Posts

blogging case study

A Case Study in Blogging: 21,600 Keyword Rankings in Google and 90,000 Visitors Per Month

This May, we’re celebrating our 8th full year of business at Express Writers.

Looking back, it doesn’t even feel like eight years.

More like a century. (Just kidding!)

Seriously, though, I’m thankful that we’re here this May. Eight years is nothing to sneeze at. Just look at these statistics from Motley Fool:

  • 80% of new businesses survive past their first year of operation.
  • 50% of businesses make it to five years.
  • And only 33% of businesses make it to ten years.

Considering that I started this entire operation back in 2011 with an investment of the crumbs left in my broke-college-student savings account, $75, I’m thrilled that we’ve made it this far.

With a 100% chance of failure, I rolled up my sleeves and put in many 60 and even 90-hour work weeks in the beginning. We kept chugging along, growing at incredible speeds every year. (If you haven’t seen my entrepreneurial story video on YouTube, you might enjoy it.)

As I was digging into ideas to write a blog to celebrate our eighth year here on the Write Blog, it hit me that we didn’t have any fresh case studies on our blogging traffic and analytics, which have recently been the highest they’ve ever been. It also came to my mind the current state of affairs: how many content marketers and blog publishers are still struggling to even see success from their online efforts. So, this case study is needed.

If you read one blog from me this year, make it this one.

Check out @JuliaEMcCoy's new study on @ExpWriters' content success 🔥 A Case Study in Blogging: 21,600 Keyword Rankings in Google and 90,000 Visitors Per Month Click To Tweet

blogging case study express writers

A Case Study in Blogging: 21,600 Keyword Rankings in Google and 90,000 Visitors Per Month

Let’s dive into my blogging case study! First, let’s talk about the beginning (strategy), and the end (results).

The Power of, and Strategy Involved In, Brand Blogging that Works

Fun fact: Blogging used to be just for the people that “journaled their thoughts” on the web.

The idea of blogging online itself originated in 1994, when a college student named Justin Hall began a stint of “personal blogging” that lasted eleven years. He was enrolled at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Originally, the words “escribitionists” and “weblog” were used to describe what is now known as “blog.” Thank goodness that word evolved!

Blogging is now far more than just an online diary.

It’s a huge opportunity for businesses, brands and marketers to express themselves to their audience, grow and build a real community, and share the authentic real “human side” behind the brand.

Blogging is a #1 method for marketers and brands to add consistent new site traffic that may eventually convert and become a buyer.

At Express Writers, I’ve managed to write and publish over 1,100 blogs on our site over the past eight years, with the help of my team.

The amount of content we publish on our blog, the consistency of it, and the quality and relevancy of our blog posts are the biggest factors behind what is now 90,000+ visitors/month coming to our site:

  • We have 1,188 blogs published to date since 2012, the year I began consistently blogging.
  • That’s an average of 169 blogs published per year.
  • Our traffic went up steadily over the years, increasing when we put an emphasis on quality over quantity of content in late 2016 and ramped up in 2017.
  • Our quality > quantity emphasis that began in 2016 focused on a few things: implementing a real content strategy for the first time and going from publishing four blogs/week to 1-2 high-quality blogs/week.

The amount of content we publish on our blog, the consistency of it, and the quality and relevancy of our blog posts are the biggest factors behind what is now 90,000+ visitors/month. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Here’s a timeline tracking our biggest historic growth points, pulled from this blog I wrote on content strategy and my masterclass on how to build a strong content strategy. Right around the time we focused on a content strategy and quality over quantity, our results started to shoot through the roof.

The data speaks. Check out how our SEO tracking in SEMrush reflects a spike in growth right around the time we built a content strategy and emphasized quality over quantity:

semrush express writers traffic

Last week, when I was giving a talk on content creation right here in Austin, Texas, I shared these two slides that sums up our content success story well.

The Google Analytics screenshot below was from March of this year, and this April, we had our first 90,000 traffic/month.

blogging case study

Smart marketers shouldn’t be too excited by these numbers until they see the conversion rate and the sales. (Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, anyone? “Talk numbers!”)

On average, we are achieving the benchmark conversion statistic for organic search traffic. 14-16% of our leads are converting.

roi from blogging

As Mr. Wonderful would say, “To cash flow!”

cash flow mr wonderful shark tank

Now, here’s what our traffic numbers look like as of writing this blog over late April 2019.

Our Google Analytics:

google express writers traffic

On the right, in the blue box, you can see how 10 out of these 14 visitors are on a blog post the moment this screenshot was taken. This is very common for our traffic.

Now, check out our SEO ranking statistics in SEMrush again.

We’re at 21,600 keyword rankings in Google. I have the graph set to “all-time”, so this is going back to May 2013, when I first started a SEMrush tracking project for our site. I’m in love with the traffic growth shown in this graph that spiked beginning in 2017, which is the year we got strategic. Learn more about how getting strategic paid off for us, here.

semrush express writers traffic

Because of the content geeks we are and how consistent our content is, Google loves our site. Plus, everything we do is always organic, audience-first, and ethical. I never pay a dime in PPC ads, and we don’t allow advertisers to ever have access to our site or blog (even though I’m pitched at least once per day).

You can see proof of our Domain Authority with expresswriters.com in Alexa, Amazon’s pioneer in the world of analytical website insight. Alexa clocks us at being the 97,000th-most popular website in the world, which is pretty crazy given there are over 1.6 billion websites in the world (InternetLiveStats).

alexa ranking express writersAs for our content creation itself: everything — everything — we publish and create on our site is focused around several key things:

  • Offering real value, factual and statistical (real) insights, truly useful
  • Is focused on topics our audience is interested in
  • Optimized at an advanced level for SEO; semantic-search-friendly
  • Great writing is #1
  • Consistency in fresh, great content every week

I believe one of the main factors behind our success is that we’ve blogged once a week, minimum, for 8 years. Consistency pays off. We took it to the next level in 2016 when we added a focus on the strategy behind and quality of content.

I believe one of the main factors behind our success is that we've blogged once a week, minimum, for 8 years. Consistency pays off. We took it to the next level in 2016 when we added a focus on strategy and quality. 📈 @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

We constantly gauge things by will our human audience like this? Will they feel at home with this? Does this make me/she/he uncomfortable or turned off? If the answer to that last question is no, we never publish. I have barred dozens of writers from writing my content for these reasons. If my content borders anywhere near fluff, my audience might be lost and never want to come back.

Maintaining these standards is key.

Plus, it’s important to note that no “paid tactics” will ever get in the way of our core, human-centric mission and organic marketing focus: delivering great content consistently to our human audience.

No 'paid tactics' will ever get in the way of our core, human-centric mission: delivering great content consistently to our human readers. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

What’s Your Content Schedule?

Now please don’t go and copy my schedule. But, because I’m always asked, here’s what our content publishing amount and velocity looks.

Fact: Your content schedule should be up to you, your team, your audience, and your goals. But you need to get one put in place. (Keep reading for more advice about that.)

  • 1 powerful Write Blog post every Tuesday morning: These blogs have to fit in the category of SEO goals, thought leadership, or brand awareness, and be a minimum of 1,000 words and a maximium of 5,000. Learn more about content goals here. One amazing blog per week is what we are able to commit to.
  • Bi-weekly and once-a-month: A new YouTube video with recap posted as a blog (see an example), and a recap by our social media manager Rachel of our monthly #ContentWritingChat (example).
  • Once/quarter: Product updates and stories about our clients or team (here’s an example). (These are usually once per quarter or less).
  • 1-3 email campaigns/week: Sent in tandem with the new content we create to our list. We use ConvertKit.
  • Guest blogs: I write once/month and once/quarter for several publications to drive more traffic to our site, including Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, Thrive, and less often, MarketingProfs, MarTech, KissMetrics, SiteProNews, and a few other random ones.
  • Once-a-month: Content on my other sites, including The Content Strategy & Marketing Course blog, and soon, my new personal brand Content Hacker. These typically include links back to Express Writers.
One amazing blog per week is what we are able to commit to. Learn about our #contentmarketing publishing schedule for @ExpWriters Click To Tweet

content schedule Express Writers

What Are Your Tools & Process?

I love Airtable for at-a-glance blog topic tracking and publishing. My social media manager, Rachel, and my team editor, Danielle, are both collaborators on the Write Blog calendar. My designer is also an Airtable collaborator and uploads header sets and CTA images once I have a topic and a date nailed down. We communicate through our teamroom, which Josh, our CTO, set up years ago for our internal workflow inside our website.

Here’s a sneak peek at the Write Blog calendar in Airtable. We’ve set up our calendar entirely custom to us and our workflow. This isn’t based on a template. For us, these custom and specific columns work best because we have collaborators that help me with the blog: editor, designer, social media manager. The designer has a column where she can upload header sets and CTAs after she knows what blog to produce them for. Up at the top, you can see all the tabs we have — a tab just for ideas, a tab for content that’s been scheduled, a tab for the content we’re updating or rewriting, a tab for our Twitter chat, and more.

write blog airtable julia mccoy

Sidenote: I can’t recommend Airtable enough – in fact, I teach how to use it to my content strategy students. I’ve tried many editorial calendars, and this one is the best. Sign up to a free trial of Airtable here. 

My blogging process looks a little like this:

  • Stage 1: Ideation. I have an ‘ideation’ day, which is typically Monday and sometimes Friday, if Monday was dry. This is a day devoted just to producing ideas that will work for the Write Blog and my YouTube channel, as well as guest publications. I research each and every idea for SEO keywords or data-backed topic velocity using tools like SEMrush and BuzzSumo, or I map my content to a non-data-centric goal (i.e., recapping an event for my audience that I was at or spoke at, sharing product updates). Since I look at this as a ‘stage,’ I batch. I typically come up with 5-6 great ideas from a few hours just in brainstorming.
  • Stage 2: Creation – Outlining & Delegating. Once I have a data-backed idea that will work, I produce a topic and outline, and hand it off to one of my three dedicated writers in Express Writers. These specific three have been handling my content tasks for years now. Since I came up with 5-6 ideas, I’ll assign all of those at once with different due dates in the ‘delegation’ or ‘creation’ stage. Sometimes, I’ll write the whole thing myself. For example, this blog is 100%, fully written by yours truly.
  • Stage 3: Editing & Scheduling. This is a full stage in and of itself. After the content piece is fully written, I carefully review, add my own thoughts, rewrite where necessary, and add personal case studies. I request an image set from my designer, and plan out any content upgrades (lead magnets) we’re going to create CTAs for. Then I hand it to Danielle, my Write Blog editor, for proofreading and uploading/formatting inside WordPress and our Write Blog. Then, I review again (yes, I’m a blogging Nazi). Finally, we schedule and Danielle makes sure it’s live.
  • Stage 4: Promotion. At this stage, Rachel, our social media manager, pulls the data from Airtable and anything else I’ll Slack or email to her, and she writes and schedules shares for our blogs across all our social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I personally write and schedule my own tweets and posts across my platforms and personal profiles, as well. I also share individual snippets to my Facebook group and Instagram stories.

It took years to get this process down, and I will say that a process and especially the delegation of creation is what makes me a ‘content boss’ – p.s. that’s what others have called me, not what I’ve called myself.

My best piece of advice for incredibly consistent, high-quality content production? Get your process down, delegate the meat (but not the ideas), and you’ll be off to content rockstar-dom. Psst… did you know we handle full-circle monthly blogging plans for our clients? Your only responsibility — ideation. 

Which Blog Posts Can You Tie to Revenue — and Which Ones Fell Flat?

Ah, great question.

I definitely have examples of blogs that won and blogs that fell flat on their faces — and I’ll pull a few, but it’s important to make a disclosure first.

Today’s buyer journey is NOT predictable.

I repeat: today’s buyer journey is not predictable.

Essentially, the old funnel developed in the 1920s for ‘salesmen’ is dead. I wrote about a Marketing Lifecycle concept on the Write Blog a few months ago that shares some insights into this.

Andrew and Pete, two rockstar content marketers, made this analogy in one of their YouTube videos. It’s a terrific analogy of today’s (REAL) buyer journey.

buyer journey andrew and pete

Our Buyer Journey: In Short, It’s Completely Unpredictable

I have seen our buyer journeys go into a multitude of areas. Here are a few pathways our leads have taken.

  • Finds us in Google, downloads this lead magnet after reading this blog -> They’re enrolled in my 5-day sequence on why and how SEO writing skills are more than just ‘one item’ to learn and the story behind why I built my Expert SEO Content Writer Course -> They buy the course on the second day.
  • Same pathway as above, but they unsubscribe and leave instead of buying the course.
  • I wake up to a $999 course sale from someone. I research them, their name, and there is nothing. No data. They aren’t on any list I have. I have no idea where they came from. I’ll ask, and it’s a random “My boss found you and we decided to enroll because we really need the training.” (Which is awesome!)
  • A subscriber for 3+ years reads this blog on how long should a blog post be -> They book a call with our Strategist, John -> They buy over $1,000 in content services that Friday.
  • A marketer finds our blog posts in Google and reads one, gets familiar with us -> follows me on Twitter -> Scrolls through Twitter one night, reads one of my tweets on content marketing that is intriguing to them, checks out my profile, hops over to @ExpWriters from my Twitter bio, follows a tweet of a blog post to our blog, schedules a call with our team leader -> Says they’ll invest in content when they’re ready -> That’s fine – we leave them alone -> They subscribe to the Write Blog newsletter -> They read every new blog I publish -> Four months later, they load a cart and buy their first content service from us late at night when we’re asleep.
  • No matter how many times I optimize our Write Bot (Drift chat), I still see this one: Person starts chatting with the Write Bot -> Was instantly annoyed it was a bot -> left and never came back.

buyer journey

And these are just the known pathways. What clients have told us (word-of-mouth data), and what I’ve seen from my own lead magnets and sequences that I’ve personally set up. There are many other pathways I can’t even put a finger on. For example, someone buys our services or my course, no discount code, $1,000+ — and they weren’t on my subscriber list. I’ve never interacted with them once. Where did they come from? God knows. And if I ask them, they might not even remember the first time they saw my content (I’ve gotten this before: “Oh, some guest blog somewhere!”). That’s the best, right? Of course, that doesn’t happen often enough. You can’t just build up random expectations on random purchases. 90% of our leads and purchases do come from strategic content that was created around a target keyword pulling in our ideal client. The other 10% is totally random and we have no idea who they are, or how they found us.

Today’s modern buyer wants to follow and make their own path, and it’s important we allow them the space and breathing room to do that. Any kind of pressure from us marketers will actually negate and spoil their journey. We might lose them before we even gain them, just from trying too hard.

What an age to live in!

Today's modern buyer wants to follow and make their own path, and it's important we allow them the space and breathing room to do that. Any kind of pressure from us could cause us to lose them before we gain them. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Here are a few examples of real-life blog posts that have won real return and revenue for us, and a blog that has fallen completely flat.

  • This one in January of 2019, How to Build a Strong Digital Content Strategy in 2019 & Beyond, is now ranking in Google’s featured snippets and top 3 for “digital content strategy.” We found that keyword in KWFinder sitting at just under 40 in KD (Keyword Difficulty). (Hey look, I practice what I preach!) We’ve gotten some Content Strategy & Marketing Course enrollments from this blog ranking already!
  • This blog on How Long Should a Blog Post Be, Really? earned real responses from a couple of blog subscribers, who replied to my New Content Campaign I’d sent from my ConvertKit account. (I send all my emails using ConvertKit. Very user-friendly.) Plus, someone opened the chat and booked a call with us about ongoing content after reading it. It built trust and interest from existing subscribers and generated interest in our services.
  • This one ranks #1 in Google for “funny words” and a bunch of synonymous phrases, but earns not a single lead: 34 of the Craziest Words in the English Dictionary. In fact, we get a lot of young people trying to get us to help them with their essays from this blog. (Which we do NOT do.) I’m still debating what to do with it. I’ll probably rewrite it with an angle towards marketers that need to learn how to write content and use words that fit in their target market.

Content Works – But It Doesn’t Work if You Don’t Set It Up to Work

I think I’ve written down the reality of blogging and content marketing ROI so many times in so many blog posts, I’m blue in the fingers. (That’s my synonymous analogy to speaking till you’re blue in the face, but for writers.)

Specifically, these four statistical truths:

  1. The average time span to see content marketing or even real blogging results is 12-18 months (Joe Pulizzi & CMI, [New Research] B2C Marketers Need to Give Content Marketing Time)
  2. Hubspot studied over 13,500 bloggers and found that the more blog posts published, the more inbound traffic publishers got to their website.
  3. An accumulation of more content brings more leads: companies that have published 401+ blog posts get 2x as much traffic as those that have than 400. (Same study referenced above.)
  4. The current ROA (return of advertising) is .6x, down from 11.8x in 2016. (Ad Strategist) You’re losing money, most of the time. The ROI (return of investment) of organic content is anywhere from 14-16% of traffic (conversion into sales).

But here’s the thing.

I can’t keep spewing these statistics over and over again, just to see you all out there, spinning your wheels.

I can’t.

That’s why I’m writing this blog today.

For those still in the rut of zero action in their content marketing. 

Not getting the fundamentals of great copy on their site right, and not stepping into consistency and greatness in content production.

All the while, complaining about the things they don’t have.

Not enough leads.

Not enough sales.

Not enough people on the website.

If they just sat down and fixed these problems, which are so easy to fix — hired an educated writer to rewrite all that not-so-shiny content, bring on a website designer to finally fix their site, get a blogging plan set up and rocking…

Those leads…

Those sales…

Those people…

Would come.

I'm writing this blog today for those still in the rut of zero action in their content marketing. For those complaining about the things they don't have that would come if they took action: leads, sales, traffic. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

I’m tired of seeing you out there. Working your knuckles off to make those sales appointments happen.

I just need one more sale today. One more.

You think it’s a quick fix, and it’s none of these fundamentals.

And you complain about all the things you wish you could have.

Which you could have — if you fixed your content. Get your broken website rebuilt. Take another look at all that content written more than two years ago. Rethink your absence on the company blog.

I care about you, and that’s why I’m calling you out today.

Quit complaining about the leads, traffic, and sales you don’t have.

Start doing something about it.

Content marketing action-takers are the content marketing winners.

Content marketing action-takers are the content marketing winners. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Let my case study be your inspiration.

You can do this.

And getting on a pathway to content success is as easy as 1,2,3…

I’ll even give you these three steps.

  1. Hire a good WordPress designer from platforms like Upwork to fix, clean, or rebuild your messy site to make it lightning-fast, Google-friendly, reader-friendly and beautiful – $30-50/hour
  2. Get a writer to help rehaul all your icky content, and an SEO’er to help research the right target keywords to use – psst, we do all of that!
  3. Plan a consistent amount of blogs to happen on your site every month – oh, we do high-quality set-and-forget blog plans, too

Don’t forget a pro photographer to take your headshots if you don’t have any on your website. You’ll need to get your social media going, too. We write the copy and create images, but you should get a social media pro to help if you don’t have one.

Really, though, this is the action you need to take — and it’s not hard.

Get a great website. (Build one if you don’t have one. Rebuild one if yours is crap. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.)

Make sure all your content is original, conversion-crafted, and beautiful — and SEO-optimized so the right people can find it.

Plan your blogs and make ’em happen.

Special Announcement!

As promised, I have a special announcement for you.

My all-new content marketing brand, Content Hacker™, is coming out to play this June.

You can sign up to hear about the launch here: contenthacker.com.

With this brand, I want to grow a community of smart content marketers and offer tools, resources, training, and education that will give every single budding marketing smarty the chance to really make a difference.

Build content that resonates. That returns. That earns.

And of course, I’ll still be here, leading operations at Express Writers — if you need custom content, all you need to do is holla… we’re your team.

Let’s do this. 

Build profitable content that delights our audience, and exceeds every goal and expectation.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn

guest blogging

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Grow and Build Your Own Guest Blogging Platform with Erika Heald

Have you ever thought about guest blogging as a way to grow your online presence?

Whether you’re looking to start guest blogging on other sites or you want to accept guest posts for your own blog, this week’s #ContentWritingChat is a great one! To help you take full advantage of guest blogging, we’re sharing some amazing advice from the chat in this recap!

How to Grow and Build Your Own Guest Blogging Platform

Our guest host this week was Erika Heald. Erika is a marketing consultant and a freelance writer. She’s also the host of a weekly Twitter chat, #ContentChat. Be sure to check it out every Monday at 2 PM Central!

Erika has plenty of experience with guest blogging, which is why she joined our chat to talk all about it this week. She had great tips to share with all of us, so let’s dive into the recap!

Q1: Why is guest blogging a beneficial way to grow your online presence?

You’ve probably heard people rave about the benefits of guest blogging before. However, you may be wondering if it’s really worthwhile. Here’s why guest blogging can do wonders for you:

Erika said that guest blogging on established websites will help you expand your reach, while also increasing your domain authority. If you’re a blog editor, accepting guest posts on your site will increase your talent pool and distribution channels.

Maureen said guest blogging allows you to show, not tell, people about your expertise, perspective, and personality.

One person who certainly sees the benefits of guest blogging is our very own Julia. She said guest blogging has helped build brand exposure, while also bringing in 50-60% of new leads.

As Brittany said, you get to share your expertise with an audience that has already been built.

Having the ability to share your expertise and knowledge with a new audience is a powerful way to build your own brand.

Guest blogging essentially brings two audiences together and helps you get noticed.

As Sarah said, guest posts allow you to get a different take on subjects, expand your audience, and attract new influencers.

Q2: How do you determine which websites are the right fit for you to guest blog on?

Now that you’re ready to get started with guest blogging, you need to choose the right websites. How do you go about that? Here’s some helpful advice to keep in mind:

Erika likes to look for opportunities with websites that share her audience, but aren’t direct competitors. Ideally, she wants to submit a post to a website that has a higher domain authority that she can count on to do promotion once the post is live.

Lexie shared a great question you should ask yourself when trying to select a website to guest post on. Does that blog have a similar audience to you? It’s important that you’re reaching the right people with the content you share.

Julia suggests looking for websites that allow for ongoing columns. This is great because it’ll consistently provide you with new opportunities in the future. She also said that website needs to be relevant to you and they should allow you to link back to your website.

As Kristen said, make sure you take time to research their audience. You want to determine if their people are also your people.

You don’t want to waste your time speaking on the wrong topic to the wrong audience!

If a website isn’t in the same industry as you, could you still help their audience solve a problem. This is how Brittany considers guest blogging opportunities.

Q3: Once you know where’d you like to guest blog, how do you go about pitching them?

You have a list of sites you’d like to guest blog on. Now you need to send a pitch to them with your proposal for a post. It’s a scary thing for fear of rejection, but it’s a lot easier than you think. Check out these great tips:

Once Erika has chosen sites she’d like to post on, she searches for their contributor guidelines. These are important to follow when submitting work to another site. If you can’t find guidelines, she suggests emailing the editor with your pitch and asking for their guidelines.

Guidelines are definitely essential!

Even Julia agrees that reading and complying with guidelines is a must. She also recommends pitching an entire article, not just a topic.

Another great tip is to share how you can add value to their blog. Give them a reason to accept your pitch.

Developing a relationship with the right person will really come in handy. You’ll be more likely to be accepted when you have a standing relationship with the team. If not, share a sample of your work so they will get a taste of what they can expect from you.

Maureen also recommends getting to know the team behind the blog. That will really help you out!

Shelly suggests engaging with the blog’s social media accounts before pitching. This helps build a relationship with them beforehand because they just might take notice. Comment on their posts and share their content. They’ll appreciate it!

Brent’s advice is to build genuine relationship with the editors, research their site, pitch original ideas, and then deliver quality content.

Brandie said you should spend time researching their network to figure out which topics would be of interest to their audience.

Cheval knows a compliment goes a long way when you’re pitching a guest post!

Kristen said it’s best to pitch a fully-baked article with images. They’ll see exactly what you’re pitching and will be able to determine if it’s a good fit. If it’s not, move onto someone else or use the content for your own website.

Q4: What strategies can you use to get the most out of your guest blogging efforts?

To maximize your guest blogging efforts, there are a few things you can do! For a guest post that really pays off for your brand, keep this advice in mind:

To make guest blogging work for you, Erika said you want to gain a quality link back to your website. Make sure you have great content on your website you can link to within the guest post.

To increase traffic to the post, she suggests including influencer contributions in the post. They’ll be more likely to share something they’ve been featured in. Plus, you need to share the content through your own social media channels. You might even run a paid ad on social media!

Maureen suggests adding a clear call to action at the end of your post. You want to tell readers what that next step is, especially if they’re just hearing about you for the first time.

Brandie’s advice is to think about your goals for guest blogging. She also encourages you to include a call to action to check back to respond to comments people may have left.

To make the most of your efforts, Julia thinks it’s a great idea to continue to write for that blog. If things worked out, pitch them in the future to gain more exposure.

Having a long-term relationship with the people behind the website you posted on is very beneficial. It opens up the door for more opportunities in the future.

As Sarah said, make sure you are sharing the content on all of your social media channels. She even suggests repurposing it into different mediums like a podcast or video.

Q5: How can you start accepting guest posts for your own website?

Now that we’ve talked about pitching guest posts for other websites, you may want to consider accepting them for your blog. To get started with that, here’s some advice that will help you out:

To get started with accepting guest post submissions, Erika advises you to create guidelines. You can present this to writers to ensure their content fits within your quality standards.

From them, Erika said to post a call for contributors on your site. She feels it’s important to respond to all submissions you receive, even if they don’t make the cut. Let the writer know why their piece wasn’t approved and give them the opportunity to redo it.

As Lexie said, you have to let people know you accept guest posts if you want people to begin submitting. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

You can create a page on your website where you ask for guest post submissions or share the details on social media.

And remember that there’s no shame in rejecting a piece that was submitted to you. Stick to your standards!

Q6: Is it important to provide writers with guidelines when submitting posts? How do you ensure your content fits?

We’ve already talked about the importance of having guidelines, but how do you know when a piece of content is the right fit? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say:

Without guidelines for writers, Erika knows you’ll wind up with a lot of submissions that simply aren’t good enough or don’t fit your site. Your guidelines should include topics you’re looking for, post length, and anything else you deem important.

As Sarah said, it’s not a free-for-all! Guidelines give people something to follow and strive to achieve. Sarah suggests reviewing the writer’s past work to get an idea of their skills.

Julia said guidelines are key to ensuring your brand is represented correctly by every writer.

Having guidelines in place will ensure you get good submissions.

Tony said that he had a site send over guidelines before he began writing, which is a major plus.

Q7: Which websites are great for content marketers to contribute to?

If you’re a content marketer and need some suggestions for sites to pitch, check out these recommendations from the chat:

Erika recommends pitching to the following sites: Content Marketing Institute, SpinSucks, MarketingProfs, and Marketing Land.

Julia knows it’s all about choosing relevant sites. You need to know your audience and figure out which websites they’re actively reading.

Brent suggests guest blogging for sites like Content Marketing Institute, Skyword, and Copy Hackers.

Cheval’s recommendations include Simply Measured and Social Media Examiner.

Q8: What final advice should we keep in mind when guest blogging or accepting submissions for our site?

To wrap up the chat, we asked everyone to share their best advice that everyone should keep in mind going forward with guest blogging. Here are a few key tidbits:

Make it your goal to be invited back for another guest post in the future. Erika said it’s also important to engage with the readers. You can do this by responding to the comments you receive.

She also knows the edits you do can make a huge difference with your content. Just don’t overdo it when it comes to SEO.

Always focus on producing quality content.

Julia shared two great pieces of advice. First, she encourages everyone to remember that pitching blogs can be a long game. You have to be patient, establish a relationship with the site’s team, and have perseverance.

She also said you shouldn’t be afraid to go after those sites you want to publish a post on. You never know what might happen, so go for it!

It’s also wise to tell people how their guest post submitted when it’s one on your own site. This gives the writer great feedback for the future.

Kristen said to use guest blogging as a way to develop ongoing relationships. That always makes a huge difference and opens the door for many more opportunities!

Don’t be afraid to be stingy with the work you accept on your own site. You want to make sure only the best makes it through.

Ready to join in on #ContentWritingChat? We’re hanging out on Twitter every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time! Just follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat so you stay updated!

free course

guest blogging

#HowToWrite Guest Blogging Content: 10 Keys

Here’s the scoop on guest blogging: Google doesn’t appreciate paid links or content published just so you can “win” a link. However, if your guest post is informative, genuine, and helpful, including a relevant link back to your website is a great way to improve your exposure and relevance.

Is guest blogging a worthy investment?

It no longer results in the skyrocketing SEO as it did before Google started evaluating placed links more thoroughly.

However, guest blogging still affords some pretty sweet rewards:

  • Exposure to the blog and brand’s audience (hopefully including promotion on their social media and email list).
  • Increased authority and reputation.
  • Opportunity to expand or blog just outside your niche.
  • Possibility of capturing secondary or tertiary audiences where they live.

guest-blogging-tips

10 Keys to Writing Great Guest Blogs

If you’ve determined the blog presents a good opportunity for you, it’s time to create your guest blog. Let’s cover the basics of how to get it done.

Guest Blog Writing Key #1: Read the Guidelines

Quite simply, your guest post has the best chance of being accepted if it conforms to all the guidelines set forth by the editor(s). Ideally, you should read the guidelines before you even pitch. Guidelines usually include rules about:

  • Images (including acceptable sources).
  • Author biography and headshot.
  • How many links you are permitted to include in the post.
  • Word count.
  • Tone, style, and level of formality.

The editor should also be able to provide you with stellar examples of content published on the blog.

Surprisingly, guidelines are often vague – even when editors are picky. In this case, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Guest Blog Writing Key #2: Let Your Expertise Shine

Expertise isn’t just about what you know – it’s about what you do with it. Through successes (and failures) in webinar presentations, I’ve learned that audiences respond most sincerely to application and innovation. Anyone can look up how to do something, but knowing how to apply it to a particular problem is especially important. The best content connects the dots and enlightens processes for readers.

You don’t have to give away every detail behind your process or way of thinking, but provide a window into your world.

I speak often about merging the personal and professional brand – something you can do carefully and successfully if you decide it’s the right fit for your business and your life. When I decided to merge my personal and professional Twitter accounts in a “Twitter wedding,” I documented the process and received positive feedback about the transparency of the post.

Depending on your audience, you’ll need to display expertise through a combination of:

  • Story (how you did it).
  • Data (proof that you did it).
  • Example (the final product).

Each guest posting opportunity presents a challenge to find the right balance of story, data, and example, so make sure to communicate with your editor or point of contact to ensure clear expectations.

Guest Blog Writing Key #3: Let It Flow

When it comes to keeping the reader engaged, flow is what makes your post stick. Your entire post should read as though it was written by one person in one sitting (even if took you days to put it together). Each tip or idea should connect to the next, and if it’s a how-to post (like this one), the order of steps should make sense.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn the 10 key steps to writing an awesome guest blog post over on @ExpWriters!” quote=”Learn the 10 key steps to writing an awesome guest blog post over on @ExpWriters!”]

Guest Blog Writing Key #4: Apply Search Engine Friendly Structure

Google prefers a certain structure for blog posts. Best practices are as follows:

  • Do not use H1 header tags except for the post title – use H2, H3s, and so on to neatly organize your post.
  • Use short, clear paragraphs.
  • Bullet point for clarity when applicable.
  • Number your how-to instructions or recipe steps when appropriate.

This also saves your editor time. If they can copy and paste your formatting, it makes their job much easier.

Guest Blog Writing Key #5: Focus!

While many copywriters are accustomed to writing for “keyword density,” you’ll find a more natural inclusion of a desired keyword occurs if you strive to use a focus keyword. Use your focus keyword in your:

  • Post title.
  • First paragraph.
  • Body copy (a couple of times).
  • Meta description. (Note: As a guest blogger, you may not be required to submit a meta description, but it’s a kind gesture and only takes a few minutes.)

If you’re writing for a general keyword, consider using a more specific long-tail keyword as well. For example, this post focuses on “guest blogging” (a very general, high-competition keyword) and “how to write a guest blog” (a specific question or search phrase).

Guest Blog Writing Key #6: Add Appropriate Backlinks

While you want to put a link back to your own site in the piece, don’t forget to link to other authoritative sites, especially those with a high domain authority or Alexa ranking. Chances are you know some reliable resources on your choice topic, and including credited statistics and other citations with links back to those sites will help.

It’s also best practice (and kind) to include an internal link – that is, a link to another blog post or page on the website for which you’re creating the post.

Guest Blog Writing Key #7: Include Images

Editors are used to receiving walls of text. Even properly formatted copy can start to blur together when it’s the tenth piece an editor has seen in a day. When guest bloggers provide visuals, however, it helps their copy stand out and shows they put some extra time into the presentation.

Furthermore, it creates less work for the editor (as long as the images work in their approved format or layout, and come with all necessary permissions).

Ideally, you should have some sort of visual break every 300 words or less. That can mean a custom image, a stock photo, a click-to-tweet, or an embedded audio or video.

Check out these examples from Express Writers CEO Julia McCoy’s piece on creating an unforgettable presence.

formatting example

Julia employs clear headers, short paragraphs, and a bulleted list to clearly explain her point.

She also breaks up the text by placing facts in a storytelling image and including a “click to tweet,” which also encourages readers to share her advice.

content presence quote 1

Remember to only include images you have permission to use. Provide a permissions line, credit, and a link to the source if requested or required.

Guest Blog Writing Key #8: Proofread Your Work

Editors will look over your copy before it goes live, but you can prevent embarrassing mistakes and increase your chances of acceptance by proofreading your work or asking someone else to do it for you before you submit. Aside from checking for spelling and grammar, a good edit analyzes flow and also checks all the links.

If you’ve relied on other sources to create your piece, make sure you run it through Copyscape to ensure uniqueness. You don’t want to get rejected for plagiarism because you didn’t reword your cited sources enough.

Guest Blog Writing Key #9: Write with Authority

You are guest blogging on a topic because you’re the resident expert! Avoid phrases like “I think,” or anything that will make the reader doubt your expertise on a given topic. Note how I say in this piece what editors will and will not do – not what they may think about doing. Having been a website editor for so long, I have the authority to offer these tips in a decisive way.

Guest Blog Writing Key #10: Include a Call to Action (CTA)

At the end of your post, tell your reader what they should do. Are there more on-site resources for them? A place where they can learn more about your services?

Your CTA will largely depend upon the tone of the piece and the editorial guidelines. It’s always safe to ask your readers to comment with their thoughts (if the blog has a comment section), as that will drive engagement and please the editor. If you do this, make sure to follow up and respond to the comments on the blog.

What’s Your Niche? It’s Time to Own It

If you need help writing authoritative pieces or if you would like the expert opinion of our practiced editorial team before you submit that guest blog post, get in touch.

At Express Writers, we’re here to help you say it with authority.

fly high cta express writers

ContentWritingChat April 19 2016 Recap: Strategies for Successful Guest Blogging From an Editor

Did you miss this week’s #ContentWritingChat? Well, there’s no need to worry because you can catch up with our full recap of the chat. Tuesday’s chat was all about guest blogging. If you’re looking to introduce guest blogging into your growth strategy or want to take your guest posts to the next level, you’ll want to read through these amazing tweets!

#ContentWritingChat April 19 2016 Recap: Strategies for Successful Guest Blogging From an Editor


Our guest host for the week was Kathleen Garvin. Kathleen is the Editor over at The Penny Hoarder and previously worked at SEMrush. She’s experienced in SEO, blogging and digital marketing, as well as guest blogging. We enjoyed having her expertise over on our Twitter chat at #ContentWritingChat.

Q1: Why is guest blogging essential to brands and writers with a presence online?

Why is guest blogging a must and how can help build your online presence? Check out what some of the participants from Tuesday’s chat had to say:

As Kathleen said, guest blogging helps to give you a voice and also gets you more exposure for your brand. When you guest post on another site, your content gets featured in front of a whole new audience. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Tara mentioned that guest blogging could establish you as an authority figure within your niche. She and Sarah from Think SEM both agreed that you also gain credibility when other publications feature your work. That’s huge!

As Ryan said, guest blogging exposes your brand to a new audience who hasn’t heard of you before. Both he and Eliza agreed it’s also a great way to build relationships. When you guest post, you not only start forming a relationship with the website, but also their readers.

Our CEO, Julia, said guest blogging could gain you a ton of exposure for your brand without having to spend a dime.

As Brittany said, guest blogging gives you exposure, strengthens your voice, and can be an extension of your brand story.

Q2: How do you pinpoint great sites to pitch guest posts to?

Now that you know why guest blogging is beneficial, you need to think about which sites you should be pitching. Here’s what you need to know:

Kathleen said to look to the high-quality blogs in your field. Don’t forget to consider your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your guest post? Are you trying to grow your traffic, generate awareness for your brand, gain more sales? This could play a factor in choosing which sites to guest post on.

As Andrew said, make sure you’re choosing sites that are relevant to your brand. Also, does the site receive a lot of engagement from their audience? That’s key!

Varun said to make sure you can add value to the sites you’re pitching to. Your focus should always be on providing great content for their audience.

Ryan recommends looking to high-traffic and authoritative sources. This can help maximize your reach.

Julia likes to use BuzzSumo to find the top blogs in specific industries. Very helpful!

Like Kristen said, never be afraid to reach out. The worst you could hear is no. If there’s a site you want to post on, send over a pitch. You never know how it could work out!

Q3: How do pick topics guest bloggers can’t resist?

The next step in guest blogging is coming up with an amazing topic. No matter what site you’re writing for or what topic you’re writing on, providing value is always a must. Here are some more tips for choosing topics:

A great tip from Kathleen: do your homework! Don’t blindly pitch a website your ideas. Do some research first by reading their blog to see which topics they’re covering. You want to make sure you choose topics that fit.

Tara and Sarah both agree: be unique! You need to put your own spin on the topics you’re writing about. Don’t write the same thing everyone else is already writing.

Alberto and Village Print & Media know trending topics always make great blog posts. As Alberto said, evergreen topics are great as well!

Peter said to make sure your content is solving a problem people need the answers to. This is a great way to provide value to an audience. When you consistently provide quality content that helps your audience, they’ll want to keep coming back to your site for more.

Pratik said to steer clear of topics that aren’t your forte. It’s best to write what you know. When you have a full understanding of the topic you’re writing about, it shows through in your writing and you’ll be more confident in your work.

Q4: What should you include/not include in a pitch email? When should you follow-up?

When preparing your pitch email, there are a few things you should (and shouldn’t) include. And how do you know when to follow-up? These tips will help:

Kathleen recommends including a personalized greeting, a short intro, then pitching your idea and adding links to previous work. However, if you are linking to some of your past work and you were a ghostwriter, inform the person of that ahead of time!

If there are guidelines published on the website regarding pitches, Andrew suggest looking at them before you send your pitch over. Make sure you follow them if they do! If they don’t, it’s a good idea to pitch a couple topic options just in case your first idea gets rejected. It’s helpful to briefly mention why each piece would be beneficial to their audience.

Kyle says to ditch the templates! Personalize your pitch email instead. He said it helps to reference something specific about the site you’re pitching to or say how you found the site.

Ryan recommends pitching your idea with a brief synopsis and explanation of how it will add value. When they can see the value your post will bring, it could increase the likelihood it might be published.

As Kristen said, don’t write a novel! Keep your pitch email short and sweet.

As Laura said, make sure your pitch email shows off your writing skills. Double-check for any grammar or spelling mistakes.

You don’t even have to email them! You could do a more informal pitch through social media. It worked for Julia!

If you haven’t gotten a response and you feel like you should follow-up, remember this: Give them time to respond. Don’t wait one day and start sending follow-up emails. Editors are busy and need time to respond to your email. Following up one week later is a great idea. Remember to be polite, too!

Q5: What makes up a great guest post author bio? What links should you include?

What should you include when writing your author bio for your guest posts? Here are some tips from Tuesday’s chat:

You just might want to steal Kathleen’s format for author bios! She includes her current position and company, her past role, any related passion projects, and social media links.

Make sure your bio explains who you are to this new audience. What do you want them to know about you?

You should also show your personality in your bio. People like to hear a few personal tidbits. It makes you more relatable.

Consider linking to a landing page with an opt-in form for your email list to encourage people to sign-up and boost subscribers. Great tip, Michael!

Q6: Should guest posting be part of your growth strategy? If so, how often should you guest post?

We know the benefits of guest blogging, but should it be part of your growth strategy? And how often should you guest post? Take a look at these tips from the chat:

Kathleen recommends making guest posting a part of your growth strategy. It grows your brand and helps you connect with others. However, make sure you are more focused on quality posts, as opposed to a quantity of posts.

Tara said how often you guest post should depend upon your rate of growth, your niche, and your strategy. If you’re focused on growing your audience, step up your guest posts!

Andrew also agreed that guest posting is fantastic for building authority and gaining exposure, while also helping your build relationships. Much like Tara, he suggested the frequency of guest posting should depend on your goals. Every post should serve a purpose!

Julia is a big fan of guest posting, as shown by these numbers!

If you’re just starting out, Kyle recommends making guest posting more of a priority. It’s a great way to start building your audience when you’re still in the beginning phase.

Dagmar also suggests guest blogging regularly. She said it helps you connect with a new audience, gets you backlinks, and increases your domain authority and your online visibility.

Zala says guest blogging is good way to just put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to start pitching sites and contributing your content!

As Michael said, if you’re passionate about your niche, you’ll want to write every opportunity you get!

Q7: What are the top actions you should take after your guest post is published?

Now that your guest post is live, what should you do next? Keep these tips in mind:

Kathleen said to make sure you’re sharing and asking others in your network to help spread the word. Don’t forget to engage with the readers, too!

Kyle said to share the guest post on social media, your email newsletter, and even email it to friends. You want to make sure you get the word out about your content.

Scott also recommends sharing your guest posts with your email list. Your subscribers will surely want to check it out!

As Kavita said, make sure you respond to the comments people leave on the post. It shows you’re listening and that you’re interested in what they have to say. Starting a conversation with them makes a huge difference!

You may want to consider writing some related posts for further reading on your own website. It’ll be great for when people visit your site via the guest post. Great tip, Pratik!

Build excitement around your guest post, like Michael suggests. Make sure you’re promoting it!

Share, share, and share some more!

And of course, don’t forget to say thanks!

Q8: How can you track the results of your guest post?

You want to make sure you have a goal you’re trying to achieve with your guest posts, whether it’s growing your audience, makes sales, building relationships, etc. How can you measure that goal after the post goes live?

Kathleen says to keep an eye on referral traffic in Google Analytics, email newsletter sign-ups, and social media follows. If you didn’t get the results you wanted in relation to your goals, make changes and try again!

A great tip from Dagmar: set up Intelligence Events in Google Analytics for tracking.

Analytics are huge, but as Kavita mentioned, engagement is important as well. Is your post generating conversations?

Don’t forget that people may forget to tag you when sharing on social media. As Jeff said, a quick search of the URL on Twitter will show you who has been sharing your post.

Track how many pageviews you received as a result of the guest post. Did you gain more followers, more likes, etc.?

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM CDT for great chats centered around content writing and marketing.

content distribution channels

How to Utilize Your Content Distribution Channels Correctly

Annie is a Content Manager at Express Writers.

Content distribution channels provide a means of connecting with your audience on a number of different levels. These channels can include (but are not limited to) blogs, web page content, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics and email newsletters. They provide a method of communicating with your audience and engaging them with your message. In order for your content distribution strategy to work properly, you need to utilize your channels at maximum efficiency.

But how exactly do you manage content distribution channels (correctly—without over-spamming anyone, or using one channel the wrong way)?

Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

This old adage works well when evaluating your content distribution channels. Because of the number of available channels that you have, you should utilize at least a handful of them to get your message out to your audience. Channels such as social media networks and guest blogging opportunities are great resources since they allow you to direct your content to focus on your target audience. This ensures that you have the maximum exposure possible for your content and raises the possibility of engagement from your audience.

By delivering your content in multiple channels you allow your company to build a loyal following of customers on a number of different platforms. This gives you leverage when it comes to influencing customer decisions in the long run. Multiple channels increase the overall amount of people who are aware of your brand name and image. Once you product high-quality content consistently, you’ll be able to draw and keep an audience that agrees with your point of view and enjoys the content you create.

Too Much of a Good Thing

There is always the lurking problem of overreaching. Whilst trying to cover as many content channels as you possibly can is a good idea, you should be aware that when you cover more content channels the content quality you produce may drop. The happy balance you’re trying to seek is to produce enough good, high-quality content pieces to fit a measured amount of content channels so that you don’t sacrifice quality in the name of coverage. It’s much better to focus on a handful of channels and deliver high quality content than to try to cover the spectrum and fill all your channels with mediocre or low-quality content.

How Can I Utilize Content Channels to Boost Blog Traffic? 5 Methods

The crux of the matter is that you want to leverage your content production in order to drive traffic to your blog. Content distribution channels provide the most ideal method of directing customers to your blog through measured content that is designed to do this. When you create compelling content that makes a user want to know more, including a handy link to your blog in a call-to-action can encourage the user to visit your blog. But how does it work? Here are a handful of ways you can utilize your content channels in order to distribute content to drive your blog traffic.

  1. Guest Blogging: Guest blogging opportunities may come to you in the form of invitations to write on a topic or you can simply address the owner of the blog and ask them for a chance to guest blog for them. Guest blogging gives you a powerful method to drive traffic to your blog. It gives you ready access to an audience that is already within your niche. With the right type of compelling content and well-placed links you can direct users to read some of your own blog entries, possibly gaining new followers in the process.As a content distribution channel, guest blogging should never be discounted. It gets your message out to the people who would benefit from it the most: people within your target audience. By giving you a focused group that is already interested in your niche, it creates a simple way to distribute content efficiently and effectively to the people who would appreciate and benefit from it the most.
  1. Email Marketing: A number of marketing professionals consider email marketing to be on its last legs as a content distribution channel. I tend to disagree. Email marketing is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for someone who isn’t skilled in the area or dedicated to becoming so. Email marketing contacts your audience directly and gives them the feeling of having a direct connection to you.Email marketing is based around sharing your content through personal email addresses, inclusive of clickable links back to your blog. For many users, emails are the best way for them to keep connected to a blog that they are interested in. Many people don’t have the time to go check a blog every single day to see when updates come around. Strategic email updates to your subscribers gives them the ability to see when you’ve updated and to judge whether the content interests them enough to go read it. It’s a very efficient methodology, but requires compelling copy and high-quality content to succeed.
  1. Utilize Influencers: In any social media setting, there will obviously be a handful of individuals that are more influential than other people in the same niche. What you should be aiming to do is to get in contact with these influencers. But how do you find out which people are the ones worth contacting? Simple tools such as Followerwonk allow you to see the extent of a person’s social media outreach and allows you to target the influencers within your demographic of interest for the highest return.Utilizing influencers can be direct (emailing them or messaging them and asking them to share your content) or indirect (sharing content with them and asking their and their followers’ opinions). Both of these methods are useful in their own ways, but instead of simply leveraging the influencers, you should try to engage them. It’s much easier to get an influencer to share your content if you actually pique their interest. It’s unlikely that they’ll share content of mediocre or a low standard.
  1. Syndication: The best way to think about syndication is like guest blogging but with more added benefits. Bloggers that are adamantly against guest blogging (yes, they do exist) tend to see syndication as the solution to their major problem: The fact that your created content is generating traffic for someone else and you’re not benefiting from it as much as if it were on your own blog. What syndication does is give other sites the ability to post your blog entries as they are released. This increases your coverage whilst at the same time, gives you the initial credit for your post and the SEO/traffic statistics that you’d miss out on a guest post.There is a downside to Syndication, however. In some cases, Google may see the copy that another site has posted as the original and your copy as an imposter. This can be easily rectified by using the “Fetch as Google” feature in your Webmaster Tools. You just have to submit your URL to Google to ensure that it tags you as the original poster. Syndication gives you all the benefits of guest blogging but without the drawbacks of not owning your own content.
  1. Create a Resource Site: There are many niches that require a site that exists as a reference. In order to guarantee traffic for your blog, you can simply seek to become a reference site that everyone in your industry uses. This guarantees you traffic since your site is a valid reference that everyone in the community accepts as a citation. You might find your blog being cited in a number of posts from different blogs and articles, each of them driving content.The downside of this is that becoming an authority site takes time and no small amount of effort. To be a valid resource, your site will have to exist for quite some time and will have to be easily accessible to a number of people who would need to use it. Resource sites need to be constantly updated as new information or statistics come out. Keeping a resource site updated is no small task and can quickly swamp a small company blog. If it’s done right, however, it can be a very useful resource that is guaranteed to drive a lot of traffic to your company’s blog page.

Developing Your Content Distribution Channels For Best Results

In making the most of your content channels, you should be seeking to gain the maximum advantage that any one channel can grant to you. However, these channels do not exist in a vacuum. There is a subtle interplay between the different content channels and each can feed off the traffic from another. For example: a user on social media sees an interesting post, follows it back to your blog and then decides to become an email subscriber. Linking your content distribution channels together provides you with a system where you can keep your company or product in the user’s mind as much as possible. This translates in turn to a higher volume of customer loyalty and possibly higher traffic values. At the end of the day, your content channels are one of the most reliable ways of generating blog traffic, but only if utilized correctly.

Photo credit: violetkaipa / iStock

guest blogging

A Guide To Guest Blogging: A Big Boost For Your Business

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to increase traffic, generate leads, and build brand awareness. From a business perspective, well-chosen guest blogging opportunities can result in a massive amount of positive impact on a site.

Guest blogging gets you noticed by the people who need to notice you. As a brand, guest blogging opportunities allow your company to get their name out there, while at the same time allowing the readers to then experience your content production skills firsthand. When you do guest blogging right, you’ll start to realize the massive return this form of organic content can afford.

guest blogging

3 Ways to Determine Your Guest Content Goals

Before you embark upon the twists and turns of the guest blogging road, you’re going to need to determine what you want to get out of your guest blogging opportunities. Just like every other structured marketing campaign, you need to have an end-game in mind to properly utilize your guesting posts. Ideally, as a guest blogger, you will be seeking to do one or more of the following:

  1. Position yourself as a go-to person in the industry. Guest blogging allows you to share your experience and knowledge, which helps others perceive you as an expert.
  2. Gain exposure for your brand, products, or services. This also helps to generate backlinks that help your SEO campaign immensely.
  3. Drawing an audience. When done correctly, guest blogging can help you gain new readers that can become sales for your site.

For these goals to come to fruition, you need to have a unique mix of skills and execution. Just having an idea isn’t enough to get the most out of your guest posting. You need to become an expert in your field, reading every bit of information you can get your hands on. Once you’ve done that, you need to develop a real and actionable plan for gaining the attention you deserve from your guest blogging efforts.

How to Figure Out What’s a Good Guest Blogging Opportunity and What Isn’t

Most of the major players in the content creation field are open to the idea of having a guest blogger on their site. The tough part can sometimes be being chosen from the crowd. After all, experienced guest bloggers are more likely to get first preference than inexperienced bloggers.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get your foot in the door, though. After all – everyone starts somewhere!

When you’re just starting out, you may have to settle for less prestigious guest blogging opportunities. Although these aren’t as glamorous or far-reaching as the larger blogs, they are no less important in your quest to build a name as a well-known blogger.

That said, it’s well worth your time and energy to learn to differentiate good guest blogging opportunities from bad ones. Here’s how:

What Good Blogging Opportunities Look Like

Good guest blogging opportunities are those that give you a decent amount of coverage for your time investment. Remember, your guest blog should be as well researched (or better!) than your personal or in-house blogging efforts.

For professional guest blogging situations you are going to need to pitch your topic to the owner of the blog to see if it meshes with what they’re trying to achieve. Generally, you and the host can sit down and discuss what they expect and what you can deliver. From there, you may be able to develop a working topic and title before you get writing.

Keep in mind that some guest blogging options will offer less support than others, and this is largely a function of traffic. The most in-demand guest blogging platforms get thousands of submissions each month, and it’s impossible to keep up with them all manually.

That said, these platforms tend to use electronic forms and a team of editors and content managers to get guest blogs up on their sites. This shouldn’t rule a guest blogging platform out for you. Instead, pay attention to things like the professionalism of the staff, the Alexa Rank of the site, and the expedience with which staffers get back to you.

What Bad Guest Blogging Opportunities Look Like

To put it simply: bad guest blogging opportunities are those that don’t give you a lot of coverage or that abuse your work without giving you enough in return. Beware of sites that make it excessively easy to guest blog for them, since they’re among the worst offenders.

While you shouldn’t have to jump through flaming hoops to get your post featured, you should expect there to be a review and quality assurance process. If this doesn’t exist, it’s a likely bet that, not only will your guest post not count for much, but that it will quickly be lost in the sea of low-quality blogs out there.

Keep this in mind: If all you have to do is sign up and post then it’s probably not a very high-quality opportunity. Avoiding these sites is important since they don’t help you attain your guest blogging goals. These are usually the sites that take anything you give to them as a blog post without an actual discussion with the owner or content manager. Again: if you don’t have to talk to a real person or team, it’s probably not a good idea to guest post for them.

Guest Blogging Doesn’t Mean the End of Direct Content Production

Just because you’re getting into guest blogging doesn’t mean that you can stop producing your own original content. If anything, it’s an encouragement to continue with your own direct content. When you finally start to earn customers from a guest blog, you’ll still need to show them that you can back that content up with your own work. That’s why maintaining your own blog and content creation efforts is so important throughout.

Setting up an internal content production schedule helps you to balance your private posting with whatever guest opportunities arise. Guest blogging allows you to create relationships with the audience of the host blog and this can translate into growing your own audience. When you look at it like that, it’s clear that both approaches are essential, and that you can’t afford to compromise either.

In fact, having great content on your own blog is essential to being accepted to a guest blogging platform. Just like you work to boost your credit score before you apply for a mortgage, you need to build up your own body of content before you apply for a guest blogging platform.

That said, spend several months before you start guest blogging publishing your own high-quality content. This way, any publisher who checks your blog for reference will find that you’re a skilled, successful writer with a lot to offer.

How to Start Guest Blogging: 7 Tips

So, now that you know how important guest blogging is, let’s talk about how to do it. Here are seven tips:

1. Start Small

Unless you’ve already got a very well established brand platform, you can’t expect to pitch Neil Patel and get featured. Start small. Platforms like Business.com are fantastic guest blogging opportunities that don’t require you to be an internet superstar to get featured.

While some people see this modest start as a frustration, since things aren’t moving as fast as they’d like, it’s the natural course of things. Start small and build your way up as you progress. Not only does this allow you to build your skills, but it also helps you build your brand as a reputable guest blogger.

2. Find Some Guest Blogging Platforms

The next step is to find a guest blogging platform. If you don’t already have a few possibilities in mind, you’ll need to start with a few simple internet searches. To start, type a simple query into Google: “[your niche] guest blog.” You can also substitute things like “write for us,” “contribute content,” or “get featured.”

This simple search should offer some results. As an alternative, you can look at sites that your competitors or friends are blogging for, and apply there.

3. Pitch Your Guest Post

Once you’ve found a guest platform you want to contribute to, you’ll need to “pitch” your post idea. When you go to guest blog, the first thing you’ll need to do is develop a plan for what you’ll write about. There’s not a reputable guest blog out there that will accept a post without a pitch topic, so it’s well worth spending time on this process.

When you start the pitching process, here are some things you’ll want to consider:

  • What sort of problems has the blog owner not tackled yet? Can I cover this?
  • What sort of content is this blog known for? What encourages its readers to read and share posts?
  • What will be relevant to their readers?

Remember, when you pitch a blog post, you want to write about something that’s within your area of expertise, but also something that is relevant to the blog’s audience. If you write to an audience outside that one, you’re risking your pitch being turned down or your post not being as helpful and informative as it could.

If you incorporate this sort of thinking into your pitch for a topic, you should not have many problems getting featured. Always keep in mind that reading the blog you want to contribute to is the single best way to help you determine a good topic for pitching to the owner.

4. Write Your Post

Once your pitch is accepted and you’ve got the all-clear to start writing, you’ll want to keep one thing in mind throughout: quality. Remember, your purpose here is to appeal to the blog owner’s audience. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about your company, and it’s not about how great your product is. This is incredibly important. If your blog comes off as salesy or self-congratulatory in nature, you’ll place yourself at real risk of being pulled from the platform. Why, you ask? Site owners don’t want to populate their platforms with useless information, and that’s exactly what self-pitching content is.

Instead, seek to be helpful and relevant to the audience in question. Put yourself in their shoes and develop a plan for answering their questions and seeing to their needs. The more you can cater to their desires, the more successful your guest post will be, and the more likely the platform owner will be to feature more of your posts in the future.

Take your time on the writing process. If you rush, your post won’t come out as well as it could have, which is death for a guest blog. Leave yourself plenty of time to edit your post and read it for accuracy and relevance.

5. Be Prepared to Edit as Needed

If you’re writing for an industry magazine or something similar, there’s a decent chance that your pitch post will come back to you with edits. Be prepared for this. While it doesn’t mean that your pitch was garbage, it does mean that you’ll need to add to it to make it fit the organization’s goals.

If you do get a response email from an editor or site owner, and they want some edits, complete these as quickly as possible. Site owners don’t have time to sit around and wait for you, and they want to get content up on their site as quickly as possible. The faster you can complete these edits, the more likely it is you will be that person.

6. Write Your Guest Post Bio

Next, you’ll want to write your guest post bio. Generally, guest posting platforms have some rules for these. These may include character limits and restrictions on the types and number of links you can include.

No matter what the restrictions are (or aren’t), your guest post bio should be short, professional, and to-the-point. Highlight your largest authority metrics and include a link to your website or social media platform of choice (assuming your guest blog platform allows it) so people can find out more about you.

7. Respond To Commenters

Now comes the fun part: responding to your readers. If you’ve written an engaging and exciting guest post, people will respond with comments, input, and questions. As the author, it’s your job to engage with these commenters. Keep in mind that you always want to be professional and avoid pitching yourself or your company in these posts.

The more helpful and relevant you can be to these commenters, the more you’ll help the site owner out (After all – who doesn’t want friendly, relevant, informative people posting on their site?) and the easier it will be to gain future guest posting opportunities.

The Case for Guest Blogging

At the end of the day, guest blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there and to generate leads and traffic from external blogs. While the path to a successful guest blogging placement can be long, and there are a lot of dead ends, every legitimate opportunity you get is one more step on the road to success.

By defining your goals early and working hard to achieve them, it’s easy to use guest blogging as a method to build your online reputation and broaden your readership. To ensure your guest blogging efforts are as productive as possible, always ask yourself if a guest posting opportunity is helping you achieve your goals.

If it’s not, you’re better off moving on and finding one that will. This helps you to separate good guest posting opportunities from bad ones, and will ensure that your efforts are always going to the most productive platforms out there.

Hire expert writers to enhance your online content strategy now through our Content Shop.

future of blogging

What Will Blog Writing Be Like In 100 Years?

Have you ever wondered…what will blog writing be like 100 years from now? Will we see space aliens eating blogs, bring new meaning to “digesting” what one reads? Will writers be telepathically transmitting stories to paper? Will paper even exist—it’s on the way out the door right now, isn’t it? What the heck WILL we see; lots of green and UFO activity?

Let’s go BACK in time to think about the future. Dial the clock back 100 years from today and it would be the year 1914. What was writing like back then? It certainly wasn’t as we know it today. In 1914, World War I began. A lot of writers were reporters and journalists who put themselves in the heat of the action as one of the greatest wars to engulf the world revved up. 1914 was also a year of significant events in literature.

Writing 100 years ago didn’t involve handy word processing programs like Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Spelling and grammar check wasn’t computer automated, it was left up to writers and editors to sort out. The rules of grammar were much more stringently held to, and reading literary works published between 1900 and 1920 reveal an astonishing evolution of style and the interpretation of the so called rules. Blog writing, social media and online content marketing didn’t even exist yet. Oh yeah, and personal computers and handheld mobile devices, they were pure fiction!

If things have changed this much in 100 years, what can the next 100 years hold?

 

Speculating About the Future of Blog Writing

We’re not exactly talking about a scientific topic, now are we? But speculating can be fun nonetheless. In the past 25 years alone we have seen an unprecedented improvement in technology, all of which has contributed to blog writing as we know it today. For example:

  • Microsoft Word is arguably one of the most popular and used word processing programs in the industry. According to a Wikipedia history of Microsoft Word, the first version of the program was developed by Richard Brodie and Charles Simonyi in 1981. However, it wasn’t until the release of Windows 3.0 in 1990 that Word became a sizeable commercial success and started being used by the masses. Later, Word began to receive labels per Windows OS to match each OS. Today, we can purchase Microsoft Office 365 for home or business. The new suite includes Word and is integrated with the latest advancements in cloud technology, providing an interface, work station and even files that can be accessed from any device in any location so long as you have a log-in and an active Internet connection.

Before we had personal computers with word processing programs, we had something called a word processor. When I first started writing, I used a Brother Word Processor WP-230B—talk about a dinosaur! It could switch between a typewriter and word processing mode. It was pretty limited in capabilities compared to today’s computers, but it got the job done with better efficiency than handwriting or a traditional typewriter.

Enough reminiscing. Let’s talk about the future of blog writing, a huge topic as of late, particularly in the area of guest blogging.

Guest Blogging to See De-Evolution

In January of 2014, the blogging community held its collective breath as Google’s Matt Cutts declared the “decay and fall” of guest blogging while staples in the industry said guest blogging is not dead. There is truth in both opinions. Cutts’ is correct that spammy, bad quality guest blogging is dying. And as it should! The writing industry has always stood for quality, which is why bad quality writing on the Internet is ever so surely being replaced by high, editorial quality content.

It’s likely that in the following years we will see an increase in the quality of guest blogging as it returns to its roots. It will become more finely tuned, relevant, educational and engaging.

 

Blogging & SEO

In just the past 5 years we’ve seen amazing changes in the realm of search engine optimization. Keywords are going, going, gone as a hardcore staple, which opens up blogging and other types of online writing to better flow, higher quality and just plain good writing. In essence, online writing is returning to the true roots of literature: telling a story and telling it well.

 

The Future of Blogging Is Bright

Let’s talk about the origin of the blog. Back in the day, blog posts were something anyone could whip up. They were opinion tools, a means for anyone who had an opinion of any kind to blurt it out to whoever took an interest and decided to read. Today, the landscape of blogging has radically morphed. Blog platforms offer a myriad of tools and social channels all designed to help you create and communicate something. Blogs now support audio and video and the comment areas of can contain anything from intellectual discussions to bunkering down in the trenches in an attempt to defend a particular thought or idea.

Blog writing is, and has always been, about self-expression. Today, the blog is a content marketing tool leveraged by the freelancer, small to medium sized business owner, and the big corporations. In the business world, blogs are used to communicate informative, relevant information. They’re a means of sharing thoughts and ideas via social media and stirring up conversation.

However, it’s still a powerful tool for the would-be writers who write for the sake of writing and self-expression. Once you step into the world of content marketing, you can easily lose sight of these almost pure forms of blogging. They’re still out there. They’ve been there since the inception of blogging, and it’s my bet that 100 years from now they’ll still be here. The would-be writers and folks who blog for the pure self-expression of it are often the pioneers who push the technology right along, but without the recognition companies and businesses receive.

According to ViperChill.com, over 181 million people actively use a blog platform. A lot of people are using their blogs to make money. Blogs can be highly profitable, and this legitimate form of making money will likely continue to grow in leaps and bounds over the next several years as more and more people find success.

 

Technology and Blogging – Where Will Be In 100 Years?

Ever watch Star Trek? According to IMDB.com, the very first episode of what would become a multimillion dollar franchise and fan phenomena, aired in 1966. Right from the start, the program almost seemed to predict the future. I stumbled across this humorous infographic style graphic from MindSlapMedia.com while writing this blog:

star trek infographic

I just had to share this because it demands appreciation, whether you like the show or not! In 1966, Captain Kirk was using a wireless handheld communication device that the masses got their hands on in 1973, the cellular flip phone. In 1987, Captain Picard was using a computerized pad that gave him Internet-like access at his fingertips. In 2010, we saw the release of the revolutionary iPad—and for those of us who even glanced at the Star Trek series, we instantly felt like we were taking a huge technological step forward.

In 1988, Star Trek: The Next Generation displayed a visual three way conference. What a concept! In 2008, we were able to video conference by using modern video technology in conjunction with the Internet. Finally, in 1998, Captain Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was using a head display that operated like a window. In 2013, Google released Google Glass.

Did Star Trek predict the future? The answer depends on who you ask. But here’s the KEY point to take away: if humanity can dream up a new form of technology, we have an unparalleled way of eventually creating it.

 

The Future of Blogging Is Limited Only By the Imagination

There’s no way to predict exactly what blog writing will be like 100 years from now. It’s safe to say that new and improved tools will be implemented as technology continues to advance. Who knows? 50 years from now we might be slapping a transmitter to our temple and thinking our blogs onto the computer screen. Keyboards might be a thing of the past as we use mental power to write, edit, post and share a blog!

Will aliens be reading our blogs in 100 years? You never know! For years we’ve joked about aliens receiving our radio signals and tuning in to our world from a galaxy far, far away. If they are, it’s a fair assumption they’re tapping into our Internet and perusing our blogs. Who knows, maybe they ARE eating blogs and digesting them in ways we never thought possible.

The truth is we have no idea just how blogging will evolve. But one thing is an absolute certainty: we write to tell stories. We write to express ourselves, share ideas, inspire, inform and even destroy. The core purposes of writing haven’t changed in the last 100 years, and it’s doubtful they’ll change in the next 100.

Years ago we said that the pen was mightier than the sword. Today, we use electronic means of writing over the good old fashioned pen and paper. Some of us (the very brave) use voice recognition software to talk out our writing before editing it over; not really use the keyboard much as it is. 100 years from now, we just might be using our noggins in place of the keyboard and mouse.

Regardless of how we blog, our reasons wll likely stay the same. After all, we haven’t changed why we write since cave paintings: we’re all writing by whatever means we have to tell a story, to record something that we hope stands the test of time, and is still here for people to read hundreds of years from now.

 

Applying today’s Blogging to the Future

When it comes to the content marketing world, we’re betting that the future of blogging revolves around catering to what the audience wants. Right now, audiences want informative material. They want to type a search phrase into a search engine about “21 angry bird toys to buy” and receive relevant information designed to educate them before they make a purchase. People also want good story telling. They want to know why your company does what it does. How did you get into the business? Why did you want to be better than everyone else, and “I wanted to turn a profit” isn’t a viable answer!

Stories drive traffic today. Look at any company on the Internet. Look at yours. Publish a blog that tells a story, a good relevant story to your company’s niche. Will it increase readership and gain new exposure to your business? Chances are it will. Don’t believe us? Just try it. It doesn’t take long to write a 500 to 1,000 word blog with a catchy title, share it over your social media channels and watch the influx of traffic. Go the extra mile to start a conversation, and you’ll likely make connections with a crowd of new people, all interested in your business because of the story you decided to share.

People want to connect with what they read. It’s a sure bet that as we set foot into the next 100 years of blog writing, we’re going to see content that is designed to make a connection. We’re going to see tools that make it easier to create strong connections. Who knows, in 100 years we might have holographic blogs that put us right in the middle of the action, visually sharing a story or teaching us something new (for you Star Trek lovers, it sounds like the “holodeck,” doesn’t it?). Technological advances will likely be limited only by the imagination, which means in 100 years blog writing could be unrecognizable when compared to our “archaic” means of blogging today!

So, what do you think blog writing will be like in 100 years? Will blogs be publicized throughout the cosmos? Will they be the most popular form of literature on our planet? Will UFOs be stopping by for the latest installment from their favorite blogger? How will the technology change? Share your ideas by leaving a comment, and let’s see what happens!

 

 

Re: Matt Cutts, Is Guest Blogging Dead?

 This is a direct reply written by Julia McCoy in response to  The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.

If you’re up on the game in SEO, you know a big name in it is Matt Cutts. The leader of the “webspam” team at Google, he’s a proclaimed “voice” in SEO and all things rankings. When he talks, people often listen; retweet; share; and reply. 

The latest buzz from Matt Cutts was posted on January 20, 2014—just three days ago. And already it’s been viral in the Internet world. The reason for the intense, instant feedback was the topic he wrote about. Matt’s blog was entitled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO” and posed the statement, guest blogging is dead.

“Google Will Take a Dim View” …The Worst The Blog Got

Matt Cutts, Photo Courtesy @ affordableseofl.com

Matt Cutts, Photo Courtesy @ affordableseofl.com

The blog basically stated that all who were guest blogging should stop, and that guest blogging has gone from respectable to totally spammy. He said to stick a fork in the whole opportunity and don’t rely on it for SEO. Note, he never said it was entirely dead, not once in his whole blog; his most distinct ending words were that “Google will take a dim view of guest blogging going forward.”

Matt Takes It Back?

Matt actually added an “add-on” within 24 hours of writing his blog (possibly affected by the huge amounts of noted blogger voices on Twitter and other platforms denouncing his view) saying that he didn’t mean to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” He stated very plainly that he did not mean to discount high quality and multi-author blogs, that he stated are “compelling, wonderful, and useful.”

He Actually Has A Point About The Spam

OK, so just like everything good, anyone—and on the Internet, seriously, anyone—can take it and turn it into something bad. Dirty, grimy hands have touched things like articles, blogs, press releases, web pages, and of course—guest blogging. I recently received a LinkedIN invitation to join a guest blog. I’ll put their name out there: SEO Libra. The invitation read, “Regarding For Free SEO Guest Blogging. Add Guest Posting for Free. Regards.” Ugh, it makes me shudder again.

Grimy fingers like these turn content into spam, spin and trash it, try to recycle it, and overall give content a bad name in various avenues. But does that mean content in general stops working for everyone? Of course not. It only stops working in the wrong hands. In the right hands, content becomes well-written. It is original. Creative. Powerful. It has the possibility to go viral and make a positive impact on the web.

Case Study

Express Writers started blogging on SocialMediaToday about 5 days ago. We’ve had over 300 social shares on each post that was a featured guest blog on SocialMediaToday; new followers on all our social media platforms; connections from other writers and peers; and more than 10 new client inquiries. Guest blogging, my friends, is powerful. It works.

What Did You Say, Cutts?

Don’t forget, Cutts has said other things in the past that were discounted. A couple years ago, Cutts said a statement in a Google forum stating that press releases no longer held value for SEO. He was since proven wrong by SearchEngineLand experts, who did an actual case study with screenshot results that showed exactly the opposite of Cutts’ statement—that in fact, PR links were being counted by Google.

Copyblogger’s CEO Weighs In

The CEO of Copyblogger, Brian Clark, said it best on Twitter: Why change because Matt Cutts said something? Build quality, no matter what. (For more, read Copyblogger’s blog on why guest blogging isn’t done yet.)

Excellent advice. Don’t change what’s working because one person said something. Keep it up, and always maintain quality—and you’ll always see results.