5 Ways to Grow the Audience You Deserve Without Guest Blogging

Article by ThinkTraffic contributor Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout.

“Heretic! Blasphemer!”

It seems like shenanigans to write a guest post about ways to grow your audience without guest blogging, but my reason for addressing this issue isn’t because I don’t believe in guest posting, but because I know you’ve heard about it enough.

The “write epic shit + guest blogging” strategy works, but there are only so many times you can trumpet that strategy before it becomes grating.

Guest blogging or not, you still have a problem: your excellent content isn’t getting the readership it deserves.

Today we’re going to avoid the tried and true (and let’s be honest, overly discussed) methods of growing your audience and get into creative ways YOU can get the exposure your content deserves.

1.) Give Journalists What They Want

Recently, I’ve been loving the exposure I’ve been getting from the Lifehacker audience, and after two appearances and 200,000+ views later, you might be wondering… how’d I do it?

Spend hours on outreach or re-writing content for them? Waiting days for a response from the submission form?

As a matter of fact, neither: each post only took me 5 minutes to get live!


Big sites are always on the search for hot content, they likely publish far more times a day than you do. Take advantage of this by making their life easier with something to cover, and pitch your idea with some PROOF based on a past success.

In my instance, I emailed the nice gal who published my buddy Leo Widrich’s post on Lifehacker, and told her I saw how well it did and had something that could perfom just as well, if not better (yeah Leo I said it :)).

Easy enough, right? I accomplished this by following Derek Halpern’s easy to utilize “drafting technique”, which is essential to this process because it allows you to connect with journalists by utilizing common ground and giving them incentive to feature you (especially if you reference a former piece of content that did well).

If they don’t accept syndicated content like Lifehacker, Derek recommends checking their previous coverage of a similar product, topic, or even a competitor, and then pitching them on why your article/feature would be even better.

Whether it’s with content, an interview, or a product you offer, always be on the lookout for easy ways to break into big features.

2.) Use Multimedia Content & Spread the Love

One of the great things about multimedia content is that it’s essentially “immune” to the duplicate content penalty that so many bloggers worry about.

This makes outreach easy to do: with no penalty for republishing, you can land as many features as you are able, all with the same piece of content.

The most obvious form of this strategy is the standard use of infographics.

For our own recently released infographic, we were able to land on a ton of amazing sites such as SocialMouths, BufferApp, and SocialFresh, all with a few extra emails!

You can also take things to a more creative route, like the way Grasshopper made their own version of the popular viral video “!@#$ Girls Say”, managing to generate over 68,000 views:

“Dude, let’s go viral right now!”

It definitely takes a bit of extra legwork (and maybe some additional costs) to get this done, but outreach with multimedia is far easier to scale than constant guest blogging.

While the quality of the multimedia content you create is far and away the #1 most important aspect to getting features, also be sure to keep in mind the “3 P’s of great outreach”:

  1. Positioned – Why is the piece a good fit for their site? Does it align with their current content? Point that out.
  2. Personalized – Get a hold of an individual on the team when applicable and create a connection by doing a bit of background research.
  3. Persuasive – What’s in it for them? This is why I reference a previously successful post, and state why mine will do just as well (or better).

3.) Unleash an Amazing Product (or Resource) unto the World

It might seem strange to think that a huge resource or… *gasp* … a paid product could generate the same amount of buzz as a blog post, but it’s certainly true.

Take a look at how Mars Dorian had success when he finally released something paid, or how Corbett himself grew his audience by releasing this a fantastic manifesto.

I’m sitting green with envy over here after seeing those results!

Over at Help Scout, I’ve placed a large emphasis on creating an ever-growing resource page for readers and prospective customers.

Corbett and the ThinkTraffic team do this well themselves, with an entire toolbox being available for subscribers.

The other thing you should do with these big releases & manifestos is to go multi-platform. After a big initial bump in new readers from our 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers e-book, I decided that a SlideShare release would be a great way to promote it:

It turned out to be a good decision, because we hit the homepage and ended generating 22,000+ additional views!

Resource promotion is the ninja stuff of getting your name out there: fortune favors the creative in this regard.

Got a fellow blogger who likes your stuff?

Collaborate on a big release or let them use a resource of yours as a reward for their list. You’ll get a ton of great exposure from a highly targeted audience (as well as creating even stronger connections).

4.) “Be” A Case Study

You likely follow a few blogs that give some fantastic, actionable advice (that’s why you follow them, right?).

What you may not realize is that even these huge blogs simply LOVE having case studies to prove that their advice actually works.

If you can serve as the example, you’ll get the press as the case study.

I often see visitors leverage Tim Ferriss’ massive audience by presenting him with detailed accounts of how they used his advice to succeed.

Students of Ramit Sethi often get to feature their success stories on his widely read blog when they approach him with tales of how his tactics & courses helped them with their finances & earning potential.

What better way to capitalize on great advice then to use it and then get even MORE exposure by revealing what you did?

Best of all, unlike a guest post, the spotlight is all on you, resulting in a much more useful feature that will get you a full serving of exposure for your fledgling business.

5.) Network Without an Agenda

My buddy Tom Ewer puts networking in a fairly simple lens for new bloggers:

Network with those around you, not just those above you.

Natural networking is reaching out to interesting personalities in your space WITHOUT putting your hands out for something.

Getting to know people naturally leads to mentions, and even better, to future collaborations.

Just look at the massive launches that Only72 has been able to create, powered by the incredible network that Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt and Karol Gadja have managed to create over their years as prolific bloggers.

A humble networking tip: Reach out to one new person in your industry every other day (without trying to get anything out of it), you’ll be amazed at how quickly these new connections begin to pay off with more knowledge, insight, features, and collaborative efforts.

All it takes is a personal, friendly email to break the ice, so what are you waiting for?

Gregory Ciotti is the marketing guy at Help Scout, the invisible help desk software that makes email support a breeze for you and your customers. Get more from Greg on the Help Scout blog.

40 thoughts on “5 Ways to Grow the Audience You Deserve Without Guest Blogging”

  1. After writing for my new site for nearly a month, I think it is time that I start implementing some form of networking. Originally, I just wanted to publish finance related articles with the eventual hope of monetizing them; however, online publishing has opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities and extremely interesting people. Although, despite the fact that I haven’t meet any pro-bloggers in person, from an outsider’s perspective, I like what I see.

    Working a four hour work week, getting “paid to exist”, helping other people break free from being a corporate slave, to think, all these years I thought “blogging” was nothing more than celebrity gossip (not that you can make a ton of money off of that if it’s your niche). In my case, I suppose ignorance was bliss. Thankfully, newbs like myself have sites like this (among others) that trail blaze a path to success that we merely have to follow.

    1. I’ve used Mr. Halpern’s perfect blog post technique. I wouldn’t say that it simplified the process of writing but it did make my latest post feel more like assembling a Lego set. I hope to perfect the technique by Christmas.

      My comments on ‘drafting’ are further down.

  2. Just wanted to say – based on the title alone, THANK YOU. I am so sick of blogs peddling out the same ‘secret tips for massive traffic’ and it ends up being guest blogging. It’s damn refreshing to see someone call them out and start a new conversation.

    *high five*

    1. Newbies have yet to discover guestblogging. It’s popularity is that (when done properly) it works. Better than anything else.

      And there’s still too many who don’t know what it is, or how actively traffic building it is, or how it can blow a new blog into orbit and bringing newbies into the limelight.


  3. All 5 of these tips are golden, but I especially love #5, “Network Without An Agenda.” I find I get the best results when I do this, compared to other kinds of outreach I do. When you’re “networking” (which I prefer to think of as “connecting,” which doesn’t seem nearly as loaded a term) to add value and to be genuinely helpful, rather than to get the link, the email signup, the guest posting opp, or whatever, bigger and better things begin to happen.

    Definitely going to take you up on the advice to “reach out to one new person in your industry every other day (without trying to get anything out of it).” Brilliant plan! : )

  4. Great post – nice to hear about new strategies as well in addition to guest posting. I definitely agree with the fact that when you network, don’t immediately ask for something. Build up a relationship before you try and ask for anything – business 101 but not to many people get that.


  5. Gregory

    networking without a agenda is key. Alot of people only looks at top bloggers but thats the wrong way to do it because the blogger right next to me will benefit me once a solid relationship is built

  6. @Jane – I highly recommend it, Derek’s technique has made cold outreach for journalists and bigger blogs a much easier process for me!

    Thanks for the kind comments folks. :)

  7. Hi Gregory,

    After this truly rockin’ guest post, I clicked through to Help Scout and signed up the newsletter and RSS feed. I figure, if this kind of quality content is typical of you, you’re going to be toward the top of my list of people to pay attention to online.

    I’ve heard people talk about using HARO and other outreach places to get noticed and spread a message. But the “Give Journalists What They Want” section of this post was fresh and actionable to me. I’m starting tomorrow in using some of these techniques. Who knows…maybe I’ll try and draft you. :)

    And your comments on products and resources seem spot on. As someone about to release my first product into the world, I’ll tell you how my experience goes with leveraging it.

  8. I love ‘Network with those around you, not just those above you.’ So true and yet so many people try to jump the line and go for the top. You got to be true to yourself and start with people around you. Great post!

  9. My good deed, Networking without an agenda. The “Drafting” technique mentioned by Mr. Halpern is actually something that is taught by Joan Stewart of The Publicity Hound.


    She also shows how getting your blog/website mentioned on radio or T.V can boost traffic way more than guest blogging.

    Hope this is useful to someone.

  10. This post is heaven.

    For real :)

    I am so sick of hearing about guest-posting, not only that, I found the ROI on it, for me personally, to be weak. Not to mention I find the process of pitching guest posts generally unfulfilling.

    I LOVE these alternative methods, and have been applying all of them already, but since they’re discussed so rarely in my circles, information has been less… abundantly around.

    You’ve done a great thing here, keep ryzin’!

    1. Creating a meme is definitely a great idea and offers some intriguing possibilities. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, most successful memes come about spontaneously from message boards in established online communities.

      They usually originate as an inside joke that eventually escapes the confines of the message board and goes viral throughout the internet. I don’t know if it is possible for a single blogger to create a successful meme on their own, without having the backing of an entire online community.

  11. Hello Gregory!

    Case study seems to me a great strategy as some people wants to know about what other people have experienced with it but all in all its been very interesting topic for me and I bit surprised that you didn’t like guest posting.

  12. I totally agree with the networking part. In the online world, relationships take you everywhere and get things done.

    As simple as that.

    I don’t know about the press release part though. It’s almost same like guest posting.

    – Ron.

  13. Just a question about this part – “we were able to land on a ton of amazing sites such as SocialMouths, BufferApp, and SocialFresh, all with a few extra emails!”

    I’m not familiar with those sites. What do they do and how did you get featured on them? Who did you send those extra emails to?

  14. What I love about this post is that it has a unique view on a boring topic. I wonder how many other ‘outside the box’ marketing techniques there are out there that we haven’t thought of yet.

  15. This is interesting stuff Gregory, and I’d certainly put it to use getting traffic for my blog once it’s up and running.

    It’s all about networking and reaching out to bloggers with big audiences already, and getting
    promoted by those bloggers (and their audiences) to everyone.

    Every business platform has its own marketing strategy that works far and above all others. For blogging it’s guestblogging.

    That’s the best way to both reach out and attract people who want to be in your community.

    Guest blogging gives access to more people to do that and launch their new blogs with a bang. Strange side note: Guestblogging offers opportunities to those without blogs to build a name for themselves (even if they have no intentions of starting a blog).

    In the end what it comes down to is that without a name you can’t be recognised. Getting your name out there and recognised is key.

  16. Networking through social media is a great way to get your content shared. I have been having great success with some “social sharing” groups that I have created.

  17. I can’t say I agree with the ‘paid product’ suggestion. I think there’s a lot of situations where someone blogging with the intent of making profits shouldn’t release a paid product. Or at least, not until they have developed an audience and polished their skills enough to put out a truly quality product.

    Everyone and their cat is trying to get you to buy something online, and almost none of it is worth buying. The last thing the internet needs more of is sub-par products with slick sales presentations.

    I don’t mind referring people to products through paid referral links, because I know they’re quality products–but I would never try to sell anyone something that was anything less than top of the line.

    If you can put together a top quality product that adds value from day one, then sure, do it from day one. But I don’t think that applies to many non-established bloggers.

  18. Fantastic post! I especially like the idea of Slideshare, Infographic, etc. content as multimedia use and the product. I believe that launching a product can get the creator massive exposure if it really is what people are looking for and if it appeals to them.

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  19. Great post!!

    Chiming with few others, #5 is quite good and its quite refreshing to see someone telling to not rely on guest posting.

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips.

  20. Great info that I have yet to see! Like you said everyone else is centering on epic shit. I am trying to grow my blog which is focused on retiring early through passive income produced by real estate.

  21. Fantastic post Gregory. Your point of networking without an agenda is one that truly stands out. People think of content marketing and guest blogging as the holy grail nowadays but if you aren’t able to market it to the right channels and just do it for the sake of backlinks, the effectiveness that one can derive is truly lost.

    Thanks once again for the enlightening post :) Have come here for the first time and really found this information useful :)

  22. Great article, thanks for helping me think beyond pitching guest blogging! I can see how its important to network with all sorts of bloggers writing about topics far from yours, that your expertise could offer unique insights to. As a blogger who writes about SEO, i could reach out to local non-profits and share insights valuable to them, like keywords and traffic stats on their main initiatives.

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