Getting publicity for your business is great - it really helps spread the word about what you do, which brings in more customers and builds your credibility. Plus, when the articles are online, you get back links to your website, which help search engines find you. But publicity doesn't just come from the press writing about you. You can write your own articles if you can find someone to take them. So how do you find guest blogging opportunities?
Here are six steps to help you get started:
Step 1: Identify which blogs you'd like to be featured in.
There are literally millions of blogs. So whittle it down. Choose one or two that reach your target market, have a good following and which have guest blogging opportunities (not all do - you'll be able to tell by looking at the contributors of other posts on the blog.) Still not sure? Then start with the blogs you read. If they have a blog roll, look at those blogs - they are probably in a similar field.
Step 2: Ensure you have relevant content
Think about what content you could offer them that would fit their readership and profile. No point targeting a fashion blogger with your content on cooking. The better the fit between you and the blogger, the more likely you are to be used.
Step 3: Come up with a catchy title
You don't have to write the entire blog post and hope it will get used. Just come up with a catchy title to start with. You can write the rest once you've secured the opportunity. For example, titles like the one on this blog post tells the reader exactly what they're going to get. Plus anything along the lines of 'Five Tips' or 'Ten ways to...' tend to be well received as they'll be quick, useful posts for their readers. The more useful, controversial, topical or surprising your blog post idea is, the more likely it is to be used.
Step 4: Send your idea in
Find out who the blog editor/owner/manager is. Look at the 'About us' or 'Contact us' pages of the blog. Send them your blog idea / title with a brief outline of what you would cover. Be sure to explain why your piece would be beneficial to their readers. The less work the blog owner has to do on your submitted post, the better. So make it easy for them to want to use your stuff. Also explain why you have the authority to write about this - give them a brief overview of your experience or credentials.
Step 5: Prove your writing ability
Send a few links to other bits of writing you've done, even if it's just to your own blog, so that they can get a feel for your writing style. It doesn't matter how cracking an idea your post is, if your writing is poor, they aren't likely to use you.
Step 6: Share it
Once you are accepted as a guest blogger, be sure to tweet and share the post so that the blog owner can see that you are helping to spread the word about their blog. They are far more likely to use you a second time if you do. What's more, other bloggers may see that and ask you to write a post for them. You can also reference any guest blogging you have done when seeking out future opportunities. The more you have been used by others, the more credible you seem.
P.S. A final avenue that will bring guest blogging opps flooding in is to write a really good press release. While journalists tend to use your news release either verbatim or as the background for an interview and article they write, bloggers or websites will see your news and and invite you to write an article for them. A client of mine did this. She sent out a press release I wrote for her, put it on a news wire and has since been asked to guest blog on Gransnet, Family Friendly Working and do a podcast for RadioGorgeous. Great stuff!
Speaking of guest blogging, I've had two opportunities to do exactly that recently so I thought I'd share them here, in case you've missed them.
The first - Five questions to help you figure out your business story - appeared on She Owns It. The post has been retweeted more than 150 times and has resulted in me getting a number of new Twitter followers and sign ups for my newsletter.
The second - What is PR and why does your small business need it - appeared on Talented Ladies Club. It to has also added to my Twitter and Facebook followers.
Guest blogging does work. And it is a FREE way of getting publicity for your business.
If you need help with writing articles or blog posts, please give me a shout.
I might be shooting myself in the foot with this post....but I want to help small businesses and start ups, and these are some home truths that need telling.
Right, here goes. Here's what I know about being a start up:
Issue 1: You know more that you think. And even if you don't, it doesn't matter. No-one eats an elephant in one gulp. Take small bites and you will get through that bad boy. Don't let the fear of the unknown stop you from starting up your business. Focus on what you know, rather than things you don't.
Issue 2: You don't need to know EVERYTHING before you start. That is called procrastination. You can learn as you go. So what if you don't know how to run a webinar. Who cares that you aren't an expert on squeeze pages. Doesn't matter if you don't know how to get the most out of Facebook or how to do PR (and this is me - someone who sells a PR course - saying this!) Focus on what you can offer, who you can offer it to and how your offer will help them. Find one or two customers the old-fashioned way (email, telephone, networking, previous contacts) to get you started and add to your knowledge base as you go.
Issue 3: I bet your Facebook feed is littered with ads that seem tailor-made for you, telling you about yet another thing that you need. You inbox pings every few minutes with another newsletter that you've subscribed to in a bid to learn how to run this business of yours. It is really tempting to want to buy them all, read them all, try them all, particularly as most of them use cunning copy like: 'last few places remaining' or 'never to be run again' or 'turn your business into a six figure reality.' Here's a truth: there are probably more than a few places remaining, they probably will run it again and you probably won't turn your business into a six-figure reality just by buying what they're selling. There. I said it.
Absolutely do subscribe to newsletters where you learn something - plenty of people provide excellent information for free (me included). And do purchase those courses, ebooks or coaching sessions that you think will genuinely help your business. But more importantly, buy from people who you trust or who feel right. I have purchased from people who make things seem too good to be true, and you know what? They usually are too good to be true. If they are selling too hard, I walk away. So don't be tempted just because it's offered to you. Think about what your business needs and choose wisely.
Issue 4: Before I started Campfire, I spent money (approximately $800) on a service which I thought sounded incredible. It ticked all the boxes. I wouldn't say it was a waste because it helped me clarify what I wanted my business to look and feel like, but did it deliver what it promised? No. Was I wowed? No. Do I regret doing it? No. Would I be as quick to spend the money next time? No.
I had a client say to me this week that the reason she bought one of my products was because she liked the way my website made her feel. She felt it was honest and approachable. Yay! Because that's what I want it to be. And I hope that she found her call with me worth her money. Sometimes there is no way of knowing whether you will get what you paid for - some of it you just start to pick up on as you go. If they offer a free webinar before you have to commit to buy, do it and see if they sound credible. Be warned - you will often be made to feel that unless you BUY NOW you will be missing out on something huge. Think carefully about whether you like the sound of the person and whether you need what they are selling at this point in your business. If you know it's for you and you get the bonus freebie anyway, that's great. But don't let THAT be the thing that sways you.
Issue 5: As lovely as a money tree would be, it's far more likely that you will be able to afford all this help if you are earning money from your business. It's a catch-22. You need to learn this stuff to earn the money. And you need earn the money to pay for the stuff you want to learn. Spend the money on the things that are going to help your business most so that you can generate some income. Once you've got that, reinvest it into your second wave of learning. For some people, paying someone for a swanky website is going to be key. For others, a basic brochure DIY website will do, but you might need some really compelling copy to explain your concept so that people buy. Figure out what is going to drive your revenue and start there.
So having told those truths, how can I help you?
Take a browse around my website. I help you get clarity on where you want to take your business, create copy and a canvas for you, help you communicate your story out to the world, teach you how to do PR and run a retreat to help you connect with others.
This is some of the feedback I've had from clients recently:
'I love the Press Release - God you are awesome!!' Emma Heptonstall, The Divorce Alchemist
'Oh wow! Thank you for your help today, my head is buzzing with plans and I can't wait to start putting them into action. In one phone call you managed to understand my business and set me in the right direction on things I've been pondering on for months. You are a gem, thank you so much.' Stacey Hartley, Naturoso
'Thanks so much for a great call today, you've given me loads to think about & great ideas! Very excited!' Emma Browes, Feeling Fabulous Club
And this entire blog post from Sherry Hostler of The Cakehouse. Here's a snippet from it:
'I ...... spent the hour listening to Melissa’s webinar and scribbling down notes along the way. She impressed me so much that I immediately booked on to her online course “How to do your own smokin’ hot PR.” She had gone through the content of the course in her webinar which sounded absolutely perfect for me as a small business owner. I had expected the course to cost an absolute bomb, but the price was a pleasant surprise also. As I had booked on so quickly I was awarded with an hour of Melissa’s time as well, as an extra incentive. I am half way through the course at the moment, and so far it is proving to be a great success. It is giving me lots of insight into PR which will really help boost my company, it is easy to follow, and broken down into bite size chapters, so you can pick it up and put it down when you want to. I also had my call with Melissa last week, and it was bloomin’ marvellous. The hardest part was learning how to use Skype (obviously) so that we could actually talk face to face, but once I had that sorted it was really beneficial. She is such a nice, approachable woman, who gives some sterling advice, and is really happy to help.'
So there you have it. The truth about what you are likely to face as you embark on this grand adventure of running your own business. We're all in this together so do leave me a comment or drop me a note to share your experience. If I can help you, I will. xx
Did you kids go back to school today? Do you run a small business? If so, which of these are you doing:
a. Savouring the silence
b. Writing lists of things you want to achieve this year (top tip: start with 'write a list' so that you can tick it off immediately)
c. Sorting out your email inbox
d. Debating going to the gym
e. Eating a salad for lunch and wishing it was actually a pie
f. All of the above
g. None of the above - you're still eating quality streets, you've written 'To do list' on a notepad and decorated it with doodles, you started clearing your email but got distracted by cat videos, you've done some washing and can't hear the silence over the spin cycle.
If you answered anything from A to F, well done. You are like most small business owners at this time of year. Focused and raring to go. Be warned: this feeling may not last. More on this below.
If you answered G, you might need to focus a tiny bit more if you want to make your business a success. I'm not judging (or eating a remaining chocolate truffle....)
I know both feelings well. That 'Woohoo my pants are on fire and I am going to kick butt this year' feeling. And the 'Really? I've got to do this all AGAIN?' feeling. Sometimes you can feel both in the course of a single day. Holy roller coaster batman.
So here are my top tips on how to get your fire started at this time of year and hang onto it:
You'll find that as you begin to tick things off your list, you will feel the fire. It just takes a spark. Breathe on that spark by tackling something easy first, something you know will get you a positive result. Once the flames are burning, you can go tackle the difficult things without feeling defeated.
I am here at my campfire, ready to help you. Whether it's helping you to figure out what your real message and story is, or getting advice on how to create an effective communications plan for the year ahead, or getting fresh web copy written, or someone to help you plan your launch or enter you into awards or write customer case studies or teach you how to do PR. I am here. With marshmallows and a roasting fork. (Marshmallows are practically calorie-free right?)
Just get in touch and I will help you get that fire started.
Here's to a smokin' hot 2015.