Stop Being a Lazy Guest Blogger in 3 Steps

This guest post is by Kelsey Meyer of Digital Talent Agents.

You’ve finally made it big! The Washington Post or SocialTimes has picked up your well-crafted, thought-provoking article, and you see your name in shining lights (or at least in the author byline).

Is your job done? No way.

Now is the time for you to stop gloating and get to work. Getting a great article published in a reputable publication is only half the battle; if you stop there, you are not only being disrespectful to your readers, you are doing yourself and your brand a disservice.

Here are three ways to follow through on an article that has been published.

1. Promote conversation

If you’ve written an interesting piece and had it published on a site with a decent readership, your article will likely attract a few comments. Some of these comments will be positive, and you should spend time and real effort reading these and thanking the people who wrote them. Don’t just thank them, but comment on what they liked within the article and expand on it—if they liked what you gave them to start, give them more!

You’ll also run into people who don’t care for your article. They may even hate it. Address these people as well, no matter how much you may want to ignore them. Don’t tell them they’re stupid for disagreeing with your article or that you hate them. Instead, a more mature tactic is to welcome their viewpoints and try to address anything they may have misunderstood about your article.

Addressing comments, both good and bad, promotes conversation and engages your readers on a deeper level. Guest bloggers who can take it just as well as they can dish it out are golden. A great example of this is an article one of my company’s clients, which was published on Under 30 CEO. My client had readers who agreed and others who disagreed, but he responded to every comment and it sparked great conversation.

2. Thank your sharers

It’s a great ego boost when you see that your article has drawn over 100 tweets. You get all warm and fuzzy inside, and you may even mention it to your co-workers.

Now it’s time to make those who shared your article feel just as special. There’s a great tool at your disposal, called Who ReTweeted Me, which you can use to see exactly who tweeted your article and easily thank them.

This way, you’ll make new friends on Twitter and encourage people to continue sharing your content. Everyone likes to feel acknowledged—you’re living proof!

3. Make sure the link ranks for your name

If you’re the author of a great article, you should be credited. Most publications will insert a link back to your website or your social media accounts in the author byline so readers can find out more about you.

Go one better: sign up for and include the link to the article in your optimized links. That one small move will help the article rank higher in Google search results for your name. is a free service, so there’s no excuse not to sign up and start making the most of your posts.

Get more exposure for each post

Take these three steps after each of your articles is published, and you will gain more exposure with each one. You’ll also engage your community and up your attractiveness to publications looking for guest contributors. And what’s more appealing to a guest blogger than another opportunity to blog?

Kelsey Meyer is the VP of Digital Talent Agents, an online PR firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, authors, consultants, corporate leaders and experts establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.

How to Create Contests that Increase Engagement

This guest post is by Jeremy Statton of

Contests are an effective way to increase activity. Most websites run one of some type. If you haven’t, you should. Nothing attracts a crowd like the possibility of winning something for free.

But the standard contest that provides a free “prize” for those who enter may not be the best way to get your readers more involved.

That approach reminds me of credit card companies that throng college campuses in the fall hoping to get students to sign up by offering them a free T-shirt. Initially enthusiasm is high, but over time, your readers will get used to it. A T-shirt will never be more than a T-shirt, free or not.

What’s your goal?

The primary goal of our websites is to build an online community. A tribe. A group of people who share common interests and then interact with each other.

Increased traffic might be fun to see, but increased engagement is better. I would trade ten new readers who participate on regular basis than 100 people who have only signed up for a chance at free stuff.

These engaged readers are the ones who can help you find others who will benefit from your community. They are the ones who will keep showing up even after your content suffers from a bad day. They are the ones who will remained subscribed even after they receive their free gift.

A way to develop this type of reader involvement is to design a contest that reflects this goal. Instead of just giving stuff away, we need a contest that gets our readers more involved.

A new type of contest

My site is about living better stories. My readers and I encourage each other to step away from what most would call a normal life and step into a life full of risk, obstacles, and personal transformation. Instead of choosing comfort and ease, we have decided to make a difference.

As I interacted with my community, I discovered that many of them were already doing just that. I started asking questions, and the answers I heard were amazing.

So the “Secretly Incredible You” contest was born.

I asked my readers to submit the stories of people who are living these secretly incredible lives. It could be themselves or someone they know. The winners are featured in a blog post each Friday. At the end of 20 stories, I will collect them to make a book which will be printed and distributed to each winner.

The best part of this contest is that everybody wins. I get an incredible post and reach new readers each week. The winner is featured on my blog and has their story told.

How to create your own contest of engagement

If you want to create a similar contest for your site, here are four things to consider.

1. Reveal hidden treasure

The key to this type of contest is to discover what your readers are already doing that everybody else would be interested in. Find the place where your theme and their awesomeness intersect. My site encourages stories. A tech site might feature a best widget contest. A photography site could hold a contest with a different theme each week.

It doesn’t matter what it is. Find the hidden treasure and then give people a chance to show off.

2. Display the work

For traditional contests to work, you give out free stuff. But with this type of contest, instead of giving people stuff, give your readers the opportunity to show off their work on your platform. Since it feels and looks like a contest, they will do their best work with the hope of winning. And then they will give that work to you to display to the world.

By giving others a chance to show off their work, you can develop even better content then what you already have.

3. Make it regular

Your body suffers when certain necessities are not met with regularity. The contest is no different. Your tribe needs that same schedule. Instead of making the contest a one time event, consider doing it weekly or monthly. And then keep it running.

By declaring winners on a regular basis, you will create a sense of anticipation that keeps others coming back for more.

4. Reward winners even more

Go beyond featuring the winners on a blog post. Include them in something bigger as well. For my contest, I will put each post in a book and then have the book printed. I plan on sending the book out to each winner.

Give the winners something more than an opportunity to display their work.

Create contests that add value

The type of contest is a chance to not only bring new members to your tribe, but to also add value to your currents readers experience and increase user engagement.

Have you run a contest that increased engagement? Tell us about it in the comments.

Jeremy Statton is an orthopedic surgeon and a writer. When not ridding the world of pain he helps others live a better story. You can follow him on his blog or Twitter.

The Barnum & Bailey Guide to Internet Marketing

This guest post is by Steven A. Lowe of Innovator Consulting and Custom Software Development.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”—P. T. Barnum *Note.

“They apparently all have Internet access.”—S. A. Lowe

Rubix D. Newby—Rube to his friends—left the family farm to strike it rich in the Big City. On the road he happened upon a garish collection of tents and lights.

A circus!

But not just any old circus, this was the famous Internet Marketing Circus. He scurried towards the gate. Fishing in his pocket, he wondered if he had enough money to get inside.

An old man by the gate whispered “No money required to get in, son, but best keep a hand in your pocket anyway.” The T-shirt he was wearing was faded and barely legible. “The Secret is Free,” it said.

The barker in front of the gate was wearing a black tuxedo with tails and a top hat. The top hat jiggled back and forth as the barker shouted into a megaphone.

“Step right up folks, and be amazed!” he cried. “Ladies, and gentlemen, young and old, draw near and listen as the story unfolds! Opportunities for riches beyond your wildest dreams await you online through Internet Marketing schemes! So step inside, where gurus and ninjas await! With secrets and contraptions that will never abate! With these treasures and tricks you can build a fortune online! No effort! No labor! All in your spare time!”

The barker pointed his megaphone right at Rube. “The sky’s the limit on how much money you earn, but what is the limit on the time you can burn? So step right up, and go on in, it’s not MLM so you don’t even need to bring a friend!”

Rube flowed with the crowd through the gate, mesmerized by the bouquet of booths, tents, rides, barkers, hawkers, carnies, signs, lights, sounds, smells, and promises inside. “Where to begin!?” he thought.

While Rube was gawking at the spectacle, a furtive young man dressed all in black and wearing a strange sword caught his attention. “Psst!” said the young man, “Have I got a deal for you!”

“Oh?” said Rube. “What is it?”

“Why, it’s a push-button cash machine niche site generator!” he said.

“Oh?” said Rube. “What good is that?”

“What good is it?” asked the man. “Why, it’s my own secret ninja guru formula and system guaranteed to bring you unlimited cash flow, practically overnight!”

“How interesting,” said Rube. “What do I have to do to make it work?”

“That’s the beauty of it!” said the man. “You just pick a niche by following my simple yet comprehensive formula, using a few tools that I conveniently provide for a small fee, then just push a button to automagically generate a web site that starts making you money instantly! And for a limited time, I am willing to sell this to you and only you for $97!”

Rube knew he didn’t have $97. “Not interested,” he said, and started to walk away.

“Wait!” the man said. “Just because I like you and don’t want you to miss out on this spectacular opportunity, you can have it for $7!”

Rube stepped in something. “Must be elephants around here,” he thought.

Rube laughed. “Mister, if I had a magic cash machine I wouldn’t sell it for any price, I’d just push that button over and over and over!”

The man suddenly vanished into the crowd. Rube had a sneaking suspicion and reached into his pocket. One of his dollars had gone missing.

“What a strange fellow,” thought Rube, wiping off his shoes in the straw.

Rube noticed a crowd gathering around a man wearing a suit covered in neon dollar signs, gesturing at a large circular device. He shook the straw off of his feet and shuffled over to the back of the crowd.

Article marketing is the true secret sauce for building authority!” the man shouted through a megaphone. “A thousand articles on ten thousand sites and you’ll be an authority practically overnight!”

“That sounds like a lot of work,” Rube yelled over everyone’s heads.

“Ah, my friend,” replied the man, pushing through the crowd, “ordinarily it would be!” He draped one arm around Rube’s shoulders, and steered him towards the strange device. “But not if you have this magical Spinner! Care to give it a try? Five spins for a dollar! Lifetime use for only $97! Step up and speak a few words into the magic funnel.”

“Well, okay, I’ll try it,” said Rube. He gave the man a dollar, and considered what to say. “The effect is amazing!” he said.

The machine whirred and spun and spouted great gouts of flame and billows of smoke, then intoned “The outcome is astounding!” “The consequence is impressive!” “Extraordinary is the result!” “Amazed by the effect, you will be!” “Become awestruck by substantial ramifications!”

The spinning and the smoke made Rube a bit nauseous. He was glad he only paid for five spins, as they were starting to sound rather silly.

Rube thanked the man and wandered away. Soon he noticed another barker in front of a dark tent. The man was dressed up like a spider.

“Master the web! Feel important! Instant authority!” hollered the spider-barker. “Superstar rankings! Fully automated mega backlink generation!” he continued.

Rube still felt a bit ill from the spinning, and was becoming somewhat disenchanted with the circus. But, he still had one dollar. “Surely one of these things has got to work,” he thought.

“I could use some instant authority,” said Rube, and handed the spider-barker his last dollar.

“Excellent choice, son,” said the barker. “Nothing builds authority faster than a thousand carefully-chosen backlinks! Just take the lighted path to the center of the tent, and prepare to be amazed!”

Rube stepped through the entry way and followed a dimly-lit path to the center of the tent. A spotlight snapped on as he stepped up on a small pedestal.

“Speak your mind, and let your authority be recognized!” intoned a disembodied voice.

Rube thought for a moment, and then said, “Farming is hard work!”

A fanfare of music swelled, and the lights started to rise. Rube saw that he was surrounded by bleachers, but they were empty.

As the illumination increased, Rube heard the screech of rusty gears, and noticed an odd bellows-like machine at the top of the tent. “Commencing generation of massive authority-building backlinks!” shouted the voice. The machine sprayed something onto the bleachers with a loud Hroof! and a Hurrrm!

Now the bleachers were no longer empty, but were covered in …ants! There were thousands of them, arrayed around him in neat concentric circles.

As the lights reached full glare, the screeching stopped and all was quiet. Suddenly, all of the ants pointed at him and whispered, “Farming is hard work!”

This did make Rube feel important—for a moment. “But they are just ants,” he thought. “And they seem to be dead.” He was very disappointed, and headed directly for the exit. He crunched over a few hundred ants on the way out.

“This circus is not fun,” Rube thought. “And now I’m broke. Might as well go back to the farm.” He dejectedly shuffled back towards the gate.

“I guess I’m not cut out for this Internet Marketing thing,’ he ruminated. “It’s too complicated, and costs too much money—and seems to be run by some very strange people!”

Lost in thought, he stumbled into a sign that had only two words: “Simple Truth.” The sign was in front of a plain table with two chairs. Sitting in one of the chairs was the old man from the gate, except now his T-shirt read: “There is no ninja sauce”. The old man gestured at Rube to take a seat.

“I got no more dollars,” Rube told the old man.

“Don’t need ‘em,” he replied.

“Then what do you want?” asked Rube.

“I want you to succeed,” he said. “Have a seat.”

Rube sat. The old man continued, “So, your money’s gone, is it? Went broke fast trying to get rich quick, eh?”

“Yeah. I guess I don’t understand this stuff; best give up,” Rube said.

“There is another way,” the old man said. “It’s not flashy, it’s not sexy, it’s not overnight, and it’s not a fully-automated push-button solution guaranteed to bring you loads of cash on autopilot while you sleep for only $97 per month. But it always works, and it costs nothing but time—and motivation. Oh sure, you can accelerate the process some if you spend wisely, but the knowledge and tools are essentially free.”

“What is it?” asked Rube.

The old man chuckled. “It’s called ‘Getting Educated’. Learn the fundamentals. Internet marketing is not about tricks and gimmicks, it’s about serving people. It’s about relating to prospects and customers online the same way you would relate to them in person. That means finding them, listening to them, and caring about them. That means creating the most valuable content or product that you can, tracking and refining your methods, and never stopping learning. It’s about real marketing, not trickery. And it works every time.”

“Where do I go to do that?” asked Rube.

“Well, there are a few good places, and in time you should visit them all,” he said. “I suggest learning about blogging, especially content marketing, then perhaps social media, how search engines work, and copywriting, for starters.”

“But wouldn’t these whizz-bang doohickeys be faster and easier?” asked Rube.

“If they actually worked, they might be,” the old man said. “If they added value instead of noise, they might be. If they solved problems for people instead of gaming the system, they might be. If they provided lasting value instead of temporary gimmicks, they might be. Now, suppose you bought one, and that it worked for a while and then stopped; how would you fix it?”

“I don’t know,” replied Rube.

“That’s right. You wouldn’t know how to fix it. And if it didn’t work to start with, you wouldn’t know why. So you would be depending entirely on something you don’t understand, that may be of dubious construction and quality. Does that sound like a good business model?”

“Well, no,” said Rube, “of course not.”

“Right,” said the old man. “You’ve got to learn to earn. You got to give to get. That’s the way of the world. The Internet is no different.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a try!” said Rube.

“You do that,” the old man said. “And remember what you learned on the farm—prepare the soil, plant the seeds, tend the crops, and be patient. You can only reap what you sow, you know.”

Rube stood up to leave. “Thank you. Anything else I should keep in mind?” he asked.

“Yes,” the old man said, and handed Rube a tattered card. It read:

Rube put the card in his pocket, and found he was once again alone on the road to the Big City. But now he walked on with a confident smile.

Steven A. Lowe knows 101 Ways to Land More Business Using Landing Pages. When he’s not studying marketing and copywriting or reading, he runs Innovator LLC, which specializes in innovative consulting and custom software development.

Book Review: Marketing In the Round

Not long ago we published the post 5 Ways Blogging Supports a Multichannel Marketing Strategy by Geoff Livingston. Geoff’s one of the authors of Marketing in the Round, How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era.

Written with Gini Dietrich, Marketing in the Round is a marketing strategy book, designed primarily for large organisations that have multiple roles within the marketing and communications functions.

So as I began reading, I wondered: what would this book offer to solo or small-team bloggers like us?

Structure and contents

The book’s set out in three parts:

  • Understand the marketing round and develop your strategy
  • Four marketing round approaches
  • Measurement, refinement, and improvement.
  • Each chapter in part two is laced with examples of integrated strategies used by real organisations, online and off, all with mulitmillion-dollar turnovers. Presenting actual case information to exemplify the points that have been made in the first section of the book, and to really show how integrated marketing works, and what impacts it in the real world, is an excellent way to get readers’ heads around the information.

    Each chapter of the book finishes with an “Exercises” section that gives the reader practical starting points to act on the advice that’s presented in that chapter. The exercises can, at times, seem a bit simplistic but they are an excellent way to help readers take the high-level conceptual advice from each chapter and make it truly workable.

    The book does assume some knowledge, too—that readers have some understanding of pure marketing concepts, but also that they have some idea of how marketing teams function in large organizations, and the different disciplines represented by team members can work together. If you lack this understanding, Marketing in the Round may be a bit bewildering at first.

    That said, the case examples in the second part of the book should still prove useful and informative regardless of your level of experience with in the field.

    What’s in it for you?

    Despite the book’s targeting, bloggers can get a lot out of this title—if they’re prepared to read, digest, and consider.

    The book shows us:

    • what integrated marketing is in concept and practice
    • how it can be used to build a brand
    • what elements can impact on the strategy’s success
    • how to create an integrated marketing strategy
    • how to execute, measure, and refine that strategy.

    The benefit of the book’s focus on multidisciplinary teams is, I think, something of an advantage for solopreneur readers.

    Firstly, it addresses the issues of integration that arise when different people do different tasks. As a solo or small team blogger, you have to wear multiple hats on any given day—or indeed in any given moment.

    Stepping back and considering those roles (within the marketing and promotions effort) individually can help you to get perspective on what it is you’re doing. If you can understand how a team might use the marketing round to create an integrated campaign, you’ll be in a strong position to successfuly be your own marketing round.

    Secondly, the challenges of creating integrated campaigns using multiple tactics, executions, media and people over an extended period is probably the trickiest scenario in which to create an integrated campaign. At least if, as a blogger, you need to do everything (or most things) yourself, you’ll have a good feel for where the different components of your integrated marketing effort are at.

    I tend to think that learning from the most-difficult-case archetype is a good way to get your head around detailed technical concepts. If you can master the most difficult case, you’ll be one (or more) steps ahead when it comes to easier ones. Also, a book that discussed integrated marketing for bloggers would most certainly not cover the depth or breadth of information that this book presents.

    Yes, you’ll have to think about the material and discern what might or might not work for you—what’s applicable and what’s not. But the fact that it’s all there means you get to make those calls based on your skills, blog, audience, market, and personality. You’re not relying on the author to make those choices for you, and hope that their selection matches your needs.

    Finally, by understanding the biggest possible integrated marketing picture, you’ll be fully informed when it comes to critically assessing the work of those in your niche, whether they’re big brands or small, and to formulating your own integrated strategy for your brand.

    If you want to get smarter about your marketing, and think strategically about how you can get more out of the tactics you’re using, Marketing in the Round is a great place to start. For more information on the book, visit

What’s the “Right” Kind of Blog Traffic?

As I was reviewing my analytics this week, it struck me that the universal desire for basically all of us is to grow traffic.

We’d all like more traffic, all of the time.

Having that goal in mind drives more than a few bloggers to try black-hat techniques, or to bend the rules here and there.

Those with a longer term focus are usually more interested in slower, more lasting traffic-building techniques. They’re also aware that traffic isn’t just traffic—the traffic you want to come to your blog has certain characteristics.

The visitors you’re after are part of a certain group or audience united by interests, location, opinions, desires, and/or some other characteristics.

But sometimes really honing in on those qualities can be difficult—even if you have a clear idea of your ideal reader, and you’ve created a persona to reflect that.

So let’s look at what makes “good” traffic—the “right” kind of traffic for your blog.

It’s qualified

The right traffic meets certain criteria that your blog or content requires of it.

Those criteria might be personal (e.g. you’re targeting women, so you buy advertising space on a popular women’s interest site) or behavioural (e.g. you’re targeting golfers who want to improve their game, so you begin to participate in a pro golf tips forum).

By qualifying your traffic, you’re making sure that these new readers have a need that is met obviously and completely by your blog.

In basic traffic terms, this is why, for example, you target niche-related keywords with quality content rather than buying a typo domain and just sticking ads on it. Both options attract traffic, but only one of them actually meets the needs of the people who visit.

It’s invested

The right traffic has already shown a strong tendency to do what you want.

These people are invested in your niche—and their own needs within that space. You might target traffic that has already bought, signed up, commented, or pursued knowledge elsewhere in your market.

This is why you prefer to guest post or advertise on well-known blogs with loyal followings, rather than new blogs without a proven audience track record.

While there’s nothing wrong with guest posting on the newer blog, you’ll have more certainty that any traffic your blog receives from the more established and respected sites—which have large subscriber lists and sell products—is more likely to be willing to complete similar behaviours on your blog.

It’s like-minded

The right traffic has key values that are closely aligned with those of your brand.

If your blog is to hit a deep chord with readers, it needs to project the values they hold dear. The more readers see themselves in your blog’s brand, the more loyal they’re likely to become, and the more sharing and word-of-mouth promotion they’ll do.

If your content resonates with the wrong kinds of people, they’ll be promoting your site to their peers—who are likely to be more of the wrong kinds of people. Over time this can really take your blog in the wrong direction.

This is why you’re selective about the social media contacts you respond to, the off-blog discussions you engage in, the comments you delete from your blog, the outlets you allow to join your affiliate programs, the keywords you target, and so on.

It’s connected

The right traffic exhibits strong sharing activity, either online or off.

Not all blogs target readers who use social media. But the right kind of traffic is made up of users who are proactive about recommending your blog when the need arises.

They may not be what we like to think of as top-level “influencers” on Facebook, but they value the opportunity to share good things with the people they know and care about.

This is why you encourage readers to share your content with peers—via share buttons, an email-this-article button, or offline promotions that encourage word of mouth—and why you proactively and generously share your expertise yourself.

Is this traffic right for you?

When I’m looking at promoting my blog, these are the kinds of things I consider. Those assessments aren’t always conscious—often they’re subconscious—but they do motivate me to make certain decisions about traffic-generation opportunities.

What other factors do you consider when you’re targeting traffic sources? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes the “right” kind of traffic in the comments.

7 Powerful Ways to Promote Your Blog Offline

This guest post is by Jennifer Michelle of Jennifer Michelle Communications.

Online marketing is a great way to grow your blog—but it’s not the only way. Traditional marketing methods can also be used to promote your blog and develop your readership. Here are seven ideas to get you started.

1. Get in the press

In the world of professional blogging, so much emphasis is placed on guest posting that it can be easy to overlook its predecessor—traditional media.

Yes, you can reach a large audience with a well-placed guest post, but you can do the same with an article in your local newspaper. Call the editor and offer to write an article for them, in exchange for a mention of your website in your byline.

“But wait,” I can hear you saying, “if they read me in the paper they won’t be able to click and visit my site.” That’s right, but they can type it into their smartphone or look you up when they get to the office.

Instant clickability isn’t always the goal—strive for memorability, instead.

When you write a solid piece for the press, you are instantly perceived as an expert. If your article is any good (and your blogging experience gives you the writing ability to ensure that it will be), people will remember it—and they’ll keep you in mind.

Media isn’t just print, though. Not by a long shot. Try radio. There are thousands of talk shows out there in the offline world. Research them. Search on talk radio shows in your topic area and pitch yourself as a guest. Do the same with magazines and television—offer your services as a source, an author, or a guest to be interviewed.

This is, in fact, the tactic I employed when starting my latest blog, Jennifer Michelle Communications. I contacted my state newspaper to pitch the topic, “Websites on a Shoestring,” and spoke with the business editor. He suggested I send him an article to review. That piece will be appearing in print next month.

I had similar success with talk radio. Using my years of blogging to craft a great headline, I made a quick ad on my topic and emailed it to several talk radio show producers. The ad consisted of a headline, a bulleted list of tantalizingly-written talking points, my credentials, and contact information.

The result? Biz Talk with Josh, a CBS station in the Washington, DC region, contacted me to have me as back up for a guest that seemed poised to do a no-show. When, as it turned out, they didn’t need me, they rescheduled me for July.

That kind of thing happens a lot when you’re working with the media, so always tell producers and reporters that they can call you at the last minute.

2. Teach a class

I know you’re used to thinking in terms of webinars, but I mean an actual class.

Take a minute to review your most popular posts. The odds are they could convert easily into intriguing class topics. Or consider your subject as a whole and teach a class relating to that. Sensual University does this with yoga and dance classes. Her message is all about the beauty and sensuality of life (a huge and varied subject in itself), but it’s through her yoga and dance classes that she pulls in new readers. When her students discover her unique, sensual approach to movement, they are eager to find out more.

The trick is to find the right venue for your topic—and your schedule. Ask yourself, are you able to teach a ten-week course or are you looking to do a one-off? Do you want to give a half-day seminar or are you thinking you’ll only need an hour? Community colleges are frequently looking for new classes, so if you’re up for a longer time commitment, give them a call.

Just want to teach for an hour or two? Then see who offers workshops in your area. Libraries are a great place to start, as they often have lecture series. Or try the Rotary club and get on their calendar.

Depending on your niche, there may be quite a lot of possibilities. For instance, if you blog on cooking, you may be able to teach a class at the local health food store.

Whatever you do, give your students print-outs of one or two of your most relevant posts—and be sure it gives your website and contact information.

3. Give an award

There’s nothing like staging an event to attract attention. Better still, when the event is an award that you are presenting, you are instantly considered an authority in your field.

There are lots of ways to go about this. You can take nominations or simply name a winner. You can announce it with a press release, or throw a big bash.

You want the award to represent your brand—ideally, it will become an annual event—so choose wisely. Make it something with broad appeal in your niche, yet something that’s intriguing enough to attract some attention.

Cupcakes Take the Cake has launched a new award this year honoring the best professional and amateur cupcake bakers. They even have a category for best cupcake video! What could be more fun than that?

The press possibilities are endless—just think of how many local newspapers will be thrilled to print that one of their local bakers won Best Cupcake Baker in their city! Every time they mention the award, they’ll mention who presented it—and that spreads the word about your blog.

4. Hand out your business card

It’s amazing how often bloggers will overlook the need for business cards, especially if their topic has limited relevance in their locale.

The thing to remember, though, is that you never know who you are going to meet—and you never know who they will know.

There’s also just something about having your business card in hand that makes you suddenly see thousands of opportunities for telling people about your blog.

When you design your card, be sure to include your logo, tagline, and all your contact information. For more, see this article about what to put on a blogger business card.

And if you want some great examples, check out MomComm’s blogger business card showcase.

Attend a conference for pro bloggers

Sometimes your online and offline worlds converge beautifully—and never moreso than at a conference dedicated to the needs of professional bloggers.

Email isn’t the only way to get a gig guest posting on your favorite blog. How about raising the possibility over drinks at a cocktail party? Or what about going out to lunch with your favorite bloggers and brainstorming ways you could work together?

Just because the end goal is an online event doesn’t mean offline marketing strategies aren’t the best way to get you there.

That’s what blogger conventions are all about—forging networks and creating partnerships (not to mention making some great friends).

Your goal offline should be the same as your goal online: to be as helpful and useful as possible in whatever partnership idea you propose. Help your fellow bloggers get where they want to go and they’ll be sure to remember you—and want to work with you again.

While you’re networking, be careful not to focus too heavily on the most famous bloggers in your niche. Partnering with mid-level bloggers is not to be ignored—they have devoted subscriber lists, too.

SXSW and Blog World Expo are two of the biggest blog events, and of course there’s also the Melbourne ProBlogger Event.

General blogging events aren’t the only way to go, either, so spend some time searching for events targeting bloggers in your niche, like this Wine Bloggers Conference.

6. Attend a conference that’s not targeted to bloggers

If you want to find your readers, niche conferences are the place to look.

They are also an amazing source for new ideas. A couple of days talking with your target demographic and you’ll walk away with a list of new blog posts you can’t wait t to write and a bunch of new product ideas you want to get cracking on. You’ll also be exposed to the latest trends in your field—and get to see firsthand people’s responses to them.

These conferences are filled with workshops and speakers, all of whom are potential partners. There is also, needless to say, the possibility of you being one of the presenters. That’s what Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh did at the Craft Brewers Conference.

Since organizers need months to pull these events together, make a point of meeting with them and get on their radar for next year.

7. Donate prizes

People who put on events are always on the hunt for door prizes, enclosures for gift bags, and donations for silent auctions.
When targeted to the right event, these contributions have great marketing reach. Every person at the event will see the door prize and receive the gift bag. If it’s a silent auction, everyone there will walk by each item on display.

Moreover, as a prize contributor, you will be listed in the program and the website, and may even be mentioned in event press releases.

This is a technique I’ve used numerous times to promote PoleSkivvies, the niche sports apparel brand I launched with only a blog and a newsletter. I’ve donated prizes to pole fitness championships from New York to New Zealand and I’ve even donated beyond my immediate niche, giving prizes to silent auctions that were fundraising for other dance styles.

One word of caution: I wouldn’t count on the prize winner becoming a devoted reader or customer. They will surely enjoy their prize, but the impact from this marketing tactic has more to do with brand recognition. You want people to know you’re out there.

That means it’s important to put some thought into what you donate. A copy of your ebook, a consulting package, or a video course are all possibilities. Look over your product list and see what would be the most intriguing.

However, don’t donate something you give away free on your website. Event organizers like to list the value of prizes to increase people’s excitement about winning, so get in the spirit and donate something meaningful.

If you can, attend the event. There’s nothing like mentioning you donated the door prize to strike up a conversation and get people talking about you and your blog.

Bonus tip

An easy way to get people you meet in the offline world to visit your blog is to put a QR code on everything you pass out. From copies of your blog posts to business cards, include a QR code to some of your most popular posts or product pages, as well as your URL.

Smartphones are everywhere these days, and most of them have apps for reading QR codes—make use of them.

Have you tried offline promotions?

Running a professional blog doesn’t mean you should forget about time-honored methods of traditional marketing. Incorporate them into your overall strategy and your blog will be the stronger for it.

Have you promoted your blog offline? Tell us how it went in the comments!

Jennifer Michelle built a niche sportswear company from the ground up using just a blog and a newsletter. She now helps small business owners bridge the gap between their own online and offline marketing. Check out her tips on 21 Ways to Market Your Blog Offline.

Reach New Readers with a Freebie Blitz

This guest post is by Tom Ross of Blogs.FanExtra.

Today I’m going to talk about one of the most effective ways to market yourself and your website. It’s also a hugely effective way to build relationships within your niche.

And it’s very simple: offer amazing freebies to top bloggers in your niche.

Now this may sound like a no-brainer, but let’s take a look at just why it’s so effective and so underused.

This article is actually based on a real life example of a website owner named Michael I dealt with recently. I’d never spoken with Michael before, but he approached me to release a free UI kit on my website. I’ll get to the story of Michael and the strategy that he has inspired, but it will show you exactly how to market yourself like crazy through the power of freebies. This is really powerful stuff and can help you effectively launch a new site (or explode an existing site).

The principles of why freebies work

Freebies are popular, there’s no denying it. They’re also an awesome way to give your site exposure. Let’s look at why this is:

People love getting stuff for free

Whilst guest posting can be a bit hit-or-miss with being accepted by top blogs, freebies are something that almost all top bloggers will be happy to accept.

I receive daily emails from people asking to guest post at my blogs PSD.FanExtra and Blogs.FanExtra. I end up disregarding most of them. This isn’t to be a bad guy, but because most people need to learn how to Write an Effective Guest Posting Application. It’s far rarer that I’ll get someone emailing me a high quality freebie that I can instantly release on my site.

If the freebie is quality, unique and something I know my readers will love, then there’s no reason why I wouldn’t accept it gladly.

The entire point is that in the past I’ve paid for this type of resource. A great resource that’s offered for free will benefit my audience, and benefit me as I won’t be paying for it.

Freebies are viral by nature

Freebies are always pretty viral by nature. If you submit a traditional guest post there’s a good chance that it won’t perform well on social media and won’t generate a ton of traffic or exposure for you.

Freebies typically have a greater chance of going viral, as let’s face it—everyone loves a good freebie!

The two rules for getting maximum exposure are:

  1. The bigger the blog, the bigger their audience, and the more exposure for you.
  2. The better your freebie, the more value it gives people, and the more shareable it is.

The freebie strategy

I mentioned Michael at the start of this post. Michael runs a site called Best PSD Freebies and decided to market it by offering free UI kits to blogs in the design niche.

I first saw Michael’s work over at Web Designer Depot, a large design blog. He had offered a simple, but attractive UI kit to release on their site. Let’s look at some of the benefits of this:

  • Michael’s work has reached 85,000 subscribers through the site.
  • His site received over 1000 visitors on the day the UI kit was released, and continues to attract traffic daily from the post.

Now let’s look at how you can use this technique to drive serious traffic to your site and build a name for yourself very quickly within your niche.

1. Work out what you’re good at

Identify what you’re good at. If like Michael you’re in the design niche, release a quality design freebie. If you’re in a different niche, then release something that’s relevant for your audience.

The key is that your freebie should be free for your to create—something that takes time and effort, but no monetary outlay from you.

2. Actually create something

Create a freebie, but don’t stop there. First of all, ensure that it’s the absolute best quality you can produce. You want to create a freebie that is premium quality. The kind of thing people regularly pay for.

Then, don’t just create one freebie. Aim for around 20. If each freebie takes two hours of hard work to produce, then that’s 40 hours work total. If you spread this over two weeks, that’s almost three hours extra work each day. It will be tough going, but stick with it.

3. Approach top blogs in your niche

Now that you’ve prepared your 20 freebies, start approaching the top blogs in your niche.

Freebies typically have a very high acceptance rate, as you’re giving the blogger something that’s valuable for nothing.

If you approach the top 40-50 blogs in your niche you should almost certainly find 20 that will be willing to publish your freebie.

4. Remember to promote yourself

Whilst you’re giving your freebie away for nothing, of course you want to be sure to include a link back to your site to reward yourself for all your hard work. This is standard practice for any blog in any niche.

Craft some text to accompany the freebie post, being sure to mention your website and link back to it. This serves the double purpose of effectively writing a post for the top blogger, saving them time and effort, and ensuring that the people in the blogger’s audience who like your work know where to go for more—your site.

5. Coordinate release dates

This is where you get a little more clever, and where the true power of this strategy lies!

If you remember the SOPA Blackout campaign then you’ll recall how thousands of sites “blacked out” their websites for a single day, obscuring their content in protest to the harmful government legislation that was being proposed to censor the internet.

This protest was so incredibly effective not because a lot of websites were being blacked out, but because they were all being black out at the same time. If the thousands of websites were sporadically blacking out over the course of months it would have had way less impact. It’s the fact that for 24 hours millions of web users were frustrated and angry at not being able to access many of their favorite websites.

This is the strategy we’re going to use to get you maximum attention.

Speak with the blog owners who have accepted your freebies. Rather than pushing to have them published as soon as possible, arrange a slightly later date, one that all of the blog owners can meet. If this is a month or two down the line then that’s fine, as long as all of the blogs can release your freebie on that day.

6. Preparing for the flood

Now that you’ve organized the launch of all 20 freebies on all 20 top blogs in your niche, you have to wait for the release day.

However, rather than sit and twiddle your thumbs, you need to start preparing your website for the flood of new traffic.

A great idea is to add a large welcome area to your site offering a mega-freebie of some sort. This should be of the same high standard of quality as the freebies that you have released to the top blogs, but much larger, and therefore more valuable. Add an email optin form to the site, ensuring that visitors must enter their email in order to access the mega-freebie pack.

7. Release day (Who is this guy?)

The day finally approaches when all of the UI kits are released. The response is phenomenal. Being featured on even one of these top blogs would result in a traffic spike. Being featured on all 20 within 24 hours results in a traffic mountain!

Michael received over 1000 visitors from his freebie release at Web Designer Depot. They are one of the larger blogs in the design niche, but certainly not the largest. Let’s say that out of the 20 top blogs you might get around 500 visitors each. That’s 10,000 visitors in just 24 hours—a huge amount for your new site!

Far more beneficial than this traffic though is the reputation that you will achieve.

In a single day you will have dominated your niche, being feature on almost every top blog. Millions of blog readers worldwide are seeing your freebies being posted on their favorite sites. Your freebies are showing as the most recent content in people’s feed readers for 20 of their favorite blogs! Many readers are not just downloading one of your freebies, but 10, 15, or 20 of them! In a single day you have become “the freebie guy or gal” in your niche, and a lot of people are suddenly talking about you and wondering who you are and where you’ve come from.

8. At your site…

Your own site preparation should have also worked wonders for you. Not only will you receive a flood of traffic to your fledgling website, but you should have converted that traffic really well. Every person who has clicked through to your website has clearly shown an interest in your freebies. The first thing they saw when visiting your site was your mega-freebie. Your conversion rate should be very high, so from 10,000 new visitors you’re looking at a lot of email sign ups.

If you convert just 10% of these visitors then that’s 1000 email sign ups in just 24 hours—a very solid base from which you can market your new site.

9. Rinse and repeat

Now that you’ve seen the success of this strategy it’s natural that you’ll want to repeat it. You have already established relationships with these top bloggers, so it will be easier to pitch them a future freebie.

Of course, you won’t want to repeat this the very next week, but in a couple of months you can look forward to another huge traffic spike.

Next time, perhaps release 30 freebies. Spend two months creating 30 freebie packs that are bigger and even more awesome than your initial 20.

10. The effort pays off

After a few months of really hard work and networking, your efforts are paying off. You have built up a super responsive email list of thousands and now attract decent traffic to your website.

Your personal brand as “the freebie guy” also ensures that you’re the go-to guy in your niche for freebies, and you’re regarded as a community expert.

If down the road you decide to release a super-huge premium product, then you can bet it will sell well. After all your contributions to your niche and the reputation you have build up, many people will be happy to help you out by purchasing your product. At the very least, they will be far more likely to buy from you than some new kid on the block who is clearly out to make a quick buck.

The thing is, you’re ultimately in this to make money and be successful too. However, you were just far more marketing savvy about it and helped a whole lot of people along the way. You were also willing to lay the groundwork and put in the effort.

Ah, the power of freebies!

Key points

Here are some important points to consider when you’re implementing this strategy:

  • You can offer freebies in most blog niches at no cost to yourself. All it takes is a little creativity and taking the time to identify your skillsets.
  • In this post I gave the example of the design niche. It’s clearly effective in this niche (as proven by Michael), but to be honest there are way less competitive niches where your freebies will have even more of an impact.
  • Even if you can’t produce a freebie yourself, it may be worth outsourcing the work. This strategy has far more potential than traditional banner advertising and is likely cheaper.
  • Remember to approach top bloggers in your niche in a polite, professional manner. It helps if you provide a post that is ready to publish, rather than just offering your stand-alone freebie.
  • Ensure that your site offers great content. There’s no point driving a load of traffic if you have nothing left to offer people. Think about gathering those emails and achieving high conversions!

Have you ever used freebies to promote your blog? Tell us how you did it in the comments.

Tom Ross is a blogger, entrepreneur and designer. He has built up a blog network that has attracted over 7 million visitors. His latest network site Blogs.FanExtra discusses in depth, practical blogging strategies. No fluff, no vague or generic tips, just quality, applicable blogging tactics. Check out the free 7 day blogging course teaching the exact strategies Tom used to grow his network.

5 Ways Blogging Supports a Multichannel Marketing Strategy

This guest post is by Geoff Livingston of Marketing in the Round.

With so many marketing tactics to choose from, it seems off that more and more businesses elect to forgo blogging.

No, blogging is not easy. Blogging takes writing skills, creativity, and other centric behavior. It requires constant thought and value creation for readers.

However, given the world’s growing adoption direction of digital and increasingly mobile media, it’s hard to see how any business can avoid content creation. The easiest way to create content in a searchable manner remains blogging.

Blogging fits into a multichannel marketing strategy in four key ways.

1. Lead with blogs

If your business is truly a small online endeavor, your blog may simply be the leading driver of inbound marketing leads. In this case, you already understand the importance of blogging well and regularly.

For larger entities, some initiatives like new products and offerings require seeding. Interacting with community members via blogs and associated social networks offers the best way to begin a marketing initiative.

Blogging new ideas engages die-hard customers and loyalists in the conversation first. They are your word-of-mouth army. If the concept holds water, customers will engage, and perhaps even sharpen your offering with feedback and opportunities.

Then, as you deploy other marketing initiatives, you have already made your concept searchable, adding a foundation for long-term marketing initiatives.

2. Use blogging to support larger initiatives

I recently published a new book with Gini Dietrich on integrated communications, called Marketing in the Round. We discuss the many approaches a small business or entrepreneur can choose to lead, including blogging. Comparatively, advertising, media relations, social network-based activity, and direct marketing can all take precedence.

We recommend using tactics like blogging to support the four approaches to marketing.

Content—and specifically blogging—fulfills a valuable role in the marketing lifecycle. It helps you become searchable, it gives people something to talk about online that’s related to your business, and finally, it allows people to qualify you or your business.

Publishing content on a blog provides the honey that attracts the bees. With other initiatives driving interest, inevitably potential customers will search for information about you, either on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!, or through their social networks.

Use blogs to publish value-added content that continues the experience you’ve started with other marketing tactics.

3. Undercut the competition

Competitors. Can’t we live without them?

If your product or service has value, it’s inevitable that that competitors will arise or react to your offering. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can deploy blogging to counter competitive offerings online.

First, take a karmic marketing approach, and blog about larger industry trends, including what your competitors are doing right. Make sure you link to them with critical keywords.

Guess what? When they get searched, your blog should get sourced in the results. Hopefully, potential customers will click through.

Say your competition undercuts you by positioning you inaccurately. It’s certainly happened to me. Respond, perhaps not directly, but address the concerns and misrepresentations clearly. It’s important to state the facts here. Whenever the issue comes up, show people the blog post that offers a clear picture of your offering.

Perhaps you want to respond to a new competitive offering through innovation. Blog about potential weaknesses in the competing product and see what your stakeholders have to say. Perhaps they will give you insights you’d never have gained otherwise.

Again, take a karmic approach here, and don’t attack them publicly. Rather, speak to the issues their product presents.

4. Inspire word of mouth

So much of today’s conversation revolves around content marketing. Even this blog post discusses it at great length.

Content marketing represents a push to the marketplace. That’s not necessarily a good thing, as many people want to have a conversation with brands (even small ones), not receive messages.

Conversations provide word-of-mouth discussion of your brand. Peer discussion remains one of the most trustworthy forms of dialog a brand can produce.

If we step away from the blog itself, a business exists to solve problems, often with an idea that manifests itself as a product or service. Ideas provide a primary conversation topic online.

Use your blog as an idea virus generator. Literally use it to inject new ideas, concepts, and thoughts into the marketplace for larger conversation. Give people something to talk about, starting with your idea.

Let their conversation create the need and the justification for your product and services. In turn, you receive the benefits of a strong word-of-mouth conversation.

5. Content market with visual assets

Sometimes we’re get caught up in the blogger’s journey. As a blogger of seven years and a writer of 20+ years, I can identify.

But blogs are online publishing platforms, nothing more. You can publish just about any kind of content on a blog.

This matters in today’s online world. More and more people access the internet through smartphones and tablets. In turn, because touch interfaces hamper textual input, we’re seeing commenting levels drop. Smaller screens make reading harder, which increases the importance of publishing visual assets.

Your optimized blog already drives content into search. It should also serve new portable media users with visual content that gives them the information they need.

Integrate visual assets into your blog. Publish photos, infographics, charts, graphic design, and more. Make your blog a visual garden, and allow people to share and use these visual assets. In turn, word of mouth and search strength for your visual content increases.

Heck, you can even feature ads so long as you discuss them in a conversational, interactive way. For example, ask “What do you think of this creative?” Even let your customers choose the final design. Above all, make visual content engaging.


Because blogging offers so much strategic versatility, it has many uses in a multichannel campaign. However you choose to proceed with your blog, consider it a powerful tool within the larger context. Remember: blogs are not islands.

Geoff Livingston is an author and marketing strategist, and serves as VP, Strategic Partnerships for Razoo. A former journalist, Livingston continues to write, and most recently he co-authored Marketing in the Round, a book that shows you how to get more value from all your marketing and communications channels integrated together!

10 No-Nonsense Ways to Build Backlinks

This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind.

Many bloggers are very much averse to participating or learning anything about SEO, and truth be told, I think that’s a real shame.

Maybe my time with my SEO agency has made me biased, but I personally think most bloggers are missing out on a huge potential source of traffic by just plain ignoring how search engines work and what practices are most effective.

The truth is, SEO for blogs doesn’t have to be overly complicated or require “black magic” in order to work.

My “World’s Simplest SEO Formula for Great Rankings” is:

  1. Craft amazing content that’s built for readers, not search engines.
  2. Get great links to that content.

Okay, so SEO can obviously be a lot more complex than that, but if you’re a blogger just looking for the essentials, that two-step process is actually relevant.

The problem most bloggers run into is this: how do we actually get those “great links” to our content?

Today I’d like to break down a “no-nonsense” guide to attracting (and outright earning) some powerful links. We’ll skip stuff like forum profiles and social media bookmarking. The links we’re going after are going to be powerful and actually send us traffic. Let’s get started.

1. Check your competitors’ backlinks

If there is one great way to find good backlink ideas, it’s to check out what your competition is doing.

While “old faithful” (Yahoo! site explorer) is now a part of Bing’s webmaster tools, there are still a few great options around.

My current favorite is the Open Site Explorer, an excellent backlink tool created by the knowledgable folks over at SEOmoz.

With the free version, you can check where links are coming from (that is, domains and pages). While the premium offering gives you far more insight, you can generally get a good idea with just the free version.

Did your competitor get linked to from a publication/blog that covers your niche? Email the author personally and let them know about a piece of content that you created (or about your site in general) and offer to give them a story to help them out.

That part is essential. Emailing people with direct requests or not-so-subtle begging to “please link to me!” is not going to work.

Fixing a problem that they have (for journalists, this is generating new stories, for bloggers, new guest posts could fit the bill) is the key to getting a link.

You may also find other communities that have linked to your competitors: relevant sites, resource pages, etc. If your competitor can get a link there, so can you.

2. Create a site for readers, not Google

This may seem counter-productive, but hear me out.

As time goes on, search engines (notably Google) are beginning to become more and more in tune with following people, rather than with following links.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that links won’t matter in a few years (they will, for a long time), but I am telling you that the more you focus on creating a site filled with content that’s meant to be enjoyed by real people, the better your site will do in search results.

With Google recently making moves to punish “over-optimized” sites, you have to recognize that fact that a site built just to rank runs the risk of being penalized and losing all of its traffic.

Conversely, a site that has built an audience can withstand any rank drops because a thriving following does not depend on search traffic. Also, a site that is built with useful content and reader enjoyment in mind is going to garner natural links much more easily than a “built for search” site. Content for people generates discussion, and where discussion comes, links will follow.

3. Write for other blogs, and become a regular contributor

By now, you likely know all about the unique power of guest posting to give you a trifecta of goodness in the blogging world in the form of:

  1. traffic
  2. brand exposure
  3. links.

Better yet, if you are able to become a regular contributor to a large blog (either paid or for exposure only), you have the opportunity to build links on a very consistent basis, even to your oldest content.

I can give you examples of both: I am currently a hired content creator for HelpScout and DooID, as well as being a regular (unpaid) columnist for the BufferApp.

All outlets allow me to link to my previous work, and because I’m consistently writing for them, I can build links into deeper pages on my sites, including linking back to old posts in addition to citing my most recent content.

While this strategy is optimal, regular ol’ guest blogging every now and then works just as well. Better yet, I highly advise you attempt the “Guest Blogging Blitzkrieg” technique to build links.

What is that exactly? It’s writing numerous guest posts and attempting to get them published simultaneously, or very close together.

Bamidele Onibalusi, a freelance writer and blogger at YoungPrePro, as well as Kristi Hines, a regular contributor for KISSmetrics and blogger at Kikolani, both use this strategy—with stellar results.

Both contribute paid posts (freelance gigs) as well as guest posts (Kristi probably not so much anymore, I’m sure she has enough work to do!), and do so consistently, on numerous blogs, all the time. If you read marketing/blogging content regularly, you cannot miss their names, as they are everywhere.

This kind of exposure not only generates direct links (from their actual article submissions), but also creates buzz around their brand, and leads to people like me linking to them as examples!

4. Create a beautiful blog

Hold on just a second here… What in the world does blog design have to do with SEO?

Much more than you think.

Not only does a good blog design play a substantial role in increasing your conversions, a great looking (and streamlined) design will reduce your bounce rate, and while many have argued that doesn’t have a direct effect on SEO, it does increase your chances of people sticking around to actually read your content.

Additionally, research has found that people innately trust well-designed sites much more than poorly designed sites; and a site with trust is going to generate more links.

As for direct linking, many sites allow you to submit well-designed sites or even individual aspects of design. TheLogoMix allows you to submit any site logo and receive a backlink for it. Additionally, there are a number of design sites that allow you to submit your full site design to a showcase, and most of them will link back to your main page (CSS galleries and the like).

Lastly, if your site design is truly unique or useful, people may actually write a blog post about it (with links) for just this reason—because your site makes a great case study.

5. Implement resource pages

Not only are resource pages incredible tools for reducing your bounce rate, they also serve as excellent link bait to increase your rankings in tough topics.

I absolutely must point to Copyblogger as my demonstration for this example, as few blogs do things quite as well as they do, especially when it comes to resource pages. Their resources are extremely comprehensive, link back to their best posts on the subject, and target their most difficult keywords.

And considering they are ranking on the first or second page for terms like content marketing, SEO copywriting, and copywriting, you know that they are doing something right.

Think about the biggest topics that your blog covers. Now research a few keywords around those topics with the Google Keyword tool (remember to set it to [exact] searches) and see which terms have a fairly high search count. Then choose the ones you can realistically rank for.

If you’re having trouble brainstorming keyword ideas, try something like the free version of serpIQ to help get the creative juices flowing.

You probably won’t be able to rank for something like “diet”, but could you rank for a term like “paleo diet guide”? Doing just a little homework in this regard, and then making a few resource pages around those terms will result in a few amazing pieces of link-bait that thoroughly cover the topic, and attract a lot of links naturally.

6. Use embeddable images/widgets

This probably seems like the most boring suggestion in the entire post, so let’s get excited for a moment!

You know the humor/comic site TheOatmeal, right? Well, the guy behind that site, Matthew Inman, was actually a former consultant at SEOmoz, and he knows a thing or two about getting links.

In fact, he was able to rank his former project, an online dating site known as Mingle2, for extremely tough terms like “online dating” and “free online dating”, beating out sites like, eHarmony, and PlentyOfFish for their most sought after terms.

How? Well, among other things, Matthew is very good at creating embeddable content that people showcase on their own site. The thing is, these embeddable widgets also give a link back to Matthew’s sites.

He did this again for The Oatmeal with things like the “Are You Addicted to Twitter?” quizzes, where people could embed their own results. Beyond widgets, folks like the content marketing team have used things like infographics with embeddable inputs at the bottom to rank for tough terms.

The reason things like this work is that people are much more likely to share a pretty infographic or a interesting widget than they are to just link to a random website. If you can give them something to share, they won’t mind using your pre-defined HTML and including your backlink.

7. Interview someone influential

When I first submitted my interview questions to Brian Gardner (of StudioPress), I had no idea what the response would be.

That was one of my very first posts to Sparring Mind, and although I knew about the power of interviews, I hadn’t ever reached out to somebody as significant in the WP community as Gardner before.

I shouldn’t have been worried, because not only did I learn that he and many other larger names are incredibly helpful and mostly willing to accept interview requests, it also lead to some significant exposure to my brand new site.

The success I saw here lead to more interviews, including ones with Alex Mangini of Kolakube, as well as Leo Wildrich of the BufferApp.

These interviews are great, especially for new blogs, because who doesn’t love being interviewed? This tactic lets you feature names far bigger than yours, and if you do a good job of asking insightful questions and drawing out great content from the interviewee, they are guaranteed to share the post with their following.

Even if they don’t directly link to the content itself, provided you’ve interviewed someone interesting (especially someone who doesn’t interview often), you’ll find yourself accruing links from people in their industry.

I found myself with a few links from social media sites I’d never heard of before when I published my interview with Leo about the BufferApp, and you can get your site in front of a new potential audience with the same method.

8. Create an exhaustive round-up

Creating round-up posts can be a great strategy for links. A round-up is essentially a collection of articles, resources, and actual products (books, etc.) that covers a topic in totality: exhaustive coverage is a necessity.

Two fantastic examples (one written by Kristi, no less) is The Entrepreneur’s Handbook, a collection of 101 resources for first time entrepreneurs, and the Leaving Work Behind 100, a collection of the best freelance/marketing blogs for people to get started with.

These round-up posts work so well because not only do they link out to a ton of people (who will likely tweet about the article, if not link back), they become “bookmark havens,” posts so large that people have to save and share them given the immense quantity of value that they provide.

If you create a round-up like the two showcased above, research a few keywords that you might be able to rank for before you title the post and publish it. For instance, if I was going to write a resource post for “going green,” I might look at a few search terms like “going green for beginners” or “beginner’s green guide” to see if I could feasibly rank for those terms.

Again, doing a little homework before publishing monster pieces of content like this can not only help you build links, but also bring in additional traffic from ranking well for highly relevant terms.

9. Utilize “crowdsourced” posts

Crowdsourcing is all the rage these days, but did you know it’s an incredibly effective SEO tactic for blogs as well? A “crowdsourced” post is a very interesting take on the traditional interview post discussed above. Essentially, instead of getting a lot of info from one interviewee, you’re going to collect small tidbits of information from multiple authority sources.

One clever example of this is how many hyperlocal websites, such as the Delaware Entrepreneur publication from my hometown utilize local business owners and interviews a ton of them at once to generate attention.

A more common example is the “roundup opinion” post that many blogs use to feature a bunch of experts at once (and hopefully get them to link to it). A successful execution recently was the Social Media Examiner prediction post for 2012, which featured 30 social media experts stating their predictions for the coming year.

These types of posts are a classic pieces of linkbait: the large number of big related names is sure to attract a lot of attention in your niche, so if you can pull one of these off, it’s likely to make a big splash.

10. Create a product

This is something that I feel a lot of bloggers get backwards (heck, even I’m slacking in this regard!). I honestly feel like the “build audience first, create product later” can be taken too far. I’m not saying you need a product from the get-go, but having something to sell and promote can often lead to more brand awareness.

Corbett Barr (a Problogger “blogger to watch in 2012“) from ThinkTraffic offers an interesting example of how this works. His latest course, How To Start A Blog That Matters, allowed him to land a few interviews as well as a few promotional posts on blogs promoting its release.

Corbett staunchly stands by his assertion (with data to back it up) that launching a product can lead to increased traffic for your blog, due to the natural discussion that a new product/course can generate.

This is especially true if you create a widget/resource that your niche can benefit greatly from.

One person who I feel has done this very well is Glen Allsopp from ViperChill, creating and launching both the free ViperBar plugin as well as his flagship premium plugin OptinSkin. Both plugins received big support from other WordPress users who got utility out of them, and both resulted in increased exposure and even direct links (especially from the ViperBar) back to Glen’s blog.

Consider getting your product out sooner rather than later, you could be missing out on some big promotional opportunities.

Over to you

At the end of big posts like this, sometimes we can get stuck in “information paralysis”—having too much in front of us and not knowing what to do next.

Now that you’ve reached the end:

  • Pick just one or two strategies from this post that you’re going to try this week.
  • Let me know which ones they are in the comments!

Gregory Ciotti is the founder of Sparring Mind, the†blog that takes psychology + content marketing and makes them play nicely together. Download his free e-book on ‘conversion psychology’ today for insights on influencing people online.