blogger yourself one day.
You can’t think of two or three blogs that captured you right from the start? Then I would suggest you hold on to your blogging dream for the moment, until you become a more active follower of the blogosphere.
After all, you wouldn’t go and open a restaurant if you’d never actually had dinner in one, right?
I’m not writing this tutorial for people who plan on sending 100′s of automated Emails to all the blogs in their niche, but to a lot more focused bloggers.
It takes two to tango
So you have in mind a few blogs that you fantasize about partnering with.
Now, most of the blogging alliance articles online consist of tips on how to address that future partner of yours.
I find them to be completely useless. We aren’t in second grade, and we don’t need anyone to teach us how to compose an email.
I can summarize 100,000 words that I’ve personally read about writing a winning email to these obvious pointers:
- Make it personal: no “Dear Sir\Madam.”
- Prove that you are an actual follower of the blog: state just what value the blog has provided you so far, and which articles within it actually made you think.
- Get to the point quickly: no story-telling!
- Remind the blogger that it takes two to tango, and both of you should benefit from the partnership.
I just saved you hours of reading these tips in many different variations. The truth is, you don’t even have to follow them! Just remember one simple rule: be honest.
In a world dominated by one search engine, we all know Google rewards bloggers for being honest with their readers, but tend to forget that actual people can reward us even more for keeping it real.
Points of partnership for a blog the same size as yours
So you emailed the blogs that you dream of partnering with, and one of them replied asking for more details.
Great! Already you have showed more progress than 80% of people who do it wrong and don’t get a single reply.
Now, you need to elaborate on what you had in mind. Let’s take a look at the most popular ways of co-operating with a blogger.
Writing content for each other
I’m going to start with the most obvious idea, just to get it out of the way.
Google wants to see that your site is ever-growing content wise. Meanwhile, we are all very busy, lazy, and constantly seeking inspiration, and that’s where some co-operation could help out.
Though writing your own stuff is the only way to earn your crowd’s trust, just imagine how great it could be to have your partner-blogger help you out with your writer’s block and the content gaps that appear when you’re not able to write for a few days.
He’ll write an article from his angle, and once it’s up he’ll promote it to his social followers for you.
Then, when he gets stuck the next time, you’ll help him out the same way.
Both of your blogs’ readers will appreciate the diversity—sometimes it’s quite refreshing to read someone else’s opinions when following a single-author blog.
While you use your content to brand yourself as an expert in the field, uploading articles to the partner’s blog will get your “brand” in front of a new group of readers.
After exposing them to your name for the first time, you’ll start writing for the other blog on a monthly basis, say, and they will slowly realize that you know what you are talking about.
We all need social signals on our articles.
They increase the chances of getting the post to go viral, they expose thousands of people to your headline and thus to your site, and in overall they just make your content seem more believable. (Would you believe an article that has been re-tweeted twice, or one that has been shared 200 times?)
Other than driving traffic, social signals have a direct affect on your site’s Google Authority, as Google started measuring these metrics in its algorithm.
If you have 2,000 social followers, and your future partner has 1,500 social followers, this would be a perfect case for a social alliance that will help you both cross the 3,000-4,000 line just by sharing each other’s stuff.
Assuming you both have social bookmarking profiles, use Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon to bookmark each other’s posts. Use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to share your partner’s articles to your own followers.
Not only will you help him reach more readers, but that way you can get his article to be indexed by Google much faster and help it rank higher for its keywords.
A bonus benefit of a social co-operation is that most of us share our own content 90% of the time, without realizing that a better practice would be showing our followers that we aren’t a bunch of boring narcissists—we are also open to other people’s opinions.
Remember: making your partner’s blog socially stronger will directly make your own blog stronger!
It’s not enough to socially adore your partner’s blog: it’s also important to light up discussions within it.
It takes only one real comment on a post to ignite a viral discussion, and agreeing that you will both start or contribute to discussions on your articles can do wonders for your blog’s traffic and engagement levels.
This is social proof at its finest.
If you’re traveling and you need to decide whether to have a coffee at the empty place in front of you, or the packed place next door, you will probably choose the one that has the crowd.
Customers bring more customers, and the same goes for comments.
Make a rule to leave a genuine comment on each new post your partner writes, and you will see the results for yourself.
This is my favorite idea, and it comes in two forms: backlinks and Thank you pages.
Backlinking to your partner’s relevant pages from within your new articles can do wonders for their Google rankings, and you can also benefit when they return a link.
Just remember to keep it clean and natural, as Google’s Penguin update from last August has massively increased the search engine’s ability to identify unnatural and low-quality reciprocal linking patterns.
The other kind of mentions that I like are those that come through Thank you pages.
Your readers get (or at least should get) to a Thank you page after they register, login, subscribe to your newsletter, or perform any other desired goal.
Imagine how beneficial it could be for you and your partner if you mentioned each other’s blogs as a recommendation each time a user completes such a goal.
Points of partnership for a blog that’s bigger than yours
Blogs that are at a higher traffic level than yours will likely need a lot more convincing to agree to an alliance offer.
After all, if you’ll be tweeting their content to 1,000 followers, while they’re tweeting yours to 30,000 followers, it can be difficult to see what they’ll get out of the partnership.
It’s important that your points of partnership are unique, as the bigger a blog gets, the more similar requests its owner will get per day.
Offering a free service
Do you have expertise besides blogging? Great!
Use that expertise to offer the bigger blog free services in exchange for a blog partnership.
You will naturally have to donate more time and effort at the start of the partnership, but when you’re calculating long-term ROI, both sides can gain much from this alliance.
Are you a graphic designer? Throw in a few free graphics to save the partner’s cash when they’re designing their next landing page. You know solid SEO? Awesome: make them a nice SEO report for their site at no charge.
The list goes on: you could be a social media expert, a mobile App developer, or even a t-shirt provider.
The bigger your partner blog is, the more you should be willing to provide at no cost in return for an alliance.
Volunteer to be the blog’s editorial assistant
If you got a reply from a blog that’s significantly bigger than yours, you might want to consider volunteering as an editorial assistant.
If they go for it, you will save the blogger a load of time answering to guest post requests, editorial emails and different kinds of inquiries. You can be the one answering all the guest posters, supplying them with the guidelines, and making sure their submissions are up to par before passing them to the editor.
So you’ve started co-operating with another blog, and you’re doing great. You get twice as many social signals, your traffic has jumped and your brand is growing beyond your wildest dreams.
The good news is that it doesn’t end here.
Life is unpredictable, and you could end up running into amazing business opportunities just by forming a simple online alliance.
If you and your partner come up with a really creative partnership or a mutual product co-operation, it could be so newsworthy that it gets picked up by major news outlets in your niche—and that’s when you’ll see some serious traffic spikes.
If you and your partner blogger are both social media experts, and your alliance has earned you both more business leads, you might come to the conclusion that there’s something to it, and start a new business as real-life partners.
If you have been volunteering as an editorial assistant for a massive blog for a few months, gained their trust, and shown that your own blog is also growing, your blog might be acquired by theirs—giving you the chance to earn more money from the deal than you ever imagined.
Last but not least, partnering with a blogger can earn you what money will never buy—a new best friend.
Have you got a blogging partner? Tell us how you work together in the comments.
Guest post was written by Yoav Vilner, co-founder of Ranky.