How An Unknown Blogger’s First 3 Guest Posts Produced a 57% Conversion Rate

If you’re just starting off on this whole blogging trek like I am, you know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and invisible. There are so many people slugging it out for attention out there, it’s hard to make a splash.

I’m here to tell you that it can be done. I’m doing it. But before I get into the how’s, let me give you a picture of just how unlikely a prospect I really am to be gaining traction.

  • No one online knew who I was when I started.
  • My blog was launched less than two months before the last of these three guest posts went live.
  • I started with next to nothing except 20 wonderfully loyal subscribers from a horrific failure of a first blogging attempt.
  • I had never attempted writing a guest post before.

Now, if a guy in that position can get some traction right out of the gate, what’s to stop you? Nothing at all.

I’m Not Rainman

As a matter of full disclosure, I’m no one’s savant. I consider myself a fairly bright guy, but I won’t be discovering perpetual motion anytime soon, if you get my drift. That being said, the results I got from my first three guest posts right out of the gate were outstanding. And I believe they can be replicated.

Blind Luck?

I know there will be those who chalk these results up to blind luck, and that’s fine. Like Thomas Jefferson did, I have kind of a different angle on luck than most people do.

I am a great believer in luck. I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

Others may question the validity or honesty of the numbers. For them I have analytics screen shots that show the actual traffic. The guest posts are linked too if you want to look at comments and shares. The numbers are real.

So What Are The Numbers Already?

3 guest posts on 3 different major sites yielded:

  • 678 social shares
  • A 57% conversion rate (57% of verified visitors from those posts subscribed to my blog)
  • 89 immediate new subscribers
  • 93 new “residual” subscribers from these posts (explained below)

In addition, my average bounce rate for all three posts was only 47%. Including an ultra-low 37% from my Firepole Marketing post. What’s a good bounce rate? Most experts say 60%-70%, so I exceeded that by quite a bit.

Where The Numbers Came From:

For each post, I noticed that the spike of traffic from the post seemed to dissipate after about four days. So all of those statistics reflect the day the guest post went live and the three following days.

Remember the 93 additional subscribers I mentioned before? They came from these posts too, but after the four day window described here. That makes 182 total from 3 posts.

Ready To Hear The Secret?

Sorry. There isn’t a secret. I’m kind of tired of “the secrets of” posts anyway, aren’t you? There’s no magic pill.

It was simply a matter of combining several best practices you can read about any day here at ThinkTraffic and other reputable blogs.

However, I do feel that the combination of several of these best practices created maximum impact. There were really 7 deliberate practices in play.

The 7 Maximum Impact Practices:

1. Study Under Great Teachers

I don’t understand why people think they can “wing” their way to success. It doesn’t work that way. Your best bet is to find one or more elite teachers who not only know their stuff, but know how to teach it expertly.

In my case, I chose to learn from Mary Jaksch’s A-List Blogging Bootcamps, Danny Iny’s Audience Business Masterclass, and from another guy you may have heard of: Corbett Barr’s Start A Blog That Matters.

Learning from high-caliber people like those accelerates your learning, cuts through the fluff, and opens doors. I can wholeheartedly endorse all three of those courses, by the way.

2. Have a Strong and Relevant Free Opt-In Gift

When someone likes your post and decides to click through to your site, you better have something interesting there for them to see. An enticing opt-in gift does the trick. Mine is an eBook called How To Alienate All The Right People. It’s been well-received and has no doubt attributed to my conversion numbers.

3. Pitch Your Guest Posts To Relevant Sites

Relevant may even be too broad. Choose sites whose audience overlaps with your audience as much as possible. On my blog, I write about real world business strategies brought online, content marketing, and the human side of business.

The three blogs I chose to pitch first were Write To Done (writing & content marketing), Goodlife Zen (the human side of things) and Firepole Marketing (business and content marketing). When your audience overlaps that much with the audience of your host site, readers are much more likely to connect with what they see when they click through to your site.

4. Everyone Together: 1, 2, 3, Epic Content!

Your guest posts have to be substantial, useful, and interesting. And remember, epic doesn’t always have to mean 3,000 words. You can achieve epic in a post of any length.

Research the site you’re pitching to so you know exactly what topics appeal to the regular readers. Take note of how many comments certain topics receive and even what’s being said in those comments.

When you know what works on that site, write a great post. This is where your blogging education kicks in (see #1). Write a bunch of different headlines. Rework them and keep eliminating until you have your gem. Write and re-write your post until it tells the story you want it to tell.

In short: Put in the time. I spent hours on each of these three guest posts, and I believe that kind of painstaking effort played a part in the numbers I pulled.

5. Write To Give

Want to get something out of life? Try giving first. Blogging is no different, especially guest posting.

The way I see it, if some A-List blogger allows me to post my content on his or her site, I’m the one being done the favor. Sure, the host site gets some content – but let’s be realistic. The host is allowing me to speak directly to his or her audience for the purpose of gaining more notoriety and subscribers.

Why not return the favor in any way possible? Here are three ways to give back:

  1. Try to write your best post ever. Every time.
  2. Do your part. Promote the post everywhere, giving credit to the host site.
  3. When it fits with the content of the post, leave room for your host’s affiliate links.

Let’s talk about that last one.

In this post under “Study Under Great Teachers” I linked to three great training programs. Not only are they programs I believe in and love to write about, they also benefit the reader by sharpening their skills, and they present an opportunity for the host site to insert their affiliate links and earn a few dollars from my efforts.

The same goes if you reference or quote a book in your post: the host site can put their Amazon affiliate link in. It’s a way of paying it forward for the privilege of having your post on their site. And if it’s relevant to the topic of your post, everyone wins.

6. Your Bio Matters

I learned this one the hard way. Some time after these 3 posts, I had a guest post go live on a major personal development blog. The social shares were through the roof, the comments were strong, and the site owner was thrilled with the performance of the post. But I yielded only 5 subscribers.

Think about it. Why would an audience enthusiastically participate in comments, share the heck out of a post but then not click through? It was my fault. My bio was all wrong. I used the same one I did for every other post, which talked about “business, market creation, and integrity selling.”

Those things were a big hit with the other audiences, but the personal development readers would have rather seen something about improving their lives, being happier, or being more productive. With some simple but true re-wording, I could have drawn more visitors.

Tailoring your bio to the audience is just as important as tailoring your post to the audience.

7. A Special Gift Just For You

We all like to feel appreciated and welcomed, right? So why not roll out the red carpet for your new visitors? From my very first guest post, I’ve created a special landing page for each and every site I’ve written for.

My link in my bio at the end of this post leads to a landing page that specifically welcomes Think Traffic visitors. In itself, it’s a small thing. But combined with the other six practices it says something about you and the way you treat your visitors. It takes very little time, but it’s totally worth the effort.

The Power Of Compounding

I know a guy who runs a financial blog called Pocket Changed. :-) I’d be willing to bet he would tell you that you’d be better off earning compound interest than simple interest. Simple interest yields growth, but it’s very slow and steady. Compound interest is interest on top of interest, and results in exponentially larger growth over time. What does that have to do with guest posting or building your audience? Only everything.

Look over these 7 Maximum Impact Practices. Each by itself will move you forward. No doubt about it. But all 7 executed together yield exponentially larger and better results. I believe these practices are what caused me, an unknown blogger from an unknown blog, to achieve such numbers right out of the gate.

Put these practices into play in your next guest post and watch your conversion rate increase.

What has been working (and not working) for you? Have any tips or tactics? Let’s talk about it in the comments section.

This post is by Gary Korisko. Gary writes at Reboot Authentic about real world business strategy brought online, market creation, and content marketing. Download Gary Korisko’s free eBook, How To Alienate All The Right People — a real-world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.

63 thoughts on “How An Unknown Blogger’s First 3 Guest Posts Produced a 57% Conversion Rate”

  1. Congratulations Gary for those results. Waiting for you to write 9 posts and submit them and then make them published on the same week and then tell us the results.

    I am joking man. But If you can do it, I am sure it will be of great value.

    Thanks for the post and hope you all the best to continue your way to get more subscribers.

  2. Hi Gary, I’m glad that somebody has finally said that epic content does not have to be over 2000+ words. I have visited many blogs where the content is less than epic, but the blog is very popular, because of the regular frequency of the blog posts.

    1. Great point Paul. I think a lot of people read into what (I believe) Corbett meant by Epic. The way I read it, it has to do with quality and depth – not so much length. Although depth *could* lead to length.


  3. Hey Gary!

    Congrats on the success of your guest posts. Valuable info here. I’ve made it a priority to do guests posts so this is golden advice.

    I do have some questions.

    I know you have to wait for the guest post to be approved. If it’s approved, is that when you create the special landing page, then email the blogger and ask if they could use that link? Or do you go ahead and create the landing page in case, with the link, submit it, and if it doesn’t get approved, just tweak the page for another landing page?

    Also I was curious to know why in the bio for Goodlife Zen was the promo for the free airfare and not your ebook, while the other two blogs mentioned the free ebook.

    GLZ is a personal development website, while Danny’s is certainly business related while the other one is probably in the middle. Seemed like GLZ would be a great fit to tell them about your ebook while Danny’s would be a perfect fit for free airfare for your business.

    Just curious to know if there was any reasoning behind that.


    1. Hey Benny! Great to see you here!

      In answer to your questions, I create the landing page when I submit my proposal. The proposal is most often sent in HTML, so you code the link in yourself.

      Good catch on the bio stuff, too. I launched The Free Airfare Giveaway way too early in the life of my blog. You really need a good sized audience to do something like that and get a splash. So at that time, I was really concerned about attracting entrants. That was panic. (And the giveaway turned out great)

      So the reason is the fact that I messed up. I’m finding my way like everyone else. :)

  4. Hi there, Lori.

    Exactly. Just like in my every-day work life (sales) – you don’t win by doing one big thing right… you win by doing lots of little things right. Thanks!

  5. Great post, Gary! Of course, you know me, I think “You’re Bio Matters” is the #1 thing guest posters need to remember.

    I am so happy for you that your great ideas and excellent writing are getting the readers they deserve! You rock, Gary!

    1. Bobbi! Good to see you!

      And that’s true – most of what I have learned NOT to do with bios comes from Bobbi’s advice. Although I still screw up occasionally. It’s all a learning process.

      Thanks for all the nice stuff you said. The check is in the mail :)

  6. Inspiring stuff, Gary :)

    I’ve had a ton of guest posts (on Firepole even :D) and haven’t had nearly the results you’ve had, but then, I wasn’t using all 7 (or even half) of the best practices you outlined.

    What I really like about this some of the finer details you touched on that few do, when talking of guest posting, such as targeting your bio to the audience.

    I’d like to add that even if one can’t link to affiliate programs, at least linking internally to other articles on the host site is a good alternate.

    1. Thank you Jason. Good points. About the bios – it is a big deal… and it can always be better. Looking at my bio on this post I see two or three things I would have done differently. But it’s ok to let the learning process take its course.

      And internal links: you’re right. If you’ve really researched your target (or are already a fan of them) you will find other posts/services offered on that site to link to internally.

  7. You clearly have a lot to offer in addition to studying under some great guys. Thanks for the transparency.

    I have just created my ‘offer’ so your post could not have been more well received.

    Of course, there is one other wonderful benefit you will receive from executing so well – Google traffic long into the future.

    Hard to quantify but 182 can easily become 1082.. Nice work!

    Interested to know – Did you have a strong twitter following before you began blogging?

    Cheers, Quinn

    1. Hi Quin!

      I’m glad you mentioned transparency. I think it’s hugely important. If all we ever do is share the details that make us look good, how are any of us supposed to learn from each other? I figure you need to show your scars, right? :)

      As far as Twitter goes – prior to my first try at blogging (a crash and burn attempt last summer) I had no following at all on Twitter. Just a handful of friends. Those are all new connections.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  8. Great post, Gary. Just wish there were big enough blogs in my space that I could guest post on to bring me more traffic. I seem to be the biggest in my industry — which is good and bad. Guess I’ll start thinking outside the box.

  9. Matt:

    Actually – parallel or overlapping industries may be the way to go for you. My blog isn’t about Zen, but because there are some overlapping human elements (self-improvement etc) between that audience and mine, it worked out nicely.

    Also, I happen to know of a guy in the pool industry who has done VERY well for himself blogging. I won’t post other links here on ThinkTraffic out of respect, but feel free to contact me from my bio. Maybe I can help!

  10. Woa! What a great post! For a brand new blogger, this is fantastic. At times my blog feels like an unkept child, but it’s my goal to raise it into a robust and thriving entity of it’s own. Thanks for the great work.

  11. It’s rare to find a blogger with a unique voice, like Gary.

    Gary’s first guest post was on Write to Done. As soon as I saw his pitch, I emailed him: “Hey Gary, this proposed post is a cracker! I’d like you to become a regular contributor for WTD. Oh, and can you please write a guest post for Goodlife ZEN as well?”

    Yes, good writing makes things happen.

    I think we are seeing the start of a stellar blogging career here.
    Keep writing, Gary!

    1. Not sure what to say to that other than “Thank you” Mary. I try to get better every time – and posting with you has helped a lot. A tough editor makes for quick learning :)

      Thanks again! Very much.

  12. Great post here Gary, though that’s no surprise; as one of your new subscribers I can say that I learn something solid and actionable from each of your articles. The thing is, I’m in a totally different line of work than your site, which shows you the universality of your content.

    There were three things that hit home to me from this post: 1) adding your hosts affiliate link into your guest post if it is germane to the topic and audience (spot on) 2) creating a landing page specific for each audience you right for (wow!) and 3) tailoring your bio to the audience your writing for in a true manner.

    As you said, there is no magic pill, it’s all in the numbers. It’s about combining best practices which, in my view, lead to exponential numbers vs. using one or two sharp ideas in each post. Your content is always straightforward and I learn new lessons in every post. As always, thank you!

    1. Thank you Lee.

      And you know – you said it best. I didn’t make this stuff up. You can read about it here on ThinkTraffic or on other reputable. I’ve just made an effort to find reputable sources who know what they’re talking about, and make their successful behaviors my own. I appreciate the compliments, Lee :)

  13. Gary, you’re hitting it big now my friend! Well done and keep going! I’m once again highlighting guest posts on my to-do list!

    1. Wow. It’s homecoming here on ThinkTraffic. I’m very fortunate to have a great core audience.

      I think you have a lot of interesting angles you could take in guest posting. Can’t wait to see it happen for you!

      Thanks for saying hi, Mike.

  14. Gary! I love seeing you enjoy such great success! You’re doing awesome, my friend, and I’d bet a good part of that comes from just being genuine. People appreciate that.

    Congrats on the great post here! =)

    1. Thank you, Kaylee. I’d be lying if i told you it wasn’t really cool to have a post go up on another one of my favorite blogs. (Because it is really cool)

      I appreciate your support and unique brand of Kaylee enthusiasm!

  15. I damned proud to be one of your original twenty, Gary.

    Part of that compounding effect you mention comes from the fact that:
    > You always offer valuable real-world advice to your readers (epically!)
    > Your delivery is crystal clear, no BS, and fun to read.
    > You walk the walk, when it comes to taking your own advice seriously. Seriously!
    > You always reply to relevant comments left by readers on your guest posts. This one matters, and is a key part of “engagement” — everybody’s favorite buzzword these days.

    When someone takes the time to read your post and then makes an effort to leave a bit of thoughtful feedback, it only makes sense to continue the conversation, even briefly. Funny, isn’t it, how many posters and guest-posters can’t be bothered?

    Love your use of Jefferson’s famous quote. Keep ’em coming, my friend!

    1. :) You ARE part of my original 20! Why you stuck with me through my first drunken (not really) stumble through the blogosphere, I’ll never know, Jim!

      Thanks very much for all those nice comments. I’d like to rant a bit about one in particular which is responding to relevant comments.

      Just like I said in #5 above, I’m Corbett and Caleb’s guest here… and they’re allowing me to interact with their family. (you all) I wouldn’t come into your house as a guest and blow off your family, so why would I do it here?

      Plus… I have a great time in the comments. Lots of interesting thoughts and the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. I don’t get those who don’t do it. They’re missing out in my opinion. This is the fun part!

  16. Thanks for this, Gary! I can’t tell you how motivating and inspiring it is to hear the success stories of relatively new bloggers. I find the wins are so much more impressive when you start with practically nothing. And in time when you are well on your way, the fails become some of your best stories!

    Consider yourself a teacher too, Gary. What I’ve learned from you today, is that it IS possible to get noticed, be heard and make a difference online. I appreciate you sharing your insights!

    1. I agree completely about the fails, Kimberly.

      Maybe it’s just me, but reading about someone’s losses (and resulting adjustments) is some of the most interesting parts of the content. I tend to be a bit suspicious of those who come off as “perfect” because I don’t know anyone successful online or off who hasn’t taken a beating at some point.

      Thanks for the nice comments and the feedback!

  17. I have a site that I am developing and am trying to get it all nailed down so that I can invite someone besides my mom to have a look (it is goofy but I keep it live).

    Your #2 suggestion is really a smart strategy. For me I am still learning to write and need to write for a few more months before I can imagine having a free e-book anything. I am not coming from a place of having a former site, and that knowledge to build on. This is my first content marketing site.

    Still, I see your right about this gift thing. The only thing I can imagine having when I finally start notifying the world that I am here is actual product that I have made. I make pottery and jewelry. It would have to be some kind of “your name will be entered to win” kinda of thing. Does this seem lame and desperate to you. Thanks so much, Holly

    1. Hey Holly!

      That’s a great question… and I think a lot of us (me included) overlook a LOT of great opt-in incentive possibilities. We all think eBook right away. And even though that’s what I went with, there are so many other options that have value.

      I’ve seen: Video courses, live training events, email courses, infographics, webinars, audio files, free consultations, and all kinds of other things offered as an opt-in incentives. And your “enter to win” might work, too. My only question mark with that would be that not *everyone* who subscribes would receive value. Just the winners.

      I’ll refer you back to #1 in the post. Find someone who has “been there, done that” and run it by them. You can’t beat advice straight from the (successful) horse’s mouth :)

      Thanks for the comment!

  18. Hi Gary
    Great sumup of the reasons why we should do guest posting – and not any guest posting, but EPIC guest posting. At the moment I haven’t tried any since I am still in the process of coming up with a free optin gift for my subscribers – your post is just confirming me that I should follow with these steps in order: 1. the free gift 2. guest post(s).
    And thanks for the advice about using the website’s affiliate link. Now that you say it, it makes complete sense, but I had never thought about this before.

    The idea of a special page for each person coming from a guest post is great – I’ll have to steal that one from you :)

    1. Hey Nicholas!

      Don’t let an eBook stop you. That’s just what worked out for me. You can use any number of things as an opt-in incentive. (See the reply I left for Holly above this)

      Get something of value to your target audience and go, go, go! :)

  19. Thanks for such a great post. I’ve actually learnt 4 brilliant things here.
    1. That a 60% – 70% bounce rate is considered good
    2. To adapt your bio to the readers (wow so simple and obviously effective when you read about it)
    3. To create a landing page for the readers of the guest blog – Love it!
    4. That when we APPLY the stuff we read about it makes a difference.

    Good luck on your blog – wishing you every success.

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful, Karen.

      I love your #4. I always say books and blogs are great sources of information – but in and of themselves they don’t get you anywhere unless you act on that information.

      And I’m just starting, too. There’s always something new to learn or try. Best of luck to you as well!

  20. Hi Gary,
    This was a terrific post. I will be sharing the link to your post at my site. I have a blogging page that this link will fit perfectly on. Thanks again for sharing so much great information.

  21. Hey Gary

    Really great read and thanks for sharing your success if really does makes things so much more clearer when great marketers like yourself share what has worked for you.

    Love your style of writing


    1. :) Do you have any more posts just like this, If so I’ll be adding it to my reading list this weekend.

    2. Just like this one, no. But I do have a list of all my guest posts to date on my site. You can get there by clicking on my bio in this post.

      Thanks, Danny!

  22. You study the system, then you execute. Beauty. 57% is an amazing number.

    “Epic doesn’t always have to mean 3,000 words.” Hah! Yes, I’ve learnt that lesson the hard way.

    P.S. I also went through Start A Blog That Matters. It was a gamechanger.

    1. I agree. SABTM is a great resource. I still log in pretty regularly after all this time.

      Your posts are all meat, Amit. Not much there to apologize for, my friend!

  23. I can totally relate to this post. SABTM, guest posting, first 20-30 subscribers then wooop, I got a heap of subscribers. For me, this is one step of the way. Engagement is another task that is even more difficult to push. Something frustrating but I am working and experimenting on right now with learning from Danny Iny’s ABM 😉

  24. Some really good information there. I’m an up and coming blogger hoping to some day get a guest post on a high profile blog, and when I do, I’ll make sure to come back here and re-read everything. I’ll definitely push myself to write the best article I’ve ever written.

    Thanks again,


  25. This was terrific. How beautifully you explained every minute step to reap maximum benefits from guest blogging.

    Guest blogging have been proved one of the unconquerable tool in online world that no-one can deny the importance of this. I myself started guest blogging few days back and have done 11 posts till now.

    And what?

    I just crossed my 500 subscribers two days back in just 84 days.

    Thanks a lot for telling us this awesome story.

  26. Hi Gary

    Great tips and great story many of us can relate to. I wanted to skim your post (lazy sunday) but I would read one part and then scroll back up to read the rest I missed :)
    I’m currently in Danny’s audience biz course.
    My dilemma is that I’m trying to rank my landing page for some SEO keywords.. Firstly I don’t actually know if landing pages can rank well in google as there’s not many words in the content (but imagine if it can rank well!), and secondly to create custom landing pages for each guest post wouldn’t allow me to do that (I’d never accumulate backlinks).. hmm..
    But all your other points are gold, especially customising bio for each site!

  27. Wow! I am new to blogging and I heard about guest posting recently. I am glad I read this post before getting involved with this form of promotion. Thanks for the info!

  28. Great post Gary,

    I like your mindset that the bigger blog is actually doing you a favor rather than the reverse. Any big blog can get a ton of contributors writing for it because they have the audience. Therefore you have to really add the most value possible to the owners and to the readers.

    Good job and look forward to seeing more of your stuff in the future.

  29. Good mindset I agree guest blogging can be very powerful when done right.

    Myblogguest is getting me pretty good results and I just signed up a few days ago looking for a few quality guest posts.

    Build up your blogs traffic a bit and you will get more blog guests willing to line up to help contribute and build your blog.

    Guest blogging works out great for both parties it is always a win, win!

Comments are closed.