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.
Blogs are a great way of creating and sharing your own content. But as a small business, how can you get featured on other people's blogs?
According to Wordpress, over 409 million people view more than 17.6 billion blog pages each month. And that's just Wordpress. That isn't counting all the other blogging platforms or all the self-hosted blogs. The point is, there are lots and lots of blogs out there. Getting your business featured on them helps your SEO, builds awareness and boosts your credibility. The trick is finding the right ones to get your business included in.
Here are tips on how to find blogs and get onto the radar of bloggers to help promote your business:
Both my husband and I work in PR. He works with global companies with huge budgets and highly qualified marketing teams. I work with small businesses and solopreneurs who aren't marketers.
Jargon and terminology makes sense in the context of my husband's work. He is talking to other communications professionals.
I, on the other hand, am talking to people like you who run book shops or B&Bs or children's swim classes. You know about books, letting rooms and getting nervous kids into a pool.
You may not know what the terms owned vs earned media mean. Why should you? You don't spend your days reading blogs and magazines on the latest communication trends. If you have the time to read trade magazines at all, you'll be reading about your industry, not the PR industry.
You know you need to promote your business. You know there is this 'social media thing' and you want to 'get into the local paper' and you've been told you need 'a blog'. But where to start? Just this week I was asked: 'but what are you meant to write about on a blog and why do I need one?' And I've been mulling that over. Because the answer is different for each company.
So when I saw this free ebook on The Business of Blogging by Stephen Waddington, I thought, perhaps I could share that with you small businesses and solopreneurs who need help understanding this blogging thing.
It's a reasonably quick read, a series of blog posts from communications experts. Feel free to read it. But I realised that for the most part, my kind of clients - people like you - aren't going to invest the time to read it. It's too much to take in. It's like eating an entire chocolate cake when all you wanted was a small sliver. There is too much communication about communication. But there are a few very important points I have extracted, which I'd love you small businesses and solopreneurs to take heed of.
Here is my translated version on why you need to blog:
Blogging is the foundation for all your other online marketing
From the ebook: 'Blogging is even more ideal now that content and brand publishing has become the price of entry for even the most basic of digital marketing efforts.' Lee Odden @leeodden
My translation: You only get 140 characters on Twitter, a few sentences on Facebook, a picture on Pinterest or Instagram. With a blog, you don't have to wait for a website to run an article about you or pay for an exorbitant ad. A blog allows you to publish your own thoughts and advice directly to your customers and prospects, those people circling your business trying to make up their minds. A blog gives you something to share on social media outlets, builds up your profile as an expert and helps you build up a relationship with your customers. It shouldn't be an after thought. It should be your thoughts shared.
Blogging helps keep your thinking fresh
From the ebook: 'Why do I blog? Because I can flesh out an idea far easier online than in practice. I can capture or share. It’s changed how I think, how I work and I’m finding doors opening that the blog has led me to.' Dan Slee, The Dan Slee Blog
From the ebook: 'The sense of having an audience, however small, keeps me thinking about new research peripheral to the work that I do from day to day; this keeps me fresh. Mat Morrison of the Magic Bean Lab
My translation: When you work on your own or with a very small team, it's easy to let your thinking get stale, your creativity stifled. You fight the everyday fires but can stop thinking about what's going on in the world of your customer. By writing a blog, it forces you to think about what you want to say. And once you start examining what you want to say, you start to discover potential problems and possible solutions. The comments and connections you make with customers via your blog broadens your thinking beyond your office walls. It's not just a way of communicating, it becomes a regular time out to examine your thinking and strategy. (Writing this blog post has got me thinking that perhaps I need to create a Blogging Basics package....)
Blogging can boost your sales
From the ebook: 'The blog has hugely surpassed our own expectations in all areas. It now underpins our social media activity, our email and search strategy, and more than a million stories are read on it every month. It also generates a very healthy profit for our business.' Chris Lake, econsultancy
My translation: for every blog that makes money, there will be thousands that don't. BUT, if you view your blog as a way of really connecting with your customers, giving them something of value, talking in their language and not just selling, selling, selling, they will be far more likely to buy. You don't have to have millions reading your blog. You just have to have the people that are interested in what you have to say - and potentially buying from you - reading your blog.
Blogging is easy if you treat it as a conversation
'Forget about SEO, audience targets, thought leadership, key word placements and other marketing-related stuff that makes most blogs that start out with those manufactured things in mind utterly sterile. Instead, concentrate entirely on what you want to say and say it - naturally, informally, as if you're in a conversation with just one or two people.' Neville Hobson @jangles
My translation: Stop overthinking blogging. Just start writing. Get your thoughts down. Be real. Talk to your customers as though they were there in language they'd understand. And it will flow.
I'd love to hear from you about your thoughts on blogging. Do you do it? Does it work for you? Do you battle to come up with content? Do you find it hard to get words down? Are you unsure of what tone of voice to use? Is it the mechanics / techy bits that trouble you? I have been blogging on a personal blog since 2008 - first on blogger, then wordpress, then self-hosted. I'm happy to chat about how you can use blogging to better serve your small business. Just get in touch or leave a comment below.
P.S. One of the best way of getting people to look at your blog, is to leave comments on their blog including your URL.