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.
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:
- 155 comments
- 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:
- Try to write your best post ever. Every time.
- Do your part. Promote the post everywhere, giving credit to the host site.
- 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.